When firearm people hear the name Bushnell, their thoughts usually go to small Banner scopes that are typically on rifles from the 70s and 80s. Throughout the years, however, Bushnell has made several moves in an effort to modernize its rifle scope lineup.
The Bushnell Forge 4.5-27×50 was no exception with its massive magnification range and friendly user interface. Although it had a short run from 2018-2020 it was an important stepping stone to the modern optics Bushnell is currently manufacturing. Below is my comprehensive review of my Bushnell Forge 4.5-27×50 Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope.
The specific optic in question is mounted to my Savage 12 FV in 6.5 Creedmoor. The Forge offers a good number of features, which can only be expected from a $1,000+ scope.
- Revlimiter Zero-Stop
- Built-in Throw Lever
- Exposed AND Locking Adjustment Turrets
- Side Parallax
- Ease of Use (30mm Main Tube)
- Accurate Tracking and Easy Reticle (60 MOA Adjustment Range)
- Fantastic Clarity
The zero-stop is particularly nice when you want to engage targets at different distances. You can dial up for 600 yards for three shots and then return your zero to 100 or 200 yards for the rest of the magazine without any guesswork.
The zero-stop on the Forge is firm and easy to use and is the same zero-stop that’s used in Bushnell’s top-tier Elite Tactical scope line. The only tool you need is an Allen wrench and it even comes with the scope package. Another positive of the zero-stop system is that it is not a shim-based system, and is made up of one solid zero-stop piece. As someone who shoots often with more dialing than others, a good zero-stop is a truly useful benefit of this rifle scope.
Finally, the throw lever is useful for traveling the massive magnification range this scope has. It prevents tired hands on the range and helps mitigate that fatigue. This is a really small feature but is also the most underrated in the list.
Some magnification rings force me to take my head up off the cheek rest in order to put enough force into turning, but with the Forge, my cheek weld goes unmoved. This is great for shooters who practice staying on their target, and will only benefit your fundamentals training.
As someone who hunts and target shoots, this optic is a great bridge to close the gap between the two. Locking exposed turrets allows me to dial in a second if I need to, and not have to worry about losing my zero on my way to the stand. While this feature is becoming more common on modern precision optics, it’s still considered rare if you’re buying a scope under $600. Locking turrets are a luxury you won’t notice until you go back to regular exposed or capped turrets that are much more common in the optics market.
With such a wide range of magnification, it would be easy for Bushnell to overlook the range of the side parallax. The Parallax on the side of the scope goes all the way down to 25 yards, which is by no means a standard for scopes. Some scopes only go down to 50 or 75, but with the ability to go down to a 25-yard focus, the Bushnell Forge separates itself from the pack.
Having that close focus distance allowed me to level my reticle in my small apartment using the plumb-bob method. That 25-yard focus would have the same benefit if you were bore-sighting your rifle to your scope. Some would say that it’s nice to have the 25-yard focus for targets that come closer than 100 yards to a hunter, but the benefits that often go unseen is the use of that focus to set the scope up and get it custom-fitted to your rifle.
Having a side parallax is a plus, but allowing the focus to get all the way down to 25 yards lends itself to easier scope mounting and setup.
Ease of Use
Some scopes lose users on the sheer complexity of using the optic. The specific Forge being reviewed has been put in the hands of first-time shooters and experienced shooters alike. Both levels of experience were able to easily use the locking turrets and use the reticle for holdovers. The results of both of these exercises were impacts at 700 yards.
Nothing discourages a new shooter more than being given a scope to try out and being overwhelmed with features, complex reticles, and cost. The Forge gives the shooter something simple enough to learn, but complex enough to be rich in features and categorize itself as a premium optic.
Tracking & Reticle
My biggest pet peeve in optics is tracking. If a scope can’t reliably track on paper and out to distance, it doesn’t belong on my rifle. This rifle/scope combination has gone up and down numerous times out to as far as 750 yards. At the end of the day, it returns to zero and shoots half-minute groups without needing an extra click or two for bad tracking.
The 60 MOA worth of adjustment is considerable in my book, and it makes it much better knowing that this scope can travel 60 MOA worth of adjustment and come back to zero reliably and repeatably. The reticle is also simple and easy to use for ranging or hold-overs. Busy reticles are sometimes a turn-off for some shooters, but this scope is a great compromise to having holdovers, but not having so much reticle that it takes up all your glass. The accuracy of the tracking along with the reticle is one of the bigger reasons why this scope gets a good review.
Clarity and Glass
Where scope glass comes from is a big deal to many shooters. When the Forge was introduced, Bushnell started manufacturing them in South Korea. Towards the later years of the Forge, however, production was moved to China. There’s no certainty on how this impacted the glass or overall build quality, but some would say that Chinese glass would not be as clear or nice as South Korean glass. Bushnell does make some of their top-tier scopes, like their Elite Tactical series, in Japan, but if you’re looking into a used Forge scope, keep in mind that it could either be South Korean or Chinese glass.
Regardless of other models, this is my go-to scope to spot for friends when there’s no real spotting scope around. My scope was potentially made in South Korea, but in all reality, the Chinese version could be as quality as the South Korean-made glass.
Not only can you see without the threat of discoloration down range or what some call “clarity waves” on the edge of the sight picture, but you can count the hairs on a squirrel from 200 yards away.
Bushnell outdid themselves giving the firearms community a high magnification range scope that’s clear, precise, easy to use, and packed full of attractive features. Bushnell also makes it easy by providing a sun shade with the optic, along with scope caps to protect the glass that’s on your rifle.
There’s no high horse involved with this review. As fancy as this optic is, there is a short list of dream features that would be even nicer to have on an optic like the Forge.
- Discontinued Status
- Second Focal Plane
- No Illumination
- Overall Weight (29.9 Oz. or 1.87)
- Price Range ($900-$1,200)
Yes, this is a discontinued scope that’s being reviewed, but if this review could help someone who’s considering buying a Forge from a friend or another second-hand option, that makes it worth it.
There is quite possibly a different Bushnell line of optics that replaced the Forge line, but the Forge scopes ran from 2018 to 2020 before they were axed from Bushnell’s lineup. With how fast the optics industry has moved within the past 10 years, it’s not too surprising to see Bushnell only run this scope for a couple of years before releasing a newer, and potentially better optic.
First Focal Plane (FFP) allows the reticle of a scope to grow and shrink with magnification. This means any subtension or holdover from the reticle will translate accurately no matter the magnification range.
With a Second Focal Plane (SFP) scope, the reticle is always the same size on any magnification power. Most of the time, the subtensions of an SFP scope are only truly accurate on the maximum magnification of the scope.
This specific scope is Second Focal Plane, but Bushnell did make these scopes in First Focal Plane for the person that needs it. If this was a general Forge review of all their submodels this con wouldn’t be on the list, but since we’re focusing on a specific scope, it’s ok to point out the wish list of what’s missing.
SFP scopes were also priced lower than the FFP scopes, which made the price somewhat more attractive to someone who didn’t want FFP in the first place.
While there is no illumination, that’s really only a detractor for people that hunt or shoot in low-light situations. The scope’s 50mm bell takes in so much light that it’s tough to see why you would need illumination if you only ever shoot during daylight.
Illumination is becoming more and more common in rifle optics, so if Bushnell were to replace the Forge with anything, it would be silly to not give it an illuminated reticle.
This Forge is mounted on a Savage 12 FV which has a bench rest-style barrel and stock on it, the scope makes a heavy rifle that much heavier. Weight isn’t the biggest factor for someone who shoots off a bench like me, but hunters keep a scope’s weight in serious consideration when they’re shopping around for hunting optics.
Since the turrets do lock and prevent hunters from losing their zero in the field, the Forge can be used in hunting applications. However, the weight is still something that some hunters would turn their nose up to.
A Bushnell Forge with a lower magnification range might be a better fit for a hunter, in any case, seeing as it would lighten the scope considerably.
The price range in itself is a hard pill to swallow. There’s a lot of scope for the money, but there are competitors with similar scopes that could beat the price while maybe finding a way to sneak in a few more features the forge doesn’t have.
When you think of what that money gets you, it’s easy to say that the glass clarity and the accurate tracking are what make this scope as pricey as it is. If that’s your priority when shopping for a scope, the Bushnell Forge is a fantastic option that will keep up with the best. If your focus is on cost vs. features, you might find yourself wanting (not by much) with the Forge.
Since my outlook on scopes is more from a budget perspective, this scope’s price range to feature ratio is what lands it in the con list.
The Bushnell Forge 4.5-27×50 SFP rifle scope has to be one of my favorite optics in my collection. It can be handed off to a spotter who’s not as experienced and they will be able to learn how to spot fairly quickly.
And yet, while this scope is loved in its complexity, $900-$1,200 feels somewhat expensive for a scope that isn’t First Focal Plane. In the current optics market, this scope could be out-classed by similar optics of other manufacturers. Cost is a big factor in my budget-oriented arsenal, so if there’s a better deal out there than the Forge, I’m going to find it.
However, cost aside, this scope is massive, powerful, and still has great and reliable features for someone who takes part in multiple disciplines of shooting sports. If you’re a hunter and/or a steel shooter, and you can find a used version of this scope for a good price, you would be hard-pressed finding a better mid-level scope for the features you get.
Growing up, Buck was taught about firearm history and appraisal. Getting to know so many different firearm platforms eventually lead to his long-distance shooting exploration. While his main hunting past time is coyotes, he still find just as much satisfaction punching steel at distance. Every shot taken is with the purpose to become a better shooter.