After attending the press day for the launch of the Sig Sauer BDX system at WMS Firearms Training facility, I was really keen to get my hands on a full rifle kit incorporating the scope and see what it could do. Eschewing the usual paper or steel targets, I had some balloons inflated and ready…
Soon I had a Howa / Sig Sauer combo in my hands, but there was one job to do before I took it anywhere. You need to download the SIG BDX app onto your device, after which you open the app to be faced with a five-part menu – all self-explanatory and intuitive, very well thought out and executed. The steps I followed were: enter the ballistic information that any ‘solution’ will need before it will calculate accurately, click on Profiles, click top right on ‘new profile’, name accordingly, in my case Howa .223 55gr. Five further pieces of information are entered: bullet diameter, weight, ballistic coefficient, making sure the correct drag function G1 or G7 is also selected, muzzle velocity and zero range – then you are good to go. This can all be done in the comfort of home before you even venture outside – just zero the rifle to the range you keyed into the relevant profile.
Clicking top left works like a ‘back’ button and gets you back to the five-part menu, now select the pairing tab, and commence pairing, the scan button will search for devices, and using the serial specific device to select both scope and rangefinder, continue on to BOND the devices – which effectively pairs the rangefinder to the scope, simply shift your scope to the illumination intensity when prompted by the app and the whole process takes little time. The pairing/bonding process can only be done through the app, it is very easy, and only allows range data to come from that specific rangefinder rather than your shooting buddy’s rangefinder! Checking bonding allows the rangefinder/scope link to be checked, clearing bonding allows disconnection, to switch devices or preform a re-bond if needed. Let’s get into the field.
This rifle was used at the launch day at WMS, and despite the change in ammunition the zero should still be pretty close. Loading the 10-capacity magazine, I proceeded to cloverleaf three rounds slightly low and left. Moving away from my usual 200-yard range, I opted for 100 yards – I thought I may as well use the rangefinder to its fullest extent! Remington .223 55gn Accutips zeroed and printing tight groups, it was now time to push out a little further, so armed with a bag of balloons and tent pegs, I wandered out placing 3-4in inflated balloons out at random ranges, pinning the neck of the balloons with tent pegs to keep them in place, the first field would get me out to 250 yards, so through the gate and into the next field I would have ranges out to 400-500 yards.
Targets placed at random ranges, rifle zeroed, and armed with the Sig Sauer Kilo 2200BDX 7x25mm, it was time to pop some balloons. After topping the magazine of the Howa 1500 Chassis rifle, laid prone on my shooting mat, I pinged my first balloon with the rangefinder – 243 yards. On closer inspection through the scope, the appropriate red illuminated dot showed me the holdover the ballistic solution had provided. Slipping the safety and pressing the trigger, I watched the balloon as it satisfyingly melted from my sight picture. Not bad for a first shot…
The day was overcast, without any challenge of bullet drifting wind, so after popping nine balloons out of 10 shots at ranges out to 456 yards, I was suitably impressed (as I was at the launch day), and I will admit that it was a snatched shot on my part that spoiled the potential 10-for-10 victory. Things were going well, – the rangefinder was pinging away happily on a variety of coloured balloons sat among the grass. I pleased with the results, and I was happy with the speed of the whole process, new target ranged to sight acquisition to finally shooting.
This would really come into its own with a shooting buddy ranging at your side, on paper, steel or balloons. This is a very necessary part of this system’s usage: get familiar, confident, then do it again before you engage any live quarry. A missed balloon is way better than a poorly placed shot on an animal.
After popping more balloons than the Grinch at Christmas, I was confident out to 500 yards, but unfortunately owing to time constraints I would not have the time to get this rifle on to some live quarry, nor did I get the chance to shoot for accuracy on to paper at range. I am happy with the results, but I would really like to get onto the ballistic solution – from what I can gather it is possible to effectively calibrate your solution based on the results the system initially delivers, which would be a real bonus. On days where the wind may prove difficult, every extra bit of accuracy should be used – bear in mind that the wind solution that a ranged target generates is dependent on the local weather station information that your device with the app installed is gathering. The good news is that you can also introduce a Kestrel wind meter to the set-up; my own preference here would be to take a wind reading and manually key it into the app, wind speed and bearing. Experience will help you get the best from the horizontal hold-off as the wind potentially fluctuates.
Scratching the surface
The Sig BDX app also holds another function that I found very interesting. Let me start by quickly clarifying exactly what happens in the mode that I have been using today. The paired devices range a target, this information is relayed to the scope, holdover and hold-off red dots illuminate on the black crosshairs, effectively plotting where the bullet should strike. The ballistic information is critical, as is the accuracy of the targets’ range. Wind as discussed above also proves critical; in essence the practical use of the complete system is quick and effective once the data has been keyed in. It is a joyful experience zapping targets quickly and easily while actually seeing the holdover.
One of the most desirable functions of this system is that the crosshairs do not move when a target is ranged. If your rangefinder works, a dot will appear to give the necessary holdover. If, however, you just want to shoot, or the paired system fails somehow, you can still shoot confidently to your zeroed range.
This brings me nicely onto the second mode the Sig BDX system can provide. In the five-part menu, the Sights tab allows you to switch on a ballistic reticle. You can customise the holdover points for a variety of ranges out to way beyond normal shooting ranges. I liked the idea of this, particularly for lamping foxes. I know my ground well, and rarely need a target ranging in the lamp – a simple ballistic reticle allowing holdover would prove very useful. Crow bashing while hidden away would be very effective – even, dare I say fun (is it PC to say that? Who cares – I love hunting). I can imagine getting fantastic results as crow after crow falls to the satisfying thwack of a .223 Accutip… maybe one day.
It’s safe to say that this combo from Highland Outdoors is a phenomenal system, based on the tried-and-tested Howa 1500, topped off and accessorised with Sig Sauer’s BDX scopes, and the Kilo rangefinders. As far as varminting goes I think this could be the ultimate rig.
The development and design have been proven to me on two full days’ shooting. I am sold, and I think the Sig Sauer BDX system will be in big demand. I strongly suggest you at least research the products, or even better, get a good look at your local gun shop. If you get one – happy shooting. All that, and I barely even mentioned the Howa rifle itself before running out of space – I will have to review it on its own as soon as I can.
More information: 0845 099 0252, www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk