With all that Bushnell has done for its professional-grade lines, you might think they had forgotten the hunters. Well, you would have thought wrong. This week we got down and dirty with a new product from the Bushnell Prime line.
Bushnell has recently re-organized their optics division with four tiers of products. At the very top is the Elite Tactical line, military-grade optics. Or as they say professional level products. Next is Forge, for the expert. The third is the Nitro line, for the advanced user. And finally rounding out the package is Prime, what they call the standard.
Prime is basically the entry-level option, though they are anything but basic. The two new options we looked at are the 6-18 x 50mm rifle scope.
The rifle scope was built with the hunter in mind, a balance of new technology and old traditions. The reticle is very clean, what Bushnell calls a Multi-X, but what you probably know as a standard duplex. Nothing wrong with the old duplex, it has harvested a lot of game over the decades. Many hunters prefer this uncluttered style of crosshair and Bushnell delivers with clarity and purpose.
The elevation knob is non-locking and adjusts in ¼ MOA clicks. A full rotation of the turret is 12 MOA, which is easy to keep straight in your head. The clicks are positive in both auditory and tactile sense. The elevation knob is tool-less for removal and resetting it to zero is among the easiest I have seen. The windage knob is capped which makes sense since most people never use it outside of setting a zero. It is also adjusted in ¼ MOA increments, with a full rotation being 12 MOA. The windage knob is smaller than the elevation knob and therefore less likely to snag on brush. Parallax can be set as close as 15 yards, and as far away as several hundred, making this scope useful for rimfires up to elk rifles. Another nod to hunting tradition; the tube is 1 inch. If you already have rings for your hunting rifle, odds are good they will fit the Prime.
The scope is a second focal plane which doesn’t really affect a simple duplex reticle. This is also a preference of many hunters as the reticle stays the same size at any power setting. The problems are rife when you try this with mil dots, but it doesn’t affect the zero point.
The lenses are coated with Bushnell’s own EXO Barrier Protection. This is the newest and best protective lens coating they have used. It creates a molecular bond with the glass; repelling water, oil, and dust, in addition to preventing scratches. The Prime line also features IPX7 Waterproof construction. The scope is o-ring sealed and will take a 30 minutes submersion in up to 3 feet of water. Rainy hunting days should be no problem. All of the optics are also coated with multiple layers of coatings to increase light transmission and image brightness.
While the Prime Scopes are available in many power configurations, our test model is the 6-18. The lowest end of the line is 1-4, followed by 3-9, 3.5-10, and 4-12. That is a lot of options, but American consumers also have a lot of different terrain between the Florida swamps and the Rockies. We went with the high power model because your tester lives in the Western High Desert.
Not something I normally do for scopes at this price, but I felt Bushnell had a good chance of passing. A tracking test. Bushnell has long been the champion in the economy class of scopes. Combined with a unique position of having glass as the top and bottom of the market, I was curious to see what had bled over to the entry level optics. Or to see if everything that failed spec for the Elite Tactical class got pushed over to the Prime bin.
I was happily surprised for the Prime to pass a tracking test with flying colors. Because of my scope ring and rifle set up, I only had 14 MOA to go up. But if a scope is going to fail, it tends to be near the top of the elevation travel anyway. Or right after a full rotation, as some very expensive scopes have taught me. For this price of scope, it is very rare to have one not only pass but do so near perfectly. Given an easy ½ inch variance of the gun and bullets on my best day and a 25 degree day in the prone for some shooter wobble, I was very impressed. At the base of the tracking test, I also tested the windage tracking, which the Prime also performed flawlessly.
If you are in the market for a new scope but don’t have a lot of coins to throw at it, this is an excellent option. MSRP is $359 which you will be hard-pressed to beat for a comparable piece of glass.
Visit Bushnell for more information.