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* Once we pass shotguns and enter the realm of rifles and pistols, where range and accuracy are real considerations, the sights become the final mechanical controlling factor in our hitting success. The finest bores, bullets and powder charges are totally lost if our sights let us down. Fixed iron sights ae surely the most foolproof, but they too are dependent on proper adjustment if we are to hit what we are shooting at. With the progress to adjustable sights the chances of mechanical failure increase with the freedom and versatility of that adjustment.

Speaking of normal sighting devices, the ultimate in adjustment and precision comes with scopes. Our ability to hit with almost any firearm is increased when a scope is mounted offering greater visibility and almost total elimination of sight alignment error. (That is, we no longer have a front and rear sight to put in proper relationship to each other; we must align the sight relative to the target.)

I have use, abused, discarded and cherished the products of most scope manufacturers. Then came the new kid on the block, Burris, a dozen years ago, and virtually still unknown 5 years ago. Burris was brave enough to try new concepts and was also hell-bent for quality.

The human animal is very resistant to change and getting a shooter to try a new scope brand really takes some doing, especially if the new brand isn't well known. I finally got brave enough to have a look at the Burris line, quite big of me I thought, since they are made only 30 miles from ny home. What a pleasant surprise, scopes price right along with many of the other domestic lines, and absolutely reeking with quality. That was my original impression, and several years and lots of scopes later have only reinforced that feeling. What I have wondered for a long time is just how and why these scopes are so different. A recent factory tour and discussion with owner/founder Don Burris made the answer crystal clear.

First, this is an American company; everything is made in the U.S.A. Actually almost every part of the scope is made from raw materials in house, while the optics are produced in an optical plant in which Burris has a working interest. With the exception of a few screws, everything that goes into the Burris scope is made in their Greely, Colorado, facility. This, as Don Burris told me, gives them absolute quality control. When they do buy outside parts, control. When they do buy outside parts, they purchase them in large batches. This lot of screws, for example, is then rigorously measured and tested to be sure they are up to specification. Since Burris can't control the tolerance variations of screws it purchases from lot to lot, they fix any problems the other way around; that is, they control the size of the hole. One such specific part is the screws that control the windage and elevation adjustments. Burris buys the screws and then makes the taps that cut the final hole to absolutely fit the screw. This seems like a lot of trouble, but one of the reasons why is when you buy a Burris scope and click its adjustments, what you click is what you get! Yes, I did say click, clear precise clicks and not a friction slip.

Just why are these scopes so good and how do they maintain such quality? I asked these questions when I talked to Don Burris. Burris fells his scopes stand out because of their proper design in many areas. Don Burris is his own engineer. The scopes have superior sealing qualities and adjustments for windage and elevation--as well as power in the variables--is of state-of-the-art design. The lenses are coated with the finest optical coatings to decrease reflection to a minimum. And as I have said before, the testing and quality control are relentless. The scopes are not batch tested where one or two scopes from a production tray of 20 or more are actually inspected and the rest of the lot passed on their merit, as is so common in our firearms industry today.

Each and every scope undergoes the following inspections: they are held individually in a fixture and a trained technician checks them optically for quality and parallax. The windage and elevation adjustments are turned and inspected for proper tracking and response. The scopes are immersed in 140-degree water to be sure they are totally sealed, and finally they are given a cosmetic inspection to be sure the finish is up to standard.

Now all of this sounds very impressive, but what I saw when I toured the surprisingly small Burris facility really told me why the scopes are so good. In the first room there were lathes of the highest NC sophistication. These are ultra-modern automatic machines capable of holding extremely tight tolerances. This machinery cuts the raw materials into the basic scope components with extreme precision and efficiency. Stepping from this highly automated room into the next was almost a shock; there were no high speed machines doing the assembly, or anything that resembled an assembly line. The scopes were being made by hand!

It was at this point that I decided to tweak the lion's tail a bit and ask Don Burris if his employees were doing piece work, that is, getting paid according to how many scopes they made. You could almost see his stand on end, "Never!" he said, "my people work by the hour; it's quality I want, not quantity!" So there you have it, hand work in a "stamp 'em out," slambang world. What a pleasure!

This super quality is just part of the Burris fascination and, combined with their unusually wide line of products, it becomes a shooter's feast. Burris makes what we would call the usual scopes of 2-3/4X through 12X fixed power, along with variables from 1-3/4-5X through the 6-18X with dot, plex crosshair and post reticles.

From here the line begins to branch out into a more specialized world. There are variables with automatic range compensating devices, allowing the hunter to both estimate range and use a second reticle to hold dead-on to ranges out as far as 500 yards. On their "Safari" models, you can get a full, matte black, non-reflective finish. This finish is particularly attractive to me, and shows more class on even the finest rifle than the shiney, high bright black.

Beyond these slight variations is the highly different Mini series. These are special compact scopes in two fixed powers and three variables, including a 4-12X which is about the same length and weight as a normal 4X scope. Now nothing is free and you give up some optical capability over their bigger counterparts, but the difference in the field is damn hard to notice. What isn't hard to notice is their tidy appearance and weight. They are an absolute mate to small rifles, carbines and light mountain rifles. I use them exclusively on my litle Martini rifles.

Possibly the most fascinating part of the Burris line is their pistol scopes. They are without qeustion among the finest handgun optics available today. There are two basic types, long eye relief for use on conventional handguns, and intermediate eye relief for the single shot" short rifle types." These IER scopes ae primarily for long-range varminting, target and the silhouette shooter. They are for a two-handled hold or rest shooting. The long eye relief scopes range from the special 1X available only from Gil Hebard, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X, and a 1-1/2-4X variable. Parallax adjustments are standard on the fixed powder models. The 1X Hebard scope is my choice for shooting the Bianchi tournament over all other optical sighting devices. It has no magnification and a huge field of view with the great advantage of eliminating sight alignment error. If the dot is on the target and you manage the trigger properly, a hit results, you no longer have any worry about aligning front and rear sights.

With their super quality and broad selection I firmly feel that Burris will soon be the scope company instead of that scope company. For more information, write to Burris at 331 East 8th St., Dept. GA, P.O. Box 1747, Greeley, CO 80632.
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Title Annotation:sights and scopes
Author:Seyfried, Ross
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Aug 1, 1984
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