Gear Review: Bushnell HDMR 3.5-21x50mm w/ G2-DMR FFP Reticle

Long range scopes don’t really come in “one size fits all” configurations. You need to get your hands on the scope, try it out, and see what works best for your own particular shooting style. Bushnell isn’t making that process easier, what with their rather daunting combination of tube size, magnification range and reticle choice, so when I picked one to test for a review, I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was getting. But from the second I took it out of the box, I knew I had something downright nifty on my hands . . .

First things first: this thing is MASSIVE.

I thought the 30mm tube scope I usually have on my rifle was large, but Bushnell’s scope uses a rather amazingly rotund 34mm tube. In fact, it’s so large that none of the local stores had rings to fit it. Luckily, Warne makes a set of scope rings that are just about perfect for this optic and only cost about $100. But more on those later.

The massiveness doesn’t stop with the main tube. Everything on this scope has been super sized, from the magnification adjustment knob to the adjustment turrets. Having just adjusted my Trijicon Accupoint earlier that day with a 1 inch tube and rather small adjustment dials, it felt like I was using a Fisher Price “My First Scope” by comparison. Not that it felt at all cheap — everything was just over-sized so you could get a better grip.

One feature I really liked about the adjustment knobs is the way they lock. In order to move the dials, you first need to pull them up so that they can rotate — pushing them back down locks them into place again. This keeps them from being knocked around and losing zero, which brings some added peace of mind when you’re in the field.

The reason for the larger tube becomes apparent as soon as you look through the scope. And that view is rather amazing. The larger tube means larger lenses and more light traveling through the scope. All that adds to optical clarity and allows for better low light performance. Bigger is definitely better when you’re looking for quality glass.

But it was the reticle on this thing I was talking about when I said it was downright nifty. This is the G2-DMR reticle, a first focal plane etching that’s the compromise between the standard mil-dot reticle (which is simply a large dot every 1 Mil along the crosshairs) and a horus reticle (which has markings for windage and elevation 1 Mil in every direction under the aiming point).

It allows for both range estimation and the use of “pure holds,” where the shooter simply uses the markings on the reticle instead of dialing the windage and elevation knobs for every new distance, without cluttering up the scope too much. Pictured above are steel plates at 500 yards.

The major selling point (besides the actual lines) is the fact that this is a first focal plane scope, which means that the distance between the dots on the reticle are exactly 1 mil no matter what magnification you’re set at. It’s great for doing range estimation on the fly, but it adds significantly to the cost of construction.

All that scope does have one big drawback, though: it’s like tying a lead brick to your rifle. The optic weighs almost twice as much as the Primary Arms scope I’m rather fond of using on this rifle, which makes it a real pain in the ass if you’re doing anything besides shooting from a stationary position. I couldn’t imagine trying to lug this boat anchor through the woods on a hunting trip, unless I had a mule to schlep the whole set-up.

Here’s the real kicker though: Vortex does an similar scope with a slightly less complex reticle (and slightly higher base magnification) for damn near half the price. One that’s smaller, lighter and illuminated to boot. It also takes standard 30mm rings instead of the super fancy 34mm ones the Bushness requires.

But the real improvement this scope offers is that reticle. The G2-DMR reticle in the first focal plane is really nice if you’re looking for a compromise between a horus and mil dot. But if you’re not sold on the reticle and want something lighter and half the price, I’d look into the Vortex instead.

Specifications: Bushnell HDMR 3.5-21x50mm w/ G2-DMR Reticle

Weight: 32.5 oz
Adjustments: 1/10 mil
Eye Relief:

Ratings (out of five):
(Final rating IS NOT calculated from the constituent ratings, and is based on how well the scope compares to other similar products)

Optical Clarity * * * * *
The large scope tube allows a ton of light to pass through the glass, which makes the images appear quite clear. My camera doesn’t do it justice.

Feel & Function * * * * *
While everything on the scope is massive, it all feels really well put together. There’s no wobble in the turrets, and the magnification adjustment knob feels downright solid.

Overall Quality * * * * *
Its a great, quality scope.

Overall Rating * * *
If you absolutely must have a horus or G2 reticle in the first focal plane, one with a low base magnification, then this is a pretty snazzy scope. But its size, weight and price make it somewhat less attractive compared to other comparable offerings.