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Holosights and Black Bears

Our winters are long. Cruising the local gun shops helps the winters pass. Last January, I happened to pick up the new Bushnell Holosight at my favorite gun shop and tried it in the store. I had never seen anything like it and my initial reaction was that the device was certainly interesting. The accompanying literature seemed to suggest its use was primarily for handguns and shotguns. I handed it back to the salesperson and on the way back to work, started thinking.

How would that Holosight work mounted on a short, light rifle, stillhunting for whitetail deer in November? We stillhunt whitetail deer often with fairly good success. Most of the time the deer get up within 50 meters. With no magnification the illuminated precision reticule would probably stand out very well against the grey November sky. It might just work out fine.

At home that night, I logged onto the Internet and ran a search for Bushnell Holosight. There it was. I printed out the technical information and retired to the couch to study all the data. I was hooked. I had to at least get one to try.

A spring bear hunt was in my plans and I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to evaluate the product. Two days alter I went home with a brand new Holosight under my arm.

Of course a brand new Holosight deserved a brand new rifle. I have always been impressed with the ballistics of the 7mm-08. I visited my favorite gun shop and picked up a sleek Remington model 7 in a stainless steel, 20 inch barrel and a fibreglass stock. It was the right match-a light high tech rifle to go with the high tech Holosight.

I first established credibility of the rifle by mounting a Zeiss 3 x 9 scope on the Model 7 and broke in the barrel. At the 40 meter range the first three shots were touching. The rifle was accurate. I installed the Bushnell Holosight on standard Weaver mounts and went back to the 40 meter range. That’s when I found out that you can not use the standard bore sighter to line up this high tech device. I removed the bolt and bore sighted the gun manually at the range. The first two shots were 4″ to the left and bang on vertically. I made a lateral adjustment and this time it was 4″ to the right. Splitting the difference I managed a three shot, 1 1/2 ” group at 40 meters. Two of the shots were touching. This was certainly good enough for the intended purpose. Everything was set just in time because our annual spring bear hunt was planned for the weekend of May 10th.

Leaving early Friday morning, I picked up my hunting partner, Tyler and drove up to our Grande Prairie hunting area. Our good friend and host Cliff had the barrels baited for two weeks prior to our arrival and the bears were regular visitors there now. We had lunch, loaded the Argo with new bait and headed off across the fields to our stands. There was no doubt there were bear in the area. The barrels had been tipped over, were empty and the ground was dug up around them. We rebated the barrels in preparation for the evening hunt. Tyler and I both had bear tags but it was decided over supper that we would only take one rifle, that being the 7mm-08 with the Holosight. Tyler would take the bear if he got the chance. I had taken a respectable black bear from the same blind last year, so I did not want another bear unless it was exceptionally large or a unique color.

It was not a perfect night. A northwest wind was blowing at approximately 40 kph. We approached the barrels downwind, using our stand as a screen and, when we reached our blind we found a rather larger cinnamon bear already enjoying its recently delivered dinner That is when the comedy show started.

The rifle was locked in its case, and I had the ammunition in my pocket. While Tyler struggled to get the gun out of the case, I dropped the shells on the ground. Eventually, he managed to pry the case open and I managed to load three shells into the Remington. By this time, the bear had its fill of the commotion and slowly ambled off into the dense bush.

Working on the premise that a bear will return if it is not frightened, we positioned Tyler in the shooting turret of our stand and got the camera and binoculars ready. We waited. The shadows lengthened and 45 minutes passed. The brown bear returned. This time Tyler was ready. The Holosight was set. The bear tipped over the barrel. The 7mm-08 boomed and the bear was down. Tyler had dropped it with one well-placed shot. Pacing it off later it was found to be approximately 170 meters.

So what about the Holosight, is it any good? Yes, it is. First I would like to explain a little bit about how it works.

The Holosight works on the basis of a Holographic image, which is produced by a small laser. The laser projects a beam of light that is reflected by a partially mirrored glass with a reticule pattern built into it. This is the same technology that the US fighter pilots use on their aircraft sighting systems.

The Holosight produces a virtual image (i.e., the image cannot be focused on a screen) at the target plane. There is no magnification and the field of view is not restricted like a normal telescope. You can keep both eyes open to use this sight without getting double vision because there is no magnification involved. There is an off/on switch and two buttons to vary the brightness of the Holographic reticule. Depressing the button moves the brightness up and down. The setting provides a contrast ratio of 500 to 1 from the highest to lowest setting. In low light conditions you would use the minimum intensity. In daylight conditions you would have it up to the highest setting.

The Holosight also has a battery check indicator and the device automatically shuts down after eight hours. You can program it to shut down after two hours. It is powered by two 3-volt N type alkaline batteries. The reticules are interchangeable and there is even a 3-D reticule. These are purchased as options for the Holosight.

The adjustments I made while sighting in the Holosight were reliable and valid. There is a windage and elevation adjustment just like a rifle telescope. For elevation each click will change the bullets point of impact one quarter of minute of angle which translates into 1/8″ at 50 meters. For windage each click will change the bullets point of impact one half minute of angle which translates into 1/4″ at 50 meters.

From a bench rest Saturday afternoon I managed to shoot a three shot, two inch group at 100 meters with the Holosight on the Model 7. Not bad with no magnification. I was impressed.

Stand by for still hunting whitetail deer with the Holosight. Dr. Barry C. Nolt O.D.

Published: 3/1/1998
Source: Western Sportsman