The night before the press event to launch the Sig Sauer BDX range of optics and rangefinders, a quick check on maps showed the journey at nearly 300 miles. An early rise the next morning, then! The event was hosted at WMS Firearms Training, offering steel plate targets from standard ranges of 100-200 yards from a covered shooting point (that also served as a clubhouse for the day) then progressing outside to longer ranges. At WMS there is a range to cater for any shooter, way beyond most abilities of both rifle and user.
The Sig Sauer BDX system has been designed to give the shooter a simple and accurate ballistic solution, enabling them to improve their extended range shooting and making the ‘ranging to shooting’ sequence as short as possible. Some shooters might think a system designed to increase effective ranges may encourage shooters to engage targets beyond an ethical distance – a point that Andrew Venables, CEO and lead instructor at WMS, addressed during the morning briefing. In a nutshell, if a hunter can accurately shoot into the ‘kill zone’ on a steel target at a given range, their hunting range on live quarry needs to be half that range. If a shot goes wrong, the follow-up shot needs to be delivered quickly and accurately, which is only possible when the shooter is realistic when first pulling the trigger.
Set-up and first range
The system relies on the pairing of scope to rangefinder using the BDX app. This involves a fairly simple process, helped greatly by the use of-item specific serial numbers, which prevents information from other devices from contaminating your range data to your scope. Inside the app you will find a simple set of tabs, starting with pairing, which sets up a Bluetooth ‘bond’ between scope and rangefinder. The next step is to input the relevant ballistic information for the rifle and ammunition being used: bullet diameter and weight, the corresponding ballistic coefficient and finally muzzle velocity. The more accurate the information inputted, the more accurate the ballistic solution provided will be. Anyone interested in longer-range shooting will have to do some research if they haven’t already – a basic understanding of the factors affecting external ballistics is a must.
That said, you will not need to be an expert or commit everything to memory – to start, you just need an accurate muzzle velocity from a chronograph, or at the least a decent estimate, a definitive BC or ballistic coefficient, and the associated drag function, which relates to that BC. You will be looking for G1 or G7 – some bullet manufacturers list both and the figures are completely different based on how they are calculated (e.g. on older Berger 105gn VLD, the G1 BC was 0.532 whereas the G7 BC was 0.27). You can use either, but you need to know which is which, and make sure you select the right profile inside the app.
It sounds more complicated than it is, and when put into practice with the BDX system it becomes easier and quicker than most other solutions. With the scope paired to the rangefinder, and the ballistic information keyed into the app, the zero is checked and distance is the final figure entered under the bullet profile. The whole process is quick and intuitive – even though the scopes and rangefinders were totally new to us, we were soon paired, ranging, shooting and hitting solidly at 100 and 200 yards.
Moving back to the hill for the first extended range of 300 yards or so, we shot at a range of targets including two gongs out to the left at 370. Andrew briefed our group on our shared responsibilities regarding safety, and encouraged us to use the spotting scopes behind the three shooting benches, effectively calling the shot strikes for whoever was shooting. Three Sig Sauer BDX scopes paired to a rangefinder each, sat on top of Howa 1500 rifles of various specifications in .223 Rem, .243 Win and .308 Win – which, now that we were further from our targets, would clearly show a difference with the wind cutting across from our left at around 8mph.
The chorus of gongs as each shooter ranged and shot is a testament to the BDX system. Once the rangefinder pings a target past the zero point, a holdover red dot appears on the centre line of the reticle, and a corresponding red dot illuminates along the horizontal reticle bar, resulting in a holdover and hold-off point – it is remarkably simple to use and devastatingly accurate in use. As with all technology, the initial data input is critical. I would always check a wind reading with a Kestrel meter. On the day, I favoured a full wind value, which led to the hold-off red dot giving a full value, allowing me to hold slightly less as the wind decreased.
The final shooting point took us out to 400+ yards with the gongs to the left reading around 480 yards, and the brief changed slightly. Our goal was to range and shoot at the standard targets, then quickly re-range the distant gongs and shoot as quickly as possible – an attempt to simulate a second shot on a live target. It was apparent that the Sig Sauer BDX system was doing a fine job, but this was still far from an easy job – the calibre did seem to make a difference, with the .243 and .308 holding more consistently in the wind. Practice was playing a part, but more telling was the indispensable help a longer shot would get from a competent spotter calling hits, misses and whether a hit was slightly off.
The phrase ‘game changer’ was mentioned as the Sig Sauer system was revealed to us, and after several pleasurable hours using this system on top of Howa 1500s, making shots in non-sterile conditions, effectively simulating hunting targets at suitable distances, I can wholeheartedly say this could change how we hunt. The scopes and rangefinders stood up to some rigorous testing, with no blips. A wide range of shooting abilities were distinctly levelled by some superb electronics.
I will be reviewing the Sig Sauer BDX system in more detail, hopefully in the next issue of this magazine. In the meantime, I would check out the range at the link below, and watch closely for stock hitting the country – it will sell quickly!