Petzal: The Bushnell Elite 6500 Rifle Scope w/DOA Reticle

Now here is a scope to make you take the food out of your childrens’ mouths and rush off to … Continued

Now here is a scope to make you take the food out of your childrens’ mouths and rush off to the sporting-goods stores with their piteous cries still lingering in your ears. This is one of two 6500-series scopes that offers 6-times magnification–all the way from 2.5X to 16X in instrument which, despite its 30mm tube, is neither very long or very heavy (the other 6500 goes from 4.5X to 30X). Bushnell does not provide the specs on its website, and I’m damned if I’m going to take it off the rifle to weigh it.


The Bushnell Elite 4200 is, very possibly, the toughest scope on the market, and the 6500 is claimed to be its equal. It has a second-generation Rainguard coating on its lenses (which works, and which I have found to be a hunt-saver), good adjustments, and turret-mounted parallax adjustment.


It comes with a variety of reticles, but most notably, the DOA, which stands for Dead On Accurate. There are two of these: the DOA 250 is for in-line muzzle-loaders and the DOA 600 (shown) is for centerfire rifles. It’s calibrated to work with any bullet from 55-grain .223 to 200-grain .338–in other words, velocities of 2,900 fps to 3,100 fps. The reticle consists of standard crosshairs with four horizontal wires and center dots below the intersection of the crosshairs. These are the aiming points for 200, 300, 400, and 500 yards. At the bottom is a tapered post for 600 yards in case you are deranged.

To use, set the scope at whatever magnification you like and sight it in to hit dead on at 100 yards. (The instruction manual says that you “sight it in at 100 yards,” which is gibberish. Does that mean dead-on? An inch high? Three inches high? I had to call Bushnell to find out. Whoever wrote this needs a nice punch in the face and a trip back to the fourth grade.)

If you shoot at, say, 250 yards, you pick a point halfway between the 200- and 300-yard dots and aim with it. To make the range-compensating feature work, you have to set the scope on 16X at any distance over 100 yards.

The other feature of the DOA reticle is a series of short verticle stadia wires on the 200- to 500-yard aiming points that allows you to judge the width of a deer’s ears. If you’re a new hunter you’ll find it useful. If not, ignore it.

Does the DOA work? Oh my, yes. I mounted the scope on a Mark Bansner .270 WSM loaded with 150-grain Swift A-Frame bullets at 3,060 fps and sighted it in dead on at 100 yards. At 200 yards, using the first aiming dot, I hit precisely dead center. It could not have been more precise if I’d punched a hole in the target with a pencil.

Then I fired one shot at 250 yards at a life-sized deer target with a 10-inch-high by 8-inch-wide vital zone (marked so you can’t see it at long range) and put a shot 1 inch low of center. The next shot, at 300 yards, was 2 ½ inches below that, which was lower than the script said it should be. So at 350 yards I used the top of the 400-yard dot and hit .47-inch away from the 250-yard shot. (This shows how important it is for you to find out for yourself what your rifle will do rather than simply trusting to the book.) Without the DOA reticle, I could not have shot with this kind of precision.

I was not able to shoot farther than that, but I presume that if the DOA is accurate at 100 to 350 yards, it’s good to 500 yards, and 600 if you have a screw loose.

The MSRP for the Elite 6500 is pretty steep, but the real world prices I see are pretty reasonable. This is an excellent and highly versatile scope that I like a lot, and I take my hat off to Bushnell for coming up with the DOA reticle.