Whether it was the dull,
matte-black finish or the gaping, king-sized objective lens housing, Im not sure,
but there was something about the new Signature Select variable from Burris that made it
appear much bulkier and heavier than it turned out to be. Even when mounted on a rifle
like Remingtons beefy Model 700 Varminter with its 24-inch bull barrel, it looks
like an awful lot of scope. To my surprise, however, a ruler revealed that its only
13 inches long and, according to an electronic scale, weighs just 17 ounces.
Aiding the portly
illusion are the slightly bulbous power and parallax adjustment rings with their deep-cut
relief grooves. Then too, the adjustment knob covers are an inch in diameter and jut away
from the scopes tube .5 inch. The knobs themselves, by the way, are slotted as
usual, but their rims are knurled as well, making them easy to turn manually.
If theres anything
worth criticizing about the new Signatures optics, it certainly escaped my notice.
That yawning, 2 inch wide objective lens not only gave a clear, detailed view of the
target but, even under unexpectedly overcast conditions, sucked in every bit of available
Just to make sure my
imagination wasnt kidding me, it seemed a bonny idea to run a slightly different
kind of comparative test this time by pitting the scopes optics against those of a
binocular - not just any binocular but a Bausch & Lomb 8x42mm Elite, one of the better
A Burris target, one of
those light tan jobs decorated with reddish-orange diamonds, circles and squares of
various sizes printed against a one-inch grid background, was taped to a target stand 100
yards away. Both the glasses and the Model 700 Varminter were supported by solid rests.
The scopes power ring was set on 8x and its ocular lens carefully refocused on the
target - just to be sure. So was the 8x42 B&L.
Through the binocular,
the various colored squares, diamonds and circles stood out clearly, not just in the
center of the lenses but out at their periphery as well. There was no hint of distortion
as the different designs were viewed against the very outside edges of the binoculars
field - mute testimony to the quality of its lens systems. The one-inch grid was also
visible - but just. Those tiny, .25-inch crosses marking the centers of some of the
diamonds and circles were not to be seen: proof, if any was needed, that everything, even
Bausch & Lomb binoculars, have their limits.
Setting the binocular
aside, the Signature variable was brought into play. Peering beyond the 100-yard line, it
was obvious the scopes depth of field wasnt as great as the Elites, even
when the latter was focused sharply at 100 yards. Other than that, however, there was
little to fault about the scopes performance. All the targets designs showed
up clearly. Here too, that one-inch grid was barely perceptible. None of the different
designs gave any hint of distortion when viewed through the outer edges of the scopes
field either. Not surprisingly, the scope wasnt able to pick out any of those
.25-inch center crosses that had hidden so successfully from the binocular.
Elevation and windage
adjustments were easy to make while sighting in the rifle. Not only were the clicks
audible, but also each movement of a knob could be felt as well as seen from behind the
scope. The knobs rims are angled so that direction arrows and adjustment markings
are plainly visible from the rear and sides as well as from above.
through both scope and binocular was spot-on. So was the clarity of detail. While some of
these tests were being conducted out in the field, a large, dark cloud system moved in and
blotted out the sun for more than an hour. Surrounding light dulled; shadows weakened and
contrast blurred. Target designs still showed up clearly through both scope and binocular.
At the range, squaring
the target proved almost routine. Fire three rounds; crank on 10 clicks of elevation; fire
three more rounds; add 10 clicks right windage; three more rounds, 10 clicks down; another
three rounds, 10 clicks left and a final three rounds - right on top of the first group
The test scope wasnt
fitted with the Burris Posi-Lok, although 3-10x 40mm variables can be ordered so equipped.
A movable tube, housing the internal lenses that respond to elevation and windage
adjustments, is held in place by spring tension. The Posi-Lok consists of a threaded steel
post that can be tightened and loosened from the outside so it can be brought to bear
against that movable inner tube, anchoring it once it has been adjusted to the shooters
taste. The Posi-Loks assistance prevents the sight setting from shifting and is
especially beneficial when a scope is mounted on a heavy-recoiling rifle or handgun.
reticles have become all the rage lately. Like a lot of other crotchety old hands, I tend
to regard most of them as gimmicks, something for advertisers to wax lyrical over but not
worth much in the field. From where I sit, most of them seem to obscure the view, and any
value they might offer depends strictly on the shooters ability to judge range
accurately - and if he can do that, he has no need for any high-tech reticle.
Although still dubious
about such reticles on big game rifles, my attitude toward them is softening a bit where
varmint shooting is concerned. When popping away at prairie dogs, for instance, distances
tend to stretch somewhat, but as a rule, shooters have plenty of time to adopt rock-steady
positions and take good, long looks at the yardage between the rifle muzzle and those
smallish targets way out there. Not only do most varmint hunters become pretty fair judges
of range - all that practice helps - but they also tend to depend on flat-shooting,
fast-stepping cartridges - high-speed .22s and 6mms, for example - that have lots of reach
and dont demand much hold-over, even when some of those little rodents seem to be in
the next county. For that kind of work - and those kinds of shooters - these newfangled
reticles may prove to be of some value.
The Ballistic Plex
reticle adorning the test scopes objective lens consists of the usual crosshairs
reinforced by four partial bars, each slightly tapered and each covering about two-thirds
or more of its crosshair. The lower, vertical crosshair is adorned with three very short,
horizontal bars that represent 200, 300 and 400 yards. The tip of the vertical post
jutting up from the bottom of the lens marks 500 yards.
According to an
accompanying table, if a chap were shooting, say, a .223 Remington featuring 55-grain
bullets launched at 3,240 fps - and if he zeroed the scope so the center of the crosshairs
and the bullets flight paths coincided at 100 yards - when he put the 200-yard
horizontal bar on a target at 200 yards, hes dead on. Were a prairie dog standing
out at 300 yards and the 300-yard bar were placed against the little critters
middle, the bullet would strike an inch high at that range. Had that furry target been out
at 400 yards and the 400-yard bar held halfway up its body, the bullet would land 2 inches
below the aiming point.
According to the Burris
instructional booklet, thats the theory behind the Ballistic Plex reticle. They
recommend a series of targets be fired at 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards to find out
precisely where a given barrel and its bullets are hitting when shifting from one
horizontal bar to the next. Sounds like good advice.
Anyone in the market for
a high-magnification variable scope wont regret time spent checking over the new
Signature Select models. Made in the U.S.A., theyre sturdy, blessed with first-class
optics, are easily adjustable, well-made, nicely finished and backed by the Burris Forever
Warranty: If one of these scopes is ever found to have defects in materials or
workmanship, Burris will repair it at no charge. A company has to have a lot of confidence
in its products to make a promise like that. So do I. - Al Miller