You might be excused for thinking that Nikon binoculars only came in Monarch models. Or maybe Monarch, Aculon, and Prostaff. But there are actually (approximately) 8 lines of Nikon binoculars available in 2023.
I say “approximately” because I’m not sure you can really classify a model as a “line” when there’s only one or two sizes of a given name.
The various names of Nikon binoculars then are these.
- Action Extreme
- WX IF
Some of these lines have sub-lines, as you’ll see below. Let’s look at each of them in turn in the order presented above, which is roughly by price from low to high.
- 1 Nikon Aculon Binoculars
- 2 Nikon Trailblazer ATB Binoculars
- 3 Nikon Travelite Binoculars
- 4 Nikon Prostaff Binoculars
- 5 Nikon Action Extreme ATB Binoculars
- 6 Nikon Prostaff P7 and 7S Binoculars
- 7 Nikon OceanPro Binoculars
- 8 Nikon Monarch Binoculars
- 9 Nikon Astroluxe and WX IF Binoculars
Nikon Aculon Binoculars
Aculon is one of those lines made of a few sub-lines, which are denoted by letter-number combinations such as T02, A30, and A211. I don’t know what these combos mean, and it doesn’t really matter.
The Aculon T02 and Aculon A30 models are very similar in construction and performance. The main differences among them are size and color.
The Aculon T02 comes in 8×21 and 10×21 sizes and in black, white, or blue. The Aculon A30 comes only as a 10×25 model, but you can get it in black or camoflage (for about $10 more).
All Nikon binoculars have multi-coated lenses. In some cases, perhaps all, this seems to mean fully multi-coated glass.
The smaller Aculon A211 models – 7×35, 8×42, and 10×42 – are priced in the area of $100 (MSRP) each and have BaK4 prisms. These, along with the Action Extreme models, are the only ones that Nikon specifically states have these high quality prisms. That said, I suspect most of the others do too, based on their MSRP. It’s just that the information is not readily available.
The Aculon A211s, along with a few other models we’ll get to later, are the only ones said to have Nikon’s somewhat mysterious Eco-Glass. I couldn’t find any explanation as to what this glass is really made of or what benefit it really gives you. It’s not the same, as far as I can tell, as ED glass which actually is specified for some models.
The A211s with 50 millimeter objective lenses – 7×50, 10×50, 12×50, 16×50, and the 10-22×50 zoom – range between $125 and $200. (I almost put these in their own group down the line because there are several models that cost less and so “fit in between” the lower cost A211s and these larger models.)
I’ll slip the Sportstar 8-24×25 zoom binoculars in here too. Besides the A211 zoom, they’re the only other zoom model currently available from Nikon. Being less powerful than the A211, they cost a little less too. These are apparently also available in blue or white.
The Sportstar is a few inches smaller than the A211 and weighs only about 1/3 as much at just under 11 ounces. I think I’d rather hold these at a football game than the A211s. The name suggests that you’ll agree.
Nikon Trailblazer ATB Binoculars
For some reason, Nikon really likes the ATB – All Terrain Binoculars – designation. Technically, almost all their models are ATBs. It’s almost to the point where all emphasis is no emphasis. And what’s the point of calling a pair of tubes “all terrain” in the first place? Can’t you carry literally any pair of binoculars anywhere you want? It’s not like this is an all terrain vehicle, which distinguishes one type of four-wheeler from others that can’t handle rough terrain. Obviously, I just don’t get it.
Personally, I think these are some of the ugliest binoculars in the market. They’re just one tiny step up from the Aculon T02 and A30 line pricewise, but I can’t see any real reason for the extra cost, since the feature set is virtually the same.
Nikon Travelite Binoculars
The comparison of Trailblazer to cheaper Aculon T02/A30 is about the same as a comparison of Travelite to cheaper Aculon A211. The Travelite is one notch up in cost but not in features.
The design of the Travelites isn’t much more pleasing to the eye either. I do worry a little about the angular design of these Porro tubes. I think, with extended use, your hands might get tired sooner than with a non-angled pair. Note that I haven’t tested this though. It’s just a thought based on the design.
Nikon Prostaff Binoculars
Next we come to a line that I am going to split into two groups – Nikon Prostaff. First we’ll look at the 3S, ATB, and P3 models. (See, there’s that ATB moniker again.)
The feature that is added for these models is nitrogen purged tubes with O-ring seals. The models included are the following.
- Prostaff 3S 8×42
- Prostaff ATB 8×25
- Prostaff ATB 10×25
- Prostaff P3 8×30
- Prostaff P3 10×30
- Prostaff P3 8×42
- Prostaff P3 10×42
Other than the design (see pictures above), I can’t see any difference between the 3S 8×42 and the P3 8×42. They have exactly the same specifications, but the P3 costs $10 more.
Nikon Action Extreme ATB Binoculars
ATB strikes again! “ATB Binoculars” is redundant, I know (like PIN number). But truncating it to just “ATB” feels incomplete, so I guess I’d rather be repetitive. Note that “Action Extreme” and “Action EX” are the same thing.
If a Prostaff P3 and a larger (50mm) Aculon A211 had a baby, the result would be an Action Extreme ATB binocular. But the child may have lost some Eco-Glass along the way. That’s just a maybe. I don’t know for sure one way or the other. What is preserved from one “generation” to the next is the nitrogen purged tubes and the BaK4 prisms.
These 6 models all have those features: Action EX 7×35, 8×40, 7×50, 10×50, 12×50, and 16×50.
Nikon Prostaff P7 and 7S Binoculars
Now we return to the Prostaff line because of the several features that they have.
As described on the Nikon site, the Prostaff P7 models – 8×30, 10×30, 8×42, and 10×42 – have nitrogen purged tubes, phase coated prisms, dielectric coating, a coating that repels liquids and dust, and a locking diopter. (I suspect they may also have BaK4 prisms.)
The Prostaff 7S models – 8×30, 8×42, 10×40, and 10×42 – have the nitrogen and the phase coating, but then have just that Eco-Glass stuff. The cost of the 8×42 and 10×42 models is the same for both P7 and 7S, so I guess there is just a tradeoff in feature set.
The Prostaff 7S 10×42 is also available (from $20 more) in camouflage styling.
The Prostaff 5 10×50 and 12×50 have to slide in here due to cost. They have fewer features than the P7 and 7S, but they cost as much because of their size. Perhaps they do also share some of the features, even though the Nikon website doesn’t name them.
Nikon OceanPro Binoculars
Based on their name, size, and features, it’s obvious that these two models are made for use on the water.
The basic 7×50 model is very similar to the compass model shown, except that it doesn’t include said compass. Both have nitrogen purged tubes, and at least the compass edition has Eco-Glass.
Nikon Monarch Binoculars
The Nikon Monarch line has evolved over the years. You can glean some of their history from this article that I wrote about 6 years ago. At the Nikon site, one Monarch 5 set still survives. Other older models have become Monarch M5, Monarch M7, and Monarch HG sub-lines. (I haven’t been able to find a meaning for “HG”.)
The most significant feature added here is ED glass for all Monarch models. It gets a little complicated, so here’s a table that should help sort things out for you. Note that, once again, this information is based only on what the Nikon site says.
|Monarch M5||Yes||Yes||Nitrogen purged||Yes|
|Monarch M7||Yes||Yes||Nitrogen purged||Yes||Yes|
|Monarch 5||Yes||Yes||Nitrogen purged||Yes|
“Fully” means that Nikon specifically states that these lenses are fully multi-coated. “Phase?” asks whether the prisms have phase coating. The gaps in the HG row are highly suspect because a Monarch HG costs 2 or 3 times as much as an M7 and M5 respectively.
The Monarch M7 models – 8×30, 10×30, 8×42, and 10×42 – also have the coating that repels liquids and dust. The large Monarch 5 12×56 has Eco-Glass. The HG models – same sizes as the M7s – have a coating to make them scratch-proof.
I’m assuming that Nikon puts as much quality into the Monarch HGs as other manufacturers such as Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss put into their binoculars, because we’re talking about MSRPs of just about $1000 here.
Nikon Astroluxe and WX IF Binoculars
If you want the best in Nikon binoculars for looking at the heavens, you want the Astroluxe 18×70.
Other than multi-coatings and nitrogen purged tubes, the only other feature mentioned for the Astroluxe is a tripod adapter.
On the other hand, the WX IF 7×50 and 10×50, which will run you about $6000 to $6500, also have phase coated prisms, ED glass, image flattener technology (presumably what the “IF” stands for), and Abbe-Koening prisms, which rotate the target image 180 degrees. (As of this writing, no one is offering these at Amazon.)
The WX binoculars also have a tripod adapter which is an absolute must, because the larger of the two weighs about 5 pounds!
So, there you have it – the current full spread of Nikon binoculars. There should be something for you here, but in case you couldn’t find anything that tickled your fancy, try looking at Bushnell or Athlon instead.