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Several times a week, I receive emails asking my opinion of various riflescopes, and one that I’ve been asked about several times is the Bushnell Banner 6-18×50 AO scope. Since I owned one of these scopes, here’s an in-depth Bushnell Banner 6-18×50 review, including details such as optical quality, operational controls, and thoughts on whether the scope is worth the money.
Bushnell Banner 6-18×50 Background
Bushnell has been in the sporting optics business since 1948, when its founder, David Bushnell, founded the company. Originally, Bushnell only sold Japanese-made binoculars via mail order, then later expanded the product offerings to include spotting scopes and rifle scopes.
In 1971, Bushnell was sold to the Bausch & Lomb company and rebranded as Bushnell Performance Optics. In 1999, Bausch & Lomb sold Bushnell Performance Optics to a private equity firm. Today, Bushnell is owned by an outdoor conglomerate called Vista Outdoors, which also owns several other sporting optics brands, including Tasco, Simmons, and Weaver.
The Bushnell Banner series of scopes was introduced in 1961 and started with a standard 4x powered model. The Banner series has always been one of Bushnell’s entry-level scope series focusing on value.
Over time, Bushnell (and then Bausch & Lomb) added additional scope models to the Banner line of scopes. The name has changed a bit as well and has been listed as the following variations:
- Banner by Bushnell
- Bushnell Dawn to Dusk Banner
- Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn
The Banner 6-18×50 AO scope was introduced in 2000 and labeled the “Banner Dusk & Dawn 6-18×50”. The original model number of this scope was 71-6185. It was marketed as a long-range scope for varmint hunting and target shooting.
The technical specifications for the Banner 6-18x50AO scope have changed a bit since its introduction in 2000. The technical specifications of the current Banner model that is still in production are as follows:
Bushnell Banner 6-18x50 (Model 61-6185)
Field of View:
17 feet at 6 Power
6 feet at 18 Power
Adjustable Objective from 10 yards to Infinity
18 ounces (1 pound 2 ounces)
Country of Origin:
Second Focal Plane
Travel Per Turret Rotation:
15 MOA per Rotation
Bushnell Multi-X Reticle
As part of the Bushnell Banner series, this scope model is designed as a budget-friendly scope option for various long-range shooting applications. And by “budget friendly,” I mean a scope with a sub $150 price point on today’s market.
This 6-18x model proved to be an excellent seller for Bushnell, especially for varmint hunters, as it offered a reasonably inexpensive higher magnification optic that wouldn’t break the bank but was a solid performer.
This scope model was equipped with an adjustable objective that would focus down to 10 yards, which is an option that you don’t typically see on a scope in this price range.
The early models of the 6-18×50 Banner scopes were built on a 1-inch tube, and Bushnell has continued this standard as the current Banner 6-18 scopes are still made with a 1-inch tube. However, since the Banner series is geared toward entry-level or budget-oriented shooters and hunters, I doubt that Bushnell will ever offer this model in a 30mm version.
This model was introduced as a second focal plane scope and is still manufactured as only a second focal plane configuration. Like the 1-inch tube, I doubt that Bushnell will ever offer a first focal version of this scope, given the price point.
I’ve seen some debates online that the first versions of the Banner 6-18×50 scopes were built by Bausch & Lomb; however, that data isn’t correct as Bausch & Lomb had already sold the Bushnell brand in 1999. I’ll get into more detail below about where these specific scopes were produced and are currently produced.
Typically, with new-in-box scopes costing under $150, the optical quality can cover a wide range of quality, with most leaning towards lower quality optic performance. In addition, the higher magnification ranges are usually the area where lower quality optics begin to degrade in optical clarity, brightness, and color.
That being said, I’ve found the optical quality on the 6-18 Banner scope that I own to be surprisingly decent for this price point. Sure, at max power (18x), there are some obvious clarity issues around the edges, and the color isn’t great, but it’s certainly better than some 6-18 models I’ve seen in this price range (such as BSA & Barska).
The color variations are not a big deal for me as I tend to emphasize optical clarity and brightness over color.
Again, the glass is better than average for a scope with a street price of less than $150.
If you’ve read of the other posts on this site, then you probably already know that I prefer higher magnification scopes for two reasons:
- I have a vision issue that impacts my dominant eye.
- I’d rather have the higher magnification range and not need it versus needing it and not having it.
The typical downside of higher magnification riflescopes is the increased weight (which I’ll get into more detail below), but I can live with a little bit of additional weight for the added magnification range.
I like the 6-18 power range because of its versatility and flexibility. This magnification range gives you the option to use the scope on the lower magnification ranges (6x to 10x) and offers the ability to crank it up to 15x to 18x if you need it.
Some would probably argue that 6-18x is overkill on a rifle, but it works just fine for me. Like choosing a scope brand, picking the ideal scope magnification range is a personal decision based on needs, wants, and budget.
Adjustable Objective & Parallax Range
I briefly touched on this topic before, but the Banner 6-18 is equipped with an adjustable objective (which is located on the scope’s objective). This feature allows the shooter to adjust for parallax by turning the objective ring to the specific distance to the target.
So, if you’re shooting at a coyote at 200 yards, you can turn the adjustable objective (commonly called the AO) to the 200-yard mark to reduce parallax and increase the target focus.
I also previously touched on this topic as well, but this specific Banner 6-18 model offers parallax adjustment that will adjust down to 10 yards. Since this scope is designed for longer range shooting, some hunters may not see the potential value in a 10-yard parallax, but here’s why it’s important to me:
The riflescope industry standard for minimum adjustable objective distance is 50 yards. This means that most scopes feature a parallax adjustment that will only focus down to the 50-yard mark. That’s great if you’re hunting and the game shows up at distances beyond 50 yards.
However, what happens if you’re coyote hunting and a coyote pops up near the caller at 30 yards? If you can only focus the objective down to 50 yards, then the coyote will be blurry and out of focus, even at the lowest 6x magnification.
Perhaps it’s my OCD traits taking over, but it bothers me when a target is out of focus and blurry. Again, it’s more of an annoyance than anything else, but I much prefer the target to be in focus before taking a shot.
The 10-yard minimum parallax on this 6-18 Bushnell Banner scope all but eliminates that issue for me.
This specific model of the Banner series features the same operational controls found on most all the Banner scope versions, including the following:
- Fast focus eyepiece
- Adjustable Objective (which was not available on all of the Banner scope variants)
- Power magnification ring – which adjusts the magnification from 6x up to 18x
In addition to those basic operational controls, here are a few other control features I like as well:
MOA-based capped turrets – this term refers to the scope caps that screw on and off the turrets. These caps have to be removed to make horizontal and vertical scope adjustments. The screw-on caps protect the adjustment mechanisms and reduce the chance of an accidental turret adjustment (which can and does happen with exposed turrets).
Clearly marked AO adjustments – This is another minor issue that annoys me as the adjustable objective should be clearly marked for distances. The first generations of this scope were very well marked, but the newer models are not marked as clearly (IMHO).
Bushnell’s warrant program, in general, has changed several times since this Banner 6-18 scope was introduced in 2000.
When this scope was brought to market, it was covered under Bushnell’s “Limited Lifetime Warranty” program, which appeared only to offer warranty coverage for the original owner.
Currently, Bushnell has several different warranty programs listed on the Bushnell website. Those warranties include the following programs:
- Bushnell Lifetime Ironclad Warranty (which is the warranty program that is currently in effect).
- Bushnell Ironclad Warranty 2018 to May 2020 – This specialized warranty program offered a lifetime warranty on rifle scopes with restrictions. Bushnell identified a “lifetime” as being 30 years for specific scope models and 20 years for other less expensive scopes.
- Bushnell Limited Warranty – This warranty has been in place since 1984 and ran until 2016. This program covers almost all the Bushnell scopes, including the entire Banner series.
- Bushnell No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty – The No Questions Asked warranty program took effect in 2016 and was in effect until May 2020.
If you own one of these Banner 6-18×50 models and need warranty service, the best way to determine which warranty program applies to your specific scope is to contact Bushnell support.
Another factor that comes into play when scope shopping is the weight of the scope. This Bushnell Banner 6 18×50 scope weighs in at 18 ounces, which isn’t bad at all for a riflescope in the 6-18x magnification range. Being built on a 1-inch tube has helped keep the weight down to a manageable level.
If 18 ounces is more weight than you want on your rifle, other Banner scope models weigh less, but you may be sacrificing magnification range for weight.
An 18-ounce scope isn’t too heavy for most of my hunting/shooting applications but to each his or her own.
The 6-18 Banner scope has only been available with one reticle option, a duplex-style reticle. Currently, this scope model is available with a duplex-style reticle that Bushnell calls the “Multi-X” reticle. This reticle features thicker diameter horizontal and vertical posts that taper into a finer crosshair reticle in the center.
I like duplex style reticles because they are extremely versatile and can be used for hunting and long-range shooting situations.
However, the one thing I don’t like about duplex reticles is the lack of BDC (bullet drop compensation) capability. However, most hunting scenarios don’t necessarily require a BDC-based reticle.
Country of Manufacture
As far as I can tell, these 6-18 Banner scopes were originally manufactured in China (like my pictured below), and then sometime around the 2015 to 2016 timeframe, Bushnell migrated production over to an optical facility in South Korea.
All the Banner 6-18×50 scopes manufactured after 2015/2016 were and still are produced in South Korea.
|My early Model Banner 6-18×50 that was made in China
|Newer Model Banner 6-18×50 that was made in South Korea
I’ve had the opportunity to compare my older Chinese-made 6-18 Banner against a new model made in South Korea, and the newer model appears to have better glass. In addition, the South Korea-made model is brighter and a bit clearer.
If you were shopping for an entry level long range scope or higher magnification scope, I’d say that the Banner 6 18×50 model is a viable contender with better than average optical quality and features for the price. This model offers quite a bit of scope for the money for a new sub $150 riflescope in the 6x to 18x power range.
Now, to be fair, this is a $150 scope, so it’s essential to keep your expectations realistic. This scope isn’t going to compete with any Nightforce or Leupold in a 6-18 power range, but it shouldn’t be due to the significant price differences.
Where to Buy
Bushnell still offers the Banner 6-18×50 model (although it’s now listed as model 61-6185), and here are the best prices I could locate on that specific Bushnell scope:
Here are some frequently asked questions that are routinely asked about the Banner 6-18×50 riflescope:
Where are the Bushnell Banner scopes made?
The Bushnell Banner series of rifle scopes have been manufactured in several locations. When Bushnell first started offering the Banner scopes in 1961, they were manufactured in Japan.
Over time, Bushnell migrated the production of the Banner scopes over to an optical facility in China, and the Banner scopes are currently manufactured at an optical facility in South Korea.
In my experience, the older Japanese made Banner scopes had the best optical quality, but those models were only manufactured in the lower power ranges, such as:
- 4×32 fixed power
- 6×32 fixed power
Does the Bushnell 6-18×50 scope have a lifetime warranty?
Yes and no. The answer somewhat depends on when the scope was manufactured and which Bushnell warranty program is associated with that specific scope.
For the most part, my answer would be that Bushnell 6-18 scopes are covered by a limited lifetime warranty, which isn’t quite the same as a standard lifetime warranty. But, as the name implies, a limited lifetime warranty has coverage limitations, so it may or may not be covered, depending on the situation.
If I come across any other information about the 6-18×50 Bushnell scope, I’ll update the page.
I’ve been working in the firearms and sporting optics industry for over 20 years, with a personal and professional interest in all things related to rifle scopes, Through a combination of work experience, formal training, and personal experiences, I have extensive experience mounting, testing, and evaluating different rifle scope models across most major optical brands.