Premium Binoculars at a Non-Premium Price?
Hawke Sport Optics only caught my eye about a year ago, and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it took so long. They’ve been around for a while making quality gear and a good name for themselves in the sporting community. However, it wasn’t their quality, products, or value that first caught my attention – it was their solid social media presence.
Like most folks under 60, I turn to the internet when I have questions about products. I start to ask around, do my own research, and burn up the Google servers looking for answers. That’s when I came across @HawkeOptics on Twitter. I’m so glad I did!
Hawke is one of a growing number of brands that respond, and contribute to the hunting community on social media – and they’re doing it well. I had some questions about optics, coatings, options, and alternatives and Hawke was very helpful. I was given several answers, and even a few referrals later that same day, straight from Hawke!
That responsiveness, let me to seek them out at the 2014 ATA Show in Nashville last January and inspect their new product lineup for myself. I was impressed to say the least. Hawke’s helpfulness, great reviews from friends, and their Hawke Worldwide Warrangy all eventually lead me to my first pair of Hawke Binoculars – the Sapphire ED’s in 8x magnification.
After a being disappointed in my old binoculars on a 5 day Bowhunting trip I took to Nebraska last year, I was dead-set on getting a better pair for 2014. I wanted something that would be high enough quality to give me solid performance, but still affordable enough I wasn’t scared to drag them around while I was hunting. That landed me in the $350-500 range and the latest Binoculars from Hawke seemed to offer the most value in that price range. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a set.
First Impressions of the Hawke Optics Sapphire ED Binoculars
Upon opening the box I found everything in excellent condition. It was well packaged, and survived the postal beating like a champ. I was impressed with the high quality leather case included with the Sapphire ED’s (compared to the flimsy synthetic cases some other manufacturers supply in the same price range). Everything screamed quality, even the cardboard used in the box is better-than-normal quality. It honestly reminded me of some $1,000 + binoculars I’ve tested. Hawke definitely made a good first impression with their packaging on the Sapphires.
Fit and Finish: The rubberized molding on the magnesium body, the exposed surfaces and every little detail was near perfect. It clearly feels like you’re holding a pair of premium optics as you handle the Sapphire ED’s. A solid 10 out of 10 on the fit and finish.
Function: There were no marks, imperfections or blemishes whatsoever on the glass surface of the eyepieces or lenses. The focus knobs, eye cups, and lens caps all worked very smoothly. I found no slop or wiggle in any of the moving pieces, they were just solid. Again, there are serious undertones of precision and quality in these binoculars. My only complaint is that the right diopter adjustment wheel is placed where I kept bumping it while using the binoculars. However, this was easily fixed buy learning to move where I held them. I think it was due to their smaller-than-average size and my being used to larger frame binos.
Accessories: The lens covers are great! Sturdy and out of the way, I prefer this latch style much more than the slip-on ring used by many. They don’t slide off easily and I doubt I’ll ever be backtracking my steps to find a missing lens cover. The Leather case was nice quality and the neck strap was a standard neoprene one.
My Review of the Hawke Optics Sapphire ED Binoculars:
I’ve been using my Sapphire ED’s for several months now. I’ve carried them turkey hunting, used them while scouting, for 3D archery tournaments, and around our hunting property to save myself some walking. All in all, I’ve been very pleased with the performance of these Sapphire ED Binoculars. Hawke definitely separates themselves from the rest of their class in value and quality, based on what I’ve been able to see and test. Here’s why:
#1 – High Quality and Reliability
I can’t say enough about the quality of these binoculars. I’ve had them strapped in my bino harness crawling face-down through brush trying to slip around a finger of woods to get the jump on a couple spring gobblers. I’ve had them perched on top of my bow’s cam trying to pick a bedded deer out of some tall grass on a hillside across the field. I’ve used them standing freehand at 40 yards to pinpoint the line of the 12 ring on a coyote target, the one that separated me from bragging rights over my buddies at a Saturday 3D shoot. Everytime, my Sapphire ED Binoculars performed flawlessly. The quality is obvious the second you hold them in your hand, and mine have already taken a beating and you can hardly even tell.
The Hawke Sapphire ED Binoculars are truly premium optics. They are clear, crisp, and beautiful to look through. They will light up the dusky evening along a field edge. They have really been awesome at picking antlers and turkey heads out of the timber. Easily, they’re some of the clearest glass I’ve used. The glass on these binos continues to impress me – especially when I compare them to my other binoculars in the same price range!
One of my favorite things about the Sapphire ED’s is that they are as tough as they are clear. If your binos have great glass, are super high definition light-gathering telescopes, but they can’t hold up to a little banging around the woods – what’s the point? My Sapphires are tough enough I don’t worry about them, ever. That’s performance I can appreciate, and need.
The size of the Sapphires ED’s is spot on too. They are a great balance of being small and lightweight enough that I’ll actually carry them, while still being large enough to be worth it. My 8×42 Sahhpire ED’s are only 25.7 grams and they ride effortless in my simple bino harness, even on all day hunts.
Overall, Hawke has done a fantastic job of offering top level performance in a pair of optics with a mid-range price point (really low-range when you consider some of the $2K plus contenders, but we’re talking about the average hunter here). Here’s what I mean…
Imagine I removed all the nametags from several pairs of binoculars in this price range ($400-500) and stacked them on a table with several from a price range that doubled that. Then imagine I asked you to separate which ones were the more expensive ones, making two groups on the table. You’d handle them all. Look up at the tree tops with them, and inspect the build quality of each. Then, no doubt, you would pull the Sapphire ED’s over into the group with the very best of the best.
They hang right there at the top of the list when it comes to performance, fit and finish. But, lucky for us, they don’t hang with those guys in price! When it comes to value for your dollar in a pair of binoculars (something I think we can all appreciate), you’re going to have a hard time finding something better than Hawke Sport Optics right now – these guys are killing it!
If you want to get your hands on a pair of Sapphire ED Binoculars, or anything else in the Hawke lineup, check out their website at HawkeOptics.com. Or, better yet, hit them up on Twitter like I did.
Please leave any questions you have about these binos and I’ll make sure to answer as best I can in the comment section below. Thanks!