Those disciplines are typically shooting paper, at distance, for groups that are frequently measured with calipers to the thousanth of an inch. And they have all the time in the world as compared to other shooting disciplines, often ten minutes for ten shots. They can choose to use all that time, or “run” when they want to get off all their shots before the wind changes directions and/ or velocity. For my purposes of shooting during hunting and during dynamic, moving type rifle competitions (P.R.S.) I have no use for MOA. I know what it is, I know how to use it, and I know how to teach it. But I don’t want it. Many may ask “why” and my answer is ease, and speed.
or meters. People like to say “I think in inches and yards, so I should use MOA”. NO! We are talking about dividing up a circle, these are measurements of angles like degrees are, not measurements of distance (linear measurement). Neither system has anything to do with inches or centimeters. (We call 1 MOA 1″ at 100 yards, 2″ at 200 yards, ect. But in reality those are rounded figures. 1 MOA at 100 yards is actually 1.047″) Elevation correction is not the problem, gravity is easy to correct for. With either system (Mil or MOA) we use a ballistic calculator to give us a predicted trajectory. We input caliber, bullet weight, ballistic coefficient, muzzle velocity, and rate of twist, we tell the calculator to calculate, and it produces predicted trajectory corrections in what ever triginomtetry function we told it to, i.e. Mil or MOA. We told the calculator we wanted corrections every 25 yards out to as far as we want to go. Then we go out to the range and confirm, or deny, if the predicted trajectory is correct, or not. (In the class I offer, I teach how to adjust as needed to make the calculator be something a person can rely on). So the calculator was set in MOA, and we are shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor, with a 140 gr. A-max, that has an MV of 2800 fps, and is zeroed at 100 yards. And the calculator tells us this:
300 -3 1/2
400 -6 1/4
500 -9 1/4
600 -12 1/2
900 -24 1/2
1000 -29 1/4
We (the shooter and the wind) are effectively throwing curve balls that cross directly center over the plate, err the target. Now it seems like there is a whole bunch of thought process happening, and there is. So when it comes down to the point of when seconds matter, here is where Mils shine over MOA.
ERS 3.5-21x 50mm
I was needing to add another scope to the tool box. I only use Mil reticle, Mil turrets, and first focal plane. I used to be opposed to reticles that had Horus type windage and elevation hold points, but thought I would at least try the Bushnell ERS, and give it an honest run. Using Bushnell’s online photo was evidence enough to lead me to believe that the reticle was not too “busy” as some reticles can become. I practice, hunt, and compete with almost every scope I keep in the tool box. I received the rifle scope in late March, with intentions of using it on my 6.5 Creedmoor. I didn’t perform any laboratory, scientific experiments with the scope. That has already been done. I simply put the scope to work asking it to do what I need it to do.
Upon removing the scope from the box my first impressions were that it is short (13.2”), solid, and quite heavy (35 oz.) I immediately loved the locking windage and elevation turrets, more on that later. The feel of the turrets is positive, audible, and had no feeling of slack. The parallax knob being in the usual location, on the left side of the tube, left a bit to be desired in that it did not focus down to less than a labeled 75 yards, but does have labels to 2000 yards, then infinity.
Mounting and Bore Sighting
I have a fairly simple procedure when mounting a rifle scope. Mount the 20 MOA picatinny rail with low strength Locktite. Place the rings as far apart in the rail as the scope objective location will allow, affix a rail mounted anti-cant level to the picatinny rail, and place the scope in the lower rings. I then turn up the scope’s magnification to maximum, get behind the rifle, prone, with my eyes closed. I open my firing eye and see what I see. I did not have eye relief correct on the first attempt after having placed the Bushnell ERS in the usual location of all my other scopes. The good news is that the scope needed to move forward in the rings, not back. In the case of this compact scope I had to move the rear ring forward one notch on the picatinny rail to achieve proper eye relief. Level the anti-cant level, rotate the scope until the reticle is parallel with a known level object. In my case is an oversized plumbob using a 20 pound weight, and ½” rope 50 yards down range. I placed the ring caps on and torqued to specification.
Bore sighting is really just as simple. Pull the bolt out, look down the bore at a 2/3 IPSC 200 yards down range, turn the turrets until the scope is “seeing” what I see looking down the barrel. The first shot at 100 yard paper was .7 Mil low, and .4 Mil right. I made the appropriate corrections to the turrets, and fired a second shot. Shot number two landed within .05 Mil of where it was supposed to, and that is as good as it can get.
Glass clarity and Tracking
These two topics are probably of equal importance to me, when pertaining to a scope designed for precise/ long range shooting. The first time I had the scope mounted on the rifle and had it on the range I immediately noticed the glass was incredibly clear. About two months into my testing of this scope I ran out of the powder lot I had been using, and had to switch over to a new lot. Always chasing perfection meant the rule is that I have to retest my old, known, powder charge against slight adjustments made to the load. I built four test loads to be fired at 300 yards, for 5 shot groups. I affixed white paper to the target board, and made a cross for an aiming point out of 2” duct tape. Knowing that each load would shoot well, but some would prove to be the clear winner I intentionally dialed less correction than necessary for a 300 yard shot, so that I could place the groups on the paper one group not overlapping the other. I dialed in .6 Mil elevation instead of the usual 1.0 Mil, intentionally making the group impact below my point of aim. Shot one made me smile. I could clearly see a .264 cal (6.5mm) bullet hole in white paper at 300 yards. I shot the following four shots and was able to plot where each shot landed as it was fired. The next test load I dialed up to .8 Mil elevation and repeated the shooting. I was able to shoot all four test loads, five shots each, for a total of twenty rounds and never had to go down range to check results or label the target with the corresponding powder charge.
I have used the scope as a spotting scope for student shooters on seven occasions, and immediately noticed that I was seeing bullet trace more often than I usually do, overcast and sunny, alike. Once the outside temperatures begin reaching the nineties in north Texas the mirage begins making lesser scopes fall short in clarity. This scope has provided excellent clarity in all types of lighting, and will work at maximum magnification in the thickest mirage. Scopes with lesser quality glass require the shooter to reduce magnification to regain clarity. I shot with the scope out to 1400 yards and was always able to use 21X if needed. A friend has a Vortex Razor Gen II, and in a quick clarity comparison at 700 yards I found the Bushnell ERS to be more clear. Every set of eyes are different, but that was my assessment.
The old, tried and true tracking test is simple, and reliable. A piece of paper at 100 yards, with an aiming point on the lower portion of the paper. The scope tracked very well, but did have some error. The scope tracked perfectly at 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 5.0, 6.0, 8.0, and 10 Mils. The error when dialing to 4.0 Mil was 4.1, and 9.0 Mils impacted 9.1. That is actually outstanding in my book. I can certainly manage that tiny amount of error.
The short version is; the reticle is very nice, very useful, and it is not too busy. The most important feature in a reticle is on the windage line, in my opinion. If I have the extra couple of seconds, I will dial elevation and hold wind. The windage marks are in the usual, user friendly .5 Mil increments, with whole Mils being a taller line. The reticle is consistent from center to 8.0 Mils. Beyond 8.0 Mils, of windage, the reticle is broken into .1 Mil increments. The right side of the reticle has the 2.0, 4.0, 6.0, and 8.0 Mils labeled. I don’t know why Bushnell chose not to label the left side the same way. With a heavy cross wind, the labeling is handy, and it would be improved if it were labeled on both sides of center. The .1 Mil windage lines on the edges of the reticle are a great idea. They are very useful for zeroing on 100 yard paper, as well as the occasion to measure an object and/ or range with the reticle. My only suggestion to Bushnell for this feature is to change the size of the lines on the even numbers (.2 Mil, .4 Mil, .6 Mil, .8 Mil). The eye can get lost as to if it is looking at .4 or .5 Mil, or .6 or .7 Mil, ect.
Elevation corrections centered on the reticle are also in the usual .5 Mil increments, with whole Mils being a wider line. The G2 design comes in when holding elevation, and wind simultaneously. Holding elevation and windage simultaneously is the most difficult way to shoot precise, but sometimes the fastest when engaging multiple targets at multiple distances. At 4.0 Mils and beyond, vertical lines are added on the elevation designations in .5 Mil increments. The more experience a shooter has behind a Mil reticle the better they become at imagining .1 corrections even though they are not labeled as such. The .1 Mil fine adjustments are equally forgiving on elevation and windage, even while performing both simultaneously.
I wanted to find out how well the reticle worked for this scenario. My range is 100 to 800 yards, in 100 yard increments. It holds 2 MOA and 1 MOA steel targets from 200 to 800 yards. With the G2 reticle I was able to leave the elevation and windage zeroed on the turrets, and just use pure holds. I was able to first round hit the 2 MOA targets from 200 to 800 yards in sixty seconds with a five mile per hour cross wind. Routinely through the approximate four months I have had the scope for testing I have been able to impact the 1 MOA targets on my range in various cross winds, and various degrees of mirage. The reticle is thinner from center to .5 Mil in all directions, providing a very fine aiming point within center, excellent for zeroing. Great reticle!
George Gardner (GA Precision rifles) and I crossed paths on day two of the Heat Stroke Open 2015 P.R.S. match. I had just finished a stage when he arrived to shoot it. We discussed the stage and I assisted him in finding his targets before his turn. I said “George, you designed that reticle, didn’t you?” He said “yes I did.” I told him I really liked it and that is gave me a slightly better tool to use for this competition. He was glad to hear it, and was using the same scope throughout the match. In fact I noticed several of these scopes being used by competitors in the match.
The absolute best thing to ever happen to a tactical rifle scope is a locking windage knob!!! I can’t stress how important that is to me. More times than I can remember I have inadvertently dialed in left or right windage when I didn’t mean to. Well, the Bushnell ERS will lock windage and elevation. To unlock the turrets simply pull them away from the scope tube, up for the elevation knob, and right for the windage knob. Once you have dialed what you want, press the knob back toward the body of the scope and that is where it will stay until you want to adjust again. I will not say that I never dial wind. I will dial wind if I am less than steady, such as shooting positional in a rifle match or hunting. The weekend of The Heat Stroke Open was quite the test for the Bushnell ERS. I dialed elevation hundreds of times in three days. And I dialed windage left, and right at least fifty times. Any misses I had at the match were of no fault of the rifle scope, they were my own fault, an incorrect wind call or rushing a positional shot. Through the match the scope had been dialed, exposed to fine NW Oklahoma sand, banged on barricades, and not treated very nicely. Two days after the match I was back on my home range with the same rifle/ load/ and Bushnell ERS. I, of course, decided to check my 100 yard zero. One shot, perfect zero! Ok, lets see how well it is still tracking. I dialed elevation for 400 (1.8 Mil), 500 (2.6 Mil), 600 (3.5 Mil), 700 (4.6 Mil), and 800 yards (5.6 Mil), first round center hit on every target.
I really appreciate how the caps can be removed from the scope. Recesses are built into each turret that perfectly hold a U.S. nickel. Of course a flat head screw driver or the spine of a pocket knife will work, but the recess is a semi-circle that perfectly holds the nickel. When you have the scope impacting perfectly at 100 yards, simply pull the turrets away from the scope body, place the nickel or flathead screw driver in the slot, loosen the single center screw, lift the turret, rotate it to zero, press the turret down until is engages the internals, and replace the screw. Fast and easy!
10 Mils per rev. Is there any other way to roll? I have one 5 Mil turret left, and much prefer a 10 Mil turret. Unless one will routinely shoot beyond 1000 yards, they will not be on the second revolution very often. I did, however dial and shoot 1350 yards needing 13.2 Mils and the ERS performed perfectly.
Return to zero has been flawless. I have dialed the ERS as far as it would go up travel for 19.0 Mils, and as far as it would go down travel for 9.0 Mils. The particular unit I have has 28.0 Mils of travel available without the feeling of forcing the turret beyond a comfortable level. Bushnell claims 29.0 Mils, and having 1.0 Mil less than advertised does not bother me in the least, considering the wide range of available travel. I may build an extreme range rifle, and have full intentions of shooting 1500 yards, and beyond, using the ERS. I just may need a 30 MOA or 40 MOA picatinny rail to take advantage of the available travel.
Does this scope fill every need for every rifle? No, I believe that is impossible. But I feel as though this scope will be an excellent tool for a very wide variety of rifle tasks. Reliability is just as important to a competitor as it is a big game hunter. No one wants to travel with a rifle and scope only to have a major malfunction, and thus far the Bushnell ERS has proven to be reliable. I don’t know how it would stack up in being dropped down the side of a mountain, since Bushnell did not give me clearance in performing such a test, but as far as day to day heavy use it has proven to be robust and tough, all while giving an excellent sight picture, a very useful reticle, and very functional turrets.
I was quickly impressed with glass quality performing load development on the .260 Rem. I had white paper set at 300 yards performing a ladder test, in clear sunny conditions. I was able to see .264” bullet holes from 300 yards away! Since then the scope has been used in the twilight hours at dawn and dusk, and continues to provide a clean sight picture well before and after legal hunting light, in Texas. I use the scope several days each week both shooting, and using it for a spotting scope spotting for students out to 800 yards.
Tracking. The scope has always tracked exactly as it should. While I admit I have failed to perform a box test on the scope, I have also not felt the need to this late in the game. The only time I tested the tracking was a day before a match. I had very tall white paper at 100 yards, and dialed up 5.0 Mils, and placed a bullet exactly 5.0 Mils above point of aim. However, one of my self-improvement exercises is to make a cold bore shot at distance. I do this at least one time per week, sometimes multiple times per week. I shoot cold bore at 500 yards and beyond, and the scope has always put the bullet at the elevation correction I have told it to. When I miss, it is completely my fault due to the wrong wind judgment, no fault of the scope. I have the scope mounted in Badger Ordinance steel, four screw rings, and on an aluminum EGW 20 MOA base. The scope has been shockingly consistent at maintaining zero, even with me picking my rifle up from the ground by grabbing the scope tube. That makes the uninitiated cringe. But with a solid scope, rings, and base it will hold up just fine.
The only complaint I have with the scope is when zeroing turrets. The scope’s turrets are the single screw through the center design. The turret has a female brass ring with teeth like a gear, and the erector has a male counterpart to the female, also made of brass. There have been occasions where the turret would not make for a perfect zero reading. It has been .05 Mil up or down, or left or right. That is easily overlooked as the quality of every other feature of the scope is so high, especially a scope at a retail price well below other brands with the same features.
by Jason Garvey
Garret Hellinger of Kopfjager Industries contacted me via private message Oct. 3 2014. He and I discussed precision shooting and he explained that he is a law enforcement Sniper in the metroplex as well as a former United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper. Himself, a friend that is a SWAT officer, and a friend that is an Aerospace Engineer created this business model to produce a rifle rest to aid riflemen, in the field, in getting stable shots anywhere they go. With his Sniper background he explained to me that it never made sense to him that people spend thousands of dollars building custom rifles or buying quality mass produced rifles, adding expensive base, rings, and scopes to make sure their equipment would allow them to make precise rifle shots, but they shoot from unsteady positions. So he and his colleagues decided to create a portable rifle rest, and named it the “Reaper Rest”. He explained that they use these rests in their hides while performing departmental duties, and of course, they shoot from these rests in training. I explained how I have been down the long road of predator hunter to student of precision rifle shooting, educating myself in all of the factors of making precise rifle shots at near and long range distances. I explained how I began competing in practical precision rifle matches, I paid attention to the veterans and have applied what I learned back into hunting, especially predators. My love of rifle shooting lead me to purchase land and building a rifle range so that I could share this knowledge with those wanting to learn. He asked if I would be willing to take the Reaper Rest and shoot from it. He told me I was just the type of rifleman he wanted to test his product. Honored, I had no reservations of telling him an absolute yes! Garret met me at my fire station and handed me one of his rests in brand new condition, as well as a Slik 700 DX tripod, the tripod his company recommends to use in conjunction with the rest. If my memory serves me, he told me he and his colleagues had shot to 300 yards from the rest. I told him I could try it out to 800 yards, and that is what he was looking for! He wants this rifle rest to find a niche in the hunting community. I told Garret I would use it and told him what I thought of it.
My first impression of the rest is that while it is not nearly as small as the BogPod I carry in a scabbard attached to my pack, it has to be significantly more stable. I took the rest to my range and used it one week just to hold my rifle so that I could sit in a chair and view down range through my rifle scope, spotting for students going through the class. I used the rest this way for three students in one week and told Garret that this rest has eliminated the need for me to spend two thousand dollars for a spotting scope with a Mil or MOA reticle. I wanted a way that I could steady a scope as well as sit in a chair as opposed to spotting through my scope while prone. When I am prone next to a shooter I can get great sight pictures so that I can make wind corrections for them, but when I want to look at their form and make corrections I have to get off my chest, and stand up. Sitting in a chair spotting gives me a better vantage point to see the shooter’s position as well as have my scope right in front of me looking down range for the next shot.
Garret sent me this picture, via text a day or two later of how he figured out a way to make the system smaller so that it is easier to pack on foot.
I advised Garret that the rest is a bit large to pack very far, and I wouldn’t carry it in the mountains, but I would most certainly carry it in Texas predator hunting. Anyone that has spent any time making shots in the field knows that foliage and the terrain tends to not afford a prone shot. Field riflemen that shoot from a bi-pod will usually tell you that prone is their most stable position. But foliage and topography tend to not make it possible. That is the void the Reaper Rest will fill. I have made shots on coyotes in excess of 500 yards, but I had to have a steady rest. I usually drive within a half mile of where I will be hunting, and walk the remainder of the distance. I have a small backpack with a mouth call, Fox Pro digital call, a visual decoy, range finder, a bottle of water, and of course my rifle. So I am not traveling heavy, most of the time. There is room for me to carry the Reaper Rest along with my other gear.
Garret texted me twice asking if I had shot from the rest, and after telling him no twice I thought it was time that I do so. The Slik tripod allows three positions for the spread of the legs, narrow, medium, and wide. It also has three section telescoping legs that are 26.2“, collapsed, but extend to 70.1“ on the longest setting. The tripod will also get tall enough to allow a shot from a standing position. I spread the legs to the wide position with one leg pointing 12 o’clock away from me. I was sitting in a light weight folding chair with both elbows to my knees. I made a cold bore shot on 2 MOA steel at 500 yards and got a hit .2 Mil (3.6”) off center. I was off center not at any fault of the Reaper Rest or the tripod, but because my wind call wasn’t perfect. The first thing I noticed was that even though I was shooting a 15 pound 6.5 Creedmoor wearing a suppressor, the rifle recoiled enough that I didn’t see my bullet impact the steel. So to correct this scenario I rotated the legs so that I had a leg pointing 6 o’clock toward me. After doing this I witnessed my bullet impact steel at 500 yards on the next shot. My usual self training on my range is to make a cold bore shot at distance in any weather condition, no wind to howling cross winds, then I tend to shoot farther than the cold bore shot. This day was no different, I moved from 500 to 600 and got a first round hit, then 700, first round hit, then 800 first round hit. All from sitting in a chair! I was impressed with the Reaper Rest and sent Garret a text telling him what had just occurred. He was more excited than I was, I think.
The next day, I was back on the range, and in my usual end of the day ritual I had to fire a few rounds. This time I had the Slik tripod on the medium stance, and the telescoping legs partially extended. I sat on the deck behind them, the same as one would do in the field (unless they carry a chair). I made the same cold bore shot at 2 MOA steel at 500 yards. Perfect center hit. Then, with a dose of confidence, I swiveled to the right on the 1 MOA 500 yard steel (5” x 5”) I held the same wind and center punched it, sitting on my rear, not prone! That is a more realistic field position, and I was able to shoot very small, very far!
A few days later I decided to try the rest from the standing position. I extended the legs about 75% of their capability since I am 5’9”, and I spread the legs to the medium stance width. I positioned the rifle in the rest and decided to try a cold bore shot, standing, at 800 yards. I made a wind call, held .4 Mil wind and let one rip. A second later the bullet impacted steel and I saw it arrive! I immediately texted Garret, again, to tell him I had just made a cold bore shot on 800 yard steel while standing! Then I hit it two more times. I have to say, though, without the ability to stabilize the elbows the shot is challenging, but with some tricks of the trade, the shot can be made.
In conclusion, there are far more positive things I can say about the Reaper Rest and Slik tripod than negative. The rest will safely hold the rifle, hands-free. The rest will pan left to right 360 degrees, with resistance, and it will tilt up and down, with the ability to lock the tilt feature where ever the shooter desires. The front forearm clamp has a fast adjustable width feature to handle the narrowest or widest of rifle forearms, but it retains the ability for the shooter to correct cant with a dual hinge system. The rest is not as stable as prone or from a five hundred pound shooting bench, but that shooting bench is not portable and one can usually not get a prone shot in the field. The Reaper Rest weighs a scant 3.6 pounds, and the Slik tripod weighs 5.8 pounds. So a total of 9.4 pounds of weight that affords the ability to get very stable from seated on the ground to standing, and anything in between. Garret had told me they had only used the rest with AR-10 and AR-15 type rifles and had never tried a precision bolt action with a vertical grip. The Reaper Rest held my rifle with a Manners T-4, a Remington Varmint contour at 25” with a 26 ounce Tiger Shark suppressor attached. If it will hold an AR-10 as well as my rifle, it will hold any rifle! I told Garret that we needed to figure out a way to adjust the resistance of the pan feature. And maybe a strap to encircle the butt stock just behind the tang would be a good (and inexpensive) feature to aid in holding barrel heavy rifles. The tripod packs down to 26” x 4” x 4”, and the rest is 20” x 10” x 4”. That is not heavy, but it does occupy some cubic inches. I plan to attach both to the molle webbing on the outside of my pack. Garret advised me that is what he does. I see a future that includes this rest on many of my hunting outings. I will be including it to my “must have” equipment list when going to my range. It is an extremely handy piece of equipment that is going to allow me to make more stable shots in the field as well as be a more efficient rifle instructor. I also foresee the Reaper Rest being implemented to the bed of a UTV type vehicle for nighttime predator and hog hunting.
Thanks for your time,