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BDC (ballistic drop compensating) reticles have been popular in big-game riflescopes for a long time. Now we’re seeing them on rimfire riflescopes. If you like to hunt small game with a rimfire rifle, this is a good thing because depending on muzzle velocity, a .22 Long Rifle bullet can drop as much as 10 inches between 50 and 125 yards. For 2022, Bushnell and Tract have both introduced a rimfire riflescope with a BDC reticle, and I tested them head to head.
How We Test Rimfire Scopes
First, I submerged both scopes in water for 30 seconds to see if they were water and fog-proof. Then I compared the riflescopes with regard to brightness and resolution, in bright and in dim light, and from 25 yards all the way out to 175 yards. After that, I mounted the scopes to a fine shooting, single shot, New Ultra Light Arms Model 20 RF rifle with a 20-inch barrel. After zeroing at 50 yards, I fired a box drill with each riflescope to test for adjustment repeatability.
Next, I began the testing of the BDC reticles. I chose three .22 LR loads, each zeroed at 50 yards with each riflescope. I fired three-shot groups at 75-, 100-, 125-, and 175-yards, with each load and each riflescope, while using the correct aiming point for each distance. I then analyzed the targets to determine the actual trajectory of each load and how close those trajectories coincided with each reticle.
BDC Reticle Performance
Both riflescopes have similar BDC reticles and all BDC reticles will work; it’s just a question of how well they coincide with 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 reasonably well. The DZ22 reticle in the Bushnell riflescope closely matched the 1276 fps CCI load and the BDC reticle in the Tract riflescope was a better match to the 1441 fps Winchester load.
Obviously, how well these reticles match the trajectory of these loads or others from your rifle will depend on muzzle velocities and even how high you have the riflescope mounted above the bore. Regardless, by slightly adjusting your zero you should be able to tune most 1250 fps to 1450 fps loads to correspond closely with either reticle. The chart above shows how the actual/verified trajectory of each load compared to the ballistic correction of each additional aiming point in each riflescope.
Just as with any riflescope, parallax is important. For the kinds of shots hunters see when hunting small game—like head shots on squirrels—it can be critical. Typically, rimfire riflescopes have the parallax set at 50 yards. This works well because most rimfire shots are probably taken between 20 and 60 yards. But these two scopes with their ballistic reticles create a parallax problem because when parallax is set at close range, parallax increases rapidly with distance. Bushnell kept the parallax on their riflescope 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 set the parallax on their riflescope at 75 yards. This is a good compromise if you expect to take longer shots.
The Best BDC Rimfire Scopes
Bushnell’s DZ22 3-9X40 Illuminated
- Price: $119.99
- Magnification: 3-9X
- Eye Relief: 3.6 inches
- Objective Diameter: 40mm
- Length: 12.5 inches
- Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Click Value: 0.25 inch at 100 yards
- Tube: 1 inch
- Parallax Setting: 50 yards
- Reticle Plane: Second focal plane
- Mounting Space: 5.3 inches
- Eyepiece Diameter: 1.72 inches
- Illuminated reticle
- Very affordable
- No 150-yard aiming point
- Resolution at distance
This riflescope is equipped with the Bushnell Drop Zone DZ22 reticle that has three additional aiming points in the form of 1 MOA dots that are positioned below the reticle center. According to Bushnell, it’s calibrated for a 40-grain bullet out to 125 yards. As it turns out, the taper point on the lower vertical reticle wire worked as an aiming point at 175 yards, but there was no 150-yard aiming point. This riflescope is made in China on a one-piece, one-inch, aluminum tube with covered turrets. It has multi-coated optics and proved to be waterproof. It comes with a comprehensive manual that details the subtension of the reticle in MOA, and it is compatible with the Bushnell Ballistic App that’s available for use on your smartphone.
The riflescope’s knurled magnification adjustment was easy to adjust and was not larger than the diameter of the eyepiece. This allows for low mounting and good bolt knob clearance. The illuminated reticle is powered by a CR 2032 battery that fits in a housing on the left of the scope’s saddle, and it has six adjustment settings with an “off” setting between each. The brightness adjustment was a bit stiff to turn but worked perfectly. The riflescope 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
- Price: $244.00
- Magnification: 4-12X
- Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
- Objective Diameter: 40mm
- Length: 13.9 inches
- Weight: 15.7 ounces
- Click Value: 0.25 inch at 50 yards (0.50 inch at 100 yards)
- Tube: 1 inch
- Parallax Setting: 75 yards
- Reticle Plane: Second focal plane
- Mounting Space: 5.9 inches
- Eyepiece Diameter: 1.73 inches
- Trajectory correction from 75 to 175 yards
- Good resolution
- Small eye box at maximum magnification
- Nearly 14 inches long
Like the Bushnell, this riflescope is also constructed on a one-piece aluminum tube, but it is made in the Philippines. It retails for more than twice the cost of the Bushnell. It does not have an illuminated reticle, but what it does have is a trajectory compensating reticle with four hash-mark aiming points below the reticle center. It’s advertised to offer ballistic correction out to 150 yards, but like with the Bushnell reticle, if you use the taper point of the bottom reticle post, you can correct for trajectory out to 175 yards.
The magnification adjustment ring is covered in rubber and easy to turn, but it has a raised bump at maximum power than extends nearly a quarter inch beyond the eyepiece diameter. It’s a nice reference but could interfere with bolt operation. It also has a second focal plane reticle and a fast-focus eyepiece, but reticle adjustments equal ½ as opposed to ¼-inch at 100 yards. Both the windage and elevation knobs have 60 MOA of adjustment and a fast zero-reset feature. It has fully, multi-coated lenses, it’s waterproof, works with the Tract Impact Ballistics program, and comes with a no-time-limit, no-paperwork, lifetime warranty.
These two riflescopes are more similar than their $124 price difference would suggest. The extra money you spend on the Tract will give you a more crisp image—especially at distance. The Tract also appeared to be minutely brighter in our test. However, if you want to use the BDC reticle in the Tract for accurate trajectory correction you’ll need to be at 12X magnification. To effectively use the Bushnell’s DZ22 reticle your magnification must be set at 9X. I found there to be minimal difference between brightness when both riflescopes were set to maximum magnification. There was however a noticeable difference in exit pupil and eye box size; it seemed easier to position my eye behind the Bushnell at 9X than behind the Tract at 12X.
If I was installing one of these riflescopes on a general-purpose squirrel rifle, I’d probably go with the Bushnell due to its magnification range, illuminated reticle, 50-yard parallax setting, and its great price. If I was looking for a good scope for a rimfire rifle that I intended to use for ground squirrels or prairie dogs—where more magnification and the more distant parallax could be appreciated—I’d go with the Tract. For what it’s worth, Tract is supposed to also be offering a 3-9X40 22 Fire riflescope with their BDC reticle.
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I believe a choice between these two riflescopes is mostly a matter of personal preference and need. Both proved to deliver repeatable adjustments, neither leaked or fogged, and they have held up well after several months of use. I also believe that overall, the Tract is a better optical instrument, but it’s dammed hard to ignore the performance of the Bushnell at its slightly more than $100 price tag.