by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

MeoStar binoculars
MeoStar 10X42 HD binoculars.

This report covers:

  • Top quality optics
  • The binoculars
  • Zeiss binoculars
  • Lighter and smaller
  • Flouride objective lens
  • Focus is fast!
  • Case
  • Summary

Top-quality optics

Meopta MeoStar 10-42 binoculars are not a piece of equipment most of you will every buy, but I want to talk about them today. I have been looking at them for the past three years — ever since seeing them at the SHOT Show in 2016. You may recall I did buy the MeoPro 80 HD spotting scope after seeing it at that show, and I am still impressed by its sharpness and clarity. I can see .22 caliber bullet holes in a black bullseye at 200 yards with that scope — admittedly on a sunny day — but just try doing that sometime.

I wrote a feature article for Firearms News about that spotting scope, and in the process of researching I learned a lot about Meopta. They started making darkroom equipment in the 1930s, and made military optics during World War II. When the Iron Curtain went up in 1945, they were behind it. The communists had them continue to make optics for the military and they made the finest quality possible. When the wall fell down in 1989 and it was “anything for a buck” throughout the eastern block nations, Meopta suddenly found a market for their high-end optics that was then being served by Leica, Swarovski, Steiner, Zeiss and others.

In 2007 they added a sport optics line, using the same high precision equipment they were using for their military contracts, and scheduling their production for the times when the contract work was lax. As a result, they created the “best optics you never heard of,” according the Meopta USA Chief Operations Officer and general manager, Reinhard Seipp.

The binoculars

Enough background — on with the report! I tell you guys in my reports that I examine my targets downrange with a spotting scope, but the truth is and always has been that under 50 yards I use binoculars. Spotting scopes are too much to set up unless I really need one.

Over the years I have used Bausch and Lomb 7X50 binoculars from World War II and a set of Agfa 10X30 commercial binocs from the 1960s. They both did the job, but then some really great binocs became available — the East German Zeiss 7X40 NVA border guard binoculars. Compared to everything I had seen until that time, these binoculars had it over all the competition.

Zeiss binoculars

When mine were purchased in 2003 they sold for $225. By 2006 they had climbed to $600 on ebay. They were coming out of the former East Germany, and people around the world were snapping them up.

Zeiss binoculars
These Zeiss NVA East German border guard binoculars were my best pair for years.

They have a filter that detects infrared light and they have various filters for the eyepieces, but this feature is of no use to sportsmen. If you have never been in the military you probably think infrared light allows you to see in the dark, but the truth is it isn’t very bright and it doesn’t go very far. A sportsman is better off with low-light optics than trying to use IR illumination.

These binoculars also have a mil reticle for adjusting indirect fire like artillery rounds. I used to need that, but I don’t have much call for it these days. You can also estimate range with this reticle, but I can do just as well by guesstimation at the short distances I shoot, so it’s another feature that’s not needed.

The clarity of the Zeiss optics, though, is great. These are military glasses made with top-quality optical glass. The only drawback is the eyepieces focus individually, so adjusting them for objects at different distances is slow. I don’t hunt much so for many years I was satisfied that these would be the last binoculars I would ever need.

Then I looked through the MeoStar 10X42s at SHOT and became dissatisfied once again. They are both sharper and clearer than the Zeiss binocs to the same degree the Zeiss were over the binoculars they replaced. And they weigh less! I fell in love with them the first time I saw them, and was set to buy them until I learned the street price — $1,300. Knowing I was buying the spotting scope at the timne I thought these would have to remain on my bucket list.

Lighter and smaller

Even though these binoculars are more powerful than the Zeiss binos, they are both smaller and lighter. The Zeiss weigh 2 lbs. 8 oz. The Meostars weigh 2 lbs. 2 oz. The Meostars are a little taller, but nowhere near as wide. Both have rubber armor on the outside.

MeoStar and Zeiss
The MeoStars (left) are smaller and lighter than the Zeiss binos, even though they are more powerful.

The MeoStar binos have Schmidt-Pechan roof prisims, while the Zeiss have porro prisims. Roof prisims allow the objective lenses and eyepieces to be in line. They are more difficult to make well, but a high-end builder like Meopta can make them as bright and sharp as possible. They are also more rugged than porro prisims. Porro prisims reflect the light less than roof prisims and are easier to make clear and sharp. So porro prisims are typically found in less expensive binoculars.

Flouride objective lens

The MeoStar objective lenses are flouride. That’s one of the secrets of the brightness. Meopta doesn’t specify, but if it’s calcium flouride, which is widely used in high-end optics, it doesn’t need the coatings that normal glass lenses do, because calcium flouride has a low refractive index. So, an anti-reflectivity coating is not needed. Such lenses are extremely expensive in their raw (unground) state, but they give performance that can be seen in the end product.

calcium flouride lenses
Calcium flouride lenses are superior, but they cost over $100 apiece in the unground state.

Focus is fast!

I can focus the central-focus MeoStars with one hand in seconds. The Zeiss take two hands and each eyepiece has to be covered during focusing, because you can only focus one eyepiece at a tile. This is a major drawback.

Case

The Zeiss binos have no case. They are made to not need one. Armored eyepieces and objective lens covers, coupled with the rubber armored body make them very rugged.

The MeoStars come with a carrying case whose quick-disconnect carry strap detatches and attaches to the binoculars in seconds. The binos have captive protective cups for all lenses, so they can be safely carried outside the case, but for storage and long transportation the case is used.

Summary

I’ve been using these new binoculars for several weeks now and can give a good assessment of their use in the field. They are bright enough for all my uses, and they allow me to leave the larger spotting scope home much of the time. They may not be able to see .22 holes in a black bull at 100 yards on an overcast day, but arrows from things like the Sub-1 crossbow can be seen at that distance easily.

I would like to tell you that was the reason I bought them, but the truth is, I am just fascinated by superior optics and could not resist them! Think biker in a Harley store.

Airgunning is about more than just the guns. I use my equipment all the time, and today I wanted to share with you a new favorite that is fast becoming essential to the way I operate.