Burris 4-12x42mm LaserScope
By Chuck Hawks with Rocky Hays
Burris, as far as I know, introduced the integrated riflescope/laser rangefinder to the U.S. market around May of 2006. The initial Burris LaserScope offering is the 4-12x42mm scope reviewed here. This intriguing product also comes with the Burris Ballistic Plex reticle, which allows the shooter to take maximum advantage of the rangefinding capability of this revolutionary riflescope.
Mounts (for standard Weaver bases), lens caps, and even a lens hood are supplied with the scope, as well as the usual instruction manual, warrantee, and a set of ballistic tables for the Ballistic Plex reticle. It is a very complete package.
The Ballistic Plex reticle is a normal Duplex style reticle with a much larger than normal gap between the bottom post and the intersection point of the fine crosswires. Strung vertically along the fine wire below the intersection of the crosswires is a series of three little hash marks (-). These are the long range aiming points for (approximately) 150, 200, and 250 yards in the case of the .17 HMR cartridge when zeroed at 100 yards. (See the supplied ballistic tables for the actual figures, which vary by caliber and load.) It is a simple and very effective system when coupled with the fast and accurate laser rangefinder built into the LaserScope.
Illustration courtesy of the Burris Company.
The Burris LaserScope is made in the Philippines and the main body of the scope appears to be essentially identical to the Nikon Laser IRT 4-12x42mm riflescope previously reviewed on Guns and Shooting Online. (See the Product Review Page for that review.) That scope was also sourced from a Philippine manufacturer, and I would be surprised to learn that both scopes did not come from the same factory.
There are, however, differences between the two laser riflescopes. The optics and reticles, as well as various trim features (adjustment caps, lens caps, the texture of the rubberized zoom ring, etc.) are different on the two scopes. Also different is the outside diameter of the ocular bell. Although both are 4-12x42mm scopes, the Nikon's ocular bell is considerably trimmer.
As I wrote in our review of the Nikon Laser IRT scope, this type of riflescope represents what we believe to be the immediate future of riflescope evolution. So many hunters carry a laser rangefinder that integrating the rangefinder into the rifle's aiming system just makes sense. Burris and Nikon may have introduced the first such scopes, but I bet they won't be the last. Rocky and I both regard these integrated laser rangefinder/riflescopes to be the most useful scopes we have ever used, particularly on a varmint rifle.
The main body of the LaserScope appears to be made of aluminum and wears a matte black external finish. Its optics are fully multi-coated. The view of the target through the LaserScope is like the view through any other high quality riflescope, with a magnified image of the target and an aiming reticle.
Pressing a rubberized button on the left side of the scope activates the laser inside the riflescope. The range to the target is displayed (in yards) by red LED numerals in a very lightly tinted area at the top of the field of view. The rangefinder is very fast and positive, and accurate to +/- 1 yard. An infrared remote control on an elastic watchband like strap is also supplied with the LaserScope. This can be attached to the forearm of the rifle in a location convenient to the shooter and used to activate the rangefinder function.
Illustration courtesy of the Burris Company.
The LaserScope is guaranteed waterproof, dust proof, and shockproof, just like any other Burris riflescope. The fingertip adjustment knobs click in 1/4 MOA increments. The eyepiece features a rubberized, European style, fast focus ring. The textured zoom ring is located in the usual position at the front of the ocular. If the batteries go dead or are removed the rangefinder will not operate, but the rest of the scope works normally. It is pretty hard to fault either the concept or the execution of the LaserScope.
The LaserScope is built with an integral mounting rail and it comes with mounts that clamp to its rail and then to any standard Weaver type mount base on a rifle. The result is simple, low, and very flexible mounting with great fore and aft adjustment latitude.
Here are the basic LaserScope specifications:
Having mentioned the similar Nikon Laser IRT riflescope above, it is probably appropriate to mention the differences. They both do the same thing in general terms. The optics may differ, but both provide bright, clear views of the target and Rocky and I could perceive no visual difference between the two. Both focus and zoom with equal precision and are equally easy to use.
The mounting notches are located at the front of the Nikon's mounting rail and at the back of the Burris' mounting rail. In practice, that doesn't seem to matter. The Burris comes with a lens hood, a nice extra, and the Nikon does not.
The Nikon's front bell is considerably smaller in outside diameter, which might be an advantage in terms of mounting the scope to clear the rear sight of some rifles. Certainly it makes the scope look trimmer. On the other hand, Burris claims an adjustment range of 50 MOA, while Nikon only claims an adjustment range of 40 MOA.
The two reticles are different. Burris uses three hash marks below the intersection of the crosswires, and Nikon uses four small circles. Nikon claims that the circles are ultimately more versatile, as one can use the center of the circle or the top or bottom circle intersections with the crosswire as the aiming point, depending on the ballistics of the cartridge involved. Rocky preferred aiming with the Nikon circle, while I preferred aiming with the Burris hash mark. But we both agreed that the Burris reticle was simpler and required less memorization. The Burris crosshairs are also slightly finer, which both Rocky and I prefer in a varmint scope (although not in a big game scope).
A 4-12x variable power scope is nearly ideal for a 200 yard varmint rifle, so Rocky mounted the Burris LaserScope on his .17 HMR caliber, custom Remington Model 597 LS HB varmint rifle. (This is probably the world's most tricked-out Model 597.) Because the mounting rail is integral with the scope, there is never any question about getting the scope mounted with the crosshair properly aligned, an appreciated convenience.
Burris considerately provides a set of ballistic tables along with their Ballistic Plex reticle, and .17 HMR is one of the included calibers. That really takes the guesswork out of hitting small, distant targets.
The way the Ballistic Plex is used in the case of a .17 HMR rifle shooting the usual 17 grain V-MAX bullet is to zero the rifle at 100 yards using the main crosshair. The bullet should then hit dead on at 150 yards when using the first hash mark as the aiming point. The bullet will hit 1" above the second hash mark at 200 yards, and 0 again using the third hash mark at 250 yards. The bullet will hit 2" below the top of the bottom post of the Duplex crosshair at 300 yards. Simple--and deadly.
With a higher velocity cartridge the principle is the same, but the numbers vary. For instance, with the typical 100 grain .243 factory load, zeroed using the main crosshair at 100 yards, the first hash mark represents 200 yards, the second +2" at 300 yards, and the third hash mark +2" at 400 yards.
At the rifle range, while zeroing the Remington 597 with the LaserScope, the scope's 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments proved to be accurate and easy to use. Sighting-in the rifle was simplicity itself and was accomplished with a minimum expenditure of ammunition. This is as it should be when using a four-star class riflescope such as the Burris LaserScope.
The scope's "eyebox" is adequate, but the 3-3.5" eye relief is a bit tight. It is fine for all rimfire and centerfire varmint rifle cartridges, and standard cartridges up to and including the .308 Winchester. However, it puts the scope a bit too close to the eyebrow for comfort when shooting powerful magnum rifles, particularly at steep uphill angles. A 4" eye relief would be a worthwhile improvement, particularly in a future dedicated big game LaserScope of 2.5-8x or 3-9x.
Having carefully zeroed the rifle at 100 yards as recommended, Rocky then took his .17 HMR rifle / Burris LaserScope combo to Christmas Valley in Eastern Oregon for a Guns and Shooting Online varmint shoot where sand rats (ground squirrel relatives about the size of a chipmunk) abound.
Rocky quickly proved the worth of the Burris LaserScope with a high percentage of kills. The shortest was at only 30 yards, using the main crosshair, and the longest was at 261 yards. For the latter he put the third hash mark on the sand rat's head and dropped him with a single shot. This shot was fired from a portable bench rest and the kill was observed and confirmed by Guns and Shooting Online Technical Advisor Bob Fleck. Soon other members of the shooting party were asking Rocky to range sand rats for them!
The majority of Rocky's kills were made between 150 and 200 yards. This experience also demonstrated how quickly and accurately the range finder in the LaserScope works. It had no trouble ranging individual sand rats at long distances. It is as simple as putting the central crosshair on a target and pushing the button. The rangefinder is very precise and coincides perfectly with the central crosshair.
The LaserScope is a boon to the shooter in the field. Rocky and I are both sold on the concept. I opted to personal purchase (rather than send back) the Nikon Laser IRT riflescope that we reviewed in March 2007, and Rocky intends to purchase this Burris LaserScope for his personal use. There is no way, he says, that it is coming off of his custom Remington 597 varmint rifle. That is probably the best endorsement that we can give to the Burris LaserScope.
Copyright 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.