REVIEW BY BRIAN MCCOMBIE
Best known for its high-quality semi-automatic pistol, Sig Sauer added optics to its product lines in 2014 when it began making and shipping range finders from its facility in Wilsonville, Oregon. Today, Sig Sauer’s Electro-Optics Division offers a wide range of pistol reflex sights, including the ROMEO line, rifle scopes, and rangefinders. What began as a tiny five-person operation has swelled to 150 employees.
In 2019, Sig launched the BDX and SIERRA3BDX riflescopes, designed to work together via a Bluetooth connection using an app downloaded to a mobile unit. This new tech changed the game for longer-range hunters. The app not only set up the Bluetooth connect between range finder and scope; the app allowed the hunter to plug in the ballistic information for the particular load being used. Then, all the hunter or shooter needed to do is range the target, and the necessary holdover point appeared on the SIERRA3BDX scope’s reticle.
Working with Jackie Bushman of Buckmasters fame, Sig now offers the Buckmaster Combo Kit, specifically designed for the whitetail deer hunter, which pairs the Buckmasters 1500 Range Finder with a Buckmasters 3-9x40mm rifle scope. (There are also 3-9x50mm and 3-12x44mm Buckmasters scopes available.)
The Buckmasters Rangefinder and Scope are not digitally connected. They represent an entry-level, non-electronic version of Sig’s BDX technology. The riflescopes feature a custom Buckmasters Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) reticle with holdover lines below the crosshairs. The laser rangefinder provides a vivid red illuminated display optimized for low-light hunting. In “Buckmasters Mode,” the rangefinder is equipped with eight onboard ballistic groups, so the rangefinder will indicate which Buckmasters BDC holdover line is needed for a particular shot at a specific distance.
Having used the Sig BDX system, I wanted to see what a scaled down, deer hunter version had to offer. The answer is, quite a lot, for a relatively low price.
I had a new rifle on hand, a Momentum Elite Varmint bolt-action from Italian gun maker Franchi, chambered in the flat-shooting .224 Valkyrie. I mounted the Buckmasters’ scope using Sig’s Alpha1 one-inch scope rings (sold separately).
First, I gave the scope itself a thorough testing. Let’s face it—most deer are taken at distances of 100 yards or less, so the Buckmasters 3-9 scope had to work well on its own. And it did.
At my outdoor range, I zeroed the rifle at 50 yards using a 60-grain varmint load. I stretched out the targets to 100 yards, and, once the scope was zeroed, proceeded to shoot several MOA and better groups of three and five shots.
The scope’s .25 MOA elevation and windage controls clicked audibly, each click felt distinctly through my fingers. I shot in both bright sun and overcast skies, and the glass was clear, the images clean.
It was time to “shoot the box” to test the precision of the elevation and windage controls. On a white piece of paper, I outlined a small rectangle approximately three inches high and two-and-a-half inches wide using a green marker. I placed the paper at 100 yards.
Shooting from a rest with the scope on full 9x magnification, I aimed at the center of the green rectangle and fired. The shot hit about an inch to the left of the green rectangle’s center. Then, I clicked the scope’s windage control RIGHT 16 times (at .25 MOA per click, equaling a shift of 4.0 inches) and shot, here and for all other shots aiming for my first bullet hole. I clicked the elevations control UP 16 clicks and shot, followed by 16 clicks LEFT on the windage and another shot. I then clicked DOWN on the elevation knob eight times (for two inches), shot, clicked DOWN another eight times and fired.
Given the gusting winds, the new rifle and of course the human-error factor (me!), I didn’t expect a perfect 4-inch-by-4-inch box to be formed by the six bullet holes. But I got pretty darned close. The distance between shot number one and shot number two was 3.75 inches, distance from shot number two to number three was 4.25 inches, and I must’ve pulled the next shot (and a wind gust may have assisted) as the distance from shot number three to number four was 4.70-inches.
My next two shots were the eight-click shots and shot number five was two inches from shot number four, and the distance between shot number five and number six was just 2.25 inches. And the last shot, at which point the scope was clicked back to the original zero, was just a half-inch from shot number one.
Quite impressive tracking, really, and a testament to Sig precision. I’ve shot the box with scopes costing two and three times what the Buckmaster 3-9 does and gotten nearly the same (and a couple times worse) results.
Next, I shot for distance with help from the Buckmasters Rangefinder. I re-zeroed the Franchi Momentum with a deerhunting load, Federal Premium’s 224 Valkyrie Fusion firing a 90-grain bonded, soft point bullet.
Next, I configured the Buckmasters Rangefinder for the “Buckmaster” mode. Using the printed charts included with the rangefinder, I saw the Federal load corresponded closest to the ballistics in Group 4, and toggled that group into the Rangefinder’s Ballistic Groups setting.
At a friend’s land, I set up a Birchwood Casey Pre-Game lifelike whitetail target at 75 yards. Shooting from a low hunting chair and using a two-legged shooting stick for support, the scope set on 9x, I fired at the target’s vital areas outlined on the target. Solid hit. I moved the target to 100 yards and fired twice. One in the lung area, one just below it. Vitals but a little low.
I then placed my target further out, at 187.6 yards according to my rangefinder, which indicated a needed hold at the 1.0 line below the crosshair. My first shot was low, I saw through my spotting scope, and just clipped the bottom of the heart. I shot again and hit lung.
I went prone at my last distance, 253 yards, with the Buckmaster Rangefinder signaling a 2.0 holdover. And made a complete whiff of the first shot. I let the rifle barrel cool for a time. My next shot hit the rear on the lung area, and the following bullet struck more forward for better placement in the vitals.
The Buckmaster Rangefinder had my drops correct, and my shooting, while not great, was decent enough to make a good, ethical shot. Plus, the target’s vital zone outline was approximately half the size of what it would be on an actual mature whitetail buck.
The Buckmasters Range Finder and Scope are set up for shots out to 500 yards. That’s a pretty considerable distance in the field. Images through my scope, with my eyes, got fuzzy past 300 yards. But I’d wager 90-plus-percent of deer are taken well within that 300-yard mark. And for the $329.99 my unit costs at suggested retail—that’s a very good value.
BUCKMASTERS Combo, $329.99
SKU: SOK15BM01 (as tested)
Buckmasters Scope: 3-9x40mm, $149.99
Reticle: Buckmasters BDC
Focal Plane: Second
Adjustment Increments: .25 MOA
Main tube diameter: 1 in.
Length: 12.5 in.
Weight: 14.1 oz
Buckmasters Rangefinder 1,500, $179.99
Length: 3.9 In.
Width: 1.4 in.
Weight: 5.2 oz.
Battery: One (1) CR2
Range on Deer: 600 yards
Range on Trees: 800 yards
Range on Reflective Surface: 1,500 yards