February 22, 2023
There are advantages to using scopes made in the U.S.A. that go beyond financially supporting American companies. However, the definition of “Made in America” varies from one scope manufacturer to the next. Scopes with the most American components will have assembly, quality control, optical and mechanical engineering design and every part save the glass lenses sourced stateside. These are usually the more expensive optics in a given category.
An advantage to using a premium U.S.-made scope is that its features are usually the best fit for the American market. European optics companies have a bad habit of trying to sell us European reticles that we don’t really like, but some tolerate that. There are American companies that have scopes made in various Asian countries; these can have all the right specifications, but the models are still limited to what those Asian factories are willing to produce. They also come with a more elaborate quality control burden that the pure American-made product typically doesn’t.
Finally, an American company making their scopes here can rapidly develop and offer features before an overseas competitor can be convinced to make the investment to offer something similar. A prime example of this can be found on the new Burris XTR Pro. Burris is an American scope company headquartered in Greely, Colorado, and the XTR Pro is made right there in the HQ. All of the engineering, manufacturing, assembly and quality control is also done in Greely. The only components not made in Colorado are the lenses, which I’ll come back to discuss shortly.
The new XTR Pro is a 5.5-30x56mm scope designed for use in rifle competitions, but it would also excel in long-range hunting. The most distinct feature about the XTR Pro is the elevation turret. There is nothing else like it and it serves as the perfect example of why American companies making scopes is great for the consumer.
For starters, no foreign company would waste its time crafting such a sophisticated, yet simple turret system. They wouldn’t think it up and, if it was presented to them, they’d reject it because it requires changing how they manufacture the elements.
This is one of the most practical turrets I’ve ever touched. The elevation turret has an easily removeable cap with a visual cue of a bright red anodized ring around the top. Press two tabs on the side and the cap lifts off the scope. Under the cap is an exposed turret similar to what’s found on most exposed elevation turrets: A bunch of marks and numbers that allow the shooter to dial elevation in mils to hit at the required target distance. The two big differences between what’s on the XTR Pro and what everybody else sells are the caps have useful options and the exposed turret has a throw lever that allows the shooter to re-zero the optic with no tools.
Burris includes two caps with the XTR Pro. One is a “white- board” on which the shooter can write, and the second is a conventionally marked elevation turret with 12 mils per revolution labeled in .1-mil increments. The whiteboard turret allows the shooter to write directly on the turret and is intended for competition use. The shooter would take the target ranges for the stage he is about to shoot, consult his ballistic calculator to get the correct DOPE, and then mark target locations next to the corresponding DOPE on the turret. Doing this means the competitor just spins the turret to the next target without taking his eyes off the scope. It saves a bunch of time when shooting a stage at a competition.
However, the whiteboard turret is equally useful for a long-range hunter. Once the hunter knows the approximate temperature and elevation he’s hunting, he can mark the turret in 25- or 50-yard increments out to whatever range he is comfortable shooting. This saves time or provides foolproof redundancy depending on how he hunts. If he has a rangefinder, all he has to do is range the animal and dial to that distance on his turret. If he has a rangefinder that has a ballistic solver built into it (and that displays the hold in the viewing screen), the turret becomes a back-up system.
Removing the turret cap exposes the turret with an integral throw lever. The throw lever releases tension on this cap and it, too, is easily removed and repositioned. Most turrets need a small Allen wrench to loosen a couple screws to allow the turret to move. The most common reason for doing so is zeroing the scope and then lining up the “0” on the turret with the witness mark on the turret housing. Instead of screws, this one uses a throw lever, making it the fastest and easiest system I’ve ever used. The zero stop is integrated on the turret so, once it’s snapped in place, the turret can’t accidentally be dialed past “0”. There is also a small inner-brass nub that can be positioned to allow the scope to dial .4-mils under zero, if desired. While all this mechanical wizardry is pretty sweet, Burris leveraged the all-American design and manufacturing to create an equally impressive optical package. The first thing they did was use extra low dispersion (ED) glass in this scope. Five years ago, this would have pushed the price well over $3,000, but the more common use of this glass has brought the price down and Burris took advantage of that. The image quality is what you’d expect from a more expensive scope.
The field of view is also superior to every other scope I could test it against, except the Vortex Gen III Razor HD 6-36x56mm. That was an impressive list to defeat, by the way, because the Burris was the second least expensive of the bunch. Also of note, the Vortex sells for about $1,000 more and only had about another .4-mils field of view. Field of view is pretty important in competition and hunting because it’s what allows you to find the target under magnification. Narrow fields of view require the shooter to hunt for the target, which burns valuable time.
Other features that are highly useful are the illumination system and the useful reticles Burris offers. There are 11 settings that can illuminate in either red or green light. There are three reticles available for the XTR Pro: SCR 2, SCR 2¼ and the Tremor 5. All of these reticles are mil-based and follow the “Christmas tree” pattern that is increasingly popular. All are also first focal plane (FFP) reticles, so they are most useful in the top half of the magnification range.
The XTR Pro shows what’s possible when an American company possesses all of the tools necessary to build a full-featured and innovative scope that ideally suits the American precision rifle competitor and long-range hunter. Burris correctly prioritized optical features — image quality and field of view — while also creating mechanical solutions that are better than anything currently offered.
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