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.

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.

Turrets

 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.

Reticle

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.

Accessories

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.

Operation

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.

Issues

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.

Conclusions

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