The Swarovski EL Range 10×42 binoculars are my go-to binos — and for good reason. I am on my fourth or fifth season with these now, and there are several reasons why these binoculars are the best in their class.
What makes these binos the best starts with quality of glass. Once you look through Swarovski optics at a distance and compare them to the glass of other manufacturers, they’re noticeably brighter and clearer, thereby improving depth perception at a distance. This means you can see deeper into the brush. When you’re looking at thick brush, you can actually see into the brush and examine from the front brush to the back brush, even at long ranges. Being able to see that kind of variation out at distance really separates Swarovski from a lot of lower-end glass.
The EL Range binos also have a built-in laser rangefinder. I have several other types of rangefinders from companies such as Leupold and Sig Sauer. And when it comes to how quickly they’re able to come up with a range and get it back to you, the EL Range binos are the best. They’re about as fast as anything else. The next closest would be the Sig Sauer BDX 2400 which is pretty quick on retrieval of range. With the El Range binos, I’ve ranged out over 2200 yards, so they have extreme ranging capabilities. And with anything under a thousand yards, they pretty much can pick up no matter what right away. If you’re looking at a deer in a field and trying to range it with the 10 power of your binoculars, you’re typically able to hit that deer the first time. But if you were to use a lesser-power handheld rangefinder, A) you’re not as stable with it when you’re trying to click the range button. A lot of times it moves off your target for your laser. And B) it’s a lot smaller of a target to hit. So sometimes it takes you two or three times to hit the target, whereas the 10 power binos are far more stable. Additionally, you’re holding them with two hands, you barely need to press the button, the square comes up and hits the deer, gives you a range, and reports it right back to you right away. It’s quick, and it’s easy, and it also gives you one less thing to carry in the field. For rifle hunting, I have my set of binos and I have my Kestrel. And that’s about all I need for the day. I don’t need to have binos, a rangefinder, and Kestrel to pack around.
Where you can really see the difference between Swarovski glass versus lesser models is when you sit behind them for any length of time. A lot of times we’ll sit and glass for 20, 30, 40 minutes, an hour, hour and a half, two hours, three hours, and you don’t notice the difference between good glass and bad glass until you spend a long time behind them. The eye strain that comes from trying to pick stuff up through brush and things of that nature can catch up with you quickly. The cleaner and clearer that glass is, the less eye fatigue you have. And so where the Swarovski binos really shine and where you see their value comes in your ability to glass for long hours and not have that eyestrain. They’re easy to just sit behind — You put them on a tripod and can sit there all day long. It’s unbelievable how clear and less fatigue you have with those than other models of binos that are similar. They’re by far the best of all the ones I’ve tried. An honorable mention would be the Leicas. And that’s really the only other range finding bino in its class that’s comparable to Swarovskis. They’re both really good. Again, what separates them is how long you can look behind them before you start getting eyes strain. And the Swarovski seemed to edge out the Leicas by a little bit.
As far as durability goes, the Swarovkis have a very rugged cover over the top of them. You can beat these things up left and right and not have to worry about them. You can also get the built-in scope covers or lens covers that pop on and off that are pretty durable as well. As far as fog, rain, wind, and everything else, you can abuse these things and they don’t fog up very much compared to other ones. They’re just flat out durable. I take them up into Southeast Alaska blacktail hunting, where it is some of the nastiest country and weather you’ll ever experience, and these binoculars never miss a beat and never miss a range. Even when it’s raining out, they still range when a lot of rangefinders won’t range at all.
An additional point when it comes to durability is that Swarovski stands behind every product they make. If you tear a lens cap off, they’ll send you a new one right away, no questions asked. They’ll even airdrop it to me in Alaska. What this ultimately means is you’re really buying a set of binos for life. You only need one, and you only have to buy once, and they stand behind it for as long as you own that product.
If you notice, a lot of hunting guides, maybe the bulk of them, choose Swarovski. This is especially true of guides that guide multiple seasons and multiple places and might be putting one to 200 days a year behind glass. If you look at who does that, there’s a pretty big following of Swar-optics guys that are also the top guides in the world. That alone speaks a lot for itself. You’re not going to spend that much time behind glass and have subpar glass. You’re going to have the best because that’s the only thing you can afford to have and keep your sanity and your eyesight and everything else. So that speaks a lot for where Swarovski is in the industry and the quality of product that they have.
To learn more about the Swarovski El Range 10×42 binoculars, please click here.
— Rick Matney
Wild Game Chef
Disclosure: Swarovski is in a professional relationship with Rack Camp. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.