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Reviews : Police Product Test

Police Product Test: Bushnell DMR 3.5-21x50, SMRS 1-6.5x24 Optics

These scopes offer clarity, precision, and adjustment repeatability out of the box.

October 04, 2012  |  by A.J. George - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Bushnell.
Photo courtesy of Bushnell.

Bushnell is one of the most diverse optics manufacturers and offers everything from trail cameras to telescopes. The company is widely known in the firearms world for its riflescopes and recently added a few new models to its Elite Tactical line. These are Bushnell's top-tier optics and not something you might find on grandpa's deer rifle. They're built to take on the toughest conditions law enforcement operators will encounter and contain the latest in optical technology.

Bushnell sent me two of its latest and greatest: the DMR 3.5-21x50 with the G2DMR reticle and the SMRS 1-6.5x24 with the BTR-1 reticle. I know that's a lot of cryptic numbers so here's the simple version. The first one is a long-range monster and the second will likely handle everything else. We'll take a look at the DMR first.

My first impressions of the DMR 3.5x21x50 were pleasantly surprising. I have a lot of experience with high-end tactical optics but admittedly never thought of Bushnell as one of them. I was dead wrong. Out of the box this scope was a beauty. I could tell right away this was a professional-grade scope and built to last.

The waterproof body was solid and the finish was a clean matte-black powdercoat from end to end. The turrets were large and well marked, and the eye focus, parallax, and power ring were all easy to operate, even with gloves. All adjustments moved with a solid and precise feel with no play whatsoever. The windage and elevation turrets even incorporate a locking technology; pull them out to make your adjustments and push them back down to lock it in. This is a nice feature, especially in hasty urban deployment where movement is common and turrets often get bumped and accidentally moved. Also in the box with the scope came a set of dust covers and a three-inch sunshade to combat the elements.

Where the DMR really shines though is in the clarity of the optics and the range of its abilities. When talking about riflescopes, precision shooters usually ask about two things: the clarity of the glass and the precision and repeatability of the adjustments. If you can't see through it or can't depend on the adjustments being true it isn’t worth a dime. The DMR gets high marks for both.

The optics are as clear as any I've used, including some much more expensive, and the 50mm objective provides an excellent field of view. The turret adjustments were spot on as well; shooting groups at 100 yards I ran each turret 100 clicks (two full rotations) in either direction and back to zero several times and saw no difference in my point of impact. Both windage and elevation are measured with 0.1 Mils per click, 5 Mils per rotation, and six full rotations across the full range.

The etched G2DMR reticle is clean and precise without being too busy. After all, this is a tactical scope designed for law enforcement and military operations. It uses clean Milliradian increments and allows for both target ranging and holdover out to several hundred yards, depending on the weapon system and caliber, without adjusting the turrets. This makes for quick target engagement and follow-up shots. Add in the 21-power magnification and even extreme distance targets are easily identifiable. The first focal plane magnification means the reticle magnifies right along with the target, eliminating the need to make an additional ballistic calculation based on the power setting. In short, once you zero your scope and get familiar with the reticle, most shots can be made quickly and easily by simply using holdover and without adjusting the scope itself.

SMRS 1-6x24

In the past few years I have seen an increased interest in scopes of this design; medium range precision with the capability of being a CQB optic if the need should arise. I believe this stems from two distinctly different sources; military and LE operations and the increasingly popular world of competitive sport shooting.

The days of single purpose weapon systems are fading and the need and desire for something to bridge the gap is arising. Why carry a CQB rifle and a sniper rifle if you can carry one gun that does both? We are coming to the realization that the likelihood of a 100- to 400-yard shot is much higher than one exceeding 900 yards. In addition, the possibility that the operator will have to serve on an entry team shortly thereafter is distinct. Anyone ever tried to clear a house with a 24-inch bolt-action sniper rifle? It doesn’t work well. So the answer, although in many forms, generally resembles a midsize platform with midrange optics. That is precisely what the SMRS is designed to do.

The SMRS is compact and lightweight but solid. Like its DMR big brother this scope is also a work of art. It's also fog proof, waterproof, and matte-black powder coated with clean markings and easy to use adjustments. Bushnell throws in a pair of dust covers with this one, too.

The reticle in the BTR-1 is clean with an illuminated semi-circle over a small and simple ranging tree that is broken down into 4 increments: 4.5 MOA, 8 MOA, 12 MOA, and 16.75 MOA. Bushnell claims this is optimized for most 5.56mm weapon systems. While not the most detailed reticle it is functional and should serve as more than enough for most CQB and mid-range engagements. If you have a need for a finer reticle breakdown, the BTR-2 reticle is available. The glass is crystal clear and the field of view provided by the 24mm objective is more than ample.

The scope is illuminated with 11 different levels, including two that accommodate the use of night vision devices and all are controlled by an easy-to-operate turret on the left side of the body. In between each of the intensity settings there is a "dead" click that allows the user to power down completely without having to spin the dial completely back to zero. When illumination is needed, simply toggle one click back to the adjacent power setting.

The magnification on this optic covers a range between true 1-power all the way up to 6.5-power. This differs from many other scopes in two ways. First, the true 1-power means there is no magnification whatsoever. The view through the optic is the same as without. This is important for some shooters, especially in a CQB environment, as even a small amount of magnification can impede quick target acquisition. At the other end of the spectrum the SMRS tops out at 6.5-power. Considering the standard for this type and size of scope has traditionally been in the 4-power range this is an improvement, as magnification above that is generally reserved for larger and/or much more expensive optics.

Both of these new offerings from Bushnell come with the company's bulletproof lifetime guarantee. No need to register or keep the paperwork; if it fails at any time due to manufacturing defects (sorry, dropping it off a cliff doesn't count), Bushnell will repair or replace it, no questions asked. If you're in the market for a high quality riflescope and want the most bang for your buck, take a good look at the Elite Tactical line from Bushnell. You'll likely be as impressed as I was.

A.J. George is a motor officer and firearms instructor for the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Police Department.

Bushnell DMR 3.5-21x50 Specs: 

Power: 3.5-21x

Objective Lens: 50mm

Overall Length: 13.2 inches

Mounting Length: 6 inches

Weight: 32.5 ounces

Finish: Matte

Construction: 34mm forged aluminum alloy one-piece tube

Reticle: G2DMR, .1 Mil

Eye Relief: 3.75 inches

Click Value: .34 inches at 100 yards

MSRP: $2,119

Bushnell SMRS 1-6.5x24 Optics Specs:

Power: 1-6.5x

Objective Lens: 24mm

Overall Length: 10.6 inches

Mounting Length: 6 inches

Weight: 18.5 ounces

Finish: Matte

Construction: 30mm forged aluminum alloy one-piece tube

Reticle: Illuminated BTR-1

Eye Relief: 3.75 inches

Click Value: .34 inches at 100 yards

MSRP: $2,119

Tags: Bushnell, Optics, Rifle Optics

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

kujo @ 10/4/2012 5:03 PM

The DMR is a great scope. Been using one with the H58 Horus for a about year on my sniper rifle. Recently took first place at the Advanced FBI sniper school using it against guys using some real high end rifles and optics.

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