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Bushnell Prime 4-12X40 Rifle Scope Review - Tried & Tested at the Range

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Bushnell Prime 4-12x40 Scope Tried & Tested
Image Credit - Bushnell

Brand/Model: Bushnell Prime
Magnification Range: 4-12X
Objective Lens Size: 40 mm
Length/Weight/Tube Diameter: 12.8"/18.6 oz/1 in
Reticle Info: Multi-X
Coatings: Fully Multi-coated
Waterproof: Yes - IPX7

Price Range: Under $300

Bushnell Prime 4-12X40 Hands-On Review & Field Test

Expectations don't run very high when you spend as little as possible on a rifle scope.  Often, the best you can expect is that it gets the job done.  Is this true of the new Bushnell rifle scopes that just hit the market?

Target Tamers went ahead and purchased a Prime scope to put to the test.  We are specifically looking for quality and value in the same package without compromise.  Bushnell, you're in the spot light now - it's a make-it or break-it field test!

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What's in the Box?

The manufacturer has adopted a very clean and minimal approach to packaging with the new Prime series of scopes.  Don't expect excess fluff and fillers since you won't get it.  This is a complete list of what you will get:

  • Prime scope
  • Instructional referral card
  • Windage cap
  • Pouch with attached microfiber cloth
Bushnell Prime rifle scope sitting in a pile of leaves next to its packaging
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

No lens caps.  No cover.  No fluff.  This is it.  The instructional card isn't a set of instructions at all.  It's really just a referral to the Bushnell website if you want the entire owner’s guide.  What it does have on it is a pic of the reticle, which is redundant since you can now just look through the scope and see it.

But, interestingly, it does have written instructions on how to re-index the turrets back to zero which is ironically not included in the online manual.

Instruction card showing how to re-index turrets back to zero on Bushnell Prime rifle scope
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Sometimes, a bunch of stuff is thrown in with the scope, but in this case, the entire cost seems geared towards the rifle scope itself.  You'll be disappointed if your heart was set on getting included lens caps, but that's not why you bought the scope in the first place is it now?

Prime 4-12x40 Build

First impressions upon box opening: lightweight and good looking.

Bushnell Prime rifle scope sitting on a rock
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

That's all fine and dandy if you were to just look at it all day, but we want to know if there's substance behind its simple and yet attractive paint job.

Why don't we take a look under the hood?

Windage/Elevation Turrets

The windage turret comes with an included cap, but the elevation turret remains exposed.  It gives it that sort of tactical look which I happen to like.  Number references are well-marked, and turrets are in 1/4 MOA clicks.

The elevation turret has 12 MOA per revolution, and it offers 60 MOA of adjustment travel.  That's plenty enough to get sighted in and start testing out your long-range skills.

Turrets on 4-12x40 Prime Rifle Scope
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Turrets are knurled enough for my liking, but they could stand to be grippier which would be handy for if you're wearing gloves.  If you like your turrets a little on the stiffer side, you might find this one a little too fluid.  I like that this Prime scope has very positive clicks that don’t offer too much resistance.  Audible clicks are quiet.   Honestly, no real complaints here.

But, you should know your limitations.  There is no zero stop or elevation/windage locking knobs.  Since the elevation turret is exposed, you might want to keep that in mind, however, you can re-index your turret to zero.  It would also be nice to see revolution markers as the turret rises, but nay, it doesn't have that either.

Exposed elevation turret on Bushnell Prime scope
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers


This model has the Multi-X SFP (second focal plane) reticle.  It's simple, easy to employ, and its crosshairs are definitive.  Of course, if you're going to be counting on holding over, you can only do this at max magnification - 12x.  Of course, the best method to utilize an SFP reticle to remove hold over error in the field is to use your turrets to adjust.  After all, the turrets don't care what power you're on.

When last legal light comes around and you need to dial down on power, the SFP reticle is what you need.

Bushnell Multi-X SFP Reticle
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers


With 4-12x power, you're officially in long-range territory.  It's also nice to see Bushnell cover their bases and provide a side focus for parallax correction.  Believe it or not, some scopes with higher than 10x magnification don't always have a side focus or AO (adjustable objective) feature.

But, back to power.  The magnification ring is extremely stiff.  It's not my favorite feature to use.  The upright lever does make it easier for my left thumb and forefinger to stiffly maneuver it in place without leaving the sight picture.

Magnification ring on Bushnell Prime 4-12x40
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Interestingly to me, the power range starts from the right and ascends to the left.  It feels odd looking at it that way, but the direction the power ring moves is from left to right.  It feels natural for the left hand to push the lever to the right to increase magnification.

There is no apparent tunneling that I could discern.  This could be a common issue with affordable scopes, but the Prime is proving it's a high-quality scope with just a low-price tag - no compromises attached.


Easily done.  The fast focus eyepiece does its job - focuses the reticle for your eyesight fast.

First impressions when I peered through the scope was good.  I had a clear image with great color fidelity.  Because I know what I'm looking for, some CA (chromatic aberration) was apparent.  Field flattening quality was great edge to edge.

The Prime scope has fully multi-coated coatings as is expected, and it also has ultrawide band coatings.  What's that?  It's a specialized coating that gets applied to every glass element within the optic.  It helps to maximize transmission of as much light as possible from a wide fraction of the light spectrum all the way to the eyepiece.  The result?  A bright sight picture with true-to-color fidelity.

For the price, I wasn't expecting the scope to have ED (extra-low dispersion) glass, and it doesn't.  However, because it doesn't have this expensive feature and yet it has image quality that can provide tiny details in excellent resolution and clarity, the Prime impresses me even more.

Can the Prime rifle scope see bullet holes on white paper?  

Spoiler alert!  It can.  Well, it can see .270 holes at 100 yards on white.  I mention how impressed I am with this in the Sighting-In part of this field test.

Additional Features

The Bushnell 4-12x40 scope is IPX7 rated and is waterproof.  And, speaking of waterproof, the objective lens has a coating of Bushnell's new ExoBarrier formula.

It's an anti-water, fog, dust, oil, and debris coating that fills in the tiny, microscopic pores in the objective glass surface.  It becomes a sleek surface that repels anything that can obstruct your view (as demonstrated in the photos below).  It's the new RainGuard HD on steroids.

Sighting-In the Prime 4-12x40 Scope

Using the Bushnell Prime 4-12x40 at that range
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Short version: Awesome!

Long version: It's Winter in the mountains, biting 30 mile plus Northerly winds, and it’s below freezing temperatures.

I've mounted the Prime 4-12x40 scope to a Browning .270 Winchester rifle.  Bought some shoot 'n see targets so I could see in between the rain and sleet to sight-in and headed to the range before they closed due to the weather.

When bore sighting with a magnetic boresighter, I couldn't get it exactly aligned due to the muzzle brake - don't judge, it came with it installed when I bought the rifle several years ago.  So, I started at 25 yards at the range to get on paper and make some beginning adjustments.

Bushnell Prime rifle scope on Browning .270 rifle
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Gear I used:

  • Browning .270 rifle
  • .270 Winchester Super X 150 gr Power-Point ammo
  • Front shooting rest bag
  • 12" round 10-ring shoot 'n see targets (100 yards)
  • Generic, white-paper, 10-ring targets (25 yards)

25 yards - Got on paper.  Too far right and too low.  Adjusted and got bull's-eye - yes, I'm that thorough.

Bullet groupings at 25 yards
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

100 yards - Hit white just outside of the target.  I only mention this because I could see it!  I could see .270 holes at 100 yards on white through rain and sleet.  I was impressed.  Double checked that it wasn't just a dot on the lens and verified it through the Bushnell Nitro 10x42 binos.  Done and done - it's a positive hit.

Bushnell Nitro 10x42 Binocular, Prime 4-12x40 Riflescope and Prime 1300 Rangefinder
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Made both windage and elevation adjustments for being too far right and a little high.  Put a few more rounds through this target and then changed it out.  I pop off some rounds, having fun while I’m at it, but it’s extremely windy and it's freezing.

Final grouping wasn't my best, but I was happy with it.  Last two fly-aways to the left were rushed and muzzle was hot.  When the weather heats up a little, I'll head back to the range to finesse my groupings and test out further.  But, for today, sighting-in the Prime scope was done.

Bullet groupings at 100 yards
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

The $200-ish scope blew my mind.  Seeing holes on white without fancy glass features like ED or HD glass testified to its solid glass quality.  Tracking was consistent and spot-on.  POI moved as I expected it to with each click of the turret.

I used more adjustment travel than I expected perhaps due to the muzzle brake, rings, or the rail (will have to look into this setup later).  In the meantime, I've re-indexed my new zero, which is ridiculously easy to do.

All in all, the Prime was not only a breeze to sight-in, it was a lot of fun to play with.

My Verdict on the Bushnell Prime 4-12x40 Rifle Scope

Bushnell Prime and Nitro products
Image by Chris 'The Optics Nut' (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Straight off the bat, I will highly recommend the Prime scope any day, every day.  Does it have value and quality in the same package without compromise?  You bet!

I know I sound pleasantly surprised that this cheap Bushnell scope blew it out of the ball park, but I honestly wasn't expecting it to.  I thought it would be just an "okay" kinda scope, but it did more than just “okay.”

Yes, there are a few things that could make it even fancier, but that would detract from the whole point of the Prime series.  Why tack on the extra, luxury details if you don't want to pay for them in the first place?  The scope already has some of the best features you could want, and you won't get it for any less than this.

High-quality glass coatings, IPX7 waterproof rating, long-range magnification, side focus, tactile turrets, accurate tracking with consistent and repeatable results - this is exactly what you want!

Having the Prime scope makes it fun to go shoot some rounds and test the limits.  I know I'll be back out there to give it another swing before I head out for the next hunt.  Care to join?  Snacks on me!

Further Reading

Photo of author

Chris 'The Optics Nut'

Chris is a seasoned hunting enthusiast with several decades of experience. He is deeply knowledgeable about sports optics and spends considerable time researching the latest developments in the optics field. Chris has authored some of the more technical guides and articles on Target Tamers and his work is known for its accuracy and clarity, contributing to his reputation as a trusted figure in the field of sports optics.

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5 thoughts on “Bushnell Prime 4-12X40 Rifle Scope Review - Tried & Tested at the Range”

  1. Hi my name is Leo and I have 3 Bushnell scopes on a 243 and 3006 and 300mag and I love my Bushnell scopes and other toys. The Best of the Best. Happy Hunting everybody. Gato.

    • Hi Joe, Bushnell has retired this scope, but you may still be able to find it, and if you do, I think it's fantastic for your classic rifle. With the duplex reticle in SFP, it's appropriate for the effective range of the Marlin 336. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I have an old Bushnell elite 3x9x40 with rain guard. Have had this on a .300WBY , .270 Win and .308 Win.
    What is so amazing about this scope is its ability to maintain zero and its tracking ability. It never has wavered or disobeyed an adjustment.
    For today’s standards, the glass is meh, with some fall off on the edges. Some parallax after 100 yards. Still plenty good for deer within 300 yards. Regardless, just for its extreme reliability, I have it always in my duffel bag as a spare. I have sold some of my leupolds, but my super reliable 4200 has escaped a couple of culls.

    • Fantastic! I love it when quality optics have weathered time and use and keep proving themselves over and over again. Thanks for sharing Hendrik!


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