CURRENT BINOCULAR MANUFACTURERS
If you use Google to identify today’s binocular manufacturers, you will get something like 150 company names. However, this result is utterly misleading. Of these roughly 150 companies, less than a dozen actually still manufacture their own binoculars; all the others are just selling binoculars under many brand names, but the instruments have been manufactured by a select few producers.
On the American continent, not one single binocular manufacturer in the proper sense of the word is left. Some few companies are today assembling binoculars from imported parts manufactured in Europe or Asia, a noteworthy example being Meopta USA, Inc. located in Hauppauge, NY, which imports entire binoculars form their Czech parent company, from which it also imports parts to assemble their MeoPro line in the USA. Other examples would be Leupold Optics in Oregon, which assembles a number of their instruments in the US, using mostly parts manufactured abroad, and Maven Optics in Wyoming. Most others have completely outsourced the production of binoculars, mostly to China, a smaller number to Japan.
In Europe (including Russia), at least the following companies are possibly still designing and manufacturing their own binoculars, or at least essential parts of some of their product lines: Docter / Noblex (Germany), Leica (Germany and Portugal), Zeiss (Germany and Hungary), Steiner (Germany), Minox [?] (Germany), Meopta (Chech Republic), Optolyth (Germany), IOR (Romania), KOMZ (Russia), Yukon (Lithuania), ZRAK (Bosnia-Herzegowina).
In Asia, companies producing their own binoculars, or at least essential parts, include the following Japanese entities: Canon, Fujinon, Kowa, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Vixen. All of those have outsourced the lower end of their product lines over the last few years to Chinese manufacturers. Beside those seven companies, Japan is home to large companies producing binoculars for third parties and sold under third party tradenames, the most important one being Kamakura, which manufactures parts and entire binoculars for leading European and American customers in the optics and outdoor businesses.
In China, the market leader is KUO (Kunming United Optics). KUO designs, manufactures and sells their own instruments, but is today also the global leader producing parts and entire binoculars for the worldwide binocular markets, lately even in the high end market segment (e.g. for astro instruments). If you buy binoculars today that are labelled “China” or “Made in China” (and you will nowadays find that label even on instruments with the prestigious blue “Zeiss” logo), there is a high chance that it has been manufactured by KUO. Some companies, such as Oberwerk of the US, source from other manufacturers in China, but do not disclose their names.
Will the entire binocular production eventually move to China? The future will tell. But with some of the famous and once prestigious European sports optics companies now owned by financial investors (with in some cases reduced investment budgets and company restructurings, including layoffs); with optics and photo shops nowadays frequently slashing their inventories and running a tight working capital figure; and with consumers now often buying their optics equipment online or from large department stores, binocular markets are expected to undergo significant changes in the future.