Introduction

In this article, I will make a comparison between Ranger Xtreme 8×42 by Steiner and Sapphire ED 8×42 by Hawke.
Steiner Optik is one of the most prestigious brands worldwide in the manufacture of optics for hunting, sailing, the military and police sectors and outdoor activities. This German company turned 70 years of existence in 2017. It belongs to the Beretta Group since 2008.
Hawke Optics was found in the UK and got its headquarters established in the US in 2007 and because of their high quality and innovative products quickly became a worldwide brand, known for the huge selection of sporting optics.
These two models have a similar purpose; both are meant for novice hunters and bird watchers. They are especially suitable for hunting in the daytime and in the mountains since they are extremely compact and resistant. If you are searching for a good pair of binoculars that would be useful in several situations, and you are not willing to pay too much for them, these two would be a good option. You can get a Ranger Xtreme for less than 649 EUR and Sapphire ED for almost one hundred EUR less (569 EUR).

Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42 and Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8x42

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 and Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42

 

Size & Weight

  Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8x42Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42
Weight:780 g730 g
Width:125 mm128 mm
Length:147 mm137 mm
Max interpupillary distance:75 mm76 mm

There are several differences between these two models, that are already obvious at first glance. Steiner Ranger Xtreme is 50 grams heavier than the Sapphire ED. It is also 10 mm longer. Ranger Xtreme looks robust, coated in hunting green rubber with many details added and a special eyepiece with a winged eyecup set. Armoring of the binoculars is thick rubber with several details on the surface. All over the barrels, there are little bumps and bars that provide a better grip. Binoculars also have a thumb rest on the bottom. They are extremely compact and look like they were carved out of a large piece of rubber.
Sapphire ED- the one I have tested- is coated in black rubber with matted rubber parts on both sides for a better grasp. A thumb rest is slightly angled and a bit bigger than on a Ranger Xtreme. Binoculars are shorter and have a simple, undecorated appearance and details made of metal.
Ranger Xtreme has the Makrolon® material used in its NBR-Longlife rubber armoring– this is a thermoplastic sheet material that is very strong, solid and long-lasting.

 Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8x42

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42

Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 And Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Bottom

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 And Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Bottom

Optical Properties

 Nikon Monarch 5 8×42Vanguard Endeavor ED II 8×42
Prism type:Roof - Schmidt/PechanRoof -
Schmidt/Pechan
Lens Diameter:42 mm42 mm
Magnification:8x 8x
Variable Magnification:NoNo
Coatings:Fully multi-coatedFully multi-coated
Close focus:1.9 m 2.0 m
Field of View:125 m /1000 m142 m / 1000 m

8×42 is the perfect choice for hunters and birdwatchers. This size of binoculars is still small and practical enough to take them everywhere you go. They are handy and lightweight enough for carrying around and are appropriate for all-terrain observations.
Both are powerful high-contrast optics with high light transmission and expanded field of view. Prism type in these two binoculars is Roof- Schmidt/Pechan and the lenses are fully multi-coated.
Steiner’s Ranger Xtreme has all prisms and lenses specially coated and offers impressive light transmission, clear, defined and amazingly bright images.
Hawke’s Sapphire extra-low dispersion glass (ED) eliminates color fringing; its prisms are dielectric coated. The combination of these two features provides fascinating optical performance, including high light transition and good clarity.
The close focus is more or less the same on both; as for the field of view, it is slightly wider on a Sapphire ED, nevertheless, the Ranger Xtreme already has an XL mark for its Field of View noted in its specifications.

Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42 and Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8x42 Bird View

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 and Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Bird View

 

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8x42 Vs. Hawke Sapphire ED 8x42

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Vs. Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42

Focus Properties

 Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42
Focusing System:CentralCentral
Central Wheel Grasp:9/107/10
Central Wheel Rotation:8/107/10
Diopter Setting:Left-eyeRight-eye
Central Wheel Diameter:30 mm27 mm
Central Wheel Length:22 mm27 mm
Total Revolution: 540°450°
Bridge Length (Without the Central Wheel Length)56 mm38 mm

Both binoculars have a central focusing system. Ranger Xtreme has a left-eye diopter setting and Sapphire ED has a right one.
The central wheels on these two models are completely different from each other; Xtreme has a wheel coated with the same rubber as the armoring and Sapphire ED has a plastic one with a jagged surface that is a bit sharp-edged. The rotation on both is very smooth and easy, which is not always an advantage, as the focus settings can change quickly if we are not careful enough.
I have to say I really liked the Steiner’s focusing wheel because it has a very good grip and a surface with bars that come in handy when wearing gloves. That is why I have evaluated it with a good 9/10. I did not like the Hawke’s knob that much, since it is plastic, it rotates really quickly and at the same time produces the sound of the trapped air inside. I have evaluated it with a 7/10. Because of the fast rotation, I gave Ranger Xtreme an 8/10 and for the same reason including the trapped air sound, I have evaluated the Hawke’s model with a 7/10. However, the latter is more convenient to use with one hand. Its bridge is shorter and the index finger automatically falls on the knob when holding it with one hand. Ranger Xtreme is not that practical, especially if your hands are smaller.
The diopter setting is really well-made on the Ranger Xtreme since it is very precise and the rotation is sturdy. On Sapphire ED, the rotation is again a bit too fast and the whole ring does not have a good grip because of its insufficiently detailed surface.

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Focus

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Focus

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Focus

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Focus

Eyepiece Properties

  Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42
Eyepiece type:MultipositionedMultipositioned
Number of Click-stops:12
Eye relief:18 mm
Exit pupil:5.3 mm5 mm
Firmness:7/108/10
Quality:8/107/10
Suitable for Eye Glass Wearers:YesYes
External Diameter:47 mm42 mm
Internal Diameter:21 mm23 mm

The eyepiece type on both models is multi-positioned with a turn and slide mechanism. Ranger Xtreme has the twist-up eyecups with only one click-stop and Sapphire ED with two. Still, Ranger Xtreme has a better eye relief- 8 mm longer than on the Sapphire ED. I have evaluated the firmness of the eyepiece better on the Sapphire ED, 8/10 because I personally prefer the click-stops more than the sliding. I gave Ranger Xtreme only a 7/10 in this category. As for the quality, I preferred the latter because of the softer and better-shaped rubber. I have evaluated it with an 8/10. On a Sapphire ED, the rubber is thicker, harder and not so comfortable for the face. That is why I gave it a 7/10. Ranger Xtreme has a winged eyecup set which provides protection from distracting bright light and glare and is especially useful in low-light conditions. This is a very important feature, however, a lot of people would say it is rather unnecessary and disturbing. When testing the binoculars, It bothered me how precise you need to be when adjusting the wings- the mechanism turns only counterclockwise when the eye relief is set! This means that once again, the eyecups must be rotated for the whole turn if the wings are accidentally slightly moved. This can take a lot of time and it is not convenient if we are in hurry. Of course, the wings can be folded but the result is not the same.

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Eyepiece

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Eyepiece

 Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Eyepiece

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Eyepiece

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Vs. Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Eyepieces

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Vs. Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Eyepieces

General Properties

 Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42
Housing Material:Makrolon® /Plastic/ RubberPlastic/ Rubber
Armoring:RubberRubber
Quality of Armoring:9/107/10
Quality of Covers:9/108/10
Build in Rangefinder:NoNo
Waterproof:YesYes
Submersible:Yes (up to 3 m)Yes
Filled With:NitrogenNitrogen
Number of Colors:2 (black, green)2 (black, green)
Tripod Adaptable:YesYes
Made in:GermanyJapan
Introduced in:20132015
Warranty period: 10 years10 years
MRSP Price:649.00 EUR569.00 EUR

As I was saying before, the whole appearance of the Steiner’s binoculars is extravagant and it is already clear at first glance that it was made for people who are very active and need this kind of binoculars for driven hunts, observing in the mountains and on other hard-to-reach terrains. The binoculars are made to last, they are extremely rugged and solid. I have evaluated both, the quality of armoring and the covers, with a good 9/10. On the other hand, Sapphire ED is just another binoculars of average looks and specifications. It is more elegant and smaller, comparing to the Ranger Xtreme and in my opinion, so is its purpose. I would much rather recommend this type of binoculars to those, who would observe birds, landscapes, and large open areas. I have evaluated the Sapphire ED’s quality of armoring with a 7/10 and the quality of covers with an 8/10.
Covers for the objective lenses are on both models non-detachable and fastened with a short rubber to the bottom side of the barrels. I must say I really like and prefer this type of covers because they are very practical to use and are always with the binoculars so you can protect the lenses. I have evaluated Ranger Xtreme’s better because of the better rubber and logos engraved on them.
Both binoculars are filled with Nitrogen and tightly sealed, so they perform very well in extreme weather conditions and are water and fog resistant. Ranger Xtreme is also water pressure proof up to 3m.
Both are tripod adaptable but have a difficult access for mounting it.
Both brands are offering a 10-year warranty for their binoculars.

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 And Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Side View

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 And Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Side View

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 And Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Side View

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 And Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Side View

Group Test

How we made a test

We made a test with a group of 6 people with very diverse knowledge about sports optics. Some had previous experiences with binoculars and other almost none. We compared central and edge sharpness, glare, real FOV, eye-box and overall impression. Everyone in the test group tested binoculars individually without being influenced by other people. We also covered down any brand signs on binoculars, so no one was influenced by knowing which company manufactured which.

 Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42
Central sharpness:3/63/6
Edge sharpness:2/64/6
Glare:3/63/6
Real FOV:0/66/6
Eye-box:2/64/6
Overall impression:2/64/6

The results were very different in all categories and not so great for the Ranger Xtreme as we were expecting from the beginning. The results for central sharpness and glare ended in a tie, but Sapphire ED got better results in all other categories! Results for the optical properties were similar for both models, except for the Real FOV, which was incomparably better, since all of the people who had tested the binoculars, decided for Hawke’s model. The overall impression was more in favor of Hawke, as more people would rather choose their binoculars, than Steiner’s.

Conclusion

The design and build material of the ranger Xtreme is really special and worth mentioning, but as far as the optical performance is concerned, we can also get the same or even a better one in other, cheaper models. The look is not always everything and sometimes less is more! The latter is primarily meant for the winged eyecups, which in many cases are more unnecessary than useful.
I absolutely love how the Steiner Ranger Xtreme looks like- its build quality is suitable for anyone looking for durable, powerful, yet beautiful binoculars. Sapphire ED is cheaper but has good if not even better optical performance than the Xtreme.
Ranger Xtreme comes in a big black bag with ClicLoc neoprene-carrying strap, covers and a cleaning cloth included. Sapphire ED is packed in a beautiful sienna brown, retro-looking bag, made of faux leather that has a bit unpleasant, chemical smell.

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Kit

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 Kit

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Kit

Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Kit

 Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 And Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Bags

Hawke Sapphire ED 8×42 And Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Bags

Disclaimer

This test wasn’t financed and is unbiased. As a wildlife enthusiast interested in sports optics I made this tests because I would like to see how binoculars perform and if they meet the advertised expectations. With this test, I also hope that it will help people choose the right binoculars for their personal use. I am not in any way connected with the manufacturers of sports optics and I’m not personally in favor of particular brand.
In the end, I would like to thank Optics-trade.eu to lend me these binoculars for this test. I also thank them for letting me use their videos.

 

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Written by heuxbf

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