Burris Eliminator rifle scope review

Welcome to the Eliminator

Some 10 years ago when the laser range finders became widely available I had thought that integrating one with a riflescope and placing the calculated bullet impact point on the vertical crosshair of the reticle would be a brilliant idea. The technology caught up with the dream only recently, and Burris introduced the Eliminator. I got my hands on one only this year, partly due to the lack of need, partly due to its fairly high cost. This year I decided that I want a shorted and handier rifle than a 24″-barreled Weatherby Vanguard in .300 Weatherby Magnum for hunting elk in the aspens and dark timber, so a Ruger Hawkeye in .338 RCM with a 20″ barrel joined my hunting arsenal. The Weatherby now was destined to become a long range, open country rifle, so the Eliminator was a logical choice.

The scope is very heavy by any standard at over 1.5 lbs, so if you have a 5.5 lb rifle that you value for its light weight as a mountain gun, you may not want to put the Eliminator on it. The mount is an integral one, suitable for installation on a Picatinny or Weaver rail only. To put the Eliminator on my Vanguard so I had to remove the Talley single piece rings that held my previous scope and installed a single-piece EGW rail that fit perfectly. One has to pay attention to the length of the screws that hold the rail on the receiver as they have different length for front and back; if you install the longer screw in the rear hole by mistake it will interfere with the bolt and the shorter screw will not engage the threads properly if placed in the forward hole. This is not rocket science, just pay attention to what you are doing. I put blue Locktite on the threads and GunSeal under the rail. I know; they tell you to wipe the receiver dry but when I did that I would get slight rust under the bases, so I use GunSeal from now on.

The mount on the Eliminator aligns properly with the rear edge of the Picatinny rail slot only on the rear scope mount, and the forward slot, while it does allow the cross bolt to pass, does not appear to bottom out on the cross bolt when the scope is slid all the way forward. Therefore, only one of the cross bolts will provide shear resistance, the other only clamps the rail. This does not appear to have any ill effects on the mounting strength, and tightening the nuts on cross bolts to the recommended 65 in/lbs of torque resulted in a rock solid mount, later tested by an unfortunate drop onto the scope in the field with no effect on the point of impact.

Since the scope has a machined mount there is no need to work to ensure its proper alignment above the rifle bore. It will be as accurate as the machining of the mounting holes on the rifle’s receiver, which in my case proved to be accurate enough for all practical purposes.

I like to cover the lenses on my scopes to protect them from snow, twigs and dust. For the Eliminator I picked up a set of Butler Creek caps. The proper Butler Creek cover size for the objective of the Eliminator is 46, and 10 for the ocular. The ocular of this scope is tapered and the larger cover will fit too but it will bottom out on it and will not be tight.  You may see the next size up as the recommended; I tried this and they were loose enough to slide off effortlessly. I prefer a tight fit and the 10 and 46 will provide exactly that. This time around I was very disappointed in the caps quality. I have Butler Creek caps on all of my scopes but they all date back 5 years or more and they all fit tightly and close snugly, without a hitch. Since then the quality has gone down a lot. The objective cover did not want to stay closed at all, and, out of time and frustrated, I simply covered the cap edges with foil and ironed them with a hot iron, pressing them inwards. This deformed the cap enough to keep it in place when closed but of course one can not expect a reliable hermetic seal that way. I don’t think I will be buying more Butler Creek covers if I can help it at all.

After installing the scope I naturally had to take the rifle to the range and get to know the new hunting tool. I shoot primarily handloads in the Weatherby and prefer heavy bullets for the caliber, so as one would expect the recoil is noticeable. Previously the rifle was fitted with a light 2×7 Weaver scope, and shooting it with the Eliminator was a pleasant surprise: the recoil was noticeably reduced by the added weight of the scope.

The one concern that people interested in the Eliminator may have is whether or not the reticle is too thick and obstructs too much of the target. In my opinion it is not. The vertical pin of the reticle is just thin enough to pose no problems, and it is also translucent on the edges and darker along the centerline to where it is very comfortable to the eye. The orange aiming dots, when lit, are bright enough to be visible against the snow although they will not exactly jump out at you like a turkey head ring in a shotgun scope. Not that I would want that anyway in a rifle scope. I think the engineers at Burris hit the nail on the head with the size and brightness of the aiming dots: they are visible enough in bright daylight, yet not overwhelming at dusk.

The optics of the Eliminator are not as bright as the 42 mm Swarovision binoculars. They are on the same level as Leupold’s VXII or Burris Fullfield, which is adequate for most people who are not obsessed with counting twigs on a bush 500 yards away in the last 15 seconds of legal shooting time. To me, bright optics are needed in the binoculars, which are used for hours during the day. The scope, on the other hand, I use for all of a minute during a big game hunt, and the quality of the Burris optics is totally adequate for this. I was also very pleased with the flatness of the field of view, which was nearly free of roll-off distortion and parallax in the Eliminator, unlike the Fullfield E-1 that I happen to own as well. I am sure there will be people screaming that nothing short of Swarovski will ever do or else their $20,000 guided hunt for the trophy of a lifetime might be in jeopardy. They can do whatever they want. If it is too dark to see the animal I will come back tomorrow morning, if for no other reason then at least not to have to deal with the kill in the dark.

Operating the Eliminator is as easy as anyone thinks from looking through the manual. There is one membrane button to activate the scope, and a second press on it or on the remote control button causes the scope to range and put up the aiming dot. This process is instantaneous for all practical purposes, and I found that is is easy to range even on small targets, such as a “Posted” sign from 450 yards because you are ranging using the steady rifle hold, not using a weightless hand held device where all motions of your wrist immediately translate into wild swings of the projected laser beam.

I had two loads for the .300 Wby: a Federal Premium 200 gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw and a 200 gr Barnes TSX flat base over 79.5 grains of Reloader-22. Both loads shoot very much to the same point of impact, and I chose the 1-36 table for the cartridges, considering that the shooting was being done at 6,000+ ft elevation.

At the range the Eliminator showed very accurate adjustments, pretty much to the claimed 1/4 MOA and was very easy to bore sight and zero just by laying the rifle on the sandbags and looking through the bore at a 100 yard target. Once on the paper it tracked accurately enough to where 4 rounds were sufficient to get the rifle to shoot where I wanted.

Now, a word of warning: where I wanted and where I should have are different things. Being used to sighting in regular scopes I dialed the point of impact at 1.5″ above the bulls eye, and then was surprised to see that the rifle shot high at 200 yards. I think this would be a very typical user error, since the Eliminator should be dialed in to shoot exactly at bulls eye at 100 yards, if this is how you are sighting the rifle in. It took me a minute to figure out what did I do wrong, and the only correction needed at that point was to change the ballistic table in the scope from 1-36 to 2-36, indicating the 200 yard zero.

I will explain this detail just a little: the two types of zero in Eliminator allow to effectively increase the calculated range for most cartridges to 600 yards with a “2” series table compared to the 500 yards with the “1” series tables. In effect both the 100 and 200 yard points of impact will be at the same point, the crosshairs. If you go to the 200 yard zero (the “2” series table) then the five dots that the scope will calculate drop compensation for in the absence of a good range will be 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 yards. Of course if you range a good target the scope will calculate compensation for ranges out to 800 yards but you really should test out loads and pay attention to the bullet’s ballistic coefficient and Burris drop tables if you are planning to try those ranges. If you are, I am sure you know all of this already.

What you would actually see in my case was, ranging the target at 100 yards (97 to be exact), there was an aiming dot at the crosshairs and in my zeroing in I had a 1.5″ high point of impact. Ranging the 200 yard target (197 yards to be exact), I saw an aiming dot just one or two down from the crosshairs. If used, this put the point of impact at 200 yards about 6″ too high because the scope added the drop compensation to what was already a 3″ high point of aim at 200 yards. Once I switched to a 2-36 table the aiming dot for both 100 and 200 yards appeared exactly at the crosshairs, and the point of impact was 1.5″ high at 100 yards and dead on at 200 yards.

Another word of warning: the Eliminator will only give accurate bullet drop compensation at full magnification, x12. It will put the aiming dot on at any other magnification too, but it will way overcompensate. I imagine that with some creative tinkering one can calibrate the scope so that it will give accurate compensation at lower magnifications but I didn’t bother with this.

This completed the setup, and as an aside I tested a couple of powders I haven’t used before, both working very well in the .300 Wby.

Field Test

The scope went on an elk hunt in the Colorado GMU 12 in late October, 2011. I scouted the area around the Jensen SWA in the summer and it is fairly open, sagebrush country with aspen stands along the creeks and valleys. I brought both the Weatherby and the Ruger with me, and carried the longer gun since visibility was several hundred yards. Most of the time, at least.

The first opportunity at a cow elk, which was my quarry this time around, came about within the first 2 hours of hunting. I just finished practicing ranging with the Eliminator at some shrubs and the three mule deer does 250 yards away, and was walking along when the two cows came out running 40 yards away from me. They stopped for 2-3 seconds and then moved on. I tried to aim and… realized the scope is still on x12 power! It is very difficult, at least for me, to see an elk at 40 yards through a x12 power scope. So the two cows moved on unharmed, and I saw no more elk that day. The scope ranged fine on the snow covered slopes, and the 20F degree temperatures were not an issue.

The next day I went deeper into the mountains, and picked up a trail of five elk heading into a thickly overgrown creek. A ranging scope is absolutely unnecessary in that kind of environment as the longest possible shot there would be 10 yards. However, the steep snow filled valley provided a robustness test for the Eliminator. It was repeatedly covered in snow that fell on me from the trees; it was shaken mercilessly along with the rifle when I fell, and finally soaked with water when all the snow that I couldn’t clean out melted in the sun once I got to the valley bottom. The butchered Butler Creek covers sort of held up, opening occasionally but overall preventing most of the snow from getting into the objective lens. I did have to re-close them several times after snagging the rifle on branches of scrub oaks and willows.

Eliminator's first elk
Eliminator's first elk

An hour later the scope and the rifle were traveling on my back up another creek, back to the top of the ridge. The valley was very steep and snow covered, and I took multiple falls, finally tiring enough to fall and drop the rifle, which I previously religiously held up when falling, taking the impact with my own ribs but protecting the gun. This time the rifle slid off my shoulder and went under the snow, where the scope hit a deadfall with a dull “thunk”. It was the time for a break, and I sat down in the snow, fished out the rifle and proceeded trying to clean out the snow from all the crevices that exist on a bolt action.

And, as I lifted my eyes from the snow ball that my Weatherby has become, I saw elk on the opposite side of the valley, looking my way, trying to determine if I was any threat.

The rifle required removal of the bolt and purging of snow from the barrel as well, and it took a while to do this properly. Some 5 minutes later the elk were still there and I was ready to shoot. The Eliminator ranged the shot at 196 yards, and there was no need to adjust the point of impact. I picked out the fatter looking cow from the small herd of 5 and squeezed the trigger. The 200 grain TSX did its part, and the cow is now in the freezer.

The fall the rifle took had no effect on the point of impact, the bullet hit precisely where I put the aiming dot. In hindsight I should have shot the cow in the neck, preventing her from going down into the ravine before expiring and forcing me to pack the meat some 200 extra vertical yards, but I prefer the more reliable heart / lung or shoulder shot.

In conclusion, the Eliminator passed the ruggedness test. I did not get to use its long ranging ability but that is just it: you never know how far is the shot going to be, and having the instant, well computed bullet drop right in the scope is what I bought the Eliminator for. I recommend it to others for the same reason – take the uncertainty out of your moderate range, out to 450-500 yards, shot.

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