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Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 1.75x-5x32mm Crossbow Scope Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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The Bottom Line

This is not a bad scope, but it's pricy and has some shortcomings. My biggest complaints are about important features: eye relief and reticle (crosshair).

The Good: It was plenty accurate with my Barnett Wildcat C5 crossbow and I took a deer with it, so it can be used successfully. Read on for more info.

Pros

  • Provides different aiming points for different ranges, which even worked with my fairly slow crossbow.
  • Optics quality seems pretty good.
  • Adjustment is easy and can be done by hand (no coin or screwdriver needed).
  • Offers magnification, so I don't have to carry binoculars with me (one less thing).
  • Controls work smoothly.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 1.75x-5x32mm Crossbow Scope

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 1.75x-5x32mm crossbow scope mounted on my Barnett Wildcat C5 crossbow.

Photo © Russ Chastain
Cons

  • Reticle (crosshair) markings are light; they should be heavier for hunting use.
  • Eye relief is too long, though I have the scope mounted pretty far forward.
  • Manual is not always accurate.
  • Need to make sure you return scope to low power before you aim.
  • Made in China, though the box tries to fool you with American flag and "Proud USA Company" on front of box.
Description

  • Scope for crossbows, variable magnification from 1.75x to 5x with 32mm objective lens.
  • Parallax set at 35 yards.
  • Scope adjusts 1/4" per click at 25 yards (1" per click at 100 yards).
  • Field of view at 100 yards: 49'@1.75x, 17' at 5x.
  • Exit pupil diameter: 18.2-6.4mm.
  • Eye relief: 4.5"
  • Total length: About 10.25" (varies with eyepiece focus).
  • Length of tube for mounting: 5.1"
  • Tube size 1".
  • Weight: 13.15 ounces alone (no rings, no covers). The covers feel heavy and weigh 1.15 oz.
  • Bushnell Model Number 851532XB.
Bushnell DOA Crossbow reticle crosshair

Bushnell DOA Crossbow reticle crosshair. I found some other images online, but none of them were accurate. This is a photo of the actual crosshair in the scope that I tested.

Photo © Russ Chastain
Scoping my Crossbow

When I bought my Barnett crossbow some years ago, it was wearing the cheap red/green dot sight that the factory supplied with it. I zeroed the sight so I could hold in the center of the kill zone and make accurate shots on deer/size targets - out to 27 yards. Beyond that, the drop was too great.

I managed to take a couple of whitetails with that setup, but it had some drawbacks. For one, the scope offered no magnification, so if I needed to closely examine a deer (or anything else), I needed to use separate binoculars - just one more bulky item to tang around my neck and potentially get in the way. For another, my range was limited.

When I got the chance to try Bushnell's new Legend Ultra HD crossbow scope, I didn't hesitate. While my confidence in Bushnell optics has been on the low side due to past experience, I currently use a Bushnell laser range finder, and it and this scope have both proven useful in the field.

I found that the scope-mounting dovetail on my crossbow was the same size as those used for many rimfire rifles, and bought a set of rings to fit. It's been my experience that some of the poorest scope rings around are sold for 22 rifles, so be vigilant and make sure you're getting something that's worth a hoot. (I thought I was buying good rings when I purchased B-Square rings, but I later learned that I was wrong; see my B-Square scope ring review for more on that.)

Changing it up

Once I had the new scope mounted, it was a welcome change - for the most part. It offered a lower profile than the original dot sight, but of course it was much longer. The most aggravating part was the long eye relief of the Bushnell scope, which is really too long for my setup. When I comfortably shoulder the crossbow, my face is much too close to the scope, and I have to adjust by moving my head back.

DOA

This scope has a crosshair system (called DOA) that allows you to make accurate crossbow shots out to 50 yards and beyond. This is pretty handy, and worked very well for my fairly slow Barnett Wildcat C5 crossbow.

You must practice with it and confirm that it will do so with your particular crossbow and arrow/arrowhead combination - and I strongly caution against taking shots at game at long range using any bow or crossbow. Arrows are slow, and deer are fast - they can "jump the string" and move quite a bit before your arrow gets there. Even 35 yards can be too far on an alert deer, as I learned the hard way.

There's also a "rack bracket" feature that's supposed to let you judge whitetail and mule deer antler width using reticle marks based on the width of the animal's ears. To me, this is of little value and if you have time to judge antlers, you can probably eyeball the ears and antlers for yourself more easily than remembering what the marks mean at what power and what range, etc.

Manual Error

You also need to set the scope at one particular power when you're shooting, or else the different aiming points on the DOA reticle won't work properly. According to the manual, "The reticle is ballistically calibrated to be used at the 2x setting on the scope's power ring. This gives the user a solid stopping point to make sure they select the right power to properly use the reticle..." (emphasis added).

Well, that's all very nice, except that it's hogwash. Not only is there no "solid stopping point" for 2x, there isn't even a mark for 2x. So I did all of my shooting at the low end of the adjustment (1.75x), which does provide a solid stopping point and worked fine.

Zeroing

After some shooting and adjusting, I had the scope zeroed without too much trouble. I even shot a group at 50 yards that was smaller than three inches, which is pretty good when you're slinging arrows.

In the Field

One of the first things I noticed when I hit the woods with this scope was that the crosshairs and other reticle markings are pretty light. Target shooting is not the same as hunting, and I hadn't noticed it much on the range. It was tough to pick out the dots and such in the woods - and that was without a deer in front of me to frazzle my nerves.

I adjusted the scope's eyepiece to better focus the reticle, and that provided a noticeable improvement, but they're still finer than they should be for hunting.

Making it Count

When I got a legal critter in front of me, I ranged it at 35 yards. I split the difference between the 30- and 40-yard dots in the scope and when I took the shot, the arrow flew straight and true. The deer did jump the string and go a long ways without leaving much blood, but that wasn't the scope's fault.

When I really needed it, I didn't struggle to find the dots, and the arrow went where I aimed it - so it definitely came through in the end.

Conclusion

I would like to see this scope selling at a more reasonable price (it retails for around $250 at press time); I have bought rifle scopes of similar quality for much less. I'd also like to see heavier reticle markings and a shorter eye relief. But in the end it's all about results, and the venison in my freezer attests that this scope works as advertised.

- Russ Chastain

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