By Mike Willis
Swarovski and Zeiss are the names that come to mind when you think about quality glass. Until recently, these were the only brands that I considered ULTRA-PREMIUM. I have been dreaming about getting a pair of binoculars of this caliber for years. However, the price tag kept them well out of reach for my budget!
Quality glass makes all the difference when hunting in big country. When you can see for miles, identifying those fine details is everything. Having the ability to differentiate these details could save you from hiking miles toward disappointment or missing an opportunity altogether.
Before descending from your glassing knob, you had better be sure about what you are seeing. Cheap glass has been deceiving discerning eyes since its creation.
In an effort to give myself an edge, I underwent Lasik surgery this year. Anyone who will allow another individual to carve on their eyeball with a laser is committed to clear vision! With my new eagle eyes, I felt ready to get serious about acquiring new optics.
In casual conversation with a friend, I had expressed the desire to find quality glass. My friend had just returned from an outdoor trade show and was able to clue me in on a new brand that recently expanded into the United States. He explained that they claim to be among the very best in quality at a fraction of the cost.
If not for the source of my information, I would have disregarded this claim as impossible. However, I was intrigued and decided to investigate further.
The company is called German Precision Optics (GPO). As you may have guessed, they are a German-based company, but they have recently expanded their presence into the United States. GPO offers a complete line of binoculars, rifle scopes, and range finders for every budget. They also include a fully-transferable lifetime warranty for their products.
Initial research revealed their binoculars specifications were on-par with Swarovski. In some instances, they were slightly better.
Since I previously had my eyes on Swarovski, they became the measure of success when evaluating GPO’s products. Therefore, I chose to test their top-of-the-line optics.
The Swarovski EL 12×50 will set you back $2,869.99. GPO offers its own version of this product, Passion HD 12.5×50, for $1,299.99. While $1,299.99 is still a considerable amount of money, experienced outdoorsmen and women know that ultra-premium binoculars are expensive. Most people purchasing this level of optics have learned the value of having them and know that good glass can mean the difference between going home a hero or a zero.
The time had come when I had done all of the research that I could. There was only one thing left to do. I had to try them!
I remember the day they showed up at my door. The packaging screamed quality, and I knew that if the box was that nice, it must have something pretty decent inside!
Anytime that you make a large leap in the quality of your equipment, it takes a while to calibrate your senses and expectations. These binoculars were so far beyond what I had been using; I was honestly taken aback by them.
I could see everything but the future!
I spent a month using them before I felt ready to put them head-to-head against the coveted Swarovski that I had longed for just months before.
Thanks to the local sporting goods store, I was able to test-drive a set of Swarovski’s right alongside my new GPO’s. Here’s what I found:
After putting the Swarovski to work, I found myself amazed by the similarities between the two sets of glass. Visually, these two binoculars performed spectacularly well and on-par. The clarity was almost identical. I felt that the Swarovski were just slightly brighter than the GPO’s. However, the GPO’s were less susceptible to glare caused by various sun angles.
The Swarovski felt amazing with their ergonomically sound exterior. Everything about the exterior displayed quality. There’s no doubt that they are a fine piece of gear to own.
The eyecups on the Swarovski were smoother and had smaller incremental settings than the GPO’s. However, both performed equally once dialed in.
Both sets of binoculars had the same convenient eye focal adjustment in the zoom knob. By pulling out on this knob, you can quickly and easily adjust your right eye focus.
When holding the binoculars, the Swarovski’s felt a little bit better balanced, but both had the same minimal level of “shake” while viewing through them.
For those who have been blessed financially and the extra $1,570 is not an obstacle, there is some quality to be gained by upgrading to the Swarovski’s.
For those of us who routinely run out of money long before ambition, the cost-benefit of the GPO’s far exceeds the quality gained by splurging for the Swarovski’s.
The GPO’s offer an incredible opportunity to propel you into a new class of glass without breaking the bank.
If you were to look through both sets of binoculars on a tripod, you would be hard-pressed to find any difference between the two brands. The only notable differences between the two brands are in how they feel when holding them and operating the moving parts. While Swarovski may still be a leader in the industry, the GPO’s grant you access to the same functionality at a fraction of the cost.
In my honest opinion, I can’t responsibly justify the additional $1,570 that it would cost to go from GPO to Swarovski. I do believe that German Precision Optics are going to change the industry as they give the big brands a run for their money!
See 20/20 in the 2020 hunting season.
To check out the entire line of GPO products, visit https://gpo-usa.com.