Best BDC Rimfire Scopes for Small Game Hunting


BDC (ballistic drop compensating) reels have long been popular in big game guns. Now we’re seeing them in rifle shooters. If you enjoy shooting small game with a shotgun, this is a good thing because depending on muzzle velocity, a .22 long rifle bullet can drop up to 10 inches between 50 and 125 yards. For 2022, Bushnell and Tract have both introduced a rimfire rifle with a BDC reticle, and I tested them head-to-head.

How we test Rimfire extensions

First, I dunked both armpits in water for 30 seconds to see if they were waterproof and fogproof. I then compared the rifles regarding brightness and resolution, in bright and dim light, and from 25 yards to 175 yards. After that, I mounted the scopes on a new Ultra Light Arms Model 20 RF single shot rifle with a 20 inch barrel. After zeroing at 50 yards, I fired a box drill with each rifle to test for adjustment repeatability.

Next, I started testing the BDC reticles. I chose three loads of .22LR, each zeroed at 50 yards with each rifle. I fired three-shot groups at 75-, 100-, 125-, and 175 yards, with each load and each rifle, using the correct point of aim for each distance. I then analyzed the targets to determine the actual trajectory of each charge and how closely those trajectories coincided with each reticle.

BDC mesh performance

Both rifle reticles have similar BDC reticles and all BDC reticles will work; it’s just a question of how well they match the trajectory of the load you’re using in your rifle. Muzzle velocities of the three loads tested ranged from 1276 to 1441 fps, and both reticles performed quite well. The DZ22 pellet in the Bushnell rifle scope was a close match to the 1276 fps CCI load, and the BDC reticle in the Tract riflescope was a better match to the 1441 fps Winchester load.

Graph showing the undervoltage for two different rimfire stretches.
This graph shows the undervoltage for both grids and how they compare to the actual trajectories of the three test loads. Richard Mann

Of course, how well these reticles match the trajectory of these or other loads from your rifle will depend on the muzzle velocity and even how high you have them mounted above the bore. Regardless, by tweaking your zero a bit, you should be able to tune most 1250 fps loads to 1450 fps to closely correspond with each. The graph above shows how the actual/verified trajectory of each load compares to the ballistic correction of each additional aiming point in each rifle.

Parallax adjustment

As with any rifle, parallax is important. For the types of shots hunters see when hunting small game—like headshots at squirrels—it can be critical. Typically, rimfire rifles have parallax set at 50 yards. This works well because most rimfire shots are probably taken between 20 and 60 yards. But these two objects with their ballistic grids create a parallax problem because when parallax is placed at close range, parallax increases rapidly with distance. Bushnell kept parallax on their riflescopes at 50 yards. This was a practically sound decision since, even with the ballistic reticle, most shots with a .22 LR will most likely be closer to 50 yards than 100. Tract on the other hand sets the parallax on their rescope at 75 yards. This is a good compromise if you expect to take longer shots.

Manual illumination adjustment at a rifle range.
This is not a parallax adjustment on the left side of the saddle on Bushnell rifle scopes. It is the brightness adjustment for the lighted grid. Richard Mann

Best BDC Rimfire Scopes

Bushnell’s DZ22 3-9X40 Illuminated

RS-2

specification

  • Price: $119.99
  • zoom: 3-9X
  • Eye relief: 3.6 inches
  • Diameter of the target: 40 mm
  • Length: 12.5 inches
  • Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Click Value: .25 inch at 100 yards
  • Tube: 1 inch
  • Parallax setting: 50 meters
  • Grid plane: Second focal plane
  • Mounting space: 5.3 inches
  • Eyepiece diameter: 1.72 inches

Pros

  • Illuminated reticle
  • Very affordable

ANTI-

  • There is no aiming point 150 yards
  • Distance resolution

This rifle is equipped with the Bushnell Drop Zone DZ22 reticle that has three additional aiming dots in the form of 1 MOA dots that are positioned below the center of the reticle. According to Bushnell, it is calibrated for a 40-grain bullet out to 125 yards. As it turns out, the taper point on the bottom vertical wire of the reticle worked as an aiming point at 175 yards, but there was no aiming point at 150 yards. This rifle is made in China in a one-piece, one-inch aluminum tube with shrouded turrets. It has multi-coated optics and has proven to be waterproof. It comes with a comprehensive manual detailing reticle undervoltage in MOA and is compatible with the Ballistic Bushnell app available for use on your smartphone.

The rifle’s round magnification adjustment was easy to adjust and was no larger than the diameter of the eyepiece. This allows for low mounting and good bolt handle clearance. The illuminated reticle is powered by a CR 2032 battery that fits into a housing to the left of the scope’s saddle and has six adjustment settings with an “off” setting between each. The brightness adjustment was a little stiff to turn, but it worked perfectly. The rifle also has a fast focus eyepiece, a second focal plane reticle, and offers 60 MOA of windage and elevation reticle adjustment. It has a lifetime warranty.

Tract 22 Fire 4-12X40 BDC

RS-3

specification

  • Price: $244.00
  • zoom: 4-12X
  • Eye relief: 3.5 inches
  • Diameter of the target: 40 mm
  • Length: 13.9 inches
  • Weight: 15.7 ounces
  • Click Value: 0.25 inches at 50 yards (0.50 inches at 100 yards)
  • Tube: 1 inch
  • Parallax setting: 75 meters
  • Grid plane: Second focal plane
  • Mounting space: 5.9 inches
  • Eyepiece diameter: 1.73 inches

Pros

  • Trajectory correction from 75 to 175 yards
  • Good resolution

ANTI-

  • Small box with eyes at maximum magnification
  • Nearly 14 inches long

Like the Bushnell, this rifle is also built in a one-piece aluminum tube, but is made in the Philippines. It retails for more than double the cost of the Bushnell. It doesn’t have an illuminated reticle, but what it does have is a trajectory compensating reticle with four hash mark aiming points down the center of the reticle. It is advertised to provide ballistic correction out to 150 yards, but as with the Bushnell reticle, if you use the taper point of the lower reticle post, you can correct the trajectory out to 175 yards.

The zoom adjustment ring is rubber covered and easy to turn, but has a raised bump at maximum power that extends nearly a quarter of an inch beyond the diameter of the eyepiece. It’s a nice reference, but it can interfere with the operation of the bolts. It also has a second focal plane reticle and a fast focus eyepiece, but the reticle adjustments are equal to ½ as opposed to ¼ inch at 100 yards. Both the windage and elevation knobs have 60 MOA of adjustment and a quick zero reset feature. It has fully coated, multi-coated lenses, is waterproof, works with the Tract Impact Ballistics program, and comes with a lifetime warranty, no paperwork, and a lifetime warranty.

Final Thoughts

These two scopes are more similar than their $124 price difference would suggest. The extra money you spend on the Tract will give you a clearer image—especially at a distance. The tract also seemed to be slightly brighter in our test. However, if you want to use the BDC reticle on the Trakt for accurate trajectory correction, you’ll need to be at 12X magnification. To effectively use Bushnell’s DZ22 reticle, your magnification should be set to 9X. I have found that there is minimal difference between brightness when both riflescopes were set to maximum magnification. However, there was a marked difference in the size of the exit pupil and eyebox; I found it easier to place my eye behind the Bushnell at 9X than the Tract at 12X.

Man shooting a rifle on a bench.
We tested Bushnell and Tract rifle scopes with BDC reticles out to 175 yards. Richard Mann

If I were to install one of these rescopes on a general purpose squirrel rifle, I would probably go with the Bushnell because of its zoom range, illuminated reticle, 50-yard parallax setting, and its great price. If I were looking for a good scope for a shotgun that I intended to use for ground squirrels or prairie dogs – where the highest magnification and farthest parallax could be appreciated – I’d go with Tract. For what it’s worth, Tract is also supposed to offer a 3-9X40 22 fire rifle with their BDC reticle.

Read more: 10 Best Budget Rifle Ranges

I believe that a choice between these two guns is largely a matter of personal preference and need. Both proved to provide repeatable adjustments, neither runny nor foggy, and they’ve held up well after several months of use. I also believe that overall the Tract is a better optical instrument, but it’s hard to ignore the Bushnell’s performance at just over $100.





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