Reviewing the BSA Sweet 22 6X18X40 BDC Scope

Guest Post by Brad:

The BSA Sweet 22 series of rimfire scopes first came on the scene about 8 years ago. It was/is produced in a 2X7, 3X9, 3X12, and 6X18 configuration, and was the first scope on the market (at least to my knowledge) to specifically offer BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) capability in a .22 caliber.

The current specs on this scope are (From the BSA site):

  • Magnification:   6 - 18x
  • Obj. Lens Diameter (mm):  40
  • Exit Pupil Range (mm):  6.6 - 2.2
  • Field of View @ 100 yds:  16.6 - 4.8
  • Optimum Eye Relief (in):  4
  • Parallax Setting:                 10 yards - infinity
  • Click Adjustment Value:                1/4
  • Adjustment Range:  35 - 35
  • Weight (oz):   17.60
  • Length (in):  13.38
  • Matte Finish

Features:

  • 1” Tube with Plex Reticle
  • Side Focus (which is a relatively new feature for this model)
  • 50 to 175 yards Bullet drop precisely calculated to compensate for the elliptic drop of a 36, 38 & 40 grain .22 bullet
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

 BSA Sw221

The premise behind the BDC approach was this: The scope comes with 3 removable turrets that are designed for use with 36 grain, 38 grain, or 40 grain 22 rounds. You select the grain/turret combination that matches the bullet grain you are shooting. Then the specific grain turret, which features yardage markers starting at 50 yards and going all way out to 200 yards, is mounted in the top turret position (which changes windage). With the turret set to 50 yards (the lowest available BDC setting), the rifle is sighted-in at that range. In theory, once the rifle is sighted in at 50 yards, the shooter can turn the top turret out to longer ranges (over the 50 yard distance) and the bullet drop for the 22 is then compensated for all the way out to 200 yards.

BSA Sw22 2

Here’s my experience:

I decided to try the 6X18X40 model on my very CZ 452 about 7 years ago. At the time, I paid about $90 for the scope brand new. I mounted the scope using a set of high Talley Rings (one of my favorite sets of rings). At the time, I was shooting 36 grain Federal Bulk rounds at the time, so I used the 36 grain turret, and sighted the rifle in with that ammo at 50 yards. At 50 yards, the results were very good as that particular 452 shoots excellent groups.

BSA Sw22 Elev

I then decided to experiment with the BDC capability at 75 and 100 yards. In both cases, while I was still on the target, it wasn’t anything like the groups or accuracy at 50 yards. At the 75 yard mark (after adjusting both the parallax and BDC turret to 75, I was on the target consistently but about 3 inches low and the left. At the 100 yard mark, I was on the target as well, but about 5 inches low and to the left. Over the years, I’ve tried this BDC testing using different rounds, and the results were still the same. While my results were on paper, they weren’t nearly accurate enough for me to use the BDC capability at either range. I actually had better results just holding over using my own judgment. Now, in all fairness, I’ve seen posts and reviews from a few people on some of the squirrel hunting and rimfire forums saying that the BDC functionality for “their” Sweet 22 was spot on. I can’t say that either of mine (I have/had 2) was so your own mileage may vary, but I wouldn’t use the BDC functionality at those ranges.

BSA Sw22 Elev2

Now I do have to say that it performs extremely well for me as a “regular” scope without using the BDC feature. I’ve killed a whole mess of squirrels with that 452/BSA scope combo over the years, and I have no intention of ever changing scopes on that particular 452 unless I absolutely have to. That gun/scope combo has made me look very good on some hunts over the years, and when I miss, it’s completely my fault.

BSA Sw22 Wind

While the glass isn’t world class, for the money involved, it’s certainly not bad. At the current price point (anywhere from $79 to $99), I’ve certainly seen better and I’ve seen worse. I’d probably say its average. The fit and finish are pretty good, and I’ve found the model I bought 7 years ago to be very durable as well. It’s held zero extremely well all these years as its spot on every year when I test shoot before squirrel season starts.

BSA Sw22 Wind2

Now for the bad:

In 2008, I decided to order a second BSA Sweet 22 in the 6X18X40 configuration for my 10/22. When it arrived a few days later, I immediately noticed 2 things:

(1)    The new version seemed longer than the older model currently on my 452.

(2)    The new model had a strange almost tacky finish to it versus the matte black of the older one.

(3)    The glass on the new one was much lower quality than the older one. Using identical settings for both scopes, the new model wasn’t nearly as clear at 50 yards and had some really bad hazing on the edge. This hazing got even worse at higher magnifications.

(4)    The reticle was much thicker than the original one.

I called BSA customer support, explained my concerns and was told that I had probably received a “flawed” or possibly a refurbished model that shouldn’t have made it past the quality control folks. They sent offered to send me a full replacement and a call tag to send the messed up one back.

BSA Sw22 @ 6

The replacement scope arrived a week later. When I removed it from the packaging, I was disappointed to see that it had all the exact same issues as the first scope that had been sent to me. So I called BSA customer support again. The first customer support person I spoke to told me that there was no way that the new scope I just received had any issues as they had specifically checked it before shipping. He also didn’t believe that it was longer or a lower quality glass than my first Sweet 22. Knowing that my eyes weren’t deceiving me, I broke out the tape measure to check. The new scope was almost 3.5” inches longer than my older BSA, but they were both marked with the exact same BSA model number? Still not believing me, I snapped a picture with my cell and emailed it to the CSR who was “helping” me. He received the pics while we were on the phone and proceeded to put me on hold for about 15 minutes while he investigated. A female identifying herself as a manager got on the phone and explained that BSA does manufacture its own scopes 100% of the time and they use other scope manufacturers to produce their produce under an OEM type of scenario. Her explanation about the difference in length and lower quality of glass was the fact that they had changed manufacturers a “few” times in the time period between my older BSA and the new one I just received. When pressed about the significant drop in quality of the optic, she shared that they had been having some “complaints” and would be reviewing the quality control issue.

BSA Sw22 @ 18

The bottom line here: BSA doesn’t make their own product, but farms out the components and production to someone else.

To be fair, some of my fellow shooters have recently invested in different BSA Sweet 22 models, and none have had any complaints about the quality, glass, finish, etc., so I’m really hoping that the issue I experienced has been corrected.

At the end of the day, the question becomes would I buy another Sweet 22 scope today?

To be honest, I would as I’ve had outstanding success with my older one and it’s more than paid for itself in the field many times over.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Little John May 14, 2014 at 7:46 pm

SIR, Actually someone else makes 22 LR, and 22 MAG RIMFIRE BULLET DROP COMPENSATING SCOPES, IN ADDITION TO NUMEROUS CENTERFIRE CALIBERS..
SHEPHERD IS MADE IN NEBRASKA USA… works very well, and is not cheap.
The drop compensator is built into the reticle in a unique and patented way, with range estimator also built into reticle, and no range compensator knob to turn for every shot.

Method of use:
1. Meaure target with reticle circles
2. Quickly estimate range,
3. Choose reticle circle that fits target best ,
4. aim, shoot…
repeat as needed to fill game bag.

notice that no knobs need turning between shots at any range… changing zoom power is optional as shooter prefers.

MANUFACTURERS BALLISTIC CHART AND PRODUCT INFO…RIMFIRE AT BOTTOM OF LIST.. http://www.shepherdscopes.com/product.asp

WHOLESALER AND MAIL ORDER RETAILER SOURCE FOR THESE SCOPES:
22 LONG RIFLE VERSION P22:
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/153813/shepherd-p22-rifle-scope-long-rifle-3-10x-40mm-adjustable-objective-9-stadia-reticle-matte?cm_vc=ProductFinding

22 MAGNUM VERSION P22M:
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/845603/shepherd-p22-rifle-scope-magnum-3-10x-40mm-adjustable-objective-9-stadia-reticle-matte?cm_vc=ProductFinding

BSA SWEET 22 IS NOT THE ONLY BULLET DROP COMPENSATOR SCOPE BUT IT MAY BE THE ONLY ONE UNDER $240. MIDWAY DOES SELL THE SWEET 22, SWEET 22 MAG, AND SWEET 17 AS WELL.
SWEET RIMFIRE SCOPES AT MIDWAY:
http://www.midwayusa.com/find?userSearchQuery=BSA+SWEET

JUST THOUGHT YOU MIGHT WANT A BETTER SOURCE THAN EBAY… WHERE SOME SELLERS STILL OFFER THE OLDER AND INFERIOR VERSION WITH FORWARD END ADJUSTABLE OBJECTIVE LENS DIAL . SEE CABELA’S BARGAIN CAVE {in store-in person only} FOR RETURNED SCOPES THAT DID NOT SATISFY CUSTOMER. THAT OLDER VERSION HAD PROBLEMS HOLDING ZERO .

I HAVE SHOT WITH THE NEW 3-9X SIDE FOCUS SWEET 22 ON A CUSTOM NON-RUGER- 10/22 AND IT WORKS WELL TO 100 YARDS… THAT IS WHERE WE RAN OUT OF RANGE TO TEST IT.
OPTICAL QUALITY IS VERY GOOD ON THE NEW SIDE FOCUS VERSION AND IT DID HOLD AND REPEAT ZERO…. IS A BIT SLOWER AND MORE KLUTZY TO OPERATE THAN SHEPHERD AND COST MUCH LESS.

BAG THOSE SQUIRRELS
LITTLE JOHN
of Howard County Missouri

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