By Jason Herbert

When the guys at the 1800Gear.com headquarters asked me to demo a few different Nikon binoculars and write a review, I was certainly up for the challenge. I had no idea how much of a challenge I had gotten myself into though. To be honest- I haven’t met a Nikon product yet that I don’t like. I have a wonderful Nikon scope on my muzzleloader and have used their binoculars and spotting scopes whenever possible. I personally don’t own any Nikon binoculars, but it’s just a matter of time. I’m no binocular expert- and in fact, I think that’s one of the reasons the guys asked me to review these. I am a blue collar outdoorsman who knows what he likes. I was asked to use and review the Nikon Monarch 5 10×42 and also the Nikon Prostaff 7s 10×42. It turns out, picking the one I liked best was a rather difficult task.

Being rather new to binocular lingo- I did a bit of research before even opening the boxes. I learned that the “10” means it will magnify up to 10 power. Basically, things can appear 10 time larger than they do with the naked eye by using these binoculars. Also, the “42” means that there is 42 mm objective lens. “Dumbed” down a bit- in a nutshell, the larger the number here means the larger the lens being looked through, and the larger the lens means more light can come in. Here’s what I think is important for binoculars and my feelings about the Nikon’s that I was able to use.

Prices

Let’s face it- very few people in the world don’t have to worry about price tags. For the rest of us, price is important and for good reason. We work hard for our money, and don’t want to see the fruits of our labor wasted. That being said, often cheaper isn’t better, and often a deal too good to be true usually is. On the 1800Gear.com website the Monarch 5 10×42 is selling for $326.95. Also on the site, the Prostaff 7s is selling for $196.95- showing a difference in price of these two binoculars at $130.00.

Weight/Size

Right out of the box I noticed the Monarch being a bit smaller and lighter. Weighing in at 21.9 oz, this 5.7”L x 5.1”W unit is pretty compact. To me the Monarch easily fit into one of my jacket pockets and I hardly noticed it was there. The Prostaff tipped the scales at 22.7 oz and measures 6.4”L x 5”W. A bit heavier and noticeably longer, the Prostaff isn’t a whole lot wider than the Monarch.

Performance

Out of the boxes, each binocular required a few minutes of attention before being ready to use. Earlier I mentioned how the Monarch fit into my pocket well. To be honest- I rarely carry binoculars in my pocket, but rather wear them around my neck to be ready at a moments notice. I was just using the pocket analogy to help describe the size. Each binocular came with it’s own strap. I’m no engineer, but I felt that an engineering degree may have come in handy because the straps were not easy to install. Each nylon strap needed to be reversed on itself to release the tag ends from the locking buckle system. Once I figured it all out, it became a bit easier. I liked the Monarch’s strap better than the Prostaff, it had a wider pad on the back which felt good on my neck. Little to do with the functionality of the binocular, but worth a mention at least. I do think these straps and buckle system could survive a hurricane- so the fact that they are hard to install is actually a good thing.

binoculars-side-by-side

Both binoculars side by side. Neither fogged up a bit going from the warmth of my home to the frigid outdoors. It was less than 20 degrees when I tested these binoculars and took these pictures and they did fine. Although the size isn’t a lot different, to me it was quite noticeable.

Each binocular came with eyepiece covers. The Prostaff lens covers were detachable and not attached to the binocular. The Monarch lens cover were detachable but are attached to the binocular. Soon after opening, I lost one of the Prostaff lens covers on my floor, but was able to find it after crawling around a bit. That being said, with four very active and messy children, pretty much anything can be lost within seconds in our house. The Monarch lens covers are made of a heavy duty rubber, whereas the Prostaff seem to be created from a thick plastic. Both rear eyepiece covers are made from a hard plastic that flexes a bit to fit whatever face fitting form the binoculars are currently in. Speaking of face fitting form, both binoculars easily pivoted upon their center axis and created a comfortable fit on my nose and face.

As far as actually using the binoculars, I liked how natural the Prostaff felt. The Monarch took me a bit to get used to. The Prostaff has a smaller eye relief at 15.5 mm vs. 18.4 mm on the Monarch. The shorter eye relief felt more natural to me, and was easier to draw up and focus when I wanted to see something quick. The Monarch took a bit of getting used to, but then worked fine. I think it’s just that for whatever reason my muscle memory for binoculars was a better fit with the shorter eye relief of the Prostaff.

Each was easy to adjust with the focus knob. To completely adjust both models I had to remove my finger from the dial and readjust it several times, which to me is actually a good thing. This is hard to describe in words, but I’ve seen binoculars in the past that I could literally go through the whole field of focus within one finger length of adjustment. I know that because they took several dials to completely adjust, these high quality binoculars possess much more of a precision focusing instrument vs. a lesser quality item.

Both models had very comfortable rubber eye pieces and they both came with a nice protective case as well for when they are not in use.

Technical Specs

By reading a bit of the information Nikon provided with each model, I learned quickly that not all binoculars are created the same. The biggest thing that caught my attention right up front is how they are both are waterproof and fog proof! How often have I been in the field with a lesser quality product and constantly battled fog. That being said, the waterproof factor comes with a bit of restriction. They are both waterproof for up to 1 meter underwater for 10 minutes. I don’t ever plan to submerge any binoculars completely under water, but one can never predict what will happen while on a hunt!

The field of view for each model was a bit different as well. At 1000 yards, the Monarch had a field of view of 288 feet. At the same distance, the Prostaff had a field of view of 324 feet. They both have the same relative brightness rating and both utilize a roof prism system to shorten the overall length.

nikon-monarch-binocular

Here’s the Monarch 5 in action. I really liked how light and compact it is. I think the Nikon Monarch 5 would be the perfect hunting binocular.

I went to Nikon’s website to explore the features that the company feels is worth bragging about. Here’s a brief version of each below.

Monarch 5

  • Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass for chromatic aberration compensation and clearer viewing

  • Dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coating ensures superior transmittance uniformity across the visible range, resulting in brighter images and more natural colors

  • All lenses and prisms are multilayer-coated for brighter images

  • Phase-correction-coated roof prisms for high resolution

  • Long eye relief design provides a clear field of view, even for eyeglass wearers

  • Close focusing distance: 2.5m

  • Eco-glass optics that are free of lead and arsenic are used for all lenses and prisms

  • Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 10 minutes) and fog-free with nitrogen gas

  • Turn-and-slide rubber eye cups with multi-click facilitate easy positioning of eyes at the correct eyepoint

  • Rubber armoring for shock resistance and a firm, comfortable grip

  • Lightweight body uses fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin

  • Soft-to-the-touch neck strap

  • Flip-down objective lens cap

Prostaff 7s

  • Phase-correction-coated roof prisms for high resolution

  • High-reflection mirror-coated prisms for bright images

  • Long eye relief design ensures a clear field of view, even for eyeglass wearers

  • Turn-and-slide rubber eye cups with multi-click facilitate easy positioning of eyes at the correct eyepoint

  • Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 10 minutes) and fog-free with nitrogen gas

  • Rubber armoring for shock resistance and a firm, comfortable grip

  • Lightweight body uses fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin

  • Eco-glass optics that are free of lead and arsenic are used for all lenses and prisms

Uses

So after much use and thought, here’s my take. I love them both but for different reasons. The Monarch clearly has more distinguishable features, but the question for the hunter is- are they worth the extra money?

I really think the Prostaff would be perfect to keep in the truck, on the dashboard for long distance field glassing and scouting. I liked how easy they were to use and how natural they felt on my face. I didn’t like how big and bulky there were and therefore think they’re perfect for my truck and not hunting trips. I could also see using these in the backyard, on summer scouting trips, for vacation, birdwatching, etc… any time where I could focus a lot of my attention on them. I think they’d be a perfect fit when I’m not carrying a lot of other gear.

nikon-prostaff-binocular

I thought the Prostaff 7s would be a great binocular to keep in the truck. I did like how much easier it settled into my face but I thought it was a bit big to be carrying into my deer treestand each fall. Now… while summer scouting from the comfort of my truck- then I would certainly choose this one.

I like the Monarchs for hunting- plain and simple. As a deer, turkey, coyote, and waterfowl hunter, I depend on binoculars. At the same time, my attention is usually elsewhere and I don’t have a lot of time or energy to babysit binoculars. I like how the smaller, lighter frame of the Monarch fit in different places. The Monarch just look tougher, and I think they they would be my perfect partner in my treestand each fall.

With a lifetime warranty on both -and Nikon quality- there’s no way to go wrong here. The real question is what are your specific needs and what pair is right for you?