As a hunter you must take any advantage with you into the field as, whether you choose to hunt on foot or with some form of motorised transport, being able to scan your surrounds for intended quarry just makes sense. Glassing refers to using a good pair of binoculars or spotting scope, not relying on your riflescope, and while spotting scopes are excellent for covering long distances, a pair of binoculars is more realistic and definitely more practical. Yet the dilemma exists - what size binoculars are best for the hunter?
There are compact options which easily fit your pocket right up to huge 15x56 units best used with a tripod mount, certainly not to be carried around your neck in high country. Recently, many European hunters have gravitated towards binoculars which combine practicality with performance - the 8x32. Where the 10x25 is a tad small at the objective end (for field of view) and the 8x42 and 10x42 a bit bulky and on the heavy side, common ground in the 8x32 has won many new fans.
In the UK one of the best sellers has been the Hawke Endurance ED 8x32s, perfectly suited to the stalking hunter who demands an optic which is lighter, trim but still performs as required. This model is available to Australian hunters through The Scope Store, importer and distributor of Hawke Optics, and on request a pair of Endurance 8x32 ED binoculars were supplied to Australian Shooter for review.
At a glance
Hawke Optics make a variety of binoculars to suit all budgets and applications. The Endurance bracket is one of the premium models, eclipsed only by the Frontier grouping, while the Vantage and Nature-Trek options sit below the Endurance. The Endurance family has two sub-pockets - the standard Endurance with phase corrected BAK-4 roof prisms and Endurance ED with extra-low dispersion glass and phase-corrected BAK-4 prisms. The Endurance ED category consists of 10 individual models covering 8x32, 10x32, 8x42, 10x42, 8x25 and 10x25.
The review binoculars are finished in black but can be supplied in attractive green, the customary white Hawke Optics carton containing binoculars, carry-case, neck strap, lens covers and cloths. Immediately I was appreciative of the trim unit and light 539g weight, measuring 134mm and between 99-119mm wide with intra-pupillary distance of 55-75mm. Externally, Hawke haven’t scrimped on quality with the Endurance ED, the binoculars sitting beautifully in the hands with two textured grip panels on either side giving a good grip surface, the focus dial perfectly located just behind the bridge and easily reached with both index fingers. The body feels like firm rubber with some scalloping and patterns which are more aesthetic than anything.
On the side of each barrel are integral anchor points for attaching the supplied strap. To the rear, the adjustable eyecups are rubber lined for comfort and have two click-settings when screwing them out from the body, handy for those who wear glasses. An adjustable diopter setting on the right barrel ocular lens makes optical adjustment perfect, the rear eyecups protected by a set of slip-on rubber covers, fairly standard these days.
At the front end the objective lenses are protected by two flip-down rubber covers which are easy to remove with the bonus of being permanently anchored to the binocular body and impossible to lose, reinstalling them taking just seconds. Looking at the internals and technical features, the Endurance ED 8x32 is built around a chassis made from magnesium alloy and optically the field of view is 129m at 1000m with a close focus distance of 2m, eye relief set at 18mm.
The lenses on the ED series feature extra-low dispersion glass for optimum clarity with fully multi-coated optics producing sharp images from 2m onwards. The prisms are high-resolution phase corrected BAK-4 roof prisms, which give excellent light transmission with minimal colour fringing or chromatic aberration - something which seems to hamper lower-quality binoculars - just look through a set of quality binoculars to see the difference. These binoculars are nitrogen-purged, waterproof and fogproof and covered by Hawke’s lifetime warranty.
In the field
My regular hunting binoculars are pocket-sized 10x25s and larger (heavier) 10x42s which are used either from a vehicle or a ground blind and I chose to leave both at home and use the Endurance ED 8x32s on a late winter deer hunt. I was never disadvantaged using the 8x32s as they performed beyond expectations and, dare I say, were neck-and-neck with my 10x42s - a $1000-pair from a renowned Japanese manufacturer.
Even in low-light conditions images were positive and spotting deer from the scrub background was easy. Just having binoculars which fall between 10x25 and 10x42 was reason enough to decide to keep this pair for my own needs and send The Scope Store a cheque in return - they’re a superb optic for the money.
Endurance ED binoculars in 8x32 represent fantastic value at around $470 and they certainly punch above their weight, losing nothing to the traditional 8x42 and 10x42 equivalents with the biggest benefit being their compact size and weight. Glass quality with the ED lenses and fully multi-coated surfaces, mated with the phase-corrected BAK-4 prisms, gives all the confidence you’ll need when scanning for that favourite game animal. More at www.thescopestore.com.au.
Manufacturer: Hawke Optics, UK
Model: Endurance ED 8x32
Objective diameter: 32mm
Field of view (129m at 1000m)
Close focus: 2m
Eye relief: 18mm
Lenses: ED - Extra-low dispersion, fully multi-coated
Prism: Phase corrected BAK-4 roof prisms
Dimensions: 134mm x 119mm (widest)
Accessories: Carry-case, neck strap, lens covers, lens cloths, user manual
Warranty: Hawke lifetime warranty
Distributor: The Scope Store, Toowoomba, Qld www.thescopestore.com.au