How good is a free scope that comes with a rifle combo package?

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Last Black Friday, I bought a Savage Axis XP at Sportsman’s Warehouse that came with a Bushnell 4-12×40 scope and rings pre-installed in the rifle in the box. It was a great price and I assume Savage has been trying to sell through their remaining stock of the Axis now that the Axis II model has been out for a couple of years.

I didn’t hold high expectations for a “free” scope. I expected it to be about the same quality as Budget scopes by CVLife, Pinty, etc. with an unknown ability to hold up to the recoil of the .308 cal rounds the rifle was chambered for. Upon close inspection I wasn’t far off. I could not find a match for this scope in the Bushnell website? Bushnell does sell a Banner 4-12×40 but it looks nothing like this scope; with a side parallax knob instead of this scope’s AOE. It had the “Bushnell” logo on it but it looked more like a knock-off Bushnell.

I gave it a try on the rifle, going through about 50 rounds of 7.62mm breaking the rifle in and zeroing out the scope. The packaging says it was “factory bore-sighted”, which just means that you can get on paper. That I did and I was pleased and relieved to find that once zero’d the scope held its zero.

I fully expected to replace this free scope with one of the higher end scopes I’ve recently reviewed like the Hawk Sidewinder or Arken SH4. But after shooting with it, I decided to keep it on the Savage and keep the rifle stock. For a basic hunting rifle, the scope is perfectly acceptable. To their credit, as much as the Savage Axis is a budget rifle that does the job it’s designed to do, so does the scope they chose for it.

Group: -2
Element: 5

Build: 3
Glass: 3
Reticle: 3
Holds Zero: 5
Box Test: 5
Turrets: 3
Eye Box: 3
Value: 5 (It was free)


Power: 4-12x

Objective: 40mm

Bushnell Spacemaster 15-45×50

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When I reviewed the Celestron Landscout 12-36×50, I thought it was the smallest 50mm spotting scope available. Technically that’s still true. But about 10 years ago there was a smaller scope: the collapsing Bushnell Spacemaster.

The Spacemaster has a telescoping design (no pun intended) where the tube body collapses inside itself when stored. This reduces the overall length of the scope almost in half. This makes the spotting scope very convenient for travel where packing space is a premium. The scope comes in an old-school hard travel case with a compact folding tripod.

The optical quality of the scope is as good or better than any 50mm scope I’ve reviewed. I could see little or no chromatic aberration with good sharpness from center to outer edge of the field of view. Sharpness was among the best 50mm scopes.

Unfortunately, the scope was discontinued by Bushnell a few years ago. And as far as I can tell, no scope currently sold has the same telescoping design. I purchased mine used on Ebay for just under $100.

USAF-51 Resolution Test

Group 0: Element 1


15-45X zoom plus 25x fixed power Eyepiece

Fully coated optics

Long Eye relief (14mm)

Collapsible spotting scope with 15 to 45x magnification

Telescoping design packs down ultra-small for travel

Fully coated optics produce bright, crisp views

Long eye relief; integrated window mount

Measures 8 inches long; weighs 22.8 ounces