Making Long Shots Easy: The Barrett Optical Ranging System


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 13th, 2008




Way back in 1982, I was perusing the tables at a Nashville gun show, as I am prone to do, and came across a table that contained but one rifle, but that big rifle was like nothing that I had ever seen before! Upon the table was a semi-automatic rifle that chambered the .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun cartridge, and standing behind the table was the young man who had designed and built the rifle, Ronnie Barrett. At the time, I was only 23 years old, and Ronnie wasn’t much older, but we stood and discussed his new rifle for quite a while. Being a brand new father at the time, and paying an enormous interest rate on a new house, I was as broke as a convict, and there was no way that I could buy his rifle, but Ronnie took the time to show his new rifle to anyone who was interested. Thankfully, a customer that was very interested was the US Army. Barrett has now manufactured and sold many thousands of his rifles, and I finally was able to buy one for myself a few years ago. Starting with that one rifle design, Ronnie Barrett has added several other rifle designs to his product line.

While at the Barrett manufacturing facility back in 2004 shooting the then-new Barrett Model 468, I was shown, but not allowed to photograph, a new optical computer system that was being designed to allow precision long range marksmen to make their shot quickly without having to do a lot of ballistic calculations. That new ranging device came to be known as the Barrett Optical Ranging System (BORS), and is the subject of this review.

A precision target shooter, military sniper, or police sniper has several factors to consider when determining his scope settings for making a long range shot. For most of us, we can monkey around with scope knobs and take a few shots getting everything on target. For some shooters, such as our military snipers, they will get one shot, and it has to be on target or things do not go well. The shooter has to take into account the distance to target, elevation, temperature, and the angle up or down to the target, along with the wind and any obstacles which might be in the way. It can take several minutes to calculate these factors. The BORS calculates many of these factors for the shooter, making his job easier and more precise. The BORS constantly monitors temperature, barometric pressure, and the degree of angle to the target. The BORS calculates the effects of these factors upon the ballistics of the bullet, and allows the shooter to worry only about doping the wind. While the BORS can determine the distance to target also, I prefer to use a laser rangefinder for that, as it is quicker, easier, and more precise. The BORS calculates distance much the same way as does a Mil-Dot system, depending upon the shooter knowing the size of the target being ranged. For instance, if the shooter determines that his target is a six-foot tall man, and uses the BORS to determine the range, the calculation is only precise if the target is indeed six feet tall. If the target is only five feet four inches, the calculation is off by a great deal, which could result in a miss. That is why Barrett recommends using a laser rangefinder, and to rely upon the range finding capabilities of the BORS as a backup. The BORS unit calculates all of the difficult stuff that has an effect upon the ballistics of a cartridge, allowing the shooter to dope the wind and dial in the distance to target. The BORS does everything else except pull the trigger.

The BORS unit weighs about thirteen ounces, and mounts atop the rifle scope. For now, the unit will mount atop several of the Leupold Mark 4 series scopes, and there are models in the works to mount atop Nightforce and other quality scopes. Barrett sells the BORS with or without a Leupold scope. Having a couple of Leupold Mark 4 scopes on hand, I ordered the BORS unit without the scope. The BORS comes with everything needed to bolt it on and go to work. It has its own set of very heavy duty rings that will attach to any Weaver or Picatinny style base. The BORS comes with 100 different loads already programmed into the unit, and with a ballistic software CD to allow the user to program his own specific load into the BORS by use of a supplied cable which connects the BORS unit to a personal computer.

Upon opening the box, I was intimated by the BORS and its software. Thinking that I would need some help with thing. I am pretty much a novice when it comes to computers and such, but after reading the supplied manual, the BORS is very simple to understand and to operate. If I can do it, you can do it. There are four buttons atop the BORS that allows the operator to scroll through the available loads, either the 100 that are preloaded or those programmed in by the user, and everything is observed on the LCD screen. Once set up for the preferred load, the shooter simply turns the unit on, dials in the range, and shoots. The BORS does the rest, with the exception of adjusting for the wind. That is still the shooter’s responsibility.

The BORS arrived just in time for me to carry it on my annual pilgrimage to the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. While I have a dandy shooting range at my place, I only have 100 yards at my rifle range. At the Whittington Center, I can shoot out to several hundred yards, and on that dry, dusty ground, misses are easy to spot. I mounted the BORS-equipped Leupold atop a new DPMS rifle that I had been wanting to try out. It is their top-of-the-line LRT-SASS model, and is probably the best long range .308 semi-auto rifle in production. The SASS comes equipped with a very comfortable, adjustable buttstock, a free-floated eighteen inch heavy fluted blackened stainless steel match barrel, a pretty decent adjustable trigger, a Harris bipod, a railed handguard, superb backup sights, and a very effective muzzle brake/flash hider. I have owned and fired several AR-10 style rifles, but this baby is equipped better for long range precision shooting than any that I have ever fired. It also comes supplied with two steel nineteen-round detachable magazines, sling, hard case, and cleaning kit. Weighing in at eleven and one-half pounds, it is no lightweight, but it is also not excessively heavy, and is a superb platform for launching long, sleek, match-grade .308 bullets. This is one fine rifle. I like it enough that I cut out my heavy duty Hardigg Storm Case to fit the rifle with the Leupold/BORS mounted. 

As a side note, if you have a desire for a rifle of this type, now would be the time to get one. With the 2008 US Presidential election upon us, the presumptive Democrat Party nominee has already vowed to outlaw semiautomatic rifles, and I don’t have a lot of faith in the Republican nominee sticking with his pledge to protect Second Amendment rights. Get one while you can.

Scrolling through the loads programmed into the BORS, I found one that closely matched the Buffalo Bore .308 Sniper ammo that I prefer for long range shooting. Out of the eighteen inch DPMS barrel, it clocks its 175 grain Sierra match King bullet at 2574 feet-per-second (fps), ten feet from the muzzle. The BORS has a load listing that same bullet at 2550 fps, and I used that for my initial setting. Sighting in the rifle at 100 yards as per Barrett’s instructions, the rifle/ammo combination proved to be extremely accurate. After sighting in the BORS, I dialed the adjustment turret until it read 200 yards on the screen, and fired three shots at a paper target, with my brother Boge doing the spotting. As I fired each shot, I thought that he was lying to me, as he was proclaiming that they were landing in the same dern hole. Those first three shots landed in a group measuring only one-quarter inch center-to-center, at 200 yards! That is the best group that I have ever fired, from anything. Satisfied with the superb accuracy displayed by the rifle/scope/ammo, I proceeded to shoot at life-size steel targets of mule deer, antelope, and black bear at distances of 400 and 600 yards. Dialing the BORS in to these distances was quick and easy, with just a turn of the knob. The distance was displayed upon the LCD screen. With very little wind on that morning, holding dead on and pulling the trigger, using the bipod as a rest, hits were very easy to make. Moving the next morning out to the long range silhouette range, we had a heavy cross wind, but using the windage marks on the Leupold reticle and dialing in the BORS made hits out to 1130 yards just a matter of pulling the trigger. Once the windage was corrected, hits were effortless, and other shooters who had never before fired the rifle were making hits reliably as well. Some of the targets on this range were fired upon at a downward angle, and the BORS took care of that problem as well. Holding a rifle level when shooting at far away targets is imperative, and the indicator on the BORS screen tells the shooter when the rifle is out of level.

The BORS unit was designed with the military in mind, but it is also a great tool for the rest of us. Suggested retail price at the time of this writing is a quite reasonable $1500 US. That is a lot less than I had expected it to be. It takes a lot of guesswork and mathematical calculation out of making long range precision shots. Mounted atop the excellent and amazingly accurate DPMS LRT-SASS rifle, working in harmony with the Leupold Mark 4 scope, the Barrett Optical Ranging System is a first-class way to shoot. You never regret buying the best.

Check out the BORS and other Barrett products online at

To order the Buffalo Bore .308 Sniper ammo, go to

To look at the Mark 4 and other fine Leupold products, go to

For more information on the DPMS rifles, go to

Jeff Quinn


Jeff shoots the SASS rifle with Leupold scope and BORS at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, NM.



Jeff mounted the BORS onto a Leupold Mark 4 8-25x scope.



Jeff then mounted the BORS-equipped Leupold upon a DPMS LRT-SASS .308 rifle.



Leupold scope retains windage adjustment.



No rifle is more accurate than the ammo fed through it, and Buffalo Bore's Sniper Ultra-Match ammo delivers every time.



The SASS is the most accurate rifle of any type that the author has ever fired, as this 1/4" 200-yard group demonstrates. The BORS system made long-range shooting easy.




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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Barrett Optical Ranging System.



The BORS comes with all mounting hardware & computer software.





Operator controls.



Typical screen readings.



Very tough & strong mounting system.



The awesome SASS rifle features (top-bottom) fold-down sights, muzzle brake, bipod, free-floated heavy fluted barrel, and adjustable buttstock.