As Chris Redlich found, Burris scope does the hard yards (lots of them)
Almost a decade ago I watched with interest Australian hunter Rob Fickling in his series Beyond the Divide take a tahr in the NZ Southern Alps with the aid of a Burris Eliminator rangefinder scope. It intrigued me how he was able to take that difficult shot so comfortably while understandably putting a fair amount of trust in the scope’s ability to correct his aiming point.
I prefer plain scopes with basic reticles so when accepting an offer to test the Eliminator 5, I somehow knew assessing its technical features would be a challenge. For shooters used to making their own calculations and corrections at distance, putting your faith in a scope which does all that for you can be difficult to comprehend.
Make no mistake, the Burris Eliminator is one complex piece of electronic optical equipment and the Eliminator 5 is the latest generation RF (rangefinder) scope with a solid past. Upon receipt I read the opening words of the user guide stating: “Eliminator 5 is the most innovative and effective hunting riflescope in the world,” though I’ve heard many other manufacturers make that same boast, so was keen to put their claim to the test. The scope comes with impressive extras including objective sunshade, flip-up lens covers, batteries, screwdriver and spanner, remote control, large microfibre lens cleaning cloth and user manuals.
Weighing a solid 850g and measuring almost 400mm it’s by no means compact, though considering it has a hefty amount of built-in rangefinder and electronic features this wasn’t surprising. Offering a wide window of 5-20 times magnification, the variable adjustment dial is silicone rubber coated for easy gripping and located forward-most on the ocular bell as per standard. For reticle and image clarity the ocular dioptre ring rotates easily but remains firm once adjusted.
The solid main tube is 30mm in diameter, made from aircraft grade aluminium and all external metallic components are finished in a durable matte black coating. Occupying the 12 and 3 o’clock turrets are the elevation and windage dials and, combined with the 30mm tube, they offer a generous 53 MOA of adjustment. Differing somewhat from the standard ¼ MOA adjustment, the Eliminator 5 incremental values are worth a precise adjustment of ⅛ MOA per click.
Unlike most modern scopes with side focus, the Eliminator 5 has its parallax adjustment dial on the objective bell due to a battery compartment occupying the 9 o’clock position of the centre turret. This houses two AAA batteries which power all electronics and are tightly sealed for water resistance.
At the rear of the battery compartment is the function control pad within reach of the non-master hand. On the tapered section of the objective bell are two opposed rangefinder buttons, easily thumb-pressed by either hand and giving range calculations out to 2000 yards for deer-size gamed and an impressive 2500 yards for reflective targets. Alternatively, the Eliminator 5 has a wireless remote pad for ranging freehand which is useful for longer periods of viewing. Finally at the northern end is a 50mm objective with upgraded lens coatings, providing a clear sight picture at long range.
Importantly the scope can’t be mounted with conventional rings as Burris uses an integral dual dovetail, cross-slot mount designed to mate precisely to a Picatinny rail or weaver-style bases. Securing the union between base and mount are two bolts with a 7/16” hex nut and as Burris recommends a tightening torque of 50-70lb, supplied is a mini-spanner if you don’t own a torque wrench. Tightening to 50lb torque was more than adequate and, in my opinion, recommending a 70lb maximum is excessive.
My review Tikka rifle has an integral Picatinny rail and I set up the Eliminator 5 with comfortable eye relief of 90mm. The beauty of this rangefinder scope is no electronics are required to sight-in for zero though it must be zeroed prior to programming. As I’ve discovered with most rifles using Picatinny rails, there’s minimal lateral adjustment required for sighting-in and I was on target and zeroed at 100m in minutes, landing a sub-½ MOA using Sako 162-grain Powerhead Blade ammo.
Initially I feared this scope would be tough to get my head around yet it turned out to be a breeze. The hardest part (which wasn’t hard at all) was retrieving the relevant data from Burris’ ballistic program for the range calculating set-up. Once mounted on your rifle and, if using handloads, you’ll need a few key ingredients before commencing. These include bullet type and weight, muzzle velocity, bullet ballistic coefficient, elevation above sea level, relative humidity and temperature.
The same applies to factory ammunition and ballistic information is printed on most modern ammo packets. Alternatively, Burris has hundreds of factory ammo listings with their relevant data which, once selected, automatically upload to the calculator. After keying my info into Burris’ ballistic data entry, I screenshot the reticle codes from my smartphone and programmed them to the scope via the function control pad, synching the Eliminator 5 to my rifle and calibre as per the user manual.
The Eliminator 5 has the X-96 reticle which might seem a bit busy but has a distinct centre cross, connected by dots and additional graduated aiming dots in both lower quadrants of the reticle image. These correspond with relevant values depending on range, magnification and crosswind speeds.
With your target selected simply press either range button, the correct range will appear in the display above and the illuminated red dot will place you exactly where you need to aim for elevation. At the same time a decimal number will appear to the right of the range display and this is your correct windage, offset for a 10mph crosswind for the target’s ranged distance.
This two-digit windage number shows how many dots on the horizontal reticle to hold into the wind for 10mph (16km/h). It’s up to the shooter to calculate this holdover using 10mph as a rough guide, eg half the number of dots for a 5mph wind and double for 20mph. Another key feature of the Eliminator is its ability to calculate angle compensation, of particular relevance when shooting down steep hills with the aiming dot placing you right on target for the angle of shot.
I must stress the X-96 aiming marks and display calculations are of more use at extended ranges which, after all, is the purpose of Eliminator 5. Quite simply, once programmed your scope should enable you to hit targets at long range and I was keen to test that accuracy.
Baby steps first and the Eliminator didn’t disappoint. I was happy with my first long-range target session at 300m using the supplied 162-grain Powerheads, impressed with a three-shot group under 1.5”. Although I didn’t factor the windage calculation for a stiff 14mph crosswind, the shots landed almost bang-on horizontal. This proved a good combination of correct data input with the superb accuracy of the Tikka Wild Boar rifle and Sako factory ammo.
Assessing the scope’s ability at almost 400m came on a subsequent deer hunt. I chose a valley with a clear line of sight offering a perfect real-life hunting scenario to further test its accuracy. I had access to the ridge on the far side via a descent to the floor and pushing the ute in low gear made my way to a flat spot with safe backdrop.
After a few warm-up shots I fired two three-shot groups with the Powerheads. Using the windage correction to help counter the strong cross breeze, at 393m the group MPI (mean point of impact) surprisingly printed 5” higher than expected. This scope can possibly make corrections for non-reflective targets such as deer out to 2000 yards (1830m), yet my results highlighted the fact that to achieve accurate and reliable drop compensation with the Eliminator, it’s vital the shooter confirms corrections on the range first.
I’d never attempt large game shoulder shots at more than 350m with a .308 Win anyway, yet my strong advice is to test and adjust the data input before risking a missed one-shot opportunity at your prize trophy. Burris has a technical notes section in the manual with a step-by-step process on fine-tuning the scope for distances beyond 750 yards and potentially out to 2500, something well beyond my level of expertise.
Over more than a decade, Eliminator rangefinder scopes have built a reputation for convenience and reliability among long-range shooters and by now offering their fifth-generation version in Eliminator 5, Burris has improved what was already a winning hand. Retailing for $3499 (at time of writing) seems expensive though not surprising, considering it does a lot more than just provide a target image.
When fine-tuned the Eliminator 5 takes all the hard work out of long-distance calculations and backed by their exceptional Forever Warranty, No Questions Asked policy, rest assured Burris and Australian distributor Beretta have you covered. More at www.berettaaustralia.com.au.