For more years than I care to remember, one of the most commonly asked questions I've received is, “What is a good hunting scope?” There are several brands of scopes that I've been pleased with and several with which I would never consider hunting. Sooner or later, price enters into the equation. The scopes that come in the hanging hard-bubble packaging at your local chain store often aren't worth the effort to mount them. I should know, as I've wasted more time fighting junk-class tubes than I care to admit. You can also spend a great deal of money on a scope. Nothing wrong with it, we all buy want we want. There is nothing wrong with wearing a Rolex. Personally, I don't worry about what watch jewelry people choose to buy; the wristwatch I wear serves the purpose of telling me the time.
For a decent hunting scope, there have generally been two categories of scopes that interest me and that I personally use. There is the roughly two hundred dollar class of riflescope, a class of scopes that has been one of the greatest values in shooting products for a long, long while. The two hundred dollar scope has been a product, over the last several years, that is just plain better than anything that was available when I was a kid. To get noticeable improvement over the best two hundred dollar scopes today, it seems you need to be thinking four hundred dollars or so. There are scopes that more than justify their cost, though, such as the Burris Euro Diamond 1.5-6x40 that was reviewed last year. On a recent hunt it did a fine job. I used it to take a black bear against a dark background, deep in dark woods, at the end of the day.
Riflescopes have long been marketed and sold with a few code words. “Fully multi-coated” is one of them. If you want excellent light transmission, you generally want all glass surfaces coated several times, a definite notch up from the “coated” and “fully coated” categories. You likely want metal on metal click adjustments, not imprecise friction adjustments. You want a one-piece main tube and you also want a scope that doesn't leak, so you want good seals. You want a scope with adequate eye relief to keep it out of your face on recoil. You want adequate internal adjustment range to zero your rifle. You want light weight to minimize the negative effect of the scope on your rifle's balance. You need sufficient mounting latitude to position the scope on your rifle at the correct distance from your eye. You also need a scope that holds its zero, the most important thing a scope can do. If your scope has reticle float, your sighting system wandering from shot to shot, you're better off with iron sights. Every scope is a compromise, but the Burris Fullfield line incorporates most of these features, including quad-ring seals and double-spring internal adjustments that many do not.
The $200 price range used to be a pleasantly crowded field from which to choose, but as inflation works its magic that is no longer the case. The Light Optical Works fully multi-coated scopes, such as the Weaver Grand Slam and the Bushnell Elite series, have now left the $200 price point well behind. There are other scopes that have either been downgraded or have left the category. The opposite is true with the Burris Fullfield series. Not only have they not left the couple of hundred dollar price point, they have been upgraded.
What was wrong with the standard Fullfield II scopes, anyway? Actually, not a thing. In particular, the Burris FFII 2-7x35 has been a terrific little scope in an overlooked configuration and the FFII 3-9x40 has been a standard offering for years. They have been improved in the new “E1” offerings, though.
Typically, you turn the entire eyepiece in a Burris Fullfield to change power, not just a ring. Burris feels this is a technically superior design. It may well be, although most scope manufacturers disagree. If you use flip-up caps on the eyebell, though, you may not have appreciated it, as your flipped up cap rotates in concert with the eyepiece. This is not the case with the E1 scopes, that have a power ring that operates independently of the ocular end of the scope. Many will quickly notice and appreciate this.
When it comes to range-compensating or hold-over reticles Burris, now owned by the Beretta Group, has been a leader by offering the Burris Ballistic Plex reticle at little or no extra cost over a standard plex reticle. They have taken this reticle a big jump forward in two ways. Unlike most scopes in this price range that have a flattened wire type reticle, the reticle in the E1 series is etched glass. An etched glass reticle is more costly, but is more stable and possibly more reliable. These Burris Fullfield E1 scopes have them and few scopes in the same price range can make this claim.
Not only do the Fullfield E1 scopes have etched reticles, they are Burris Ballistic Plex reticles, but beyond that they are Burris E1 Ballistic reticles, meaning they are wind-compensating reticles, as introduced on the Burris SixX scopes. The two scopes I've spent time with are the 2-7x and the 3-9x.
Burris Fullfield E1 2-7 x 35
· Part No. : 200317
· Reticle: Ballistic Plex E1
· Finish: Matte
· FOV @ 100 yards: 45 inches Low – 13 inches High
· Exit Pupil: 17mm Low - 5mm High
· Click Value @ 100 yards: .5 inch
· Adjustment @ 100 yards: 60 inches
· Eye Relief: 3.1-4.1 inches
· Length: 11.4 inches
· Weight: 12 oz.
Burris Fullfield E1 3-9 x 40
· Part No. : 200320
· Reticle: Ballistic Plex E1
· Finish: Matte
· FOV @ 100 yards: 33 Low - 13 High
· Exit Pupil: 13 Low-5.0 High
· Click Value @ 100 yards: .25 inch
· Adjustment @ 100 yards: 50 inches
· Eye Relief: 3.1-3.8 inches
· Length: 12.2 inches
· Weight: 13 oz.
Both scopes come with the Burris Forever Warranty that, “Protects Burris products from any defects in materials or workmanship, even if you are not the original owner. Burris will, at our option, repair or replace the item at no charge.” The adjustment caps on the Fullfield scopes have been redesigned, they are now oversized and easy to get on and off quickly even with gloved or cold hands. Burris calls them “Hunter Knobs.” As with all Burris scopes, each scope is filled and purged at least 24 times with high quality, laboratory grade, dry nitrogen. Each Burris scope is also proven waterproof by submersion in 122-degree F. water prior to final packaging and shipment. The Fullfield E1 2-7x35 has a street price of $180 or so, with the 3-9x40 E1 right at $200.
For two hundred 2011 dollars, there are few riflescopes that compare to the Fullfield E1 series. Burris should sell a ton of them. They are good scopes.
Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.