Almost since the telescope was invented, the military application of the technology, was instantly recognised. The ability to see the enemy before he saw you, enabled the early adopters of telescopes and military binoculars, to have an advantage on the battlefield or at sea, during naval manoeuvres.
Military adaptations of binoculars include range finding for naval and fixed gun batteries, with separation between the objective lenses of up to 15 meters and weighing-in at an impressive 10 tons. Binoculars have also been used for the sighting for the armament on tanks and also for driving tanks under conditions of biological or chemical attack.
Modern military hand held binoculars are notable in that the majority have individual focusing of each side of the instrument, unlike the civilian models which have a central focusing wheel and an adjustment available to one eyepiece to compensate for focusing differences between the eyes. This arrangement whilst convenient, is not as robust as independently focused lenses.
Military binoculars are also better able to withstand the rougher handling they are likely to receive.
Typically they are encased in an impact resistant skin, usually of a rubberized material, which serves the dual purposes of surviving knocks and rough handling, and improving the water resistance of the binoculars.
To maintain the reflective qualities of the prisms, making up the light path of the binoculars, they may have extra aluminized coatings, the better to withstand immersion in water.
During the Cold War era, some models of binocular were fitted with passive infra red detectors sensitive to active infra red emissions.
Current models of military binocular are fitted with filters designed to block laser beams.
For specialist uses like hunting and fishing, military binoculars can offer some distinct advantages over their civilian counterparts. Their ability to withstand rough usage and their greater water resistance being the two most obvious advantages. The design of military binoculars to ensure the user's eye comfort over long periods of observation is also a factor to be taken into consideration.
For maritime uses, binoculars designed primarily for naval use are an obvious candidate, with their additional waterproofing and ability to resist the corrosive environment in which they were designed to be used.
Military binoculars are therefore an option to consider where extreme conditions are likely to met whilst using them. >