Shooters are a funny lot, a hard audience by any standard.  Happy to have a whine that there's little innovation or worthwhile new developments in the firearms industry and at the same time look on anything new as just marketing hype or the fantasy of the Mall Ninja. And so it was a pleasant surprise to hear Tony Saros from Beretta Australia offer for review by AHN this newest scope on the market. Tony was already a believer as he had used this scope successfully on an overseas hunt, but to his credit he wanted an impartial review of the Burris Eliminator laser scope done here on AHN. I had some limited experience with the scope, having handled one a few times and poked it up the street for a look but it was all new to Thomo and we discussed a few ideas to test the scope in a number of real life situations.

       Tony had mentioned the scope he was sending me had already been used in a review by one of the magazines and I had a grin on my face as I unwrapped the scope and saw a big ugly scar down on the left hand side of the main body and plenty of other wear signs from outdoors use. The Burris Eliminator is a 4-12x42 scope with an integral laser rangefinder, inclinometer and a calculated illuminated holdover point for shots out to 550+ yards. The scope is a hefty 737 grams and 330mm long and has an integrated mounting rail, not unlike an upside down Weaver/Picatinny arrangement. The electronics are powered by a single CR-2 battery which is claimed to be good for 1100 cycles of the laser rangefinder. The scope is packaged with detailed instructions, lens covers, sunshade, microfiber cleaning cloth, a pair of cross slot rail clamps, spanner, wireless remote and batteries for the scope and remote.


       After a quick read through the manual, I installed the batteries and switched the scope on and using the main switch on the left hand side and the four way input buttons on the right hand side, I entered into the setup menu and easily worked my way through the setup procedure. The setup menu allows selection of yards or meters for the ranging display and then you enter a three digit code for the ballistics tables to be used by the scope. First digit will be a 1 or 2 to lock in your sight in distance of 100 or 200 yards/metres. Next you select a two digit code based on inches of drop at 500 yards for your chosen cartridge load. And that's it, the scope is now programmed to display an illuminated aiming dot whenever you range a target. Place the dot on the target and squeeze the trigger, the built in inclinometer compensates and adjusts the aiming dot for trajectory differences for up and downhill shots. The set ballistics data is stored in non volatile memory which means it remains as you set it even with the battery flat or removed. Whilst you have the choice of either metres or yards in the display, you will note I emphasized the use of yards when setting the bullet drop at 500, this is important to maintain accuracy of the calculated hold over. The reticle is in the second focal plane so you must also have the scope set on 12x for correct holdover if taking a shot. You can of course use the rangefinder on any setting. The laser can be activated by the wireless remote or by the press of the main switch on the left hand side of the scope.

       Tony sent a number of Burris Xtreme Tactical bases to suit different rifles for mounting the scope, these are a two piece steel set and I used  the Burris and Leupold QRW bases to set the scope up on a couple of different rifles to see how well the mounting rail works. The standard Weaver type bases work fine on short actioned rifles and obtaining correct eye relief is not a problem. On long actioned rifles the Burris bases are a better choice as they have a number of cross slots which provide greater flexibility in setting up the scope position, a Weaver/Picatinny rail would be the ideal platform for either long or short actioned rifles. The scope sits nice and low and the mounts appear strong and stable although unlike typical Weaver/Picatinny systems, the Burris Eliminator will not retain zero if removed and then remounted. This is to be expected as the cross slot mounting bolts are not fixed to either the scope or bases and merely connect the two together.

       Looking through the Eliminator reveals a plex type reticle and the image is reasonably bright and clear and on par with what I'd expect from a mid range quality scope. If you are used to low end budget scopes, you will be happy, if you are used to high end European optics you won't be. Most of us would be reasonably content using a Bushnell Elite or entry level Leupold hunting scope and that is the sort of optical quality we're talking about here. The display and holdover points are embedded into the lens rather than projected into the sighting plane and at first seem a bit disconcerting as they detract from the view but you soon get used to it. Using the scope under varying conditions revealed a tendency for lens flare if held near a strong light source such as setting or rising sun. The objective lens is very close to the end of the scope tube and the inclusion of the lens hood is a useful accessory. Ranging targets is very fast, reliable and responsive, in fact the Eliminator leaves all handheld rangefinders I've used for dead in this regard and of course being mounted on a rifle the Eliminator is very precise to aim without the wobble frustrations of the hand held range finders. I had no trouble ranging animals to 500m and reflective targets to just over 700m. Accuracy of the rangefinder is good and repeated ranging of the same target would typically show a 1 to 3m variation.

       The scope display is an intense amber and very easy to see in bright conditions whether on a light or dark background. Unfortunately this also proved to be a double edged sword. Viewing animals in pre dawn conditions, if you activate the laser you will be blinded by the very bright display and left staring at a gloomy black hole for an image until the range display is extinguished in a few seconds leaving just the illuminated aiming dot. There is no brightness control for the display and it is simply too bright and causes the dilated eye pupil to contract. Of course you can use the scope under these twilight conditions without activating the display just like you would a normal scope, however the two peak hunting windows of dawn & dusk are going to be challenging if you use the rangefinder. Using the scope with an artificial light is not a problem though and the display is fine under these conditions. The quick focus eye piece provides a good range of adjustment and eye relief even on 12x is not too critical.

        I wanted to check the repeatability and precision of the windage & elevation mechanism so I mounted the scope to my Mod 70 Coyote Lite .243 and headed for the range with Thomo. Sighting in at 100m was fairly painless and once zeroed I started on a bit of a box test but POI changes to the dials were inconsistent so I started a fresh target and gave the adjusters a couple of good taps with the screwdriver handle after each adjustment. I wound up 2 MOA and fired the first group and then kept winding til I returned to the original zero. You can see the results on the target, the final group (No.5) was fired with the scope back in it's original zero position and POI was a good 15mm over to the right of where it should have been. The 0.25 MOA per click adjustments feel imprecise and the knobs are narrow and dicky to operate as is setting the sliding zero scale.

       Moving the adjustments back to zero at 100m again, I proceeded to range a number of bowling pins right out to 300m and used the illuminated aiming dot to easily shoot them without a hitch. The embedded dots on the vertical bar of the reticle do obscure a bit of the target but you have to bear in mind the scope's intended purpose is not that of a varminter. Changing the power ring is smooth and did not produce any noticeable changes to the POI on paper. At 4x the field of view is quite good and I would feel comfortable hunting in close country with this scope. The weight is another matter and whilst the Eliminator did not overly affect the balance of my light varminter Mod 70, in my opinion you will certainly notice it on a lightweight sporter or mountain rifle. A mate of mine had fitted this scope to a Kimber Montana 7mm WSM and loves it so far. He does not think it compromises the balance of his rifle and the Montana is a very light rifle, so these things I guess are subjective. The laser performance is very good and hard to trip up unless trying for something beyond it's range and I was continually impressed by the Eliminator's reliability on a range of reflective and not so reflective targets under all conditions.

       Thomo had an opportunity to sneak away mid week for a few days chasing Sambar and we wanted to give the Eliminator a bit of shake, rattle and roll sighting it in on top of his Tikka T3 .338 WinMag. In a few minutes Thomo had the Burris Xtreme bases snugged down on top of the receiver and the Eliminator mounted. I threw the instructions at him and in no time he had entered all the relevant ballistics data for the .338 Winchester loads he was using. The T3 is lively off the bench to say the least and it was fun watching the big fella sighting in his rifle. He got to use the scope over a number of days in truly shitty and wet conditions without any issues with the electronics or fogging of the lenses. Here is what he had to say...

       I met Trouty at the range and we fitted the scope up to my T3 338 WinMag, now being a light rifle this thing comes back hard off the bench so it should be just the ticket to test the laser scope out for recoil tolerance. After reading the instructions the scope set up was very easy. The adjustment knobs were very tight and a little fiddly but as we were at the range and not in the field that was no big deal. Got it on paper at 100m then moved the target out to 200m, yep the scope works as it said with the clearly defined aiming mark showing that I needed to come up a few inches. Using the hold over shown in the scope my shots were on target and deer hunt ready.

       I hunted over three days with the scope. The first two days were in absolute crap, with lots of rain and mist. No point having a potential 600m scope when you can't see 30m. On the third day the weather cleared at around lunch time and the sun came out, so with a fair idea where I might find some deer catching some sun  before heading down to feed, I headed off. After checking some sunny faces with no luck I moved around to another gully where I know deer travel through to get to the lush grass in the clearing below it. After five minutes of sitting and watching I noticed two hinds feeding down through the gully. Watching for another twenty minutes and seeing no sign of a stag following them up I ranged the hind with the simple press of the button and it came up as 94m, not really the long shot I was after but beggars can't be chooser's and as the first hind had moved into the pines and this one about to move into them as well, I placed the aiming dot up on the high neck and at the recoil of the Tikka sent a 200grn Power Point on its way. Needless to say the hind was pole axed and fell down. A very easy carry out of 200m to the track then 500m to the cabin made the hardest part of the hunt no real chore.      

       I didn't get to test the long range capabilities of the scope on game as I was hoping to but I have no doubt the scope would perform flawlessly under those circumstances. Would I purchase one?  Well yes I would but I would not have it mounted on my Sambar rifle as I just don't need the extra weight or magnification but I think it would make a fantastic addition for the Fallow, Red deer, pig, or goat gun where I tend to hunt more open country and the shots are a bit longer. The only thing I could fault with the scope was the brightness of the illumination on last light is a bit too bright and makes it hard to see through the scope.
       This scope will not turn you into a long range marksman just by owning it, you need to have an understanding of the ballistics of your rifle and make sure it has the horse power to reach out and retain energy to effectively take game at the range you want to shoot. And as the nut behind the butt, you need to be up to the task yourself.

       It was a shame to have to pass the scope on just before the Fallow rut as I would have liked it on top of my 6.5 Swede to hunt some Fallow that I know  have a nice position on a hill top surrounded by open paddocks and would be perfect for the Eliminator.
       After Thomo returned the scope to me, I remounted it on my Coyote Lite .243 and took it out spotlighting on some rabbits and fox. The recent wet seasons had made long range shots few and far between due to the high grass everywhere but I did manage one fox at 240m as he stopped for a look back at the light on top of a large boulder above the grass. The scope was setup for a 100m zero so I ranged him, put the illuminated holdover dot on his neck and nailed him through the throat. There were plenty of eyes looking back in the long grass that I know were fox, that I had to pass up as I couldn't positively identify them. The Eliminator performed quite well during the night and once again the fast ranging was very impressive and the optics plenty good enough for shooting under the light. During the next trip I sat on a hillside for the afternoon and shot a few rabbits out to over 300m after missing the first one. I had forgot to set the scope to 12x and the illuminated holdover had me shoot over the top of the rabbit, but once I realised my mistake it was pretty clinical taking out rabbits in the calm conditions.
       I was really keen to take a long range deer and had a property in mind with just the right sort of country, so I sighted in the Eliminator on my Mod 70 .270 WSM sporter. Heading off on the first afternoon's stalk it wasn't long before I started to notice the extra bulk and weight the scope added to my rifle, not so much in carrying it on the sling but more noticeable in handling of the rifle. Being a one armed shooter I guess I'm a lot more sensitive to this that most. I found a great position to watch over with a blackberry choked gully leading down onto some prime edge country. I passed the time glassing and ranging cattle to check

the limitations of the laser on furred animals rather than reflective targets. I had no trouble out to 550m but at that range the calculated holdover dot is replaced by an illuminated ballistic plex type of display where a number of dots are lit up in 100m increments below the centre of the crosshairs.. The scope will only calculate correct hold over out to 500m, after which it reverts to a ballistic plex reticle and the correct holdover is left for the shooter to decide. Ranging hard targets like sheds and water tanks was achieved to 680m.

       My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of breaking twigs and hooves on foliage in the thick gully above my position and a quick check with my lighter showed the breeze was in my favour, but the next half hour proved frustrating as the animal moved further and further away from me and I could not close the gap before dark.  As usual, Sambar refuse to read the script and provide results on demand for an equipment review and did not co-operate the following morning either. A few days earlier I had set up four of those 20 litre pesticide plastic containers at various intervals out to 500m to verify the accuracy of the scope's holdover aiming points and had put first round hits into a kill zone appropriate for a deer, so it was disappointing not to have the opportunity to do it on a Sambar.

       After using the Eliminator for a month on a number of rifles in wet conditions, Thomo and I agree it is an impressive bit of technology for the money and certainly works as advertised. For the shooter that doesn't live and breathe ballistics, it is an excellent system where you sight it in, set up the particular load's ballistics once and then forget about it and let the scope work for you in giving the correct holdover whether shooting up or down hill. I see this scope as the way of the future and as the technology is refined, the few shortcomings like the brightness of the display in low light and the weight of the scope will no doubt be addressed. We both found the wireless remote to work great but the elastic band used to mount the unit onto the forend would always allow it to shift out of position when the rifle was slung to carry. I'd like to see a slim tactical/pressure switch on a bit of curly cord that I could velcro in position like I do with rifle mounted torches. And so in summary I would highly recommend this scope as a real specialist in long range shooting such as found in many Fallow deer scenarios where the animals are found in more open habitat and the Eliminator would also be right at home on a heavy rifle being shot from a vehicle culling camels, horses, donkeys or even pigs & goats in the more open outback. The scope is heavy for a pure stalking/mountain rifle but if you are prepared to put up with it like my mate Terry Edwards has on his Montana 7mm WSM, the Eliminator will deliver in spades. Terry has taken game to 470m and is itching to use it during the Fallow rut up the Snowies this year.

Australian Hunting Net 2011