Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD

By Jeff Johnston

The FE team may not be beer snobs—we’ll drink about anything you place on the bartop—but we are binocular snobs. Life’s too short and hunts are too valuable to use cheap-ass glass. With that, however, we realize plenty of guys just can’t justify $1,600 for an item they might use a couple times per year, much like I can’t justify $1,600 golf clubs when I can just as easily card a 105 with Academy Sports specials. 

So this article is for hunters on a budget but who want a good all-around binocular. But first, a few parameters for my choice.

The point of a binocular is to see things in detail by way of magnification. But magnification comes with a drawback, and that is brightness and field-of-view. With everything being equal, the higher the power, the less bright and the smaller the field-of-view. So, I like an 8x or 10x bino for most scenarios; 8x if I mainly bowhunt or hunt in the eastern U.S.; 10x if I predominantly hunt out West. As for size, 42mm (objective lenses) is a good combination of weight to brightness; If the bino is too small, it’s not bright at high power in low light; if it’s too big, I find I don’t use it as much as I would if it were easier to carry. Lastly, $600 seems to be some sort of a magic dollar threshold when it comes to buying binoculars. So when I look at good quality 10×42 binos under $600 (at Opticsplanet.com) a few stand out including the Meopta Optika, Steiner Predator, Kowa BD, Zeiss Terra and Leupold’s new BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2. Today I’m picking the Leupolds due to their quality, newfound compactness, and accessories that come with them.

Leupold’s binos have come a long way in the last few years, and if you’ve followed Field Ethos for long, you might have seen the review of the original BX4 Pro Guide HDs. These Japanese-made Gen 2s are even better, mainly in terms of size and weight. 

For starters, when I compare the Gen 2s side-by-side with my Leicas, optically I struggle to find much difference. Surely there is some, because the Leicas cost three times as much, right? Optically, the HD glass is bright and extremely resolute. The eye cups twist out uniformly in three levels; the focus wheel is stiff enough that it stays put, but soft enough that it’s easy to operate. I love that the diopter adjustment locks after I set it—so many binos don’t have this necessary feature. The flats of the barrels combined with the open-bridge design make the unit easy to hold onto with one hand. Also new is a hidden tripod adaptor—something that many hunters don’t think they’ll use until they have it. Ergonomically, the BX-4 Gen 2 is as good as anything out there. 

Considering just the actual unit itself, I think it represents a good value. But Leupold piled it on with accessories that sweeten the pot and likely give the edge to the BX-4s over similarly priced units, some of which are likely made in the exact same factory. 

The BX-4 comes with a case that doubles as a belt pouch; its strap actually goes on the binos without some proprietary bullshit attachment system that will leave you screwed if you ever lose it. Of course it comes with lens covers. Finally, and uniquely, the Gen. 2 comes with three sets of eye cups that you can choose–imagine this—based on your face type. All in all, the American company that builds possibly world’s best hunting riflescopes did itself proud with its new binocular. 

Cost: $599

Pros: smaller/lighter than the originals, optically great for the money, accessories are a great bonus

Cons: C’mon Leupold! The case could have easily been made to be a chest harness.

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