Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bushnell Elite DMR 3.5-21 FFP Precision Optic

Hello everyone... I would like to speak a little about the Bushnell Elite DMR that I have been beating the snot out of for some time now. A while ago, I was offered an oportunity to really run the new 3.5-21 DMR from Bushnell, and must say... I was skeptical at first.

As we all know, namesake is EVERYTHING in this community. I have owned Bushnell products over the years, and have always thought of them as "hunting" optics. So, going into this testing phase, I viewed it with that "slanted" perspective.

When the optic arrived at my house, I first noticed the packaging. The box that it came in was visually stunning, and well made. The optic arrived without any damage what so ever. Once I opened the box, I was immediately impressed with this optic. It is built like a tank! The knobs are large, and have the traditional Bushnell Elite "Tactical" feel, but are twice the size of the other knobs I have used from Bushnell products in the past. I also noticed that the optic has locking turrets. You have to pull up on the elevation knob (out on the windage knob) to make changes to the optic. This is a very nice feature, and is intuitive to the shooter.

The knobs can be zeroed easily in the field, by using a coin in the slot... you can also use a case rim if you don't have a coin. They are scalloped out for this reason.

The clicks are very obvious when you make adjustments... which is important in a precision optic. The shooter can make changes and know where he / she is in the adjustment range without looking at the knob. The clicks are also very perceptible even when wearing gloves.

The parallax adjustment is on the left side of the optic, and is easily adjusted. The parallax adjustment also has quick reference marks (in yards) to give the shooter the ability to get it adjusted quickly.

As you can see in this picture, the "hash" marks were not totally lined up on the elevation turret, which was no big deal. This actually gave me a chance to make the necessary adjustment. I called Bushnell, and explained this, and the Customer Service Rep walked me through the process of resetting the hash marks.

Using a quarter, I removed the silver retainer, and noticed a very nice O-Ring seal. I then lifted the elevation knob off, and saw the inner workings of the turret.

The inner turret mechanism is made out of aluminum, with a nice interface of fine "cogs". The turret was very easy to calibrate, and the hash marks lined up perfectly.

Once I was satisfied with the turret knob calibration, I took the optic outside and gave it a good dunk test.

I left it submerged for several hours... to see if it would leak at all. Bushnell says that it is waterproof, so I decided to find out. I can not in my good conscience, endorse a product that will fail in normal operational boundaries. It is highly feasible that the shooter would have to get his / her rifle wet. I know I swim with mine all the time, during waterborne operations.

I am happy to say, this Bushnell DMR passed with flying colors. No leakage, no fogging, just clarity.

I grabbed my Bushnell Elite 2.5-16 optic for size comparison...

2.5-16 on top, 3.5-21 on the bottom

Knob size... 2.5-16 on left, 3.5-21 on right
As you can see, there is a remarkable difference with this optic, as opposed to the other Bushnell scope. The DMR has a 34mm tube, and a 50mm objective lens. Finish is outstanding.

I took my MEGA MA-TEN upper / lower combo, and did a trial fit on it. I knew just what I would use this optic for... my AR-10 project.

With some 34mm LOW rings, it puts the objective bell right where I like it...

Once my MEGA MA-Ten monolithic upper was modified to my specs by GPI Custom Gunworks in Jacksonville, FL... I assembled the rifle, and began testing. This optic was to become part of a "package" that I used in conjunction with other parts, to create a rifle system that is ultra reliable, and won't break the bank.

There are many great choices in optics out there for a precision rifle. However, out of the gate, my rifle system was going to be designed FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, and the budget constraints that most agencies operate under. I have many "high end" optics to choose from, but when offered the chance to really flog this new piece from Bushnell, I was honored to give it a go.

I am happy to say, that I have really beat on this glass. It retains it's zero, the reticle subtends perfectly throughout the power range... the glass is brilliant and clear, with little to no chromatic aberrations, and no edge deformation. I have run countless box drills with it, ran the erector to full stop in each direction, and it returns to zero. It swims well, it rides in my case well, and I have verified that it is absolutely solid.

Is it perfect? No. However, I don't believe there is such a thing as the "perfect" optic. If so, we would all use it. Is it an amazing value? You betcha. For the money, even at FULL retail, you can not find anything out there that will come close to it. The list of what you get, is pretty amazing.

  • Long range capability all in a short 13.2” overall length (without sunshade)
  • RainGuard HD
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Locking T-Lok Turrets
  • 34mm Forged aluminum alloy one-piece tube
  • First focal plane
  • .1 Mil Click Value
  • 3" sunshade (included in box)
  • Side parallax adjustment
  •  Many choices of reticles

  • I chose the Bushnell G2DMR reticle to use in my test. I like this reticle for LE use, because it's less "BUSY" than the Horus Vision reticles but still allow some holds for windage at distance.

    Bushnell G2DMR Reticle

    I have the Bushnell DMR mounted in a 34mm DLOC mount from Alamo Four Star out of Texas. This combination is simply amazing in it's ability to be removed from the rifle and re-installed... and hold zero. I have done it several times in testing this rifle... and I am going to shoot a video very soon showcasing this.

    All in all, I am continuing to run this rig as set up. This optic has proven itself to me, time and time again. It's repeatable, reliable, and affordable. My ONLY gripe on it, is the narrow exit pupil (picky eye relief). On a precision rifle, it's really not a huge deal. I set my rifle up so I can get behind it with my eyes closed, get into position, and the optic lies perfectly in place. It's a wee bit fiddly to set up, due to the narrow eye relief, but once you set the rig up properly, it becomes a moot point.

    The field of view at 3.5 power, is wide enough to cover down very well at Law Enforcement call out distances. The 21 power (at full magnification) is perfect for "burning through" vertical blinds in a barricade situation, or allowing the marksman to make calls back to his / her team... (Observation).

    I will continue to update this blog post... as I continue to flog the Bushnell Elite DMR. All in all, bottom line up front... I would urge you to consider this optic if cost is important. It is packed with features, and for the money, I would recommend it. Do your homework. There are tons of reviews on this glass out there, and they are showing up more and more on competition rifles at matches. It's short, and powerful... get one and never look back.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Contact Information


    As stated before... this blog will be used for equipment testing and development. If you have any concerns, or comments, please feel free to leave them. However, if you have any item you would like to see get our attention, please email us at:

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    DMack out.

    GPI Custom Gunworks modified MEGA MA-TEN

    Hello all:

    First off, I apologize for not keeping daily entries into this blog. I started this off, knowing that I would be slow to post information due to the nature of this blog. I don't want this to be useless drivel, or a day to day commentary of my life as a Trainer. No, I want this to be an honest assessment of gear that I am using, operationally and in training.

    I have a Facebook page, that will cover more day to day stuff... you can find it here:

    Ranger Proof's Facebook Page

    Please feel free to "Like" it, and you can have a more up close and personal connection to the things that we are doing.

    Ok, that's out of the way... let's talk about my project.

    For years, I have been trying to wrap my head around a SWS (Sniper Weapons System) that can be more beneficial to the Law Enforcement Sniper. Most LE Snipers are equipped with a 20-24" barreled bolt operated rifle, and a variable powered optic with HIGH magnification. This is fantastic, for it delivers very repeatable accuracy, and is capable of making precision shots, at amazing distances. However, when I look at the natial average for "call outs"... the data does not lie.

    So, why do we "need" a rifle that is capable for making surgical hits out to "1000 yards and beyond"? Well, we really don't. So, I started re-training my mindset, and re-thinking the entire load out issue. I wanted a short, deployable SWS, that was suppressed... that would deliver supurb accuracy at reasonable Law Enforcement distances... so, I was also drawn to the AR platform, or "Gas Gun" as it is referred to by some. I knew I wanted to stay with the venerable .308 WIN / 7.62x51 round, because it is HIGHLY effective in the LE SWS role, and there is a TON of data on the rounds already in existence. Plus, I have over 25 years of experience on an AR platform, in one aspect or another.

    I had a MEGA MA-TEN upper and lower, that I wanted to build out as a test mule for some ideas that I had kicking around in my head.

    I had been working with Lee at GPI Custom Gunworks in Jacksonville, FL for a while... doing some heavy duty testing on his SAR-15 platform... (I will do a feature on this rifle as well). I approached Lee with my idea of a LE SWS and he was very interested in it. So, the machine work began. The first thing we did, is modify the upper for a left side charging handle. This is important to me, as a right handed shooter... for the following reasons.

    1. I can work the bolt with my reaction side hand, without ever coming up off of my glass.
    2. My trigger / firing hand (right hand) never leaves my index mark... I can stay on the trigger.
    3. I can rack out the current round (in a magazine change) which allows me to change rounds, all without coming up off of glass.
        4. I can cycle the action when using sub-sonic ammo, without coming up off of glass.

    The rifle still has a traditional charging handle, but the left side charger allows me to manipulate the bolt carrier, with my reaction side hand. A very nice feature when proned out behind the rifle. The barrel that I used out of the gate, was a previous barrel from another rifle. This is a JP Enterprises 1:10 twist Cryogenic Super Match. The barrel is 18" long and has a light contour. I originally put the rifle together with a standard, low profile gas block and a standard AR-10 buffer... but found out quickly that the rifle was WAY overgassed. So, I ordered a JP Enterprises JPGS-S adjustable gas block. While I was at it, I ordered a heavy rifle buffer from Clint at along with the spring that he recommended. Once I got everything situated, I was able to get the gas system in check, and the rifle ran extremely well, and the recoil pulse is VERY soft.

    Another issue that I addressed, is that the VAST majority of the AR platform rifles in this caliber are not designed from the ground up as a true "precision" rig. Most are adapted from battle style rifles... so I had some design ideas. First, I wanted to modify the mag well. I will not address this in this forum just yet... this will be done during a video review. I also wanted the overall platform to be as short / compact as possible, yet still allow the shooter to do his / her mission. Having ONE weapon platform, to exit his / her patrol car and move to the fixed firing site... yet still be able to perform multiple roles. Using the .308 / 7.62x51 as an "entry" weapon, is a wee bit overkill, but... let's just say the Sniper is deploying at a school, or a mall, or (insert location here) and has to engage an Active Shooter threat. He or She may have to move some distance with this rifle, and engage at a moments notice. Having an auto loading system, in a format that "most" Law Enforcement Officers are comfortable with (the AR platform) is a force multiplier over the traditional bolt operated rifle.

    My endstate is this: One rifle, that will serve multiple roles, providing rock solid, Swiss Watch reliability... with SUB-MOA accuracy out to 300 yards, with Minute of Man accuracy out to 600 yards and beyond. Why at such extreme distances for Law Enforcement? Well, data does not lie... and it's a fact that extreme distance does not normally come into play in a Law Enforcement setting. Due to a plethora of legal restraints, it is ALWAYS beneficial for the LE Sniper to "close" the distance and move in. However, Murphy and I are very close. There may be a time where a LE Sniper is called to make an open air engagement on a non barricaded subject, non hostage taker, single threat... out past the "normal" limits. Posititve Identification, Backstop, and all other criteria withstanding... it is absolutely sound logic to think that the LE Sniper "can" make a shot out to 300, 400 and 500 yards or beyond. So, the rifle has to be accurate. I've never trained with a LE Sniper that did NOT have a rifle capable of this. Even the old, hand me down Remingtons and Savages are fully capable, given that the shooter / glass is capable... more of my thoughts on "glass" at a later date.

    I also want the SWS to be suppressed. Not for the cool factor, but for hearing management. I have suffered traumatic hearing loss on deployments, and I tell you, I value what little hearing I have left. Shooting from confined spaces, hides, as well as the ability to work well in the counter sniper role, makes a suppressor a MUST have on a precision rifle. I am fortunate enough to be able to work with Mr. Byron Peterson of Delta P Design on this project. He is a wealth of knowledge for me on suppressor technology.The suppressor that I am using on this rifle is the Brevis 7.62 Compact suppressor and it is working supurbly. Why Delta P? Well... frankly... I really like Byron, and I really love his suppressors. He thinks outside of the box, he listens to me, and my input as a "shooter" or a "user"... In fact, Byron tells me "I'm the Race Car Mechanic, you are the Driver". This company is completly devoted to providing the most excellent product for the men and women who have to depend on his gear with their lives. As you can see, his suppressors are HIGHLY accurate.

    Click here for video overview

    This rifle shoots amazingly well. I have run several loads through it, and it does seem to like the NATO M118LR round... this is a 175 grain Sierra Match King, loaded in Lake City 7.62x51 brass, at a COAL of 2.815. The velocity I get out of this configuration averages out to be 2640 FPS (at seven yards) with my Chrony. Here is a five round group that I shot off the bipods (from a table... not prone) at 100 yards with M118LR.

    The significance of this group, is that it was fired BEFORE I tuned the gas block, and got the gas system where it needed to be. I had a hung case in the chamber, between rounds three and four, and had to open the rifle, and remove the bolt carrier. I fired rounds four and five on top of the other three, resulting in a pretty decent group.

    Once I got the gas dialed in... the rifle ran like a top.

    Here is another six round group, with a called flyer... the flyer was round number four, with rounds five and six going back where they needed to be.

    Notice that the coin is a nickle... this was also on a 3" shoot n see... which is not the most viable way to shoot "groups". This was also shot at 100 yards, prone, from bipods... but, the humidity was WAY up there, and mirage was rediculous. I know... I know... excuses, excuses.

    Here is a short video that I shot, showing the rifle with 165 Grain Federal TRU... TRU stands for Tactical Rifle Urban. I have not shot this round before, in .308 but it flew pretty well for me. I have a few more boxes and will be doing some more testing with it.

    As you can tell, it was VERY hot this day. I was also playing around with the Alamo Four Star DCLW Tripod. This works extremely well from a moving vehicle, but I need more time on it to get it dialed in from the prone position. This DLOC head on the tripod, does not allow for "cant" correction. In the video, you can see that the rifle groups well with the TRU, even with my called flyer. The cardiac impulse I was seeing, or feeling, was pronounced from the tripod. Much more so, than I notice from a bipod position.

    Here is a group I shot (top five round group) and then let my son shoot. He had NEVER fired this weapon before, and I told him to aim at my group as a reference. He fired the bottom five, after I adjusted a wee bit of elevation out of the optic.

    My son behind the rifle... he wore eye pro when he actually fired. I was runing dry fire drills with him here.


    All in all, I am very pleased with the way this rifle package is coming along. This is just the first of many installments on this SWS... so, stay tuned.