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Magnification: 10x (fixed)
Objective Lens: 42 mm
Exit Pupil: 4.2 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
Field of View: 340 ft/1000 yards
Weight: 24.4 oz
Price Range: Under $400
New! Bushnell Nitro 10x42 Review & Field Test
The Nitro is one of the newest lines of sports optics for the Bushnell brand. But, the Nitro sets itself apart as "The Advanced" line that sits between the Prime and the Forge series.
Representing mid-level quality, the Nitro has a lot to live up to. It's the series with the sweet spot price range – it’s not too cheap that it will devalue itself, but it's not too expensive that no one will ever buy it.
We purchased a brand-new pair to test out in the field so we could give you the inside details. Is it a standard 10x42 or is it worthy of its "advanced" claim?
What's in the Box?
All the new Bushnell optics are dressed in the same orange and grey colors that seems to be the new look for Bushnell products. Its visually attractive packaging earns two thumbs up from me. The binoculars were wrapped in a draw string bag within the included case, and the case itself was wrapped in a plastic protective bag.
Hard Shell Case
This isn't some flimsy nylon or drawstring bag that's included in the purchase. This is a very nice hard shell case with a raised "B" logo, whole case zipper, and plastic D clips for strap connection. Within the case, there's a raised bar that sits perfectly between the underside of the binocular bridge. The binoculars fit well and there's very little room for the binoculars to freely move within the case.
A mesh compartment is included where I've stashed included accessories to keep them together but out of the way. Additionally, built-in velcro straps are provided within the hard case. All in all, it's a good case that will definitely be used for storage. I can already tell you it won’t be used for hunting.
Why wouldn't I use the hard shell case for hunting?
Unfortunately, it's neither convenient nor comfortable to carry around a hard shell case for hunting. I prefer to wear a binocular harness but will tolerate a neck strap if I have to. I need the binos within fast and easy reach for the moments I need it and to "drop" them away when I don't and not stored away in a noisy zippered compartment every time I want to glass.
You not only get one washable microfiber cloth in this deal, you get two. The storage drawstring bag is made of microfiber material that's appropriate for cleaning the lenses on your binoculars. However, you'll have to ensure you're keeping the drawstring bag clean if you intend on using it for this reason.
But, out in the field, the included tiny pouch with an attached microfiber cloth will be more convenient than the drawstring bag. It's the size of your thumb, and it comes with a tiny plastic carabiner-style clip for connection to the neck strap. Or, it can easily be stashed away in a pocket somewhere for instant cleaning.
You have a carry strap that connects to the hard shell case. While it is adjustable in length, it's nothing great, though I like the easy connection with the D clips.
A neoprene neck strap is provided for connection to the binoculars. It's easy to figure out the connection, but I would definitely tug on the straps after you've looped them through just to make sure you've got a secure hold.
The strap has jutting neoprene squares alongside the inside. It feels a little bit thicker than other standard neoprene straps included with binoculars. I also like that the neoprene squares come out further than the stitching on the strap.
What paperwork? Bushnell seems to be going paperless with the release of all their new series, and it's not a bad move. The only piece of paper that came with the packaging is a 2-sided cardstock paper with 4-step instructions on one side and a very basic feature breakdown on the other side.
A referral to Bushnell's website to view the complete instruction manual is also mentioned.
The Nitro 10x42 Binocular Build
First impressions: looks like a durable and solid binocular and it feels like it, too. What's the techs and specs of the binoculars makeup? Let's glass it out.
The binocular is only 5.5" in height, and it's right around what it should be for a 10x42 binocular. It feels much heavier than 24.4 oz. It's one of the heavier binoculars I've handled like the Maven C1 10X42 binoculars we field tested.
But, the Nitro still weighs within its weight class, and the extra poundage helps to keep hands and viewing quality steadier in the field.
The Nitro has a tactical Gunmetal Grey finish, and no there aren't any other finish options. Red metallic highlights accent the diopter and the center wheel while Bushnell uses a silver finish for their logos in various places.
The entire binocular is covered in a lightly textured rubber armor, and there are both thumb and finger indents on the bino.
Objective Lens Caps
The rubber eye caps aren't coming off easily or any time soon with its connection through a built-in loop on the undersides of the objective bells. I like that you can hear and feel an audible click when you pop them back on. However, they're extremely stiff to remove in comparison to other caps, so you might like that if you've lost more than a few in the past.
Brand new out of the box, the caps would creep up into my field of view, but continual use and training to keep caps down will rid you of that annoying problem.
I found the diopter impossibly stiff. The first time I took the Nitro out, I couldn't get the diopter to move at all and I thought what a shame. The second time I took it out I had a head to wall moment –
This Bushnell binocular has a locking diopter.
Pull the ring up and it's unlocked and free to move albeit still rather stiffly. Push the ring back down and it's locked in place. Note to self - it pays to read the very basic 4-step instruction card that's included in the packaging. Always a good reminder, even to seasoned experts like myself. . .
Are the Nitro binoculars waterproof?
You bet they are. This Nitro is waterproof and tested for submersion, and it has an IPX7 rating. The optics remain protected and sealed off for 30 minutes in up to three feet of water.
Performance Test: 10X42 - The Standard or The Advanced?
10x42 binoculars are seen as "standard" or as an entry-level optic among some optics snobs. But, if you know anything, you'll understand that it's about being activity specific for your needs. The Nitro line of optics claims to be The Advanced series, and so we put it to the test.
I’ve taken the Nitro out more than once before writing up this field test review. The first time was a bit of a flop because I couldn't figure out how to unlock the diopter.
Pulling the 3-position eyecups out you'll notice there are differing spaces between the rubber cups, diopter, and the eyepiece ring on the other barrel. However, the eyecups are level and the seemingly off kilter eyepieces make more sense once you realize the diopter pops up. If you notice this, it's a non-issue.
The IPD range is quite versatile. Testing out the narrow range, the Nitro closes in quite tight as it literally pinched the bridge of my nose. After that experience, I can confidently say that both adults and youngin’s will find the Nitros comfortable to glass with.
The focus wheel is not overly knurled, but you get good enough grip as it flows quite easily but purposefully. Thank my lucky stars you only have to adjust the diopter once at this point. It's tedious to adjust. I found I couldn't lock/unlock without taking the binocular away from my eyes and having to grip the binoculars strongly with my left hand.
I like the security of a binocular harness and the binoculars don’t bounce on my chest around all over the place, but the neck strap will do fine for both hunting, hiking, and other wildlife observations.
Using the Nitro with a digiscope adapter was difficult to do with its weight. My wrists wore out rather quickly trying to balance the heifer and take photos at the same time.
The best use you will get out of these binoculars if pictures are something you plan on doing is to purchase a tripod adapter for the binocular to mount to a tripod. The advantage? You take all the fatigue out of your hands and wrists and you're set to let the tripod do the work. You can access the threading for the adapter by unscrewing the small knob between the barrels on the end of the hinge.
Bushnell Nitro Image Quality
It's a shame that a digiscope adapter can interfere with image quality, but at least we can identify it and not fault the binocular glass for it. The Nitro has ED Prime Glass and PC-3 Phase Coating technologies that enhance resolution and contrast while also reducing chromatic aberrations (CA).
The phase coating is an excellent addition to the BaK4 prisms and the fluorite elements in the ED glass makes for a superior roof prism binocular. So, it has the makings to provide excellent image quality in almost all settings.
In the field test, there was very little CA to be seen in normal conditions. At sunset, it was more apparent, and I could easily identify it since there was snow about and stark objects that lined the horizon. However, it didn't hinder any observations or use for it.
Edge softening was very thin and minimal around the outer edges of the field of view. Like CA, it was more apparent when used with a digiscope adapter, again, this is due to the adapter and camera setup than it was fault of the binocular optics itself.
Image focusing is sharper and more precise in use than what's shown through the pictures. Trying to focus a camera lens on the same optical plane as a binocular is not my forte, but I was well pleased with the overall image quality.
Without any use of an adapter, color loss is apparent and color fidelity isn’t as rich and true as I think it could be. This is something you may demand for avid bird watching, but for hunting or recreational purposes, it's not a big deal.
Overall, the minimal aberrations that are present are more than acceptable in most applications such as birding, hunting, and hiking. It's right on par with its mid-level quality and price range. Its additional prism coating, lead-free, and ED prime glass sure make this binocular an advanced optic that exceeds standard expectations.
Bushnell Nitro At the Range
The Nitro replaced the need for a spotting scope when I hit the range to pop off some rounds. At 100 yards, I could clearly see bullet holes forming on the shoot ‘n see targets. Yes – splatter targets obviously make it easier to identify groupings, but I could also positively identify bullet holes on white… for those moments when, you know, I missed the 10-ring.
But, it’s not really about my lack of shooting skills as it’s more about the binoculars capability to resolve minute details at long distances.
It’s right within the Nitro’s expertise to be used at the range when sighting-in your new rifle scope.
My Verdict on the Bushnell Nitro 10X42 Binoculars
The Nitro will perform well out in the field, on the trails, or in the hunt. There are a few tricks you'll have to get used to like the stiff eye cups and the tedious-to-use diopter, but it's a small price to pay for advanced features at your fingertips.
You may want to invest in a tripod and tripod adapter if you plan on taking photos. If not, you can enjoy the freedom of using the Nitro 10x42 binocular as it was intended - a tool for the timber or open fields to spot wildlife.
The included accessories, build quality, and image quality are the Nitro's impressive features. Its handling could be better, but it's been built to be tough and durable to handle the extremes of the worst terrain and weather.
Is it just a standard 10x42? No. It's an advanced, feature-packed binocular that lives up to its series' maxim. Nitro binoculars: The Advanced. Enough said, right?