I started buying optics in my late teens. Like about everyone, I couldn’t afford much but I still bought the best I could (I used 8×42 Pentax for years.) Once I could let the cash go for top-tier optics, I made the leap and have never gone back. However, I meet lots of young deer hunters (and older ones just getting into the game,) with a need for a good optic at a great price.
I don’t think anyone will argue against the fact the law of diminishing returns applies when buying optics– you gotta spend a lot more for noticeable performance. While I don’t see a day when I won’t be using top-of-the heap optics, I also won’t be afraid to step down if I ever have to, or recommend lower-priced glass to those who just can’t justify spending more on their optics than they did on their wife’s wedding ring (don’t lie, I know some of you did!)
With this in mind, I recently tested Rokslide sponsor SIG SAUER’s ZULU5 8×42 Binocular. I ran them side-by-side against my preferred Swarovski 8×42 EL Range binocular. While the Swarovski’s prevailed, there was a lot of value in the ZULU5 platform–light, bright, pretty clear, compact and with full-size performance. The best part? All that for well under $500 (I just saw a pair on Black Ovis for under $400!)
The only category I can’t comment on is durability. I’d need to run them a full season to comment on that (and intend to do so). With SIG’s Lifetime Limited warranty, I think you can rest easy in the purchase if you’re ready to try them now. 11/1/18 update: Since this review was published in 2017, I have continued using the ZULU5 8×42 when I didn’t need a rangefinder, like scouting or to just have a pair in the truck “just in case”. They’ve continued to perform well and there have been no durability issues, other than the neck strap connector mentioned in the video. I’d recommend an aftermarket strap or at least a modified clip connector as that is what keeps coming apart.
So if you, a spouse or a young hunter is in need of a good optic, I can recommend the SIG SAUER’s ZULU5 8×42 Binocular I cover my experiences so far in these two short videos.
You can comment or ask questions below or if you’d like to view the more extensive Rokslide forum discussion, click here
See how I use a variety of optics to find big mule deer in my book Hunting Big Mule Deer