SOF units are always looking for the very best available equipment to take into the field and on missions. This is what I thought when I bought the Bushnell 8×32 Fusion 1 mile ARC laser range finder for long range precision target interdiction. Being a trusted name in optics, I went to Bushnell’s web page and found a laser range finder with everything that SOF units look for in a tactical laser range finder. I was so excited to get this great piece of gear and test it out in preparation to use on an upcoming training exercise. I very quickly found myself disappointed in how poor the Fusion was performing in many different aspects.
At initial glance, especially after reviewing the manufacturer’s specifications, the Fusion 1 mile ARC appears to be a great piece of glass with multi-function capabilities. It’s a ballistic computer, laser range finder and binoculars all in one. Weighing in at only 30.8 ounces for all the capabilities, I was excited to cut some weight from my pack by eliminating those other devices. The first time I removed the fusion from my pack to use, it was immediately apparent that the quality of its construction was not rugged enough for it’s “true use”. The eye cup fell off at some point between putting it in my pack and taking it out again. One time in and out of a pack again and she already had its first battle scars.
The disappointments kept coming quickly afterward when my buddy and I went to get set up for our first shot; I was unable to get a return distance from the Fusion. We had to wait for first light and use the mildot range estimation formula to estimate our target. When we did the range calculation, we determined that the target was just over 900 meters. Why the hell could not I get a “laze” on the target? I tried again and the closest I could get a return from the fusion was 750 meters. I adjusted to settings from bullseye mode to brush mode and I still could not get a return from the fusion. So, back into the pack she went and she did not come out again for the remainder of the trip. Upon completion I asked other sniper team if they had the same difficulties and they reported the same deficiencies.
I decided to give the Fusion another chance to show her qualities the next time our team went out to the range. The distances we were shooting on this particular day went all the way out to 3200 meters. With modern precision rifles, it is not unreasonable to expect hits even at that range. On a clear day with perfect conditions, using a tripod and sand sock for a stability, the Fusion continued to frustrate me. I was unable to get a distance readout on a hillside that was no more than 1200 meters away. That is unacceptable for a laser range finder that is advertised as capable of terrain distance marking at 1760 yards so, back into the pack the fusion went.
Exploring the performance of the built in ballistic computer was my last hope for a positive result from this product that I had such high hopes for. I broke out the instruction manual and went to Bushnell’s website for further information to make sure that I did not cause any operator errors in the Fusions’ ballistic solution, what I found was surprising for a product produced by a company with a reputation as good as Bushnell’s.
Using a 175-grain Sierra Match King .308 and a LaRue OBR, the average muzzle velocity comes out to be around 2550 fps. Armed with this basic info I referred to the user guide and determined that I should select the “F” category. The problems were immediately apparent. The rifle categories listed by Bushnell only give you an option to select a round that is shooting at 2900 fps. A 350 fps difference in muzzle velocity translates into a .68 mil drop (19.83 inches) at 740 meters, when compared with a “trued” custom ballistic curve.
Considering that 740 meters is a long shot for most shooting situations, let’s look at shorter distances. Say we have a target at 490 meters. When comparing the two ballistic solutions, the Fusion gives a shooting solution which would result in a 10.59 inch drop for my rifle. For shooters demanding a high degree of accuracy, this difference is simply unacceptable. The inability to alter the specifics of the ballistics computer, there is no way to correct for this discrepancy except for using a rifle that falls in exactly with on the ballistic categories. After exhausting all the applications the Fusion offers, it was clear that it simply did not meet the performance standard required for tactical long range precision target interdiction.
Although the Fusion failed to meet the bar in the tactical world I still saw a lot of potential in its application in primarily the bow hunting realm but also rifle hunting. Designed to operate in both rifle and archery modes, multi-functionality is always an awesome aspect for a piece of gear that would to make it onto my bow hunting packing list. Anyone who has been in the situation where you are in the middle of a wilderness area with everything you need to achieve success is carried on you back, knows that ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. If I can pack a set of binos and a laser range finder all in one, I will every time. I tested the Fusion in every archery situation I could think of from steep angle shots to long distance shots. It never failed me and the quality of the glass is exceptional for medium and short range glassing.
In conclusion, considering rifle and bow hunting applications versus “tactical” applications, it is clear where the Bushnell Fusion 1 mile ARC finds its’ niche. If you are a rifle hunter that does not feel confident taking a shot on a big bull beyond 400 meters than, I would recommend the Fusion to you. If you have invested in a high dollar rifle, high dollar training and shooting at 900 meters is in your realm of possibility then you should look into another higher performance range finder.