Review: Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2

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posted on May 20, 2024
Review Leupold BX 4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 Lead

“You can’t hit the target if you can’t see the target.” My dad’s words of wisdom may have been applied to the choice of a rifle scope, but I can easily transfer the sentiment to “you can’t hunt the animal unless you can see the animal”, referring to a proper binocular. In my opinion, there is no better tool for the hunter than a quality binocular, and there is no greater misery than a poorly built binocular. My youth was spent with eye-crossing, migraine-inducing models which were a binocular only in the academic sense of the word; I could barely get a clear image from one eye, and two was completely out of the question.

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 binocular.

My, how things have changed. Our modern optics offer an unprecedented level of quality, at an ever-shrinking price point. And while I certainly appreciate the quality of premium European glass, that level comes at a premium. I have owned and used several mid-level binoculars over the years, some I have tolerated, some I have parted ways with quickly, and others have stuck around. Among the better models is Leupold’s BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42, a binocular which blends affordability, portability and usability. I’ve taken that binocular to Africa, to Canada, to the Hawaiian Islands, and all over the continental United States; it has become one of my favorite models of all time. Never one to sit on their laurels, Leupold has announced the release of the BX-4HD Pro Guide HD Gen 2, an upgrade to the already popular model.

The BX-4HD Gen 2 is still an open bridge roof prism design, with a centrally-located focus ring and locking diopter, offering 10x magnification with 42mm objective lenses that weighs in at just 25 ounces. Weighing one ounce more than its predecessor, the body of the Gen 2 comes in the same Shadow Gray color, yet is smooth where the original has textured areas. And if you haven’t noticed the rather drastic improvements in Leupold’s lens coatings over the last decade, allow me to tell you that they are doing a fantastic job; just a look through the VX-5HD and VX-6HD riflescopes brings this out immediately. This has carried over to the BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2; the crisp images and color definition are an improvement over the original. These add up to an image with ‘depth’, if you will, and I find it easier to pick out game animals in the vegetation. With a six-degree field of view, you get a 31 foot-wide view at 100 yards, giving 314 feet at 1,000 yards. The 10x magnification offers a good balance for long range glassing sessions, while still being able to handle early bow-season duties, where distances are closer and vegetation is thicker, and the 42mm lenses gather plenty of light for dusk and dawn, without being so large that the unit is uncomfortable to carry.

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 and Gen 1 binoculars.

Leupold uses the Guard-Ion and Diamond Coat 2 lens coating to keep the glass free from moisture droplets and dust, as well to protect the glass from abrasions; additionally the Diamond Coat 2 enhances light-transmission. Leupold relies on phase coated roof prisms for that crisp image from edge-to-edge, reducing eye strain for those long sessions. Being both waterproof and fog proof, the Gen 2 will accompany you on any sort of adventure, be it a hog hunt in the humid south, a sheep hunt in the mountains of Alaska where the weather can change in minutes, or the heat of the African bushveld, with temperatures well over triple digits. To better understand the goals Leupold had in mind, I reached out to Zach Bird, Leupold’s Observation Product Line Manager, for the story. “The intent of the BX-4 Pro Guide HD GEN 2 was to improve the optical performance while also improving the overall fit/form/function and durability of the product. The prism coatings (dielectric and phase) were upgraded, which improved image color/contrast, light transmission, and resolution. Glare mitigation is often overlooked in terms of optical performance talking points, but if not managed well, it will wreak havoc on optical quality. We were able to greatly reduce glare by making some clever improvements to the internal geometry of the anti-reflective grooves while also applying proprietary coatings to all non-transmissive prism surfaces” Mr. Bird related.

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 interchangeable eyecups.

The BX-4 Gen 2 comes with three sets of interchangeable eyecups, with a set designed to mold to your face to keep wind, rain, snow and glare out of your eyes, a medium set which are like traditional eyecups, and a set of shallow cups designed for those who use a binocular in conjunction with eyeglasses. As I get older—and transition to glasses with progressive lenses just to function—I appreciate this feature. The malleable eyecups simply slip on and off, but stay put even when carrying the unit under the left arm, as I so wont to do. Again asking Zach Bird about the new eyecups, he said “the Form-Fit eyecup system is a game changer in terms of usability, comfort, and versatility. Eyecups are similar to partisan politics… half love them while the other half hates them. This is the first product on the market that includes three separate rubber eyecups, offering much needed versatility. The “short” is great for users who wear glasses, or for people like myself who don’t actually make contact with the eyecups on my face. There is a “medium” option that was designed for comfort for those users who prefer constant contact with the eyecups to their face. And lastly there is a winged version which completely blocks out all stray light to create a much more immersive viewing experience, which is great for long glassing sessions.”

The binocular is shipped with rubber lens covers, which seem to stay on the body better than most (I cannot tell you how many rubber lens covers I have ‘donated’ to the hunting grounds around the world) and a carry strap, in addition to a convenient case with can be attached to your belt should you desire to carry your binocular in that manner. The unit can easily be adapted for use with a tripod.

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 binocular accessory kit.

Using the BX-4 Pro Guide HD Gen 2 in low light, or at sunrise and sunset—when the glare can be wicked and ‘white out’ your vision—is where the new lens coating technology shows its benefits. The duo of Guard-Ion and Diamond Coat 2 combine to cut the glare, giving an image that I have yet to find at this price point. Putting it bluntly, I love the BX-4 Pro Guide HD, but the Gen 2 is a decided improvement, in color, in clarity, in depth of field and in performance in challenging light conditions. The 10x42 model has an MSRP of $599.99, so while it isn’t an entry-level binocular, it is a fantastic value in comparison to the European high-end optics, without leaving much on the table at all. Leupold offers their Lifetime Guarantee, whether or not you are the original purchaser; they will repair or replace the unit if it fails to perform.

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