Well, here we are again performing another detailed scope review. Over the past few months we have reviewed a number of high end scopes, but we are always on the lookout for sniper suitable lower cost optics as well. That is where we find ourselves with this review. Back when I first started out as a sniper, Bushnell was considered low cost junk optics. Then they purchased/combined with Bausch & Lomb sport optics and they have had a drastic change of focus for their scopes. Yes, they still have cheap junk scopes, but they also have some excellent very high end scopes as well. This year they introduced their new “Engage” series of more affordable tactical oriented scopes and we wanted to bring one in to see how it performs, especially compared against similar scopes like the Vortex Diamondback series. For the review we wanted to bring in the 3-12x42mm version, but our supplier did not have any in stock, so instead we brought in the 2.5-10x44mm version.
When we initially received the scope and pulled it out of the box our impressions were very favorable. It is a good looking scope and seems to check all of the right boxes like 30mm tube, external knobs, side focus, etc. The box itself looks nice and included with the scope are some decent flip up caps, which you do not see included with many scopes these days. Also included are a Bushnell sticker, warranty card and a set of instructions for the scope. So far everything was looking good…and then we flipped the scope over and read those fateful words that make our hearts sink every time…”Made in China”. Ugh, not good. In an effort at full disclosure, we will admit that we do not like Chinese scopes. We have yet to find one that performs well, especially over longer time periods. So yes, this scope has an uphill battle to win us over. We will do our best to be objective with the review, but we will also be paying attention to the little things that tend to knock the Chinese scopes down. We will also admit that over the past 10 years, the Chinese scopes have made a lot of progress, so perhaps this will be the first to at least get a passing grade? We will find out.
The eyepiece on the Engage scope is typical of a modern scope and is a fast focus design that covers the entire dioptre adjustment range in about 1.75 rotations, which is a little more than typical. With the eyepiece adjusted all the way “out”, there is little to no movement of the lens housing which is a good sign of quality on lower cost scopes. The ring on the eyepiece has some minor serrations to help with gripping it, but they provide only minimal grip, and it requires a fair amount of force to adjust the eyepiece. The adjustment is also smooth through the entire range. We noticed that there is no indicator mark on that eyepiece to give a reference point of where to set it to for different users. Though there is a rubber ring around the end of the housing to help protect the eye in the case of contact during recoil.
The power ring is located forward of the eyepiece after it begins to taper down. There are clear white markings on the ring at every even number, but due to the ring being a smaller diameter than the eyepiece and the markings being on a flat surface and not canted toward the rear, they can be hard to see from behind the scope. The scope is a second focal plane scope, so the MOA style reticle is only accurate at 10x. At least this is the highest magnification so it is simple to just crank the zoom ring until it stops at 10x, and then do your measurements. This makes it so you do not need to look at the zoom setting if you need to be quick. There are some serrations on the zoom ring as well as a thumb protrusion to help with getting a good grip. That protrusion is needed as the control is stiff, especially in the 34 degree temps we encountered during our tests. The adjustment itself is smooth enough, but like was mentioned, we had difficulty changing the zoom power from behind the scope. It was just hard to get a good enough grip on it.
In front of the power ring is 2.20″ of scope tube to mount the rear scope mounting ring. The tube diameter is 30mm which is a nice feature on a lower cost scope as the wider diameter tube should provide for a good amount of elevation adjustments, which we will get to later. The shoulder where the controls are located has a rounded shape to it and is not large or tall.
The control knobs themselves are an external style knob, as is typical on a tactical style scope today. They are a good size and feature a single level of number markings. At the top of the elevation knob there is the same serration pattern as is found elsewhere and then on the very top of the knob is a slightly smaller diameter disk that screws off. This disk is loosened and removed once the zero is achieved and then the knob can be lifted and placed back on to set it at zero. This is all done without the use of tools and is a straight forward process.
The elevation knob has 15 MOA of adjustment per revolution and there is a vertical hash mark at each .25 MOA click and numbers and a larger hash at each whole MOA. The turret also features a locking system. When the turret is pressed down, it is locked and will not rotate. To make adjustments, you pull the knob up which then allows the adjustments to be dialed in. The technical specs for the scope indicates there are only 50 MOA of adjustment, which for a 30mm tube and only 10x of max magnification, is very low. Our test scope here had 68 MOA of elevation adjustments which is at least workable with a 20 MOA canted base, but is still a low number for a 30mm tube and 10x of zoom. Usually 60 MOA is about the minimum you will want for a 308 to go from 100 to 1000 yards when setup with a 20 MOA canted base.
The clicks themselves are not bad. They are slightly muted, but there is a little bit of knob movement before the click, or slop, which is common on knobs that have locking features like these ones do. The slop is minimal and on a whole we give the click quality an okay grade as there is a definitive click that can be felt without mushiness. The elevation knob does not have any sort of zerostop capability and with only 15 MOA per revolution, there will need to be care given to track what rotation the knob is set on. A shooter will need well over 2 full revolutions to go from 100 to 1000 yards with a 308. Additionally, there are no horizontal hash marks below the knob to give the shooter any indication of what rotation they are on.
The windage knob is the same size and shape as the elevation knob and features the same locking system as well and the same hand removable disk for setting the zero is present. The knob counts up in both directions, a nice feature, and there is a clear R or L on every number to make it clear what windage direction you have dialed in. The knob overlaps at 7.5 MOA which is enough to shoot a 308 in a direct 10 MPH crosswind out to 800 yards without overlapping.
Opposite of the windage knob is the adjustable objective, or side focus knob. For a lower cost scope with only 10x of maximum magnification, this is a somewhat unexpected feature to be included. The range of the focus is also quiet large with the focus dropping all the way down to 10 yards on the close side, and then with markings out to 500 yards before it then goes to infinity. The focus knob requires only light force and it adjusts smooth. One thing that we do not like is that the entire focus range covers about 3/4 of the circumference of the dial, but the adjustment range from 10 to 50 yards takes up a full half of the dial with 50 to 500 and then infinity takes up only 1/4 of the dial. So a vast majority of the adjustment range of the focus control is spent from 10 to 50 yards, which will never be used on a long range tactical scope. Not a good design decision in our opinion.
In front of the shoulder that holds the controls, there is another 2.20″ of tube length to place the forward scope mounting ring. The tube then blends very nicely into the bell housing that holds the 44mm diameter objective lens. On that bell housing there is a subdued script that says “Engage” which is frivolous and certainly not needed, but at least it is subdued. The bell is threaded for a sun shade, but one is not provided with the scope.
As we indicated earlier in this review, the scope actually has a nice appearance to it. Compared to other modern extra large tactical scopes, the Engage appears almost small, even with its 30mm tube and 44mm objective lens. The finish is bead blasted matte and markings are minimal and mostly subdued, though some are bright white.
The reticle is what Bushnell calls the “Deploy MOA” and it is a straight forward MOA hash reticle that is simple to use and clean. There retirlce does not step up to a thick stadia and the hash marks go to 20 MOA left and right, 5 MOA above and 30 MOA below the aiming point. At the center, to keep things clean for aiming, there are no hashes at the 1 MOA measurements left and right. Those hashes begin at 2 MOA. There are larger hashes at each 5 MOA to help with counting larger numbers. In reality, this is a pretty good reticle and fits the zoom power well. The thicker stadia at the extremities might be useful to help direct the eye toward the center in hard to see environments, but it isn’t needed and seems to work okay.
The glass is also perfectly acceptable for the price point of the scope. On 10x, there was no problem seeing bullet holes at 100 yards and the picture is relatively bright, which again, the lower magnification range likely helps here as well. Contrast seems to be decent and this goes to show the strides that have been made in optical quality over the past 20 years. No, it is not Zeiss or S&B quality, but for a sub $300 scope, its pretty good.
Okay, so all of the poking and prodding was complete and we had a general idea of what the scope was, but now we needed to find out if this Chinese made scope was going to be able to perform. It was time for the shooting and functional testing to begin. For our shooting evaluation, we mounted the scope to our normal Remington 700P test rifle using a set of 30mm medium height Leupold Mk4 rings. The rifle has a 20 MOA canted Warne rail attached. The mounting and boresighting went off without any problems and with the single piece rail, locating the rings to fit the scope was easy.
Our shooting tests were conducted on a 34 degree day with mixed light rain and snow and heavy overcast skies. In December in Montana, it was a bit odd for us to have rain mixed in, but hey, weather is always changing. After a quick zero, we were ready to begin. If you are not familiar with how we do our scope tests, please read the article How We Test Rifles and Scopes.
Our first test was to fire the scope through a 5 MOA box to see how it tracked, which is always a good way to get warmed up. This test typically is easy to pass for any scope that costs more than about $100 USD, and that was the case here as well. The scope tracked through the box without issue and the 5th group was on top of the first. This has become almost a formality test, but it does occasionally reveal some problems and more importantly it allows us to get used to the scope and dialing in the adjustments on the knobs and lets us form some opinions in regards to functionality. In this case, nothing major was noted. The clicks, as we mentioned, had a tiny bit of slop, but are well defined and we could feel them even with gloves on to fight against the cold. The zoom ring was stiff, but again, functional once you found your grip on it.
It was time to move to the click size test to measure how accurate the clicks were. This rifle really likes Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr ammo and our first group fired reaffirmed that measuring well below .5 MOA. We then dialed in 20 MOA of left and fired our second group, which was right about .5 MOA. Finally, we dialed 20 MOA of right back in and fired a last round to insure the tracking stayed true and it did with that round right in with the original group, opening it up just slightly. We then measured the distance between the groups which came in at 21.5″. At 100 yards 20 MOA should measure 20.94″ which means we saw an error of 2.7%. For this test, due to the error introduced with group sizes, we consider anything under 5% to be passing and prefer to see error of less than 3%, which this scope did.
Our final operational tests consist of checking to see if there is any reticle drift during zoom power changes as well as when adjusting the focus through its entire range. These are areas where we have seen previous Chinese made scopes really struggle so we were curious to see how the Engage would do. We mounted our bore sighting grid to our rifle and adjusted the scope to be aimed precisely at a cross point on the grid and then first tested the zoom power going all the way from 2.5x up to 10x several times while intently watching the crosshairs to see if they would drift. There was a slight drifting of the reticle across the span, but it was not more than about 1 MOA from extreme to extreme, so those results were not bad. When we checked the adjustable objective, the lower range from the 10 yard mark up to about the 50 yard mark on the dial was not good at all. The reticle moves probably 3-4 MOA in that span. From 50 yards up to infinity, the reticle was pretty solid and did not move much at all. We still do not understand why engineers try to get a scope to focus so close and use up more than 60% of the adjustment range going from 10 yards to 50 yards where the scope will never be used. Then the amount of adjustment range from 100 to 500 and then infinity is tiny on the dial and makes it hard to get a good sharp parallax free image. Not only does that 10-50 yard range waste valuable adjustment space, they never can get the reticle to stay in place at those extreme close in ranges. So they shoot themselves in the foot twice.
So where are we with this scope? Well, we have to admit, and we knew we would eventually get here, this Chinese made scope is at least functional in normal operating ranges. We are not ready to endorse it and trust ours or others lives on it, but they are getting better and better. We especially will want to see how the scope does over a longer period of time to see how the internal parts hold up with prolonged use. This is especially important with a tactical scope that will see lots of adjustments dialed in which wears down the gears and other internal components. The scope passed our tests, provided it is never used closer than 50 yards, but it still has work to do to gain our trust. The clicks have a little slop, the zoom ring is hard to get a good grip on to make adjustments, the focus dial is light and has way to much adjustment range from 10-50 and not enough from 100 to infinity, and there are a few other minor things we don’t care for. But so far, it is the best Chinese scope we have tested. Now lets see if it will hold up over time. If any of you readers are currently using one extensively, keep us posted on how it holds up.
Sniper Central 2018