Combining the benefits of a zero magnification red dot and a magnified scope, the popularity of one-to-whatever zoom (typically 4x, 6x, or 8x) optics continues to rise. Add to that an illuminated, BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticle for engaging targets at longer distances without having to dial the turrets, and it’s a potent package.
While options for BDC reticles calibrated for 5.56/.223 ballistics are many, there are far fewer scopes available for 300 Blackout. Bushnell fills this void with their 1-4x24mm AR/300 BLK Riflescope with Throw Down PCL (power change lever).
The AR/300 BLK is a compact (9.5″ long), relatively lightweight (16.9 oz) scope with a 30mm tube diameter and a 24mm objective lens. Everything you can see and touch, other than the fully multi-coated glass lenses, is anodized aluminum.
Clean and precise clicks — both audible and tactile — on the non-locking, tactical (no caps) turrets are in 0.1 MIL increments. Turrets can be disengaged from the internal adjustment by loosening three set screws, allowing them to be zeroed once scope is dialed to gun.
Zeroing can be accomplished with either supersonic or subsonic 300 BLK ammunition. I’d recommend using the specific load you plan to shoot most or rely upon most. If supersonic, the center dot should be zeroed at 100 yards. If subsonic, 50 yards. Then the BDC holds are as follows:
• Supersonic: Center dot 100 yards. Middle dot 235 yards. Bottom dot 300 yards.
• Subsonic: Center dot 50 yards. Middle dot 100 yards. Bottom dot 125 yards.
Assisting in doing your own rangefinding and holdover maths, the inside of the illuminated horseshoe is 18 MOA across and the outside is 22 MOA across. From center dot to bottom dot is 11 MOA. Yes, the reticle is MOA and the turrets are MIL. This is normally a big pet-peeve of mine, but the whole point of this reticle is that you don’t touch the dials after zeroing your rifle anyway.
Which is why, if I were designing the AR/300 BLK, I would have gone with an as-short-as-possible, capped elevation turret. Though the windage dial may well be used regularly to dial-in wind compensation, the set-it-and-forget-it nature of the elevation adjustment doesn’t necessitate a tall, tactical-style turret with rotation indicating marks.
On the left side we find a brightness adjustment dial for the red-illuminated reticle, which cranks all the way up to 11. The AR/300 BLK is powered by a single CR2032 battery housed within this turret.
To zoom from 1x to 4x and back, simply rotate the zoom collar 180°. The power change lever makes this quicker and easier by increasing leverage and decreasing the possibility of your grip slipping over the adjustment collar.
The PCL then folds flat against the ocular bell. A rubber o-ring resting in a machined groove is a simple, effective solution that prevents rattling or marring.
In keeping with current market preference, the AR/300 BLK’s reticle is on the first focal plane. This means the reticle shrinks or grows according to the zoom level, which in turn means that the BDC holds are always the same (e.g. the bottom dot is a 300-yard hold for supersonic ammo whether you’re on 1x zoom or 4x zoom or anywhere in-between). It also means that, on 1x zoom, the horseshoe and BDC dots all shrink down into an extremely red dot-like point of brightness in the center.
While quite difficult to capture on camera, seeing that dot on 1x zoom and full brightness was, usually, fast and easy with the human eye. In most conditions it’s going to be extremely similar to running a red dot, but outdoors on a full-sun day, especially against a light-colored background, it just can’t match a dedicated red dot’s brightness and its illumination will appear dim. Then again, with a crisp, black reticle physically etched in the glass, the illumination isn’t as critical as it is on a red dot optic where the reticle is projected by an LED.
I was very pleased to see that Bushnell created a true 1x optic in the AR/300 BLK, or at least close enough to actual zero-zoom that I can’t tell if it isn’t. Shooting with both eyes open is as easy as with a red dot. Colors and images are sharp and true, and there’s only the slightest little bit of distortion at the very edges of the lens.
At 4x zoom, the Bushnell’s optical clarity continues to please. Especially at this price point (about $259 retail), the glass is very nice. Images are sharp, bright, and clear, and colors look great.
After a rough sight-in with subsonic 208 grain Hornady BLACK ammo at 50 yards, I put two rounds on a steel target at 100 yards using the middle BDC dot. I then switched to supersonic 110 gran Hornady BLACK ammo and used the center dot to put two more rounds on the target.
Though the velocity and ballistic properties of various brands, weights, and styles of supersonic and subsonic 300 BLK loads vary quite a bit (with the 110 grain Hornady V-Max being particularly fast and sleek), the AR/300 BLK BDC dots did great here. For self-defense, hunting, or competition, a shooter can absolutely switch between sub/super loads and use this optic’s BDC dots to confidently engage targets at various ranges, from point blank to 300 yards.
I then settled down at 50 yards to run a quick box test using Freedom Munitions HUSH 220 grain subsonic ammo. Every shot on the target above was fired with the reticle aimed at the center bullseye. The three holes circled in blue were my first three. The scope was then dialed up and right and three shots were fired, again aiming dead-center on the paper. Then the scope was dialed down, three shots, dialed left, three shots, dialed up, three shots, and dialed down and right to return to center where a final three shots were fired.
With perfect mechanics, a scope should produce an exactly-square box in this drill and should return exactly to zero. My 8.3″-barreled, suppressed 300 BLK AR upper isn’t the most accurate thing in the world, but it did plenty well enough to tell that the Bushnell is tracking pretty true.
After a couple months of use, I have only one complaint beyond the MIL turret MOA reticle mismatch: I can see the nuts and bolts of the inside of the scope. Literally. Yes, this is a silly thing to whine about, but it’s weird to move the focus of my eye from through the scope to into the scope and see Phillips screw heads and such sticking out. I’m sure all scopes have similar hardware in them, but most of them hide it from sight.
To be clear, there’s nothing broken here and the scope is perfectly clean and dust-free and as it should be internally and otherwise. It’s more about this hurting the warm and fuzzy feeling of the AR/300 BLK scope’s quality, which I got from the rest of it and felt really good about until spotting those gray screw heads inside of my black Blackout scope.
Overall I’m a huge fan of 1x to WhateverX zoom optics with illuminated reticles. They beautifully blend the advantages of a red dot and a magnified scope, and often do so in fairly lightweight and compact packages. Bushnell’s AR/300 BLK 1-4x24mm riflescope scratches this itch while providing something fairly unique: a BDC reticle calibrated for both supersonic and subsonic 300 Blackout ammunition.
I found the AR/300 BLK to be high quality for the price, with very crisp and bright glass and a smooth and precise feel to all of its adjustments. It’s a solid, yet budget-friendly option for home defense, competition, hunting, and other use.
Specifications: Bushnell 1-4x24mm AR/300 BLK Riflescope with Throw Down PCL
Finish: Matte black anodized
Power x Obj. Lens: 1-4x 24mm
Reticle: Drop Zone 300 Blackout Illuminated
Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Parallax Adjustment: Non-adjustable (fixed at 100 yards)
Field of View [email protected] yds: [email protected], 37 at 4x
Weight: 16.9 oz
Length: 9.5 in
Eye Relief: 3.5 in
Exit Pupil: 13.1mm @1x, 5.2mm @4x
Click Value: 0.1 MIL
Adj Range: 15 MIL (a bit over 50 MOA)
Focal Plane: First
MSRP: $386.95 (more like $259 shipped at Optics Planet)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Glass Quality * * * *
Above average for the price. It’s crisp, clear, and bright with only the smallest bit of distortion at the extreme edges, and colors are great.
Reticle * * * 1/2
It’s great to have a functional BDC reticle for 300 Blackout, but the AR/300’s illumination needs to be a lot brighter if it’s to really function like a red dot at 1x zoom outdoors.
Turrets/Dials * * * *
Again, above average for the price. Turret clicks are clean and precise, and the zoom dial operates smoothly. Everything feels well-fitted and well-sorted. I do wish the turrets adjusted in minutes, though, to match the reticle. I am glad they can be zeroed out.
Qualilty * * * *
It isn’t the nicest, beefiest scope I’ve played with, but it’s rock solid for the ~$259 going rate. Everything about it looks and feels good and it tracks pretty dang well. I just wish I couldn’t see those screw heads inside of it.
Overall Rating * * * *
Bushnell’s AR/300 BLK 1-4x zoom optic is a four-star scope. Maybe not at a thousand dollars due to a couple nitpicks I have and a somewhat low maximum zoom of 4x (at a grand you’d likely be looking at 1-6x or 1-8x), but at its retail price of around $259 it’s a strong option.