Bushnell Banner 3-9x50
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
Back in the late 80s I was lucky enough to be invited to the States along with the highly successful Markyate shooting team.
We had just won the national Field Target ‘Clubs Cup’ knock out tournament for the third time running and were to attend the first International event in Orange County, Florida.
Exciting times and a great memory, for sure, but part of that trip saw my old friend and erstwhile team mate, Barry McGraw, getting all excited about some American glassware. Buried in the corner of a vast supermarket we found an Aladdin’s Cave of shooting gear (yes the Yanks really do have racks of guns for sale right alongside the groceries!) and we simply couldn’t believe the bargain prices for some of the scopes on show. McGraw swooped on a couple of gems for his private collection, and one of those was the Bushnell Banner.
Okay, a slice of academic history, and time moves on, but the good old Bushnell Banner brand is still with us. On test here is one of the latest specifications, and with the manufacturing process now taking place in Korea, the RRP seems incredibly competitive. Gone is the super gloss exterior of old, but the fine matt black look has to be more practical as a non-reflective finish in the field.
This model is the 3-9x50 specification and whilst, in theory, that 50mm objective lens is unnecessarily bulbous for Hunter Field Target shooting, for example, where many competitors like to keep as low a sightline as possible, the difference in trajectory, set-up by the use of higher mounts, is fairly slight.
A single piece tube gives this scope a sleek feel, and the relatively simple specification is, to be honest, part of the appeal. Parallax is factory set at 30 yards, so no external adjuster wheel or collar features. Likewise, those shockingly impractical, fairly unnecessary, chunky target turrets are also thankfully missing. Instead we have altogether more refined, low-profile screw-cap turrets that are finger-friendly and twistable by hand.
Of course target turrets have their place, but for airgun use, on a general specified scope such as this, oversized turrets just get in the way. Quick focus is built-in, with the usual rear rubber-covered screw fit eyepiece, whilst magnification is adjustable from 3x up to 9x, via a particularly smooth mag ring.
Adjust those ¼-inch clicks and the robust, ultra-precise mechanism becomes instantly obvious. Shot tracking was tested by adjusting through the basic grid – a set number of clicks right, down, left and up. Arriving back at the same point is always reassuring. What really impresses with this brand though, and indeed this model, is the super crisp, bright image and clarity. Bushnell talk about ‘Dusk and Dawn Brightness’, which apparently involves specially treated multi-coated lenses, and a sharp sight picture right to the edges with no discernable aberration and image distortion is the result. Of course the integrity of the system, and an assured zero, is an essential ingredient, but that glowing sight picture just makes for a more enjoyable shooting experience. Their Rainguard process also helps keep moisture droplets from forming too easily, so hidden technology is at play too.
The Banner features the Duplex design, with a fine central cross hair, sitting within four equidistant thick outer posts. All importantly, the dimensions of the crosshair are directly proportional when set against small kill zones, making range finding possible via the bracketing system, when conditions allow.
With that factory set 30 yard Parallax, everything nearer than 30 is slightly out of focus as expected, but ultra-close 8-10 yarders are perfectly viable. Clarity and sharpness at 30 and over is excellent.
What we have here is best described as a genuinely great all-rounder, since the classic 3-9 spec suits hunting, and HFT. All the basic features are here of course – waterproof, fogproof, one piece tube construction – but where these scopes stand out is that level of clarity and sharpness. In an ever-crowded optics market, Bushnell continue to impress, and at this price point the Banner is hard to fault.
PRICE: £182 including lens caps
CONTACT: Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 www.edgarbrothers.com
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