Bushnell 12-36x50mm Waterproof Ultra Compact Spotting Scope Review

Bushnell 12-36x50mm Waterproof Ultra Compact Spotting Scope

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- Compact and lightweight
- Excellent close focus range
- Good image quality


- Short eye relief
- Limited usefulness at rifle ranges
- Included tripod is poor quality

Welcome to our review of the Bushnell 12–36x50mm Waterproof Ultra Compact Spotting Scope. Bushnell makes a few very good optics, but they also make a few models that aren’t worth the box they come in. Let’s check out this model, the Sentry, and see how it plays out.

The Sentry’s 50mm objective lens is smaller than I’m accustomed to, but it still provides a good image across all magnifications. You won’t notice much wrong with the image, other than some softness at maximum zoom.

If you wear eyeglasses or safety glasses, you’ll be concerned about the glass’s eye relief. It’s a very short 14mm, which confounds me. The scope itself measures 8.7 inches, and it weighs just 21.5 ounces. Definitely one of the smallest and lightest scopes on the market today.

What Do I Get With It?

Naturally, you’ll want to know what comes in the box. Here you go:

  • The Bushnell 12–36x50mm Waterproof Ultra Compact Spotting Scope itself
  • A compact tripod
  • A car window mount
  • A soft carrying case
  • A premium hard-sided case
  • A scope glove

All in all, you get quite a bit for your money. The included accessories are all very good quality, except for the scope. The scope isn’t the best in the world, and I quickly swapped it out for a more robust variant.

What’s the Magnification of the Scope?

This particular model offers limited magnification, from 12X to 36X. As such, it’s not so great for shooting ranges longer than 100 yards, but it’s perfectly suited for shorter distances. There isn’t a hint of chromatic aberration, just a clean image with excellent color reproduction and clarity. When you get to 36X, though, the image softens a bit.

The field of view through this scope is 65 feet at 1,000 yards with 36X magnification, and 140 feet with 12X magnification. This is a bit short, but it’s to be expected with a 50mm objective lens.

Is It Easy To Use?

The scope is definitely easy to use, with well-knurled controls that are as easy to manipulate with slippery or gloved hands as with dry hands. The magnification wheel is located in the standard place, around the eyepiece, and the focus knob is just right of center on the top of the spotting scope.

What’s the Light Gathering Capability Like On This Model?

If you’re looking for a spotting scope to use for backyard astronomy, keep looking. While this model does offer decent transmittance, the smaller objective lens doesn’t allow in enough light to use this scope reliably in low-light or nighttime conditions. On top of that, the optics are only multicoated, not fully multicoated.

How Are the Optics and Focus?

This model is built around a porro prism design, with BaK–4 prism glass. Images are clear and crisp at 12X magnification, but become soft as you get close to maximum zoom. The good news is that you won’t notice any phase shift, since Bushnell did an appropriate job with the phase correction coating.

The focus is easy to accomplish, since the knob rotates smoothly but with just enough resistance to keep you from bumping it.

What’s the Housing Like On The Scope?

The Sentry has a rubberized outer coating to protect it from the elements, and it also serves to provide you with a better, more ergonomic grip on the glass. The tripod mount is fixed, so you can’t rotate it for more comfortable viewing angles, but that doesn’t matter so much with straight eyepiece designs. There’s no integrated sunshade, but the housing around the objective lens does provide some protection against glare.

How Durable Is It?

This spotting scope has shock-absorbing rubber armor, and it’s both fogproof and waterproof. The lenses are O-ring sealed and the optics chamber is nitrogen-purged. While it isn’t covered by Bushnell’s Bulletproof Guarantee, it does come with a limited lifetime warranty.

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Bushnell 12-36x50mm Waterproof Ultra Compact Spotting Scope Review Summary

Thanks for reading my review of Bushnell’s Sentry 12–36x50mm waterproof ultra compact spotting scope. If you’re looking for a scope that offers enough magnification to make out .22 holes from 100 yards, this puppy will serve you well. However, it’s not much good beyond 100 yards or during low-light conditions.

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Jeff Byrnes

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Hi there! I’m Jeff, an avid outdoorsman and hunter who really likes exploring new technology. I’m especially into hunting optics, which is why I’m writing these reviews! I hope you find my articles helpful in your own shooting and hunting.

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