BDC (ballistic drop compensation) reticles have been popular in big game riflescopes for a long time. We are now seeing them in the rimfire displays. If you like to hunt small game with a rimfire rifle, this is good 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 introduced a rimfire scope with a BDC reticle, and I tested them head-to-head.
How we test Rimfire scopes
First, I submerged both visors in water for 30 seconds to see if they were waterproof and fogproof. I then compared the scopes with respect to 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, thin-shot rifle with a 20-inch barrel. After zeroing at 50 yards, I fired a box drill with each scope to test adjustment repeatability.
Next, I started testing the BDC reticles. I chose three .22 LR loads, each zeroed out at 50 yards with each scope. I fired three-shot groups at 75, 100, 125, and 175 yards, with every load and every scope, while using the correct aiming point for each distance. I then analyzed the targets to determine the actual trajectory of each payload and how closely those trajectories matched each reticle.
BDC Grid Performance
Both scopes have similar BDC reticles and all BDC reticles will work; it’s just a matter of how well they match the path of the load you’re using on your rifle. Muzzle velocities for all three loads tested ranged from 1276 to 1441 fps and both reticles performed reasonably well. The DZ22 reticle in the Bushnell scope closely matched the 1276 fps CCI load and the BDC reticle in the Tract scope matched the 1441 fps Winchester load better.
Obviously how well these reticles match the trajectory of these or other charges on your rifle will depend on muzzle velocities and even how high you have the scope mounted above the barrel. Regardless, by slightly adjusting your zero you should be able to adjust most 1250fps loads to 1450fps to closely match either reticle. The graph above shows how the actual/verified trajectory of each load compares to the ballistic correctness of each additional aiming point on each scope.
As with any riflescope, parallax is important. For the types of shots hunters see when hunting small game, like headshots from squirrels, it can be critical. Typically, rimfire rifle scopes have the parallax set to 50 yards. This works well because most rimfire shots are likely to be fired from 20 to 60 yards. But these two scopes with their ballistic reticles create a parallax problem because when the parallax is set at close range, the parallax increases rapidly with distance. Bushnell kept the parallax on his telescopic sight at 50 yards. This was pretty much a wise decision since, even with the ballistic reticle, most shots with a .22 LR will probably be closer to 50 yards than 100. On the other hand, Tract set the parallax on his rifle scope to 75 yards. This is a good compromise if you expect to take longer photos.
Best BDC Rimfire Scopes
Bushnell’s DZ22 3-9X40 Illuminated
- Price: $119.99
- Increase: 3-9X
- Eye relief: 3.6 inches
- Objective diameter: 40mm
- Length: 12.5 inches
- Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Click Value: 0.25 inches at 100 yards
- Tube: 1 inch
- Parallax Settings: 50 yards
- Grid Plane: second focal plane
- Mounting space: 5.3 inches
- Eyepiece diameter: 1.72 inches
- illuminated reticle
- Very accessible
- No 150 yard crosshair
- remote resolution
This riflescope is equipped with the Bushnell Drop Zone DZ22 reticle which has three additional crosshairs in the form of 1 MOA dots that are positioned below the center of the reticle. According to Bushnell, it is chambered for a 40-grain bullet at 125 yards. It turned out that the tapered dot on the lower vertical reticle cable functioned as a crosshair at 175 yards, but there was no crosshair at 150 yards. This scope is made in China from a one-inch one-piece aluminum tube with covered turrets. It has multi-coated optics and has been shown to be waterproof. It comes with a comprehensive manual detailing reticle subtensioning in MOAs and is compatible with the Bushnell Ballistic app which is available to use on your smartphone.
The rifle scope’s knurled magnification adjustment was easy to adjust and was no 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 into a housing to the left of the scope mount and has six adjustment settings with an “off” setting between each. The brightness adjustment was a bit stiff to turn but it worked perfectly. The scope also has a fast-focus eyepiece, second focal plane reticle, and offers 60 MOA of windage and elevation reticle adjustment. It has a lifetime guarantee.
Section 22 Fire 4-12X40 BDC
- Price: $244.00
- Increase: 4-12X
- Eye relief: 3.5 inches
- Objective diameter: 40mm
- 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 Settings: 75 yards
- Grid 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 at maximum magnification
- Almost 14 inches long
Like the Bushnell, this scope is also built on a one-piece aluminum tube, but it’s made in the Philippines. It retails for more than double the cost of the Bushnell. It does not have an illuminated reticle, but what it does have is a trajectory compensation reticle with four aiming points below the center of the reticle. It is advertised as offering ballistic correction up to 150 yards, but as with the Bushnell reticle, if you use the tapered dot on the bottom post of the reticle, you can trajectory correct up to 175 yards.
The magnification adjustment ring is rubberized and easy to turn, but it has a raised bulge at full power that extends almost a quarter-inch beyond the diameter of the eyepiece. It’s a good reference, but it could interfere with the operation of the deadbolt. It also has a second focal plane reticle and a fast-focus eyepiece, but the reticle settings equate to ½ instead of ¼ inch at 100 yards. Both the windage and elevation knobs have 60 MOA of adjustment and a quick zero-reset function. It has multi-coated lenses, is waterproof, works with the Tract Impact Ballistics program, and comes with a no-time, no-paper, lifetime warranty.
These two scopes are more similar than their $124 price difference suggests. The extra money you spend on the Tract will give you a sharper image, especially from a distance. The Tract also seemed to be minutely brighter in our test. However, if you want to use the BDC reticle on the Tract for precise trajectory correction, you will need to have 12X magnification. To effectively use Bushnell’s DZ22 reticle, its magnification should be set to 9X. I found that there is a minimal difference between brightness when both viewfinders were set to maximum magnification. However, there was a noticeable difference in exit pupil and eyebox size; it seemed easier to get my eye behind Bushnell at 9X than Tract at 12X.
If I were installing one of these scopes on a general purpose squirrel rifle, I would probably choose the Bushnell because of its magnification range, illuminated reticle, 50 yard parallax setting, and 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 higher magnification and more distant parallax would be appreciated, I would go for the Tract. For what it’s worth, Tract is also supposed to offer a 3-9X40 22 Fire rifle scope with their BDC reticle.
Read Next: 10 Best Budget Riflescopes
I think the choice between these two scopes is mostly a matter of personal preference and need. Both have proven to offer repeatable adjustments, with no leaks or fogging, and have held up well after several months of use. I also think that overall the Tract is a better optical instrument, but it’s very hard to ignore the performance of the Bushnell at its price of just over $100.