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The Original Silver Bullet
Rifle Magazine
January - February 2005
Volume 37, Number 1
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 217
On the cover...
From the Winchester Custom Shop comes a stainless Model 70 with full octagonal barrel featuring a Burris 3-9x scope in Burris rings and mounts. Also featured is a Doug Turnbull restored Winchester Model 1892 lever action. Rifle photos by Gerald Hudson. el
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Product Tests

For some reason, Bushnell’s 2.5-10x, despite its 40mm objective lens, seems smaller than most variables in its power range. It’s 13 1/2 inches long and according to two different household scales, weighs one pound even. Mounted on a Mauser-actioned 7mm Remington Magnum, it didn’t alter the rifle’s balance perceptibly nor did it make it more of a burden to pack afield.

The initial range session was devoted to zeroing the scope and “squaring” the target, once it was set up at 100 yards. It’s a familiar test: Fire three rounds (all the magazine holds), crank on eight clicks (1/4 inch shift in the point of impact at 100 yards) of elevation; fire another three rounds, add eight clicks of left windage, fire an additional three rounds, twist the elevation knob eight clicks down, fire three rounds then turn the windage knob eight clicks to the right and fire a final three-shot string. Through the spotting scope, it was obvious that the last three bullets had landed right on top of the first group fired, evidence that the scope’s internal windage and elevation adjustments were spot-on.

The covers protecting the wind­age and elevation knobs are about an inch in diameter, stand almost .5 inch high and are encircled by semicorrugated rims. Those generous dimensions make them easy to grasp and to twist off and on with little fear of dropping and perhaps losing them when afield.

The knobs themselves are fitted with raised crossbars just large enough to grasp with the fingertips. Each ratchetlike movement of either knob is accompanied by a plainly audible “click.” In addition, a slight jolt can be felt through the fingers each time a knob is shifted from one graduation to the next. No system is completely foolproof, but the approach taken by Bushnell engineers comes pretty close.

This scope is equipped with the Firefly reticle. The reticle silhouette is reminiscent of some of the old pre-World War II patterns favored by many German and Austrian scope manufacturers: four thicker-than-usual black bars extending about 75 percent of the way from the outer edge of the lens toward the center. At that point, the bar narrows abruptly and extends centerward another, say, 15 percent of the distance, leaving just enough room for a finer crosshair in the center. Frankly, it’s a reticle that takes a bit of getting used to, especially in open country. It would undoubtedly be right at home in the woods, but out on the grassy plains, in sage country or up in the mountains where distances tend to stretch a bit (and I tried that scope in all those different settings), I found those thick bars more distracting than helpful.

The reason for that extra width, they tell me, was to give the reticle the additional surface area needed to display the reflective material applied to it.

According to the Bushnell instruction booklet, to activate the Firefly reticle, a lighted flashlight (a small one is supplied with the scope) should be held against the objective lens for about two minutes an hour or so before dawn or dusk. To see if the reticle’s working properly, cover the objective lens (a lens cover is very effective) and look through the ocular lens. If all is well, the crosshairs should shine brightly for awhile, then gradually fade to black.

Out in the field, as long as there’s sufficient light to see the cross­hairs without difficulty, the Firefly coating will remain dormant. As the daylight grows dimmer, the crosshairs should appear brighter and brighter.

Does the Firefly system work? Yes, it does – and exactly as advertised too.

Once the ambient light fades, the crosshairs begin to glow green and are plainly visible. In my experience, however, and I’ve spent more than a few hunts searching for game at dawn and dusk, when it’s too dark to see your sights, whether iron or optical, it’s too dark to see the animals you seek as well. To put it another way: Firefly is a very ingenious bit of technology, but irrelevant.

However, that doesn’t detract from the Elite 4200’s other merits. Optically, for instance, it’s hard to beat. Examining the world as it appears when viewed near the edges of the yawning objective lens revealed no hint of distortion, no matter what the magnification. Switching from one magnification to another had no effect on the scope’s zero either – there wasn’t the slightest shift in the point of impact at 100 yards no matter how often the magnification knob was turned or how great the change was. Out in cap-rock country, color transmission proved faithful to a fault.

Bushnell claims its lens coatings allow the 4200 series to transmit 95 percent of the available light – theoretically, that’s the best anyone can expect at the current stage of optical technology. How could I put that to the test?

For once, the weather gods came to the rescue. Clouds drifted in from the northwest, lowered, dropped rain showers, spit snow, thickened, rolled and dropped lower still. The whole world turned dark gray. Shadows disappeared. Colors faded. So did contrast. It was an ideal day to test optical quality.

First, a distant target was selected – an easily identifiable rock, one with a peculiar fold or crack or silhouette, something my eye could catch quickly. Then, a quick glance through the scope at it, immediately followed by an unaided, bare-eyed look. As far as I could tell, after trying that little exercise on a dozen different targets, there was no difference in what I saw through the scope and what my unaided eyes reported; no difference in color; no difference in light – or if there was, it was too slight for my eyes to register.

Bushnell has been making a lot of noise about a new lens coating it calls RAINGUARD. The company maintains it’s a water-repellent coating on which – well, let me quote them:

on which condensation forms in much smaller droplets than on standard coatings. These droplets form when the scope is exposed to rain, fog or snow. These smaller droplets scatter much less light than the larger droplets on other coatings . . .

They insist that RAINGUARD is the first coating that can protect a riflescope against external fogging. One morning, when the outside temperature was 33 degrees Fahrenheit, I breathed on the ocular lens. It fogged over completely. Nevertheless, when I raised the rifle, I could see through the scope clearly, even though the lens appeared to be covered with a fine mist. Once again, a Bushnell claim had proved out.

To satisfy myself further, the same experiment was tried with another, older scope (made by a different manufacturer). The result was a blurry field of view that gave no evidence of clearing up in the near future. If a target were big enough – and close enough – I probably could have seen well enough with that second scope to make a killing shot, but fogging certainly limited its use for a long, long time.

Bushnell ads also maintain that the Elite tubes are hammer-forged from one piece of aluminum-titanium alloy, which is 30 percent stronger than aluminum alone. There was no way for me to put that to the test, but considering how the other claims proved out, I’m willing to take Bushnell’s word on that one.

All in all, there’s a lot to praise and not much to criticize about the 2.5-10x 40mm. It’s optically excellent. Its reticular adjustments are quick and easy to make – and once set, stay put. Granted, the reticle itself, in my opinion, is oversized enough to be distracting, but I suspect, with practice, a hunter would become accustomed to it. The Firefly system works as advertised, but it’s unnecessary. The scope’s magnification range is wide enough to cover just about any conceivable hunting situation. It’s a first-class riflescope by anyone’s definition.

Montana X-treme
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