The new rangefinding scope from Burris claims to give shooters a reliable point of aim as well as a range. Tim Pilbeam finds out whether it really works
In the press release, the Ballistic Laserscope is referred to as a “market first”, so immediately after its arrival, I was keen to find out why. The “market first” refers to the True Ballistic Range (TBR) system incorporated within the laser rangefinder. In a nutshell, you range the target and it will not only tell you the range value through the optics, but it will indicate to the shooter whereabouts to aim. How on earth does it do that?
Let’s start from the beginning. Supplied with the Laserscope was a Tikka T3 Tactical in .308, which made life easier as the scope specifically needs a Picatinny rail or Weaver bases to be fitted onto any gun. The scope comes with two clamps that fix the integral scope mount and base together with a simple mechanism. While it seems a rather basic arrangement, and might be slightly fiddly to fit, it feels very rigid once secured. Despite having to use a Picatinny rail, the scope hugs the action very well, and with a weight of 26oz it does not seem to alter the balance of the rifle.
On the range, the zeroing process was very simple with logical tracking during adjustments. I set zero at 100 yards using 150-grain bullets. Optically, it was not nearly as crisp or bright as a top-end Zeiss or Swarovski, but much better than the entry-level makes on the market. The 42mm objective lens is also perfectly adequate for all-round fox and deer control.
To range, aim the reticle at the target and press a button located on the left-hand side of the body. The range will appear in a red digital display at the top of the sight picture. It was accurate to about 800 yards and did not fuss too much as to where it was aimed. In rain and snow, the Laserscope struggled with anything beyond 350 yards, but in my opinion most lasers fall down in these conditions, especially when it is misty.
The main selling point of the Laserscope is its ability to calculate the point of aim out to 500 yards using the TBR system. A four-way button is located on the right-hand side of the scope housing, and used to adjust various settings required for the ammunition selected. Supplied with the scope is a ballistic table that will give you a ‘drop number’ (between 25 and 65) based on the drop in inches of a bullet at 500 yards. I found this system relatively easy to endure, and if you are a homeloader you can tweak it to the different ammunition you elect to use.
Out in the field, the way the TBR system worked was rather interesting. Aim at 100 yards and the red dot will appear in the middle of the reticle as it is set for a 100-yard zero, but ping something at 400 yards and a red dot appears further down. But is it accurate? I tried shooting at my targets out to 400 yards, always putting the red dot, wherever it appeared, on the intended part of the target, and guess what – it worked! Beyond 400 yards, I found that the point of impact was lower than intended, but specific ballistic coefficients, air temperature and muzzle velocity are more critical at these ranges and I do not think most people will be hunting beyond 300 yards anyway.
For deer stalking, this is a very convenient gadget for shots over 150 yards. It will make sure you are applying the correct holdover, taking away any doubt as to the range of the animal. Judging distances is one of the biggest causes of missing, or even worse, injuring an animal. I also thought it would be useful for night shooting foxes. So, despite it being minus five degrees, off I went in my shooting wagon at night to see how good the optics were and how the red dot performs in terms of brightness and clarity.
As it was so cold, there was nothing about. I aimed at my metal fox target at 100 yards; the red dot was fairly bright but I could easily see the body of the fox at a magnification of 6-8x. At 200 yards, there was still no problem seeing the body of the fox with a white spotlight. The quality of the optics was fine, but the red dot was a little blurred and not as concentrated as other illuminated scopes. At 300 yards, which is beyond the range of most fox shots, the dot was very blurred, making it tricky to see the aiming point on the fox. If a fox is laying in stubble beyond 200 yards, making it quite hard to see, I think the quality of the red dot would be an issue. Mind you, 90 per cent of most foxes shot at night are within 100 yards, so this isn’t much of a real problem.
Another minor niggle for me – bearing in mind that I was wearing gloves – was that it was very hard to adjust the zoom as I could not grip it easily. Also, I struggled to locate and press the range button properly when aiming at a target. In both cases, it is just a case of getting used to the equipment.
The Ballistic Laserscope retails for £1,075. Is this a fair price? As already mentioned, the Burris optics lie in the middle to upper end of the market in terms of quality and offer a good alternative to the very expensive European manufacturers. Many shooters use a standalone, good quality rangefinder that costs upwards of £250, but these do not have the new TBR system. So the Laserscope offers a combination of all of these attributes, making it very versatile for the hunter. I am really impressed with the concept, and I have no doubt that in a few years’ time it will be used by many optical manufacturers. This perhaps takes some of the skill out of shooting, but that’s another story. As for fox shooting, the optics were maybe lacking a little, but with modern spotlights, the Laserscope is perfectly adequate for the task.