Hawke 8x42 LRF Binoculars
- By Pete Moore
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 17/09/2023
As a hunter, one of the greatest inventions is the laser rangefinder (LRF). Let’s face it, judging distance with the Mk 1 eyeball is never easy. In the army, we were taught to use familiar objects to gauge distances, which was very seat-of-the-pants stuff and never that accurate.
Bushnell was probably the first to produce a modern and compact LRF monocular, which revolutionized sports and disciplines that needed to know exact distances. The idea was simple. A laser emitter shot out a beam of light that bounced off the target and was reflected back to the receiver in the unit, which calculated the distance. Now, all you needed to know was your bullet drop at the given distance and you were in business.
I’ve owned several monocular LRFs and they were an epiphany, but their size, lower magnification, and small objective lens made them hard to hold on target and see details. So, I’d carry one, plus a set of binoculars, which was a pain. But it was only a matter of time before someone would put this system into a set of binos.
The problem was that LRF binos were expensive, compared to a monocular, and the European makes even more so. I recall that I paid around £1700 for a set of Leica Geovid 8x56 BRFs (binocular rangefinder) when they first came out, which was a lot more money than their monocular unit. However, over several years, some optical companies started offering them at more competitive prices as this technology was embraced.
They are no strangers to laser rangefinders, but Hawke Sport Optics of the UK is late to the party on BRFs, with their Frontier 8x42 and 10x42 units. Price-wise, there’s a £100 difference between the two models, but in shops, you can expect to pay sub-£1000 for either unit, which, considering what’s on offer, is pretty impressive, as I discovered. I say that, as I use a set of Swarovski EL Range 10x42 LRFs, which are at the top of the tree, but the Frontiers still impressed in terms of price, quality, and sheer ability. OK, a grand is still a chunk of money, but not when compared to £2500-£3000 for Lecia, Swarovski or Zeiss!
Visually, the Frontiers show a green, rubber-armoured body over a magnesium alloy chassis, with a long, single-hinged bridge, with the focus at the front and the battery compartment at the end, accessed by a screw-off cap. They come with individual diopters to adjust both eye and OLED display focus in the left and right-hand barrels accordingly.
The controls are simple, with the menu button (M) on the left barrel and the power button on the right. Also included are captured, individual front lens caps, with a single one for the eyepieces, which is retained by the neck strap. The 8x42s weigh 35.2oz, are 6.5” long, and 4.5-5.4” wide, while the 10x42s are just 0.5” longer and 1.8oz heavier. Hawke includes a soft, padded carry sack (green), a neck strap, and a body harness to secure the bag at chest height. Power is supplied by 1x CR2 battery.
The lenses are fully multi-coated and water-repellent, with high light transmission, and true colour optics. The OLED display offers six levels of brightness and there is an auto shut-off system to save battery life. Distance measurements are quoted as being accurate to ±1m from 10 - 1800m.
Hawke has not bothered offering a ballistic package, which I agree with, as in the wrong hands they can cause more problems than they solve. Instead, they’ve stuck with six programs that seem to have covered most of the bases, easily accessed by a nice and simple menu.
The OLED reticle offers a red readout, an aim point with horizontal and vertical guide stadia, a distance measurement readout in yards and meters, the six targeting modes (displayed as selected), a laser emission signal, and a low battery indicator. Of most relevance are the modes.
STANDARD: straight line distance to target, no icon in the view. Holding the power button gives a scan (continuous read-out) as you scan around, other modes also offer this facility. No icon.
NEAR: straight line distance by actively searching for tall items like a flagpole, for example, sitting in the foreground. Icon: flagpole.
HUNT: straight line distance, but ignores lesser objects like grass, small bushed etc., so you could range a deer partially obscured by light foliage. Icon: deer head in a circle.
RAIN: straight line distance, but ignores raindrops, which can refract the laser beam and affect vision. Icon: a cloud with rain falling.
HORIZONTAL DISTANCE: horizontal distance to target with the straight line distance also displayed. This is the first angle mode that allows you to compensate for up/down hill shots. Icon: HD.
ANGLE: measures the angle of projection and displays it to the nearest 1/10 of a degree. Straight line is shown as Y or M with the angle used to calculate distance. Icon: angled lines.
Overall, no complaints, a reasonably light and compact design for what they offer. All the targeting modes do what they say, but I’m a little confused by NEAR, as I can’t quite see the relevance. The optical clarity was good, as was the laser return. I especially liked the RAIN, HUNT and HD modes, as they are truly practical.
The ±1m/y accuracy worked at shorter ranges (100/200 yards), but as you push that out, be aware, holding the binos steady and bang on target gets harder as the size, shape, and colour of objects has a greater negative effect on reflectivity, and so accurate and consistent ranging, which applies to any system. With any LRF, it’s paramount to ping the target a few times to get an average.
Overall, and for the money, a good set of LRF binos. They are well-priced, have practical features, and are accurate enough for all sensible hunting distances.