Sig Sauer Sierra3 BDX
• 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.