Sig Sauer Sierra3 BDX

Outdoor Life - - GEAR -

• 4.5–14x50 • $720 for scope; $1,080 with linked rangefinder

As elec­tron­ics, in­clud­ing il­lu­mi­nated ret­i­cles and dig­i­tal tur­rets, have seeped more deeply into tra­di­tional op­tics, one goal has eluded man­u­fac­tur­ers: the cre­ation of a “smart” ri­fle­scope that ac­tu­ally looks like a ri­fle­scope. Bur­ris has come close, with its Elim­i­na­tor, but the rangefind­ing sight re­sem­bles a preg­nant Atari con­sole. With its smart, svelte, and sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able BDX sys­tem, Sig has cracked the code on in­cor­po­rat­ing rangefind­ing with aim­ing while main­tain­ing the di­men­sions of a tra­di­tional ri­fle­scope. Sig’s se­cret: link­ing its very good Kilo rangefinder with the scope via Blue­tooth and ty­ing both back to a smart­phone app. The three-part sys­tem works, with a few caveats. Once you load your spe­cific bal­lis­tics pro­file into the app and pair the scope and rangefinder with your phone, you can make first-shot hits (out to the 800-yard limit of the sys­tem) by rang­ing the tar­get and then hold­ing the il­lu­mi­nated dot on your ret­i­cle on that spot. No more guess­ing the holdover or di­al­ing the shoot­ing so­lu­tion with your tur­rets—the sys­tem cal­cu­lates the hold for you at light­ning speed. The ret­i­cle has 76 el­e­va­tion holds and 18 wind holds in ad­di­tion to Sig’s Levelplex il­lu­mi­na­tors, which blink when the scope is canted. The Sierra main­tains its fa­mil­iar lines be­cause it isn’t packed with elec­tron­ics. The slim belly of the ri­fle­scope con­tains only a Blue­tooth re­ceiver and cir­cuitry that lights up the ret­i­cle; the brain of the BDX sys­tem (it stands for Bal­lis­tic Data Xchange) is con­tained in the rangefinder. En­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions, in­clud­ing tem­per­a­ture, al­ti­tude, and baro­met­ric pres­sure, are gath­ered from your phone’s lo­ca­tion ser­vices and are au­to­mat­i­cally trans­ferred to the rangefinder. That means you need cell ser­vice to get live up­dates, a se­ri­ous lim­i­ta­tion of the sys­tem. But you can man­u­ally in­put en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors and ad­just them as con­di­tions change or when you’re out of cell range. For shoot­ers with ba­sic op­er­at­ing knowl­edge of a smart­phone, the sys­tem is fairly in­tu­itive, and it re­ally shines if you work with a part­ner, one of you rang­ing and the other on the gun. Sin­gle-user util­ity is slower, sim­ply be­cause it takes time to range, then get back in the scope, place the holdover dot, and make the shot. Of course, any time you add bat­tery­pow­ered com­po­nents to a sys­tem, you risk loss of ca­pa­bil­ity when you lose power. But even with­out the il­lu­mi­nated ret­i­cle, the Sierra is a ser­vice­able scope. We wish its du­plex ret­i­cle had more etched aim­ing points for when the lights go out, but if the power fails (the scope’s bat­tery is rated for 1,000 hours of con­tin­u­ous use), a shooter can al­ways dial a shoot­ing so­lu­tion us­ing the ad­e­quate tur­ret con­trols. In an ef­fort to neu­tral­ize criticism for what will likely be con­sid­ered pro­mo­tion of long-dis­tance hunting, Sig has added a fea­ture en­dorsed by the Boone and Crock­ett Club. The app cal­cu­lates the down­range en­ergy of var­i­ous bul­let weights. If your shot is so far that your bul­let lacks suf­fi­cient ki­netic en­ergy, the holdover dot in the scope blinks to warn you that your am­bi­tion may be ex­ceed­ing your ethics in that par­tic­u­lar case. Sig is bring­ing the BDX to mar­ket at a price that’s within reach of many hun­ters and shoot­ers. The 4.5–14x50 Sierra we tested costs $720, and you can get it in a kit with the Kilo 1800BDX rangefinder for $1,080. The in­no­va­tion and util­ity of the sys­tem won the BDX our Edi­tor’s Choice award, but by de­liv­er­ing this amount of util­ity for just over $1,000, it earns our Great Buy award as well.

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