Looking for a great pair of binoculars but can’t afford the Swarovski SLCs? We got the chance to put together this Bushnell Forge 15×56 review after testing out Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars this year and were pleasantly surprised by their performance, build and clarity. I’ve got to be honest here. Based on my previous experiences with Bushnell optics, my expectations weren’t that high, especially with a price point for some 15×56 binoculars under $800, but to my surprise, they performed well beyond my expectations vs others in this same price range.
Bushnell Forge binoculars come in a number of variations depending on your needs. You’ve got the options of a Forge 10×30, Forge 8×42, Forge 10×42, and these larger Forge 15×56 for those longer range glassing needs.
Check out our review of the Bushnell Forge 10x42s if you are looking for a great value binocular in a 10×42 model.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Value
Getting the chance to test out these Forge 15×56 binos for this Bushnell Forge 15×56 review revealed a surprisingly good performer given the price point. To be clear, I’m certainly not saying these Bushnell Forge binoculars are as good as the Swarovski SLCs or the Meopta Meostars, but there are a number of areas where they rivaled their performance, which is very impressive. We’ll go through the pros and cons- the areas they excelled as well as the areas they did not- in this Bushnell Forge 15×56 review.
If you are in the market for some of those top notch binoculars, make sure to check out our review comparing the Swarovski SLC vs Meopta Meostar vs Vortex Razor HD binoculars. We dive deep into the performance differences of those three pairs of binoculars.
Looking for a spotting scope? Don’t miss our MONSTER SPOTTING SCOPE REVIEW project where we put 19 of the best spotting scopes out there side by side!
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: The Specs
The Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars are large, heavy binoculars, as are most 15×56 binoculars. Far less popular than the 8×42 or 10×42 versions, the Forge 15×56 binoculars are those binos you go to when you want to do some long range glassing and really want to pick apart the mountain. Whether you prefer to do that with a spotting scope or replace the spotter with one of these larger pairs of binos depends on your personal situation. Here are some of the specs on these Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars.
As you can see, they are large and on the heavy side, but if you forgo the spotting scope it just might make sense to throw in these 15×56 binos instead.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Eye cups
The eye cups on the Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars are nice and crisp and offer a good amount of resistance so they don’t move on you accidentally. They are very comfortable, but oddly have 3 positions rather than the 4 position adjustment the little brother Forge 10×42 offers. I also noticed a little more play in the eye cups on the Forge 15×56 binoculars than the 10×42 model, but they never unintentionally moved on me. The play in the eye cups was minimal and was really only noticeable when I had them in the middle or 2nd position.
I’ve used binos where the eye cups constantly move which is extremely frustrating. Not the Bushnell Forge 15×56! The eye cups stay in place and offer enough resistance for you to have to intentionally twist them before they’ll move on you.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Tripod Adaptability
The Forge binoculars offer you the ability to put them on a tripod for stable glassing. I’m a huge fan of glassing from a tripod, and any pair of binoculars I use has to have the ability to attach to a tripod. With a pair of 15×56 binos, a tripod is a must. One of the cool things about the Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars is they come with the Bushnell Quick Release Binocular Adapter which is awesome!
The binocular tripod adapter attachment point is in the front of the bridge, closer to the objective lens where you can screw in a bino adapter stud. This does a good job of holding the Forge binoculars in place, but it seemed like if the adapter stud screwed into the other side of the bridge (closer to the eye piece), or even the bridge located closer to the focus wheel, you’d have additional stability, especially given the total weight of just over 50 oz. for these binoculars. It worked just fine as it was though.
The weight of the binoculars pulled back on the stud (being that it was located in the front of the binos), causing a little more flex. While they are still plenty steady, a stud location which is more centered would be an improvement here.
Check Our Video Review of these 4 Great Tripod Adapters
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Focus Mechanism
The Bushnell Forge 15×56 features a silky smooth and fairly stiff focus mechanism. It offers more resistance than the Bushenll Forge 10×42 I tested, which helps keep the focus point where you left it. This is another one of the areas the the Forge binoculars far exceeded my expectations. I wasn’t expecting the focus mechanism to be as smooth and crisp as it was, which was a great surprise. The Bushnell Forge binos have a fast focus system, so you can quickly bring your object into focus.
Like the Forge 10×42 binoculars I tested, I found just a little bit of play in the focus wheel in these Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars. When switching directions focusing, there is a very small amount of play before it re-engages when switching directions with the wheel. I really didn’t notice it when using them in the field, but if I would intentionally look for the play, it was there. Functionally, and in the field, this “play” almost gives you a little buffer to fine tune the focus, however, tightening up the play would be an improvement for the Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Diopter Adjustment
The diopter adjustment on the Bushnell Forge binoculars locks nicely into place. To set the diopter simply pull the locking ring towards the eye cups, adjust it to the correct focus for your eyes, and push it back into place to lock it. I love the locking dipoter because this is an adjustment that should be a set-it-and-forget-it kind of deal.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Feel/Rubber Armor
The Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars are protected by a rubber armor that have a great non-slip feel to them. As I mentioned above, the Forge binoculars have a very comfortable thumb cutout on the underside of the barrels and they feel really nice in your hands. Everything about their feel says that they are well-built and sturdy. There is no play in the hinges, the eye cups are nice and crisp, but not too loose, the focus wheel of these 15×56 binos offers a stiffer resistance than the 10×42, and they just feel beefy.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Field of View
The field of view of the Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars is another area that was a surprise to me. As shown above in the specs chart, these Forge binoculars give you an impressive 234ft field of view at 1000yds. This is almost an identical field of view to the Swarovski SLC (235ft). Not bad company to be in! While the Bushnell Forge binoculars don’t offer the edge-to-edge clarity of the Swarovski SLC, the field of view is impressive and noticeable.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Color and Clarity
The color and clarity of the Bushnell Forge binoculars was really, really impressive. Going into this Bushnell Forge 15×56 review I flat out wasn’t expecting them to be as clear and crisp as they are, and certainly wasn’t expecting them to have such rich color tones and color contrast, especially for a pair of binoculars under $800. Color tones are warm and very pleasant to view through the Forge binoculars.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Edge-to-Edge Clarity
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 Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars are amazing in a lot of areas, the edge-to-edge clarity is an area where they are noticeably worse than high dollar binoculars.
While the center of the image offers a nice, crisp, well-contrasted image, that image clarity suffers as your eyes move to the edge of the field of view. If I had to put a number to it, I’d say about 50% of the image (the center portion) offers you a nice crystal clear image. As you move to the edges of the image, you notice a reduction in clarity that progressively gets worse the farther away from the center you get. By the time you get to the outer 25% of the image, reduction in clarity is significant and very noticeable.
I certainly wasn’t expecting these Bushnell Forge binoculars to provide a crystal clear image in the edge-to-edge clarity department, but they were about on par with what I expected here. After all, you can’t expect the same performance out of a pair binoculars under $800 that you would out of a pair of binoculars two or three times as much.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Eye Strain
I also noticed a bit more eye strain while testing these out for this Bushnell Forge 15×56 review. Long periods of glassing is where you notice this the most. This is again an area where you’d expect high dollar binoculars to outperform the Bushnell Forge binoculars, and that is the case.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: Included Items
- Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars
- Bushnell binocular harness
- Bushnell rapid release tripod adapter
- Padded neck strap
- Hard case
- Lens cloth
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: What I liked
There was A LOT I walked away loving about these Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars. They offer a great rubber armor coating, a durable, well-built housing, great ergonomic feel, super smooth focus wheel, tripod adaptability, crisp eye cups, and a clear image well beyond the price point.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review: What i didn’t like
Doing this Bushnell Forge 15×56 review left me with a few things I’d change after field testing them. The tripod attachment point would be better served at a location more central to the binoculars (but still very functional), and the edge-to-edge clarity was lacking. The picture above is shown with the Bushnell Quick Release Binocular Adapter Stud installed. In all reality, if the edge-to-edge clarity was there with these Bushnell Forge binoculars, these things would be in a class all by themselves!
The Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars are fairly heavy and bulkier than others in its class, and I definitely noticed that when carrying them. Pictured above, you can see the size difference between the Bushnell Forge 10×42 and
Bushnell Iron Clad Warranty
Bushnell recently started offering their “Bushnell Iron Clad Warranty” on many of their products. I have absolutely zero experience using this Iron Clad Warranty, but I suppose that’s a good thing. The best warranty is one you don’t have to use. If I do have any experiences with it, I’ll certainly update this review, but so far so good.
Bushnell Forge 15×56 Review Conclusion: Great Binoculars on a Budget
At the end of the day, not everyone can afford to drop big money on a high end pair of binoculars. If that’s the case for you, or you simply just want a great pair of 15×56 binoculars at a low price, the Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars deserve a look. Overall their performance really impressed me, especially given the price point. I was wanting to test these out, and my Swarovski SLCs broke right before elk season (talk about horrible timing!), so I really got to put these to the test while my SLCs were being repaired.
I came back from using these Bushnell Forge 15x56s in the field thinking, Dang! These things are pretty impressive! (And that’s coming from a long time Swarovski SLC user.) Are the Bushnell Forge 15×56 binoculars the best out there? Definitely not. Are they a fantastic value at their price point? Absolutely!
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