I may be a simple Hillbilly from Appalachia but it seems to me you can get 90% of the result with 10% of the cost – if you use your noodle... especially when it comes to weaponry and gear.
Binoculars, I like a medium sized pair that will give me a good field of view and not reflect light (or a little as possible).
These are Nikon 8x40 – very robust and have lasted 3 years without any problems.
Note: I take off my lower (Objective) lens caps but leave on the upper (Pupil) lens caps – which seem to gather dirt, gunk, and water.
The Trainer writes:
Prefered Optics: BUSHNELL H20 WATERPROOF BINOCULARS (8 X 25mm) - About $40. Small, waterproof, fog proof, rubber armored, and the magnification is just about right. Small enough for an external pouch on the LBE/LBV, or if wearing a LBV, slip inside one of the internal pockets. External pockets on a M-65 type jacket or BDU top also work well. When coupled with proper night vision adaptation skills, target acquisition is very, very good.
Bob S. from Wyoming sends:
On the binos, and at risk of telling you theory that you already know: The "night binoculars" term does not mean much, other than the application of light physics to the M1 eyeball. All else being equal in glass quality, 7x50s are real good for aiding what the eye can take in at night. 8x50 is less good. 10x50 not so good at all.
In smaller but still good sizes, 8x30s can get by for night use, but sacrifice compared to the smigen less powerful, bulkier, and heavier 7x50. A 6x30 bino of quality can get by for night use if saving weight is a great factor in choice. But for night use, a bino with a 50mm objective lens rules. Thus the Navy descriptor, "night binoculars."
I like Steiner binos for ruggedness and value. Currently I've been using their 8x30 Military for more than ten years. Steiner's 7x50 Commander, with its internal compass and a mil reticle etched on one lens, is a better night optic, has a couple of nice additional features, but has a fair amount of bulk for a dismounted person, and is heavy. Some like other brands which get into serious money. I can respect that, but I still like Steiners as a good bang for the buck. About $200 or a bit less for the 8x30 Military. Prices have not changed much over the past decade for this model.
I enjoy the Praxis articles and am learning a lot from them.
WRT your binocular query, I used a pair identical to your binoculars on active
duty back in the '80's. That's a nice old pair.
I also have used the Steiner 8x30 Military/Marine binoculars. They have awesome
optics, like all the Steiner products. They are a bit pricey; I checked on the
Net and they can be had these days for $250.00. That's a bargain in a way.
Optics are a lot like champagne; more money equals better glasses, at least to
some extent, but to me after enough of a price increase the better taste/looks
just isn't worth it. The Zeiss binoculars, for example, have just never seemed
worth their astronomical price to me.
My current binoculars are 8x42 Leupold Wind River Mesa waterproofs. They have
awesome light gathering capabilities and so far have been completely waterproof,
as advertised, but I haven't had them in salt water surf either. I bought them
thinking that Leupold makes great rifle scopes, so their binoculars would
probably be pretty good too, and that has proven correct so far. A check shows
they can be had for $175.00.
The Achilles heel of modern binoculars is the case. The Steiner case was OK,
but not stellar, and the Leupold case is flimsy. There are a couple of tactical
cases on the market, some designed to be compatible with MOLLE gear, but I
confess to being a bit old-fashioned in this and other ways. I like the leather
cases that old binoculars came with, and I am likely to either have a custom one
made for my glasses, or to buy an old one. One of the dealers that provides
gear for World War II re-enactors has some old U.S. Marine cases, and, if my
glasses fit the cases, I may go that route.