December 06, 2019
By Tom Beckstrand
Having fewer pieces of gear on a hunt is always a blessing. What inevitably happens is the piece you need is at the bottom of the pack. Extra gear also means more weight. So, when I heard what Zeiss did with their Victory line of binoculars, I had to check them out.
Zeiss pulled off the single greatest gear elimination feat in recent memory. They managed to combine premium binoculars with a weather meter, a rangefinder and a ballistic calculator and pack it all into what looks like a regular set of binos.
Optics & Lasers
Spend some time stomping around the mountains in search of elusive four-legged critters, and the need for a good set of binoculars becomes readily apparent. Couple that with seeing game bedded down in shadow or being able to pick a set of antlers out of a bush, and you will need excellent resolution and contrast, too.
One of the premium binocular manufacturers in the world, Zeiss started this all-in-one project with a premium set of its binoculars as the foundation. The next piece of the puzzle Zeiss incorporated is an exceptional laser rangefinder.
My first stop when testing this rig was steel plates at a nearby range where plates run all the way to 1,000 yards and get as small as 1 MOA. I had no issues hitting even the small plates. Next was scanning a tree line at 1,400 yards. That’s farther than I’ll ever shoot at anything with fur, so I was impressed.
Zeiss’ specs for the binos state it can range out to 2,500 yards. I’m sure that’s accurate on reflective targets (like steel), but fur-bearing animals are much more difficult to range. I ranged the farthest cow (like in cattle) I could find in a nearby field and got the feeling that the binos had more to give.
Bringing It All Together
The next two items Zeiss pulled into the binoculars work together to give reliable come-ups: the weather meter and a ballistic calculator. A weather meter is vital because it records temperature, pressure and humidity. Without those three variables accurately measured and accounted for, any ballistic solution is just going to be a good guess.
The ballistic calculator Zeiss built into their binoculars is done completely in-house. Zeiss engineers even did the programming for the ballistic calculator.
That’s not something you hear every day. All ballistic calculators are not created equal, so I compared the data that came from the Zeiss bino with an Applied Ballistics Kestrel I have. Both devices read to within .1 mil of each other. Since both run off of either a G1 or G7 coefficient, it’s not surprising the solutions each generates are practically identical. I would rate the Zeiss ballistic calculator at least as accurate as the Applied Ballistics software.
While the binoculars can be used independently of other pieces of gear, getting them set up requires a smartphone or tablet. The trick to getting any ballistic calculator to work well is to feed it good data. Garbage in equals garbage out.
The key pieces of info you’ll need to get set up correctly are muzzle velocity (measure your own, don’t just pull it off the box of ammo), sight height (distance between centerline axis of the scope and centerline axis of the bore) and ballistic coefficient (BC). The Zeiss app comes with a healthy BC library, so you’ll likely just have to select the bullet you’re using from the drop-down menu.
Once the profile is built in the app, everything loads into the binoculars at the touch of a button. With the profile loaded into the binoculars, they are ready to function independently.
Zeiss’ Victory RF binoculars are my top pick for hunting binoculars. The features that made the decision easy were the image quality, the accurate on-board ballistic calculator and the excellent rangefinder. These binos work with any rifle/scope combination and greatly simplify a hunter’s life afield.
Victory RF Binoculars
- Magnification: 10X
- Objective: 42mm
- Eye Relief: 17mm
- Exit Pupil: 4.2mm
- Field of View at 1,000 yards: 345 ft.
- Length: 6.5 in.
- Width: 4.8 in.
- Weight: 32 oz.
- MSRP: $3,400
- Manufacturer: Zeiss, zeiss.com
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