HOW WE TEST

Outdoor Life - - GEAR -

We rated op­tics on their abil­ity to serve a hunter or shooter, which meant putting an em­pha­sis on their dura­bil­ity, ver­sa­til­ity, and field wor­thi­ness. Since op­tics are de­signed to help us see, we also scored im­age sharp­ness and clean­ness on a stan­dard res­o­lu­tion chart, and then tested their low-light vis­i­bil­ity in the evenings. But the bal­ance of the test was in the field. We spent weeks with the binoc­u­lars, us­ing them the way you do: by strap­ping them to our chests and hik­ing all sorts of ter­rain. We mounted spot­ting scopes on tripods and used them to spot game and score hits at the ri­fle range. We mounted all ri­fle­scopes on guns and rated their abil­ity to make pre­cise aim­ing ad­just­ments and re­turn to zero, time after time.

We also as­sessed their er­gonomics, their looks, and whether they’re suit­able for the task they’re in­tended to tackle.

The op­tics that scored the most points won our Edi­tor’s Choice awards. The op­tics with the high­est value scores won our Great Buy awards.

We grouped ri­fle­scopes de­signed for long-range shoot­ing as a sin­gle cat­e­gory. The sec­ond cat­e­gory of ri­fle­scopes, which we call the “ver­sa­tile” scopes, are pri­mar­ily in­tended for hunting but have enough ret­i­cle ref­er­ences for a va­ri­ety of tar­get work. We in­cluded only the high­est-scor­ing prod­ucts in print. For the full field, go to out­door­life.com/op­tic­stest18.

The au­thor checks a binoc­u­lar for im­per­fec­tions.

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