Over the years I have started to really enjoy the products that Burris Optics have been producing. I was looking forward to using this compact spotting scope to see if it would continue my appreciation of their products.
These spotting scopes are by no means a high end spotting scope, and do not represent the true high quality optics that Burris makes, if you want to see their best, then you would need to go for a signature series spotting scope, which are truly high quality optics. The purpose of this review was to try one of their lower quality spotting scopes, especially one that might serve a unique role in a snipers inventory. (not to mention, it came as part of a package deal with the Burris 3-9x we reviewed earlier). That unique role is that of a compact spotting scope that would be easy to pack around for long-term field operations, yet provide sufficient optical quality to use as a field worthy spotting scope.
When you first pull out this unit, the first thing you notice is the small size of the scope. It is only six and half inches long, and weighs less than a pound. It comes with a carrying case and lens caps. The second thing you notice is the “Made in China” sticker. This was a disappointment to me as Burris is one of just two scope manufacturers that build their product in the USA. But it turns out, that only their high end SPOTTING scopes are built in the USA, the landmark series of spotting scopes appear to all be built in China. Apparently this was done in order to compete and grab some of the low-end market share. Not being in their shoes, I cannot comment on whether this is a sound business move or not, but all I do know is that this particular scope was built in China, which, unfortunately, instantly lowered my expectation level, as I have not seen hardly any optics from China that have been really good.
For my evaluations, I used an old cheapo tri-pod I had from an old Bushnell spotting scope from years ago. I used this spotting scope during a few 100y zero shooting sessions and had mixed results. The optics are fairly clear, but certainly not high end quality as I had difficulty picking out bullet holes at 100y. I was able to focus on the target fairly clear, but either the magnification of this scope, or the magnification of the Leupold riflescope is not right at 20x when they say they are. There was certainly a difference of magnification between the two. I was not overly impressed with this unit at the 100y line in range conditions, but it was serviceable.
Now, I have had better success at longer range spotting with this scope. The scope had no problems picking up trace from a .308 firing at a target 405 meters away. In fact, it picked up the bullet trace extremely well. I have used the scope in the field on several occasions, and it seems to be very functional and more at home than trying to pick up bullet holes in a target at 100 yards. The compact size and weight combined with the matte rubber finish seem to make it suitable for good fieldwork. I have not abused the spotting scope, but it seems to be built with decent ruggedness.
This scope is certainly not high end, but if you are looking for a light scope that is affordable, to use as a backup or for use in a rucksack, this unit might be okay. I do NOT recommend it for a range spotting scope; it really struggles in these regards. But the 20x is very well suited for reading trace and mirage and the quality of the optics are acceptable for that mission. But do not expect to get mountains from a molehill, but for the intended mission that I had in mind, it is working well so far.