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BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40

BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40

Think of the ideal hunting specification for an airgun scope and many shooters will say 3-9x40. Of course, it depends on the application, but that basic spec is one of the most popular for sure. On test here is one of the Essential models from BSA Optics, the EMD 3-9x40 MD IR, and whilst we could indeed use the well worn ‘no-nonsense’ cliché, there’s no doubt that this little gem has the makings of a great all-rounder, despite its inexpensive list price. Currently offered at £102, take a look at the marketplace and you can pick it up for significantly less than that.

Nicely balanced

At 12” long and less than a pound in weight, this scope is neat and versatile. Plus, with a smart matte black finish and that distinctive power adjuster collar, it has a purposeful air about it. The ‘MD’ denotes Mil-Dot Reticle and for those unfamiliar with this increasingly popular feature, all the technical blurb is properly explained in the instruction leaflet, which also confirms all the basics required. Admittedly, it’s a generic item that gets supplied with the whole scope range by the looks of it, but with information on focussing, mounting, pre-zeroing, zeroing, illumination, parallax and maintenance, most bases are covered for those new to the sport.

‘IR’ refers to the illuminated reticle, and if you look to the left-hand turret you’ll see the clearly marked rheostat brightness levels. The main turrets are low profile with screw cap covers and once the caps have been unscrewed and removed, the turret mechanism offers finger-friendly twist bars. Whilst these proved maybe a little stiff on test, they certainly won’t be moving accidentally any time soon, which is always reassuring. There are no numbers on the dial, which is a little irritating, but since these are really turrets to be adjusted, set, then sealed with the caps and left alone, that can’t really be seen as a major negative. Adjustable target-style turrets are one thing - this compact, low-profile setup on offer here, is quite another.

Fine definition

Bringing in the fine definition of both the target and the reticle can be achieved using the fast focus dioptre at the rear. One observation here is that, unusually, the eyepiece doesn’t show a rubber protection ring. Given that the eye relief, in order to achieve a full circular sight picture, is around 3”, this should be irrelevant to any experienced shooter. However, having seen plenty of novices place their eye socket right onto the end of the scope when they look through for the first time, this is definitely a word of warning!

On test, the eye-piece turned with a good degree of controlled resistance. So, again, it won’t be coming out of adjustment accidentally, plus, it’s all a measure of the slick feel that BSA has arrived at with this optic, despite it falling into the ‘budget’ sector classification by virtue of the price if nothing else.

story continues below...

The lenses are specified as multicoated and clarity wise, this model can’t fail to impress. A tiny amount of shadowing at the very edges perhaps, but overall, the bold crisp image, coupled with a very positive reticle, gives the user confidence in precise shot placement.

My zeroing test confirmed reliable tracking of the shot, as I dialled in given amounts of movement. If you want reticle illumination, then there is, as mentioned, 11 stages of brightness, as well as an off point. When illuminated, the entire Mil-Dot area lights up red, whilst the equidistant thick outer posts of the reticle stay black.

Factory set

Now, regarding the subject of parallax and focus, this model isn’t adjustable. Instead, it comes with the parallax set at the factory to 30 yards. In practice, this means viewing an object at this distance will be free from parallax error and will be sharply in focus. Closer targets, when viewed on 9x magnification, were unsurprisingly a little blurred. That said, it’s a usable degree of blur, so shots taken HFT style, where the magnification is not touched throughout the tournament, are possible.

In a hunting scenario, where sharp clarity is suddenly needed, the magnification can be wound down to as low as 3x, if necessary - hence the versatile label.

Through the mill

The Mill-Dot reticle design seen here offers four equidistant thin inner lines. These sit within the thick outer posts, with four dots spaced across each of the quadrants. Effectively, an abundance of windage and elevation aim points, giving the shooter plenty of opportunity to bracket small kill areas in HFT for example, between dots, or make calculations using other known target sizes. Doing your homework is a big part of the equation, and this style of reticle makes it possible.

Snap one up

These scopes come complete with a set of elasticated lens caps, which is always handy, and vital if everything is to be kept in tip-top condition. Any optical equipment deserves some care and attention, and precision lenses are neglected at your peril. The usual guarantees are here – fog proof, waterproof and shockproof, plus with some crazy discounting currently going on, this impressive little BSA Essential may just prove to be an irresistible bargain. That said, even at full price, it really is hard to fault. So, for the perfect starter scope or a budget solution to double up as a hunting tool and HFT scope, this Essential EMD 3-9x40 is well worth investing in.

  • BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • BSA Essential EMD 3-9 x 40 - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge


  • Name: BSA Essential EMD 3-9x40 MD IR
  • Magnification: 3-9x, Variable
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 40mm
  • Reticle: Mil-Dot
  • Illumination: Yes
  • Weight: 14.4oz
  • Length: 12.3”
  • Click Adjustment: 1/4” @100yds
  • Field of View: 35ft - 12ft @100yds
  • Eye Relief: 3”
  • Main Body Tube: 1”
  • Min Focus: Parallax corrected for 30 yards
  • Turrets: Low profile, finger adjustable
  • Clicks per rotation: 60
  • Number of Full Rotations: 6.75 on windage and elevation
  • Price: £102
  • Contact: BSA Guns - www.bsaguns.co.uk


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