Advances in optics technology over the last few years have occurred at lightning speed. Just a few years ago, the standard range for variable scopes was a multiplier of three. If the bottom magnification was three, the maximum would be nine. Now, this is all out the window and we have scopes with a multiplier factor of over eight. Progress has also been made in glass quality and coatings as well as reticle construction and design. We now have scopes that far surpass anything I would have dreamed of 10 years ago.
While this was happening, Bushnell has been reworking not only its product line, but its target market as well. Ten years ago, as a competitive shooter, I didn’t take anything in the Bushnell product line seriously. Boy, has that changed. I recently tested five scope makers and Bushnell came out on top. I used a Bushnell Elite Tactical scope in the National High Power Rifle Matches last year because I deemed it a better scope than the traditional brand used by competitive shooters from my era of shooters.
With the Elite line, Bushnell has put out a line of scopes with optics, features, and mechanical reliability that I’ve found to second to no one. These scopes aren’t cheap, but they are a very good value for what they do.
This week, I tested the Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-6.5x24mm scope. This is a scope meant for the 3-gunner, though it would work admirably well in some hunting situations. As the title indicates, the multiplier for this scope is 6.5 and it isn’t even the top of the line. Bushnell now offers a 1-8.5x, as well. All this range means it’s a scope that’s incredibly versatile, and versatility is what 3-gunning is all about. While my experience in 3-gun competition is limited, I know what most matches consist of and this scope is perfect for the task. In my last 3-gun competition, I used a 1-4x scope. At one power, a conventional scope works really well on close targets. For me, it actually works better than a reflex sight because it’s easier for me to find the reticle and target with a traditional scope, since that’s what experience has been with.
I felt no handicap over the guys in that match using a reflex optic. Part of that match was fired at 200 yards and there, I had a distinct advantage. On longer-range targets, it is difficult to be truly accurate on plates that are about the same size as the dot on a reflex optic. We shot six-inch plates at 200 yards and I had a big advantage. A scope with a magnification of 6.5x would have given me an even greater edge, and that’s what makes the 1-6.5x scope so valuable for 3-gun competition.
The Elite Tactical is a compact scope. In fact, it’s smaller and lighter than the 1-4x I used that day. There are 11 different illumination levels that cover anything from desert bright to night vision. Between each level is an off position that precludes going through all the levels to get to where you want to be. It has 1/10th mil rad adjustments with clicks that are tactile enough you could adjust them in a rattling vehicle. The adjustments are accurate and repeatable with index numbers to allow return to zero.
The reticle is a large circle outside a small circle with vertical and horizontal crosshairs with hash marks for windage and elevation reference. Those horizontal lines have real value in long-range shots when the shooter is holding over. Without them, it would be easy to cant the scope and this would cause errors in windage due to the cant. I chose a second focal plane scope because I never plan to range with the scope and I appreciate a small reticle at long range. With an upper magnification of 6.5x, this scope has the capability to handle those distance shots.
The glass is clear and bright all the way to the edges, and the field of view is larger than any reflex sight I’ve used. It offers an unobstructed field of vision at 1x, other than a thin circle that represents the ocular bell. For the purpose this scope was intended, I can simply find no flaw. It is one of the best scopes I’ve ever used.
Image by Dick Jones