Hawke Frontier ED 8 x 42 Binoculars
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- Last updated: 19/02/2019
A good set of binoculars is essential to a hunter and these days they don’t have to cost the earth to get good quality performance. On test, is what I reckon is a bargain in Hawke’s 8x42 Frontier model or the 10x version. They come in a hard case with strap, cleaning cloth, lens caps, belt loop and user manual and are available in green or grey rubber armoured and water and fog proof.
Mine came in the grey livery and they are a very good size, so handling is comfortable. They measure 5.5” high and are 4.1- 4.8” wide, dependent on interpupillary distance. At only 692 grams, they do not feel overly heavy but are solid enough to take a few knocks or rest a rifle on in a crisis.
They use a Bak-4 type roof prism, so have straight barrels, as opposed to the older dog leg build, with a silver mirror coating. The hinge is long and centrally placed with enough room to wrap your fingers around easily in use. The grey colour is different and a nice option to the usual black or green. They are fully rubber armoured for comfort and waterproofness, with a textured body and two raised ribbed areas up near the objective lenses. This covers a lightweight magnesium alloy chassis for strength, so beauty is not only skin deep.
These serrated ribs run along the lens barrels and aid with grip and do help when you have cold or wet hands. Further ease of use is the thumb rest underneath, all together they are designed to stop fatigue in long viewing sessions. Not that I have every found that a problem, but people seem to think it is? Common to a lot of rifle stocks these days, it has that soft touch, almost wet feel to it that is also quite warm to the touch. Therefore, a good protective covering and ample grip. A set of rubber lens caps attach by a ring that slips over the objectives, so can’t get lost as they can with simple push-on types.
There are the usual twist-up eye cups that are replaceable and have positive stops to correct for eye relief or glass wearers with a smooth mid and top point. They can be set, and they won’t shift when you lower the binoculars or brush up against clothing, so always focussed when you need them. The right barrel has the dioptre correction ring, rubber edges and allows fine adjustment to correct for eyesight differences and achieve a perfect image for both eyes. A feature I appreciate more and more as the years roll on.
There is the centrally placed focus ring, clad in black rubber for tactility and offers 1.5-revolutions, movement is smooth yet firm so will stay where you left it. It has a fast rotation feature, so you can focus quickly, and it won’t shift in a wide range of temperature changes, which is important, because you don’t want to keep readjusting. The Frontier, as with the Endurance models, can focus down as close as 6.6 ft, if that’s your thing and out to ∞.
These Frontier 8x42mms are also called ED X because of the extra low dispersion glass used in construction, with the phasecorrected BAK-4 prisms for high resolution in all light conditions. Lenses thus used are free from chromatic aberration and give better clarity across the whole of the image. And being fully multi coated, the resolution is superb for a pair of binoculars priced at under £400. What you have then are images that are true to life, vivid with great resolution and this is even in low light conditions for a fraction of the price of some European binoculars.
I like to stalk at first light. Less people, more game, although it is usually dark when the big bucks are on the move, so perfect conditions for binocular testing! Overall dingy morning with cloud cover and dim lighting, really push any set of binos to their limits. I started off focussing across the 300 yard field and beyond and, despite the gloom, the Frontiers did a sterling job of pin pointing a trotting fox at 250 yards going about his business along a hedgerow. Focus was quick and steady, and I could rock and roll it back and forth with little movement to check objects that look like deer bedded in the crops.
The overall image shown, despite the dim conditions, was impressive with plenty of sharpness and even contrast. You can tell the extra quality of lenses and coatings on the Frontier model and I still can’t believe they cost under £400 quid. Sure, they are not a top end bino, but at a quarter of the price they are defiantly not a quarter of the performance. They are a binocular that can be used and bought by most people and as such will give excellent performance and reliability in use. You also don’t have to worry too much about scratching or scuffing them, they are meant to be used and a few battle scars is no big deal, so don’t worry on that score! Which is aided by the waterproof coating to the exterior lenses, so rain droplets don’t collect but are liable to run off.
Another great Hawke product, who are fast becoming the real shooter’s affordable and go to optical manufacturers. They also offer really good value for money and these Frontier 8x42mm binoculars prove it. Priced right for the ordinary person but giving high end performance at a quarter of the price. If these Frontiers are an upgrade from the Endurance, then what are the Sapphire models like?