When it comes to a hunting binocular, not all products are created equal. A consumer has the choice of eye-crossing devices that intend to pass themselves off as a binocular, all the way up to those high-end European models that allow you to count the rings of Saturn on a clear night. For most of us who hunt, the sensible answer lies somewhere in the middle. I have found that middle ground answer, in the Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD line.
Leupold & Stevens—long famous for their rock-solid riflescopes—have stepped up their game of late, and every one of their HD optic products offers an incredible value. Their BX-5 binocular shows its value right out of the box; the unit is well thought-out and easy to adjust, and images from five yards to 1,500 yards are clear and crisp, from edge to edge. I immediately recognized the same clarity in the Santiam binocular that I saw in the VX-5HD riflescope. Low light is no issue, as the Santiam binocular offers light transmission in the low 90th percentile—no lenses will offer 100% light transmission—due to the Twilight Max HD coating, protected by the Guard ION coating.
The replaceable eyecups extend nicely, making the BX-5 comfortable to use for long glassing sessions; the central focus dial offers enough resistance to stay put when you want it to, yet adjusts easily. The right lens diopter focus allows the user to easily obtain a crisp focus, and it stays where you put it, even carrying the binocular under the left arm, as I do. The gray rubber covering is tough enough for everyday use, and textured enough for a comfortable grip. I’ve used this 8x42mm binocular for summer scouting and our early bear season here in New York, and I have become a huge fan of this binocular; they’re coming along on my Zimbabwean safari this fall.
I spoke with Zach Bird, one of Leupold’s Product Line Managers, about the unit, and he gave me some insight into the development: “We are very proud of the BX-5HD Santiam line; our goal from the onset was to deliver the most comfortable binocular, with the best clarity we could produce. The eye box was built to be used with or without glasses, and the eyecups are a big part of the binocular’s comfort,” Bird related, “we’ve hit on something very special with the combination of roof-prism design and proper lens design and coatings.” I couldn’t agree more.
The BX-5 Santiam HD comes in three power configurations: 8×42, 10×42 and 15×56, and in the gray color, or the Sitka Gear sub-alpine camo design, covering the spectrum of glassing needs. I personally prefer the 8×42, as I spend most of my time in the thicker woods of the Northeast, or in the thick vegetation of wild Africa that the buffalo loves to haunt, and 8x glass serves me well. If you’re in the market for a good binocular, you’d be doing yourself a favor by giving Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD an audition; I think you’ll find them a great value. With a street price ranging between ~$1100 and $1,450, depending on the model, they are much more affordable than the high-end European stuff, yet offer a performance level which is very close to the best of the best.
Visit Leupold to learn more about Leupold’s BX-5 Santiam line by clicking HERE.