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Walking on the Moon

Kershaw No.2 MK.2 Army Binoculars


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Here is a review of a pair of World War 2 Kershaw Army binoculars.

This pair of 6 x 30mm British Army binoculars were made in the year 1941, and were issued to my

late father, who used them on the battlefields of Europe during the war. They have been in our family

possession since the end of WW 2. They have the original leather neck-strap and original Canadian P37

Pattern Webbing carrying case. The case is quite bulky and heavy, the padding inside appears to be

made from horse hair? I feel quite sorry for the guys that had to lump these around, the only good point

about them is that they could quite likely deflect an enemy bullet.

When you first pick the binoculars up, you realise what a substantial piece of equipment they are, they are heavy

and literally built like a tank. Construction is alloy and brass, painted in heavy black paint. The alloy body is

covered in a black textured material, which is now starting to break off in sections, the surface underneath

is painted in a matt black paint.

Each eyepiece is focused individually and has a scale running around the base. The eyecups are made

from Bakerlite material. Each eyepiece has very good eye relief.

An image of the Kershaw can be seen here:


The base and top end pieces are made from brass. The top-left end pieces has the following written:




The right-hand side has the following:


AND 1/4° 1/2° AND 1° HIGH




O. S. 108 - MA

Kershaw and Son, were the most prolific producer of British Army binoculars during WW 2, followed closely by Taylor-Hobson.

During 1941, their output rocketed, leading to some speculation that losses were great during the previous year. But the most likely

cause was probably down to a general lack of instruments within the Army to start with?

The O.S.108 - MA number stands for Optical Store: Drawing number 108 (this drawing showed the optical design of the instrument).

On both base plates are two ports allowing for Nitrogen purging. If the instrument was ever submerged in water, then nitrogen

could be purged through the ports to dry out the optics and prevent fogging of the optical surfaces. These ports have traces of red paint

remaining on them. On the left front port, hidden underneath the thick paint is the standard stamped Arrow mark.

The objective lenses are held in a brass cell and simply screw into the front of the base plate. Removing the objectives

allows access into the binocular body and prisms. After nearly 70 years, there is a little bit of dust on the prisms, but I've

left them untouched as it does not seem to affect the viewing.

The internal build quality is robust, rough and ready, and in stark contrast to the sublime engineering found on my German Goerz D.F.99.

When making, the manufacturer had to follow precisely the optical specification of each binocular design, but when it came

to the mechanics, they were allowed to basically do their own thing. Standard drawings were supplied, and so long

as the finished product looked something like the drawing then the body responsible for handing out the contracts seemed

satisfied. Attempts were made to standardise parts between manufacturers, but this seems to have been unsuccessful in its execution.

The Kershaw binoculars were made extremely well, no doubt to cope with the rigours of battle, as a result of the over-build,

many units have survived to the present day. My pair have been used on the beach, covered in salt water, dropped on several occasions

and for 10 years were hung up in a workshop and covered in a thick layer of wood dust. These are binoculars that were built to last.

In spite of their weight, the binoculars fall nicely into the hand. The optics appear un-coated and are staggeringly good,

giving superb views. I compared them against my Zeiss 8 x 30mm which have multi-coated optics and I could not see any

difference between the two views. Whatever I looked at, both instruments gave the same view.

The sharpness, brightness and contrast was identical. I repeated the observation with a couple of friends who both

confirmed that they could not see any difference between the two.

At night, they give a field of view of around 7.5°, and they are superb for astronomy. Vega and Regulus looked like two diamonds

sprinkled on a starry background. The star views were extremely pleasing to the eye. M13, M92 and M5 were nice fuzzy balls of

light, and open clusters were simply stunning. Only at the very outer edge of the FOV did the image breakdown.

The 30mm objectives easily reached magnitude 8.5 in my sky conditions, and from a dark site they would go deeper.

These are one of the very finest pair of binoculars that I've ever used for night time observing. You could spend many,many pounds

for a modern pair, and the views would be no better in my opinion, my pair of Zeiss could not better them.

Due to the large volume of production, these binoculars can be found for sale on many markets and car-boot sales for staggeringly

low amounts of money. My local market had 2 pairs for sale only last week. One pair was sold for just £2. The most I've ever

seen a pair sell for was £10. I am sure that many people look at them and think that they are just rubbish, little realising that

these are true diamonds. For the money, you will not buy a better pair of binoculars than these.

Kershaw No.2 MK.2 6 x 30mm Army binoculars.


Fantastic optics.

Build quality, these will outlive your grandchildren.

Cheap buying price.


Not the best looking things, but boy, the optics you are buying.

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Yes, I can vouch for the "Kershaw" ex-army 6x30's. My father had a pair - my brother still has them, and they are of excellent build and optical quallity, and very, very ruggedly built. Idividual eyepiece focusing (but very easy to adjust focus).

They were the first binocular I used for looking at the stars when I was a boy.



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  • 8 years later...

Today in a Sue Ryder charity shop I bought for £5, a Kershaw 'Binocular Prismatic No 3 Mk II Magnification 6x' …  SN 28266 & manufacturing date '1917'. Surprisingly for a 100 years young binocular, the optics condition and collimation are perfect. Looking forward to comparing the image quality with my 1990s Zeiss 7x45 which have similar F.O.V.  The is the second Kershaw 6x binocular acquired; the first WW2 model was serviced (including nitrogen purging) by Tony Kay at Optrep in Selsey; Tony is probably the UK's most experienced binocular repairer and he also serviced my Quantum 25x125. 

Best wishes


Edited by dunkCambs
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