Panelists waded through the biggest field of binoculars ever in Outdoor Life's annual Optics Test. In the full-size binocular category, 19 optics were submitted. Another nine binos were submitted in the mid-sized category.
The home of Outdoor Life’s optics test is the lodge at the Boone & Crockett Club’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch, located on the stunning Rocky Mountain Front west of Dupuyer, Montana. The lodge’s great room offers abundant space for optics testers and sweeping views of the mountains.
The great room of the TRM Ranch lodge is adorned with mounts of big-game trophies, including this Idaho mountain lion.
Outdoor Life senior editor John Taranto checks out one of nine spotting scopes in this year’s test.
New to the test team this year is Missoula, Mont., taxidermist and big-game hunter Dale Manning, whose eye for detail is magnified in Zeiss’s huge 72mm Victory riflescope.
Panelists waded through the biggest field of binoculars ever in Outdoor Life’s annual Optics Test. In the full-size binocular category, 19 optics were submitted. Another nine binos were submitted in the mid-sized category.
Testers record their evaluations on data sheets that include price, eye relief, field of view and any noteworthy amenities.
Test team member Mark Copenhaver posts the formula for scoring individual optics. In Outdoor Life’s optics test, 60 percent of the score is derived from objective criteria, including optical resolution and low-light performance. The remaining 40 percent is derived from subjective evaluations such as design, perceived image and an assessment of value for the price.
Resolution scores are obtained by focusing the optic on this official Air Force Resolution Target and reading the finest detail possible.
Riflescopes are put through a test that measures their point-of-aim shift as magnification is zoomed up and down. Additionally, the team records the precision of riflescopes’ windage and elevation adjustments.
OL’s John Taranto demonstrates “the world’s brightest binoculars,” or blackened tubes that contain no glass. Any lenses will diminish the amount of light that reaches the eye, no matter how clear or well-coated the glass might be.
Team member and optics editor emeritus Bill McRae measures eye relief on each optic.
The Boone & Crockett Club’s TRM Ranch sits at the intersection of plains and mountains. The first morning of the optics test the mountains were draped in heavy frozen fog.
Outdoor Life’s 2010 Optics Test team poses in front of the Rocky Mountain Front. From left: Dale Manning, Mark Copenhaver, Andrew McKean, Bill McRae and John Taranto.
Dale Manning evaluates a mid-sized binocular from Zeiss.
The brightly illuminated exit pupil of a spotting scope lights up the eye of Outdoor Life’s Optics Editor Andrew McKean.
The TRM Ranch lodge sits in full view of the mountains, catching the first rays of sunrise. The lodge contains a full dormitory, commercial kitchen, meeting facilities and a state-of-the-art conservation education facility that hosts school groups, summer campers and professional wildlife biologists.
The first light of a February morning lights up the Rocky Mountain Front. The TRM Ranch is home to hundreds of wintering elk and mule deer, mountain lions and, in another month or two, grizzly bears fresh from their winter dens.

All Outdoor Life eyes were on Dupuyer Montana this week for the 2010 test of new hunting optics.