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Bushnell Forge 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

These binoculars deliver a very good image but are considerably larger and heavier than other 8x42s on the market.

At A Glance

Bushnell Forge 8x42 binoculars
Bushnell Forge 8×42 binoculars. Image by Hugh Powell.


  • Bright, colorful image
  • High contrast image helps with distant detail
  • Wide field of view


  • Bulky and heavy
  • Length, weight, and placement of focus wheel creates unbalanced feel in the hand
  • Not as close-focusing as many competitors


  • Price: $459 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: Listed at 10.0 feet (305 cm). In tests, we could focus these binoculars down to about 7.2 feet (218 cm)
  • Field of view: 8.1° (425 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 32.2 oz (912 g)—that’s about 6.5 oz (183 g) heavier than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: not listed

Viewing Experience: These binoculars offer a nice, bright image with plenty of contrast. At long distances and in harsh light, this contrast helps pick out details that might get lost in other binoculars. We watched a far-off, high-flying American Robin and were able to clearly see the signature white vent amid the tail and flapping gray wings. At times this contrast seemed to be at odds with the color reproduction, as when a House Finch in shadow was just a gray-brown bird without a strong sense of the rose-red until it moved into better light. For a Northern Cardinal in the sun, foraging on purple-black buckthorn fruits, this contrast played up the beautiful mix of colors. The field of view is very wide, allowing plenty of room for taking in a scene or following a moving bird. The image is bright and sharp almost all the way across, with just a slight drop-off at the edges.

Feel and Build: These are solidly constructed binoculars with some thoughtful design touches, but are much bigger and heavier than competitors. The form factor harks back to some of the classic premium bins of 20+ years ago, with thick, heavily armored barrels that grade smoothly into the eyecups, which are low profile, ribbed, with three precise clicks out. The open hinge is a nice design touch more often found in high-end optics, although it is compromised here by the very long focus wheel, so there’s not actually much space for your fingers to wrap around the barrels. Whereas most 8×42 binoculars are small enough that they balance easily in the hand, with the Forge we were constantly feeling the need to counterbalance the downward pull of the long, heavy barrels. We appreciated the large thumb scallops on the barrels for the extra bit of leverage they provided. The focus wheel is smooth and neither too loose nor too firm. The objective lens covers attach to the barrel via molded loops—a nice design touch that made them less fiddly than on most binoculars. Perhaps in a nod to the weight, these binoculars come with both a padded neck strap and an additional harness. Overall, given the long distance/high contrast optics, the size and weight, and the “Never Miss” slogan printed on the inside cover of the box, we wonder if these binoculars were primarily designed with hunters rather than birdwatchers in mind.

More on Binoculars

Comments From Testers: 

  • Good field of view
  • Bright image
  • Very heavy and bulky
  • Close focus is poor

This article is one in a series of mini-reviews. To see how these binoculars compare to others we’ve tested, see our full review of affordable 8×42 binoculars.  

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