By Jeff Johnston
Here at Field Ethos, we really don’t give a damn what you buy; it’s not our business. Rather, I’m just here to tell you why I think Leica’s Geovid Pro 32 is the best all-around hunting binocular ever built. Here it is:
Hunt once with any Leica and you won’t want to peer through a Vortex ever again. You might have to, but you won’t like it. It has nothing to do with the little red logo that tells people the Leica costs a shitload, but all to do with the fact that the unit is clearer, brighter, and sharper than anything else. Whereas average glass magnifies your vision, optically superior glass enhances it in every way so colors become crisper and images become more distinct. Compare them side-by-side any similar-sized unit at dusk and you can quantify it this way: Great glass allows you to hunt longer.
But of course anyone in the know knows this about Leica already. It’s the laser rangefinder and other consolidated features all stuffed into a compact, 32mm unit that make the Geovid Pro stand apart even from other top-enders such as Zeiss and Swaro.
Namely the Geovid Pro features a ballistic solution that works in conjunction with its laser rangefinder, onboard sensors (barometer, inclinometer and thermometer) and your smartphone to give you precise dope tailored to your rifle out to 2500 yards with a push of a button.
Sure, it takes few minutes to set up via the unit’s bluetooth and Leica’s excellent Applied Ballistics app, but once your load is entered, the Pro flashes your holdover in any form you choose—inches, clicks, mils or moa—the instant after the range is given in a red LED readout. Does it make doping easy? Easier than Gavin Newsome. And it can also tell you where your target was when you fired, making it easier to track and find downed animals.
I prefer Leica’s new 32mm Pro to larger objective units for all-around use because any time a laser rangefinder, computer chip and battery is incorporated into a bino, it will necessarily weigh more, and I like to keep my binos as light as possible. But with Leica’s superior glass, I’ve never felt handicapped with the 32mm objectives, even in sheep country. Certainly if all I ever hunted was big open country, I’d probably opt for 42s, but most of my time is spent in wooded and mixed country where the 32s are perfectly suited, even for bowhunting. Leica’s best-in-class lenses transmit more light than larger binos of lesser quality and so you get the best of both worlds: A do anything, take anywhere unit for all hunting and target shooting.
At its price I expect perfection, however, so I’d be doing a disservice if I failed to mention its negatives. First, the focus wheel on my test unit was rather mushy and tended to rotate slightly even as I removed my finger from it. Secondly the diopter adjustment mechanism needs a lock feature. It’s great that both eyepieces have adjustable diopters, but I habitually found myself getting them dialed perfectly to my eyes, hunting some, then holding the Geovid up only to find that the diopters had been bumped from their settings. There needs to be a lock like on most other Leica models, and I expect Leica will address this.
Even so, I still feel the Geovid Pro is tops, mainly because it’s about the smallest top-end bino available that allows me to leave my rangefinder at home. Within two seconds I can glass an animal, know the range and dope to adjust for the shot, rather than glass an animal, fumble around with a rangefinder then manually enter the data into a calculator before adjusting. This alone makes the unit worth the cheese to me. Buy once, cry once.
Pros: best glass in the world, onboard rangefinder, compact size for LR unit, integrated ballistic app
Cons: diopter adjustment needs lock, mushy focus wheel feel