Bausch & Lomb Tactical Scope

< 1999
By Scott Powers

During my recent stay at Storm Mountain Training Center I had the opportunity to intimately familiarize myself with Bausch & Lomb's entry into the field of optics geared toward the police and military sniper. Bausch & Lomb's latest is the Tactical, a "fixed" 10-power telescopic day sight equipped with a mil-dot reticle. Having prior experience with B&L products I was not surprised with the outstanding clarity of this scope. In almost any lighting condition the unit was clear and bright. Light transmission was excellent. The B&L Tactical provided optimum viewing with minimum eyestrain. Switching between the B&L Tactical and the Leupold Mk IV M3, a difference was easily observed. Leupold has long been the standard for police sniper weapon systems. B&L completely outperformed Leupold's offering with respect to clarity. While the Leupold optic was clear by most standards, I felt that I could observe a visible decrease in light gathering ability, clarity, and overall sight picture when viewing through the M3 as compared to the B&L Tactical. In this one area alone, Bausch & Lomb is the leader.

The Leupold unit also seemed a little more sensitive to correct eye relief, whereas the B&L gave a slightly more forgiving range of movement. This could be a negative against the B&L if one is not careful in placing their cheek weld in exactly the same place. That apparent leeway could allow you to creep up on the stock thereby changing your relationship to the scope, which in turn might affect your point of aim/point of impact. This is really nit-picking though as I never once experienced a problem finding the proper hold. Any misses were my fault, and mine alone.

The scope is of solid construction as one might expect for a unit designed for sniping purposes. As I never babied the rifle or scope and spent a fair amount of time on my belly in a sniper crawl, I can attest that the unit is sturdy and relatively oblivious to hard knocks. The unit was never dropped, but it saw its share of drag bagging, low crawling, rain, fog, temperature spikes, and generally miserable conditions. Point of impact never varied.

Bausch & Lomb thoughtfully incorporated a built-in sun shade in the Tactical. The scope tube extends out quite a ways forward of the objective lens. This helped tremendously in the rain and kept reflections to a minimum in the sun. As an added bonus this also protects the lens quite effectively.

Where you might normally find a magnification adjustment ring on a variable scope the B&L Tactical has a parallax adjustment ring. This serves the same purpose as the third turret on the Leupold Mk IV M3. I personally prefer the third turret for this function but I soon found that manipulating the parallax ring was easy and may even have required less observable movement. I could easily raise my hand ever so slowly from the trigger and adjust the ring for range without the need to move the hand forward to the center of the scope. Be this as it may, I still would prefer the third turret as found on the M3. The Tactical's parallax ring was marked for range to 500 yards, after which you placed the unit on the infinity symbol.

A very troubling downside to the parallax ring: When you adjusted for parallax, the entire rear unit of the scope would rotate, ocular and all! You had to install the ever present Butler Creek flip-up scope cap in just the right manner to assure that it would not interfere with bolt manipulation when you made your focus adjustments. This was quite disconcerting and could cause serious trouble if not figured out before hand. Turning the ring could literally block your bolt with a scope cap installed. Luckily, the focus on the Tactical is such that I could often leave it on infinity and shoot for any range, near or far. It did not seem to make a serious affect where the bullet struck. Just be aware of this condition, and place the cap in several positions and experiment with the ring until everything is clear.

Currently, a great debate rages over whether a proper scope -- one designed for sniping -- should have a bullet drop compensator/ballistic cam, or quarter-minute clicks for elevation. Our instructors prefer and espouse the ballistic cam. It is quick, easy to use and relatively idiot proof. One simply estimates range, dials up that range, and fires. The B&L Tactical, on the other hand, has turrets with quarter-minute clicks, requiring you to estimate the range, check your "cheat sheet," and dial up the number of MOA required to place your shot. This takes a little more time and allows a certain "pucker factor" to creep in if you are not careful, but once you are used to it, elevation changes are fast and very precise. To be effective with this system, you must have the proper cheat sheet on hand, preferably taped to your rifle stock. The one great downside to quarter minute clicks is that you might, in the heat of the moment, forget to re-zero the turret after a shot. This happened to me twice during the two-week sniper course at Storm Mountain. I accidentally left the scope dialed one full rotation up (12 minutes) but resting on the "zero" setting at the end of a long-range shooting session. The next day I did not check the turret and my fist shot at a 100-yard target was several feet high! Very embarrassing. On the other hand, I was able to fine-tune the scope when shooting at any range. A ballistic cam does not allow one to incrementally fine tune his fire. It moves in one-minute clicks or more. On several occasions my partner, who was using a ballistic cam equipped M3, would make a sight adjustment and end up shooting, at worst, over the target, or at best, over his intended point of impact. With the quarter-minute turret, I could easily adjust my fire by exactly the amount needed. In the end, it is all personal preference. I like both systems and cannot fault the B&L Tactical for not having a ballistic cam. For the police sniper, the quarter-minute turret makes a lot of sense. Most of his shots are not going to require three spins around the dial. He needs precision adjustments and super-fine tuning capability. I would heartily recommend a quarter-minute turret. Military snipers, however, live in a totally different world. A body hit is a body hit, and in this environment the ballistic cam thrives.

The Tactical's turrets sport large deeply knurled knobs and are easily grasped. The turrets do not stick obtrusively above the scope tube but they are much higher than the M3 turrets. Both the windage and elevation turrets grace the shooter with clear concise clicks, both audible and tactile. One can easily feel the detents for each click. For this type of system, this is very important. It is not uncommon to lose track of how many come-ups you have put on and the audible click really helps in distinguishing your setting.

The reticle in the B&L Tactical is the standard military mil-dot. It is accurate and appears to be properly calibrated for the scope's 10-power magnification. The only complaint was the thickness of the inner stadia wire. Compared to the competition, the wire was overly thick. This has a real advantage in low light but there were times when I would have liked a thinner stadia. The thicker wire did not negatively affect my precision shooting but at times I found I had to work around the wire as it occluded the target more than I felt necessary. The mil-dots in the B&L scope were circular as opposed to the somewhat oval shape of the Leupold M3's mil-dots. This made it a little harder to break down the mils into fractions, but not terrible so. Mainly it was hard to distinguish between .8 or .9 mils as these points seemed to fall somewhere in the dot itself. Again, I must stress, it is all what you are used to and once I got over my initial reaction, I found the B&L's reticle to be usable and fairly precise.

In all, the Bausch & Lomb Tactical provides the shooter with a precision instrument that is capable of excellent repeatability. The scope has a sturdy, heavy-duty aura about it and looks as though it can take the punishment that is inherent to it's intended application. During my two-week evaluation, the turrets were spun around the clock for approximately 800 shots. The scope exhibited no tendency to change the point of impact and always returned to zero. Like the Leupold Mk IV M1 and M3, the Bausch & Lomb Tactical is at the upper end of the price spectrum for sniper-oriented telescopic sights. As in all things, you get what you pay for. For it's price, this scope is easily a leap above the competition and equal to the top-of-the-line Leupold offerings. I can easily recommend this scope to the serious tactical shooter.

Features (as advertised)

Specifications (if any)

Magnification :
Objective :
40 mm
Field of View :
10.5 ft at 100 yds.
Click Value :
1/4 MOA
Adjustment Travel :
144 MOA
Practical Eye Relief :
90 mm
Weight :
21.8 ounces
Length :
13.75 inches

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