GUN WORLD (ISSN 0017-5641)

NOT JUST “HALF OF A BINOCULAR,” A MONOCULAR IS ABOUT ONE-THIRD THE WEIGHT AND SMALL ENOUGH TO GO JUST ABOUT ANY­WHERE.

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The mod­ern monocular is a mag­ni­fy­ing assem­bly of lenses that is used with one eye only. It has the small­est foot­print of any mag­ni­fy­ing op­tic, and it is also the light­est. In fact, some can tip the scales at un­der 2 ounces. These tiny spot­ting scopes are the fastest ob­ser­va­tion de­vices de­ployed into ser­vice and do not re­quire a hinge ad­just­ment for proper IPD (in­ter­pupil­lary dis­tance), as does a binocular. Mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is from about 3x to 15x, with 8x and 10x the most com­mon. Ob­jec­tive sizes on huge mod­els can be up to 50mm, but most sub­com­pact ob­jec­tives are from 20mm to around 28mm. Many are about the di­am­e­ter of a quar­ter and carry just as eas­ily.

Some monoculars are very sim­i­lar to one bar­rel only of an ex­ist­ing “sib­ling” binocular. But the­o­ret­i­cally cut­ting a binocular in half would save only 50 per­cent of the size and weight. The monocular bar­rel does not carry half of the binocular’s re­quired hinge, so many are only one-third the size and weight of a binocular.

MONOCULAR VS. BINOCULAR

A monocular is gen­er­ally not an in­stru­ment de­signed to be used for long pe­ri­ods of time. Monoculars are at their

most use­ful when snapped up to the eye for a quick peek or to de­ter­mine what can’t be iden­ti­fied with the naked eye. Ex­am­ples are traf­fic jams up ahead, un­usual air­planes pass­ing, the fire trail to help me find my way home or look­ing for that cer­tain per­son or booth on the floor of the con­ven­tion cen­ter. Us­ing only one eye causes strain; and, for view­ing plea­sure or for ex­tended pe­ri­ods, the binocular is the bet­ter choice and also of­fers bet­ter depth per­cep­tion.

Also keep in mind that the exit pupil—the col­umn of light ex­it­ing the oc­u­lar lens and into your eye—will be tiny with a small monocular, of­ten around 2mm. As a re­sult, com­pact monoculars are gen­er­ally not a great choice for use in low light.

The hu­man brain al­lows us to see bet­ter and more com­fort­ably when us­ing two eyes rather than one. That is, if you can put a per­for­mance num­ber on the vis­ual acu­ity you have with one eye and also put a num­ber on the other eye, us­ing both eyes will re­sult in a per­for­mance num­ber greater than the sum of the two in­di­vid­ual eyes added to­gether. Binocular vi­sion en­hances per­for­mance. Make sense?

Still, there are many users who pre­fer a monocular over a binocular, mainly due to size. Some users might only have the use of one eye due to in­jury or ill­ness. My friend, Mark, lost the cen­ter of vi­sion in his right eye as a com­pli­ca­tion of di­a­betes. He loathes spend­ing money on a binocular when he can phys­i­cally only use one-third of the to­tal prod­uct. He in­sists that even though binoc­u­lars are ubiq­ui­tous and, there­fore, rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive to man­u­fac­ture due to such high vol­ume, he’d rather put his money into a bet­ter-qual­ity monocular. His choice is the Vor­tex Solo R/T.

An ar­gu­ment to use a binocular in­stead of a monocular is that the two-bar­reled op­tic is eas­ier to hold steady, be­cause you use two hands to sta­bi­lize a binocular and only one to steady a monocular. If this is a prob­lem, use two hands to steady the monocular; there’s no rule stat­ing that you can’t. How­ever, one ben­e­fit of us­ing a monocular with one hand is that it’s more dis­creet: It does not uni­ver­sally dis­tin­guish you as a per­son us­ing an op­tic.

MONOCULAR FEA­TURES

Vor­tex Op­tics of­fers the widest va­ri­ety of qual­ity monoculars.

They are pre­mium op­ti­cal sys­tems that will last a life­time and are war­ranted to do so. Many are large enough to be used as a pri­mary op­tic for re­con­noi­ter­ing and other ex­tended use, and a range find­ing ret­i­cle is avail­able in some mod­els. Many are sim­i­lar to one-half of that com­pany’s com­pact and sub­com­pact binoc­u­lars.

Most man­u­fac­tur­ers’ monoculars are de­signed and man­u­fac­tured as monoculars from their in­cep­tion. These tiny spot­ters can be so in­ex­pen­sive as to make them re­quired equip­ment in all your ve­hi­cles, as well as back­ups in bug-out bags and sur­vival kits.

There are myr­iad monoculars avail­able at around $20, but they can cost sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars from mak­ers such as Le­ica

MONOCULARS ARE AT THEIR MOST USE­FUL WHEN SNAPPED UP TO THE EYE FOR A QUICK PEEK OR TO DE­TER­MINE WHAT CAN’T BE IDEN­TI­FIED WITH THE NAKED EYE.

Large monoculars are com­fort­able enough to be used for ex­tended view­ing times.

No mat­ter how light you travel, there’s al­ways room for a monocular. I

An amaz­ing amount of hand­held per­for­mance is avail­able for around $20!

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