In business for more than 60 years, Steiner-Optik GmbH is a global leader in binocular manufacturing, marketing its products in 45 nations. Karl Steiner set up a one-man shop soon after World War II and focused on high-quality optics, which has been a German specialty for years. Steiner’s exceptional work quickly put him in the front rank of lens makers, and his firm grew steadily. Within just a few years, he decided to concentrate solely on binocular production and quickly dominated that industry sector, starting with binoculars for marine use. Anyone who has spent any time at sea understands the important of exceptional optical instruments for long-range observation. In bright sunlight, glare is everywhere and can overwhelm glasses that pick up distracting hot spots from the ocean’s undulating surface. On cloudy days, distinguishing water from sky at the horizon can be equally difficult. In both situations finding and focusing on any small, indistinct object is a real strain. Only the best lenses are up to such demanding standards, and Steiner’s light-gathering capabilities have long been meeting those standards.

Today, the company specializes in professional binoculars for maritime, military, outdoor sport and hobby use and sells its products in top camera, optical and sporting goods stores in the U.S. and other countries. The U.S. Armed Forces, other international military services, law enforcement agencies, merchant marines and similar organizations rely almost exclusively on Steiner binoculars, for good reason. They are remarkably clear, sharp and versatile tools that provide exceptional optical capabilities for a variety on distant-view requirements. Hunters, bird watchers and sports enthusiasts willing to pay for premium quality also are likely to purchase Steiners.

steiner-photo-1.gifThe business also has been an innovator in the field. It was the first producer to use rubber armoring for binoculars, the first to incorporate an integrated compass, and the first producer to coat lenses against UV radiation and to enhance contrast and clarity in low-light environments. In addition to its range of professional, heavy-duty field glasses, Steiner has designed a variety of compact binoculars for general use.

Among its product lines are the Predator, a line principally for hunters. Magnification and objective, or front lens, diameters vary from 8×22 to 12×50, and fields of view 369 feet to 210 feet at 1,000 yards with increasing magnification. Steiner’s green lens coating is especially useful in this line, since it increases contrast in wooded environments, making wildlife easier to detect by blocking green and blue, foliage and haze colors, and boosting red and brown, typical animal hues.

The company also produces powerful Nighthunter XP binoculars, 10×50 and 12×56, that enhance objects in low light. These glasses use precision lenses with “HD” high definition broad band coating to enhance light transmission and an internal stray light-reducing baffle system that brightens viewed images. Nighthunters also use a Sports Auto-Focus system that eliminates concerns about focusing in low light conditions. Once the glasses are set to the viewer’s eyes, they’ll automatically produce optimal clarity.

Hobbyists and sportsmen rely on the Peregrine, Peregrine XP, Safari, Wildlife Pro and Merlin lines, all of which offer glasses tailored for specific requirements of wildlife observers and bird watchers. The company’s Commander, Navigator, Marine and Observer-Compass are designed especially for maritime use and easily withstand the rigors of the marine environment.

For professional use, Compact and light-weight Military and Marine binoculars come in 8×30 and 10×50 configurations. Like all Steiners, they are waterproof, very rugged and versatile. The Military and Police category includes several well-designed models, most with large objective lenses for precise long-range work.

List prices for Steiners start at less than $300 and go up, depending on the model. Specialty binoculars at the top of the line can list for about $2,500, but many retailers offer substantial discounts, making these products good bargains.

steiner-photo-2.gifThe newest professional model in the Military and Police line is the 10×42 R Tactical (Model No. 650). Steiner recently offered these binoculars specifically designed for law enforcers to meet strenuous field use demands. The company constructs the body of Makrolon, an advanced polycarbonate material with high impact and wear resistance and extreme temperature tolerance that can be produced in transparent or opaque forms. The structure is extremely strong, shock proof and waterproof, utilizing Steiner’s N2 two-way valve waterproof pressurization system. Optics are pressurized with dry nitrogen at 22 PSI, preventing any possible leakage into the optical chambers. Other components utilize aircraft-grade aluminum, and slip-proof, non-reflective black rubber armor covers the frame. Lenses are coated and roof prisms use phase corrected dielectric mirrors to provide exceptional resolution and brightness, especially in low-light conditions. The glasses also are light, weighing in at less than 27 ounces, and relatively compact, making them easy to carry and relatively easy to conceal. Dimensions overall are 6.2 inches long by 4.6 inches wide and 1.8 inches high. The glasses come with attached rubber lens caps, rubber eyepiece half flaps, a one-piece, padded fabric ocular leans cover and a quick release neck strap, as well as a case.

A look through the binoculars presents the Steiner Universal Mil Reticle on the right side. The reticle enables long distance, large target ranging with 5 to 10 mil increments on the outer quadrants, reducing to single, half and 0.2 mil increments in the reticle’s center. An eyepiece diopter provides reticle focus, and the left eyepiece diopter handles image focus. The center focus wheel is mounted on top of the frame and turns 1.5 turns to provide 6.5-foot to infinity focus. Eye relief is 17.4 mm, and field of view at 1,000 yards is 315 feet.

After use, even at dawn and dusk, it is clear that these binoculars are remarkably good. They clarify dense, complicated backgrounds, enabling a viewer to isolate an object of interest. Focus throughout the field of view is excellent, with no perceptible fall off at the image edge. The lenses seem to gather light, making them a pleasure to use in difficult lighting conditions. The suggested retail price on the 10×42 R closes in on $1,200, but once again, retailers offer substantial discounts, making these new Steiner tactical binoculars a very desirable tool for law enforcement, since, as the company claims with proven accuracy, nothing escapes the viewer’s eyes.

For more information on Steiner and its products, visit

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