November 13, 2013
By David Faubion
Long-range shooting requires complex skills and copious range time. Burris aims to change that. Its Eliminator III lets average shooters extend their effective range, giving even ballistically challenged shooters a way to connect on distant targets without even glancing at a drop chart.
In order to give the Eliminator III a thorough test, I mounted the scope atop a supremely accurate T/C Icon Precision Hunter chambered in my newest cartridge crush, the 6.5 Creedmoor. Excellent ballistics make this cartridge a keeper. The scope might be a keeper, too; I'd find that out later. Now was the time to gather first impressions.
The Eliminator may be a rangefinding marvel, but it's also a hulking, sci-fi-looking scope that spans nearly 16 inches and tips the scale at 26 ounces. If it weren't for lenses on both ends and a Picatinny rail on its belly, it could easily be mistaken for a miniature submarine drone built to patrol our coasts for enemy U-boats.
Fortunately for us, no hostiles were on the docket. In fact, wind and my limited grasp of long-range shooting were the only enemies encountered€¦yet even those didn't faze this scope.
To put the Burris Eliminator III to the test, my father and I, along with friend Blake Bosckis, headed to a remote section of Washington State and set up a string of rocks against distant dirt banks, ranging from 300 to 746 yards.
Temps were in the mid 70s and wind speed varied from 5 to 20 mph. Like most hunters, I'm not a long-range marksman. The farthest I've flung lead at targets was 640 yards. My father and Blake, however, hadn't surpassed 500, and as we bore down on the distant targets, doubt filled the air like a lingering cloud of Pyrodex smoke.
Blake's first shot at a rock 300 yards out confirmed the system was working. His next shot at 365 yards turned a grapefruit-sized chunk of stone into gravel. One box of Hornady's finest was all it took to transform us from doubters to destroyers, crushing rocks with nearly every squeeze of the trigger. The next three boxes were just for grins, confirming what the first box had already proven: This system works.
After the shoot, I called my uncle Joe, an avid and capable shooter, and told him how impressive the unit was.
"How far?" he asked, voice heavy with doubt.
"Oh, 746 yards," I replied. "We smacked the football-sized rock dead-center, and it was our first shot at that range. I couldn't believe it, either."
After hearing us tag rocks at nearly half a mile, my uncle's interest was piqued — and that's not surprising. Long-range shooting is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing segments of our industry. To supply this demand, manufacturers have been developing specialized rifles, optics, and ammunition at a frenzied pace.
The tools are there, but many shooters, myself included, lack the knowledge and skill for precision shooting at dizzying ranges. Traditionally, long-range proficiency was earned through years of practice and ungodly amounts of ammo, both difficult to come by. The Eliminator scope, however, represents the closest thing to a "plug and play" solution currently available to shooters.
How easy is the Eliminator III to use? Place the reticle on the target and click the ambidextrous range button. Along with a distance reading, an illuminated dot will appear in the vertical stadia of the X96 reticle, indicating how much holdover is required for a hit. Align this dot with your target and send the round downrange. If the wind is calm and the shot execution is up to snuff, the bullet will strike your intended target. Pretty simple, right?
There is a bit more to it. Setting up the scope is time-consuming at first, but thanks to Burris's enormous database of cartridges and loads, the process is not as difficult as it first seems, and the shooter only inputs the bullet's BC and drop number. Complex algorithms, algebra, trigonometry, maybe even nuclear physics, are certainly involved, but the onboard computer takes care of all that, allowing you to focus on executing the shot€¦and reading the wind.
As we found out, bullet drift is not nearly as simple as drop. This is not a shortcoming of the Eliminator III. In the world of competitive shooting, wind reading is what separates champs from chumps, and while this scope does provide a wind drift value to assist the shooter, it's based on a 10-mph crosswind. With Hornady's 120-grain A-Max, the difference in bullet drift between a 10-mph and a 17-mph crosswind is over 30 inches at 750 yards. A solid grasp of wind drift ensures hits.
Applications and Ethics
According to Burris, the scope will range and provide drop to an astounding 1,200 yards on reflective targets. On non-reflective targets, the unit is rated for 750 yards. Should hunters be firing at live animals that far away? Depending on skill and animal size, maybe. For some animals, like prairie dogs or distant coyotes, this scope approaches perfection, as it provides a precise aiming point with unmatched speed. Big-game animals are a different story.
If used responsibly, this $1,500 scope should help the average shooter extend their range for cleanly taking big game. On the other hand, this technology could give hunters a distorted view on acceptable shot distances, likely resulting in wounded and lost animals. Forgetting wind drift entirely, the bullet's time of flight at 750 yards is just over one second. A lot can happen in that time.
The simplicity and effectiveness of this range-devouring wizard blew me away. It doesn't make long-range shooting easy; rather, it all but eliminates one variable from the equation: bullet drop. The other two legs of the stool — shot execution and wind reading — remain, making the Eliminator III a helpful tool in the long-range equation, not a magic wand.
Ethics aside, assuming your shooting is up to snuff and the wind is calm, this unit makes it remarkably easy to put bullets on target way out yonder.
Zeiss Terra 3X
Through the years, we admit to being both very skeptical and wrong about Zeiss' 'budget ' Conquest and Duralyt offerings; they are great scopes. So along comes yet another and even lower price line called the Terra 3X, offered in 2-7x32, 3-9x42, and 4-12x42 models, which are engineered in Germany and have 1-inch tubes, MC coatings, and ¼ MOA adjustments. Zeiss also introduced two new BDC reticles — the RZ6 and RZ8 — that debuted with the Terra 3X. As hunting season approaches, the jury will deliberate on this new line of scopes, all the while hoping they deliver performance worthy of the Zeiss name.
Price: $388 to $555
Like a Ranger storming a Normandy pillbox, Leupold
put European scope makers on notice last year with their VX-6 series
. The Xtended Twilight glass is stupid good, and the 6X zoom range makes this a go-anywhere, do-anything optic. This year, Leupold introduced a 3-18x50 in the line with two new features: illumination and side focus. There are two reticle choices: the simple duplex and excellent Boone & Crockett; both of which can be illuminated. Tossing down enough greenbacks for a VX-6 earns you a free BDC dial from the Custom Shop, too.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery=168],300
Swarovski Z6i BT
The boys who make the Silver Falcon scopes started stacking features onto the great Z6 2.5-15x44 and, with the €¨latest addition, have come up with something that could possibly be described as ultimate. The Z6i BT
can now be had with the new 4W reticle. It provides windage holds and when coupled with the excellent Ballistic Turret — that's the BT in Z6i BT — will get you on target €¨just about as far as you care to shoot. Combine that with Swarovski's stellar reputation for brightness and clarity and you have something close to the ultimate hunting scope.
Burris Eliminator III
The original Eliminator, a scope that promised to range an animal and provide an exact aiming point in fractions of a second, was a great achievement and didn't require a PhD in astrophysics to operate. It was practical and actually worked. Burris
has refined the equipment in the new Eliminator III 4-16x50
. The X96 reticle works at any magnification out to 1,200 yards on reflective targets. Those covered with hide are in trouble out to 750 yards. New ergonomic activation buttons are wrapped into a sleeker, 26-ounce package backed by a forever warranty.
Price: [imo-slideshow gallery=168],500
The Revenge series
scopes go old school with the Accu-Ranger reticle. The system is simple and works pretty well on known-dimension targets. Just zoom in until the horizontal stadia and top duplex bracket the target. An indicator line rolls through a range scale along the vertical stadia giving you
the approximate range. BDC dots give you an approximate holdover for common hunting calibers out to 600 yards. It's slick, simple, and available in five different scopes. Redfield
now has Accu-Range reticles for muzzleloaders, crossbows, and varmint shooters.
Price: $225 to $339
Nikon Prostaff 5
From the company that has a million different scopes comes yet another new series of riflescopes: the Prostaff 5
. We really like the 3.5-14x50 with an illuminated reticle. This is offered with Nikon's
greatest contribution to society yet: the groovy BDC reticle. Though we are highly skeptical of the claimed 95-percent light transmission, the scope is bright and sharp and has a constant four inches of eye relief. Spring-loaded turrets are easily set back to zero once on target. Nikon has also started offering custom turrets for the Prostaff 5 scopes for guys who like to dial instead of hold off.
Little 1-4Xs are just banging for an amazing range of hunting applications from ringing up a long-range turkey
to slapping pork chops hauling curly tail across a green field. Weaver
recently introduced the Kaspa
scope line, including just such a scope. The 1-4x24 is budget priced with three great reticle options, including Vertical Zone Turkey (VZT). Also standard are one-piece tubes, nitrogen purging, ¼ MOA adjustments, and multi-coated lenses. The Kaspa is a scope you can Krylon before turkey season and not feel bad about doing so.
Often scopes with big features are just that: big. The compact new Viper 2.5-10x32 PST from Vortex
is feature loaded for the long-range shooter, but is sized right for hunters wanting to shave some ounces. The one-piece, 30mm tube sports uncapped, ¼ MOA turrets and extra-low dispersion glass. The elevation turret has a zero stop to keep you from screwing up and a fiber-optic turret indicator. Both MOA and MRAD reticles are available and sit blissfully in the first focal plane. At just 12.8 inches long and 18.7 ounces, the Viper PST packs a lot of punch in a very small package.
Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD
Great glass isn't cheap, but good glass is more affordable than ever. Last year, Bushnell
added a whole bushel of scopes to the Legend Ultra-HD
line of binoculars and spotting scopes. Bushnell is always a company that backs up their products. If you buy a Legend Ultra-HD scope and don't like it in the first year, Bushnell will buy it back. There are three power ranges (1.75-5x32, 3-9x40, 4.5-14x44) and a whopping five reticle choices. All the scopes have a one-piece tube, and external lenses wear the
hydrophobic RainGuard HD coating.
Price: $200 to $300
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.