Burris Ballistic Laser Scope
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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
Scope development has always been focussed on the clarity and low light abilities of the scope but now even more advanced features, such as illuminated reticules and bullet drop compensating reticules are becoming common place. Shooters expect more from their scope these days than a simple plex reticule and coin slotted adjusted turrets.
Sounds Like Fantasy
Most manufacturers have good ballistic drop compensation (BDC) reticules to allow hold over for the drop of the bullets trajectory at range, but they also need some accurate way of defining that distance. Burris, Zeiss and Bushnell all came up with answers, as did Swarovski in an older design scope that incorporated a laser range finder into the scope body itself, thereby alleviating the need for a hand held laser range finder. Yet there was still that desire for a scope that once zeroed could tell you the exact range to the target and then show you were to aim for that distant shot. Sounds like fantasy but the boffins at Burris have pulled it off. Their new scope dubbed the Burris Ballistic LaserScope is an all in one 4-12 x 42 mm scope that instantly matches your load and bullet data into its onboard computer chip, then with the push of a button gives an accurate range reading followed by a visible red dot on the vertical bottom stadia to indicate exactly were to aim, simple.
The interesting point straight away is the price, £1075 is actually a reasonable price to pay these days when you consider how optics prices have escalated in the last year - and of course what the new Burris scope has to offer.
The Burris Ballistic LaserScope is no longer than a 3-12 x50 Schmidt and Bender stalking scope and weighs only 780 grams with battery and mounts, and so despite its unconventional form is no more unwieldy than a conventional varmint scope. Fitment to the rifle is via the universal Weaver type mounting system. There are two detachable mounting clamps that fit to a slotted rail on the underside of the scope and then these attach directly to your Weaver base on your rifle.
GMK (the Burris distributors in the UK) supplied a set of Weaver bases for one of the Sako test rifles I used, which changes the dovetailed receiver to accept any Weaver type mounting system, very useful. There are enough slots to allow fitment to rifles with small or large action sizes.
Once fitted, you zero as you would a conventional scope, adjust eyepiece to focus reticule and then remove the adjustment caps and zero to either 100 yard or 200 yard zero, the reason for this will become apparent later. Each click represents ¼ inch movement at 100 yards.
Behind the reticule adjustments is a small housing on the body of the Burris that houses a CR2 battery (supplied) for the electronic functions. When activated the battery life is indicated in the field of view as a reminder; 5000 operations is a normal life span, but the way I used the scope it was more like 2000 eager pushes!
You now have two other key buttons, sited to either side of the scope. The left hand rubber button is the main switch to turn the scope on and the right side is used to programme your ballistic data. To the front of these are two remote control receivers so the supplied remote switch can be positioned more conveniently on the rifles stock.
Used as a normal laser range finder you just have to press the rubber button on the left and a Y or M appears indicating yards or metres also with the battery life indicator and five red dots on the vertical 6 o’clock reticule line. This indicates the typical hold over on a conventional Burris Ballistic Plex reticule system i.e. 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 yard aim-points and the range is indicated in red in the top field of view. This data is shown for one and half minutes to allow you to compose yourself and take the shot.
The next step is to program the scope for your particular bullets ballistics and this is where it gets really interesting.
There are three crucial first steps, one, decide on yards or meters, two, zero your rifle at 100 or 200 range and three find the bullet drop of your exact load at 500 yards/metres.
The last is crucial, as although you have a set of tables supplied with the scope for most of the common cartridges and bullet weights these are only from a manufacturers test rifle and your rifle may differ due to: differing barrel length, tight barrel, tight chamber, scope height from bore centre, temperature, altitude or home loads. Therefore I would strongly recommend chronographing your load to achieve a fps reading and then running it through a ballistics program , I use Quickload and Quicktarget (JMS Arms 07771 962221) to assess your exact drop at 500 yards or better still shoot at a target with that load and measure the real drop, which is what Burris recommend.
Armed with this information you can now program the Burris. Look at the tables provided in the manual, and in the farthest most column are a set of numbers with two digits from 25 to 63, this is the drop number for your bullet so if your .308 rifle uses a 150 grain Ballistic Tip travelling at 2810 fps, look for that load and then use the drop number i.e. in this case 55. If you have a .22-250 shooting a Federal Sierra Blitz King 55 grain bullet at 3625fps the drop number will be 38 corresponding to -38.0 inches at 500 yards.
Using the rubber button on the right hand side that has four segments to navigate around the system proceed as follows. Hold down for six seconds with the forward portion and also the left side main button, this initiates the programming schedule. The image in the scope changes and allows you to push the forward button again to enter the ballistic table select mode. A “T” will light and the “Y” or “M” is flashing. Use the up or down segment to choose, in my case ‘yards’ and then the forward button clicked once to lock this setting.
Next, one of the three numbered spaces is flashing, enter in 1 for a 100 yard zero or 2 for a 200 yards by pressing once the up or down segment and lock with one push of the forward segment. Sounds complicated but we are nearly there, honest. Now the last two digits are flashing which is the drop number, so enter in that number by holding the up button to increase value to 55 if using the .308 150 grain load mentioned above, press and release the back segment and all your information is set and you are ready for a coffee, I mean a shoot.
If you change ammunition just reset the drop number using the above method.
With my Sako .308 sighted at 100 yards exactly with a reload shooting a 150 grain Ballistic Tip at 2810 fps, I had to reload that exact figure with a load of 48 grains Reloder RL15 powder, in fact 2804 fps, but that’s close enough for this test, especially from the short Sako barrel. At one hundred yards I had three shots touching on a steel fox silhouette. All well and good. Now walk out to 300 yards and set up the fox silhouette at this range and go back to the firing point. Press the main button
and the range will appear to the target, 302 yards - good enough - and a red dot appears on the vertical bottom stadia of the reticule exactly spaced for that drop with your load at 302 yards. Then just use this new red dot as an aiming point for the 302 yard shot and “clang, clang, clang” a three shot group was formed (see picture); I had a 4 inch group at 4.5 inches to the right of the zero group but I had not allowed for any wind, I just tested for vertical dispersion. The groups centre was just 1.0 inches lower than my aim point, I was impressed.
I repeated this three shot test at 500 yards and on several more rifles, an RPA .22 Satan Wildcat, a Browning A-bolt .223 and a fully suppressed .308 Sako subsonic rifle. All the shots were very close to my aiming point although I had to fine tune some data or drop numbers to fit the trajectory exactly; i.e. the .223 load should drop 44 inches a 500 yards when using a 40 grain V-MAX bullet at 3800 fps, I had a 40 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet with a Ballistic Coefficient (BC) of 0.221 instead of the BC of 0.200 from the load data in the brochure for the V-Max, so I entered in a drop number that was 40, lower than indicated to get a better zero as the Nosler with the same load i.e. 3800 fps dropped less than the Hornady V-Max at the same velocity. That’s why you need to know exactly your loads drop at 500 yards, not just take it off the back of a box of ammunition. With this adjustment I was only 2.5 inches out at 500 yards, plus wind drift.
If You Feel Inclined
The scope has a built in inclinometer to adjust for angled shoots up or down hill and adjusts the red dots aiming points to that particular angle, but I did not test this feature fully in the terrain I was shooting.
You also have to take account the reticule dot size and illumination. In this I mean at 500 yards the dot will cover a crow completely, so accurate aiming becomes subjective and with no illumination graduation dial you are stuck with a very bright red dot, which is fine for day time illumination but could hamper your night time vision when a fox steps out of the shadows at dusk. Also some form of parallax adjustment would be good, but really I am nit-picking as the scope as is does exactly, with proper set up, exactly what it claims to do.
One thing to remember is the reticule is in the second focal plane and therefore you need to keep the magnification set at maximum mag for the red dot increments to read true as any power alteration will change the relationship between the red dot and the target at any given distance.
Beyond 500 yards use the BC chart at the end of the manual for a finer degree of accuracy but still need to fine tune the drop number for your load to connect to a small distant object.
The temperate range for operation is -10 c to + 50 c and I would like to test it at near zero, as electronics have a habit of irregularity at these temperatures. I had laser readings from as low as 24 yards to 794 yards but this will vary dependent on the reflective nature of the target.
There will always be the contention regarding ethical ranges at which to shoot game and that is your decision, I am just testing the mechanics of the scope to assess its true performance. So long as you program in the exact drop at 500 yards from the bullet you are using in your rifle the Burris Ballistic Laser Scope is accurate at predicting trajectory drop but you still have to factor in wind drift as normal. Optically it is good, even at low light and the compact nature of the scope makes it ideal for use when on the move or indeed static.
Well priced, the new Burris Ballistic Laser scope pushes the boundaries of scope ingenuity one step forward, what on earth will come next! GMK Ltd market the Burris range of scopes and can be contacted on 01489 579999 for details of stockists.