by Anonymous on July 18, 2016
Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile ARC 12x Rangefinding Binocular Review
This is going to be long. If you want the short version, here it is:
Beg, borrow, lie, cheat, or steal. Do what you need to do. BUY THESE NOW! I'm serious.
Ok, now for the long version, I'll break it down into a few categories. I'm purposely leaving out the packaging and stuff because in reality, nobody cares. I don't care what the youtube reviewers say. It was good packaging. Nuff said.
Well, before I dive into the gritty details, I'll start by giving a little background of myself, my type of shooting, and my current equipment that I'm comparing to for reference. For starters, I'm a benchrest guy. For any of you who don't know, that means I'm the pickiest of the picky, and probably still a little pickier than you're guessing. I'm concerned about quality "without caring about budget". That last part is in quotations because I actually do still work for a living so sometimes I still can't buy what I want. The type of shooting I do is shooting benchrest groups and prairie dog shooting. (I actually do a lot more different types of shooting than that, but that's where the rangefinders come in) I'm a Nightforce guy. Specifically, I'm a Nightforce Competition model guy. The one with the ED lenses that costs an arm AND a leg. Yeah, I use those. When it comes to glass clarity, believe me when I tell you that I have some clear glass to compare these binos to. Many of you already know that the middle of the day, when mirage is at its worst, is a rangefinders worst nightmare. We have several 1k yard rangefinders that simply will not range dogs beyond 200 yards in these conditions. You know how it is. Well, the Bushnells live up to their 1 mile name, and then some!
To start with, I bought these just a hair over a year ago. My initial impressions were good, but yet skeptical. They worked amazing, but I knew the real test wouldn't be until I got them in the prairie dog fields.
I'm not sure if they still do, but mine came with a magnetic close case, neck strap, and Butler Creek flip up caps for the objective lenses. One of my flip up caps simply would not stay snapped closed which was a minor annoyance. I called Bushnell, they sent new caps. The caps were the wrong size. I called again. They sent again. Wrong size again. I called again. They sent again. Correct size this time. Now in all fairness, these were a new model at the time and the employees were struggling to figure out the correct part numbers to send me. All of the flip up caps that they had to fit their other rangefinders, binos, and scopes would not fit these. Eventually, they figured it out and got me fixed up. Professional and friendly the entire time, blah blah blah, they're great people. Seriously. (Remember I said that when you don't see the "Customer Service" part of this review. That sums it up. Great people. Anyways, the magnetic close case is really kind of unimpressive I suppose. It's not fancy, it's probably not really even needed, but it does work and I use it as a storage bag in the safe. The body of the binos is like a hard rubbery material/coating. If you dropped these onto concrete, they would probably bounce unharmed, but I'm not trying it. The lens covers on the eye pieces work well and are attached to the neck strap so you don't lose them. Not very fancy, but they do a good job. The flip up covers (aside from that one in the beginning) work great. They flip up and they flip down. What more do you really need them to do? The neck strap? Ahh yes, the neck strap! Ok, I'll say it, these are not a typical small fit in your pocket set of binos. They're big. They also have a little bit of weight to them as they should. The neck strap is fantastic! It is nicer and better padded than any of my rifle slings. Big plus there!
Ease of use.
Can you push buttons and twist dials? If you answered yes, then you can use these! They're pretty simple. Seriously, if you can use a rifle scope, you can use these. Speaking of rifle scopes, let's jump into glass clarity.
Ok, as I've said before, I own Nightforce Competitions. Here's the thing about glass clarity. Lots of people don't seem to quite grasp how this works so I'll take a few min to try and explain. Imagine a piece of glass that is just perfect. Crystal clear. Now, if you were able to magnify it while looking through it, like for example 55x on the Nightforce Comps, or a camera zoomed in, or whatever, then you'd see your target, now greatly enlarged and just as clear as it was on lower power. That's where glass clarity is important, the very high magnifications. If you go to whatever local store and look through a Tasco on 3x, you'll swear it's every bit as clear as anything else. I promise you, it's not. The difference is you don't have the ability to magnify it enough for the imperfections in the glass to really begin to stand out. If you're limited to 9x, then it could seem to be very clear glass, and for all realistic uses, it certainly would be. So now that we understand glass clarity requirements are directly related to magnification, let's go back to the Bushnells. They're available in 8x, 10x, and 12x with mine being 12x. My Nightforces are 15-55x so for the comparison, I'm comparing to them on 15x. Honestly, I can't tell any difference. The Bushnells are freaking clear! Now MAYBE if I set up a newspaper at 50 yards, then I might be able to distinguish a few differences between them, but for real world use (prairie dogs), these Bushnells are every bit as clear as my Nightforces. Bottom line. Let that sink in. I'm telling you these Bushnells are every bit as clear as my $2500 Nightforces. If you've never looked through a scope with ED lenses, then imagine the clearest scope you've ever looked through. These are as good or better than that. I had no problem using these as spotters to locate dogs, guide the shooter in, watch vapor trails, and call shots.
Brace yourselves. I have a lot of good things to say here. First off, the ARC in the name stands for Angle Range Compensation. Think about that for a second. ANGLE range compensation, not just range compensation which would be your typical ballistics. These range finders have an inclinometer inside that measures the degree uphill or downhill, and then figures it in to the ballistic data for you! If you don't know that shooting uphill or downhill changes your dial or hold vs shooting on flat ground, then just be thankfull it has this technology. Yes, it does matter, but no, you won't have to worry about it. So yes, not only is that part figured out for you, but it also has rudimentary ballistic software built in. It is NOT a kestrel. I do NOT do any type of shooting where first round hits matter. I don't hunt large game nor am I a sniper. That being said, close is good enough for me. 2nd or 3rd round hits are just fine for prairie dogs so keep that in mind. Now I say "rudimentary" ballistic software because it has presets that are matched to popular factory ammo ballistics. There's a list in the owners manual of what those are and there are about 80 or 90 more than that listed on their website. I don't shoot factory ammo and I don't shoot with anyone who does. Even still, I was able to find a setting that fairly matched the ballistics of our 22br, 6mm br, 6mm ppc, 6mm Remington, and 243 ackley with various loads for each (all the same setting on the rangefinder by the way), and one other setting that fairly matched our 308 and 6.5x284 although with so many others covered, I never bothered to change it. Again, especially considering the wind, I never expected first round hits. However, if you know how to zero in 2 shots (which you should), then 2nd or 3rd round hits are easy to do with this data. It also has ballistic settings to choose from for bows, but since I don't shoot bows, I haven't played with those at all.
Now aside from the ballistics, there are a few other features/settings worth mentioning. Specifically the modes. It has Target mode, Brush mode, and Normal mode. Now to really explain these, I need to talk a little bit about beam divergence. Beam divergence is the measurement of how tight the laser stays. Imagine it like MOA. It's really tight up close, but it spreads out as range increases. This is why getting a range finder capable of 1,000 yards+ is not a cheap thing to find. The tighter the beam divergence, the longer it can range, and the higher the price. A bad beam divergence is also part of the reason why our 1,000 yard range finders don't do so well in the mirage. Too wide of a beam combined with mirage equals bad readings. In all honesty, based on the price, I was going to be very happy if these Bushnells would read 500 yard dogs in the mirage. I was shocked at how much more they can do! 500 Yards is childs play for these things! Dogs at 1,000 yards were pretty easy to range with these. Due to location, I was unable to see any dogs further so I couldn't try to range them. However, there was a metal building in the background that the mirage was absolutely radiating off of. I was unable to range the building itself, but did range a tree beside it at 1830 yards. Actually, a friend ranged it and I didn't believe him so I had to see for myself. 1830 yards it was. In the 2 o'clock afternoon mirage.
Ok so anyone who has ever ranged a prairie dog knows that you aren't actually ranging the dog itself, but instead are ranging the ground around it (that whole beam divergence thing again), which brings us to the modes I mentioned earlier. Target mode will give you the distance of the very first thing it hits. Very useful for ranging a small target with large objects in the background. Want to range a prairie dog that has a tree 50 yards behind it? Put this thing in target mode and it's done. Brush mode is the opposite of target mode. Brush mode gives the range of the furthest object it hits. Want to range a deer but there are a few tree branches in your way? You see where I'm going with this. Bush mode came in ESPECIALLY handy in one of the fields we shot. There was a field sloping slightly downhill from where we were for about 400 yards, then a dirt berm maybe 10 or 20 feet high separating it from another field. That back field hadn't been shot much, probably due to the difficulty of shooting sometimes inches over the top of the berm to hit the dogs below on the other side. Well, we hit the berm a few times too, but we certainly whacked our fair share of dogs back there! Brush mode allowed me to range them all. Without brush mode, I would've only been able to range the berm, which was about 100 yards closer than the dogs we were shooting. Finally; normal mode. Normal mode may not sound like anything special, BUT normal mode allows you to scan. Instead of pressing the range button and getting a reading, you can hold the range button down and it will give continuous changing readings of everything you pass over. According to the manual, this is (understandably) harder on battery life. Speaking of batteries, this thing runs on a single CR123, I've been using it often for a year now, with a solid week of sun up to sun down use prairie dogging, often in scan mode just because, and not only am I still on the original battery, but the battery meter still shows full battery! I took 4 backup batteries with me and brought all 4 back home.
It also has 4 brightness settings (which could probably affect battery life too). Mine has been on the brightest setting since day one. I suppose I'd need to dim it for low light situations so it didn't wash out the display, but I don't shoot in the dark so I've never needed to turn it down.
Retail is around $1300 for the 12x model, less for the 10x and 8x. 30 Seconds on the google turned up the 12x for under $1k. If your google-fu is strong, you can do much better. In fact, I bought mine here at Euro Optic. I buy all of my optics here and wear their tshirts proudly! Awesome people!!
Why are you even still reading this? GO BUY THEM NOW! They're amazing! I've only used one range finder that was better, but that one has a $6000 price tag. Seriously, for varmints, you NEED these. For deer or large game, you could probably get away with the 8x or 10x model instead.
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