Teamwork Vs. Collectivism
October 3, 2013
Operational Fitness
October 4, 2013

I received the following by email:

I am not a warrior or want’a-bee warrior, too old at 67 y/o. However I have spent 34 years as a Professional Alaskan Hunting Guide. We use quality binoculars more than any other tool to get the job done. I may have missed it, but when you talk of important gear you do not mention binoculars.

This is a short post I made to a prepper forum:

“Quality binoculars are a real asset multiplier for defense, offense, general security, and survival hunting while minimizing your bodies exposure to danger.

Having spent 34 years as a PH, I early learned that hunters tend to buy small binoculars because they are lighter. And while better than nothing, they are not much better than nothing.

Odd that people spend a lot of money on a firearm, and totally miss the value of quality binoculars and spotting scope. I mention this as I have just upgraded from Zeiss 10X40B binoculars to Swarovski 15X56 binoculars.

Yes, “Quality” cost a lot of money, but good binoculars are way more valuable and useful that a top-shelf firearm”.

It’s a good point and well presented. I mention binos but I don’t make enough of a point about it. I talk in a recent post about forming a hollow square and handing the binos over to the next person filling the command appointment. Binos were the symbol of command because they implied you were going to use them to observe the battlefield. 
It’s an affliction I have called ‘CRS” – which stands for ‘can’t remember stuff’ caused by information sometimes falling out of my head or somehow to the back of my mind, until reminded. 
I have talked in great depth about weapons optics, and the use of night vision/thermal devices such as NVGs and FLIR. For daylight observation you should consider a good pair of binos. The tendency nowadays is to use a weapon sight optic to scan. This is useful if you have a x 4 optic on your rifle, but a set of binos should have far better magnification than this.
An essential item for either running an OP or for scanning ground before moving over it. You can combine that with a handheld FLIR to key you in on areas of heat that you may not have spotted through the optic. The spotting scope is particularly useful for a static op, the stand will give you better stability and help you scan better for longer. 
Any good recommendations from readers are welcome in comments.
Live Hard, Die Free.


  1. Anonymous says:

    “The tendency nowadays is to use a weapon sight optic to scan. This is useful if you have a x 4 optic on your rifle, but a set of binos should have far better magnification tan this.”
    I would like to point out that if you’re under observation (not being stealthy as you think you are) and you’re scanning w/ binos you are not an immediate threat. If you’re scanning w/ a rifle scope you are. The person observing you can’t tell if you’re scanning w/ your rifle or looking at something to shoot.

    • Max Velocity says:

      This was something that became an issue in Northern Ireland, where the troops would scan with the x 4 SUSAT mounted on the rifle, which led to complaints from civilians that they were being ‘aimed at’.

      Good point!

  2. QuietMan says:

    7×50 has been the US Army (There I go again. 😉 ) standard issue since before we were born. That combo provides excellent light gathering without being overly bulky. The formula here is do divide power by objective lens size to get exit pupil size. The larger the exit pupil, the more light gets to your eyeball. They are a bit more bulky than most.

    I use a set of 7x50s designed for boating: They have the 5 mil stadia lines (I suck at range estimation.), a compass, and are water and shockproof. I think they were $150 off Amazon. The Russian made 8x30s are excellent, but they have been “discovered” by everyone and are now hard to find at a reasonable price.

    Look for lenses that are coated on both sides to reduce light loss from reflection. It is nice if they’ll take killflash inserts but if they don’t, stretch a piece of pantyhose over the obj lenses and tape in place. Some light loss but better than the alternative.

    Any recommendations on a smaller set that won’t break the bank?

  3. Anonymous says:

    The 7x50s were the binos of the FOs because M-17s are HEAVY and very bulky .(I own a set with the rang finder) The standard for infantry types from about 1914 till the 60s were 6×30 first the EE then theEE8 and last the M-13.(they all had range finders) The cavalry(pre ww-1) used a set of “scout field glasses” that were less than 1lb Made in Germany and could be covered by one hand. Sadly the best of them are mostly in collections gathering dust (I own at least one set of all the above)—Ray PS the optics on the old hand made bronze and glass binos is STUNNINGLY good. At least as good as anything made today when in new condition.

  4. Historian says:

    Depending on what I am doing, I either use Nikon 7×50 with a center focus knob or Bushnell marine 7x50s with the 5 mil reticle that QuietMan references. I also have a pocket sized Burris 8×30 that is part of my EDC bag.

    Keep in mind that my local terrain ranges from wooded rolling plains to heavy timbered rugged mountains, with some large open fields. There is some value in higher magnification, especially in mountainside OPs, but those situations might best be handled with a good spotting scope.

  5. ThingyMajig says:

    The Vortex’ Recon and Solo series are quite good (take your trade-off in size vs. magnification, and your funds – $69 to $700). Bonus: they come with an MRAD-graduated reticule, so practicing range estimation without a full scope is a lot easier and less conspicuous.

    The Viper R/T 10×50 is reasonably light and is rather astonishingly clear – got a chance to borrow them at a long range interdiction class from a classmate.

    A follow-on to QuietMan’s point on pupil sizes – I recall reading, in an optics forum (sadly, the actual link is lost to the sands of time) that during dusk/low-light, the minimum exit pupil size should be at around 2.8mm. More is, obviously, better.