In recent years, rangefinding binoculars have made a comeback. One of the reasons we wanted to put together this Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars review was to see how these things performed in the field in some harsh conditions, and see if making the switch to a rangefinding binocular is really all it’s cracked up to be. Rangefinding binoculars used to be big, heavy, and super bulky, but they’ve come a LONG way not only in performance, but in usability and size.
So with that in mind, we threw these Athlon Cronus UHD rangefinder binoculars in our pack and hit the trail for some late season rifle elk hunting to see how they stood up in cold, nasty conditions. I was especially curious to see how the rangefinder functionality fared in whiteout conditions as well as during a snow storm. As you may know, super bright conditions, much like the picture below, tend to give rangefinders trouble, so on this cold, snowy but sunny trip, we got to see what they were made of.
Love optics? We certainly do here at Backwoods Pursuit, so make sure to check out our MONSTER 26 BINOCULAR REVIEW, as well as our massive 19 SPOTTING SCOPE REVIEW. For both of those reviews, we lined up the optics and tested them side by side!
The Specs: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review:
As mentioned above, rangefinding binoculars have come a long way in design and aren’t nearly as bulky and heavy as they used to be. The Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars are evidence of this in their compact design, while still being a larger 10×50 binocular. Even so, for a 10×50 rangefinding binocular, they are still reasonably sleek, but are a touch on the bulky side vs other new rangefinding binoculars we’ve tested. Here are the specs for the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binos:
The Eyecups: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
The eye cups on the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars are exceptional, especially given the price point. Like I’ve come to expect with Athlon Optics, the quality and value is excellent. The eye cups are super comfortable and offer the perfect amount of resistance so they don’t accidentally move on you in your bino harness. They also have a thin, but not too thin, profile so they are comfortable AND fit the face extremely well.
Tripod Adaptability: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
One thing I was bummed about with the Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars is that they, unlike the standard Athlon Cronus binoculars, are not threaded for a tripod. The area traditionally used for tripod adapter threading is where the battery is kept for the rangefinder. Being that I like to glass a lot off of a tripod with my binos, I used the Aziak Bino clamp (shown above) to hold the binos. This little ultralight bino clamp did a great job holding them steady, especially given that it weighs in at 1/3 of an ounce!
While my first preference is to use a stud-style tripod adapter whenever I can, this clamp does a great job on binos like these Cronus rangefinder binos that aren’t threaded for a stud. I also noticed that the Cronus didn’t have a lot of room between the barrels (when I set them to my interpupilary distance), so something like the Outdoorsman’s adapter or the Swarovski SLC TA would be a tight fit even if it did work.
Putting the battery in the place where the adapter threads typically are makes a lot of sense for a rangefinding binocular design, so I get why Athlon did it this way, but the tradeoff unfortunately is that you lose the ability to use many of the amazing adapters on the market today.
Check Our Video Review of these 4 Great Tripod Adapters
Focus Mechanism: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
One of the things we tested in this Athlon Cronus rangefinder binocular review is how the focus mechanism functions. While even some top tier binoculars we tested struggled to excel at the functionality of the focus wheel, the Athlon Cronus rangefinding binos are absolutely stellar. Zero play was noted and they are smooth as butter all the way from one end of the focus range to the other.
The only thing I didn’t care about on the focus wheel was the lack of a rubberized coating/tacky feel. It was a little slick at times, which can be amplified in cold weather. One other thing I noted was a hollow feel to the focus wheel. It’s not rubber coated, and appears to be aluminum (or possibly steel), so that combination gives it a hollow feeling to your fingers. Not a good or bad thing, just something that I noticed.
Diopter & Focus Adjustments: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars
The Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars give you both a diopter adjustment located below the left eye cup and a focus mechanism located below the right eye cup. I noticed that the focus mechanism (under the right eye cup) had just a tiny amount of play in it when adjusting, but nothing that hindered any functionality or that really bothered me. That’s not an adjustment you mess with very often, so the slight amount of play wasn’t a big deal.
I do, however, wish that both of these focus mechanisms locked as neither of them did. I hate it when my diopter moves while using it in the field, and it’s a bummer if your rangefinder reticle is out of focus when you go to use it and you have to make an adjustment because it accidentally moved while riding in your harness. (Like the Marsupial Gear bino harness.) It’s pretty easy to memorize where they were both adjusted to and quickly move them back, but it’s still a little annoying.
Feel/Rubber Armor: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
The Athlon Cronus rangefinding binoculars are protected by a rubber armor that has a great, non-slip feel and a fantastic grip. They could benefit from a thumb cutout on the bottom though, which would help them feel better in your hand and slim them down a bit. With that being said, these things are flat out beefy and well built. They fully embody the Athlon slogan of “sharp, tight, and priced just right.”
Field of View: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
The field of view on the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars come in at a modest 338 feet at 1000 yards. Not amazing, but not bad either. Just as important though, when looking through them you don’t feel like you are looking through a tunnel. I’ve tested some binoculars that have a better field of view than this, but don’t feel like it.
Color and Clarity: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
Clarity is a one of the primary things we look for in binoculars, and the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars didn’t disappoint in this area. While the picture above isn’t a very good representation of the clarity you get (the edge-to-edge clarity is much better. It was just hard to get the camera focused to show the whole field of view), it does give you an idea of the nice crisp image you get.
It’s not uncommon for rangefinding binoculars to leave a bit to be desired in the clarity department, but these are very solid, particularly at their price point. Sure, you can’t expect to get the optical performance of something like the Swarovski EL Range TA, the Leica Geovid, or the Zeiss Victory RF binoculars, but they are extremely impressive for their class.
One thing that was interesting that we noticed during our field testing is that the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars have a warm, almost emerald/rose colored tint to the whole image, and more so as you near the edge of the field of view (you can see it a little bit in the photo above). While not a bad thing, it was noticeable and I suspect that is part of the rangefinding functionality of these binoculars as the Athlon Cronus UHD binoculars do not have this tint to them.
Edge-to-Edge Clarity: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
One of the trademark features of a really good pair of binoculars is how they perform in the edge-to-edge clarity department. While the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars are amazing in many areas, the edge-to-edge clarity is an area where they are good but not great. The outer 25-30 percent of the image has noticeably worse resolution than the center of the image. Based on the many pairs of binoculars we’ve tested, only the very top of the line typically produce near perfect edge-to-edge clarity, so I wasn’t surprised here. These are about in line with their price point.
Even with the loss of clarity on the outer edges of the field of view, I still felt like these Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars performed exceptionally well for their respective price point.
Eye Strain: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
While testing the Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars I did notice a little bit of eye strain. While certainly nothing excessive or out of line for their price point, I did notice some. Again, I wasn’t expecting them to perform like a $3500 pair of rangefinder binoculars, but it would have been nice to have a little less eye strain.
Check our Our Video Review of the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars
Rangefinder Performance: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars
In my experience testing a lot of different rangefinders, the max range is often overstated and performance in poor conditions can be less than acceptable. While testing these Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars I was pleasantly surprised with how they performed in the various conditions I was able to test them in. In the pictures above, I took them out in a snow storm and was easily able to range some trees over 300 yards away. As you can see in the photo, visibility was pretty poor, but these still performed well.
While testing them on a late season elk hunt, the landscape was covered in snow (shown above), and this particular day was a blue bird day in some extremely harsh and bright reflective light. This kind of lighting reduces the performance of most rangefinders significantly, but I was still able to range a herd of elk at 1200 yards with ease. Getting too much past that yardage proved to be difficult, but that was still plenty far for what I needed.
I also tested these Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars in ideal lighting conditions (early morning with no fog, rain or harsh blinding sunlight), and was easily able to get over 2800 yards off hand on a non-reflective target (a sagebrush hillside). Given that the specs say the max yardage for a reflective target with these Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars is 2600 yards, and max yardage for a deer/non-reflective target is 1000 yards, I’d say they blew their specs out of the water. Super impressive!
Rangefinder Reticle & Display
I love the clean display of the rangefinder function on the Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars. When I’m using a rangefinder on a hunt, I prefer a nice clean display that isn’t cluttered with too much information that could cause confusion when the time comes to make a shot. The Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars deliver just that.
You’ve got the reticle and the yardage displayed. That’s it. Now, if you elect to utilize one of the other ranging modes, you’ll get a secondary reading that will follow this initial yardage display with either the tilt angle, horizontal distance, or angle compensated range. Now, what do all of those mean?
The menu is simple to navigate, however, there is one aspect that did have me puzzled at first. As with most rangefinders, you can set up yards or meters, display brightness, and what mode you want to use. However, the names Athlon uses for their modes are different with some unique options. You can choose from four different ranging modes:
- Line of Sight (LOS): Off
- Tilt Angle Mode: (T)
- Vertical Distance Mode: (V)
- Horizontal Distance Mode: (H)
LOS (off) Mode: If all you want to see is the actual distance between you and the target, with your angle compensation, this is the mode you select. Pretty straight forward.
Tilt Angle Mode (T): This one threw me at first as I thought this was the angle compensated mode. It’s not. In this mode, the unit will display the angle at which you are ranging in degrees one second after the linear distance is displayed.
Vertical Distance Mode (V): The Vertical Distance Mode is very unique and one I’ve not seen in a rangefinder before. With this mode activated, it will first display the linear distance (no angle compensation), then one second later it displays the distance up or down from your position in yards or meters rather than an angle. So if you range a deer at 300 yards and it’s up the hill, it will show you 300 yards, and then, say 400 vertical yards up the hill. That’s pretty cool. It will give you a pretty good idea how far up or down you are from the target you range.
Horizontal Distance Mode (H): This is the mode you will want to use for most hunting situations as it gives you the angle compensated range, along with the line of sight distance (displayed first). This is a critical option to have as an archery and rifle hunter to make sure your rangefinder is giving you an accurate range, taking into account the incline of the shot you are taking.
Scan Mode: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars
The scan mode on the Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars is super impressive. In fact, it very much reminded me of the Sig Sauer Kilo rangefinder we tested a few years back in how quick and responsive it is. Some rangefinders give you two or three ranges per second, but this thing gives you a nearly instant return when scanning. Super impressive!
What I liked: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
There is A LOT to love about these Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars. They offer a great rubber armor coating, a durable, well-built housing, super smooth focus wheel, a fantastic red display for your rangefinder, super fast scan mode, a nice crisp image and top notch eye cups. The rubber armor works perfectly to protect the binos and make sure you have a good grip while using them.
The Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars are intuitive and easy to use, so if you are someone who doesn’t want to mess with complicated menus, you’ll love these. The red display is fantastic and super clean as well.
- Super smooth focus mechanism
- Great eye cups
- Nice crisp image
- Easy rangefinder menu operation
- Useful rangefinder modes
- Impressive ranging performance
- Fast ranging ability
- Super fast scan mode
- Red reticle/display
What I Didn’t like: Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Binoculars Review
There were a few things about the Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars that I felt could have been better. First, because these are a 10×50 binocular, the minimum interpupillary distance (distance between your pupils) is on the wider side. If you happen to have eyes that are closer together, these may not work for you. They nearly didn’t work for me as I had to have them almost all the way together. I’ve never even come close to having that issue on any other binoculars I’ve tested. The other issue this causes is that it makes using a bino tripod adapter more difficult.
This leads me to the next thing I didn’t care for. Because the place where binoculars are typically threaded for a bino adapter stud (and like the non rangefinding Athlon Cronus binoculars) is where the battery compartment is located, the only option you have if you want to mount these on a tripod is to use something like the Really Right Stuff Cinch, or the Aziak Bino Clamp. Both of those worked great for me on these binos.
The Athlon Cronus rangefinder binoculars are a bit on the heavy and bulky side at 38 oz and a 50 mm objective, but still well within reason for what they are. I also wish Athlon had a rangefinder binocular (or rangefinder) that offered applied ballistics, but I’d be willing to bet that’ll some day be available.
I also wish there was an option in the menu to have only the line of sight yardage displayed, rather than have it cycle through the LOS, then the angle compensated range. Maybe in the Gen 2 version we’ll get this option.
- Wide minimum interpupillary distance (58-76 mm)
- Not threaded for a tripod adapter
- A little on the bulky/heavy side
- No locking diopter/focus
- Edge-to-edge clarity not the best
- No applied ballistics in rangefinder
- No adaptive display (rangefinder reticle)
- Line of sight yardage, then angle compensated range displayed
Athlon Gold Medal Warranty
It’s certainly worth mentioning that Athlon backs their products with a top notch “Gold Medal Warranty.” They back their optics with a warranty that is as good as any in the business. No warranty card to fill out, no need to register your product. They simply stand behind it. That’s the kind of warranty I want backing my optics!
Athlon Cronus Rangefinder Review Conclusion
The Athlon Cronus UHD Rangefinder binoculars are an excellent value that WAY out perform their price point. I’ve almost come to expect this with Athlon Optics, so I can’t say that I’m surprised. The image is crisp and clear, it has adequate edge-to-edge clarity, and the buttery smooth focus mechanism is outstanding. Its ranging capabilities are phenomenal, particularly vs. the stated specs. That’s always a nice surprise and one you rarely get with rangefinders.
There are a number of things I thought could have been better though, like the lack of an adaptive display, a little on the heavier side, the way the line of sight always displays first rather than having the option to have the angel compensated range display first, and the lack of locking diopter/focus rings. Even with the things that could be better, the Athlon Cronus Rangefinder binoculars give you a high performing rangefinder binocular, especially at their price point. Check them out, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
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