Summary: The Burris BTS 50 is a good choice, especially for someone who wants to go thermal with an existing scope. The ability to use it as a handheld device as well makes it more worthwhile. Keep reading to learn more.
The Burris BTS 50 is set apart from most other thermal scopes because of its 3-way usage. You can use it as a handheld device, a rifle scope directly, or as a clip-on for your current scope.
By combining all three features into one, Burris sacrifices a few things, like video recording or in-scope battery charging. Otherwise, the scope has all the features I want in a good thermal rifle scope. The clip-on and handheld features just make it more impressive.
Please note that the Burris BTS 50 sells out pretty quickly every time it’s back in stock, and is currently unavailable to buy online. However, the AGM Varmint LRF TS35-640 is a great substitute.You get many of the same features for around the same price. It comes with 4 color pallete choices, a laser range finder, a choice of reticles and an 8x digital zoom.
However, since this review focuses on the Burris BTS 50, keep reading this review to help decide if this scope is right for you.
Is the Burris BTS 50 Worth Buying?
Yes, the Burris BTS 50 is worth buying for three reasons.
- It is a rifle scope.
- It is a handheld thermal.
- It switches back and forth in seconds.
Features of the Burris BTS 50
What can you expect from the BTS 50? What does it do and how well does it work? How do you switch it back and forth from handheld to rifle scope? Here is a list of the features you need to know about and the answers to questions you have about the features.
The scope uses 18650 Lithium-ion batteries but will accept two CR123As. Be sure your battery is 65-68mm long. Longer batteries have a protection circuit and will not fit in the battery compartment. You get around 3-5 hours of use from a fully charged battery, depending on the battery’s amperage. You could also buy an external battery back to get more field and shooting time.
You do have to deal with an extra cord and hang the battery somewhere. The good part is this battery will clip to a Picatinny rail.
2. Refresh Rate
Refresh rate refers to how quickly the screen cycles, and for this scope the refresh rate is 50 Hz. Bigger numbers are better; bigger means it cycles faster.
If you are tracking a moving object through the scope, the electronics have to process and display the image. A low refresh rate means the screen will freeze and you will not have a real-time or near-real-time image.
If you are watching a coyote lope across a field, you need a high refresh rate to keep up with the moving animal. If you are watching a wild hog feeding in one spot, a low refresh rate will do.
With a 50Hz rate, the BTS will track a loping coyote easily. If one is moving at top speed, it may screen freeze sometimes. It has no problem tracking a hog moving as fast as possible.
The device has a 2.3~9.2 zoom range. This is a mid-range zoom. Since this is a thermal device, that is all you really need.
Getting a decent sight picture for a shot with a thermal is limited. Generally, the identification range in a thermal scope is half to 2/3s of the detection range.
The detection range is about 500 yards on deer-sized critters. The identification range is between 200-250 yards.
If you are hunting smaller animals, the detection range drops and the identification range drops. On animals the size of skunks, a nocturnal predator, you need to be within 100 yards to get a picture good enough to identify the creature.
It has a rough range calculator. Using the “roller” knob call, up a series of lines in the viewfinder. Now zoom in or out until the target fills the space between the lines.
Using the animal size chart in the scope, you can match the target to one of the three critters there. This will give you a rough idea of the distance. It is not perfect. A monster buck is a lot bigger than a yearling, so the size chart can only give you an approximate distance.
The scope comes with a Picatinny rail mount. If you want to use it as a clip-on, you have to get the mounting adapter mentioned above.
Because it has a built-in mount, you do not need to buy rings. If you mount this to an AR 15 with a full rail, you might be able to attach it in front of an existing scope without an adapter; there are no guarantees on this one.
The rail mount will only work if your regular scope is mounted at the right height to match the Burris BTS 50.
Given the state of thermal scopes these days, the BT 50 is a mid-range scope. Depending on your budget, you could either spend more or buy cheaper.
If you go cheaper, you will not get the 3-way capability. If you go more expensive, you may get other features, but you are also out more money.
This scope is waterproof for at least 30 minutes at a depth of one meter. Since thermal scopes can see through rain and fog, waterproofing is an important feature.
You get 10 reticle choices, each one offering you something different. For instance, the reticle with the 3 lines and unconnected dot in the middle is ideal for tracking moving prey like hogs or yotes.
The hash marked tactical is good for shooting in the wind or when you need a holdover or hold under.
When you use the scope, you are getting an electronic image version of a heat signature. The scope allows you to choose from 5 color palettes, so choose the one that works best for your needs.
If you hunt at night, use the one that either casts the least light or Iron shade. Many, not all, animals do not see things in the red spectrum.
Burris BTS 50 Pros and Cons
- The biggest plus for this scope is the ability to move to a handheld scope, a rifle scope and a clip-on scope to turn your regular scope into a thermal. That is a seriously good reason to own this one.
- To me, the replaceable battery is a top feature. If the battery was built in, you would have to send it to the factory to have it replaced. This scope should last through several batteries.
- Since it is a thermal device, it works during the day and night.
- The 50 Hz refresh rate is excellent by today’s standards.
- You can set the scope to turn off automatically at 15, 30 and 60 minutes. Handy, if you are like me and cannot remember to turn it off.
- The scope does not have in-scope recording abilities. You can set it up with a cable and an external device to get video. The user manual is no help setting this up. See this video for instructions.
- If you want to connect external electronics, like video, you have to do it with a cable. It does not have Bluetooth.
- When the battery dies, you have to pull it out and charge it separately. The port on the side is not for charging.
- It has a manual focus. Adding autofocus will add weight. It already weighs just over a pound and a half. That is hefty. Still, autofocus is useful.
The detection range on the Burris BTS 50 is past 500 yards for deer-sized animals. As the target gets smaller, you need to be closer.
The difference between Burris 35 and 50 is the zoom and front lens size. The BTS 50 zooms in more. The front lens is also bigger, allowing for a longer heat detection range.
The advantage of a 50mm scope is a longer detection range. The bigger lens gathers more information than the smaller 30mm lens.
The Burris BTS 50 display resolution is 1024×768 Color OLED.
Burris does not give a recoil rating. Based on the available information, a .308 Winchester is the heaviest recoiling gun I would put this on.
The Burris BTS 50 and its other thermal products are made in the US. The Burris Company is located in Greely, Colo.
As a dedicated nighttime varmint hunter, I say get an external battery pack. You can charge the batteries in the scope in your vehicle. You can bring replacement batteries. A battery pack is still better. Since the pack attaches to a bottom rail, you do not worry about it flopping around.
All said, I seriously like the ability to use it as a handheld and then quickly mount it to the front of my rifle. I can scan a field a lot better with just the scope, versus supporting the whole rifle.