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I like to spend my time in the outdoors looking around. Occasionally, I find something far away that I want to check out, and reach for a magnified optic. Unfortunately, most magnified optics are in the form of a scope mounted to a rifle or a spotting scope that weighs a couple pounds. They aren’t handy or safe to be pointing at most of my intended targets. This is where a handheld unit like Bushnell’s Legend Ultra Tactical Monocular becomes a very valuable object . . .


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Looking at the Bushnell website, there’s no real reference for size as it takes up the same amount of screen real estate as a full size spotting scope. So when it arrived in my mailbox, it elicited a little giggle during unpackaging. I was expecting a monster sized optic, but it looks like they took a a regular sized spotting scope and put it under the shrinking ray.
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Said monocular is packed with useful and thoughtful features. Both lenses are capped to keep out errant dust and debris. There’s a handy little pocket clip, though few of my pants are baggy enough to accommodate something this size. And of course, there’s a section of picatinny rail along the bottom. Hidden inside that rail is a threaded hole that mates up with standard tripod mounts. There’s also a slot for a lanyard in case you wanted to attach this to your neck or hand for an outdoor excursion.

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The controls are laid out nicely for either right- or left-handed users. As this is a fixed power monocular, you can only adjust the focus knob on top and rotate the eyepiece in or out to accommodate users with and without glasses. The focus knob requires a little bit of effort to get started, but this keeps it from being accidentally knocked loose.

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While the monocular is certainly designed for longer-range viewing, the internals allow a level of adjustment that allows focusing down to several yards. The photo above is of a tree in my backyard that is about fifteen yards from my back porch. I was easily able to spot squirrels and birds in the peach tree right outside my kitchen window using Bushnell’s monocular. Sadly, I was watching them decimate my peach crop.

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Stepping the distance back to one hundred yards on a bright sunny afternoon, I had no trouble picking out individual details on a steel IPSC target. As you might have noticed, this monocular has a reticle. I assume this difference is what separates it from the regular 10X monocular that Bushnell also sells.  My ballistic calculator says that the 17.75″ width of that IPSC torso is 4.95 mils at 100 yards. There’s obviously not a lot of granularity available in the reticle, but I’m confident calling that ~5 mils wide which is within the realm of accuracy that should be expected.

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Backing up to the 300 yard line as seen above, that thick-lined and somewhat coarse reticle starts to hold us back a bit. I’d ballpark that at a hair outside 1.5 mils if I were spotting for you, and that correlates to a 308 yard range estimation in my iPhone-based ballistic calculator. A tenth mil change in that estimation is the difference between 308 and 329 yards. I’d say that’s about the limit of what I’d feel comfortable using this reticle for. Essentially, “Is this target 300 or 400 yards away?” type stuff instead of anything finer. That’s not a knock against Bushnell as that’s a limitation of using a 10X optic with a mil reticle for accurate ranging.

As a small aside, the pictures above really don’t do the glass justice. Even with a fancy camera adapter, I’ve never be able to get a photo from my camera that accurately reflects the view through a magnified optic. At distances from zero to roughly four hundred hards, this monocular does a fantastic job. There’s a large field of view that’s filled with vibrant color and sharp relief.

At longer distances, there’s some loss in quality and a touch — I mean just a little — bit of blurring around the edges. The other issue of course is that there’s a reticle right there in the middle that, if I have to pick at, is a smidge too thick.

At the hundred and two hundred yard line, its good enough to call missed shots +/- half a mil. Beyond that, out to four hundred yards or so, it would really be +/- a whole mil. Beyond that line, I’d relegate this to a “Hey bud, you missed left” spotting scope. That’s a harsh critique since this is not marketed as a spotting scope, but if you’re looking for a do-it-all, you should be aware of its limitations.

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Specifications: LEGEND ULTRA HD 10x 42mm Tactical Monocular

  • Magnification: 10x
  • Objective: 42mm
  • Prism Glass: ED Prime
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • RainGuard HD: Yes
  • Field Of View (ft @ 1000 ft.): 340
  • Field Of View (m @ 1000 m): 113
  • Exit Pupil: 4.2 mm
  • Weight: 13.2 oz
  • Length: 5.4 in
  • Waterproof/Fogproof: Yes
  • Other Eye Pieces Available: No
  • Eye Relief: 15.2 mm
  • Color: Sand
  • MSRP: $306.45 (Amazon: $199, Optics Planet: $189.99)

Rating (out of five stars):

Overall * * * * *
Just as a pocket pistol doesn’t have the accuracy or capacity of a full size pistol, the little monocular from Bushnell doesn’t have the resolution or range of a big boy spotting scope. It also doesn’t weigh several pounds and take up most of the room in my pack. For field use, you’d be hard pressed to find a more functional optic this small with such great glass, and a mil hash reticle capable of some coarse ranging. I found it to be a fantastic little piece of kit perfect for the great outdoors.

8 Responses to Gear Review: Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Tactical Monocular

  1. 42mm objective is a far more substantial light gatherer than the pocket monocs we carried as meter readers.
    this would cover 90% of what I want a scope for, mostly pellet target spotting.
    me like, thanks for the good glass recommendation.

    • Anyone know why the Bushnell LMSS 8-40x60mm spotting scope with the H32 reticle is not on the Bushnell site, or most retailers? You can go to EuroOptics, or a couple other choice online retailers, and they have the one with a reticle available, but Bushnell doesn’t really advertise its existance.

  2. I’m always on the lookout for one of these. Thing is, I know next to nothing about optics, so I’m not sure how unreasonable my expectations are, in terms of features and price point.

    I’d like a monocle type with adjustable magnification, some kind of night vision capability, and thermal imaging would be great. I’m not sure what such a combination product like that would cost, in a quality level that’s even worth bothering.

  3. Is this a new model or an older one? Amazon, Bushnell and Optics Planet show a different monocular without the lens caps.
    If this is an older model, I wonder it they have “improved” the reticle any.

  4. I have the non ranging model. I’ve owned close to two dozen monoculars through the years. The Legend Ultra HD is the best of the big monoculars imho.

  5. Great review. Thanks for sharing. Question though: does the reticle need to be focused? If so, does the reticle focus stay put as you focus on items at different distances. I tried this on the Vortex equivalent, and sadly have to play with the two dials constantly to keep both the reticle and the view in focus. How does it work for Bushnell?

    Thanks.

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