Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scope Review
Over the years, I have owned many scopes in a wide range of prices. Generally speaking, the cost of my scopes has been dependent on who will be using the firearm (me or my kids) or the primary purpose of the firearm (short range (<200 yards) or long range hunting/target shooting (>200 yards). As the years have passed (30+) since the purchase of my first rifle scope, I have seen the overall quality of all scopes increase with improved manufacturing process and the development of new optical coatings. The results of these increases in quality along with new automated manufacturing process has produced some very nice affordable (value) scopes for todays hunters and shooters. One of these value scopes is the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scope and specifically I'm talking about Bushnell's 3-9x50mm DOA 600 riflescope. This scope was named by Outdoor Life as a 2012 "Great Buy" which means it "represents the best value for the price" according to their rating system, You can find this scope online for about $250 which does have the potential to deliver high value as long as it can deliver good quality and features.
One of my latest rifle reviews was a Ruger American Rifle and considering the features and price of that rifle, it is clearly a value packed rifle. My hopes were to also find a value packed scope to pair up with this rifle and have a completed hunting platform ready for this next whitetail season. It seemed that the price point, features and potential quality (total value) for the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 3-9x50mm DOA 600 Scope would make a great match with the Ruger American Rifle so I contacted Bushnell and was able to get one for this review.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Bushnell website on 5/26/12 and gives the Key Features and Specifications for the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 3-9x50mm Scope. 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.
Since the scope provided to me by Bushnell was not in it's original box and didn't come with an owners manual, I had to forego my normal "what's in the box" photos and descriptions. The two items that were in the box were the scope and lens caps which was really all that was needed for a review.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scope comes in a matte black finish and measures 14.7" in length with the fast focus eyepiece screwed all the way in. With the eyepiece screwed out, it measures about 15.13". The tube is made of a one piece aluminum alloy and the portion for mounting the scope is 1.00" in diameter and has a mounting length of 6.4".
The scope weighed in at 18.7 ounces which was as advertised.
The outside diameter of the objective end measured 57.5mm and had "Bushnell", "Legend Ultra HD" and "RainGuard Coatings" printed in white lettering. Bushnell describes their RainGuard HD coating system as:
RainGuard® HD is a patented, permanent, hydrophobic, oleophobic lens coating that causes moisture from rain, snow, sleet and your breath to instantly bead-up into smaller droplets and scatter. These tiny droplets divert dramatically less light and keep your view bright and clear when an untreated lens would be rendered useless.
If you want to see more details on this coating system and Bushnell's comparison against the coatings performance against some other scope, go to their RainGuard webpage.
The turret portion of the scope includes a side parallax adjustment knob and turret cap covers.
The eyepiece end of the scope measures about 41mm in diameter and includes a fast focus eyepiece.
The fast focus eyepiece is shown below in a position that is good for my eyesight. It has a knurled surface for gripping when making adjustments and a rubber end to protect your eye socket if you make the classic error of having your eye too close when firing your rifle. Fortunately, the scope comes with a nice long 4" eye relief so making that error should not be an issue.
The power adjustment ring has a knurled surface and is marked in increments from 3 to 9 power with the 9 power number being shown in red. Because this is a second focal plane scope, if you are going to use the 600 DOA reticle features with the appropriate caliber and cartridge, you must set the power ring to 9 for the bullet drop compensation features to work. On the bottom of the scope, forward of the eyepiece, is marked the scope power range and objective lens diameter "3-9x50", the model number "853950B", the location of manufacturer "Made in China", and the serial number for this scope "AU003381".
The elevation and windage turrets come with aluminum covers.
With the covers removed, you can see that the turrets include "target" style adjustment caps. This gives you an alternate method for adjusting for bullet drop as long as you have developed a ballistics table for your cartridge/rifle combination. Both of the turret caps allow for 15 MOA of adjustment with one full revolution and are marked in 1/4 MOA increments. Also notice in the photo below the rubber rings that seal the turrets when the covers are installed. These are needed to meet the 100% waterproof criteria.
The windage turret cap is marked with the click adjustment increment (1/4" at 100 yards) along with the direction to rotate the cap to adjust your windage. I was able to rotate the windage cap a total of 65 MOA which gives you about ±32 MOA of adjustment from a theoretical zero.
The elevation turret cap is marked with the click adjustment increment (1/4" at 100 yards) along with the direction to rotate the cap to adjust your elevation. I was able to rotate the elevation cap a total of 51 MOA which gives you about ±25 MOA of adjustment from a theoretical zero. Bushnell states a 25 MOA adjustment range so both windage and elevation checked out.
Once you have zeroed your scope, you can reset the turret caps by loosening the two small Phillips head screws and then rotate the turret cap and retighten the screws. From these next couple of photos you can see that the cap is held in place by friction only and you need to make sure you tighten the two screws to prevent the cap from slipping when making an adjustment. If it slips, you will then loose your zero.
The side focus or parallax adjustment knob is marked from 10 yards to infinity as shown in the photos below.
The scope comes with rubber lens caps attached to each other with bungee cords as shown below.
The rubber lens caps fit snuggly over ends of the scope.
The reticle is Bushnell's DOA 600 Reticle and it is a second focal plane reticle which means that the reticle stays a constant size without changing as you increase or decrease the power setting of the scope. There are several photos in this review showing the shape of this reticle and this next photo shows the shape on a solid background.
These next two photos are zoomed in to show the bullet drop compensation details. With the scope zeroed at 100 yards and set to 9 power, the dots and post represent 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 yards based on "the ballistics of the most common magnum loads" (per the DOA Manual). The horizontal lines are part of the Rack Bracket System where the horizontal line represents 24" in length at the yardage ranges shown and the length between the two hash marks represents 17". 17" is the average width of the ears of a whitetail deer and 24" is the average for mule deer. Again, the scope must be set to 9 power and using this feature may allow you to size up a rack before you take the shot. There is more on the reticle further in the review.
Next I wanted to capture some photos showing the brightness and clarity of the scope. To do this, I mounted my camera behind the scope at the proper eye relief position. The main reason I'm telling and showing the setup is so you will understand that it is actually fairly difficult to get good photos through a scope. When you consider there is the reticle focus (diopter), side focus (parallax), camera focus, camera zoom and scope power, I think you can start to appreciate the difficulty. Because of these difficulties, I'm never able to truly capture with the camera what I see through my eyes, but at least the photos give you some understanding of brightness and clarity.
These next three photos were taken at about 33 yards at 3, 6 and 9 power. I was pleased with the overall brightness of the scope and the sharpness of the image was better than that shown in the photos. There was some distortion around the edges of the field of view but overall I wouldn't consider this an issue, especially when considering the price point for this scope. Bushnell states "thanks to fully multi-coated optics, the Legend Ultra HD riflescope delivers 89 percent light transmission for a clear, crisp sight picture, (ref. Link)" and I believe them. I took the scope out at dusk and the combination of the large objective and light transmission properties made seeing detailed features possible during legal hunting hours.
Figure 30 - 33 yards on 3 Power
These next three photos were taken at 76 yards from the mail box while at 3, 6 and 9 power. You should notice that when at 9 power, the background image is not in focus. This was because the side focus was set at approximately 75 yards and the trees in the background are at 141 yards. As the magnification power increases, this out of focus between different distances becomes more visible and it is necessary to adjust your side focus (parallax) to correct.
Figure 33 - 76 yards on 3 Power
This next photo was taken at 142 yards on 9 power and the brick background gives you good idea of the sharpness of the scope. As mentioned before there is some slight distortion around the edges, but the distortion is difficult to see when looking through the scope.
In an effort to test the tracking of the reticle with changes in elevation and windage I used my standard "no shot" method. To do this, I mount the scope on a quad rail that also has a green laser. The photo below shows my initial zero where I set the scope to match the laser projection point which can be seen projected on a target grid. By adjusting the elevation or windage a known amount, I'm able to correlate the adjustment to a number of inches on the target grid.
These next two photos show a 13 MOA change in elevation up (left photo) and down (right photo). This was equal to about 3.5" at 25 yards. Since 1 MOA really equals 1.047" at 100 yards, then at 25 yards 13 MOA should really be 3.40" (13 x 1.047" / 4). I feel that my measurements and the theoretical values were close enough to say that you could dial in a MOA adjustment for bullet drop compensation if desired.
I performed the same check for windage, except I was limited on one direction due to the amount of travel that was needed to initially zero the scope. In this case, I dialed in a 10 MOA adjustment and I was comfortable with how the values compared.
This next photo shows the final return to zero after making all the adjustments.
Using the photo below which was taken at 25 yards with the scope set on 9 power, I was able to scale off the target grid (1" squares) to determine the distance from the main cross hair and the lower aiming points. Since this photo was taken at 25 yards, I had to multiply by 4 to get a 100 yard equivalent and then divide by 1.047 to get an MOA equivalent.
The DOA 600 Reticle was designed to work with a specific caliber group so that the aiming points would reflect 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 & 600 yard. For details of the reticle and caliber group, see these two links: DOA Manual and DOA 600 Ballistics Group F. In my case, I will be using this scope on a .308 Win rifle and will need to determine the range for each of the aiming points for the .308 Win cartridge I select because the .308 Win caliber is not part of the DOA 600 Ballistics Group. The MOA values above should get me close to understanding the general yardages once I generate a ballistics table for my cartridge. Then it will be time to confirm these values at the range.
For range testing, I mounted the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scope on a Ruger American Rifle using a set of Burris Signature ZEE Rings Weaver-Style Medium Matte which gave a very attractive shooting platform as shown below. I feel the value you get from the Bushnell scope in combination with Ruger rifle makes a great match for someone wanting a good hunting rifle for a budget price.
My last evaluation was to send some rounds down range during my range testing portion of the Ruger American Rifle. During this range test I was able to achieve a couple of groups that show this rifle/scope combination is capable of 1 MOA. Throughout my tests, I was not able to detect any shift in zero and the scope performed just like it should.
The last thing to consider about the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scopes are that during 2012 they come with Bushnell's 100% Money Back Bulletproof Guarantee. See the link for more details, but Bushnell states "If, for any reason, you’re not completely satisfied with your Bushnell product, return it—no questions asked for a full refund of the purchase price." Now that seems like a good deal.
After taking a close look at one of Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Scopes, I would have to agree with Outdoor Life assessment that this scope is a great buy. The scope was crisp, clear and appeared to be a quality product with popular features such as the DOA 600 reticle, target & zero set-able turret caps, and side focus (parallax) adjustment. At a street price as low as $249 and considering you also get a "no questions asked" return option if your are not satisfied, you should take a look at one of the Legend Ultra HD Scopes the next time you are shopping for a good value oriented scope.