Gear Review: Burris 3-12x32mm Handgun Scope

A Solid, Compact Optic for Handguns

When I received Nosler’s new handgun to review, the M48 Nosler Custom Handgun (read here), I immediately remembered what I’d forgotten: the M48 has no sights! I jumped on the internet to locate potential handgun scopes and put together a short list. Several emails later, I had a Burris 3-12x32mm Handgun Scope heading my way.

Once the scope arrived, I attached it to the Nosler Custom Handgun with a set of Burris Signature Zee Rings. First, I mounted a Leupold Picatinny rail atop the receiver, a Backcountry Cross-Slot, Short Action, 20 MOA (P/N 175218).

The Burris 3-12x32mm Handgun Scope mounted on the author’s Nosler M48 Handgun.

I use scopes all the time—rifle scopes. While I have used handgun-mounted scopes, at the range and in the field, these are still relatively “occasional-use” optics for me. So, my learning curve started with me adjusting to the very long eye relief on the Burris Handgun Scope. I kept wanting to push in for a closer look, but of course with a long eye relief scope getting closer results in a visual blackout.

For my eyes, I found the optimum eye relief with the Burris 3-12 was in the 12- to 13-inch range, depending on the magnification. I had to keep the scope and handgun very, very still or the smallish sight picture jumped around too much for accurate shooting.

The author needed approximately 12-to13-inches of eye relief with the Burris Handgun Scope.

Zeroing the scope and handgun was easy. The 1/8 MOA click values for elevation and windage meant a good deal of clicking, but my shots clearly and steadily moved with the clicks.

The turrets are covered with aluminum caps that threaded on and off securely. Elevation and windage adjustments can be made with your fingers on the knurled edges of the turrets or, using the half-moon depression in the middle of the turret, a coin. Clicks were firm and audible.

The scope features 1/8 MOA clicks at 100 yards, and the adjustments can be made with fingers or a coin.

The magnification ring turned easily between power settings. Fine tuning of images was accomplished by the eyepiece focus ring at the rear of the scope, and it worked very smoothly.

A parallax adjustment is located at the very front of the scope, allowing for adjustments between seven (7) yards and out to infinity.

A front parallax ring allows for parallax adjustments from seven yards out to Infinity.

The reticle on the 3-12x32mm Handgun Scope is Burris’ “Ballistic Plex,” a simple-yet-effective MOA holdover reticle with sub-tensions to allow for bullet drop compensation out to 500 yards.

The Burris Ballistic Plex reticle is a clean, uncluttered MOA reticle perfect for hunting.

On a recent South Texas hunt with the Nosler M48 Handgun, the Burris 3-12 let me see well enough to shoot right up to dark and then several minutes beyond. I also set up a night light for hog hunting on a feeder at 100 yards away. While no hogs showed up, the windy conditions kept setting off the night light. In the greenish glow of the hog light, the Burris Handgun Scope provided more than enough illumination that I could’ve made a successful, accurate shot, had Porky Pig and his Cousins showed up.

It’s also a fairly rugged scope. I didn’t drop test it, but the Burris-topped Nosler got a lot of bouncing around in trucks and hunting stands, and the zero never changed. I know about the zero because I practiced with the Nosler during lunch breaks while on my hunt.

Still, this is not a full-sized rifle scope, and smallish 32mm-tube and relatively short length simply are not going to pull in the light like a rifle optic. Translation: the view is a bit darker than a rifle scope.

All in all, the Burris 3-12x32mm Handgun Scope is a handy and compact, and will easily get the job done for hunting and recreational shooting. The suggested retail is a little hefty, but I found this scope on the web for $100 off the suggested price.

The Burris Handgun Scope took some good bouncing around, in hunting blinds and vehicles, and held zero.

Specs:  Burris 3-12x32mm Handgun Scope

Magnification:  3 to 12 power

Reticle:  Burris Ballistic Plex™
Finish: Matte Black
Turrets: Capped
Objective lens:  44 mm
Ocular lens: 38mm

Tube Size:  32mm

Tube Material: Aluminum

Field of View: at 100 yards, 14 feet at lowest magnification, 4 ft. highest magnification
Eye Relief:  10 to 19 in. at low magnification, 10 to 12.5 in. at high
Click Value, elevation and windage adjustments:  1/8 in. @ 100 yds.
Parallax Adjustments: 7 yds. to Infinity
Length: 10.8 in.
Weight: 16.0 oz.

MSRP: $539.00

Visit Burris Optics to learn more about their products by clicking HERE.

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About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • stingray May 26, 2020, 8:51 pm

    I’m curious as to how you got this to work on a 20 moa rail since it only has 28 moa of total adjustment? I would think that in order to zero at 100 yards, you would need a scope with 40 moa adjustment when mounted on a 20 moa rail. I have a Savage 516 in 308, and i’m looking pretty hard at this scope. Thanks!

  • Gary Gillmor November 10, 2018, 7:11 pm

    I have used this scope on my 500 S&W Performance Center revolver since 2005. It has handle everything real well from 300 gr to 440 gr loads. A well made optic.

  • RandyB November 10, 2018, 11:00 am

    You guys might want to check out Mark Hampton’s season with the new Nosler. Mark is a very accomplished handgun hunter and has some awesome success stories this year while toting the Nosler.
    In my view this platform takes the T/C Encore and the classic Remington XP platforms up a notch.

  • Torn November 5, 2018, 10:40 am

    Have an older 3 power Burris on a S&W model 17, it\’s been an awesome scope. Allows me to shoot this like I would a rifle. Have a different Handgun scope on a 7mmTCU, it\’s eye relief is much more critical. Short answer Burris scopes are good!

  • Tim November 5, 2018, 7:28 am

    Maybe I am missing out on something but that seems like an awful lot of magnification for a big game hunting handgun. I use fixed power scopes usually 2x for hunting handguns that I scope. 4x power is the max power I have ever used on a handgun. I cannot imagine using something with this much magnification. Maybe for long range target work or rock chucks at really long ranges.

    • triggerpull November 5, 2018, 7:53 am

      My impression is this is aimed at handguns that are “rifles in drag.” ; )

    • LJ November 5, 2018, 7:23 pm

      I love Burris scopes and have several on rifles and T/C pistol barrels, but I’m trying to figure out how this would work, what with it’s lack of eye relief and limited field of view at higher magnification levels. I guess 12 to 13″ of eye relief is sufficient for shooting off sand bags but if I were shooting a T/C with a 309 JDJ or 375JDJ barrel I would prefer to keep the scope at arms length. Maybe I just have overly long gorilla arms. But looking at the M48 the scope does mount aft of the pistol grip quite a bit …

    • Dr Motown November 8, 2018, 8:04 am

      I agree…12x and a 500yd BDC reticle is clearly overkill for handgun hunting, although the weapon is more of a SBR (15″ barrel) without a shoulder stock. I suspect he’s doing more target shooting that actual hunting with this

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