Elk NetworkMay/June 2024 Gear: Optics

Bugle - Featured Articles , Gear 101 | April 29, 2024

Great glass can mean the difference between success and failure in elk country. Here are some clear options if you’re looking for an upgrade.

By Bugle Contributor Brad Fitzpatrick

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 Binoculars

For a company that’s already set the bar high, Leupold continues to impress with multiple upgrades to its second-generation of the versatile BX-4 Pro Guide HD binoculars. I had an opportunity to test these binoculars at the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas and was struck by the comfortable, user-friendly design. The lightweight aluminum body reduces weight—just 25 ounces for the 10×42 model—making them perfect for serious backcountry hunting. The Leupold Elite Optical System helps reduce glare and distortion while offering excellent light transmission and resolution. High-quality lenses and class-leading Guard-ion lens coatings provide a clear image with excellent color fidelity in a range of light conditions.

Perhaps the most exciting new feature is the Form-Fit swappable eye cups engineered to reduce strain while glassing for extended periods. The Form-Fit eye cups are just one of many outstanding additions to these optics that focus on ergonomics. The BX-4 Pro Guide Gen 2 binoculars offer a generous eyebox, an open-bridge, dual-hinge design and smooth focus adjustments for intuitive operation in the field. The focus knob is easy to operate but not so loose that it’s difficult to maintain precise focus, and the durable Shadow Grey exterior armor make these Leupolds easy to hold.

It’s rare to find binoculars that feature such an excellent combination of light weight, comfort and optical quality, especially at an MSRPs from $599.99 to $769.99 depending upon model. Leupold currently offers the binoculars in 8×42, 10×42, 10×50 and 12×50, all of which come with standard ¼-20 threads that make mounting to a tripod a breeze. If you’re looking for a versatile field optic, the new BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 binoculars need to be on your short list. Like other Leupold products, they’re made in America and backed by one of the best warranties in the business.

Learn more at Leupold.com

Leica Geovid 10×42 AB+

Ever pushing the bounds of hunting optics, leading German manufacturer Leica has found a way to include both a precision laser rangefinder and new Applied Ballistics Elite software in its 10×42 Geovid binoculars. The rangefinder will read objects up to 3,200 yards or more with half-yard accuracy while the software provides precise ballistic data based on your firearm profile and angle of aim. It also includes ground-breaking Shot Probability Analysis, which combines distance-to-target, wind speed, muzzle velocity and rifle precision to provide hunters with a first-hit probability figure that appears both in the binoculars and the Leica Hunting App on your phone. Better still, it allows you to range an object that is then placed as a GPS point on Google Maps or BaseMap, perfect for marking the location of an animal at the time of the shot to aide a fast recovery.

At the annual SHOT Show, Leica had a pair of the new Geovids available for testing and I was impressed by their optical quality (which is, as you’d expect, exceptional), ease of use and also their convenient size. Color fidelity was outstanding, and the enhanced stray light and reflection correction provided a crisp image as I scanned various light conditions. The intuitive button layout allowed me to easily access the various features of these binoculars, and I’m certainly not a tech wizard.

You might think all the cutting-edge technology packed into each pair of these 10×42 binoculars would come with extra weight and bulk, but at 34.2 ounces without the battery, the AB+ are small and light enough for long days in the field and are not much heavier than standard 10×42 binos. MSRP is set at $3,499, but no other binoculars offer all these features in a convenient 10×42 package that’s perfect for high mountain hunters

Go to Leica-sportoptics.com to learn more.

Burris Eliminator 6

The Eliminator 6 riflescope keeps all the best features found in previous Eliminator optics plus some important upgrades that make it one of the most versatile hunting optics ever. It’s all about taking out the guesswork to improve accuracy. The scope comes with an onboard rangefinder effective out to 2,000 yards, and a new x177 reticle that provides 177 different aiming points. When ranging the target, the Eliminator 6 illuminates the appropriate aiming point, the built-in thermometer, barometer and inclinometer automatically calculate air density and altitude for precise environmental assessment. Ballistic profiles stored in the Burris Connect app allow you to Bluetooth ballistic data to the scope, ensuring hunters have the info they need to make an accurate shot.

As a safeguard, the Eliminator 6 also offers Shotcall technology that alerts shooters with an illuminated “X” if the ranged distance indicates that the supplied ballistic terminal performance for the load is inadequate to yield a killing shot. When testing the Eliminator 6, I appreciated its instant, accurate ballistic solutions and, despite its many high-tech features, the scope was simple to operate. MSRP is $3,000.

Learn more at Burrisoptics.com


Vortex Razor HD 13-39×56 Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes are an essential piece of equipment for hunters, but most are a burden to carry, especially over steep, mountainous terrain. The Vortex Razor HD 13-39×56 solves this weight and space problem, providing excellent optical quality with minimal heft. Tipping the scales at just 29 ounces, the angled model measures less than 10 ½ inches, while the straight model is a half-inch longer and a half-ounce heavier, allowing you to comfortably carry either all day in the high country. Yet these spotters give up nothing when it comes to image quality or ease-of-use thanks to Vortex’s outstanding HD optical system and Helical buttery-smooth focus. I tested these scopes on Vortex’s range in Wisconsin and found they offered plenty of magnification and optical clarity for identifying objects out to a mile, and I was able to effectively call hits on targets to 1,000 yards. That type of performance begs the question: why tote anything larger or heavier when the lightweight Razor 13-39×56 works so well? MSRP is $999, a great value for such a versatile spotting scope.

Go to Vortexoptics.com to find out more.



Huskemaw Optics 5-20×50 Tactical Hunter

The new Tactical Hunter 5-20×50 scope from Huskemaw Optics is built to simplify long-range shooting and increase first-hit accuracy. Chief among its features is TrueBC for precise ballistic compensation to help hit your target dead-on. With True BC, Huskemaw owners can collect data at the range and order a custom Rapid Field Ballistic Compensator (RFBC) Turret free via the website, allowing hunters to dial yardage for fast, precise shooting in a variety of field conditions. The Tactical Hunter’s 34mm main tube offers plenty of adjustability for shooting at extended ranges and the optical clarity and reliability are exceptional with German F2 Schott glass lenses and titanium internal springs. The broad magnification range of this scope makes it flexible for a variety of hunting scenarios, and the HuntSmart illuminated wind compensating reticle allows quick adjustments for windage and holdover in the field. Huskemaw even included an internal bubble level to eliminate cant that could throw your shot off. MSRP is $2,299.

Visit Huskemawoptics.com to learn more.


Revic Acura BLR10b Binocular Laser Rangefinder

As the name implies, Revic’s new optic serves as an all-in-one binoculars, rangefinder and ballistic calculator. The laser rangefinder has an impressive 5,000-yard range on reflective materials, and the advanced Shoot To Range feature provides adjustments for BDC turrets marked for range in yards as well as MIL and MOA corrections. Onboard sensors detect air density, temperature, shot vector and other environmental factors to provide the most precise shooting solution for consistent first-shot impacts. With four different target modes, the Acura BLR10b is a refined and versatile tool for the serious shooter or hunter. But despite all the technology, these 10x42s are also among the most compact rangefinding binoculars with ballistic software available today. Overall length is a mere 5.2 inches, a full inch shorter than many competing models. My favorite feature is the Quick Keys that allow you to adjust yardage read-out brightness, wind direction and speed, target vector mode and other features without scrolling through a bunch of menus. MSRP is $2,695.

Go to Revicoptics.com.




Swarovski AX Visio

Swarovski Optik is marking its 75th year in 2024, and to celebrate they’re launching one of the most advanced optics ever designed, the AX Visio. Dubbed “the world’s first smart binoculars,” these 10×32 Swarovski’s offer built-in AI technology. The company invested over 23,000 hours developing software that can identify more than 9,000 species of birds and mammals at the touch of a button. What’s more, you can save, store or share your videos or images and even provide a live view with friends using the Swarovski Optik Outdoor App on your smartphone. Of course, these optics are backed by Swarovski’s award-winning SWAROVISION technology that provides exceptional color fidelity, clarity and low-light performance. These binoculars are available for an MSRP of $4,800.

Visit Swarovskioptik.com to learn more.



Trijicon Credo HX 2.5-15×42

The new Trijicon Credo HX 2.5-15×42 is one of the most versatile big game riflescopes available today. With a broad magnification range, the scope provides everything a hunter needs: a wide field of view at low power for prowling timber as well as a 15x top-end magnification for making long shots. The illuminated MOA Center Dot reticle offers plenty of holdover and windage adjustment points, and the expose

d turrets with the Return to Zero feature help you quickly dial for holdover. The 42mm objective allows this scope to mount low on the rifle for a natural cheek weld on the gun. Before leaving the factory, the Trijicons undergo drop, immersion and vibration tests to ensure they won’t fail in the field. How tough are they? On a New Mexico elk hunt my sling broke and my rifle landed Trijicon optic-first on some rocks. There were some scratches, but incredibly my point-of-impact never moved. MSRP for the Credo HX 2.5-15×42 is $1,379.

Go to Trijiconoptics.com.



Warne Skyline Lite Bipod

Warne has partnered with RMEF for years, and while the company is best-known for producing precision-machined bases and rings for riflescopes, its most exciting new product for 2024 is the Skyline Lite bipod. Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum, the Skyline Lite adjusts from 6.6 inches to 11.1 inches in height with 44-degrees of cant range to help hunters gain a solid foundation for tough shots. It’s also adaptable to variety of rifles with quick-detach, fixed, or ARCA head arrangements and the solid A.R.M.S. 17S head interface. A cant-tension lever allows shooters to instantly lock the rifle into position. I’ve tested the Skyline Lite on a number of target and hunting rifles and have been impressed not only with the versatile and easy-to-use design but also the rugged construction. At just over a pound, it won’t add a lot of mass to your rifle. MSRPs range from $224.99 to $284.99.

Learn more at Warnescopemounts.com.




SIG ZULU10 HDX Binoculars

With models in 10×42, 10×50, 12×50 and 15×56, Sig’s new ZULU10 HDX binoculars excel for hunting from mountains to prairie. They feature an advanced Abbe-Koenig prism and come with SIG’s proprietary LensShield, LensArmor and SpectraCoat technologies and HDX lenses to provide outstanding performance in any light condition. These binos are IPX-7 waterproof and fog-proof rated, and the ultra-fine focal adjustment allows for clear, distortion-free viewing. Three-position adjustable eyecups add comfort and the reinforced metal housing is wrapped in rubber armor to ensure durability in the field. MSRPs for these binoculars range from $1,399 to $1,699 depending upon configuration

Got to Sigsauer.com.




Steiner H6Xi 2-12×42 Riflescope

I’ve tested the H6Xi on several different rifles and it’s one of my favorite all-purpose hunting optics. Based on the T6Xi tactical scope, the compact H6Xi hunting scope offers a broad magnification range for any shooting situation yet measures under 12 inches long and weighs just over 23 ounces. The illuminated first focal plane MHR reticle looks like a standard duplex at low magnification, but when you crank the optic up to higher magnification you see multiple holdover and windage correction points. Because it is a front focal plane optic, meaning the reticle adjusts at the same rate as the target as you dial up the magnification, the corrections are always accurate. This is a superb scope especially for light mountain rifles, and the optical quality is excellent. MSRP is $2,299.

Visit Steiner-optics.com to learn more.




Zeiss LRP S3 Riflescope

Zeiss offers some of the world’s finest optics in all categories, but the new LRP S3 is designed specifically with long-range shooting in mind. With a front focal plane LRP S3 providing proper correction at any magnification and a segment-leading 160 MOA or 46 ½ MILs of elevation travel, this scope is ready for any long-range match or hunting rifle. Available in 4-25×50 or 6-36×56, these scopes come with external locking windage turrets and illuminated reticles. LRP S3 scopes are vibration tested to 1,500 Gs to ensure they can withstand hard use in the field. MSRP is $2,499.

Go to Zeiss.com.




Magview S1 Spotting Scope Adapter

Magview has made it easier than ever to obtain excellent, high-resolution video through your spotting scope. After attaching the S1 Spotting Scope Adapter to the eyepiece of your spotting scope, install the included ultra-thin stainless steel plate onto your cell phone. Rare earth magnets in the S1 hold your phone in position for crisp, stable and distortion-free filming. This is a great tool for scouting and the video quality allows you to discern features on an animal that wouldn’t be possible with less stable designs. The S1 also acts as a cover for your spotting scope when not in use, protecting your investment. MSRP is $169.99.

Learn more at Magviewgear.com.





Nightforce Configurable Spotting Scope

At just over 14 inches long and weighing less than 34 ounces, Nighforce’s new Configurable Spotting Scope (CFS) 6-36x50mm F1 provides a wide magnification range and superb optics in a lightweight, durable package for hunters. But for me what really stands out is how you can customize it. Nightforce’s “mission configurable” design provides multiple mounting points for wind meters, thermal/night vision optics, rangefinders, or just about anything else you might ever want for the situation at hand. Even more accessories can be added through the addition of a Spotting Scope Rail Accessory Platform (s-RAP) with 20 M1913 Picatinny rail slots that extends in front of the scope and an optional “accessory cage” the comes with five separate M-LOK mounting locations. And the scope offers three first focal plane reticle options, in MIL-XTs, MOA-XTs and TREMOR4. The integrated 1.5-inch dovetail base is RRS standard and ARCA-Swiss compatible to ensure easy attachment to a tripod. Even without any accessories this optic is excellent at the range and in the field. The CFS 6-36×50 F1 is priced at $2,950.

Visit Nightforceoptics.com to learn more.



Aimpoint Acro S-2

Aimpoint has built red dot optics for decades, and their newest optic, the Acro S-2, is designed for use on shotguns with ventilated ribs. The fully enclosed, waterproof Acro-S-2 weighs just 2.6-ounces and fits securely on shotgun ribs of varying width. It features a 9 MOA dot powered by a 2032 lithium battery with a 50,000-hour life. Flush-fit windage and elevation adjustments allow point-of-impact manipulation without swapping out shims, and the red dot has 10 daylight brightness settings to perfectly match conditions. I tested the S-2 in Colorado at a sporting clays course and found that my hits increased dramatically with the optic in place. MSRP is $755.


Go to Aimpoint.us.