Dialing For Distance

The Burris C4 Plus 3-9×40 30mm Scope Gives Hunters A Sturdy,
Affordable Option For Longer Range Shots.

By John Barsness

Today, more and more “affordable” scopes with what most shooters would consider higher-priced features are appearing, thanks to global manufacturing. A generation ago, most scopes were made in an optics company’s primary factory, along with all their major parts, including lenses. Today the parts may be made all over the world, and assembled in various factories, exactly which one depending on labor and shipping costs. As a result, prices for the same level of performance have often dropped.

Burris’s 30mm version of their C4 Plus 3-9×40 (there’s also a 1-inch-tubed 3-9X) is their lowest-priced 30mm scope for hunters who prefer dialing extra elevation for longer shots. I’ve been using one for a year now, my preferred method of testing any scope, because a quick test often doesn’t tell the entire story. However, one scope-testing procedure I used for years was omitted—mounting it on a harder-kicking rifle.

The reason is related to another test I rarely perform anymore, dunking a scope in warm water to see if bubbles leak from its seals. No “name brand” scope has leaked in a couple of decades, so I quit dunking them, but do dunk new brands, particularly cheaper scopes, and even they rarely leak. In fact I can only recall one leaker from the past 5 years.

Similarly, I’ve used numerous Burris scopes for decades, and none have failed due to recoil. They’ve been used on rifles up to my .416 Rigby, where even with .416 Weatherby-equivalent handloads the recoil failed to break a Burris 1.75-5×32 Signature Safari. Burris’s most affordable line is the Fullfield II and a 2-7×35 held just as well on a .300 Weatherby Magnum. So a couple of years ago I quit trying to recoil-break Burris scopes, since it’s apparently a waste of both time and ammo, not to mention wear and tear on my older shoulder. (This is not saying Burris riflescopes can’t break. Any scope can, but based on the evidence, the odds of a Burris breaking appear to be really low.)

The really important test for any dialing scope is the reliability of the elevation adjustment, so I mounted the C4 Plus on a typically accurate Ruger American Rifle in .243 Winchester, using Burris’s excellent XTR Signature Rings with plastic inserts of varying thicknesses, allowing the scope to be precisely aligned with the bore. After zeroing the rifle dead-on at 100 yards, I ran a 2-foot “tall target” test with the rifle’s most accurate handload, the 105-grain Berger Hunting VLD and 42.0 grains of Ramshot Hunter. The elevation turret was twirled to several different heights, a round fired, then the turret turned down to zero and shot again. This was repeated randomly until several groups started to form, and all the bullets landed right where they should have, indicating the 1/4-MOA clicks were on the money, and all the groups were within the accuracy range of the handload.

The 30mm C4 Plus 3-9×40 is meant as a hunting scope and weighs only 14 ounces.

The C4 reticle is simple and uncluttered. You are expected to dial the long-range
elevation and use the hashmarks 1 MOA apart on the crossbeam as wind guides.

A few months later I purchased a Ruger American Predator chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and decided to mount the C4 Plus. The Predator has a camo-painted stock and slightly heavier 22-inch barrel than the standard American Rifle sporter, and I was actually more interested in sighting-in and testing the rifle than the scope. The test ammo for the first range session consisted of Hornady cases with 140-grain Berger Target VLD’s, loaded over perhaps the most popular “accuracy charge” for 140-grain bullets in the 6.5 Creedmoor, 41.5 grains of Hodgdon H4350.

After a few preliminary fouling and adjustment shots at 25 yards, the first shot at 100 landed just about dead center, 1-1/4 inches above point of aim. A second shot didn’t result in another hole, however, so I shot again—whereupon “the hole got darker,” as my late friend Mickey Coleman used to say. This was interesting, and three more rounds made the hole a little darker yet. When I walked up to the target and looked closely, the edge-cuts of all five shots were visible around the perimeter of the elongated hole.

Now, 3-shot groups sometimes put all three in one hole by accident, but such happy accidents don’t usually happen with 5-shot groups. After letting the barrel cool I fired another group, which also cut a single, slightly larger hole. Back home the first group measured 0.595 inch, edge to edge. Subtracting 0.264 inch—the diameter of a 6.5mm bullet—resulted in a center-to-center measurement of 0.331 inch. The second group measured 0.378 inch. Obviously such fine accuracy is mostly due to the rifle, handload and the 6.5 Creedmoor’s design, but it also says something about the optical quality of the C4 Plus.

The reticle in all C4 Plus scopes is the C4 Wind MOA, a plex-type with 1-MOA hashmarks on the thinner, inner horizontal crosshair for wind holds. Reticles on long-range scopes vary considerably these days, and everyone seems to have an opinion on what works best, but in hunting scopes designed for dialing I’ve become very fond of this basic design. Most hunters who buy such scopes intend to twirl the elevation turret for longer distances anyway, so why clutter up the field of view below the center crosshairs with extra reticle stuff?

The very first 5-shot group at 100 yards with the C4 Plus on John’s Ruger American
Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor measured slightly less than 1/3 of an inch. Not bad for a
relatively inexpensive scope on a relatively inexpensive rifle!

The C4 doesn’t have a mechanical zero-stop, another reason it costs less than $500, but most hunters don’t crank the elevation turret so high it can be too confusing to return it to zero. On the 30mm C4 Plus, one revolution is 17 MOA, and according to the Berger ballistics program, this will get my 6.5 Creedmoor with the 140 Berger load to 700 yards with one complete turn, when sighted-in 1-1/4 inches high at 100 yards. (If you don’t want to do turret math, Burris also offers a free custom elevation dial marked in yards for a specific load, along with a WindMap decal listing wind-holds, designed to fit on the objective bell.)

Another feature many hunters might appreciate is the relatively light weight of 14 ounces, more like a typical 1-inch-tube, set-and-forget hunting scope. Many 30mm dialing scopes in the 3-9X class weigh 20 ounces or more these days, partly because the adjustment mechanism is beefed up to withstand almost constant twirling. But most hunters aren’t going to be twisting their elevation dial up and down thousands of times a year.

Plus, one of my older Burris scopes is a 30mm version of the 3-9×40 Fullfield II, also weighing 14 ounces. The major difference between it and the C4 Plus is it has a capped elevation turret and simpler Ballistic-Plex reticle. The Fullfield II has been on several varmint rifles, among others, so has been cranked up and down plenty. It still dials just as reliably as it did a decade ago, and this is a large part of the appeal of Burris’s less expensive scopes: They work, and keep on working.

John Barsness’s book Modern Hunting Optics was published in 2014, and can be ordered through www.riflesandrecipes.com, P.O. Box 579, Townsend, MT 59644, (406) 521-0273.

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