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KOWA BD 10x42 Binoculars

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KOWA BD 10x42 Binoculars

Quality. Whenever a hunter asks me about what optics to buy, quality is the first word out of my mouth. That's what you want in optics and I can tell from first hand experience that KOWA is quality.  I'll admit, I didn't know much about KOWA when I first saw some advertisements in a hunting magazine. I had heard about people using the brand, but hadn't seen them first hand. I didn't even personally know a single hunter who used their optics. I hope this review will change that for the hunting community.

Image © kymberli q. photography

While talking with the folks over at KOWA, it is obvious that they have the utmost confidence in their products. Not only are they knowledgeable, but they are dedicated to providing quality, customer service. They gave me the opportunity to see for myself and to share my findings with the hunting community. So, for the past few weeks I have been testing out a pair of KOWA 10x42s and a pair of the SV10x50s from the new product line. I was able to put them to use in the field, along with a TN-773 Series Spotting Scope when I went on the CA Bighorn Sheep Survey in the SoCal mountains. I have also taken them out hog hunting in different terrain at a different time of day. I enjoyed every second of reviewing these. For this review I will cover the KOWA BD 10x42s Binoculars and the others in subsequent reviews.

Included in the box are:

  •     Case
  •     Strap
  •     Rainguard
  •     Kowa Lifetime Warranty 

BD42-10x Specifications:

  •     Model BD42-10
  •     Magnification 10X
  •     Objective Lens Diameter 42mm
  •     Minimum Focus Distance 2.0m
  •     Real Field of View 6.0 degree
  •     Apparent Field of View 6.0 degree
  •     Exit Pupil Diameter 4.20mm
  •     Relative Brightness 17.6
  •     Twilight Factor 20.5
  •     Eye-Relief 17.6mm
  •     Field of View at 1,000m/yds 105m/yds
  •     Length 146mm
  •     Width 127mm
  •     Height 51mm
  •     Weight 745g (25.7 oz.)
  •     Warranty: Lifetime of the product from manufacturer's defects

First impressions. Right out of the box the BD42-10x High Performance Binoculars felt great in my hands. I noticed that compared to my other binoculars, these weigh just slightly more, but I know that is attributed to the high-end glass. The only thing I didn't like right out of the box was the smell of whatever the binoculars are treated with. That was very powerful in my nostrils. Others have said this could be due to the leather case they came in, which is entirely possible. I am assuming the more I use these the more the scent will dissipate. I may try setting them in coffee or something to reduce the strength. Anyone have any suggestions to remove the scent?

Image © kymberli q. photography

Lens clarity on these is excellent. As a hunter who wears glasses and contacts, I strive to find optics with stellar eye relief and clean view. The BD42s are exceptional in both areas. I used these in bright sunlight and on a cloudy day. There is no lens distortion. Period. The focus was sharp in all conditions. The view is crystal clear. No graying around the edges and no foggyness. Did I mention super sharp all around?

The non-slip grip on the BD42s is a must when hunting in the high desert. With my gloves on or off, the grip was excellent and I never felt like these would slip from my hands. When my hands were sweaty the grip had a slight tack to it and stayed put in my hands.

The BD42s have a distinctive barrel where there is a slight contour where you place your thumbs. I found this extremely useful. Gripping the binoculars felt natural and the weight distribution was balanced. The weight was not an issue when glassing, as I first thought it might be. The BD42s weigh more than binoculars I am used to because of the high quality glass, but I never had an issue with them. In fact, it was a pleasure using these. I could sit back and view everything clear as day, even into the evening twilight.

One of the main features I truly love to test is the interpupillary distance of optics. The KOWA BD42s adjust down perfectly to my narrow-set eyes and adjust open to someone who might have a greater distance. My eyes are set narrow on my head and I have had difficulty finding a high-quality pair of binoculars that will adjust to fit my needs. These fit the bill to a T and I couldn't be more pleased. I even had a little room to spare and that is a first.

The diopter (focus adjustment) adjusts smoothly and with ease, but not overly so. It will hold your setting even if bumped around a bit. Still, even if you did bump it, you can find your settings very quickly.  I noticed that fine tuning the optic settings to your eyes is faster than other brands because you don't have to turn the diopter as far. A very nice feature indeed.

Image © kymberli q. photography

The binoculars come with a unique neck strap that has neoprene padding covered in soft cloth material. It seats comfortably on the back of your neck and doesn't rub. This was one feature I did not use often. Like many Western hunters, I am using a harness or chest pack to house my binoculars. If I was not using a chest pack, I would be using one of these padded straps. I have tested plenty of them and they can do a number on your neck when hiking for a short distance, let alone miles. This strap is well made and I can tell that much thought went into it before it was decided upon to put it in the box.

Another nice feature of the BD42s is the ability to mount them to a tripod. I mounted these to my tripod and it was like I had opened a new world. Not only could I see clearly, but I could pinpoint features I could not see while hand holding the bino's just from my hands moving. Having the ability to mount these to a tripod, especially out here in Southern California where you are constantly glassing is a must and these have it.

The KOWA BD 10x42s retail for $685 (You can find them as low as $615). I highly recommend the KOWA BD 10x42s for any hunter out there. For your money you get a quality product that you can always rely on. I will be using these for my 2012 scouting, birding and hunting.