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Best New Hunting Optics for 2015

Best New Hunting Optics for 2015

optics

When I counted up the hours spent afield last year, the ones that meant the most were in open country. I watched deer and made stalks on bucks that I spotted from up to two miles away. The optics made the difference. But, in some cases, they weren't good enough.

I want to get all the clarity and light transmission possible when counting antler points in those last minutes of the evening. To that end, I checked out what's new for hunters and shooters right now. I also scoured the 2015 SHOT Show to find the optics that will help you in your hours afield this season.

Steiner|Wildlife XP 10x44mm

Fast. That's what these bins are. Steiner's new Wildlife XP  series are offered in 8x44 and 10x44 models with an open-bridge, roof-prism design. The XP comes with a distance-control system that lets you pre-focus to a known distance, eliminating the need to refocus.

What impressed me most was the color rendition and the crisp edges. That's a pet peeve of mine, by the way. I hate when I can't use the whole image.

From Steiner, we expect a lot, and this unit delivers. It's fog proof, waterproof and heatproof and comes with a ClicLoc system for attachment to a harness.

MSRP: gallery= 326,414

Bushnell|Elite 6500

Bushnell took their Elite line to the next level with the 6500 series. My pick from the new offering would be the 2.5-16x scope with a 42mm objective.

I have always found the Elite scopes to offer a high level of clarity and light transmission. This scope looks even better thanks to Bushnell's ultra-wide-band lens coating treatment

MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 326],068.95

Cabela's|Instinct's Euro HD 15x56mm

With more interest in long-range spotting, hunters need better optics. Over the last few years, I've found myself carrying more glass so I could accomplish tasks at close range, mud range, and long range. I know I'm not alone.

At 40 ounces, Cabela's new Euro Instinct  15x56 HD Binocular is heavy, but here's why you might want one: It fills a gap between a close range bono and a spotting scope. You see, you can use it up for up-close viewing, and they're too powerful to stand and scan with.

But, a hunter can sit down, anchor elbows on knees, steady thumb against forehead, and glass long distance for a good 15 minutes. If more time is needed, the bino can be mounted to a tripod.

MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 326],599

Leica|Geovid HD-R 8x42mm

We all have to have a rangefinder now on pretty much every hunt, and I like it best when the rangefinder is incorporated into the bono.

Leica has been at the leading edge of that movement. Their Geovid HD-R actually calculated holdover or turret adjustment for you, and that's especially valuable for shorts at extreme uphill and down angles.

MSRP: gallery= 326,599

Leopold|D-EVO

We expect innovation from Leupold at the SHOT Show, and they didn't disappoint. The D-EVO is a unique carbine optic with a 6x20mm sight picture that can be used for longer distance precision shots.

Paired with a red dot (or holographic or reflex) sight for close range targets, it becomes an extremely versatile sighting system. The designer was on a coyote hunt when he came up with the concept.

Although, this carbine optic is a battle sight, it could very well be put to use for coyote calling. I had to try it. the key to this one is the checkweld. Get down on the gun and stay in the gun to switch between red-dot sight and the 6x reticle.

Only the eye moves, flicking up for the red dot or down for more magnification.

MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 326],874

Meopta|MEOPRO 80 HD

Every ounce counts, but when the stakes are high, the spotting scope is not the place to skimp. Here's a unit that adapts optical elements from higher-priced offerings while maintaining a mid-range price point.

With an 80mm objective to let the light in, the unit is a bit over 14 inches long and weighs 67 ounces. Meopta advertises this system as optimized for twilight for the highest light transmission, which is when I needed it most last October.

I've had a lot of trouble with tripods, so I like this feature: an integrated tripod foot works with most tripod interfaces without the need for an adapter.

MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery= 326],724

Ricoh|NV-10A

Fog presents a major obstacle for hunters, especially those who hunt blacktail deer and elk in the Northwest and Alaska. But the great thing about fog is that it makes deer and elk feel secure.

I've wished for a binocular that cuts through the clouds, and here it is. Ricoh's NV-10  was created to work for Coast Guard applications, to cut through the fog and see into twilight. This bino uses a lens system with features that include image sharpening, anti-vibration and twilight mode.

Like a digital camera, the image is electronic, and it can be recorded at the touch of a button. If you can afford it, get it.

MSRP: $4,19

Swarovski|STR80

Observation with accuracy, that's what Swarovski promises in this new spotting scope. As its name suggests, the STR 80 uses an 80mm objective and a magnification range of 25-50X.

That gives you a lot of light and an exit pupil of 3.2-1.6mm. Overall, the scope stretches the tape to 15.9 inches and tips the scale at 71.6 ounces.

Besides Swarovski's famous HD optics and clarity, the obvious high-tech element in this scope is the battery-operated reticle, which can be activated or de-activated as needed.

MSRP: $3,689

Trijicon|10x 42mm HD

Trijicon made their name with a superior military optic, and they have met the needs of hunters with rifle scopes for many years. But bins are a new market for them.

My choice in a Trijicon bono would be the 10x42 HD , which is both rugged and lighter in hand (thanks to a magnesium body) than I expected. Inside, the lenses are fully broadband multi-coated for light transmission and true color without aberration.

A thumb bar at the bottom of the unit adds a bit of grip and comfort.

MSRP: $849

Vortex|Venom

Fast target acquisition at close range: that's why a person wants a red-dot sight on a carbine, pistol or shotgun. This new optic provides a multi-coated lens with a wide field-of-view and a 3 MOA red dot.

Windage and elevation adjustments are flush and the battery (CR 1632) loads from the top. All are clever, user-friendly features that put this budget scope among my favorites.

MSRP: $329

Nightforce|SHV 3- 10x42mm

Does that Nightforce look great on this issue's cover or what? This new SHV — shooting, hunting, varminter — is compact at 11.6 inches long and looks great on an AR. Yet, its 3-10 magnification is perfect for hunting deer, predators or any other distance shooting.

And we were pleasantly surprised to see Nightforce offer a scope in the sub-[imo-slideshow gallery= 326]K range. Throw in parallax adjustment and a 30mm tube and this is a good option for your bolt-action or semi-auto.

MSRP: $900

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