Crimson Trace is a household name among shooters. Their lasers and laser grips have adorned innumerable handguns and several major firearm manufactures have included their laser aiming grips on their guns right from the factory.
This year, Crimson Trace has branched out in a big way with multiple product offerings, from red dot optics, pistol and rifle mounted lights, to magnified optics.
Instead of focusing solely on the self-defense market, Crimson Trace’s comfort zone for decades, they’ve targeted the American hunter with the introduction of the Brushline Pro 3-12-42mm BDC riflescope.
As always, the most important factor in any magnified optic is the quality of the glass itself. Image clarity on the Brushline Pro is very good, and on par with the better scopes in this price range.
The image above was taken on a sunny day with the scope on 12X using a Samsung camera phone. The top of that dirt road is about 800 meters from the rifle.
The Philippines-made scope features multicoated lenses for image clarity and light transmission. Coating technology has radically changed over the years, and now makes up much of the value of any high quality optic. In many cases, those coatings are absolutely worth the cost. This is certainly the case for the various light management coatings that help to maximize and enhance visible light during low light scenarios.
This is often the biggest difference between budget priced scopes, like this one, and the more premium optics offered by higher-priced manufacturers. For instance, compare this Crimson Trace Brushline with the Leupold VX3 HD and you’ll find the Leupold scope gives you 15 minutes or so more usable, shootable light at dawn and dusk. At almost twice the retail cost, those are some expensive minutes. The question for the shooter is, are those minutes worth the extra price?
Comparing higher end Nightforce or Leupold scopes to the Crimson Trace Brushline Pro in a low light setting shows how much more you get for that expensive glass, but really, they just aren’t in the same class and it’s not a fair comparison. Instead, I compared the Crimson Trace Brushline Pro to the Vortex Viper line at dusk. If there was any difference in light transmission or shootable minutes, I couldn’t tell.
Especially at this price point, Crimson Trace got the controls right. Mostly.
The capped turrets, as well all the controls, feature rubberized and textured raised surfaces. These move well and are easy to grab and manipulate even with gloves. Pull off the caps and you’ll reveal 1/4 MOA adjustment turrets. Each click is solid with a crisp start and stop.
Mounting the Brushline on a Ruger M77 Hawkeye African in 9.3x62mm and with the factory Ruger rings, I performed a simplified box test. I fired a single shot, moved up 18 minutes of angle (72 clicks), took another shot, moved right 12 minutes (28 clicks) took a shot, down 72 clicks and shot, left 12 click and shot. My last shot ended up within the margin of error for the rifle and ammunition, right next to my first shot. Each round ended up right where it should.
The parallax adjustment also moves well. Each hash is generally associated with the correct distance (there’s no such thing as “perfect” for every eye). You won’t need to take your face off the gun to get it to move, and it stays in place once you put it there. The same goes for the magnification ring.
There’s one puzzling choice for the controls. Crimson Trace has continued the same raised geometric shape to the eyepiece focal adjustment. That looks nice and flows with the rest of the design, but in functional terms, it’s a mistake.
Once you set your reticle focus, you really don’t want it to move around. Crimson Trace has set up the shooter for some frustration here, as the raised, rubberized surface easily grabs a bag, the hands, or anything that is sure to catch and turn the nob out of focus. You’d be doing yourself a favor to tape it down to the scope body once you have it set it.
Considering that Crimson Trace has long been known as a laser aiming device company, I was surprised this scope didn’t include any kind of illuminated reticle. It’s pretty rare that I ever want or need an illuminated reticle. For a hunting focused firearm, shooting under heavy brush at a darkly colored animal is about the only time it’s valuable. A even then, if it’s that dark, I usually can’t see well enough to make an ethical shot anyway.
This particular scope comes with their Crimson Trace Custom BDC Pro reticle. Like most bullet drop compensator reticles, it works well as long as what and where you are shooting is like what the reticle is built for. For this reticle, that’s:
• Caliber .308
• Muzzle Velocity (fps) 2820
• Bullet Wt (gn) 150
• Ballistic Coefficient G1 0.415
• Zero Range (yd) 100
• Temp (Fahrenheit) 59
• Altitude (feet) 2500
• Scope Height over bore (in) 1.75
Those are fairly popular numbers. If you change those numbers a bit, it won’t matter too much for most hunting situations. For example, trade that .308 Win data for commercial 180gr .30-06 Springfield hunting rounds, and you get all of three inches of difference at 400 yards.
That said, if you were to use the supplied BDC aiming points while shooting the 9.3x62mm cartridge that rifle in these photos is chambered for, you’d be hitting more than a foot low. Moral of the story: know your round.
Most of the shooting I did for the Crimson Trace Brushline Pro was with it mounted on a Vudoo Sinister .22LR rifle, simply because of ammunition costs. But I also mounted it and put 20 rounds of commercial Nosler 9.3x62mm E-Tip rounds and 40 more of my own handloads for the same caliber through a Ruger African so chambered (review in progress.) That particular rifle’s recoil isn’t brutal, but I’m betting it has more of a push than most folks are shooting through their deer and elk guns.
Once properly mounted, the scope never failed to hold its zero. I also bounced the rifle on the butt pad a dozen times and then fired the gun. Again, at 100 yards, there was no discernible change in point of impact.
Because Crimson Trace’s website says the scope has been tested in “complete submersion,” I left it in the shop sink overnight. In the morning it dried out with no issue. That didn’t surprise me.
What was a very pleasant surprise was how easy the glass was to clean. Crimson Trace doesn’t list an ion coating on the outside of the lens, so maybe the water was just particularly clean, or the company didn’t fully include what all the coatings used were.
Finally, I stuck the scope in the freezer for six hours, took it out, mounted it quickly, and shot it in 90-degree Texas heat. Yes, the point of impact did change several inches at 100 yards, but I had removed and re-mounted the scope. Rounds shot after remounting continued to hit in the same place, and the turrets still tracked.
There isn’t a lot of fancy to this scope…and that’s a good thing. Crimson Trace made a budget scope with pretty good glass with turrets that track. They also made a scope that handles stout recoil and stands up to wet and cold, and with controls that are easy to manipulate when you’re wet and cold, too.
The Brushline Pro is a solid hunting scope that will fit well with a huge swath of the hunting population, at a very reasonable price point.
SPECIFICATIONS: Crimson Trace BRUSHLINE PRO 3-12X42 BDC
RETICLE: CT CUSTOM BDC PRO
FOCAL PLANE: 2ND
MATERIAL: AEROSPACE ALUMINUM
EYE RELIEF (IN): 3.7-4 IN
OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER: 42
TUBE DIAMETER: 1″
CLICK VALUE: 1/4 MOA
LIGHT TRANSMITTANCE (%): 90
DIMENSIONS (W X H X L): 2.5 IN X 2.2 IN X 13.1 IN
PRODUCT WEIGHT (OZ): 18.70 OZ
LENS COATING: GREEN MULTI COATED
REAR MOUNTING LENGTH (IN): 2
FRONT MOUNTING LENGTH (IN): 2.3
WINDAGE RANGE: 75 MOA
ELEVATION RANGE: 75 MOA
SIDE PARALLAX: ADJUSTABLE
ZERO STOP: NO
FOV MAXIMUM: 33.6 FT
FOV MINIMUM: 8.4 FT
MSRP: $359.99 (found online for about $280)
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * *
The Brushline Pro is a solid hunting scope, but budget hunting optics is an extremely crowded market, with a wide array of Philippine made optics with similar characteristics. What sets the Brushline Pro apart is the longevity of and the respect for the company that makes it, Crimson Trace.