A good long-range rifle is a wonderful tool, but its capabilities are only as good as the scope that sits on top of it. This fall, my shooting partner and I had the chance to test the Savage model 10 BA Stealth chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. Bushnell loaned us its Elite Tactical LRS 6-24x 50mm scope, so we could see what we were shooting at—and actually make hits.
Construction and Specifications
The scope is a looker, in matte black aluminum with rugged-looking turrets and dials. It’s 13.5 inches long, with a 30mm tube. On the objective end, there’s a two-inch sun shade, included in the overall length. Lenses are fully coated, and there’s a parallax adjustment on the left side. Windage and elevation adjustment is at 0.1 mils per click, with a 24-mil overall range.
This 1-pound 11-ounce scope adds solid feel to the skeletonized frame of the 10 BA Stealth. We secured it with a set of high Weaver Tactical rings.
Field of view is made for the long range, so finding targets at 100 yards can be a bit laborious, even with magnification cranked down. At 6x, there’s a 17.5-yard field of view. At 24x, it’s 4.5 yards. Later, this would be mightily impressive as I was able to see splatter marks on steel at 750 yards. When long-distance target identification is a must, this scope can do the job.
Choices and adjustments are ultra-modern. The reticle is mil-based, as are the adjustment knobs, eliminating the need to adjust thinking or app inputs between MOA and mils. Bushnell offers this scope with four different reticles. The test scope reticle is a G2, “Christmas tree,” so called because it was invented by George Gardner and due to the pine-tree appearance of the holdover/windage lines below the center axis. The G2 uses principles of the Horus reticle, which allows a shooter to do range estimations through the scope out to distances much longer than the 1,400 yard effective range of 6.5 Creedmoor. However, the G2 is greatly simplified, and easier on the eyes than a Horus reticle. Though we only shot at known distances in this test, I suspect range estimation with the G2 is also easier on the brain—perhaps I should disclose here that math was never my strong suit.
Other reticles offered are simple mil-dot crosshairs, with oval dots at prescribed mil locations on the X and Y axis. The crosshairs are available illuminated or not. Finally, there’s an illuminated BTR-Mil pattern.
As if that weren’t enough to choose from, reticles are available on the first or second focal plane.
For those who don’t know, first focal plane reticles are rising in popularity along with long-range shooting. On the first focal plane, the appearance of the reticle shrinks in size when the scope is on lower magnification,. However, the shooter sees more of it—think of standing in front of a building and being able to see more of it as you back away. First focal plane reticles offer the advantage of the hash mark increments meaning the same thing in terms of measurement, regardless of magnification. The downside of first focal plane reticle location is that the reticle lines can become so big as to obliterate the view of the target under high magnification with smaller targets.
Second focal plane reticles are constant in appearance regardless of magnification. Most traditional hunting scopes are of this type. Second focal plane reticles eliminate the problem of losing sight of the target or reticle at the extreme ends of magnification or no magnification. They do require the shooter to be able to adjust both zero and holdovers accordingly when using a magnification other than what was used while setting the scope’s true zero. Bushnell agreed to send a first focal plane reticle for testing.
I and others who got behind the 10 BA Stealth/Bushnell LRS setup were impressed by the clarity of the view downrange. Though we fired more than 100 rounds during a 60-day test, at no time did we feel the need to mess with the parallax adjustment. The quality of view through this scope is outstanding at any distance.
Establishing the 100-yard zero at full magnification was a bit more daunting than expected, and demonstrated the “Elite” part of this scope’s name. Even when I put a jacket on and moved to shooting on my left side (either is comfortable for me), my heartbeat would send a ripple into the view.
Firing on our local range’s steel targets out to 545 meters, based on SWAG elevation adjustments, went pretty well the first day of testing, despite some initial wind-induced frustrations. Using the first focal plane reticle turned out to be the ultimate cheater’s tool. There was no need to spend time doping or searching an app for holds at, say, 12x versus 20x. What a luxury.
Soon we were off to a longer range. We traveled, 2,000 feet higher than our home base of 3,100 feet. Weather on this first long-range test day was of minimal interference, with an occasional 7-10 mile per hour quartering breeze and temps in the 60s.
In addition to testing the rifle and scope, this was a time to work with ballistic apps. By the end of 30 days, we had data coming out our ears. A friend’s Shooter’s iOS app and the Hornady online app became the data sets we relied on. Trasol, the Trajectory Solutions iOS app, while promising, offered a deluge of input options that are, frankly, a little intimidating. Strelok offers the advantage of showing us visual learners . However, Strelok doesn’t seem to have the 6-24x rendition of the G2 reticle, so I shied away.
With Shooter and Hornady data at hand, we began pushing for longer distances. The range session went almost too quickly, with this rifle/scope combo performing extremely well. After just a few adjustments, we were hitting a 10-inch steel plate at 750, and then 900 yards. And then the big challenge, the eight-inch plate at 1,000 yards. Tinggggg! It only took two small adjustments, and the scope and rifle made this job look easy.
Moving from one target to the next, viewing an open expanse of desert valley below the shooting platform at Hope, New Mexico’s Felix Canyon Ranch, was an easy job for the Bushnell. It was in its element and got a workout at longer distances. It was comfortable to stay behind the glass while adjusting magnification as we advanced from one target to another, zooming in again once on target.
The ammunition on this particular test deserves mention. It was American Eagle’s relatively new 140-grain open tip match load. It later proved to be one of the Stealth’s favorite flavors as we moved on to test other loads.
That was a satisfying day. We repeated the exercise a month later, with different ammunition and in very different weather. A High of 40F temperature and 20+ mph gusts were the norm that morning. Fog hung on horizon, and the air was misty. Consistency was not to be found this time. We faulted the gusting winds. But, upon arrival home, it was discovered that the sling stud to which the bipod was attached had loosened somewhat, possibly affecting accuracy. Live and learn!
Now it was time for a field test, and what a test it proved to be. My review partner packed the bulky setup out into the high desert and found a small group of mule deer that included a mature buck. He stalked the herd for an hour before choosing a high-angle position from across an arroyo where the deer had stopped to graze. He set up the rifle and bipod on rocky ground, and turned away to retrieve the rangefinder from his bag. Clink! From behind came the sickening sound of the scope’s bell housing hitting a rock. He turned to see the rifle lying on its side, the wind having knocked it off the round rocks on which it had been resting. Not a good feeling, especially when using loaned equipment. A look through the lens confirmed, no broken glass. Phew! A shiny section on the front rim, where it had once been black, bore evidence of this misadventure.
There was no time to re-check zero. The buck was standing at 327 yards, according to the rangefinder. My partner dialed in 300 yards from the Hornady ballistic chart, and settled in to make the shot. A single 140-grain Federal Premium Fusion bullet dropped the deer as it penetrated high through both lungs, making a clean exit through a scapula. The shot landed exactly as aimed. Curious as to whether it was luck or a testament to the toughness of the scope, zero was re-checked the next day. It was still there, with both ammunition types.
Except in the dimmest of daylight conditions, we find no reason to yearn for magnification on this reticle. The powerful magnification and clarity of view met or exceeded all expectations. Mounting on a 20 MOA monolithic base would make better use of this scope’s 24-mil adjustment range and eliminate most need to use holdovers at extreme distances. However, we’re not sorry we had to use holdovers beyond 750 yards, having reached the limits of the turret adjustments. It helped us discover that the reticle markings are quite useful and help eliminate guessing at longer ranges—and that is part of humane hunting.
My only real criticism of the scope is that the turrets don’t lock down; therefore they’re liable to unintentional adjustments as the gun is moved around. Hash marks and numbering on the turrets are white and quite visible, so users should always double check to ensure the turrets are still where they intend before settling in to shoot.
Depending on features, these scopes start at around $949 retail. As equipped with the G2 first focal plane reticle, this one is closer to $1,200 in real world price. Add mounting hardware to that. It’s a fantastic deal, I think, for the durability and quality in comparison to similar performers at more than twice this price. The only real difference I can perceive between this one and a NightForce scope I tested was the locking turrets on the NightForce—certainly not $1,000 of extra value. The Bushnell has all-mil, all the time adjustments; to me a that’s real asset in time and trouble saved.
The Bushnell Tactical Elite LRS 6-24x 50mm scope delivers consistent long-range performance with a crystal clear picture and modern features. It’s got good looks too, and is priced at half of some other brands with similar track records. For the long-range bench shooter or big-game hunter, it’s an excellent value.
Do you have a long-range gun? What model is it and which optic do you have on top? Share your answers in the comment section.
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