Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Field Sports Scotland

Hunting and Field Sports in Scotland

Bushnell Elite Arc 1 Mile Laser Range Finder Conx

Bushnell Elite Arc 1 Mile Laser Range Finder Conx

Pros

  • Lightweight and easily connected to other devices or App

Cons

  • Lacks on board custom ballistics other than pre-set profiles.

Summary

Bushnell Elite Arc 1 Mile Laser Range Finder Conx Review and Test

Bushenell Elite Arc 1 mile Rangefinder.

 

Firstly, I would like to thank Edgar Brothers for allowing me to test and review another Bushnell product.

This month’s review is on the Bushnell Elite Arc 1 mile Rangefinder with Conx.

Before we get into the nitty and gritty of the ins and outs of what these rangefinders can do in the field, I will get the tech details out the way for those who know a lot more about what it means than I do ha-ha, kidding I enjoy the geeky stuff too.

Technical specifications:

  • Measuring range:
    • Reflective objects: 1600 m
    • Tree: 900 m
    • Flag: 450 m
  • Magnification: 7 x
  • Objective diameter: 26mm
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3.7mm
  • Accuracy: +/- 0.5m up to 180m and +/- 1m up to 1600m
  • Bullseye mode: Yes
  • Brush mode: Yes
  • ARC arc mode: provides reliable horizontal distance up to 90 meters
  • ARC rifle mode: Indicates bullet drop / distance above target in inches, arc minutes (MOA) and thousand. angular up to 915 m
  • Dimensions (height x width x depth): 94 x 129 x 43 mm
  • Weight: 343 g
  • Power supply: 3V CR123 lithium battery included
  • Water and condensation resistant

 

The world of precision rifle shooting is all about the data, whether you are running 200yrd movers or wanting that 2-inch group past 500yrds it is all about the data.

The tools you need for those accurate shots are more important than the rifle and scope you use as in the end it is all about the data. A good grouping rifle at 100yrds with the right bullet will hit past  500yrds which is beyond hunting ranges, do not get me wrong an excellent rifle will do it better but again without the right data it really does not matter how good your rifle is.

To get that “Sweet” shot here is the basics you need.

  1. A rifle that can shoot sub-MOA at 100yrds,
  2. A scope that you can dial regarding elevation, windage isn’t really that important but helps.
  3. You need to know the ballistic co-efficiency of your bullet.
  4. You need to know your bullet velocity and the deviation of that velocity from round to round.
  5. Wind speed again easily fixed without expensive equipment just takes experience.
  6. Lastly but most important is the range of your target, without understanding the range you do not know your bullet drop no matter how good the data is above.

Number 6 brings us to the reason for the need for a good Laser Rangefinder, on a paper target or on steel that sweet shot is just bragging rights unless in competition, but in the end, it is a hit or a miss. In a hunting situation though it is not a hit or miss it is a clean kill or an inhumane one. That makes it more important to get a working, accurate range finder in the fields hence why I was eager to test a few as first and foremost I am a hunter not a target shooter but for my own anal morbidity I thrive to be as accurate long range as a professional target shooter, but analysis of me is for a whole different article.

First Test (weather)

Weather for the most part is something I have plenty of living in the Highlands. I took the rangefinder up to the viewpoint a few miles from my house, the viewpoint is nearly 1200ft above sea level and being that high you are guaranteed to always have the most extreme weather the Scottish Highlands can get.

From the road to the base of the valley below it is 465yrds, at the base there is a burn (stream) that runs into loch where deer often settle. The rain was sideways which is typical of the fading days of Winter coming into early Spring but a great opportunity to see how good these rangefinders worked in tougher conditions.

First try and ranging proved to turn back a negative, second and third click was the same, however, on the 4th click of the ranging button it worked great and every time after that at different spots. So, although the rangefinder struggled a bit at the beginning it soon sorted itself out but to be fair, I honestly would not have been shooting that distance in that weather specially not on a live target.

Second Test (Working out the geeky stuff)

Sitting in the kitchen, I went through some of the features that the Bushnell Elite LRF seems to boast, mainly the ballistic calculator. It is best to do all this before taking the Bushnell out in the field, then you are prepared and kind of know what everything does without getting frustrated in the elements.

The Bushnell Elite has pre-set settings, Like the Bushnell Fusion Binos, already installed in the unit. You can find a specific setting for your Bullet and speed on their website, it pretty much covers all loads and calibres mixing BC of bullet and speed, strangely all my calibre and bullet choices are F. I have messed with this feature a number of times as my binoculars have this feature and I do find it relatively accurate below 400yrds so good for hunting but for more accurate shooting above that you need refined data. Unlike my binoculars, The Bushnell elite has a “Conx” Bluetooth feature that allows you to connect to a ballistic app (Bushenells app is really quite good) or to your Kestrel (of which I have).

We will get more into that later.

The Bushnell Elite LRF also has Brightness settings, shooting profile and shooting mode (Rifle or Bow) as well as rain and brush modes for ranging in different environments. Very handy.

As I said before there are pre-set profiles for calculating ballistics that are set in alphabetical order and a full list of calibres, bullet and bullet speeds for each profile is on the Bushnell website, and, as said before these profiles are generally accurate to around 400yrds, I personally would not use that data for further ranges. Luckily though I am privileged to have a Kestrel Sportsman with built in ballistics that also has the “Conx” Bluetooth feature. I was able to connect my already preloaded data for all my rifles between both the Bushnell Elite and my Kestrel, in doing so all distance data was sent directly from the Bushnell Elite straight to the Kestrel which automatically calculates my bullet drop etc more accurately than what the profile settings on the Bushnell Elite will give, allowing me to shoot much further and more accurately. Basically, The Bushnell Elite is doing the one job the Kestrel cannot and that is reading the range of the target. A very handy tool partnership though, especially if you’re using a spotter/companion to range your target, he or she can be standing a few feet away ranging and the data will show up right beside you without any verbal communication needed.

Sitting in the kitchen going through the modes, buttons and features made it easier for me to get to know the product and its partnership with the Kestrel before taking it into the field.

First Field Test: Steel plate 384yrds and 721yrds

After getting to know the Bushnell Elite Arc 1 Mile Laser Range Finder, it was time to take it shooting.

I decided to go for a wander to one of my properties I shoot over and “dent some primers” shooting at 6inch-by-6inch steel plate.

The plate was set firstly at 384yrds, in the UK 384yrds is not a regular hunting range so already I am pushing out the rangefinder beyond normal hunting scenario, however, the environment was normal hunting conditions within a forest setting.

Even with sapling trees and grass blowing in front of target, the Bushnell Elite LRF picked up the target easily with no issues. I had no issues at all.

The rifle I was using for this test was my Tikka T3 .270 hunting rifle, it shoots home loaded ammunition that consists of 59gr of Alliant RE19 powder, Housed in Federal brass and Federal Premium large primer shooting a 130gr Sierra Prohunter bullet with a BC of .373 and muzzle velocity of 2945fps with an SD (deviation) of 9fps.

The Scope on my rifle is a Zeiss Conquest V4 5-24×50 with ASV turret. So not a top of the range expensive scope.

The normal range of your average .270 hunting round like this is below 500yrds accurately so I am not just pushing the Bushnell Elite LRF out I am also pushing the calibre and bullet.

I selected my rifles data profile on my Kestrel and ranged the target again through the Bushnell Elite Range Finder. Immediately the Kestrel read the distance from the Bushnell Elite and the Kestrel calculated that I needed to click 16.96 clics up so I clicked 17, the wind was 5mph running left to right (again read by the Kestrel) with no windage turret I calculated I would have to aim just on the right-hand edge of the plate.

I was standing modified prone with rifle placed on the bonnet of my pickup with a supporting rear bag, aimed at the left- hand centre of the edge of the plate and just touched the cold 1.5lb trigger and sent the round, almost immediately hear the Thwack on the plate and through the scope I could see I hit low and left of the centre of the plate. I was on target with first round cold barrel. I clicked up a further click and aimed slightly more to the right than the first shot and again I hit the plate this time slightly higher and more centre, keeping the same dial I sent another two before deciding to add another click. I confirmed and sent a couple of more rounds finally I decided to add one more click to try get the centre and sent 4 rounds and hit what I believed was centre plate (on inspection was around quarter inch off the centre) before deciding I had enough data to go out longer. On inspection all ten rounds hit the plate at 384yrds and were within 2 inches of each other, the last four were bullet on bullet I could not ask more for that and decided to call it a day as it was getting late.

Day2. I returned to the same property and changed the Target distance, the wind was a little tougher to read as it was a lot lighter with 2mph gusts then nothing, the aim of this test was not about the rifle though it was all about the range finder.

I took my truck to the same position as before and went out to my plate where I left the day before. With Bushnell in hand, I proceeded to retrieve the target and move it to a longer distance, the terrain was tough with mounding holes and high grass banks, my aim was to try get a safe 1000yrds of sight between the target and the truck, but this proved difficult so settled at 718yrds.

On return to the truck, I began to set up the rifle etc the same way I did the day before. I re-ranged the target with the Bushnell Elite and even with long grass and small trees in the way I got a reading of 721yrds. I decided this would be the range I would go with even though from the target to the truck there was a few yards difference in reading.

The data calculated from this reading was 55click, a lot of clicks for my V4 that’s for sure as this rifle is not set up for long range shooting, it has a standard 0 MOA rail and the scope is an entry level scope along with the fact that the 130gr Prohunter is supposed to be only accurate to around 450 to 500yrds this was a long old ask for my set up, but again these tests were more about how the Bushnell performed not how my rifle did.

Like before I set up on the bonnet of my truck, took breath and touched the trigger, first shot cold barrel, as before, I hit first time. A little excited and thinking it was a fluke I took another shot and again thwack 2nd round hit then 3rd but got cock and missed the 4th and 5th although 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th hit and missed 10th. I was chasing rounds as at that distance without using the spotting scope and a second spotter I had no way of knowing where on the plate I was hitting I just knew I was hitting it. Out of 10 shots I missed 3, I was chuffed.

 I am no way a professional long-range shooter. On inspection of the plate, I was hitting roughly a little low on the plate but consistently around 2.5 inches apart. I could have done with one or two clicks more on my elevation and would account for 3 misses possibly hit a fraction lower than the plate. There were a couple of bite marks on the bottom edge of the plate, but I am not sure if they were there before so cannot call them hits.

Again, this test was to see how well the Bushnell coped with terrain, weather and how well it links to the Kestrel, I am happy with the results.

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2nd Field Test, Hunting.

It is all well and said that the Bushnell performed reasonably well in a range situation, albeit pretty much a challenging shooting range, but my aim is to see how well it survives in the field during a hunt.

I only had Roe Doe culls left over this period of testing, I would have like to get it out in the wood or the open hill to on hinds or Sika but in fact I think the Doe hunting test would be just as challenging.

Early Spring mornings, lowlight and again rain and terrain all play a factor in the end of season Roe Doe culls. Mixed woodland, longish grass and dark wood edges are a challenge for any optics and to couple that with having to range for data you’re asking a lot.

The morning started in just this way. First field I attended is a difficult on. The field is a reclaimed barley field now with over 1000 sapling trees of mixed variety freshly planted. The field itself is surrounded by pheasant crop and stripped woodland, the fields start flat then rises before dropping so it is hard to get a long distance vantage point.

I decided on the first stalk to leave the binos behind. Taking the Bushnell Elite with its 7x mag I decided to use those as my sole visual aide. Daylight was coming in and it 0630 in the morning, rain was drizzly, and a slight mist was forming after a very frozen crisp night. I stalked up the edge of the field and within minutes I spotted a small group of Does with Yearlings. I got low and crawled in over the old stubble and between the strips of freshly planted sapling to get a better view of them in the open. On doing so I spooked a nice Roe Buck feeding just in the darkness of the edge of the wood at the side of the field which I previously had unnoticed. The Buck spooking did not alert the group of Does. Still crawling, now being far more careful not to spook anything else, I managed to get to a better viewing point. Viewed the closest Doe and Yearling with the Bushnell Elites and ranged them at 165yrds, Perfect! I quickly aimed down the sights of my .223 and shot the yearling then without another breath aimed on the Doe and took her too. The other two ran off into the woods below after hearing the shots, I would soon get them in the same place the next day, but that is another story for another day.

Two perfect shots and ranged perfectly in the field with the Bushnell Elite Rangefinder.

For the rest of the day The Bushnell Elite’s were my visual aide on every stalk, normally I would not recommend this but with its 7x it worked perfectly well and suited me fine, it was light and easy to carry and performed rather well time after time.

Throughout the day the drizzly rain turned to snow, and the temperature dropped dramatically. On arrival to the grounds at 0630 just at first light the temp was 1 degrees C by 1400 it had turned to 6 below zero and later that night it would prove to be the coldest night on record for 20 years reaching -22 in places.

The Bushnell coped time after time and as a result of its help I managed to bag 13 Deer. It was good result all round.

Conclusion

The Bushnell Elite Arc 1 Mile Laser Rangefinder is a brilliant addition for anyone who is looking for a decent rangefinder. For the price of around £360 it is definitely a useful tool in the arsenal if you are interested in long range shooting or even short-range hunting.

I tested the Bushnell Elite in many different environments, and it is clearly capable at doing what it needs to do.

Do not get me wrong, for long-range shooting past 450yrds you will most likely need to coincide the Bushnell Elite Rangefinder with other tools to get the best from it but as a stand alone rangefinder for field work and quick measuring it is fantastic.

The magnification is better than most other rangefinders on the market at the same price allowing you to use it as a monocular for hunting, but it is n general more suited for sitting on top of a tripod at the range denting primers.

I would have no qualms using the Bushnell Elite in competitions or in the field along with the Kestrel it has proven to me that it is an extremely useful and easy to use tool.

I give it 4 out of 5 mainly because it would have benefited from being able to insert your own data into the rangefinder itself without having to connect to my Kestrel as without an app or Kestrel to connect to the Bushnell profiles can be a little vague for custom loads even though it will get you on target sub 400yrds.

Thank you again for Edgar Brothers allowing me to test yet another great Bushnell product.