Dark Lord of Optics
Location: United States
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x42 with MilDot reticle
Quite some time ago another forum member sent me his personal 2.5-16x42 Eltie 6500 scope to look at, for which I am very grateful.
Shamefully, I did not write up my impression immediately, and later on I, quite simply, forgot to do that as well. While writing up some other reviews I was going over my notes and, naturally, stumbled onto my Elite 6500 impressions.
The model I spent some time with was the 2.5-16x42 with Mil-Dot reticle.
As is my custom, I will first give you a short version of my impressions and then elaborate on them a little.
In a nutshell:
This is an excellent design. It retains the optical quality of Elite 4200 scopes and adds a healthy dose of user-friendliness to it to make one of the most versatile useable scopes on the market.
The long version:
This Elite 6500 was a part of a group of scopes I compared a few months ago that included (in no particular order) IOR 3-18x42, IOR 6x42, Vortex Viper 4-12x40, Bushnell Elite 4200 6-24x40, previous gen Sightron S3 6-24x50.
Here is an image I used in an earlier review of the Vortex Viper. Elite 6500 is in it, third from the right:
Elite 6500 scopes, just like the rest of the Bushnell Elite family, are made by LOW (Light Optics Works) in Japan. The advertising buzz for these scopes centered largely around their 6.5x erector ratios rather than more common 3x and 4x erectors. When these scopes first appeared, I was somewhat underwhelmed with the idea of a 6.5x erector as something that I am willing to pay extra money for. Now that I spent some time with the product, I can kinda see how that adds to the scope's versatility, especially considering that the scopes themselves are fairly compact. For example, the 2.5-16x42 is about the same size as a typical 2.5-10x42 scope with a 30mm tube (and the 4.5-30x50 version is not much bigger either), but you get a fair bit more magnification at the top end. Is that extra magnification really needed? for the most part the answer is probably "no", but it does not hurt either. If you want to use the same scope for everything from hunting big game to varmint shooting to target shooting, the Elite 6500 is one of few scopes with the versatility to let you pull it off in reasonable comfort. Still, if it was just the magnification ratio, I would not be inclined to shell out the extra cash (and definitely would not recommend that to others). In the case of this scope, it is not just he magnification ratio. A host of other attributes of the scope were improved:
-greater internal adjustment range (80MOA)
-longer eye relief (right around 4 inches)
-much more flexible eye relief
-finger resettable pop-up knobs
From usability perspective, eye relief is the first thing to stand out. This scope has a lot of eyerelief and target acquisition is very fast. Peering through the scope the image looks huge: there is no trace of tunnel vision in any way, shape or form. The reticle in the scope I played with was MilDot and it was sized to be pretty bold, so that it turned out to be very usable in low light.
Optically, image quality is similar to that of Elite 4200, so there is nothing especially earth-shattering there. In bright light, the image looks just a little harsh (same goes for Elite 4200), but not objectionably so. The view through the IOR was quite a bit more relaxed, but you pay for that. With Elite 6500, similar to high magnification Elite 4200 scopes, there is a little bit of a white-out effect at higher magnification in bright light which decreases image contrast a bit. It does not hinder aiming in any way though. In low light, I did not find anything particularly objectionable as far as ghost image formation and flare go. Resolution dropped a little bit as you move from the center to the edges, but not very severely.
All knobs and dials have good feel. Magnification ring was quite smooth. The knobs survived the box test with flying colors and turned out to be both predictable and repeatable. Side focus did not exhibit any hysteresis. All in all, mechanically, the scope was not memorable at all: everything worked as advertised and I had a hard time finding something to whine about. Just about the only thing that I can note here is that the mounting length is a bit shorter than that of Elite 4200 scopes. However, with 5" of the tube available for ring placement, it should work fine on most actions.
Depth of field was a bit shallower than on the much longer 6-24x40 Elite 4200, but not too bad ether. Despite the generous increase in eye relief, field of view is about the same as that in Elite 4200 scopes of similar magnification. Equally importantly, due to near utter absence of the black ring around the image, the field of view feels very expansive when looking through the scope.
The knobs, while easy to adjust are not target knobs. They can be used for dialing in elevation and the feel is not bad. However, these are still fairly low profile knobs. If you need to dial in your adjustments a lot, consider the version of the scope with taller target knobs (out in 2009).
As you can tell, I am rather impressed with the overall package of Elite 6500. Extended magnification range is still not something I am particularly interested in. However, combined with other improvements definitely makes Elite 6500 a worthy addition to the well-respected Elite 4200 scopes.
Reliability, as always for a new design, is TBD. After these scopes have been out in the field for a bit, we'll know more on how they hold up.
As far as usage goes, I can definitely see these scopes used on walking varminters as well as big game rifles. Perhaps, some long-range hunters will also find them useful, especially the version with target knobs. For target shooting, 16x top end is plenty for most uses. Truthfully, where I live I seldom encounter atmospheric conditions where going above 16x helps at all.
Edited by koshkin - May/02/2012 at 11:35
Those who are merciful to the cruel, are cruel to the merciful. Talmud