If your first thought when you hear the word “Sig” is “firearms,” it’s time to start thinking differently. Sig Sauer’s Zulu binoculars have some surprising construction and design details that will make any of them a staple in your pocket, pack, or kit when you’re on the trail, at the range, or sightseeing around town.
While each of the models has its differences, they all share some common traits: first are phase-correcting coatings on their roof prisms. These coatings reduce light diffraction in the prisms while aligning all wavelengths of light to improve image brightness, contrast, and resolution. Next, lens elements are multi-coated with Sig’s broad-band SpectraCoat, which reduces surface reflections across the entire visible spectrum and improves light transmission through the optical path. For use in all weather conditions, the optical tubes are nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed, allowing the optic to be submersible in water, as well as being fog proof. Rounding out the shared features are wide angles of view, slip-resistant rubber armoring, and large center-focusing knobs.
The series starts with the compact 32mm Zulu3. Offered in standard 8x and 10x magnifications, they have extra low-dispersion (ED) glass that virtually eliminates internal light diffraction in the optical path to produce accurate color rendition with enhanced image contrast. A dual-hinge open bridge reduces weight without sacrificing strength and stability, while providing more surface area for your grip—a nice touch, considering the small size of the chassis. Sig employs a lightweight, durable, and temperature-stable polycarbonate material for the housing, which helps to further reduce weight to a respectable 1 pound.
Next up is a familiar configuration for binoculars: the 42mm Zulu5, also offered in 8x and 10x. Sig opted for a more traditional closed-bridge configuration and utilizes a tough corrosion-resistant magnesium alloy for the housing.
Keeping with the 8x and 10x configuration, Sig has the Zulu7 as a step-up in price and design details with the use of the same ED glass, dual-hinge open bridge, and polycarbonate housing material as the Zulu3. Standing far above these two—and all others in the Zulu series—is the massive 15x56 version of the 7. Ideal for long-range terrestrial and wide-field astronomical viewing, this model weighs more than 2.5 pounds. Because of their size and weight, holding them by hand might cause fatigue, so they come with a tripod adapter (but not a tripod) for mounting on a support system for steady long-duration observation.
Last is the Zulu9 model. Eschewing convention with this model line, the Zulu9 is offered in 9x and 11x45 versions. By increasing magnification and objective lens size slightly, versus traditional configurations, key specifications such as exit pupil, field of view, and angle of view are given beneficial boosts without adding too much weight or bulk; and to keep the optical tube diameters thin for a better fit in the hand, Abbe-Koenig prisms are employed instead of the BAK4 roofs in the other models. The model 9 shares similarities with the model 5, with a closed bridge and a magnesium housing.