Leupold Binoculars - A Good Deal or a Good Name from Yesterday?


Leupold binoculars are sold by the Leupold & Stevens company presently located in Beaverton, Oregon. Leupold & Stevens got its start when Markus Friedrich (Fred) Leupold, a German-born machinist, and his brother-in-law Adam Voelpel established a business repairing survey equipment in 1907. In 1911 John Stevens contracted with the business to produce a water-flow recording instrument he had designed and patented. By 1914, the water level recorder had proven its value and Stevens became a partner in the business with the resulting change of name to Leupold, Voelpel, and Co. The business managed to prosper and grow through quality, innovative products during the depressed economy of the 1930s and in 1942 changed its name to the present Leupold & Stevens (Voelpel's death in 1940 made the name change a practical matter).

During World War II, the future producer of Leupold binoculars became a military contractor manufacturing navigational devices for the United States Navy and the United States Merchant Marine as well as repairing machine gun sights for the Merchant Marine fleet. It was while making those gun sight repairs that the firm's engineers found that replacing the oxygen, containing potentially moisture-laden molecules, with pure, dry nitrogen gas and sealing them against moisture eliminated the internal lens fogging that had troubled outdoor optics up to then. This was the breakthrough for used in the design and production of the company's sportsmen's riflescope - the weather-proofed Plainsman was introduced to the public in 1949. The Plainsman may not have been waterproof by today's standards, but it and its successors were the most water-resistant of its day and it served to make the Leupold & Stevens name well-known for sports optics.

In 1992, after more than 20 years without, the United States again had binoculars which were manufactured within the country when Leupold & Stevens introduced the Golden Ring binocular line.

As is the case with most successful organizations today, Leupold & Stevens sells its optical products globally. Of its various product offerings, the Golden Ring products are, to the best of OpticsReviewer.com's understanding, all made in the United States. Some of the Golden Ring components are obtained internationally, notably high quality lenses from both Europe and Asia, but the assembly/production is completed in the USA. (It's worth noting that all major optics producers, globally, get some/all of their glass components from these same sources.) Other Leupold & Stevens products are produced internationally, in keeping with today's international economy.

Noteworthy binoculars provided by Leupold & Stevens include the following models.

Except for the Yosemite model, which is a Porro prism model and doesn't need phase coating, each of the following roof prism models have phase coated prisms for a superior view. Unless otherwise noted, each of these binoculars' prisms are made of BaK-4 glass and their lenses are fully multi-coated.

Leupold Golden Ring 10X42 The Golden Ring series has been temporarily suspended and will be re-released with updates. You'll notice (below) that the older Golden Rings had a nice, wide field of view that will allowed for monitoring the activity in a larger area. The Golden Ring binoculars have always been backed by Leupold's excellent Full Lifetime Guarantee - meaning that if any Golden Ring product is found to have defects in materials or workmanship, Leupold will, at its option, either repair or replace it for free whether or not you're the original owner. No warranty card is necessary for claim under the Golden Ring warranty.

Leupold BX-3 Mojave 8X42 The Leupold BX-3 Mojave binoculars enjoy an enviable reputation as a model series with a nice, wide-angle view to allow observation of the big picture's activities. They provide an above average resolution of detail, contrast, and crisp view that we've found delightful whenever we've been able to get our hands on them. While Leupold says that it uses "Cold Mirror Coated BAK4 prisms" we understand this to be a somewhat obscure way of saying that the Mojave prisms have dielectric coatings. Although we've not yet had opportunity to obtain and fully test this model, we look forward to getting a BX-3 Mojave binocular and providing a full review. The Mojave and all of the Leupold binoculars' BX models are covered by Leupold's Lifetime Limited Warranty. This is for non-electronic products and says that Leupold warrants to the original owner that the product will be free of defects in materials and workmanship and to perform satisfactorily under normal-use conditions. Under this warranty, Leupold will repair or replace, at its option, any instrument found to have a defect in its materials or workmanship for as long as you own it. Available at Amazon.com.

Configuration 8X42 10X42 10X50 12X50
Dielectric Prism Coating Yes Yes Yes Yes
Field of View at 1,000 yd/m ft/m 368/123 326/109 263/88 220/77
Close Focus Distance ft/m 8.0/2.4 7.5/2.3 15.0/4.5 9.9/3.0
Exit Pupil (mm) 5.25 4.20 5.00 4.20
Relative Brightness 27.6 17.6 25.0 17.6
Eye Relief (mm) 19.0 16.0 17.0 17.0
Weight oz/g 23.4/663 24.0/686 28.2/800 28.2/800
Inter-pupillary Distance (mm) 58-74 58-74 58-74 58-74

Leupold BX-2 Cascades 10X42 Our Leupold BX-2 Cascades review tells you what we found when we bought one of the 10X42 configurations to test. How do they perform? What kind of view can you expect from these Leupold binoculars? We wrote one of our long articles to tell you all about them! (Please see the table of Cascades configurations in the full review.)

Leupold BX-2 Acadia 8X42 The Leupold BX-2 Acadia binoculars provide multi-coated optics with a generous field of view as noted below. They're both waterproofed and rubber armored. The diopter adjustment is by means of an interestingly designed mechanism accessed in front of the center focus wheel. The Acadia binoculars are covered under Leupold's Limited Lifetime Warranty. Available at Amazon.com.

Dielectric Prism CoatingNoNo
Field of View at 1,000 yd/m ft/m394/131368/123
Close Focus Distance ft/m7.5/2.39.0/2.7
Exit Pupil (mm)5.254.20
Relative Brightness27.617.6
Eye Relief (mm)15.515.5
Weight oz/g23.1/65523.5/666
Inter-pupillary Distance (mm)58-7658-76

Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 6X30 The BX-1 Leupold Yosemite binoculars are a small handful of Porro prism that made us think twice the first day we used them in the field. Since they're marketed as an excellent first binocular for younger hands and faces (they provide a shorter interpupillary distance), we purchased a Yosemite 6X30 to test. What we found out about this one of Leupold binoculars' offerings may surprise you. (Please see the table of Yosemite configurations in the full review.)

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