Rifle Scopes your opinions on mid tier optics like XTR3 vs XRS3/DMR3 vs Cronus Gen2

best scope $1k-1500


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ChuckieP

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Hello Hide,

I'm looking to upgrade my current scope. i have a NF 3.5-15x50mm i got around 2008 timeframe. its worked great and now its time for an upgrade.
Ive seen a lot of posts about top tier ZCO vs TT vs S&B vs NF but i haven't seen posts about optics in the $1000-1500 range.

i have seen Bushnell DMR3/XRS3, Burris XTR3, and Athlon Cronus gen 2's for $1200 +/- 100.

my current consideration is the XRS3 or XTR3. i can get either for the same price.

Thank you,
Chuck

Edited to add my info below
Please consider including the following when asking the SH community what scope we'd recommend for you:
  • What is the platform for the scope? Semi-Auto AR-15 / AR-10
  • What cartridge are you shooting? 223, 6.5cm
  • What is your intended use for the scope? Benchrest, Hunting, Target, Steel, gas gun challenges
  • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in? Daylight, Lowlight
  • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot? 75-1500 yds. i would like to hit 1760
  • Are there any specific specifications you would like? FFP, tree reticle, 56mm objective, focus below 50 yds, mil, Huge FoV
  • What is the price range you can afford? $500-$1300
 
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DIBBS

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    Use the search function top left, play around with verbage... you may be able to answer your own question. Only your eyes can tell you what works best for you. If you can get to a shoot, look through the ones you are contemplating purchasing, try them out, and you'll decide what you like best.

    Good luck.

     
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    pell1203

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    I own one of the earliest Cronus 4.5x29 BTR Gen 1 scopes and have been very happy with it!

    A buddy also bought the same Gen I scope on closeout after the BTR Gen 2 version was announced and he has been extremely happy with his as well.

    A third friend bought a Gen 2 a couple of months ago, the ones with the new improved turrets, and he has also been very pleased with his purchase.

    Personally I like the mil reticle in the Gen 1 with the center "+" better than the Gen 2 with the center "." but that is strictly a personal choice. The image quality across the full magnification range in all three samples of this scope is excellent and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for new glass. Three happy Athlon customers for sure!
     

    Gohring65

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    Out of all the ones you mentioned, it would come down to reticle choice because they all are pretty solid.
     
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    hafejd30

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    Below is how I’d rate them from your list. I’ve owned multiple scopes of each brand. Have been behind many others. But from your list;

    1) Athlon
    2) Burris/bushnell XTRIII/XRS3
    3) Bushnell DMR3
    4) Vortex Razor


    57) Leupold MK4
    64) Vortex Viper
     

    ChuckieP

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    Use the search function top left, play around with verbage... you may be able to answer your own question. Only your eyes can tell you what works best for you. If you can get to a shoot, look through the ones you are contemplating purchasing, try them out, and you'll decide what you like best.

    Good luck.

    I have searched this and other sites, some wonderful reviews. i haven't see anything on the Bushnell's yet. i did get the chance to play with a DMR3, i liked it. i always hear good things about the Athlon Cronos scopes. i have some friends that have lower tier athlon things and they seem to like them. just hoping for some apples to apples from people that may have handled all 3.

    @hafejd30 thank you, thats helpful....and funny
     
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    Chickentoast

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    I tried most of the ~2K class. XTR3 is current favorite in the price range, but I ordered an XRS3 today... Should know in about a week if the Burris still reigns supreme for me. On paper, XTR3 is lighter, has better FOV, and thinner reticle with 0.2 instead of 0.25 subs. XRS3 has the magnification advantage. Looking forward to seeing the glass.
     

    beetroot

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    Choose your preferred reticle and what features you want, as this will be the biggest difference between a lot of scopes in this price range.

    The scopes in the 1500-2000 are definitely better than the 800-1500 range but there are some cheaper scopes that don't really give up much.

    I'm always pleasantly surprised with the Vortex Strike Eagle and PST Gen 2, they may not have the glass clarity of my Delta Stryker (pretty much same scope as Athlon Cronus) but I prefer the FOV and reticle in both the Vortex scopes and in many ways prefer to use them.

    In other words if the features of a scope or reticle suck having great glass isn't going to make those things issues go away.
     

    cjs88

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    For a little bit more you could get a Swarovski Z5i. Guess it depends what your use for it is.

     

    hafejd30

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    For a little bit more you could get a Swarovski Z5i.

    What makes this scope the optimal choice?

    1” tube

    Shit reticle

    SFP

    Nothing close to what some of the other models above have for adjustment range

    Personally I’d run the NF NXS he has before swapping to something like this
     

    cjs88

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    Was just a suggestion. My bad for offering up another scope. It doesn't have to be the one I linked, that was just filtered to what EO has in stock. If he like that option for a scope he can wait for a different reticle if he wants. I have a z8i and I love it. Glass is super clear and great in lowlight. Without any specifics on what the OP is looking for, it's a free for all in what gets recommended.

    Excerpt from the Tips for Asking for Scope Recommendations thread:

    Please consider including the following when asking the SH community what scope we'd recommend for you:
    • What is the platform for the scope? (Examples: Rifle (Bolt or Semi-Auto), Pistol (Semi-Auto or Revolver)
    • What cartridge are you shooting? (Examples: 22LR, 223, 308, 338 Lapua, etc.)
    • What is your intended use for the scope? (Examples: PRS, Benchrest, Hunting, Target, Steel, etc. or any combination thereof)
    • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in? (Examples: Daylight, Lowlight, Nighttime, etc. or any combination thereof)
    • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot? (Examples: 1000+ yds, 600-1,000 yds, 300-600 yds, 100-300 yds, under 100 yds)
    • Are there any specific specifications you would like? (Examples: FFP/SFP, 30mm tube, 50mm objective, focus below 50 yds, low turrets, mil or moa, weight, etc.)
    • What is the price range you can afford? (Examples: Under $500, $500-$1000, $1000-$1500, etc.)
     

    Birddog6424

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    I'm a Burris guy, so you can write me off as bias, or consider me the guy who has the experience behind them, either way is fine.

    But I've been diligently dropping these scopes side by side with everything I can get my hands on for the last two+ years. Including this past weekend at the PRS Rimfire Finale in Texas where we had a Kahles, a ZCO, two MK5s, and a Cronus BTR.. there wasn't a single scope owner in that group, none of whom had ever looked through an XTR3, who wasn't impressed with the clarity of the sight picture and the FOV. Everyone loved the full edge to edge glass without looking through a large black ring.

    I havent seen a Bushy XRS3 as yet, I'm sure it will be solid. I like Bushnell stuff. I’ve compared many times to a Cronus, I've yet to see a single one that looks as good as the Burris. And a little more reliability from the turrets on the XTR2/XTR3 line up versus the Cronus.

    You'll be very hard put to find anyone who has looked through an XTR3 and not liked it. You'll be harder put still to find anyone in the last two years who has broken one or seen a tracking issue. I honestly believe its the most solid option in the sub $2k price point.
     

    fdkay

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    The Primary Arms Plx series are high quality Japanese made optics and also in your price range:

    Another option, if the mag range is suitable is the Sightron 6-24 PLR series
     

    Jerzey1

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    Kinda hard for people to compare the new Bushnell DMR3 and XRS3 becausse very little people have them. The XRS3 was literally just released yesterday. I can say this because I like the Bushnell Elites, they are solid, glass is really good, turrets are really good, numbers on the turrets are big, zero stop is easy, price is great and they are tough...they are reliable and they track, period. I have a DMR3 now for a couple of months and really like it. Just ordered the XRS3 yesterday, looking foward to using it asap

    Personally I think the Bushnell Elite's and Burris XTR's are very underrated
     

    aslrookie

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    Eotech Vudu 5-25. Meets all of your requirements and it’s shorter profile is perfect for AR rifles.
     
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    Neurotic

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    The Primary Arms Plx series are high quality Japanese made optics and also in your price range:

    Another option, if the mag range is suitable is the Sightron 6-24 PLR series
    Be careful of these... The PA has a narrower FOV than it's LOW siblings, and the PLRs are currently only available in second focal plane.
     

    S3th

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    I have previously owned an XRS2 & NX8; currently only own a XTR3. I was extremely disappointed when I went from a Athlon ARES ETR to Bushnell XRS2. NX8 was great and did what I tended it to do. I'll be keeping the XTR3 - only selling to make the jump to ZCO or TT.
     
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    steve123

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    Cronus G2 APRS6 for me!

    IMHO the next step up are the Tier 1 scopes I own.
    Honestly there isn't much of a difference between the Cronus G2 and my S&B 5-25, or my March 5-42, or the March 5-40. Yes glass is better in the Tier 1, and the 5-42 has locking turrets, the S&B has 2nd rev indicator, but the G2 has daylight bright illume which I use on black painted steel and black paper bulls.
    The G2 is less than half the price so I don't feel like spending the extra money anymore for the diminishing returns.
    Love the reticle.
    Love the SUPER distinct turrets with zero lash, and firm action required to turn turrets, as well as the windage turret requires even more force to turn so its very unlikely to turn when rubbed against something by accident.

    Haven't been behind the XTR3 or XRS3 so there's that.
     

    Gohring65

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    Cronus G2 APRS6 for me!

    IMHO the next step up are the Tier 1 scopes I own.
    Honestly there isn't much of a difference between the Cronus G2 and my S&B 5-25, or my March 5-42, or the March 5-40. Yes glass is better in the Tier 1, and the 5-42 has locking turrets, the S&B has 2nd rev indicator, but the G2 has daylight bright illume which I use on black painted steel and black paper bulls.
    The G2 is less than half the price so I don't feel like spending the extra money anymore for the diminishing returns.
    Love the reticle.
    Love the SUPER distinct turrets with zero lash, and firm action required to turn turrets, as well as the windage turret requires even more force to turn so its very unlikely to turn when rubbed against something by accident.

    Haven't been behind the XTR3 or XRS3 so there's that.
    Seems like there are several scopes narrowing the gap with the upper tier. We now can choose a reliable scope priced reasonable that is good enough to accomplish 95% of what the top tier does.
     
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    fdkay

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    Cronus G2 APRS6 for me!

    IMHO the next step up are the Tier 1 scopes I own.
    Honestly there isn't much of a difference between the Cronus G2 and my S&B 5-25, or my March 5-42, or the March 5-40. Yes glass is better in the Tier 1, and the 5-42 has locking turrets, the S&B has 2nd rev indicator, but the G2 has daylight bright illume which I use on black painted steel and black paper bulls.
    The G2 is less than half the price so I don't feel like spending the extra money anymore for the diminishing returns.
    Love the reticle.
    Love the SUPER distinct turrets with zero lash, and firm action required to turn turrets, as well as the windage turret requires even more force to turn so its very unlikely to turn when rubbed against something by accident.

    Haven't been behind the XTR3 or XRS3 so there's that.
    I have a gen 2 Cronus, and to be honest, I'm disappointed.
    Your comments on the turrets is spot on though.
     
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    zman15

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    I have a gen 2 Cronus, and to be honest, I'm disappointed.
    Your comments on the turrets is spot on though.
    I have one as well. When I take it to the range by itself im super impressed. When its next to my Mark 5 It comes back to earth. The mark 5 is a dam good optic
     
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    steve123

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    It could be that a scope/one sample, could be different than the next sample of the same brand and type. It's usually more apparent in less expensive scopes which I've seen 3-4 times before of scopes I've owned.

    I think it comes down to what ones eyes prefer and that can't be determined by an individual except for doing side by sides on a personal basis.

    A friend had a Delta Stryker 5-50, he didn't like the glass in so he sent it back and they sent him a new one that had better glass in it that he was happy with.

    Another friend of mine has a ZCO, a NF 7-35, and a Cronus BTR, he swears by that Cronus BTR. I wasn't impressed with the glass in the NF for a scope "that expensive" and the ZCO was as nice as my S&B, maybe a hair better but it was hard for me to see a difference, while my Cronus G2 was right there with the NF and his Cronus BTR. My friend was also less than enthused about the IQ in his NF after looking through my S&B. His eyes like my S&B's glass.

    On 29x that older March FX 5-40 is almost indistinguishable to my Cronus G2's on 29x so that is a decent measure to me.

    The slickest IQ I've ever come across is my other friends Swaro X5, it blows my S&B away! My eyes love that Swaro! Right behind that was a TT, though I didn't have them both side by side, just impressions. But again those are some expensive scopes, especially TT.

    I won't say I love the glass in my G2 Cronus but I sure like it compared to my current sub $1000 scopes and a host of NF NXS, 3 Bushnell HDMR's, a Leupold VX3, a USO 3.2-17, a G1 Vortex Razor, a IOR and a Sightron 10-50, all scopes I've owned before that I was definitely left wanting more with. So I guess I'm just fine with the glass in the Cronus line.
     
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    Gohring65

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    It could be that a scope/one sample, could be different than the next sample of the same brand and type. It's usually more apparent in less expensive scopes which I've seen 3-4 times before of scopes I've owned.

    I think it comes down to what ones eyes prefer and that can't be determined by an individual except for doing side by sides on a personal basis.

    A friend had a Delta Stryker 5-50, he didn't like the glass in so he sent it back and they sent him a new one that had better glass in it that he was happy with.

    Another friend of mine has a ZCO, a NF 7-35, and a Cronus BTR, he swears by that Cronus BTR. I wasn't impressed with the glass in the NF for a scope "that expensive" and the ZCO was as nice as my S&B, maybe a hair better but it was hard for me to see a difference, while my Cronus G2 was right there with the NF and his Cronus BTR. My friend was also less than enthused about the IQ in his NF after looking through my S&B. His eyes like my S&B's glass.

    On 29x that older March FX 5-40 is almost indistinguishable to my Cronus G2's on 29x so that is a decent measure to me.

    The slickest IQ I've ever come across is my other friends Swaro X5, it blows my S&B away! My eyes love that Swaro! Right behind that was a TT, though I didn't have them both side by side, just impressions. But again those are some expensive scopes, especially TT.

    I won't say I love the glass in my G2 Cronus but I sure like it compared to my current sub $1000 scopes and a host of NF NXS, 3 Bushnell HDMR's, a Leupold VX3, a USO 3.2-17, a G1 Vortex Razor, a IOR and a Sightron 10-50, all scopes I've owned before that I was definitely left wanting more with. So I guess I'm just fine with the glass in the Cronus line.
    Glass is becoming the mechanics debate of the late 90s early 2000s. Glass was a big deal back then but mechanics was priority. Now robust mechanisms are trickling down in the lower tiers, and glass will/has become priority. We can just about guarantee that a scope will track anymore, if not the warranty will get us one that will. Now it seems the scope has to be able to focus on a blade of grass at 1k at noon when the sun is high in the sky. Guys used to say you’re paying for the durability, well when the durability gap has narrowed, what are we really paying for? It’s the glass, when you look at 99% of your shooting, how good does the glass have to be? If you shoot at 1k and under at steel, do you really need march glass? If I’m trying to cold bore a mile plate for prestige and maybe a little money, then I’d buy top tier for sure. If I’m flinging stuff out to a mile on a Saturday for fun, shit I’ll try that with my strike eagle, DMR2 and Arken. I think that is a subjective question, but criteria dictates my decisions.
     

    ChuckieP

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    Hello,
    thank you for all of your replies. i have ordered a Bushnell XRS3 via Bushnells VIP program. thank you to all of you who helped.
     

    FLguy55

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    Hello,
    thank you for all of your replies. i have ordered a Bushnell XRS3 via Bushnells VIP program. thank you to all of you who helped.

    You won't be disappointed. They knocked the XRS3 out of the park. I've had one for a couple months (got lucky when GAP had em in stock) and the glass is definitely superior to the Mark5 7-35 it replaced, and the other Mark5 H59 I had at the time (sample of 2 being the point here). Better clarity and resolution out at distance. I actually prefer the XRS3 glass over my ATACR but I have a love affair with the mil-xt reticle. The ATACR has this kind of darkness to it that erks me. I've also got a ZCO 527, which honestly ruins all your other optics because it's so good, but I still never get behind the XRS3 and feel like it's bad; certainly not like I used to with my Mark 5s. I will say though, for the Cronus BTR feedback, I still own a Cronus G2 and that thing is still arguably the best bang for the buck on the market at under $1500 brand new. In that $1500-2000 range, as some other have mentioned, reticle choice starts becoming a huge driving factor. I have yet to see an XTR3 in the wild, at the range or at one of the many PRS matches I shoot, though I'm sure there's a few out there. I owned an XTR2 and the glass was horrible. I honestly think Burris may be having a hard time digging themselves out of that hole in order to get more XTR3s out into the market to prove they can put out good glass.
     
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    Steel head

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    I definitely like the Cronus better than the earlier bushy’s but I’d hope the Gen 3 will be able to top the Cronus.
    Either way you’re getting a good scope.

    I also prefer the earlier cross reticle to the dot.

    Not sure how I feel about the G4 reticle.
     

    Chickentoast

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    You won't be disappointed. They knocked the XRS3 out of the park. I've had one for a couple months (got lucky when GAP had em in stock) and the glass is definitely superior to the Mark5 7-35 it replaced, and the other Mark5 H59 I had at the time (sample of 2 being the point here). Better clarity and resolution out at distance. I actually prefer the XRS3 glass over my ATACR but I have a love affair with the mil-xt reticle. The ATACR has this kind of darkness to it that erks me. I've also got a ZCO 527, which honestly ruins all your other optics because it's so good, but I still never get behind the XRS3 and feel like it's bad; certainly not like I used to with my Mark 5s. I will say though, for the Cronus BTR feedback, I still own a Cronus G2 and that thing is still arguably the best bang for the buck on the market at under $1500 brand new. In that $1500-2000 range, as some other have mentioned, reticle choice starts becoming a huge driving factor. I have yet to see an XTR3 in the wild, at the range or at one of the many PRS matches I shoot, though I'm sure there's a few out there. I owned an XTR2 and the glass was horrible. I honestly think Burris may be having a hard time digging themselves out of that hole in order to get more XTR3s out into the market to prove they can put out good glass.

    Mine gets here tomorrow (Fedex is late), but if the XRS3 glass is better than the ATACR and MK5, it is likely better than the XTR3. I found the IQ to be just about identical between the XTR3 and MK5, with the MK5 being a bit warmer in contrast, but also having essentially tunnel vision with regard to FOV vs the Burris. Trijicon tenmile 5-50 has just a touch better IQ than both for me, but FOV is again night and day vs the Burris. Reticle I definitely prefer the SCR2 due to thinness and 0.2 instead of the 0.25 of the PR2, so will see about the XRS3.
     

    Jerzey1

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    Mine gets here tomorrow (Fedex is late), but if the XRS3 glass is better than the ATACR and MK5, it is likely better than the XTR3. I found the IQ to be just about identical between the XTR3 and MK5, with the MK5 being a bit warmer in contrast, but also having essentially tunnel vision with regard to FOV vs the Burris. Trijicon tenmile 5-50 has just a touch better IQ than both for me, but FOV is again night and day vs the Burris. Reticle I definitely prefer the SCR2 due to thinness and 0.2 instead of the 0.25 of the PR2, so will see about the XRS3.
    My XRS3 is late also!!. Fed Ex :(
     

    Solo 43

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    My XRS III is 'suppose' to be here this afternoon... I have a XTR II that I'm using for a tomato stake. Burris should ashamed of themselves for selling that thing. Granted, I got a great deal on it, or so I thought at the time. I'm hoping this XRS III will meet my expectations or I'm really gonna be PO'ed at myself....for NOT buying what I wanted.
     

    Grumpy61

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    My XRS III is 'suppose' to be here this afternoon... I have a XTR II that I'm using for a tomato stake. Burris should ashamed of themselves for selling that thing. Granted, I got a great deal on it, or so I thought at the time. I'm hoping this XRS III will meet my expectations or I'm really gonna be PO'ed at myself....for NOT buying what I wanted.
    Are you guys getting shipping/tracking info from Bushnell? Ordered 1 over the weekend, card has been charged, but only a confirmation email so far.
     

    Chickentoast

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    Are you guys getting shipping/tracking info from Bushnell? Ordered 1 over the weekend, card has been charged, but only a confirmation email so far.

    Yes, they sent a shipping confirmation with Fedex tracking.
     
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    Jerzey1

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    Are you guys getting shipping/tracking info from Bushnell? Ordered 1 over the weekend, card has been charged, but only a confirmation email so far.
    Took a few days to get my purchase reciept and tracking from Bushnell.
     

    Birddog6424

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    I think you'll like the XRS3, Should be a good scope.

    Burris is pulling back the curtain on some stuff they've been plugging on for a couple years at Shot. Going to be pretty cool!
     
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    jhr1986

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    Birddog, any idea when the new Burris stuff will be available to consumers or maybe if they plan to have stock ready to sell to vendors at Shot?
     

    owyheerat

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    Are you guys getting shipping/tracking info from Bushnell? Ordered 1 over the weekend, card has been charged, but only a confirmation email so far.
    Yes. Mine shipped the same day it was ordered. The shipping confirmation email went to spam folder even though my order confirmation came through my regular email. I received mine last Saturday. I haven't been to the range with it yet, but looked through it in the back yard. I am very happy with my purchase. For reference, I compared this to my Steiner T5xi, Cronus BTR gen2 and Leupold Mark 5 7-35....
     

    RUTGERS95

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    xtr punches way above the belt. If they charged more, it would not be considered mid tier so I give that the vote
     
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    Birddog6424

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    Birddog, any idea when the new Burris stuff will be available to consumers or maybe if they plan to have stock ready to sell to vendors at Shot?
    There are a couple trickling around out in the wild. Some fellas shot a match over the weekend with some loaners and an overenthusiastic shooter posted pics on FB. We were able to get it pulled down though.

    I'm pretty sure one item is under production, I've been told to expect a care package around Shot.

    Looking at the vote, the XTR3 isn't a little known secret anymore that never gets the credit it deserves. And its going to get better 😉
     
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    farwest

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    Bushnell VIP sales and web site support has been excellent. I ordered and received XRS3 and DMR3 scopes. Sales confirmation, shipping and tracking was fast even over the weekend. Generally the scopes arrived within 3 days with no shipping charge. Bushnell has a couple of brief sales videos. I would like for them to add more technical reviews of both scopes and more particular, show how to use all of the wonderful features of their scopes. Some podcasts may be available. If so please provide a link.

    Thank you Bushnell for upgrading your Elite line quickly in these challenging times of COVID shutdown and supply chain slowdowns. Thank you dealer reps for Bushnell and Burris for providing a contact point an supplying information your consumers on Sniper's Hide.
     

    Jerzey1

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    Guys - Did your scopes arrive? My FedEx tracking syays to be delivered by end of today....but it's said that for the last 3 days!! Looks like mine is still in Phoenix
     

    Solo 43

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    Mine was suppose to arrive yesterday, but now is tomorrow by end of day. No surprise with the weather that we've had.
     

    Grumpy61

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    Mine is due Thursday, we’ll see. Fedex hasn’t been real good with their delivery dates.
     

    Chickentoast

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    Just got my XRS3 and spent the last half hour with it and the XTR3 and Trijicon 5-50 - furthest spot is ~4K yards with trees and hills of varying colors, deer and horses in between. XTR3 is still king IMHO. Glass is very similar, but feel the Bushnell and Trijicon are a touch less contrast than the Burris, which was in turn less contrast than the MK5. Absolute IQ the Trijicon is still 1st, and the Bushy and Burris switching places for 2nd as I looked at different things at different distances. We are talking 3-5% advantage to Trijicon, but the FOV of the Burris makes up for it and then some. Bushnell FOV is better than Trij, but still quite a bit behind the Burris. Reticle, obviously subjective, but I love the SCR2 mil in the Burris because it doesn't obscure the view. Trijicon MRAD is even better, with fewer lines and SFP, and the Bushnell is better than, say, the thick lines in the ZCO, but doesn't fade away as easily as the XTR3.

    Controls: Parallax is less finicky on the Bushnell than the Burris, but once dialed, DOF is equivalent. Turret clicks are basically the same. Knobs are even tighter on the Bushnell than they are on the Burris. Both feel like a car with no power steering compared to 1 finger steering of the 1980 Cadillac that is the ZCO.

    So, Bushnell is going back unless someone wants it for what I paid - otherwise sending her back tomorrow.

    Now, the only question is whether to jump on the HebrewHammer deal for more Burrii, or wait for Shot for the new models. I now have 2 naked rifles...
     
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    Birddog6424

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    Based on Burris timelines, waiting for products at SHOT 2022 can easily turn into SHOT 2023 delivery.
    Haha, what timeliness are those exactly..

    They haven't been in any big hurry to make an illuminated XTR3, but at no point have they unveiled it and set a date that they didn't deliver on. They just haven't produced it yet.

    So if they do unveil new products at Shot and don't ever bring them to market, it would be fair at that point to make fun of their "timelines" 😂