written by ILya Koshkin, October 2017
Earlier this year, I found myself heading over to Colorado to visit a customer (I do have a dayjob after all) and since it looked like I would have a couple of hours to kill, I reached out to Burris to see if I can stop by take a look at the factory.
To be honest, I fully expected that they will politely suggest I take a long walk on a short pier, so imagine my surprise when asked me what time I would like to stop by.
Armed with two things I always have with me, a camera and an attitude, I showed up on their doorstep and got a rare (for me) look at how they do things. Considering what I do for a living, I have seen a few optical manufacturing facilities, but not too many that make riflescopes, so this was interesting. For a variety of obvious reasons, I am not going to talk a whole lot about how they do things, but I will post a few pictures I took inside and mention a few things here and there.
Generally speaking, I liked how they go about it. The factory is intelligently set up. I did not see any obvious signs of negligence which is extremely rare, frankly. The production flow made sense and people knew what they were doing. Most importantly, I got to ask them a few questions as we walked along and, most refreshingly, no one tried to BS me. Some things they answered; on some they were not sure what the answers were and said as much. In a few cases, they declined to comment since it involved something proprietary to them and a couple of questions that they answered, they asked me to not talk about (and I won’t).
I had recently had a chance to use Burris’ customer service (I sent in one of my old US made Burris scopes for repair) and my experience was excellent. However, in years past, Burris did not have a stellar service reputation. Naturally, I brought that up. I do not think that scored me any brownie points, but they pretty much said that mistakes were made. However, since then, the service department has been significantly beefed up. I had a nice chat with the gentleman who runs it and he knows what he is doing. Naturally, I asked about support for old scopes, so they showed me this:
Apparently, they have diligently sorted through their inventory and organized all the old parts they had (there are a couple of cabinets like this one). When they take an old scope in that can not be repaired, they pull whatever parts they can and keep them. I have a couple of old Burris scopes, so that made me feel a lot better.
Here is a box with a bunch of reticle cells for old scope:
Notice how in the picture below, there is a bunch of small windows in the wall on the left. In front of each window there is base where a scope can be clamped. Outside the window, there is an unobstructed few to targets that are, I think, about a 100 yards away. That’s an inexpensive way to check if the scope is working and to adjust focus as necessary:
One of the assembly benches:
Here is where the scopes are purged:
And tested for leaks:
And here is a recoil testing fixture, where the scopes a clamped and tortured.
It sits inside a chamber that baffles some of the sound that this fixture makes when it slams up and down. Here is another fixture that REALLY makes for some serious impact when it slams down. It makes some serious noise, so they try to not use it when the building is full of people:
Final inspection area:
None of the Burris scope currently for sale in the US are made by Burris facility. The scope that are made their are mostly Steiner products, which are higher priced and are better suited for US manufacturing costs. However, the scopes that are made for Burris by OEMs, do go through an inspection at the US factory. Some lines for through a complete check (XTR II, for example), while others ae spot checked.
Finally, I made my way to the warehouse where all the ready-to-ship products are:
I made a valiant effort to “accidentally” walk out with a few boxes, but they were watching me pretty carefully…
I usually have some parting thoughts at the end of every post and frankly, this time, I do not have much to offer. I have been pretty happy with what I have seen from Burris lately and a walk through their factory simply confirms that. With Beretta owning several optics brands (Burris and Steiner being most prominent), I am very curious how they plan to develop Burris further. However, any brand development starts with solid products and Burris seems to be doing quite well in that regard.