I received my new Athlon Cronus 15x56 Binocular just a few weeks ago and have finally had the chance to spend 4 days of shed antler hunting with the optics in hand without the aid of a tripod. The power has impressed me greatly, and while it does come with a bit of a weight cost compared to smaller optics, I believe it's worth it for a number of hunting scenarios. Of course, if you're packing a tripod, as many do with optics of this size, then the weight is a non-issue.
For the most part, most of us expect that with 15x optics, we're probably going to need to use a tripod to effectively glass. In fact, some claim that a tripod is mandatory, but I highly disagree. Upon receiving these optics, I had high hopes that the binocular would work effectively without needing to pack a tripod on every outing, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they do. If you're like me and like to sit down with elbows on knees to do most of your glassing, you'll find that these 15x56 optics can do the job. Of course, while I was pleased with the performance of the optics without support aid, I was even more pleased with the optics when they were mounted atop a solid tripod.
Here's what I've found so far in my short time using these optics. First of all, I like the quality and price. They retail right in that $700 range, which makes them affordable for far more of us as a 2nd or 3rd binocular option.
For many of us, a 15x binocular is not going to be our only binocular option, but more so, it's going to be another option for certain scouting, hunting and target practice scenarios. A scenario in-which you're hunting more open country where most of your glassing is 500+ yards, but you don't need or want to pack that tripod and/or spotting scope for the power. Or, if you're a shooter who'd like to have some good optics for analyzing targets.
The number one reason a person would choose these optics over an 8x or 10x set of binoculars is that 50%+ power increase, which brings a lot more country within range to glass effectively. And, the 56mm objective lens diameter does the job of gathering the light needed to allow for the higher power, longer range glassing. By utilizing these higher power optics and leaving the 8's or 10's at home, you may also be able to leave the spotting scope home as well.
Of course, with a larger set of optics comes weight. These Cronus 15x56 optics weigh in at 45.2 oz., which is something one has to get used to if you're going to pack them on your chest with a harness and use them without a tripod as I have. My hope with these binoculars was that I'd be able to plop down on my butt, with elbows on my knees and glass distant slopes for antlers and/or game. However, I also needed to be able to do some glassing from the standing position, which I was able to do. They're a little tough to hold steady when standing and glassing, but I was surprised at the fact that it's not bad at all.
Because of the power, the field of view isn't huge, coming in at 235 ft. at 1000 yards. So, the optics are most ideal for glassing 400+ yards. Wide open, rolling hills of sagebrush, or open, high alpine is where I spend most of my time and most of my glassing is 500 yards out to a couple of miles.
While I really liked these optics during the days I've used them, I did find that I do need a quality binocular harness so keep them riding comfortably on my chest. The only design change I would make to these optics is to move the focus knob further forward towards the objective lens end. The focus knob, while very smooth feeling and quick to adjust, is very close to the eyepieces and I found that I can hold them more comfortably with my hands further forward, closer to the objective lens end of the optics where more of the weight is. I'd like to have that focus knob more convenient for where I want my hands.
Of course the binocular is tripod adaptable, and by using a tripod or window mount, you'll be able to keep the optics dead steady while glassing, which is most ideal for comfortable, extended time glassing, regardless of the optics you're using.
The glass quality of the Athlon Cronus 15x56 is very good. Compared to other, more expensive optics I've used, this binocular is every bit as good. And, the heavy-duty, padded protective case that comes with the optics is a real nice addition that will allow you to store them safely from damage while in your home or in your truck on the way to the mountain.
Bottom Line: I was impressed with the power of these optics and I will be using these for all of my future shed antler hunting trips in wide open country where I'm glassing several hundred yards and beyond. I also plan to use them on some of my high country, backpack scouting trips this summer to see if they're worth the extra weight for the extra power. There's a high likelihood that they could become my regular scouting optics, even without utilizing a tripod.
Biggest Pro: 15x power and 56mm objective lenses for long range glassing
Biggest Con: Weight and bulkiness take some getting used to
Customer Service: Fantastic! I lost an objective lens cover on my 4th trip out with the optics. I emailed Athlon asking where I could get a new one and they sent one for free. Sweet!
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