Bushnell Prime 10×42 Binoculars Review

Bushnell did a complete overhaul of its binocular series. The Bushnell Prime 10×42 models have become a benchmark for the American manufacturer’s entry-level with 6 different pairs.

With BaK-4 roof prisms, full multi-coating of the lenses and very compact size, the Bushnell PRIME 10×42 binoculars offer a good balance between advertised performance and their size.

But what are they worth on the ground? Here is our opinion on this pair.

Bushnell Prime 10×42 Binoculars Test & Review

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Bushnell Prime Features:

  • Magnification: 10
  • Lens diameter  (mm): 42
  • Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 102
  • Brightness index: 17.6
  • Exit pupil  (mm): 4.2
  • Eye relief  (mm): 19
  • Minimum focusing distance (m): 4
  • Dimensions (mm): 132x119x56
  • Weight  (g): 660
  • Interpupillary distance (mm): 56 -73
  • Type of prisms: Roof


  • Compact size that will go anywhere and is easy to handle
  • Robust and good manufacturing quality
  • Well-balanced color rendering
  • Very good correction of astigmatism defects
  • Quality of BaK-4 roof prisms
  • “Ironclad” Lifetime Warranty
  • Good pair for beginners, with great versatility


  • Eye protection that comes off too easily
  • A little vignetting on the exit pupil
  • Chromatic aberrations present moderately in the center and more strongly at the edge of the visual field
  • Some visible comas and distortion in some cases

Performance and ergonomics

The image sharpness of the Bushnell Prime 10×42 binoculars is adequate, without being exceptional. The strong point is the virtual absence of astigmatism, which is rare at this price. The definition of the image is relatively homogeneous on the vertical and horizontal planes.

At the level of the contours, a distortion of the visual field appears from half the radius of the image, which is moderately high in absolute terms, but rather acceptable for the entry level.

The coma aberrations appear at the same time as the distortion, to become quite strong at the edge of the field of view. It is above all a sensitive element for astronomy: certain stars on the outskirts of the center will have a fan shape instead of appearing as a point.

The lenses are also subject to chromatic aberrations: they are easily perceived over the entire visual field. They are moderated in the center and they gain intensity as they get closer to the edges of the image. Fortunately, the sharpness is globally homogeneous, except in the last quarter of the visual field where there is a small decrease compared to the center.

Light transmission

If the lenses don’t benefit from phase correction, they at least all have full multi-coating. For the price at which the Prime 10×42 is offered, the reflective treatment of the roof prisms is based on aluminum. It is made from BaK-4 glasses, which are of higher quality than Bk-7 glasses.

Light transmittance is roughly similar across the visible color spectrum with a maximum reached around 83%. The green and yellow tones dominate very slightly over the other colors, but in a negligible way. The color rendering is excellent.

The field of view darkens a bit at the edges, and the exit pupil experiences low vignetting. The tubes do not totally block internal reflections, and their surfaces are not completely matte.

However, they do not degrade the brightness of the image, which is generally very good, in particular thanks to the lens diameter of 42 millimeters.

Focus and accessible dial

The focus wheel is equipped with notches, which greatly facilitates the positioning of the finger. The rotation during the focus is done in a flexible way, with a low resistance properly regulated. Focusing from minimum to infinity is 585 degrees or 1.6 turns. This leaves a great adjustment precision while maintaining a certain speed.

The diopter correction wheel has a strong resistance to movement and rotates about a quarter turn. This is a positive point since it makes it possible to limit inadvertent misadjustments when using binoculars.

Note that when the diopter correction wheel rotates, the entire ocular lens housing moves.

The eyecups are extendable with “Twist In and Out” operation. They are not lockable in position and do not have detents. However, this is not a problem, since they stay in place once properly adjusted. They do not involve any game of movement, and will also be suitable for wearers of glasses.

Strong point of the Bushnell Prime 10×42: the presence of a fixing hole for mounting on a tripod. This is a feature that is rarely present on entry-level binoculars. You will be able to enjoy long observing sessions without tiring your arms!

Ergonomic and compact

If there is one point on which the Bushnell Prime 10×42 has nothing to envy other pairs of binoculars, it is their ergonomics combined with their small size. The rectangular format offers a real advantage in handling.

The tubes are equipped with a slightly roughened rubber coating which provides a good grip on the fingers. On the underside, notches placed at thumb level allow a firm grip, without the risk of the binoculars slipping. The Bushnell Prime 10×42 is easy to handle despite its small size, even for large hands.

One would think that with fairly small dimensions, we would be dealing with very light binoculars. Still, it weighs 660 grams, which is heavier than many binoculars in the 10×42 configuration. This is not a penalizing point in absolute terms, especially since a padded strap is provided in the package.

It is very comfortable while remaining compact. The other accessories are those usually included with almost all binoculars: a storage case, eyepiece covers, and a cleaning cloth.

Price and build quality

Entry-level binoculars always come with compromises in component quality. Here, Bushnell has managed to make the most of the optical capabilities and build quality of its Prime 10x42s. It is IPX7 certified, and resistant to immersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

The tubes are filled with nitrogen in order to limit the formation of fogging inside the binoculars.

The mechanical components have no play and the pair gives a real feeling of robustness. Bushnell uses its “EXO Barrier” coating, the purpose of which is to limit the adhesion of dust and water to the lenses. In practice, the lenses remain fairly clean, even in a harsh environment.

As with any optical instrument, we will try to limit the exposure of the lenses to touch and foreign bodies as much as possible. The American manufacturer also offers a lifetime warranty for all its Prime series binoculars.

The eyepiece protectors are supplied in the form of a cover. The latter detaches too easily from the binoculars and requires special attention to the storage of the binoculars in their case. On the other hand, the covers for lenses hold well in place. The finishes have no defects overall.

Minimum focusing distance

The minimum focusing distance is 4 meters. It’s a bit high value for a pair with a magnification of 10, but very reasonable for a model sold at less than $$200. Focusing on close-range observations may be more difficult to achieve, but that’s not normally the goal at this level of magnification.

Moderate visual field

The Bushnell Prime 10x42s achieve a 102-meter wide field of view at 1000 meters away. This is a rather correct value and even higher than on some pairs of much more expensive binoculars. You will enjoy extended panoramas during your observations while maintaining good quality magnification and precision.


What activities to use the Bushnell Prime 10×42?

Bushnell Prime 10×42 binoculars are a versatile pair in many situations. We will particularly appreciate observing the fauna, including the birds. With their compact dimensions, they will fit in all bags and they will accompany you without problems for your hikes.

Their weight of 660 grams will not make them too difficult to use throughout the day, especially with the strap provided in the package. It is even possible to remain stationary by placing the binoculars on a tripod, thanks to the fixing hole located on the front of the pair.

The Verdict

Bushnell Prime 10×42: Our Rating

  • Sharpness – 8/10
  • Brightness – 8/10
  • Adjustment and Precision – 8/10
  • Ergonomics – 9/10
  • Build Quality – 8/10
  • Close Focus Distance – 7.5/10
  • Visual Field – 7/10

Bushnell Prime 10×42 binoculars are robust and compact with a good base of optical performance. Astigmatism defects are very well corrected on the lenses and the latter all benefit from a multilayer treatment that limits light loss. The BaK-4 roof prisms are of good quality, and the image has a well-balanced color rendition.

Note the presence of chromatic aberrations visible over the entire visual field. The exit pupil has a little vignetting and is not perfectly circular, but does not affect the sharpness, which hardly decreases at the edge of the image. They are ideal binoculars for hiking or for beginners in ornithology, animal observation and hunting.

If you want an alternative to the Prime 10×42, we advise you to read our opinion on the Bushnell H2O 10×42 Binoculars (Reviewed).

Liam Dean is a Professional Blogger and Outdoor Enthusiast. He completed Masters in Sports Sciences and spend all of his free time doing sports and other outdoor activities. During vacations, he goes hunting, fishing and mountaineering.

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