Bushnell Elite Tactical Scope Review
4.5-30 x 50 Mil-Dot
Over the last several years we have seen a significant growth in gun sales and the tactical market has clearly been leading the pack. With the increased demand for the tactical rifles there also comes an increase in demand for tactical scopes. If you have been following the product lines by the various optics manufacturers, you know that there is a serious battle being fought for the consumer's dollars which is a great thing for the consumer. This means that higher quality, better optics, new designs and added features are getting more and more affordable. In July of this year, Bushnell announced in a press release their new "Professional Grade" Bushnell Elite Tactical Series Scopes. With this new series of scopes, clearly Bushnell has come to the battle for the consumer dollar with a worthy competitor and is ready to fight.
Recently I received a Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD Rifle for review and had already been eyeing the Bushnell Elite Tactical Series as a potential contender scope for this rifle. Bushnell currently offers seven scopes to choose from within this series, but when I noticed their 4.5-30 x 50mm scope, I knew that was the scope for this rifle. The three things that were most attractive were first the overall features of the Bushnell Elite Tactical Series, second was the 6.5 magnification range, and third was the high end 30x magnification. Luckily I was able to get my hands on a scope for this review. The Bushnell Elite Tactical 4.5-30x 50 Mil-Dot Riflescope (Model ET4305) is listed for $1435.95 at the ShopBushnell.com website, but you can find this scope online at other websites for about $900 so make sure you shop around.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturers claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Bushnell website on 11/5/11 and it gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications for the Bushnell Elite Tactical 4.5-30x50 Mil-Dot Riflescope. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both. I may also add commentary after these marks as necessary to explain some items if needed.
What's In The Box
The Bushnell Elite Tactical 4.5-30x 50 Mil-Dot Riflescope comes boxed as shown below. Clearly Bushnell was following the "less is more" philosophy when coming up with the graphics on the package. Most likely if you are looking for a scope in this price range or higher, you have already done your homework and don't need a bunch of extra advertising.
The graphics on the bottom of the box were also sleek and simple.
Each end of the box was marked as shown below to properly identify the box contents.
When you open the box, the scope comes wrapped and packed as shown below. Not shown is a piece of black cardboard that went over the turret area of the scope.
When you remove and unwrap the components, there is the scope, lens caps already installed, sunshade, Allen wrench, Instruction Manual, and "Register Now" card.
The photo below shows the scope with the sunshade installed, the bungee style lens caps still work, although they are tight. It didn't take long for me to recognize that this rifle scope actually came with a 5" long sunshade instead of the 3" long sunshade per the Bushnell website specifications.
The scope weighed in at 24.2 ounces (1.512 pounds) which matched very closely to the 24.1 ounces in the specifications.
With the 5" sunshade installed, the scope weighed in at 27.9 ounces (1.742 pounds).
These next four photos show you each side of the scope. Throughout this review you can click on any photo to bring up a higher resolution image showing greater detail. The scope measured about 13.12" with the focus ring screwed all the way in. The scope tube measures 30 mm in diameter.
The Elite Tactical scope tubes are one piece and hammer-forged from 6061 aluminum alloy and have a black matte finish. The mounting length (distance of 30mm tube area) of the scope is 5.8". The tube portion in front of the turrets is 2.0" and behindf the turrets is 2.4".
The bottom of the scope is marked with the model number (ET4305), "WATERPROOF", magnification range and objective lens diameter (4.5-30x50), manufacturing location (Japan), serial number (AU20246) and the word "Patented".
These next two photos show views looking at the ocular and objective ends of the scope. Two of the features of this scope are the Fully Multi-Coated Lenses and Bushnell's Ultra Wide Band Coating. Bushnell states the following about these features and keep in mind that the coating technology which goes into any optics is a critical factor when it comes to how light is reflected and transmitted and how color rendered. My first impression when looking through the scope was "Wow". The image appeared extremely clear, crisp and bright.
The distance from the front edge of the turret to the end of the scope is about 6.5" in length. The outside diameter of the objective end measured 2.284" (58 mm).
The objective end of the scope has a black ring with the words "ELITE" and "TACTICAL" in a dark "Blacked-Out" print. The word "ELITE" was on the top and bottom and the word "TACTICAL" was on each side.
When you look inside the objective end, you can see the threaded area which allows you to install the sunshade. You can also see a ring with the words "RAINGUARD COATING" stamped into it. You can see four comparison videos at the Bushnell RainGuard website where they dunk four different scopes from their competitors and show how this coating compares to the others. Bushnell states:
Thanks to RainGuard, a wet lens or a misguided breath that would fog conventional glass will never cost you a view. This patented, permanent, water-repellent coating causes moisture from rain, snow, sleet and condensation to bead up and scatter less light, so you get a clear, bright view when other optics would be rendered useless.
The scope comes with target turrets and a side parallax adjustment knob. Each turret has 12 MOA of adjustment per revolution and is marked 0 to 11 with ¼ MOA increments marked in between the numbered markings.
On the left side of the scope is the parallax adjustment knob. When the knob is set at 100 yards (a typical setting for general purpose situations and what most fixed parallax scopes are set), the "B" for Bushnell is in the normal upright position.
The parallax adjustment knob is marked with these increments; ∞, 500, 300, 200, 150, 100, 75, 60, 50, 40, 30 and 25 yards. These next three photos show all the increment markings.
I included these next two photos to give you an idea of what you will see when you look over or to the side of the ocular end of the scope when making elevation and windage adjustments. The turrets are clearly marked with the direction to rotate the knob to shift the bullet impact from the zero position.
The ocular (eyepiece) end of the scope includes a fast focus eyepiece. The diameter of this end of the scope measured 43 mm.
The top of the ocular end of the scope includes some "Blacked-Out" markings to indicate the direction to turn the fast focus eyepiece to correct for your vision. Honestly, this is not really needed because most people just turn it back and forth until they achieve the best focus.
The power selector ring is marked with these powers; 4.5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24 and 30. The 10 power marking is in red lettering and the other markings are white. Since this scope has a second focal plane reticle , the red 10 power setting is the synchronized power setting for using the Mil-Dot feature for estimating range. This synchronized setting of 10 works nicely if you wanted to estimate ranges at 20 or 30 power by using a factor of 2 or 3 on your Mil-Dot measurements.
Removing the Target Turrets
Each turret cap is held in place with a special Allen head screw as shown in the photo below. There is an O-ring under the head of the screws and sits in a recess in the turret cap. This O-ring seals this path into the turret body against moisture and dust. When I removed these screws, I found that the O-ring was actually stuck to the bottom of the screw head and the O-ring wrapped around the screw some as I removed the screw. Once removed, the O-ring regained it's original shape. I placed a drop of lubricant under the head of the screw so that this would not happen again in the future.
With the screw removed, the cap will easily slide off. Once you achieve the desired zero for your scope, you will remove (or loosen) these screws and realign the turret cap so that "0" on the cap lines up with the index mark on the turret body.
There is also an O-ring on the turret body that seals the path between the turret body and the inside of the turret cap.
The turret knob appears to be made from brass. The end of the knob has ridges that nest in the ridges on the turret cap. The inside of the turret body also has ridges and they are what gives the knob the distinctive clicks when making the 1/4" MOA adjustments.
When I rotated the elevation turret from full down to full up I found there to be 81 MOA adjustment in elevation and when I rotated the windage turret from full left to full right, I found there to be a total of 54 MOA of adjustment in windage. When you take into account the slight correction that 1 MOA is actually 1.047" at 100 yards, then you end up with a total range of 84.8" in elevation and 56.5" in windage (±28"). It seems that the Bushnell website specifications and 2011 Catalog are a little confusing when stating the adjustment capability. The website states and adjustable range of 90" at 100 yards and the catalog states 50" at 100 yards. Neither the website or catalog state any specifics to elevation or windage adjustment so both may be correct in one sense and both may be wrong in another.
Next I wanted to evaluate how the position of the reticle tracks into each quadrant from zero and then see how it returns back to zero. To do this, I mounted the Bushnell Elite Tactical Scope on my Ruger SR-22 with a green laser also mounted on the rifle as shown below.
I adjusted the scope reticle to be on target with the laser projection at 71.6 feet (23.9 yards). This distance allowed me to be able to make MOA elevation and windage adjustments such that 1 MOA (1.047" at 100 yards or 1.00" at 95.5 yards) equals 1/4" on the target. Since the center of the aiming circles on the target are exactly 6" apart, I could evaluate a 24 MOA change in both elevation and windage.
After centering the erector (reticle center) I mounted the scope on this rifle for the evaluation. I needed 10 MOA of Left adjustment to zero the scope on this rifle. I feel certain that that will not be the case on my Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical. Using up 10 MOA left me with only 16 MOA of Left adjustment remaining since it also took about 2 MOA of left adjustment to center the erector. Therefore I decided to make my Left adjustment checks to only 12 MOA which should put me mid way between the target centers. As a note, the elevation was at a true mid range after centering the erector which gave me ±40 MOA.
By re-centering the laser (bullet impact point) on the center target, I was able to see the shift in the reticle position based on my 24 MOA elevation and 12/24 MOA windage adjustments. If the reticle was tracking properly with the MOA adjustments on the turrets, a 24 MOA adjustment in each would cause the reticle center to land on the center of the aiming circles in the left corners of the target. In the right corners it should fall midway between the target center because it was only a 12 MOA windage adjustment. The photos below are proof that the turret MOA adjustments are very close. Keep in mind that taking these photos was extremely difficult and any out of focus or slight differences are probably due to my bifocal eyes and my camera abilities. When looking through the scope with the eye, the images were sharp and clear.
After making all these adjustments, I returned the elevation and windage turrets back to the zeroed position and checked to see if the reticle center lined up with the laser. The photo below shows the results. I would say this is a very good return to zero.
The Mil-Dot reticle in the Bushnell Elite Tactical Scope consists of a duplex crosshairs with eight small dots placed at milliradian (mil) intervals across each crosshair. This gives you the ability to measure an object up to 10 mils tall or wide.
When looking at the User's Manual for this scope, I believe that the size of the mil dots in the scope do not match that shown in the manual for measuring fractions of a mil. To measure fractions of a mil as shown in the manual you would need for each dot to be 1/2 mil in diameter. Based on my measurements I believe the dots measure about 1/5 (.20) mil in diameter.
Optics Brightness and Clarity
For my last "backyard" evaluation, I wanted to compare the Bushnell Elite Tactical optics against a similar quality, cost and objective diameter scope. The closest one I had on hand was a Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x50mm Scope. I compared both of these scopes at the 4.5x and 14x power settings and could not tell any difference in clarity and brightness. The only significant difference I was found looking through both of the scopes was the increased (4" versus 3.5") eye relief on the Bushnell Elite Tactical which I consider to be a plus.
These photos below give you a an idea of the brightness and clarity of the scope. The mail box is located 77 yards from the scope. Keep in mind that it is extremely difficult (my opinion) to take photos through a scope that truly represent what the eye sees. As soon as you put another set of optics (the camera lens, not counting my bifocals) in the path you have additional focus, depth of field and light transmission issues to deal with. In general I feel these photos are good, but what I was able to see by looking directly trough the scope was much better.
Mounting the Scope Range Testing
For range testing I installed the scope on a Remington 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD Rifle. For the mounts, I decided to go with the Remington Integral Scope Mounts (High). I selected these mounts for three reasons. First, I like the idea of less parts between the scope and rifle. If this scope were a 1" tube I would not have selected this mount because it uses a set of bushings (more parts) to adapt from 30mm to 1". Second, it is hard to beat the value of these mounts at $27. Third, I have a good friend who uses these mounts on his Model 700 rifle matched up with a Night Force scope and he has been very pleased.
To install the scope, I used the Wheeler Engineering Professional Scope Mounting Kit and actually reviewed the kit while performing the installation so I'm going to refer you to that review to see the details of the installation. Click here to jump to the Scope Installation part of that review.
In summary about the installation, I was overall pleased with the installation but do feel that lapping these rings on the Remington Integral Mounts was needed to ensure maximum contact area between the rings and scope tube. These next set of photos show the scope installed on the rifle. The black finish on the rings matched the black finish on the scope perfectly.
The Bushnell Elite Tactical 4.5-30 x 50mm Scope is an impressive scope. I was very pleased with the optical brightness and clarity of the scope and found it to be on par with other scopes of this price range. The overall fit and finish of the scope was good and I think if you have studied the photos above you will come to the same conclusion. This scope having a magnification range of 4.5x to 30x and being of high quality makes a street price of around $900 a very attractive value. I did find that some of the specifications at Bushnell's website and in their 2011 catalog were either in error or not clear, but honestly I find stuff like that all the time for most manufacturers.
I used the Bushnell Elite Tactical Scope to range test my Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical AAC-SD Rifle. This was probably one of my most enjoyable range testing sessions I have had to date. With the scope set at 30x and parallax at 100 yards, the target was big, bright and clear. The scope zoomed to the 30x power lets you see any slight movements of the scope on the target. Shooting less than 1 MOA was easily achievable with this rifle and scope combination. Later I shot a gong at 180 yards while getting some chronograph data and hitting the gong was child's play. I'm looking forward to getting my rifle range setup to shoot some longer distances (400+) and I think the Bushnell Elite Tactical Scope will be a great scope to have for these longer distance shots.