April 12, 2019
By Alfredo Rico
Bushnell is known for building quality, affordable hunting and tactical scopes. But in 2012, Bushnell made a name for itself in precision-rifle shooting with the popularity of their Elite Tactical 3.5-21x50mm scope.
The Elite Tactical filled a niche that was missing in competitive long-distance shooting – a mid-priced, first-focal-plane (FFP), high-powered scope with premium features.
Then in 2014, Bushnell released the higher magnification XRS 4-30x50mm scope. These scopes have sat atop many top competitive shooters’ rifles, and they are the preferred scopes of Team GAP (G.A. Precision).
In 2018, Bushnell released second generation designs, the DMRII and XRSII. Although the DMRII was the first on the scene, the XRSII has become the flagship product. The XRSII is also the most expensive Bushnell offering, sitting at a base price of $2,400, compared to the DMRII’s $1,600 price tag.
Side-by-side, it’s obvious the scopes share the same lineage. They each have a long ocular housing, a short objective bell, a stout 34mm main tube, a nonlocking elevation turret, a locking windage turret and a fast-focus eye piece. One revolution of the turrets will give you 10 mils of adjustment and a removable throw lever comes pre-installed. The DMRII offers a total of 34 mils of adjustment, while the XRSII offers 33 mils. The XRSII is slightly longer by 1¼ inches, weighs 4 ounces more and has a locking ring for the eye piece.
Other features that the DMRII and XRSII share, but aren’t apparent, are Bushnell’s EXO barrier protection which repels water, oil, dust and prevents scratches. It rates IPX7 waterproof construction, and it features a RevLimiter zero stop. The XRSII includes argon-purged fog-proofing and extra-low dispersion (ED) glass.
In the field, there is very little observable difference between the two on the low end of the magnification, except the feel of the clicks as you rotate the turrets. The XRSII has shallower and softer clicks than the DRMII, but either are easy to use. What really matters, however, is how they track.
I tested tracking by shooting a three-shot group at 100 yards, dialing up 12 mils, shooting another three-shot group and measuring the distance between the two groups. I chose 12 mils because this is where my 6.5 Creedmoor load enters the transonic stage. The DMRII and XRSII groups tracked identical and were within 1 percent of the 12 mil’s true measurement of 43.2 inches. These are impressive results, especially considering that I conducted this test after using the XRSII for seven months.
Top Quality Everything
Bushnell has obviously nailed their lens coatings. In low-light conditions or cloudy days, I was hard-pressed to notice a difference in clarity between the two scopes. When comparing the brightness of the image in the scope to the environment, they were too similar to conclusively say one is brighter than the other.
The differences in image quality between the scopes begin to show in strong daylight, and it’s apparent as you increase the magnification. The XRSII has a higher contrast and better depth of field of the two. Also, it exhibits far less chromatic aberration due to its ED glass. ED glass is designed to greatly reduce the rainbow-like halo that appears along the edge of two contrasting objects.
The improved image quality is most noticeable when viewing a complex background like a densely wooded area with branches and leaves. The XRSII distinguished the tightly grouped branches and leaves from one another and makes it easier to determine which ones were nearer or farther. The DMRII image appears less distinct and flatter, making the brain work harder to resolve the scene. The benefit to the XRSII is that when you look through the scope, you’ll resolve a scene faster and get on target quicker. The enhanced resolution also helps distinguish targets from the backgrounds when they are similar in tone or color.
Bushnell offers three reticle choices, all of which are well-suited for precision-rifle competitions. The G3 reticle is the simplest of the three and was designed by competitive shooter and owner of G.A. Precision, George Gardner. It’s a tree-style reticle with mil hold-overs and hashmarks on the horizontal stadia for moving targets. It includes .1-mil-spaced marks on the ends of the stadia for fine measurements. The other reticle choices are the Horus 59 and Tremor3, which are grid-style reticles optimized for precise hold overs and shooting moving targets. The Tremor 3 is only available on the XRSII.
Another great feature both scopes share is the RevLimiter zero stop. This is the simplest zero stop system I’ve used. Once I zeroed the rifle at 100 yards, all I had to do to set the RevLimiter was remove the elevation turret cap, unscrew the three Allen screws on the locking ring, drop the ring to the base and turn it clockwise until it stops. Boom, the zero stop is set. Retighten the locking ring screws, secure the turret, and you’re ready to go. By the way, you won’t have to worry about losing the Allen screws because they are captured by the RevLimiter.
From the beginning, Bushnell’s long-distance precision scopes have proven themselves in the competitive shooting arena. If you’re on a budget, the DMRII is a great choice. The glass is excellent, the reticle choices are primed for precision rifle and it tracks superbly.
The XRSII is designed for extreme long range, and its glass is a noticeable step up. The XRSII served as my workhorse through several shooting classes, competitions and many reloading tests. It still responds and tracks like new.
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