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Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 6) | Optics: Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50mm, Seekins Precision, Accuracy 1st

Bushnell G2DMR Reticle

Bushnell G2DMR Reticle

Well this is the last piece of the puzzle of a rifle I’ve been assembling since the start of this series. In this installment we will go over my selections regarding Optics; that includes the scope, rings, caps, and a bubble level. I left out the base, as I used the 20 MOA base included with the Stiler Tac-30 A/W action I used as the basis of the build

We’ll dive into these details in just second, but if you haven’t been following the series you can find the first installment here, and the links to every part are at the end of this post, so be sure to check them all out.

OPTICS SELECTION

Optics play an extremely important role in your system, and they need to perform in all situations as well as any piece of your system. The performance standards I was looking for in this rifle, were selected to fill it’s intended role. The same applies to optics. To start my process, I sat down and decided what I wanted out of this scope in each technical and performance metric, and the following short list is what I came up with:

  • Quality glass that would allow high-resolution out to 1000 yards
  • Mil Reticle with Mil Turrets
  • First Focal Plane Reticle
  • A lifetime warranty yet a reputation of not needing to use it
  • Reticle with ranging abilities to the 1/10th mil, and fast target acquisition
  • Ability to dope wind/elevation in the reticle preferred but not required
  • Magnification on the high-end of 16x and on the low-end 4x or lower
  • Zero-Stop preferred not required
  • ‘High Speed’ 10 mil knobs preferred not required
  • Weight is not an issue
  • Illumination not needed

With that demanding shopping list I went out and started to see what might fit the role within my price range ($1000-$2000). Like I do for about everything, I created an excel sheet to compare the specs of the various options I had; that excel file is below, with the “Price” column removed as this will change over time and MSRPs aren’t always representative of street price anyway.

Excel Comparison File —->  Optics

After looking over the specs and reading various reviews, mostly on forums like Sniper’s Hide, I had it narrowed down to the few below in, no particular order. I’ve outlined a  few comments about each that were pivotal in my decision. Each scope is hot linked to manufacturers website, and the reticle on the first bullet to an image of the reticle. The reticle images are also hot-linked in the excel file.

  • 54_Valdada[1]IOR Valdada Tactical 3.5-18x50mm
    • Not thrilled about the MP-8 reticle
    • Couldn’t find a large number of reviews
    • Zero Stop & 10 mil Turrets
  • vortex-logo[1]Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50
    • Loved the EBR-3 Reticle
    • 5x wasn’t as low as I wanted to go
    • Reports of ‘darkening’ of image over 18x, reducing high-end usefulness
    • Zero Stops & 10 mil Turrets
    • Huge 125 moa of Elevation Adjustment
  • Bushnell-logo[1]Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21×50
    • G2 reticle looked adequate but not exciting but had large competitive following
    • Zero Stop & 10  mil Turrets
    • “Only” 50 moa Elevation Adjustment
    • Lot’s of Great Reviews
  • nightforce%20optics%20logo[1]Nightforce F1 NXS 3.5-15x50mm – MLR 2.0 Reticle
    • MLR 2.0 Reticle was Impressive
    • Lowest magnification on the high-end
    • Very Highly Rated Optical Clarity
    • Most Expensive

That’s a lot to digest!

In the end I selected the Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21×50 with the G2 Reticle. In my price range, I thought it met my criteria the closest. The ERS was a wide zoom range, the bells and whistles of Zero-Stop and 10 mil Turrets, and good reviews on optical clarity as well as a track record on the competitive circuits. I was able to get a literally unbelievable excellent price on this scope from Scott at Liberty Optics. If you are in the market, check him out. AS of this writing, this exact scope is available over $400 cheaper than it is at popular retailers such as MidwayUSA. Scott shipped quick and provided excellent customer service, it is clear to me that happy customers is the goal of everyone at Liberty Optics.

Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50mm

Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50mm

Bushnell backs their Elite Tactical line of optics with a lifetime warranty as well as their “Bullet Proof Money Back Guarantee.” The latter of which is basically a 365 day return policy. If for any reason you change your mind about the scope in the first year, regardless of where you purchased it, send it back to Bushnell with the receipt and they’ll give you the full refund. Now that is backing up your product, and it let’s you know how confident they are that not many people will take them up on that offer.

The Bushnell ERS features 1/10 mil click adjustments on windage and elevation, and the knobs have 10 mils of adjustment per revolution. The knobs pull out to adjust and push in to lock in place to avoid accidental changes. My first impression pulling the knobs out was that they pulled out pretty far, making the scope even larger than it already is. I would’ve preferred a shorter more tactile ‘pull’ distance to the current longer, sliding feel without a ‘snap’ in place feeling. The knobs did provide great click and feel when adjusting, and the marking on the scope/knobs lined up perfectly to let you know where you are.

Knobs: Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50

Knobs: Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21×50

The Z-Lok Zero Stop feature on the elevation knob allows you to set a hard stop at your 100-yard zero, so that after shooting at longer ranges, you can simply turn the knob back until it stops, and know you are at your 100 yard starting point for dialing in elevation. This feature combined with the 10 mil knobs makes it harder to get ‘lost’ in your elevation adjustment, or forget what turn you are on. At a minimum it allows you to get back to your starting point and reset quickly.

I’ll save further feedback for a detailed review after I’ve spent some time with it in the field and at the range. My first impressions on the glass, reticle and adjustments is very positive.

Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50

Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21×50

RINGS

Scope rings are a pretty boring piece of your kit, but integral nonetheless. To me on this build it was a place not to get creative, and instead find a product with a reputation for being bullet proof and getting the job done. Enter Seekins Precision. Seekins has been in the game for a while and manufactures quality gear from quality materials. The cross bars are designed to meet 1913 picatinny rail specs with minimal clearance. They have slim lines, and no giant 1/2″ nut for rail mounting to eliminate snags and the like. In their words:

SP rings are built like a tank to withstand a lifetimes worth of punishment and designed to never allow your scope to move. At .8″ wide (4 screw version) and 1″ wide (6 screw version) they have more clamping surface area than any other ring on the market.  Precisely machined pairs are serialized, built from Billet 7075t-6 alloy and coated with Type III Class 2 Hardcoat Anodize.

Seekins Precision 4/4 Scope Rings. 34mm Low.

Seekins Precision 4/4 Scope Rings. 34mm Low.

The ‘matched pair’ process lets you know that your set of rings are exactly the same, and will fit the scope body perfectly without torquing from small inconsistencies.

There are lots of great scope rings out there, but it’s hard to beat the reputation of a pair of Seekins, and they back their product up with a lifetime warranty as well.

BUBBLE LEVEL/ANTI CANT DEVICE

Many shooters equip their rifle with a bubble level to know that the axis of the bore and scope are perfectly plumb. Shooting with a rifle at a cant to one side, especially at long-range, can lead to misses. The rifle/scope/gravity alignment needs to remain constant. Misalignment is likely to occur when shooting off a side hill. Often times what your mind tells you is plumb in the mountains, isn’t, so having a bubble level to quickly check, removes that variable.

After looking at products by US Optics, Vortex, Flatline Ops, and others. In the end, Accuracy 1st  Development Group got my business. At $85-$95 they aren’t the least nor the most expensive product, but the product reaches a level of precision not available in competitor’s products.

Accuracy 1st Development Group Scope Level.

Accuracy 1st Development Group Scope Level.

Here’s a synopsis of the product form Accuracy 1st:

The Accuracy 1st Development Group scope level was designed to achieve precise resolution of less than 1° with line increments of 2.5°. Constructed of aircraft grade aluminum with glass levels custom designed and manufactured for Accuracy 1st Development Group, our levels are of the highest quality and accuracy. Some scope level manufacturers use plastic housings, air bubbles and sub par glass in their vials. Accuracy 1st utilizes a custom bent, in lieu of a straight vial, designed using medical grade glass with a ceramic ball. The use of the ceramic ball eliminates the inherent flaws associated with air bubble levels, which at higher temperatures and pressure will compromise the bubble size causing level inaccuracies. Typically air bubble levels require 3° to 5° to even register movement; however, the Accuracy 1st custom level will read movement at a minimum of 1° and will extend measurements out to +/- 10°. Need to use your scope level in the dark conditions? Accuracy 1st Development designed the housing to include a separate compartment for tritium vials. Just remove the rubber plug, insert a tritium vial and reinstall the plug.

The level is also visible with the non-dominant eye without moving your head, allowing for a quick check before going back to the scope to make the shot. I don’t have much to add to that, it outlines all the reasons a chose it over the competitors products.

That’s it for today. the rifle should be here in a couple of hours so I can’t wait to get my  hands on it and put together a pictorial for those that have been waiting as I have.

As always folks, if you enjoyed the read, or have anything else to say, please let me know in the comments. I’d be interested in any opinions on my component selection so far. If you would like to read the rest of the series as it is published, on the right hand side of this page, please type in your email to follow the blog, or like the Facebook page for updates as posts become available.

Thank You Again, look for more soon. And thanks to everyone who has come across from The Hide and elsewhere to follow along, you guys have helped me with this build immensely.

While you are here, check out some of my liberty-centered political posts available here.

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5 thoughts on “Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 6) | Optics: Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50mm, Seekins Precision, Accuracy 1st

  1. Pingback: Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 5) | Gunsmith Selection: Longrifles, Inc. | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  2. Pingback: Custom Precision Rifle Build (Part 3) | Stock/Chassis Selection: Manners T4-A Stock | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  3. Pingback: Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 4) | Jewell Trigger, JEC Muzzle Brake, and Accessories | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  4. Pingback: Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 1) | Rifle’s Purpose, Platform Choice: Remington 700 Clone: Stiller Tac30 A/W Action | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  5. Pingback: Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 2) | Barrel Blank, Caliber, and Reamer Selection: Brux Barrels, 6.5 Creedmoor, Reamer Specs | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

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