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Mark Camoccio reviews the Hawke Vantage 8x42, and discovers a great all-round pair of binoculars that are an absolute steal at less than £150!
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Binoculars are an invaluable accessory for many outdoor sportsmen, and that applies whether you’re just out enjoying the countryside, observing wildlife in all its glory in its natural habitat, or out hunting, looking to bag a rabbit or deer. Just having a reliable optical device at your side, that can relay detail and information, can transform any trip. As usual, there’s a bewildering array of options available across a wide price range, too, which is just as it should be.
Hawke Optics has the market well and truly covered, with four different model ranges from which to choose. These represent four different grades, with the Vantage here at £149 the cheapest by some margin. That makes it effectively the entry-level model, but don’t let that mislead – this is no cheap and nasty option. The reality is, whilst Hawke may use higher specification glass on their top-flight models, the difference right through the ranges simply isn’t that marked. So, let’s take a closer look at the Vantage 8 x 42 bino’s, and get a feel for what’s on offer.
Open up the protective box, and alongside the bino’s themselves, there’s a soft cloth protective bag, a wide padded neck strap, a soft canvas style carry case for shoulder mounting or attaching to a belt; lens cloth and instruction booklet. The binoculars come with flip-up rubber front lens covers that just hang down when in use, and removable rear cups, which are actually one joined rubber moulding. This has a small eyelet and I would hotly recommend that this is taken advantage of to link the cap to the neck strap to avoid it being lost when out and about with your airgun.
The Vantage is the lightest set of binoculars in the Hawke range, yet at 19.6oz, they still feel significant in the hand. Close inspection reveals a solid set that looks and feels professional, with a pleasing standard of finish, and even a smart profile. The green exterior body shell is slightly harder composite than others in the range, yet the roughed up finish allows for good grip, whilst those neat finger wells on the underside really elevate handling and feel.
There are a couple of elementary details to deal with before use here, and the first is to play with the rear eye cups. Both cups are designed to extend when gently twisted, and jump to three set stages as required. By so doing, the distance between the rear ocular lenses and the eye can be slightly varied. The idea is a comfort fit to suit individual facial dimensions as much as anything, and on test, I left them wound right in for the shortest distance and the best full image for me.
Setting the rear dioptre adjuster for the right eye is the next task, to set the binoculars to the individual’s eyesight, and this is done by closing the left eye, then adjusting the +/- knurled wheel for clarity with the right eye – something to be done at the outset, then left alone. Now the target can be acquired, and the central focus wheel turned until clarity is achieved. With the Vantage, I did feel just a little more resistance would be reassuring on the wheel movement to help maintain the desired setting when compared with others I’ve used, but in use it is smooth nonetheless.
The 8x magnification is useful for sure, and it’s a good compromise for ease of use. Crank up the mag and, like with scopes, the wobble is magnified, too. One point I would say here is that head position was more critical to achieve the full circular image than some binoculars I’ve used set at a higher RRP, but there’s no doubting the image and clarity is impressive. The Vantage model gets Hawke’s H2 glass here, and it’s well up to the mark.
Indeed the difference between far more expensive sets and supposedly lower-grade models never seems in proportion to the price differential. It’s the old point about ‘nth degree’. Yes, you can pay a fortune and perhaps get more clarity and vibrancy through the entire image, but these Vantage 8 x 42s proved extremely capable on test, with a satisfyingly clear and bright image over an extended review period. Viewing a farmhouse over 1.4 miles away proved a stern test, and detail was surprisingly good.
A great pair of bino’s for the money, and an easy choice for most of us, who just want general purpose functionality and all-round performance for reasonable outlay. Quite simply and bluntly, in my experience, you’ll need to shell out considerably more to notice any real and slight difference.
Model: Vantage 8 x 42
Manufacturer: Hawke Optics
FOV: 367ft @ 1000yds
Minimum focus: 8.2ft
Eye relief: 0.7”
Glass: System H2
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