Welcome back, shooters! There are a ton of rifle scopes out there, but anyone who has even glanced at some top names knows that Bushnell is one of them. They’ve been around forever, and are a leader in sporting optics in general. They’ve carved a solid niche in the scope industry by creating reliable optics that cater to a wide array of shooting disciplines. The Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 is one such offering that caught my attention, promising a blend of functionality and affordability.
This scope is designed to offer versatile magnification range and clarity, making it a potentially ideal companion for hunters and target shooters alike. The Banner series is known for its dusk & dawn brightness (DDB) lenses which claim to provide clarity in low light conditions, a feature I was eager to test. With its traditional black aesthetics and the Multi-X reticle, it’s a scope that aims to keep things simple yet effective. I’m going to dig into the details for this scope before putting it through its paces in the field so that in the end, you’ll know whether this scope is going to be a good addition to your gear.
My First Impressions
When I first got the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40, the first thing that stood out was its sleek yet straightforward design. The black finish is classic, giving it a traditional look that would complement most rifles. The scope felt solid in hand and had none of the cheap rattling or flimsy components that cheap scopes tend to have, which was impressive given the relatively light weight of just 13 oz.
The controls are minimalistic with easy-to-manipulate turrets for windage and elevation adjustments. The magnification ring moved smoothly between 3-9x, offering a versatile range for various shooting distances. The Multi-X reticle is simple and uncluttered, which is perfect because personally, I prefer a more “no-frills” approach to my shots. I will say that the lack of illumination was noticeable, but considering the dusk & dawn brightness feature, I was curious to see how it would perform in low-light conditions.
One of the significant selling points of the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 is its lens coating. This coating is specially designed to enhance clarity and light transmission during the low-light conditions of dawn and dusk, which are typically the times when most hunters fill their tickets. In my experience, the scope lived up to its claims. The images were bright and clear, allowing for easy target identification and acquisition in the soft light of early morning and late afternoon.
The magnification range of 3-9x is versatile, catering to both short and mid-range shooting scenarios. At lower magnification, the field of view is broad, making it easier to track moving targets. Higher levels don’t see the same fuzziness and distortion that other scopes might produce. The Multi-X reticle is in the second focal plane, so you don’t have to worry about your reticle getting so big that it obscures your target when you’re at max magnification.
Overall, the optical quality of the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 is commendable, especially considering its price point isn’t a down payment on a new vehicle.
The Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 comes with a classic Multi-X reticle in the SFP. This is a relatively traditional crosshair design and is considered by countless shooters to be straightforward and effective, providing a clear point of aim without any distractions. Personally, I appreciate how simple it is when I’m trying to make rapid target acquisitions.
Across different lighting conditions, the reticle stays crisp and easy to see. The lack of an illuminated reticle wasn’t as much of a concern as I initially thought, thanks to lens coatings which helped maintain clarity even in lower light conditions. However, in extremely dim light, an illuminated reticle would have been really handy.
The subtensions are easy to understand, making range estimation and holdovers straightforward for those familiar with the Multi-X design. In general, the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40’s reticle performance was what I would expect from a scope of this tier and price point. The simplicity and straightforward effectiveness are definitely strong suits here.
Turrets & Adjustments
The turrets on the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 provide crisp, tactile feedback with each click, which translates to precise adjustments when zeroing in or compensating for windage and elevation on the field. They’re also capped, which is a nice touch to protect them from accidental adjustments when moving through thick brush or in and out of hunting blinds. Each click corresponds to 1/4 MOA adjustments, and once it was zeroed, I didn’t budge, which was nice considering the use it saw.
The magnification ring was silky smooth, but not loose, making transitions a breeze. I was a little worried about the lack of parallax adjustment, but as long as you don’t try to operate outside the scope’s effective ranges it turns out just fine. The eye relief options of 3.3 or 6 inches are perfect, and allow plenty of comfortable positions while shooting, for small and mid-caliber, as well as larger calibers.
There’s no question that the quality of the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 is solid. True to the Bushnell name, it shows off a robust construction that’s designed to withstand a range of harsh operating conditions. The sealed and nitrogen-purged construction ensures that the scope remains fog-proof and waterproof. Even during a sudden downpour and transitioning between cold and warm environments, the scope remained clear with no internal fogging.
The lens coatings are well done, protecting the glass from potential scratches while also enhancing the optical performance of the scope. The DDB coating is one of the biggest and best additions to this scope and provides tremendous improvement in low-light conditions that you’ll often see while hunting. This thing is built to last, and it’s a solid value for the initial investment.
Real-Life Testing: A Day in the Field
This is always my favorite part. There’s nothing I love more than getting out into the field and losing some lead while trying out a new toy. I got up before the sun and made sure I was in position and ready so that I could see how the scope scooped up those first few photons of dawn light. The DDB coating performed insanely well, and as the sun slowly made its appearance, the stayed clear and bright the whole time, giving me the excellent imaging I expect from anything with Bushnell’s brand on it.
We moved around through the rolling hills of my east Texas haunts, and the terrain provided a mix of short to mid-range shooting opportunities. It was the perfect environment to test the full range of the Banner’s 3x-9x magnification. The low end was nimble and sharp, while the 9x was clear, bright, and surgically precise. Everything in between was butter.
The turrets were a joy to work with, providing precise adjustments with tactile feedback. Zeroing in on targets and making minor adjustments for windage and elevation was easy. The lightweight build was helpful during the few times we had to hoof it to a new spot since it only adds a marginal amount of weight to my rig.
For other 3-9×40 scopes, check my Redfield Revolution 3-9×40 review.
Pros & Cons
- Versatile Magnification: The 3x-9x magnification range is versatile enough for a variety of shooting scenarios, from close to mid-range shots.
- Dusk & Dawn Brightness Coating: This feature genuinely enhances low-light visibility, making dawn and dusk hunting more effective.
- Simple Reticle: The Multi-X reticle is straightforward and uncluttered, allowing for quick target acquisition without any distractions.
- Solid Construction: Despite being lightweight, the scope is robustly built to withstand the rough and tumble of outdoor use.
- Lack of Illumination: In extremely low light conditions, an illuminated reticle could be beneficial for better target acquisition.
- No Parallax Adjustment: The absence of a parallax adjustment feature may be a downside for some shooters, especially at longer ranges.
Who Should Buy This Scope?
This scope is ideal for just about anyone who needs variable magnification for mid-range and some long-range shots. It’s a well-rounded scope that would be equally at home with either a novice hunter or a recreational or competitive shooter. It’s versatile and can be adapted to most close-range and mid-range hunting applications and targets. Additionally, anyone who is bound by a more strict budget will probably find that it’s a solid option without having to compromise on much if anything.
The Final Word
What it comes down to in the end is that the Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 is a high-quality scope that has what it takes to be a reliable, long-term addition to your gear. Its performance in the field, especially during the low-light conditions of dawn and dusk, is undeniable thanks to the DDB coating. The reticle is simple but effective, and with options available for both 3 and 6-inch eye relief you can get the version you need for your specific uses. It may lack a few of the bells and whistles of some much more spendy scopes, it performs where it needs to and doesn’t waste your time. If you’re looking for a simple, solid, scope that won’t put a target on your budget, the Banner 3-9×40 is a great option.
Mike Fellon is an experienced firearms enthusiast and optics expert. He delivers unbiased and detailed rifle scope reviews. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He inherited his hunting passions after his father John – he was fascinated by his stories, hearing how much attention, focus, dedication and patience he invested in shooting every animal. When he was old enough, his father first allowed him to shoot some cans and bottles with his shotgun, and then took him hunting – it was love at first sight. Mike has never stopped shooting ever since.