Bushnell ELITE TACTICAL ERS 3.5-21x50mm Review
By Justin Crossley: Rokslide Assistant Editor
With all the features packed into the Bushnell ELITE TACTICAL ERS 3.5-21x50mm it's no wonder so many competitive shooters choose it. I put this scope through the paces "Rokslide style" for almost a year and can tell you without question that this is one reliable and durable rifle scope. I'm talking about a full season of everything from shooting off my bench, to competition, to long range canyon shooting and then the real proving grounds: bear and elk hunting.
The scope I tested has the G2DMR reticle and a power range of 3.5-21. With "fully multi-coated optics and ultra-wide band coating" the Bushnell gives decent light transmission through its 50mm objective lens although that is one of the areas where I think the scope could improve. I found the light gathering to be fine when I was target shooting but lacking during those early and late hours when animals are most active. The eye relief was good at 3.75" and the side focus parallax adjustment works as expected. The tube diameter is 34mm and allows for 10 mils of travel per revolution of the turret. With an overall length of 13.2" and a weight of 32.5 oz. I found the weight to be more than I like in a hunting scope but not bad for what this scope is really designed for which is tactical and competition applications.
The first thing I did was get the scope mounted up and the rings torqued to specification. A quick bore sight from the bench and I was ready to sight it in on paper. It took me a few shots to get zeroed and the scope seamed to track perfectly as I made my adjustments. Once I was zeroed at 100 yds I "box tested" the scope by dialing 5 mils up and shooting one shot, 5 mils right and shoot one shot, down 5 mils and one shot, then left 5 mils and one shot. That completes the box which I then repeated two more times so I ended up with a three-shot group at all four locations on my target. I measured to the center of each group and found that the scope tracked perfectly to each spot and back to zero.
After completing the short-range reliability/repeatability tests, I headed for the mountains for some long-range shooting. I shot in multiple locations with distances from 250 to over 1700 yards and I was satisfied that the ERS would dial reliably every time. I'm normally an MOA guy and the MIL reticle and adjustments where something I really never could get used to. It's not really a negative of the scope though since it's a personal preference and I know plenty of people who prefer MILs to MOA. The other thing that I didn't care for was the first focal plane but again that's an opinion thing and some people prefer it.
My favorite feature of this scope by far was the locking "T-Lok turrets". They lift up easily for adjustment and lock down solid to give you the peace of mind that your scope is locked in and will not accidentally get adjusted. The knobs are also good sized which makes them very easy to use even with the thickest of winter or tactical gloves. With 29 MILs of total travel I found the scope easily got me out past a mile for practice with my 300win mag.
This fall in Idaho I had a rifle tag in my pocket for elk. Since we were hunting a big burned area, I knew I would have a good chance to test the scope where it really counts. We arrived a few days before season and quickly set camp up so we could get some glassing in before dark. The next few days were spent hiking and glassing without much luck. With only one herd bull spotted before the opener, we definitely had our work cut out for us.
As the sun was coming up over the eastern horizon on the third day of the season, my brother and I were just cresting a ridge to look in to a small basin about four miles from camp. We dropped our packs and sat down to glass. Branden glassed to the left and I set up looking to the right. Almost immediately Branden spotted a few cows feeding just over 500 yards away. I quickly got my rifle set up while Branden looked for the bull. We spotted him but he and his cows kept moving and I was struggling to get the shot I needed. As the herd continued to feed through a bunch of huge boulders and burned timber, we realized I wasn't going to get a clear shot from our position. We made the call to move and ran about 900 yards around the rim of the basin to get a better angle. We worked our way down a steep spine and spotted the bull about 330 yards out. I quickly dropped my rifle down on the bipod and dialed the Bushnell ERS for the shot.
Branden kept updating me on the range as the bull fed and soon I had a clear shot with the bull standing broadside. I steadied myself, calmed my breathing from our run, and squeezed the trigger. At the shot I felt the recoil and watched through the scope as the bull dropped in his tracks. High fives and hollering ensued as we congratulated each other on a successful hunt.
Due to it's weight the Bushnell ELITE TACTICAL ERS 3.5-21x50mm is not a scope I would normally carry in the backcountry, but it did perform flawlessly and I have full confidence in it. For a tactical or competition rifle where weight isn't as big a concern I feel it's definitely worth a look.
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