For a little over 2 years I have owned and used Bushnell AR drop zone reticle optics, we have the 1-4x24mm for my wife’s 16” 1:9 twist nitride treated m4 profile palmetto state Frankenstein creation. To save weight on her rifle I used a smaller bipod and she carries 20 round magazines. On my rifle we have a 4.5-18x40mm Bushnell drop zone reticle, 1:7 / 16” A2 profile, palmetto state Frankenstein creation, full bipod/ 9-13” swivel – I prefer 30 round magazines, less reloading.
To assist the reader a list of terms and definitions will follow the article, for the sake of continuity the article itself will contain no explanations.
Since this is a review of the optics themselves and NOT the rifles, I will simply say that both rifles hold easy sub moa groups with milsepc 5.56 IMI ammunition and will hold under 2” with steel cased and bulk American made ammunition. Sandbagged they both shoot well under .75” with 55-69 grain IMI and my rifle will hold .60” average with 77grain and under (lowest used is 55 grain). Mechanically both rifles are easily superior to many $1000+ designer guns and I did not pay over $700 during the BAD times for them. (You do not need to buy only bcm or spikes tactical, people, most of their stuff is made by the same companies anyhow)
So glass, and why I chose to use Bushnell over Vortex, Nikon and other brands – the easy answer is, I have shot using most of the top name glass on the market, however, being disabled and poor cannot afford to spend top dollar like so many coach regarding glass. Do I have perfect vision, NO, in fact, one could say I have POOR vision, without my coke bottle glasses or contacts I cannot see anything past 18 inches excepting blurry shadows. What I have seen with Bushnell is clarity, ease of use and best feature overall, THEY WORK!
Can I rely on them fully? Absolutely, and in fact do. Will they work for varminting and small game hunting? Certainly. Is that their purpose? No. The reticles on these firearms are not thin enough for small game hunting past 300 yards, however, they will put you on target and do so with ease if your target is 24” tall by 12-15” wide. Take that as you will. The Bushnell AR line comes with parallax adjustments on some, not on all.
The reality is that if you need good glass and do not have much spare money, Bushnell optics are an easy choice for solid optical use.
Was I paid to write this or compensated in any way? No, I wish this was the case. However, NO. I can say that I am satisfied with this optic choice and would get it again, as well as outfit those I love with it. Understand that it is essential to KNOW absolutely KNOW how to use a scope especially one like this properly. However, with that being said, The Bushnell AR scopes, specifically the two mentioned are absolutely worth the $150-$230 you may spend.
Free the mind and the body will follow
In alphabetical order, terms and definitions as layman friendly as possible.
A2 profile – AR 15 rifles come with a variety of barrel types, the profile of a barrel is its outside thickness comparatively, A2 is the thickness of the M16 A2 (military grade thickness) which adds rigidity and accuracy but also adds weight. Barrels have harmonic displacement or sound waves that affect their accuracy and do so by causing the barrel to flex similar to an arrow flexing as it leaves the bow. This is normal in ALL firearms and affects accuracy, the secret here is that the less the barrel flexes the more repeatable the accuracy is with relatively fast paced firing. This is not as important in say a bolt action hunting rifle as it would be in a sniper rifle or specialized intermediate (medium distance 300-600 yards) rifle used for purposes of material and or persons stopping – (or a solid varmint hunting firearm / say Texas hogs or Arizona pest critters)
AR – AR is short for a automatic rifle, NO It’s NOT that is a joke at CNN’s expense, (does anyone even watch them anymore?) AR is simply a shortened way to say AR 15 the civilian SEMI automatic version of the military’s M16. Semi Automatic means it takes one press of a trigger to fire one bullet, it is not fully automatic, eg., press and send as many rounds as you want down range until you release the trigger.
BCM – Name brand made popular by gun snobs, while it is a good firearm, and if you have $$$s to spend even now than it is for you. If you are like many Americans and have too much debt already, understand BCM gets their barrels/parts (not all but many) from the same places as do “budget” gun builders, in fact, most people do. They just have a name and charge more for it.
Bipod – A piece of hardware that generally folds into a relatively compact package and attaches to the barrel of the firearm (DO NOT do this) or attaches to the stock/ fore-end of the firearm (much better option) the bipod allows you to get a stable shooting platform for more precise shots but should not replace the sling as a means of stabilization, rather supplement it.
M4 profile – Again, rifle barrel profiles, the military M4 carbine is the 14”-16” barrel on the military carbine, it is cut to be lightweight and still accurate, however, because of the light cut will not be as accurate with sustained or heavy fire as will the A2 or A1 or a bull barrel (extra thick) the standard well made M4 profile is quite accurate and with less sustained fire (slower fire) can maintain very solid groups nicely.
MOA – Minute of Angle equals 1.047 inches at 100 yards – and 2.098 centimeters at 100 meters is an MOA with 100 meters equaling 109 yards. Many shooters utilize meters when shooting now, though this is not popularized in most American ranges, it is something to consider, as the use of metric is actually quite a bit easier. Understanding of course that your old school shooting ranges in the USA are run by people who use the Kings inch and foot even though the King dropped it many many years ago. (yes making a joke at our expense)
Nitride Treated – This is a treatment that when done properly hardens the outside layers of steel and in fact tends to be more accurate and durable than chrome lined, chromium based and heat treated barrels. Though it can be argued that a well made stainless barrel will still be inherently more accurate than any of the above. It should be noted that less than 10% of all shooters can actually shoot to their guns potential regardless gun or barrel type.
Palmetto State Armory – My preferred location to purchase AR and AK builds and pre-built firearms, they make a quality firearm that has proven itself to be incredibly reliable and make almost all of their parts in house! Eg., unlike Spikes or BCM who charge triple or more for parts made by others for them. They are also extremely good people and have complete Freedom AR rifles available now for under $450 (full rifles folks)
Parallax – This is an adjustment that some scopes have allowing you to adjust the displacement in line of site that occurs at distance when using greater magnification, this is a perceived displacement, however, causes misses for the unwary or old people with poor eyesight like myself. (a truly beneficial adjustment though it does add more labor to shooting, it is easy to use and easier to understand)
Spikes Tactical – Honestly, an okay rifle, but not worth the money being charged for it as many of the parts stamped with the name are made out of house by manufacturers who make parts for DelTon etc., a reputable budget priced line of firearms.
Twist Rate – The rate at which the inside rifling (grooves inside a barrel) turn within a set distance, 1:7 is 1 turn in seven inches and so on. This is VERY important to understand especially with faster smaller projectiles such as the 5.56 or .223 Remington (the mini 14 has 1:12 twist rate – which means anything heavier than 55 grain can, in fact, be dangerous not to mention unless major changes were made, it is chambered in .223 Remington vs., 5.56 nato – some argue this is not a huge problem, however, it can be especially with hunting barreled rifles, in the mini 14 you shouldn’t have an issue, the difference in rounds being rather minute (shape wise) though the difference in PRESSURES are quite a bit –
Twist rate, a 1:8 is seen by many as being the overall best intermediate twist for a combat rated rifle, allowing rounds from 50 grains through 77 grains to be stabilized well and accurately. Tighter twists generally equal heavier rounds, though I have never had any real issues with 55 grain from a 1:7 I do tend to get better accuracy from the 1:9 barrel with 55 grain and better accuracy at distance with a 1:7 and 62-77 grain rounds.
(Addendum – Grains is the weight of the BULLET being fired from the round itself and is EXTREMELY important especially considering twist rates.)
Folks if I missed any definitions or you have any questions or would like to debate how badly I am wrong, please comment below! And as always thank you for reading!