224 Valkyrie “Here to stay or flash in the pan?”

Let me just start by saying “Game changer”  well there you have it, one of the most overused terms in the firearm industry.   This term gets thrown around so often it has become a parody. I remember a little over a year ago hearing this and speculating with a friend what company X could possibly be releasing that would be so revolutionary.  I was hoping for some new form of propellant, but instead I just got some new tips for my projectiles. (Joking aside though I do enjoy shooting the new bullets and think they are quite good.)  I will not tell you the .224 Valkyrie is going to change the AR-15 long range game, but I will say that it may have some things going for it few other cartridges do.  

Here is a brief description of this cartridge.  It is based off of the 6.8 SPC round.  It has been necked down to .224” the shoulder is steeper at 30 degrees and the length to datum at the shoulder is shorter.  Federal is claiming it will push a 90 Sierra Matchking at 2700 feet per second.  

It seems like the AR-15 platform is riddled with wildcat cartridges that just never gained traction, 30 ar, 25-45 sharps, 7.62x40 WT, .450 bushmaster, and I could go on.  There have also been a few cartridges that have managed carve out a niche for themselves, .300 blackout, 6.5 grendel, and to a lesser extent 6.8spc.   Why so many cartridges for the AR platform you may ask, and why are some successful and some languish in obscurity?   First the AR itself is like the lego set of the gun world. You get to add parts and pieces where you want how you want so, the appeal of being able to swap an upper and get a new set of capabilities is just too tempting to resist.  Why are  some cartridges successful and some not?  If we examine the cartridges I mentioned earlier we will see some common trends with the successful ones.  First components were readily available in the early stages, which meant reloading and experimenting with them was reasonably cheap and easy.   Having an ample amount of components also kept the price for factory ammo down.  Second, each had the support of large company.  Bill Alexander, a brilliant firearms designer and stand-up guy, had support from the brass giant Lapua before he even launched the Grendel at shot in 2004.  The blackout was created by Advanced Armament Company and thusly had the support of Remington/Freedom Arms Group right out of the gate.  Finally the successful new cartridges offered something that appealed to a wide range of AR shooters that had not previously been offered.  The 6.5 could shoot beyond 1000 yard and had better exterior ballistics than some .308 rounds.  The .300blk could be reliably suppressed with heavy projectiles or shoot lighter bullets to mimic the knock down power of the 7.62x39 AK round.  

As I mentioned earlier AR15s are the legos of the gun world you can build them up to do just about whatever you want.  Want to shoot hyper fast projectiles at prairie dogs?  There is a cartridge for that.  Want to shoot a thick skinned boar?  There is a cartridge for that.  Personally, I have even taken an Alaskan Black Bear with the platform.  The ironic thing about this game, however, is once you start playing it you quickly realize that those new capabilities are hampered by one common limitation, mag length.  2.26 inches seems to be the not so magic number.  Even if you go with the coveted HK magazine the extra $50 only buys you about .04 inches, and those can’t feed the fatter cartridges.  The Valkyrie has addressed this limitation very intelligently.  The folks over at Federal first identified what they wanted their new cartridge to do.  They wanted it to be the best long range cartridge you could stuff into the AR15 platform.   There are 2 primary factors necessary to achieve this ballistic superiority, velocity and ballistic coefficient.  The latter being the primary driver.  Knowing this they looked for the most streamlined bullet that would still leave enough room for powder.  The 90gr smk was that bullet.  Now comes the part I really appreciate.  Unlike the 22 Nosler which prioritizes powder capacity, the Valkyrie put the focus on making enough room for the bullet while still staying under that 2.26” mark and let the powder capacity fall where it may.  Thusly the shoulder is set back significantly to accommodate the lengthy projectile.  This leaves less room for powder which leads to slower muzzle velocities but the higher BC for the longer projectiles being used allow the Valkyrie to outpace its competition somewhere around the 300 yard mark.

So back to the Valkyrie, If you buy the new barrel, bolt, and magazines you need to shoot the .224 Valkyrie will you be the envy of all you your shooting buddies because you have an AR-15 that can reach out past 1000 yards, or will you be the butt of the jokes a year from now because you bought into some “fad” cartridge that died off leaving you with a bunch of parts you never use. In the interest of full disclosure, I may not be the guy to take advice from on this subject since I have chased the tail of a few failed wildcats, or maybe my experience has made me all the wiser.  You decide.  

To speculate on the future we have to look athe the past.  So what does the .224 Valkyrie have to offer.  Well quite a bit if federal can live up to their claims.  The initial match/long range load is the 90gr Sierra Matchking leaving the muzzle at 2700 fps, which gives this cartridge an edge over even the 6.5 grendel regarding external ballistics. Ok, so the cartridge’s performance  sounds enticing but will it be able to stick around?  Most likely yes the AR15 market is huge and long range shooting is one of the fastest growing shooting sports, so targeting both of those markets Federal should find some demand for their new cartridge.  Finally, Federal is part of a larger group called ATK also know as Vista Outdoor, and they have deep pockets and lots of resources available concerning both R&D and ammunition manufacturing capacity.  What this will lead to is a well thought out cartridge that doesn’t die on the drawing board.  ATK already has 4 factory ammunition offerings slated to be released as well as several complete rifles, so it looks like there will be plenty of commercial offerings, which leads to increased popularity which leads to longevity. 

So, will this cartridge stick around?  Yes.  WIth a steady rise in the amount of shooters getting into the long range game and the boom in the AR-15 world in the past 10 years this cartridge will appeal to a lot of folks.  If it performs as advertised it will be the best performing factory round (regarding exterior ballistics) to ever leave the muzzle of an AR-15.  I can honestly say as a long range shooter I am excited to see what the future holds for this purpose driven cartridge.


Written by Author/Content Provider, Marcus Hom

Custom AI Bipod Mount


Custom AI Bipod Mount

Manufactured by Sam Burns


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I was at the WPRSC match back in May with my AI AT rifle when Sam approached me and started asking me about bipods.  I assumed it was because I looked OAF in my multicam and Arc’Teryx gear but in reality he was talking to me only because we both shoot AI rifles and he had a bipod mount that would make life much easier for me.  Sam showed me his custom bipod mount and I was hooked.

I bought a mount and it arrived at my house after that batch of mounts was completed, Sam only sells them in batches by the way so get on the list.  I quickly removed the old mount from the chassis which is done by unscrewing the flush cup mounts and punching out the roll pins.  I slid the new mounting block into the chassis, replaced the roll pins and screwed the flush cups back into place.  Sam includes an entire set of detailed installation instructions, just in case you’re like me and better at running an XBox controller than a power tool.

A couple of nice things about the mount:
1) It’s has a 1913 rail system allowing for the use of an QD or Clamp style mount.
2) It moves the bipod forward by an inch or two

I’ve had the mount out to the range a handful of times and every time I’m impressed by the mount.  The extended front section of the rail allows me to get the bipod out in front of rifle providing for more balance.  For barricade shooting I can adjust the Atlas legs to a 45* angle facing rearward and it will give me the entire handguard to use as a balance point for the rifle.

One other thing that I really liked about the mount is that it keeps everything fairly low profiled.  Unlike using the bipod stud, I can easily fit the strap of my Rifles Only bag over the bipod and mount.  This is also a huge advantage when shooting off barricades or even rooftop stages.

All in all the mount is an obvious upgrade to the AI platform over the standard spigot mount.  The fact that I can use any bipod with picatinny adapter makes it worthwhile.  I’d definitely recommend it to the AI owners out there.

Written by Garrett Gee

Burris 3-15 XTR II

Burris 3-15 XTR II

In my last optic review of the Burris 5-25 XTR II I mentioned that I would be doing a review of the XTR II in the 2-10 variety come late summer.  It’s now late summer/early fall, but unfortunately I was unable to acquire the 2-10 XTR II.  The XTR line of optics has become very popular, and even after ramping up production significantly Burris has been unable to keep shelves fully stocked.  

My hope was to test the 2-10 on my match carbine to see if it would fit the bill as far as having a great all-around optic for the AR15, especially for team matches in which a carbine is required.  Since Burris was unable to provide the 2-10, I was offered the 3-15 XTR II to try instead.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought the 3-15 could fill that role, so I decided to give it a try and use it during some team matches I competed in this summer.  

As with the 5-25 version of the XTR II, I had a great first impression when I unboxed the unit.  The design stays true to the entire line and has a great look. It’s classic satin black finish and has the tactical feel and function one would expect from this type of optic. Great turret size, tactile/audible clicks, and legible font all add up to a great interface between the shooter and the optic. 

This flavor of 3-15 came with the SCR (Special Competition Reticle) just like my 5-25 has.  I am very accustomed to this reticle and the only reticle I may favor over this would be a Horus Christmas-tree style.  The SCR is so quick to hold wind with using its two tenth increments on alternating sides of the stadia.  The optic is a first focal plane design, but the reticle always seems to be the correct size/thickness as the magnification is increased or decreased.  

One thing that I realized immediately is that the glass seemed to be clearer than in my 5-25.  I believe this is because the 5-25 has to stretch out that much harder using similar components.  The 3-15 just doesn’t have to work as hard to achieve its 15x magnification.  This all could be an illusion, but it’s hard to compare when the 5-25 seems to darken a bit when getting to that higher range of magnification and the 3-15 does not. 

I used the scope in the US Optics team challenge in Douglas, Wyoming.  The scope worked rather well in this setting, especially attached to the top of the carbine rig.  In the rules we were not allowed to have more than one optic attached to the carbine, and at times we had to engage targets rather close in “assault stages”, so getting all the way down to 3x was helpful in those situations. While not as quick as a 1x or 2x, it was still plenty useful and I was able to shoot off-hand and score “A” zone hits in the eye box of IPSC cardboard silhouettes rather easily.  

The scope was not babied by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t abuse my equipment, but the AR15 rig was tossed around quite a bit from the day I mounted the optic.  Running in the truck with me day to day at work before the matches,  during the matches themselves, and getting dropped and carried on a sling during running and plenty of movement- the scope didn’t ever lose its zero.  I think that’s one of the most important aspects of an optic. Even if you can only afford lower quality glass, are borrowing a rifle, or simply don’t know better-you can still get work done if you are a decent/consistent shooter and your scope zero is not shifting around on you.  

At distance the optic performed great.  During the team match at the Whittington Center for the Sporting Rifle Match, I made hits on steel at 700 yards firing the .223 cartridge.  While sometimes it would be nice to reach out a little further than 15x, it wasn’t a make or break problem to have as the hits were possible.  I could still see all I needed to see.  

A friend of mine who was my partner for the Raton team match used my carbine with the XTR II attached for the entire day.  He seemed to only have a couple of complaints. One which was the ocular lens was not adjusted for his eyes. This could have been remedied, but he was a quick alternate replacement as my original team mate had become ill the night before the match. I wasn’t sure if ocular lens adjustment could shift zero, so we made due with where it was already adjusted and he seemed to shoot just fine. His other complaint was that the serrations on the turrets were sharp to the point he though they may cut his hands.  I had mentioned this in my review of the 5-25, but that was sort of subjective since I often had worn gloves to shoot, and I like having a solid purchase on the turret knobs. Some companies simply have a coin-edge type machining that is difficult to grip to turn the turret or just feels slippery.  So, this may be a point for you to consider if you are optic shopping. If you have thicker or calloused skin, it may be no issue at all.  

Burris was also kind enough to send me a PEPR AR15 height mount for the optic and I decided to use it.  This worked out great because it allowed me to use a standard AR15 stock without any kind of cheek riser to get a good sight picture.  The AR15 I was using was a side-charging style, so I didn’t have to worry about charging handle clearance. But this may be something you need to consider while setting up your rig. At the very least you may need a charging handle with and extended latch to get your hand away from the ocular end of the optic.  I was using Magpul’s CTR stock and it worked perfectly.  

Overall I honestly feel this 3-15 XTR II may have been the better option over the 2-10 for the testing we were doing.  While I believe hits can absolutely be made at further distances with a 10x optic, it may not be as quick as using the 15x at full magnification.  Firing a carbine past 600 yards will require you to be able to spot splashes and misses for corrections. First round hits out that far may be pretty rare, at least with the .223 cartridge. The extra stretch in the 3-15 did that well and I was impressed with its performance. 

I urge anyone shopping for a carbine optic, or even an optic for their precision rig that requires a smaller package, to look at the 3-15 XTR II as an option.  Burris has really stepped up to the plate with this line of scopes, and the ultra-high demand for these models tells me I’m not the only one who thinks so. 

Written by Justin Willhite

Justin and David while shooting a team match together.

Justin and David while shooting a team match together.

GeoBallistics and WeatherFlow By Justin Willhite

Aside from accurate range, the other most pertinent information a precision rifle shooter can have is accurate environmental data.  In days past, shooters had to rely mostly on handwritten data books in which their DOPE was kept with references to various weather conditions.  Also, the shooters had to be able to read wind cues from nature to estimate wind direction and velocity. The technology just did not exist to make real-time ballistic calculations for firing solutions.  That is, until the digital age arrived and the possibilities for access to ballistics data became nearly instantaneous to access and increasingly accurate in providing solutions. 

So what does this all mean for the modern shooter? If you are seriously looking into getting into the sport of precision rifle shooting as a competitor, or simply as an individual who wishes to improve his marksmanship skills-technology such as a digital ballistics calculator may be an important part of your shooter’s tool box. 

After having a ballistic calculator, the next logical thing you need is solid information to feed into that calculator so that you can have a reliable firing solution for your task at hand. The adage goes, “Garbage in, and garbage out.” So, at this point a weather meter that provides the wind’s speed and heading, target heading, as well as density altitude and other attributes would be a handy method to obtain that data.  This is where theWeatherFlow WINDmeter and accompanying phone application, BalliscticsARC, come in.  

The application is free to download and laid out in a simple and easy to use configuration. The different sections of the program are accessible through tabs on the bottom of the screen, and are self-explanatory. There are sections for Rifle, Weather, Hardware, Map, and Menu.  

The user can access the rifle section to input all the pertinent information about his individual rifle and optic, and save that rifle’s profile with in that section so that it can be accessed anytime. It has a decent library of projectiles to choose from if you’ve got a commercial load you’re shooting, or you can customize ballistic coefficients if you hand-load your ammunition. Several rifles can be stored and also accessed.  

In the weather section the weather inputs can be put in manually, or imported from the hand-held weather meter which is really handy. The connection between devices is via Bluetooth, so it’s universal for most devices. In my iPhone 6 Plus, I only had to activate Bluetooth. I didn’t have to pair the devices within the phone at all. Just by simply pressing and holding the single button on the wind meter the connection is made directly to the application. I really liked that feature as it can be annoying to go into another settings app to pair devices and using passcodes etc. It just makes the experience quicker and easier. 

Justin Willhite has been testing the WeatherFlow for a while now.

Justin Willhite has been testing the WeatherFlow for a while now.

When the Hardware tab is selected, the app displays all the various readings the meter is capable of detecting, and shows them on the screen in real time. So you can just observe the data in that state, or there is a “capture” option that takes a sample of the data to feed it into the calculator for your firing solution range card. The capture can also be taken over a period of time to try to capture an average on wind variables. 

The range card information is concise and easy to read. You can input the increments in yardages that you wish to be displayed.  The data displayed is derived from the JBM ballistics calculator, which in my experience has been proven in other applications that I and friends have been using for quite some time.  During the time I used the meter/app setup, it was accurate to my standards of accuracy and within one tenth of a mil of the other app calculator that I had been using before, which is Ballistic AE. Ballistic AE also uses the JBM calculator so that’s not too surprising. 

Another feature in the setup that I think is a neat idea is the rangefinder. This is accomplished by utilizing the location services of the phone or device you are using your application on.  So this feature is only going to be as accurate as the GPS functions in your device. The mapping section shows your location on a satellite picture/map much like in a Google Maps application. You then put yourself at the target, or drop your pin where the target is on the satellite picture and the app estimates your range. At this time I do not believe this will be as accurate as a good laser range finder, but if you have no other method it’s a useful feature. 

The application itself could stand alone from the meter as simply a ballistics solver if you wanted to input data points manually, but seems to be more of a seamless user experience if the meter is used in conjunction with your phone or tablet.  Also, the application gives you the option to utilize the sensors (like the compass) in your device running the BallisticsARC app since its possible those sensors may have better resolution than the Weatherflow meter. This makes sense if GeoBallistics is trying to save money producing the meters with sensors that aren’t as powerful as in your $600 phone. 

The Weatherflow meter itself is rather small as it has no digital displays or extra switches. It has a single rubber-protected button, and only houses the sensors and Bluetooth radio to communicate with other devices. This makes the device extremely easy to pack and use. The outer shell of the unit has grippy feeling rubber coating that makes it feel robust even though it is so lightweight.  It’s easy to throw into your pants pocket, or to even lash to the outside of your pack until it’s needed again. 

The meter comes with extra attachments depending on how you want to use/carry the unit. One is an eyelet that one could tie a lanyard or necklace to for safe keeping. The other is shaped like a headphone jack so the unit can stick straight into your phone or tablet and you can hold them both as one unit. I found that with the iPhone 6 plus already being large, it was difficult to operate one-handed.  I would typically raise one hand holding the meter to gather data, and hold my phone in the other to observe the data and charts. 

 I feel the unit definitely has a place in the market for new shooters to the sport who are looking to learn how to shoot and don’t have so much cash to spend on competing products that cost many times over what this tool does.  At the time of this writing, the weather meter can be had online for about $84.95, which is more than tempting when some of the competition can range from the $400-$700.  

Even seasoned and experienced shooters may look to this unit as a backup to their main meter, or as an extra unit to loan to friends. If you’re out with a new shooter who is learning it may be beneficial for them to download the free application to their own phone and take data from the borrowed meter. I know some old school shooters who only want to use hand written or printed data cards that are referenced to density altitude. If for nothing else, this meter can be used to gather just density altitude quickly and accurately so the correct range card can be chosen. 

The bottom line is that the unit costs less than it probably should, and that makes it even harder to have any complaints about the setup, of which I really have none. I find it difficult to nit-pick something as useful and low cost as the WeatherFLOW meter. The GeoBallistics setup fulfilled and actually exceeded my expectations of a $84.95 tool.   

If you’re looking for a calculator/meter that has several extra variables to run such as cross wind jump and more complicated variables used by more experienced shooters this may not be the unit for you.  But as I said before, you may be a fool not to pick one of these up as a plan B, or as a teaching tool for others.  

Armageddon Gear M2010 Rifle Case

Precision Rifle Media Gear Review

Armageddon Gear M2010 Rifle Case

Garrett Gee


I picked this case up because I was looking for something that was lighter than a full on pelican hard case, could organize my vital range gear and rifle, all while still being able to fit in a pelican case should I have to take my gear on a long road trip to PRS events around the Midwest.  After a couple weeks of use and two competitions, including the first annual South Dakota Steel Classic, I have to say it fulfills all of those requirements nicely.   The other huge reason I bought this case was because my AI AT is a non-folder.  In general I’m not a fan of folding stocks (one less thing to go wrong), so I needed something that could fit my AT with a 24” barrel.

 In my research some great drag bags were mentioned from companies like Tac Ops, Eberlestock and even Voodoo tactical.  The problem was, I wasn’t looking for a drag bag.  I don’t plan on stalking my way through a field on the two way range so a drag bag was a little overkill for my needs in my opinion.  I also wanted something that I could attach and remove pouches as needed.  The drag bags didn’t quite fit that bill either.

I ended up stumbling onto the M2010 case from Armageddon Gear.  I own a few other pieces of Armageddon Gear and they have always treated me well on the range so I decided to give it a shot. 

I ordered the case through GA Precision and it arrived rather quickly.  I immediately began setting the case for my needs.  The case comes with two mag pouches, a muzzle protector and three straps to hold the rifle in place within the case.  The interior of the case is lined with PALS webbing for attaching the supplied accessories and any other pouches you’d like to add in whichever configuration you can dream of.  If I have one small gripe about the PALS webbing is that it is a little wider than the standard PALS, I’m guess this was to accommodate the wide rifle velcro straps.  The width allows the accessory pouches to slide around a little bit. 

All in all the M2010 Rifle Case from Armageddon Gear is a great piece of kit for those that need something light for day to day range use while resting easy that their high dollar precision weapon system is well protected. The case has held up extremely well and based on the quality of the materials used and the stitch work I have no reason to expect anything else going forward. The best part of all is that the case is entirely made in the USA, a feature I am willing to pay a premium for these days.

Burris XTR II 5-25 Rifle Scope

Glass.It’s a single word term to embody all of the attributes of the modern sporting optic. Binoculars, spotting scopes, riflescopes, and occasionally rangefinders all fall into this category and everyone just has to know, “Hey, how’s the glass in that thing?”Having spent a considerable amount of time behind the Burris XTR II 5-25 rifle scope I can say,“Not bad. Not bad at all.”

If you’ve been considering buying a precision riflescope in the $1500 range, you may very well be looking at the Burris XTR II line to fulfill your needs. In regards to precision rifle shooting, the XTR II line has quite a line-up of features that will appeal to the discerning trigger puller.

With so many manufacturers getting in on the action with the tactical/precision shooting game it can be difficult to decide which direction to go in when it comes time to spend one’s hard-earned cash. Some have bigger budgets than others and may not be considering optics in this class and price range, but spending more money may not necessarily get you what you’re paying for.  I feel the mission of Burris was to fill the gap between lower end budget optics and the highest end scopes on the market and simultaneously compete for the coveted slot of being the best bang for the buck.

It’s been nearly a year since I purchased this particular model, and I feel I’ve had enough time behind the riflescope to make an informed opinion about the functionality and the quality of the optic and I’d like to share that experience with the precision rifle community.

First Impressions

The scope came new in the box. It was well packaged in a glossy box with all of the pertinent information as to what model it is and the unit was well-protected and nestled in tightly cut-to-fit grey foam. Included were the manual, a sunshade extension, dust covers, and the optic itself- everything wrapped in clear plastic.

The XTR II 5-25optic has that certainlook; the look that everyone wants to have on their competition rig or tactical rifle. It’s a sinister tactical look and feel that while exuding the image of the “real deal”, it’s not just a façade.  It still has the engineering, build, and design to back up what you are taking in at first sight. Back in my days of racing street cars and spending money on horsepower I had a friend who said, “You know, that Z28 looks like it could kick your ass, but that Trans Am looks like it’s on the way over to do it!” The 5-25 XTR II by Burris reminds me of that black Trans Am he was so impressed with.

The optic and matching sunshade are finished in a soft satin. Soft enough you don’t feel thattexture with your fingers andone will not see any glares or reflective edges on the tube or the flared bell-ends. The 34mm tube gives the optic some of the look of “heft” as well as some functionality transmitting more light than smaller tubes available in other lines. The broad tube coupled with my chosen NEAR Manufacturing Alpha Mount makes the whole combination look, and actually become, more robust. The turret knobs protruding from the tube are bold and striking. The font chosen by Burris to print the mil references on the knob perimeter is modern, attractive, high contrast, and most importantly extremely easy see at a glance and read clearly even from a couple of steps away from the rifle.

As a competitive rifle shooter, there are certain features that I look for in a riflescope.  For instance, immediately I know the optic has a great magnification range. Targets in this game are getting smaller and further away every year. Being able to see what you’re shooting at, and being able to make it large enough in your view to hold your precise wind call is important. What are some other features I and other competitors like me are interested in seeing on prospective optics? Let’s run it down.


 The turret knobs are large, but they aren’t over-imposing. They have a nice diameter to them so that you can afford a good purchase on them with your thumb and index finger. They are also tall, but not too tall or as overly tall as I feel some other European manufactures have designed theirs to be.

One thing about the turrets that I have really been impressed with and have grown accustomed to is the feel of the texture machined into them.   The texture isn’t a knurling, or even a coin-edge machining. It’s what I would call a sharp-edged “scallop” cut.Recently I was competing in Oklahoma at the Shoot for the Green. It was two great days of shooting and there was a great deal of dialing that had to be done along with some quicker hold-over shooting. I noticed that at the end of the day I could actually feel where those scallops had been grabbing the skin of my right hand and actually making it sore. Is that a bad thing? Not in my opinion. That tells me that in any conditions I can manipulate those turrets whether it is wet, dry, oily, or bloody and they will turn when I want them to without any compromise in traction.

It has been my experience that everyone has a personal preference as to how turrets feel, click and move. This makes sense if you think about it. The knobs are the most common means of interfacethe shooter as a person has with the rifle scope tool/machine. Some people like their turrets to glide along smoothly with very little resistance or feedback at every tenth mil or quarter MOA , getting a bit of a “bump” or “thump” at each retention point as they spin. Others prefer their knobs to be much more “clunky” in that it takes more effort to turn the knob due to friction and/or ratchet tension. While I would not characterize the nature of the XTR II turrets to be “clunky”, I would definitely say that they are more on the side of the spectrum with a more positive tactile feel.Let’s just say at the smooth end and “1” being a cheap knock off red-dot optic having barely discernable feedback in the knobs and “10” being what you feel when you overtighten the gas cap on your F150 pickup truck, The XTR II is at a comfortable “7”.  The clicks of the turrets “snap” into place when they fall into that tenth increment, and they make an audible sound at each placement. This is the feeling that I prefer. I like the tactile feel so that I can count how many clicks I am from each whole mil number, or half mil number. In this way, I don’t have to actually visually count hash marks getting lost in those little lines.  In some ofthe more budget friendly scopes I’ve noticed turrets can vary widely, and most times the knob or turret turns almost freely with little to no feedback for each click of their chosen denomination. These are poorly made riflescopes and I definitely don’t recommend them for the even semi-serious target/tactical shooter.

A shooter wants to be able to dial his DOPE on the elevation knob without making two revolutions for those further pieces of steel, and this 5-25 model delivered, boasting 10 mils of travel per revolution of the knob, and Burris claims 90 MOA of total travel. That means less time turning the knob, and more time with the rifle shouldered and cheek welded to the stock.

I found the zero stop feature of the scope very easy to use. There are no clutches or anything to adjust and removal of the knob or a cap is not required. One simply loosens the two Allan screws that are recessed into the knob, turns the turret to “zero”, pushes the knob in until it bottoms out, and then tightens the screws again. In this way the knob bottoms out on the body of the scope as soon as one reaches zero and the knob simply stops. If for some reason you don’t wish your knob to stop directly on zero, you can raise the knob while the screws are loosened to wherever you please and retighten the screws to maintain that position. It really is that simple.


The model tested is equipped with the SCR (Special Competition Reticle) reticle, which is proprietary to Burris. When I first became interested in long range shooting, I much preferred a more simplified reticle with mil-dots or hashes. So, when I first saw the SCR I thought that it looked fairly busy.  But within a couple of range sessions of using the optic I became accustomed to the look of the reticle and I prefer it over any other reticle that I’ve used to date.

The floating crosshair is two tenths of a mil wide, making the tips of the crosshair one tenth from the center. The continuation tipsof the stadia beyond the floating crosshair is two tenths from center, making it very easy to do a two tenth wind hold. The graduations after this are staggered marks at each two tenth position making holdovers easy without so much guess work as compared to reticles broken into half mil graduations.

Also, near the outer edges of each stadia, there is a section between the fifth and seventh mil that there are hash marks at each tenth of a mil. This makes it extremely easy to do range estimation of targets if one prefers to range that way. Also, there is a two mil section at the top of the vertical stadia with the same tenth increments so you can mil target height as well. There aren’t many numbers to jumble up the works in the scope. There are only number notations beside each even numbered mil.

There is an illumination feature for the reticle as well. The rheostat knob is located on the shooter’s left side of the optic, on the outside of the parallax adjustment knob. I have found that I would very rarely use this feature, but it’s nice to know it’s there in case I get into a low light situation, or for some reason I have a dark target in front of a dark background. I did have a problem with the functionality of the rheostat switch, but I’ll touch more on that later.

Magnification Ring

Most experienced shooters have their preferences on how a magnification ring should feel when it’s manipulated. Some seem hollow and move too easily. Others seem to be way too greased up and stiff when you want to get a better view.  The magnification ring on the 5-25 has a smooth motion to it. It’s not loose and cheap, and it’s not annoyingly stiff. At the time of this writing, Burris does not currently offer a “cat tail” for this model of riflescope. I have affixed a low cost switch view from MGM, and it actually works perfectly for the resistance the magnification ring offers.


I had considered a set of aftermarket lens covers before I got the optic, but I found that to be an unnecessary purchase once I handled the XTR II . While lens covers seem to often be an afterthought with today’s optics, the lens covers that came in the box from Burris have actually worked quite well. They aren’t super fancy but are functional. They snap in and out of place with one finger. They’re made of a harder plastic and don’t have a rubbery feel to them. Still, they seem to stay where you put them and they keep a lot of the dust off of the glass. The areas I typically shoot in are very dry and dusty and it hasn’t been a problem yet. They seem to have kept rain and moisture from the glass between stages as well. So ifyou’re concerned with covers, you may want to give these a chance before you go spend more cash unnecessarily.

Also in the box was an included sunshade. Some shooters prefer not to use a sunshade because of added length and bulk. I personally prefer to install a sunshade and leave it in place. I can’t count the number of times that other shooters in my squad were complaining about sun glare and trying to jerry-rig some kind of sunshade using a shemagh, hat, monkey’s paw, or anything else they could find in their pack to help them be able to see through their scopes again while facing into the sun. I had no issues with it and the sunshade provided has worked flawlessly. Also, aesthetically I feel the sunshade gives the optic a more pronounced tactical look that I like. It’s not a crime to have a little form with your gear’s function.


Functionally this scope absolutely holds zero very well.  The zero has not shifted during the 10 months or so the optic has been used. The tracking is excellent as well. While no tall target testing was conducted to see if the reticle tracks to the millimeter, the  elevation knobs were turned often- and any misses would have the wind to blame.Hitting steel tells me just as much or more than a tall target since I’m verifying ballistics in addition to checking if the turrets are tracking true.  I always dial elevation unless I’m holding over on stages that don’t permit the time required to dial, or don’t permit dialing at all. I’ve competed in quite a few PRS-style matches, and not to mention all the practice I’ve done setting up my own stages and the reticle has always returned to zero and tracked reliably.

There are currently 2 reticle selections for the 5-25 version of the XTR II. The first is the G2B mil dot reticle with half mil hashes. The other two are both SCR reticles- one in MOA and one in MIL. The version I purchased is the SCR in mil. I currently prefer mils because of the lower number graduations and because most people in the sport of precision rifle shooting are using mils. It just makes it easier to spot for another shooter and help them with corrections if you are talking the same language and giving those corrections in the same measurements the shooter is observing through his/her optic.


Not everything is perfect with the XTR. I have heard small complaints from personal friends who also use the same scope in competition on various style rifles -the biggest being that when one turns the magnification ring to the highest magnification (somewhere after 20x mark) the picture becomes darker, and somewhat less clear. This is by no means a deal breaker for me, but it’s something that I see as a negative and feel needs to be mentioned. I can’t help but think that if the team at Burris could have alleviated this issue in the first place, they would have. But there seems to be something to be said for the quality of this piece at its price point. There may be some high end European glass that doesn’t darken at full magnification, but you sure won’t be paying an MSRP of $1450. You may actually have to get a second mortgage on your home, but I digress.

Also I had an issue with the illumination knob on this scope. It did work fine at first, but for whatever reason the illumination no longer works. I have no doubt that if I were to bring this to the attention of Burris they would fix it with no questions asked. However, my thinking is that I use the illumination option extremely sparingly. I think I may have needed to use it twice during the entire time I’ve used the optic. So I will most likely wait until the off-season to send the unit in for repairs. I was not too upset about the malfunction, as I have friends who have told me about illumination issues with high end US made optics, as well as German. As a farmer by day (and night, it seems), I know all equipment will fail you at one point or another.

For the most part, aside from the illumination issues, the XTR II has held up very well.  I don’t mistreat my equipment, but I do use my gear as it needs to be used. In this case, it’s mostly in competition and in training on my own time. Going in and out of barricades, in sandy and dusty/dry conditions, in the rain (Sniper’s Hide Cup 2015, anyone?), being tipped onto the ground, you name it. It stays true to where you expect it to be.


Overall I have to say that the Burris XTR II 5-25 model has actually exceeded my expectations. I had been using more budget-friendly optics before I purchased the XTR II, and I had a feeling that this scope was going to be something I had to compromise with because of my non-European glass budget. This ended up not being the case. I have actually shot the best matches of my life so far using this scope, and I’ve been very pleased thus far.

 I plan on continuing the use of this particular optic and in fact I will be testing another scope in the XTR II lineup soon. The 2-10 variant seems to be a scope that would be well suited for carbine use, and that’s exactly what I will be attaching it to. I have already paid entry to more than one team match for 2016, and will be testing the usefulness of the 2-10 in the roll of a precision carbine. Stay tuned to read more on that in late Summer 2016. 

Author Justin Willhite