Meopta MeoStar 10-42 binoculars

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.

58 thoughts on “Meopta MeoStar 10-42 binoculars


  1. I really don’t think a 35+ year old set of binoculars is a fair comparison for a brand new $1300 pair. Having said that I am sure BB has peered through enough modern high end (to me) binos to know what he is talking about.

    If I was looking for a new pair I would be searching for bird watchers’ opinions. All the energy we share between guns, airguns, bows, scopes and knives they put into binos.


  2. B.B.,

    Cabela’s has binoculars that look almost 100% identical. “Instinct Euro HD” line. 800-1600$. The spotting scope is near identical as well. 2300$. Both mention “MeoBright 5501” coatings. Coincidence? Cabela’s one line of scopes say “Euro”, but are assembled in the U.S., so probably not the same.

    Glad you scratched one more thing off your bucket list. Nothing is better than obsessing over something and then getting it! 😉

    Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris



      • B.B.,

        You “think”,… so I take it that they did not (confirm) that they are associated with the Cabela line? I would have to agree, I (think) they are the same, but there could be difference in glass too. Maybe a step or two down from the top of the line Meopta?

        Chris





  3. OK B.B. I do buy a few airguns you recommend ak TX200. But what is odd you have got me to buy Forester reloading press, knife sharpener, and Meopta spotting scope. Now I’m looking at a crossbow. What do they say (only accurate crossbows are interesting). But I use bino’s more than I would a crossbow. So the Meopta bino’s may move to the top of the list. You have not lead me astray yet and for that I thank you!


  4. Just a quick update on my Crosman 101 after liberally ally auto transmission conditioner in front of the pump head the pumping and firing several times, then I let it stand in the corner for about a week.
    Well it went from zero air being released to penetrating both sides of a cardboard box at twenty feet. I’m sure it’s not at 100% but it’s definitely improved enough to run it through the crony and see where it’s at before I send it off to Rick Willnecker at Precision Pellet.

    Carl


  5. That was a klutzy post but I think you all get the drift btw I used Lucas tranny conditioner as I could not find any Bars leaks transmission products.
    Carl


  6. Ok I’m in big time trouble, it not only penetrated both sides of a heavy corrugated box filled with the large pillow type bubble wrap, it also pierced the couch cushion behind it. Definitely warrants a chrony test. Any suggestions on how to explain to Mrs coduece will be greatly appreciated.
    Carl




      • Jim
        That’s a great idea, but I was getting ready to pack it up to ship when I thought I would see if the seal conditioner had done anything. That’s when I noticed it was holding air. Then I dry fired it a couple times but to my untrained ear it seemed kind of anemic. Then I’m like I’ll just take a shot at the box I was going to send it off in totally expecting the pellet to bounce off and fall harmlessly to the floor. Well you know the rest, lesson of the day expect the unexpected!
        Carl




  7. Ok preliminary chrony results are in 5 pumps 447.5 8 pumps 557.8 that’s using Air Arms falcon pellets 13.43 gr. So from 0 to almost 600 with no more than a 10.00 bottle of transmission conditioner. I’m pretty happy with this I’m gonna apply more conditioner and let it sit around awhile longer before I ship it off, as this isn’t going to be daily shooter I may just leave it where it is. Here it is with my eb22.
    Carl


  8. So 168.00 for the gun with shipping 10.00 for the Lucas oil tranny conditioner and one sky screen ( at least I didn’t shoot an eye out) , if you don’t factor in the couch cushion not too bad only a little more than it’s really worth and I learned several things so I’m very happy.
    Carl


  9. Glad to see optics on the menu as I’m in research mode for a better optic for my Wolverine.
    I presently have the UTG bubble level scope (4-16×56).

    My first thought was to buy a spotting scope as I am not seeing hits at 25 yds as clearly as I would like. This may still be my solution however, I suspect a scope with better glass would solve the problem.

    What will likely be the deciding factor is the bubble level. First off I cannot see it well enough for it to be useful. I have 20 20 vision but use glasses for near vision due to typical presbyopia. I have the diopter set to give me a clear reticle. Perhaps this is a factor, however if so it is not resolvable. I should play with it just to find out. Bottom line this makes the scope irritating to use. Unless I can train myself to completely ignore the bubble function it will have to go.

    Also, when I did test the accuracy of the bubble using a 4 foot level as a target, I found it was off by at least a degree. The should be enough to warrant a return. Perhaps PA will allow an exchange for a better model.

    In researching scopes, its rather easy to compare most features. One appealing somewhat new trend is first focal plane. Some of you likely know about it. Basically the cross hairs magnify as you zoom so holdover is the same on the reticle at all distances. What is extremely difficult to pin down, and perhaps the most important feature is clarity. I found this article which does an outstanding job of showing how hard it is to do. A very interesting discovery was finding a Schmidt and Bender model ($$$) that performed poorly.

    The detail oriented (most of you) will enjoy seeing the work put into this test. There’s many links to follow as well.

    http://precisionrifleblog.com/2014/07/01/tactical-scopes-optical-performance-field-test-results-part-1/

    BB
    If you’re up for it I’d love to see you set up something in the way of some objective clarity testing for these impressive looking binos, and whatever other optics you have on hand.


    • Idaho,

      Rotate the scope in the rings to correct the bubble. You are most likely canting the rifle when you hold it. Better yet — leave it as is. The bubble will always return to thew same place, so if the reticle looks straight to you, the bubble is level! It’s like rolling a ball until it is straight up and down .

      B.B.


    • Idaho
      I recently purchased the UTG Bubble level scope. Like you I thought that the bubble level was off a bit for level, however I’ve come to the opinion that since I’m not using it as a builders level it works fine for maintaining a consistent hold , and I feel that has helped my accuracy considerably. So much so I plan on ordering another.
      Carl
      Ps. I posted a question on PA about not finding the battery’s which were in the box with the rings I need to have that post erased.


    • Idaho,
      I have not read the blog for a couple of days so it is possible that someone has already suggested this. As a double check, hang a plumb bob and align your vertical cross-hair parallel to it and see if the bubble shows the same amount of error as it did with the level. It also helps when shooting at distance that the verticle grids on your targets are plumb once the scope is properly mounted.

      Bugbuster


  10. BB

    The reticle and bubble do not agree (reticle level on target level, bubble off level). I don’t see how rotating the scope can correct that.

    Coduence

    Apart from the level I think its a nice scope. Is the level easy for you to see?
    Regarding the clarity, I think its ok, I was not expecting high dollar glass, but with the accuracy of this gun, I now feel like I can make use of better glass. Might be fun to shoot flies.


    • Idaho,

      Take the bubble level off the target and don’t use it. You won’t be able to use it in the field. Rotate the reticle until it LOOKS (appears) to be level to you. Then look at the bubble. Is it centered? That’s what the bubble helps you to do.

      B.B.


    • Idaho
      The bubble is a little dark and I do have to consciously look for it but like you said for 200.00 it’s a great scope. Those cross hairs are definitely fine enough for fly eradication. Can’t wait to see some groups from that very awesome rifle
      Carl


  11. BB

    I did exactly that. The bubble was off when the reticle looked level. That’s why I got out the 4 foot level, to see if what looked level to me really was.

    Are you saying its not useful in the field because it’s hard to see? Seems that’s where it should be most useful.

    Regardless I won’t use it at all. Too hard to see it.


    • Idaho,

      Okay, you did it right.

      I will say this — the bubble looked very dar to me before I had my cataracts replaced. Now it is much clearer, though not bright. I can use it in the field. I was referring to your level that can’t be used in the field.

      B.B.



  12. I’m always attracted to high quality for a cheap price. However, I wonder if there isn’t a built in problem with the concept of super-high powered binoculars. I’ve found with my spotting scope that at very high power, the image is so sensitive that you need a tripod to hold it steady. So, the shakiness you get with binoculars would undercut any advantage in clarity. They would only be useful at short distances for which you could use a much cheaper model.

    On the other hand, I do appreciate the importance of clarity. I found that when I turn my airgun scopes to their highest power for shooting firearms at 100 yards, the image gets a little fuzzy. I don’t think this happens with real quality scopes.

    But any scope is better than no scope. I was shooting my Mauser 98K the other day and was straining to make out the bull at 100 yards. Then, the target went into shadow, and I couldn’t hit a thing.

    Matt61


    • Matt
      Here’s a pic of my m-48 Mauser I’m still trying to figure out the difference between this and a K-98. Something to do with the action being a little shorter. I would like to get the Diana version of this gun.


      • Nice gun. I think I know the answer to your question about the M48 as a result of research I was doing while trying to figure out what Mauser to buy. The M48 is dimensionally slightly different from the K98. This is because the Yugoslavians did not have special steel-hardening techniques used by the Krupp arms factory, and, as a result they needed to overbuild their rifles to compensate. This extra labor requirement would be a reason to go for a short action over a longer one. But on the plus side, the M48s are known for being barely used and extremely cheap. It depends what you want out of an old rifle, but it represents a good deal in itself.

        Matt61


  13. Ok the final report today on the 101 because after shot 13 something happened and now back to square one. I guess the conditioner worked but the seals were so deteriorated that it was only a very temporary fix. So off to Willnecker it goes tomorrow.
    Carl


    • Carl,

      Like I had said previously, very likely it is the o ring seal between the air reservoir and the valve. Most of the other seals are fairly substantial however that particular one is the most critical and also the least substantial. To make matters worse, it is not a standard size. I myself am not afraid to delve into such, but I can certainly understand having someone who knows what they are doing replace such for you, most especially for that price.


      • RR
        Yes the price is definitely right, since I’m not going to repaint it because I like the battle scarred look I’m just going to let Rick do it. Hey my sportsmatch rings should be here Thursday been on back order. Can’t wait might just put them on my hw50 because it needs more help in the trajectory dept.


        • Carl,

          You are really going to enjoy those rings. I would suggest that you first center your adjustments on your scope before you mount it and then adjust your rings to as close as you can to zero. Then the adjustments on the scope are for fine tuning.



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