Vanguard binoculars currently (2023) come in 24 individual models. All but 6 of them have 42 millimeter objective lenses!
So, if you’re looking for 8×42 or 10×42 size binoculars (which Vanguard almost always lists for the the same price) for hunting or birdwatching or whatever, I think you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve only written once before about Vanguard binoculars. That was in this review of the Vanguard Endeavor ED II model. Here I’ll be briefly covering all 24 current models, which sorta fall under just four main lines…three of which, in turn, each have their own sub-lines, as you’ll see.
The four main lines are Vesta, VEO, Spirit, and Endeavor. We’ll start with Vesta, which includes fully half of the non-42 sizes.
- 1 Vanguard Vesta Binoculars – On the Small Side
- 2 Vanguard VEO XF and Spirit XF Binoculars – What’s the Difference?
- 3 Vanguard VEO ED Binoculars – Getting Interesting
- 4 Vanguard Endeavor ED Binoculars
- 5 Vanguard VEO HD 8×42 and 10×42 Binoculars – Advantage?
- 6 Vanguard Endeavor ED II and VEO HD2 Binoculars – Virtually Identical
- 7 Vanguard Endeavor ED and VEO HD IV – More of the Same?
Vanguard Vesta Binoculars – On the Small Side
Vanguard binoculars in the Vesta (which you may see in all caps – VESTA – for some reason) line include the compact 8×21, the smallish 8×25 and 10×25, and the standard 8×42 and 10×42 models.
The 8×21 model comes in rosaline (shown), black, white, and champagne. I think one of the main reasons for owning one of these binos is for showing them off…perhaps at the opera…?
They weigh just 6.8 ounces and have coated (but probably not fully multi-coated) lenses. I don’t know what kind of prisms these have, but at this price point (about $60-70) you probably don’t care.
The link to Amazon below only shows you the rosaline style. The others are available too, you’ll just have to search from there.
The Vesta 8×25 and 10×25 models do have fully multi-coated lenses, BaK4 prisms, and are waterproof and fogproof. The Vanguard website doesn’t specifically mention nitrogen purged tubes, but that’s usually the way to make binoculars fogproof, so I’m going to assume that’s the case here until I hear otherwise.
Note: As far as I can tell, all the rest of these Vanguard binoculars also have those features – fully multi-coated lenses, BaK4 prisms, and nitrogen purged tubes. There are a handful of models that have even better qualities than those, which I’ll mention below in due course.
The Vesta 8×42 and 10×42 models thus also have those features. With the addition of features and increase in size, you get a corresponding increase in cost. It’s not a lot at this point, but something to be aware of.
Vanguard VEO XF and Spirit XF Binoculars – What’s the Difference?
The difference between VEO XF / Spirit XF and the largest Vesta models above is that the VEO (not sure why the all-caps here) and Spirit have phase coated prisms. As to the difference between VEO XF and Spirit XF…I have no clue. (I’ve asked that question of Vanguard and await their response, which I’ll post here later.)
Update: Here is Vanguard’s response to my inquiry.
“The Spirit XF and the VEO XF are very similar. Cosmetically, the Spirit binoculars are black and the VEO binoculars are green. The Spirit XF binoculars are being phased out and will be replaced with the VEO XF binoculars.”
So, in other words, they’re the same.
If you like the Vanguard binoculars style and really want great field of view (FOV), pick either one of these 8x models. Technically, the VEO has a little better FOV at 418 feet (at 1000 yards), but the Spirit also shines at 409 feet. The next closest Vanguard model (and there are several) comes in at just 377 feet.
Vanguard VEO ED Binoculars – Getting Interesting
Starting with the Vanguard binoculars VEO ED line, you get – as you might have guessed – ED glass, which is a feature often reserved for models that cost much more than these.
Even with the addition of ED glass, the MSRP of the VEO ED 8×42 and 10×42 models remains the same as the Spirit XF 10×42. To me, that makes the VEO ED models an excellent value.
This is one of those few sub-lines that has non-42mm objective lenses to offer. You can also get the VEO ED binoculars in 10×50 and 12×50 sizes. When binos get this big, you usually start looking around for tripods to go with them. I didn’t notice a tripod adapter as part of these binoculars, so that may be an extra cost, if you decide to go that direction.
Vanguard Endeavor ED Binoculars
Here we come to the final non-42mm size, the Endeavor ED 8×32. The other size here is the 10×42.
Other than the unique (to Vanguard) size, there seems to be some additional coatings being applied here. According to Vanguard, these models have the following.
V-Max Silver Coating is among the most cutting-edge lens treatments in optics, providing crisper, more vivid images and sharper contrast due to impressive light reflection.
Anti-Reflection Coating on all air-to-surface lenses dramatically minimizes light reflection on the lens. Coupled with fully multi-coated treatment, it ensures near perfect light transmission and image recognition, enabling the brightest images possible, even on the sunniest days.
Emerald Coating is specifically designed to provide the full spectrum of color within the band of green tones. This coating is essential for nature enthusiasts, because it ensures the most vivid and natural shades of green.
It’s unclear as to whether or not these coatings are applied to any other models.
It’s with these two Endeavor ED models too that O-rings are first mentioned in connection with nitrogen purging. I’m not sure if this applies to any other models either.
Vanguard VEO HD 8×42 and 10×42 Binoculars – Advantage?
Vanguard binoculars with HD (glass?) should have some advantage over those with just ED glass, right? If the VEO HDs do, I can’t find what it is. That is, it’s not explained on the Vanguard site. Assuming that HD glass is inherently better, I suppose that would justify the increased cost.
The only other advantage I can see here is the locking diopter, and that alone certainly isn’t worth ~$100 more than the VEO EDs of similar size.
Vanguard Endeavor ED II and VEO HD2 Binoculars – Virtually Identical
Next in line would be the Endeavor ED II that, as I said at the top, I’ve written about earlier. That being the case, I won’t repeat that info here. (There is no 10×42 version of that model.)
The Vanguard VEO HD2 8×42 binos are virtually identical to those Endeavors. The singular difference is that the VEOs are made of composite carbon making them about 2 ounces lighter than their cousins. You might not think that matters much until you try holding them to your eyes (or around your neck) for a several hours.
The VEO HD2 is also available as a 10×42 model…but you guessed that already, didn’t you?
Vanguard Endeavor ED and VEO HD IV – More of the Same?
Finally we come to the Vanguard top models – Endeavor ED IV and VEO HD IV – both in 8×42 and 10×42 sizes and all four of those with an MSRP of $500.
So again, what’s the difference?
Compared to “lesser” models, all of these have SK-15 prism glass which is supposed to be better in some ways than BaK4.
Compared to each other, it’s tougher to say. The VEO has HD glass, which, as I just noted, should theoretically be better than ED. The Endeavor has “multi-guard” coatings, which are unexplained. Perhaps those two features balance each other out…?
The FOV of each size is the same – 377 for the 8×42 and 340 for the 10×42. The close focus is a little better for the VEO – 5.9 feet versus over 6 feet for the Endeavor.
The Endeavor apparently has a tripod adapter (you probably won’t use it) and a locking diopter. I would think the VEO would have these too, but maybe not.
Somehow, Vanguard has managed to create some really good binoculars while keeping the price at or under $500. I’m not sure what it is that the “Big 3” (Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss) do to make their binoculars cost so much more. (I’m sure there’s something. I just don’t know what it is. I mean, there must be something, right?)
If you want the quality of one of the Big 3 instead, take a look at Leica for a start.