During a previous Big 3 Media Event last year, one of the event host, retired Sergeant First Class Dillard “CJ” Johnson told us the story of how he racked up 121 confirm snipping kills during his second combat tour in Iraq. Being an optic guy, I was interested in what optics he used to achieve that.
CJ said the standard M14 that he used for most of his shots was originally equipped with a fixed 10x power Leupold scope. While the Leupold performed adequately, however, its fixed zoom was the limiting factor. The Leupold was eventually replaced by a Bushnell Elite 4200 2.5-10x50mm scope that was acquired by CJ personally.
Bushnell is no longer making the Elite 4200 series. So, I requested their newer Elite 6500 series’ 2.5-16x50mm model. This model features an increased 6.4x fold magnification comparing to the 4200 series’ 4x zoom range. Not being a hunter, I asked for the Mil-Dot reticle version.
For testing the Bushnell Elite 6500 scope, I used the GDI P-ROM L-Model Telescopic Scope Mount. The GDI 1-piece optic mount has a built-in 25 MOA base elevation and features dual adjustable quick detachable levers. The machine work and finishing on the GDI mount is exquisite. It reminds me of the same quality of high-end mounts found on precision rifles made by Sako and Spuhr.
At the 2.5x magnification, the field-of-view is a very generous 42 ft. at 100 yard. The reticle consists of a cross hair with thicker sections toward the edge. The center part of the cross hair has finer lines with a number of Mil-Dots for use as BDC, ranging and leading aids.
Since the Bushnell Elite 6500 scope features a 2nd focal plane reticle, the 10x magnification is the designated setting for using its Mil-Dot reticle for range estimation.
At the 16x magnification glassing the San Mateo Bridge (it’s 10 miles away) the results were exceptional. The optical resolution of the Bushnell is so good that I could see every car on the bridge. The eyebox becomes a bit tight on the top magnification setting.
Although the Bushnell 6500 lacks reticle illumination,its large multi-coated 50mm objective lens collects a tremendous amount of light to make it a very bright scope. The lens coatings included Bushnell’s Rainguard HD non-stick lens coating that repels water and dirt & mud.
The capped adjustment turrets offer ¼ MOA per click with and revolution indicator built-in. Both turrets also offer a tool-less quick zero function that with a simple lifting of the turret allows it to turn free to set the zero mark. On the left side is the parallax adjustment turret. It has parallax correction from 15-300 yards then to infinity.
After few months using the Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm on my BCM Mk 12 Mod 1 build, I think it’s a nice upgrade from my original Leupold Mark 4 2.5-8x36mm optic. I really like the doubling of the magnification on the top end and a significant 18.3% wider field-of-view at the low end, plus the addition of the capped turrets and parallax adjustment. I also consider the Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm to be one of the best Japanese made scopes I have ever used.
CJ’s sniper log book with his recorded 121 confirmed kills is on display in the 3rd Infantry Division Museum at Fort Stewart. You can read about CJ’s Iraq War combat experience from his memoir: Carnivore.
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm – Mil Dot Specification:
Objective size: 50mm
Tube Size: 30mm
Field of View: 42 feet @ 100 yards range at 2.5x, 7 feet @ 100 yards range at 16x
Length: 13.5 inch
Weight: 21 ounces
Eye Relief: 3.9 inch
Exit Pupil: 20mm at 3.1x magnification
Turret Adjustment: 1/4 MOA per click