This review on the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile rangefinder binoculars is based on a 3 month long field test. It reflects the thoughts of 3 different precision rifle shooters as they used the product to observe and range hundreds of times. The full field test consisted of 8 different rangefinders, so we have a very wide view of what to expect in a good pair of rangefinder binoculars. This post is compiled from our notes of what we specifically liked or didn’t like about the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars compared to the rest of the models out there.
- Best value of any ranging binocular tested … hands down
- Can actually range targets out to 1 mile (1,760 yards) in ideal conditions
- Outstanding performance ranging offhand
- Advanced ranging modes help ensure you range the intended target
- Compact and lightweight for a ranging binocular
- Comes with Butler Creek flip-up lens caps for the objective lenses
- Provides some general ballistics functions, but limited to 800 yards
- Ranging button is very hard to push, and can pull you off target (like a heavy trigger). The button also has no tactile feedback, so it’s hard to tell if you actually pushed it or not. This is definitely the #1 complaint, and may seem nitpicky, but it can get frustrating quick.
- Optical quality isn’t in same class as Leica or Zeiss (but neither is the price)
- Display is overly bright and crowded
- Focus knob is hard to reach and too tight
- Easy to accidentally adjust diopter setting and roll eye cups up
- Takes a very long time to display readings for 1200+ yards
- You have to push the ranging button once to wake it up and again to range (a hassle since it goes to sleep quickly)
- Doesn’t allow custom ballistic profiles (can only chose closest from 8 preset ballistic profiles, which isn’t good enough for precision shooting)
If you need a ranging binocular on a budget, this is definitely the biggest bang for your buck. While it isn’t best of class in any area (except possibly ranging offhand), it is an outstanding rangefinder. The advanced brush and bullseye modes are truly innovative, and can really help these handle some of the toughest ranging scenarios. The optical performance isn’t great, and the ergonomics are poor. But the fact that you can find these for under $1,000 makes them in a winner in my book.
The ranging performance of the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars is outstanding. While it isn’t best of class, it was clearly better than some rangefinders that cost twice as much. Bushnell has certainly made significant improvements in the ranging capabilities over the Bushnell Fusion 1600.
Through this field test, I’ve grown a little cynical regarding the max range that manufacturers advertise for their rangefinders. Most of the time you can look at what they say, and cut it by 25% and that is the actual max range you can reasonably expect out in the field. The Bushnell Fusion 1 Miles were refreshing, in that they delivered on their 1 mile promise.
Here are the results of ranging a 2 MOA reflective target in ideal, low-light conditions from a tripod at various ranges from 600 to 2,000 yards. The exact size and shape of the targets, as well as the surroundings varied, but details of each target along with more details of the test are given in the ranging performance test results post. Each target was ranged 10 times under the same conditions.
You can see in ideal conditions, the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars were able to range targets out to 1760 yards with 70% accuracy. That is impressive. But, your eye is probably drawn to the 1200 yard target, and honestly when it happened in the field I didn’t really know what caused it. Most rangefinders struggled with the 1000 yard target, because it was a very difficult ranging scenario with nearby brush and inclines in front of and behind the target. But the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile handled the 1000 yard target really well (thanks to the advanced ranging modes). At 1200 yards the rangefinder continually displayed readings short of the target, which related to some brush 30-40 yards forward of the target (can be seen below and to the left of the target in the photo below.
In a recent conversation with Bushnell engineers, I may have uncovered why the unit struggled so much with this target scenario. Most rangefinders produce a beam that is a horizontal rectangle, but the engineers at Bushnell designed the Fusion binoculars to have a vertical beam. You can see the difference in the diagram below.
A Bushnell engineer said they made this design choice to optimize performance for common hunting scenarios. He explained that often times an animal might walk into an opening between trees or shrubs and a vertical beam would have a better chance of hitting the intended target without getting erroneous readings off nearby brush. I created the diagram below to illustrate what he meant.
This is likely why the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars had a much tougher time with the 1200 yard target than other models. It essentially was more prone to pick up readings off the brush below the target than models with horizontal beam divergence.
Is vertical beam divergence bad? Not necessarily. I can’t argue that it was a poor design choice, it is just different than most. There are some scenarios where a vertical beam will be a good thing, and some it will be a drawback. Bushnell engineers felt like there were more scenarios where it was a positive thing.
I actually really appreciate Bushnell engineer’s approach. They seem to constantly question things, and that causes them to be a leading innovator in rangefinders. One of the absolute best things the Bushnell rangefinders have going for them is the advanced modes they allow the user to select from. I explain this in-depth in the How Rangefinders Work post, but I’ll give a quick recap here.
The Bushnell Fusion binoculars provide 3 selective targeting modes the user can select from:
- Normal: Takes all the distance readings into consideration and tries to make an intelligent decision about what your intended target was. This is the only mode available on most rangefinders.
- BullsEye: Allows easy acquisition of small targets and game without inadvertently getting distances to background targets that have stronger signal strength. When more than one object has been acquired, distance of the closer object will be displayed.
- Brush: Allows objects such as brush and tree branches to be ignored so the distance only to background objects are displayed. When more than one object has been acquired, distance of the further object will be displayed.
These “advanced modes” are an innovative feature, and something other optics manufacturers should take notice of. Essentially this allows the user to “hint” at what approach will give them the best chance of getting the reading on their intended target. Ultimately, the user knows more about the particular situation they are trying to range, for example if there is brush partially obscuring the target or they are trying to range a very small target. These modes simply provide a way for them to convey that info to the rangefinder so it can better interpret the results.
In bright light conditions, radiation from the sun can cause interference and limit the range and resolution of readings a rangefinder is able to gather. This obviously has a negative effect on performance. The chart below shows how the Bushnell 1 Mile performed at sunset, and how it performed ranging those same targets 3 hours before sunset. Once again, this testing was done from a tripod, with visibility of 10+ miles on 2 MOA, reflective targets.
In bright lighting conditions, the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile rangefinder could occasionally get distance readings up to 1400 yards. But it was very, very reliable out to 800 yards. Remember this was all from a tripod on 2 MOA reflective targets.
I also tested the Bushnell 1 Mile offhand, meaning it wasn’t supported by a tripod. The Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile was best of class offhand, even compared to those costing 2 to 20 times as much. I believe this was due to its larger beam divergence (which helped ensure you got energy on the target even from a wobbly position) combined with the selective targeting modes that allowed me to hint at what reading I wanted it to weight more heavily. The consistency and accuracy it was able to provide offhand was very, very impressive.
For more details on the ranging test results, including specifics of targets and other info, check out the ranging performance test results.
Equivalent Horizontal Distance
One downside is that these binoculars can only display the equivalent horizontal distance when it’s in bow mode, which is limited to 100 yards. As a long-range shooter, this is an important feature because that is really the only distance measurement I care about. Bushnell calls this “Angle Range Compensated distance,” which is where their ARC acronym comes from. It essentially is the distance that gravity will act over, not just the line of sight distance, and it isn’t something just applicable to bow hunters. So if you’re ranging beyond 100 yards, essentially the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars can’t provide the equivalent horizontal distance.
The Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars do provide some basic ballistics features. It provides 8 preset ballistic profiles, and allows you to choose the one that best fits your cartridge. For long-range shooters this approach doesn’t provide the accuracy you’ll need. You really need the ability to load custom ballistic profiles for long-range accuracy. But in hunting scenarios with shots under 500 yards it would probably be adequate if you select a profile that closely matches your ballistics. Bushnell limits the ballistic functions to 800 yards or less.
For my field tests, I tried to come up with an objective, data-driven approach for testing optical clarity and what I ended up doing was placing eye exam charts from 600 to 1,400 yards and then recording what size of letters two different people could accurately read. These were virtually identical to the eye charts doctors use to assess visual acuity by determining how much detail and definition a patient can make out at a particular distance. I combined all that data into a single score for each model so they can be ranked in terms of how much detail my two testers could make out. I provide a lot more detail about how the test was conducted, and compare other optical specs in The Optical Performance Results post.
Here are the overall optical results for the entire set of binoculars I tested, including the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile:
Of all the ranging binoculars we tested, the Bushnell 1 Mile binoculars had the poorest optical clarity. Were they a disaster? No. They just aren’t in the same class as models made by Leica or Zeiss. I would compare the optical quality to that of a $200-500 pair of binoculars (like those made by Nikon, Leupold, or even Bushnell). You are essentially getting optics of that quality, plus a great rangefinder, and paying a little bit of a premium for it all to fit in one compact package.
I’ve had a lot of readers make comments about the results we found for the Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile compared to the Bushnell Fusion 1600 binoculars. The facts are, the pair of Bushnell 1600’s we had clearly performed better optically than the pair of Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars we tested. Both pair were brand new, straight out of the box. That makes it appear like Bushnell might have dramatically improved the ranging capabilities with the new model, but took a step back in terms of optical clarity. To meet targeted price point, you sometimes have to make compromises like that.
However, a few people have commented that these results don’t match their own experience with these two models. I’m not sure if they had a completely empirical, unbiased approach like we tried to have in these field tests, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the quality varies model to model. It would be difficult for Bushnell to have the same level of quality controls in place that Zeiss, Leica, or Vectronix does. So it is not out of the question that we might have had a pair with below average optical quality. However, that still says something. While you may end up with a pair that has better optical performance, you also have a chance of getting optical quality at this level (or possibly even lower) with Bushnell Fusion 1 Mile binoculars.
Really, I’m just trying to present the hard data that we collected from the field, without personal bias and with as little interpretation as possible. We feel like the tests we conducted were as accurate and unbiased as we could think up. While the tests weren’t perfect … at the end of the day, this data accurately represents what we experienced in the field.
Most manufactures make it very tough to compare their product to others out there. So, I spent days searching websites, user manuals, and calling/emailing manufacturers (several times each) to gather a complete set of detailed specifications and put them in a format that allows easy side-by-side comparison. There are almost 40 different specs, including actual measured weights, dimensions, and the max ranges found in my field tests for each model (which can be very different from what the manufacturer claims). Some manufacturers list this specs in metric units and others are in U.S. standard units … I’ve converted everything to the same units to make comparison easy. I also read through each of the manuals to see exactly what each one does or doesn’t have in terms of advanced features like equivalent horizontal range, and ballistics functions. Some of the specs I even measured or calculated myself, because they weren’t available anywhere or were specs manufacturers are notorious for exaggerating.
|Manufacturer Part #||202310|
|Street Price¹||$1,199 (occassionally under $1k)|
|Measured Weight in Use²||35.6 oz|
|Measured Dimensions³||6.8 × 6.0 × 2.4 inches|
|Tripod Adaptable||Optional Adapter|
|Included Strap||Padded Waffle-Style (not contoured)|
|Limited Warranty||2 yr, Non-transferrable|
|Beam Divergence||1.5 × 3.0 mrad (vertical beam)|
|Tested Max Range⁴||1,760 yd
Claimed: 1,760 yd
|Tested Min Range||9 yd
|Claimed Accuracy||± 1 yd|
|Tested Repetition Rate||35 ranges/min|
|Receiver Optic (Rx) Aperture Size||MFR refused to specify|
|Laser Type||900-910 nm|
|Pulse Duration||40 ns|
|Battery Type||1 CR123 Lithium|
|Battery Life||2,000 measurements|
|Equivalent Horizontal Range Function||No (Only in Bow Mode < 100 yd)|
|Display Multiple Object Distances Function||No|
|Advanced Ranging Modes||Scan, Closet Object, Further Object|
|Ballistics Functions||Limited to 800 yd
8 preset ballistics curves, provides holdover info in inches, mil, or MOA out to 800 yards max
|Objective Lens Diameter||42 mm|
|Exit pupil||4.2 mm|
|Eye Relief||18 mm|
|Field of view at 1000 yards||305 ft|
|Objective Angle of View||5.8°|
|Prism Type||Roof BaK-4|
|Glass||MFR refused to specify|
|Coatings||Fully Multicoated, Anti-Reflective coating, Raingaurd HD, PC-3 Phase Corrective coating|
|Relative Brightness (RE)||17.6|
|Measured Focus Rotations||1.6|
Bushnell offers a 2 year limited warranty on the Bushnell 1 Mile binoculars. This warranty is non-transferrable, which means it only covers it if you’re the original owner that purchased it from an authorized Bushnell dealer. So if you buy a used pair, no warranty. This isn’t the best warranty for optics like this, but it isn’t the worse either. Of course we’d like it to be longer, but at this price point it probably makes sense.
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