BSA EssentialEMD 4-12x44
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- Last updated: 21/01/2022
As with many other sports, airgun shooting can be as expensive and as ‘high end’ as we want it to be, and whilst many will decry the explosion in super-refined equipment, as elitist and unnecessary, others, I’m sure in the majority, will at least appreciate the advances made. Sophisticated technology and machining processes now underpin much of the industry and that has inevitably given rise to some truly excellent hardware - guns and optics.
Whether we choose to overindulge ourselves is down to the individual but one thing’s for sure - the trickle-down effect of technology is a big factor in just how spoilt we are, right across the board. Telescopic sights are a perfect case in point and I continue to be amazed at just how inexpensive some models can be, yet still manage to offer a level of performance that’s difficult to fault. Indeed, take a close look at the scope on test here - the BSA Optics Essential EMD 4-12X44 AO.
One mention of the RRP, at an astonishing £108 and I thought there had been a mistake. Having now spent some time playing and evaluating, that initial assessment hasn’t changed!
I remember some chap at an HFT competition a few years back, mentioning that he had stumbled across a BSA Essential scope and that it was way better than the asking price suggested. I made a mental note, thinking I would at least source one for a review, and promptly did nothing about it. Anyhow, here it is.
EMD stands for Essential Mil Dot, as in the reticle, and AO for those unfamiliar with this type of optic refers to the front positioned adjustable objective. The usual fast focus dioptre sits at the rear and elsewhere we have low profile turrets, adjustable magnification and elasticated lens caps. An instruction leaflet is always welcome and the one supplied here covers focussing, mounting, zeroing, parallax correction and maintenance. So, for any newbies out there, help is at hand every step of the way.
With the scope set in the mounts and eye position and eye relief correctly allowed for, it’s time to gently twist the rear-mounted fast focus on the ocular lens, until a full crisp sight picture is achieved and the reticle is also properly in focus. With this set, I would always recommend marking off (with tape or Tipp-Ex) where the focus bell position lies, in case it gets accidentally twisted off its setting. Alternatively, a plastic circlip or wedge can be used, even a rubber band, to fill the gap created and maintain the desired position.
Now it’s time to zero the EMD, and the fairly low profile turrets have screw caps that can be easily removed and put to one side. The turrets show 1/4” click values (measured at 100 yards in theory), so 4 clicks = 1/4” at 25 yards. They are finger-friendly, with a central twistable bar, but over an extended session my test scope’s mechanism was fairly stiff, so a little trying on the fingers. That said, it’s stating the obvious, but with this style of scope, in most scenarios, the turrets will be zeroed, then the caps replaced and left alone thereafter. On test, I found values to be true and accurate when zeroing, and my usual grid test, adjusting to send the point of impact (POI), up, right, down, then left, to arrive back where I started, tracked in perfectly.
Setting parallax is easily done by rotating the front objective collar, slowly anti-clockwise, near to far. The minimum distance is marked up in white as 10 yards, then 15, 25, 30, 50, 75, 100 and infinity. An interesting and unusual feature is that there are also gold markings in between, showing a corresponding mark for each distance in metres. Take your pick, and the more reference points the better in my book.
Pre-set parallax markings are often just a guide and don’t fall correctly for the given distance, yet with this BSA EMD model, I even found these tallied, which is a rare occurrence on test. Differing eyesight and conditions will all affect results here, so I would say expect to have to add personal range markers on the dial if deemed necessary. These scopes are designed primarily as hunting tools of course, so I would have thought the front guide marks would be sufficient, especially given those extra gold metre marks.
In use, the full, crisp, sight picture and clarity overall, are, I have to say, extremely impressive. Brightness and contrast are hard to fault too, with no obvious aberrations or fringing. Turning the parallax collar is reassuring, with just the right amount of resistance, to the point where, with the chosen distance selected, I wouldn’t envisage the collar moving accidentally.
The Mil Dot reticle offers plenty of aim points, and with its duplex style (four equidistant central fine lines), the image remains uncluttered. One slight negative here though concerns the Mil Dot markings themselves, which are just a little too small and narrow. Proportions wise, they work perfectly, and with this scope set to 9x mag and the parallax dialled to 25 yards, I found I could bracket a 15mm HFT kill zone. That’s a great start, and an indication of how usable and airgun focussed these models are.
For the princely sum of £108, who can argue that this BSA EMD optic is anything other than outrageously good value for money, for either a starter scope, hunting tool or even an introductory HFT job. I get the feeling BSA are looking to upgrade their optics range in the not too distant future, so this is a model to snap up whilst you can if you ask me.