September 10, 2019
By J. Scott Rupp
Long a trusted name in economy-grade optics, Bushnell’s Nitro line delivers good performance at a good price. The model I shot recently, the 4-16x44, is a second-focal-plane scope with side parallax adjustment. It’s built on a 30mm tube, which is appropriate for a scope with this power range.
Thanks to that bigger tube compared to a one-inch, it offers plenty of adjustment. The Bushnell website lists the total travel as 50 m.o.a., but by my physical count the travel for both is 91.25 m.o.a. Overall length with the knurled ocular adjuster turned all the way in is 13.75 inches, and mountable tube length is just a tad over 5.5 inches, which is respectable in this day and age of super-short tubes.
I ran the Nitro through a box test found its 1/4 m.o.a. clicks to be repeatable. Both windage and elevation turrets are resettable to the zero mark. With the turret caps removed, simply unscrew the top cap on the turret housing. This allows you to pull off the top portion of the turret housing and set it back down with the zero on the turret body’s witness mark. The elevation turret is marked 0 to 15 m.o.a., with 1/4 m.o.a. marks between the numbers. The windage turret is marked 0 to 7R m.o.a. and 0 to 7L m.o.a., which is a nice touch because it can prevent you from getting lost as you dial for wind. The windage turret also has 1/4 m.o.a. marks between the numbers.
The side-focus parallax knob is knurled and yardage-marked 10, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300 and infinity.
When I first got the scope I found the power-range adjustment to be overly stiff, but initially all I’d done was turn it up to the power I wanted to test the Savage Prairie Hunter at. Playing with the scope later, I rotated the ring fully both ways and the tension immediately became smooth but nicely firm all the way throughout the range.
The model I tested came with Bushnell’s Deploy MOA reticle. It’s a simple arrangement, with small aiming hashmarks in one m.o.a. increments between larger hashes that are five m.o.a. apart. When I say simple, I mean just that: There are no numbers corresponding to any of the marks. That may or may not appeal to you, depending on what you expect out of a reticle of this kind and how you plan to use it. As is typical of second-focal-plane scopes, in order for the marks to accurately reflect what they’re supposed to for holdover, holdoff or ranging, the scope has to be set at the max 16X.
For a scope that carries a suggested retail of just $390, you get some decent glass. Lenses are fully multicoated, and there are several coatings worth noting. One is Bushnell’s new EXO barrier protection designed to repel water, oil, dust and debris. Not only should the coating provide a clearer view in hard field use, it should also prevent scratches. The glass is also treated to an ultra-wide-band coating for the best possible light transmission.
The turret caps screw into O rings to help keep out water, part of the IPX7 waterproof construction that promises a watertight seal when immersed in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
I fully submerged the scope for 30 minutes and didn’t see any leakage, even with the turret caps off. Following that I threw it in the freezer, and after pulling it out there was only a small amount of internal fogging, which quickly dissipated. This is a common result for the dunk/freeze test.
For a scope at this price level, the Nitro has a lot going for it. If the 4-16x44mm is not your speed, it’s also offered 2.5-10X, 3-12X and 5-20X with 44m objectives, as well as a 6-24x50mm. There are other reticle options, too—both m.o.a. and mil.
I used Tasco dual-purpose aluminum low rings (TS00601, $24) to mount the Bushnell to the Savage Prairie Hunter, and they have a neat feature. The Bushnell has a 30mm tube, but if the scope had had a one-inch tube, I could’ve used the supplied aluminum inserts to accommodate the smaller-diameter tube. I’ve used a setup of this kind before, and I love the flexibility it offers.
The rings themselves look well machined, and the T15 Torx screws are properly hardened. The latter is important to me because there’s nothing worse than screws that are easily buggered. The rings are horizontally split, which I also like because this design is easier and faster to mount than vertically split rings. They clamp to a rail via a 1/2-inch slotted cross bolt nut.