Crossbow sighting options have evolved over time from peep and pin sights to the standard of today, which is a multi-reticle design with an adjustable speed ring. While these scopes have served the crossbow community wonderfully over the past few years, the shooter still must manually range the target with a separate device then gap shoot in between holdover marks in the reticle. These two necessary tasks introduce more room for error into the shooting equation. On the surface, they may not seem like enough to affect the outcome of the hunt, but rest assured, that can happen. There have been several occasions over the years where I did not have the time to range the target, or the target moved after I ranged it, that resulted in poor hits or clean misses. When it comes to gap shooting, some often struggle with not having a precise aiming point to place on the target. That is one of the reasons why I have been using a traditional duplex type reticle on top of an adjustable scope base more and more lately. I prefer having a precise range and a precise aiming point. Roughly three years ago, I began a discussion with an engineer from a leading optics manufacturer regarding the future of crossbow scopes. I knew change was coming, but patience would be difficult to come by. I felt that this technology, when merged with crossbow hunting, would literally turn the crossbow hunting world upside down. Late last year, I got word that 2021 would be the year that it would happen and I anxiously awaited its arrival.
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That engineer was from Burris Optics. There are just a few optics manufacturers that almost every hunter in this country is familiar with. One of those companies is Burris Optics. They have been a leader in the ever-evolving world of sport, tactical and recreational shooting for as long as I can remember. After my early and subsequent discussions with them, I became more and more excited about what Burris would eventually release to the waiting masses. I knew only that it would be a laser range finding crossbow scope. What I did not know was how many of my boxes this new engineering marvel would check. I certainly gave them my input during the design phase on what I thought most crossbow hunters would like to see as far as specifications and performance. An important consideration that we both agreed on was the final price point had to be within reach of the masses if this new crossbow optic was destined to make the waves that I hoped it would in the crossbow community. When I first laid my eyes on their brand-new crossbow optic, a grin went from ear to ear. When I got the call from Burris to fill me in on the final specifications, my exact words were, “no way,” when they told me the retail price would be $999.00.
The Burris Optics Oracle X has arrived after roughly three years of design and development. Burris kept the name of their highly successful laser rangefinding sight designed for vertical bows and added the X to signify its crossbow application. I was fortunate enough to receive one for a full review soon after rumors began circulating at the 2021 Archery Trade Association show. For those that are not familiar with the technology, the Oracle X is a magnified optical scope with a built-in laser rangefinder that uses its electro optics platform to range the target and compute an exact single aiming point as far as the field of view will allow. Gone are the days of having to separately range objects prior to or during the hunt with a separate device. Also gone are the days of having to gap shoot in between yardage delineations that are common in most of today’s crossbow scopes. While all of that is certainly big news for crossbow hunters, the new Oracle X does so much more.
Like the proverbial kid in the candy store, I anxiously awaited the arrival of the Oracle X when I got a notification that it shipped. When it arrived a few days later, I quickly went to work on setting the new scope up and familiarizing myself with its operation. Along with the Oracle X crossbow scope, Burris includes an owner’s manual, battery, wireless remote, zip ties, adhesive velcro, and two mounting wrenches. Burris does not supply lens covers. I did reach out to them to ask if these would be available in the future and was told that there were no plans to do so. I do feel that lens covers should be included since aftermarket lens covers will not fit. At 11.9 inches in length, the Oracle X is right in line with many crossbows specific optics. Due to its integrated laser rangefinder and electronics, the overall weight comes in at 30.8 ounces. While the Burris is heavier than a conventional crossbow optic, three inches of eye relief allows the scope to be mounted closer to the rear of the crossbow which helps to balance its weight better. The objective lens is 32MM in diameter and the ocular lens can be adjusted for focus to each individual’s needs. As with all Burris optical scopes, the Oracle X is fog proof, shockproof, waterproof and nitrogen purged. What sets the Oracle X apart from every other crossbow scope currently on the market is the 2X-7X optical zoom which the electronics automatically compensate for by adjusting the aiming point if the magnification is changed. There is no doubt that having higher magnification helps immensely with shots at forty yards and beyond. Locking external windage and elevation adjustments compliment the robust design of the mounting system which has built in fore and aft adjustments. The electronic control pad is located on the top of the eyepiece. There are only five buttons including the on/off button, which doubles as the ranging button, and a left, right, up and down arrow. Burris chose a simple crosshair design with the Oracle X that features a standard center crosshair which doubles as the ranging and twenty-yard sight in point.
I chose to mount the Oracle X on my Ravin R26. Mounting was straight forward with the supplied Torx wrench. On the R26, the wireless remote nests nicely in the foregrip area and attached securely with the supplied plastic zip ties. After I installed the CR123 battery, I went off to the range to power the device up and begin my initial shooting session. Sighting the Oracle X in at twenty yards is the first point of business using the external adjustments which are inch at twenty yards per line. It is important to lock down the adjustments prior to shooting using the supplied Allen wrench. After I accomplished a very precise sight in at twenty yards, I powered up the Oracle X and familiarized myself with the display and menu options. At the very top of the field of view is the lasered distance to the target. Under the distance is a electronic bubble level that lets the shooter know if the crossbow is slightly canted which is important for long range shooting. Rounding out the electronics within the field of view is the yards/meters selection and a battery life indicator. The layout of the electronic information is very unobtrusive.
Holding the ranging and up buttons simultaneously for three seconds enters the set-up menu within the Oracle X. From this menu is where the shooter begins to fine tune the pre-programmed ballistic curve by entering truing points at further distances. The Oracle X allows up to four truing points to be entered into the ballistic calculator. Since I rarely take long shots in hunting situations, I added two truing points at 35 and 50 yards. The process of entering a truing point is very straightforward. At 35 yards and the magnification set at 7X, I entered the truing menu and took several shots, which impacted slightly high. Using the up and down arrows, you can adjust the point of aim up and down. After I was satisfied with my 35-yard sight in, I moved to the next truing point in the menu, ranged the target at 50 yards with the Oracle X and repeated the process. My point of impact was almost perfect. One small tweak to my point of aim was required then I locked in that truing point. From that point I set up to verify that the new ballistic curve was true to the actual trajectory of my arrow. The Oracle X was dropping arrows into bullseyes with boring consistency at random distances from 15 yards to 65 yards with varying magnification. The Oracle X simply works exactly as promised.
I was quite impressed with how quickly the Oracle X powers on. A quick press of the fire button and the Burris comes to life almost instantly. It should be noted that the wireless remote will not power on the scope. The wireless remote can only activate the ranging feature after the scope is powered on by pressing the fire button on the eyepiece. Once the scope is powered on, it will remain ready to go for two minutes before shutting down to conserve battery life. Burris promises over three thousand activations on the supplied battery. After almost two months of significant use, the battery indicator on our sample is at three quarters full. On reflective targets the Oracle X easily ranged targets close to six hundred yards. On non reflective targets, I found the two hundred yard advertised capability to be accurate. For uphill and downhill angles, the scope also has a built-in inclinometer that calculates the new aim point. One of the very nice features I found extremely useful is if the situation arises where the Oracle X cannot acquire a good range, the scope will place aiming points every ten yards to the bottom of the field of view. If the electronics fail altogether or the battery dies, you will still have the twenty-yard center crosshair at your disposal. The quality of the glass is a common question that I have been fielding, as of this writing, as the Oracle X begins to trickle out. I have quite a few Burris optics in my gun safe to compare to and would favorably compare the glass within the Oracle X to the glass within the Fullfield II line. The Fullfield II riflescope is one of Burris’s bestselling riflescopes so I am not surprised by this choice. I had no problems identifying targets and acquiring a clear sight picture with the Oracle X during all legal shooting hours here in Pennsylvania.
Built into the electronics is an auto brightness feature than can be manually adjusted by simply pressing the up or down arrows on the eyepiece. Due to the Burris have a relatively clutter free electronic display, wash out of the reticle in low light is not a concern. Levels of some sort are becoming more and more popular on crossbows as the average shot distance increases and the limb width narrows. Narrow limbs make it more difficult for the shooter to judge level while shooting and any error can cause horizontal stringing of arrows downrange. The electronic level with the Oracle X works better than the typical bubble level, but I was able to cant the bow four degrees before the electronic level showed the cant. Two different ballistic curves can be stored within the menu. A hunter can sight in with a heavy arrow set up for large game and also sight in with a lighter arrow for smaller game. It is easy to toggle back and forth between the two in the menu options and both profiles can be reset back to the factory setting at any time if your set up changes. This feature provides a ton of flexibility for your hunting season or multi species hunt. The Oracle X will even display instructions to you if your set up is not correct. Let’s say you have the magnification set at 6X and a target appears. If the aiming point falls outside of the field of view, the Oracle X will display “zoom out” to instruct you to lower the magnification to see the aiming point.
Burris hit their mark with the all-new Oracle X and even made Crossbow Magazine’s list of the best crossbow scopes. After spending a lot of time shooting it, I am not sure how they did it, but I am impressed that they were able to design this technology into a package that arrives at an $899.00 price point. When one adds up the cost of a quality crossbow optic and the cost of a quality laser rangefinder, you will arrive at a cost that puts the Oracle X in the same ballpark. There is a lot to be said for the advantages of having everything contained within one device. I have had hunts in the past blown due to fumbling around with multiple devices or guessing on ranges when animals have me pinned down. I would make the strong argument that the Oracle X is much more likely to increase your hunting success than any crossbow you could put it on. Some have heard me say this before. If your funds are finite, dedicate more of them to technology such as this and less to your crossbow. When it comes to your investment in Burris with the Oracle X, Burris has what is arguably one of the finest warranties in the industry. Their Forever Warranty lasts for the lifetime of the optic and is transferable. Even if you damage the optic, they will ask no questions and repair or replace it at no cost to you. This warranty should instill confidence in your purchase since a considerable investment was made on your part. After three years of waiting, I am very pleased to see the Oracle X finally reach the consumer and I continue to be impressed.