I’m a believer that using binoculars will make you a more successful hunter and I always carry them. do have a pair of fold-up, pocket 8 x 20s, but I always carry my 7 x 40s, for the simple reason that that they’re just better. Full-size bin’s offer stability and image quality that compacts cannot compete with. In low light conditions, we want the lenses to gather as much light as possible and funnel that into our waiting pupil that, in theory at least, can dilate to 7mm in diameter. We can learn the exit pupil (the beam of light exiting the bin’s) by dividing the object lens size in millimetres by the magnification. The designers of the Bushnell Trophy Extreme I have on test clearly understand this well. 56/8 = 7. Voila! The perfect size to fill our eyes.
The 8 x 56 has been the classic stalker’s binocular on the continent for decades, famed for having the ultimate last-light performance, exactly the time when our quarry tends to be most active. It’s clear that Bushnell has built the Trophy Extreme to take the hard, outdoor life, guaranteeing them to be fully waterproof, even if immersed, and by giving them a tough rubber coating to add grip and absorb the knocks. They’ve also moulded the contact points to be very ergonomic, which is important in a binocular that will be used for extended periods.
To aid this, the large, centrallymounted focus wheel moves freely and is large enough to be used with gloved hands, something that matters during the colder months. It’s also geared to be quite fast, so you don’t need much movement to focus from near to far, helping you to search over large areas efficiently.
The price you pay for using big lenses is big weight, and at 2.4lbs you soon know you have these around your neck. However, they’re about on par for the course for bin’s in this category.
The most important test for me was image quality, and with all the effort Bushnell has put into the lenses and coatings I was hoping for something special. During daylight the image was bright and crisp, even on dull, overcast days, but to be honest, any binocular at this price should deliver that without question. The acid test is in low light conditions. Only the best glass and coatings can deliver those precious extra minutes as the sun sets, so I determined to push these bin’s hard. Searching darkening areas of the shady woodland floor for squirrels, I was happy with the performance and spotting woodies coming in to roost at last light showed just what these big lenses can do. Overall, they’re a serious contender for anybody looking for some high-quality bin’s in this price range.
Inset: The rubber eye cups are adjustable for those of us who usually wear glasses