If you intend to reliably hit a target at long range, you have to process a number of steps in short order:
- You need to determine the exact range to the target.
- You need to figure out whether you are shooting at an uphill or downhill angle relative to the target.
- You need to calculate the trajectory of the bullet based on the linear range and the angle determined in step two.
- You need to make turret adjustments or identify the correct holdover position on your scope reticle based on your trajectory math.
- You need to estimate the crosswind components everywhere between your shooting position and the target.
- You need to calculate the wind impact on your shot. How much will the bullet drift left or right as it travels to the target?
- You need to adjust your windage or identify the correct windage hold point using your scope reticle.
- Last, but not least, you need to execute a perfect shot at the moment that conditions in steps one through seven remain constant, or else you have to recalculate again.
There are plenty of tools on the marketing that make those first seven steps a lot easier. You can buy a laser rangefinder. That’ll tell you the exact range to target in seconds. You can tote along a ballistic computer to determine the trajectory. After entering specific data about your projectile type, actual velocity, current atmospheric conditions, and range, that will help you calculate the correct elevation adjustments or reticle hold point. You can get even fancier and use something like a Kestrel device that also helps you with windage calculation. All of these tools help you quickly move through the first seven steps of making a perfect long-range shot.
Or, you can use a scope with many of those tools built in. The end result? You can perform all of these steps without taking your eye off the target.
The idea behind optics with integrated laser range finders is to reduce the complexity, time, and gear requirements to perform these steps in the field. To understand how much the process can be simplified, let’s use the Burris Eliminator III Laserscope as an example of how the long-range shot process can be simplified. The model shown here is a 4-16x50mm version. If you prefer a little less magnification, you can also choose a 3-12x44mm model.
To understand what a scope with an integrated laser does, it’s helpful first to walk through the setup process. As you’ll see by the setup inputs, a laser-enabled scope can do far more than just identify the range to your target. After all, if you’re including electronics to calculate distance, why not add a ballistic computer as well? Then you can determine exactly what to do with the distance information measured by the laser.