Burris 3-12 x 50mm IR Black Diamond Riflescope

Over the last decade, in particular, I've been very satisfied with a variety of Burris product. Some of them have been discontinued, like the Signature Select Semi-Compact 8x32 Binoculars, an amazingly good set of binoculars in a one pound 4.25 inch long package, and the Euro Diamond 1.5–6 x 40mm Electro-Dot riflescope, my favorite low-light deep woods hunting scope.

Other products have endured, like the Signature Select 8x42 Binoculars that were redesigned in 2006 and remain a true binocular bargain in the $400 and under binocular bracket. The Signature Select 3-10 x 40mm Ballistic Plex was (and is) a fine big game hunting scope, as durable and clear as any in its category. Some Burris product has not just endured, it has been improved. I'm referring to the Burris Fullfield E1 3-9 x 40mm riflescope, the best $200 hunting riflescope on the market today.

That brings us to the Black Diamond 3-12 x 50, a 30mm riflescope not only with the Burris E1 Ballistic reticle, but with the illuminated E1 Ballistic Plex reticle.

Weight: 21 oz.
Reticle: Ballistic Plex E1, Illuminated
Length: 13.7 in.
Eye Relief: 4 - 3.5 inches
Field of View @ 100yds.: 10-34 ft.
Exit Pupil: 16 - 4.2 mm

The eye relief on this Burris Black Diamond is generous and the exit pupil stays well above 4mm throughout the power range. As is customary with Burris, the internal lenses are large to get the most out of the 30mm platform at 15.4mm in diameter. Optically, this scope betters the pricier one inch tube $825 Zeiss 3.5-10 x 50 Conquest that lacks the zoom range of the Burris, the stronger 30mm tube, and the illuminated reticle.

The Burris Signature Select 3-10 x 40mm, made in the U.S. as is this Black Diamond, has been a sleeper scope of sorts. It remains one of my favorite hunting scopes, a notch up to my eyes than the Zeiss Conquest 3-9, with the bonus of the highly rated Burris Ballistic Plex reticle included. This new Burris model ups the ante in several areas over the Signature Select, offering a better zoom ratio, stronger 30mm tube, the illuminated E1 reticle, and larger exit pupil. One might wonder how it compares to the well-received Burris SixX scopes? In my opinion, it does offer several advantages both in price and performance. You can get an illuminated E1 reticle in the SixX, but as of this writing only with a 40mm objective and at the one thousand dollar price point. This Black Diamond runs about $320 less than that, yet gives you a larger exit pupil and a very forgiving eye-relief held inside one half of one inch, at 3.5 to 4 inches. Due to the lower profile adjust knobs, it has a more streamlined appearance. It an attractive scope, the only negative in my opinion is the "30mm" etched onto the side of the objective, an aesthetic oversight.

Retaining better than a 4mm exit pupil at 12x, the illuminated Burris E1 Ballistic Plex is usable under any lighting conditions that you can see your target at. Some of the other IR scopes give you a dot, but the bullet drop compensating portion remains black. Not so with the Burris: the entire reticle is usable, including the precise windage hold points.

I tested this Black Diamond against several other scopes 45 minutes before sunrise, and although several IR scopes would allow you to make the shot, the Black Diamond was the only one that offered a Ballistic reticle that is usable, with the windage hold points that few scopes have. Other IR scopes that do have an accommodation for windage are overly busy, such as a Mil-Dot, and tend to overwhelm the image. This Black Diamond doesn't have this unwanted feature. Not only is the Black Diamond extremely clear and bright, the eye-relief is as non-critical as any scope I've used in recent memory. Several of today's scopes give you an image bright enough to make the shot with confidence to well-past legal hunting hours, with the reticle vanishing into the timber before anything else. The illuminated reticle of this Black Diamond makes this a non-issue. With a quick push on the side of the scope to activate it, cold or gloved hands are no barrier to instant engagement of the reticle.

The 3-12 power platform is a good compromise, the 12 power magnification is appreciated when doing your range work at 200 and 300 yards. For general big game hunting, rarely would have a scope cranked up at all and most shots are taken at no more than 5X or so. When considering a Ballistic Reticle, it makes good sense to have a ballistic reticle that you can become intimately familiar with. Rather than jumping from Mil-Dot to odd-ball grids from scope to scope, if you use (for example) the basic Fullfield II Ballistic Plex for a couple of rifles, and the E1 style in this scope and others, the reticle and the associated drop becomes second nature, requiring no additional learning curve. You likely won't always need it, but when you do you'll be glad it's there. For an extremely high quality hunting scope in the $680 bracket that competes well with thousand dollar scopes, gives you a superb illuminated ballistic reticle, and strong 30mm tube, this Black Diamond is hard to beat.


Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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