Many of the top manufacturers of riflescopes have products in their line-up that are truly exceptional. Optics designers will tell you that riflescope design is both science and art. There are many variables in riflescope design and seldom is there a free lunch. To get some attributes means you may well have to compromise on others. If you want a very high magnification scope that can be made clear at the high end, you might need an adjustable objective that adds length, weight, cost and complexity to the system. In large measure, we have become under scoped and over magnified.
I have mentioned this before. If I asked someone if they could hit a target with a rifle equipped with iron sights at 75 yards, perhaps they might take offense. Consider that with a six-power scope, we have the same 75 yard image size presented to our eyes at 450 yards. For years, fixed power scope buffs have used four power scopes for their all-around glass. The fundamental advantage of a scope is its single sighting plane. Too small of a field of view can be hindrance. Unfortunately, the truly superb magnification range of 1.5-6x is not universal, with fewer offerings all the time. For this year's bear hunt, for example, I wanted a bigger field of view than a 3-9x scope could provide.
When outstanding scopes come along in their category, I try to note them. Two previously evaluated Burris scopes have really lit up their respective brackets. One, the recently introduced Burris Fullfield II 2-7x35mm Ballistic Plex, remains all the scope most hunters will ever need and is as good a value as can be found in a riflescope, discount priced at about $170. The Burris Signature Select 3-10x40 is the other. The Signature Select 3-10x remains one of the brightest, clearest and most impressive scopes I have ever tested. For the ultimate in a one inch tube main tube, low-light brush scope, I tried to get my hands on a Signature Select 1.5-6x for this review. However, I ended up with the 30mm version, a scope with very similar specifications.
The tested scope is Burris #200962, the Euro Diamond Electro-Dot with a German three-post #4 reticle. In either flavor, the scope nets you up to a whopping sixty foot field of view at 100 yards, with an exit pupil from 27 to 6.7 mm. With the larger, stronger 30mm tube, you might think that this scope would be a real heavyweight, but it isn't. It weighs seventeen ounces, hardly the two pounder you might expect.
One thing that has been a bit of a bummer when it comes to illuminated reticle scopes is an unsightly, bulbous analog switch mounted on top of the ocular bell of the scope. Spinning dials and playing merry-go-round with a rheostat scope dial is just about the last thing I'd like to be doing in the quiet hunting woods when it gets to the critical time that an illuminated dot becomes of value.
Burris has introduced a tremendous improvement, present on this scope. On the left side of the scope is the brown digital dimmer switch. It is located on the opposite side of the from the windage adjustment turret. It is instant and it is silent. Just push the brown rubber membrane and the precise, orange dot appears at the same intensity you last set. That is all there is to it. The lowest intensity level is bright enough for my eyes. Due to improved circuitry, Burris claims a battery life from the supplied CR2032 battery of between 120 and 200 hours. Cycling through intensity levels, though typically not needed, is performed by additional presses on the button and it remembers where you left it. To turn the illuminated dot off, hold the button down for five seconds. Even if you forget to turn it off, no worries. It shuts itself off after two hours. This eliminates another common issue with dial switches and several red dot or illuminated reticle scopes in general. It is easy to forget to turn off your scope.
In general, I disdain illuminated reticles. Too many of them are overwhelming, doing more to blind you than anything else, particular the ones that light up the entire reticle like a Christmas tree or give you video-game type HUD grids. The new Burris Electro-Dot is the best I have personally used. It essentially works like the Weaver, Leupold, Nikon and Zeiss safari scopes recently reviewed on Guns and Shooting Online. (See the Scopes and Optics page for details.) The last half hour of hunting, turn on the illumination and you have a precise dot that adds functionality without detracting from the scope's image. The three post reticle itself is outstanding for deep woods hunting, eliminating a thick top post in favor of a thinner example to give you a less cluttered view. As the main three posts are generously thick, your eye is drawn to the center of the image. With the Electro-Dot on, as you might imagine, it is instinctive.
The two primary benefits of the 30mm tube have nothing to do with image quality. You get a stronger tube and a tube with more room for internal adjustments. The Euro Diamond gives one hundred and ten inches of adjustment at 100 yards. As you might expect from a top-of-the line Burris scope, it offers consistent, generous eye relief and a crisp edge to edge image throughout the power range. Supplied along with the scope are the traditional Burris Storm Queen type covers along with a pull-over, Scope Coat style of neoprene protector.
As is standard on all Burris riflescopes, the Euro Diamond is purged twenty-four times with lab grade dry nitrogen and has quad rings as its seals. Also standard on Burris scopes, the adjustments are tensioned with double springs and are steel on steel. Like all premium Burris scopes, the Euro Diamond has large internal lenses at 15.4mm diameter, a feature shared with the Signature Select and Black Diamond series. The Euro Diamond is made in the USA and comes with the Burris Forever Warranty. To give you an idea of what a good value this scope is, the Burris sells for a stunning $1550 less than the equivalent Zeiss Varipoint Victory, with a street price around $650.
It is the most impressive deep woods riflescope I have tested in recent memory. If the overall build and image quality isn't enough (I think it is), the new digital Electro-Dot puts this scope over the top. All I can say is congratulations to Burris Optics. The Burris Euro Diamond 1.5-6x40 E*Dot is my choice for the best hunting scope of 2010.
Copyright 2010 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.