I was needing to add another scope to the tool box. I only use Mil reticle, Mil turrets, and first focal plane. I used to be opposed to reticles that had Horus type windage and elevation hold points, but thought I would at least try the Bushnell ERS, and give it an honest run. Using Bushnell’s online photo was evidence enough to lead me to believe that the reticle was not too “busy” as some reticles can become. I practice, hunt, and compete with almost every scope I keep in the tool box. I received the rifle scope in late March, with intentions of using it on my 6.5 Creedmoor. I didn’t perform any laboratory, scientific experiments with the scope. That has already been done. I simply put the scope to work asking it to do what I need it to do.
Upon removing the scope from the box my first impressions were that it is short (13.2”), solid, and quite heavy (35 oz.) I immediately loved the locking windage and elevation turrets, more on that later. The feel of the turrets is positive, audible, and had no feeling of slack. The parallax knob being in the usual location, on the left side of the tube, left a bit to be desired in that it did not focus down to less than a labeled 75 yards, but does have labels to 2000 yards, then infinity.
Mounting and Bore Sighting
I have a fairly simple procedure when mounting a rifle scope. Mount the 20 MOA picatinny rail with low strength Locktite. Place the rings as far apart in the rail as the scope objective location will allow, affix a rail mounted anti-cant level to the picatinny rail, and place the scope in the lower rings. I then turn up the scope’s magnification to maximum, get behind the rifle, prone, with my eyes closed. I open my firing eye and see what I see. I did not have eye relief correct on the first attempt after having placed the Bushnell ERS in the usual location of all my other scopes. The good news is that the scope needed to move forward in the rings, not back. In the case of this compact scope I had to move the rear ring forward one notch on the picatinny rail to achieve proper eye relief. Level the anti-cant level, rotate the scope until the reticle is parallel with a known level object. In my case is an oversized plumbob using a 20 pound weight, and ½” rope 50 yards down range. I placed the ring caps on and torqued to specification.
Bore sighting is really just as simple. Pull the bolt out, look down the bore at a 2/3 IPSC 200 yards down range, turn the turrets until the scope is “seeing” what I see looking down the barrel. The first shot at 100 yard paper was .7 Mil low, and .4 Mil right. I made the appropriate corrections to the turrets, and fired a second shot. Shot number two landed within .05 Mil of where it was supposed to, and that is as good as it can get.
Glass clarity and Tracking
These two topics are probably of equal importance to me, when pertaining to a scope designed for precise/ long range shooting. The first time I had the scope mounted on the rifle and had it on the range I immediately noticed the glass was incredibly clear. About two months into my testing of this scope I ran out of the powder lot I had been using, and had to switch over to a new lot. Always chasing perfection meant the rule is that I have to retest my old, known, powder charge against slight adjustments made to the load. I built four test loads to be fired at 300 yards, for 5 shot groups. I affixed white paper to the target board, and made a cross for an aiming point out of 2” duct tape. Knowing that each load would shoot well, but some would prove to be the clear winner I intentionally dialed less correction than necessary for a 300 yard shot, so that I could place the groups on the paper one group not overlapping the other. I dialed in .6 Mil elevation instead of the usual 1.0 Mil, intentionally making the group impact below my point of aim. Shot one made me smile. I could clearly see a .264 cal (6.5mm) bullet hole in white paper at 300 yards. I shot the following four shots and was able to plot where each shot landed as it was fired. The next test load I dialed up to .8 Mil elevation and repeated the shooting. I was able to shoot all four test loads, five shots each, for a total of twenty rounds and never had to go down range to check results or label the target with the corresponding powder charge.
I have used the scope as a spotting scope for student shooters on seven occasions, and immediately noticed that I was seeing bullet trace more often than I usually do, overcast and sunny, alike. Once the outside temperatures begin reaching the nineties in north Texas the mirage begins making lesser scopes fall short in clarity. This scope has provided excellent clarity in all types of lighting, and will work at maximum magnification in the thickest mirage. Scopes with lesser quality glass require the shooter to reduce magnification to regain clarity. I shot with the scope out to 1400 yards and was always able to use 21X if needed. A friend has a Vortex Razor Gen II, and in a quick clarity comparison at 700 yards I found the Bushnell ERS to be more clear. Every set of eyes are different, but that was my assessment.
The old, tried and true tracking test is simple, and reliable. A piece of paper at 100 yards, with an aiming point on the lower portion of the paper. The scope tracked very well, but did have some error. The scope tracked perfectly at 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 5.0, 6.0, 8.0, and 10 Mils. The error when dialing to 4.0 Mil was 4.1, and 9.0 Mils impacted 9.1. That is actually outstanding in my book. I can certainly manage that tiny amount of error.
The short version is; the reticle is very nice, very useful, and it is not too busy. The most important feature in a reticle is on the windage line, in my opinion. If I have the extra couple of seconds, I will dial elevation and hold wind. The windage marks are in the usual, user friendly .5 Mil increments, with whole Mils being a taller line. The reticle is consistent from center to 8.0 Mils. Beyond 8.0 Mils, of windage, the reticle is broken into .1 Mil increments. The right side of the reticle has the 2.0, 4.0, 6.0, and 8.0 Mils labeled. I don’t know why Bushnell chose not to label the left side the same way. With a heavy cross wind, the labeling is handy, and it would be improved if it were labeled on both sides of center. The .1 Mil windage lines on the edges of the reticle are a great idea. They are very useful for zeroing on 100 yard paper, as well as the occasion to measure an object and/ or range with the reticle. My only suggestion to Bushnell for this feature is to change the size of the lines on the even numbers (.2 Mil, .4 Mil, .6 Mil, .8 Mil). The eye can get lost as to if it is looking at .4 or .5 Mil, or .6 or .7 Mil, ect.
Elevation corrections centered on the reticle are also in the usual .5 Mil increments, with whole Mils being a wider line. The G2 design comes in when holding elevation, and wind simultaneously. Holding elevation and windage simultaneously is the most difficult way to shoot precise, but sometimes the fastest when engaging multiple targets at multiple distances. At 4.0 Mils and beyond, vertical lines are added on the elevation designations in .5 Mil increments. The more experience a shooter has behind a Mil reticle the better they become at imagining .1 corrections even though they are not labeled as such. The .1 Mil fine adjustments are equally forgiving on elevation and windage, even while performing both simultaneously.
I wanted to find out how well the reticle worked for this scenario. My range is 100 to 800 yards, in 100 yard increments. It holds 2 MOA and 1 MOA steel targets from 200 to 800 yards. With the G2 reticle I was able to leave the elevation and windage zeroed on the turrets, and just use pure holds. I was able to first round hit the 2 MOA targets from 200 to 800 yards in sixty seconds with a five mile per hour cross wind. Routinely through the approximate four months I have had the scope for testing I have been able to impact the 1 MOA targets on my range in various cross winds, and various degrees of mirage. The reticle is thinner from center to .5 Mil in all directions, providing a very fine aiming point within center, excellent for zeroing. Great reticle!
George Gardner (GA Precision rifles) and I crossed paths on day two of the Heat Stroke Open 2015 P.R.S. match. I had just finished a stage when he arrived to shoot it. We discussed the stage and I assisted him in finding his targets before his turn. I said “George, you designed that reticle, didn’t you?” He said “yes I did.” I told him I really liked it and that is gave me a slightly better tool to use for this competition. He was glad to hear it, and was using the same scope throughout the match. In fact I noticed several of these scopes being used by competitors in the match.
The absolute best thing to ever happen to a tactical rifle scope is a locking windage knob!!! I can’t stress how important that is to me. More times than I can remember I have inadvertently dialed in left or right windage when I didn’t mean to. Well, the Bushnell ERS will lock windage and elevation. To unlock the turrets simply pull them away from the scope tube, up for the elevation knob, and right for the windage knob. Once you have dialed what you want, press the knob back toward the body of the scope and that is where it will stay until you want to adjust again. I will not say that I never dial wind. I will dial wind if I am less than steady, such as shooting positional in a rifle match or hunting. The weekend of The Heat Stroke Open was quite the test for the Bushnell ERS. I dialed elevation hundreds of times in three days. And I dialed windage left, and right at least fifty times. Any misses I had at the match were of no fault of the rifle scope, they were my own fault, an incorrect wind call or rushing a positional shot. Through the match the scope had been dialed, exposed to fine NW Oklahoma sand, banged on barricades, and not treated very nicely. Two days after the match I was back on my home range with the same rifle/ load/ and Bushnell ERS. I, of course, decided to check my 100 yard zero. One shot, perfect zero! Ok, lets see how well it is still tracking. I dialed elevation for 400 (1.8 Mil), 500 (2.6 Mil), 600 (3.5 Mil), 700 (4.6 Mil), and 800 yards (5.6 Mil), first round center hit on every target.
I really appreciate how the caps can be removed from the scope. Recesses are built into each turret that perfectly hold a U.S. nickel. Of course a flat head screw driver or the spine of a pocket knife will work, but the recess is a semi-circle that perfectly holds the nickel. When you have the scope impacting perfectly at 100 yards, simply pull the turrets away from the scope body, place the nickel or flathead screw driver in the slot, loosen the single center screw, lift the turret, rotate it to zero, press the turret down until is engages the internals, and replace the screw. Fast and easy!
10 Mils per rev. Is there any other way to roll? I have one 5 Mil turret left, and much prefer a 10 Mil turret. Unless one will routinely shoot beyond 1000 yards, they will not be on the second revolution very often. I did, however dial and shoot 1350 yards needing 13.2 Mils and the ERS performed perfectly.
Return to zero has been flawless. I have dialed the ERS as far as it would go up travel for 19.0 Mils, and as far as it would go down travel for 9.0 Mils. The particular unit I have has 28.0 Mils of travel available without the feeling of forcing the turret beyond a comfortable level. Bushnell claims 29.0 Mils, and having 1.0 Mil less than advertised does not bother me in the least, considering the wide range of available travel. I may build an extreme range rifle, and have full intentions of shooting 1500 yards, and beyond, using the ERS. I just may need a 30 MOA or 40 MOA picatinny rail to take advantage of the available travel.
Does this scope fill every need for every rifle? No, I believe that is impossible. But I feel as though this scope will be an excellent tool for a very wide variety of rifle tasks. Reliability is just as important to a competitor as it is a big game hunter. No one wants to travel with a rifle and scope only to have a major malfunction, and thus far the Bushnell ERS has proven to be reliable. I don’t know how it would stack up in being dropped down the side of a mountain, since Bushnell did not give me clearance in performing such a test, but as far as day to day heavy use it has proven to be robust and tough, all while giving an excellent sight picture, a very useful reticle, and very functional turrets.
By Jason Garvey