Sig Sauer's Big Bet on the BDX Optics System

Shooting Sports Retailer spoke with Andy York, president of Sig Sauer Electro Optics, about the future and what Sig Sauer is doing to continue driving dealer support around some new products like the BDX line.

Sig Sauer's Big Bet on the BDX Optics System

Sig Sauer has made some significant strategic moves in the industry from a marketing, and definitely, from a product standpoint. One of the most successful moves has been the company’s line of optics lead by division President Andy York. 

Shooting Sports Retailer spoke with York about where Sig is taking its optics line and what it’s doing to continue driving dealer support around some new products such as the BDX line.

SSR - Sig has made huge progress jumping into an established market in a short period of time.

York -
 It hard to believe that as of April 2019, Sig Optics is over five years old. We know the fast trajectory we have been on including building a West Coast team with a lot of new headcount, creating clean rooms for optics assembly and inspection, building consumer demand in dealerships and had some military contract wins. With that noted and even after five years, we still have a lot of people we bump into that do not realize that Sig makes optics and, more specifically, the most cutting-edge electro-optics on the market. Humbly, we feel we still have a lot of work to do.

SSR - What has been the marketing message for 2018-19?

York - 
Sig has an incredibly powerful brand and like all Sig products, we carried through the Sig foundational goals of quality, durability, and going above and beyond. We’ve brought Sig’s “Never Settle” approach to Sig Optics and the marketing branding. It has been an amazing product development process with the support of a seasoned team of industry and optics people with decades of experience. For this year, our marketing message will be to continue the brand and optics advertising the industry has seen previously with a push to ask people to go try the Sig Optics and especially the integrated BDX systems. A lot of work is being put into the education process of what the BDX system delivers, which is unlike anything that has been on the market before. Customers are just in awe once they see the BDX system in action and we have to push that message more.

SSR - For dealers not familiar with the BDX system, can you explain what it’s all about?

York - The BDX system delivers a ballistic solution to the shooter with all the data available. The Sig BDX system is Bluetooth integrated between rangefinders, binoculars and riflescopes all programed by a simple-to-use smartphone app. In the most basic use, it can deliver bullet drop holds that scale throughout the entire magnification range. With more advanced use, it can deliver dual wind holds, integrates to the Sig BDX rangefinder and binocular and offers a 2-second-or-less shooting solution. Through the app, the optics zero can be trued to actual downrange zero vs calculated zero even if you do not own a chronograph to perfectly measure muzzle velocity. It’s really game-changing technology that brings a huge level of innovation to the market — even potentially to our military — and allows for range-and-shoot ballistic solutions that are completely customizable for the shooter’s needs. With that said, it does require some demoing in-store.

Short-range shots out to 200 yards have not been a big issue for shooters with the velocity and flat trajectory of modern cartridges. Now there is a trend to push our rifles further and further out to 400, 1,000 and even 1,500 yards, and the popularity of the 6mm and 6.5 Creedmoor rounds that can deliver on that accuracy out to 1,500 yards. As those distances and wind deflection increase, accuracy becomes more than just a stable and steady trigger pull. At those distances, shooters need to start doing work with math and ballistic calculators, twisting turrets, and understand the ballistics of a particular round out of a particular rifle and do all that during the moment a prized deer or elusive coyote is standing still for a rare moment. If you look at small rimfire calibers or crossbows that people are using to take shots way beyond typical distances, the bullet drop, and wind deflection is even more dramatic. The BDX system can solve for any of these shooting problems with instantaneous calculations.

In the field, the shooter adds wind information. When a shot presents itself, the shooter ranges the target, and inside the scope reticle they will see windage and elevation hold lights illuminate along the reticle lines. They move the point of aim to those lit hold intersections and take the shot. 

SSR - During testing of the Sierra3BDX 4.5-14 and 1800BDX Rangefinder combo kit, I was quickly able to hit — even on pretty windy days — out to 500 yards with surprising precision using an AR-15. During those tests, I was able to at least keep up with a very experienced long-range shooter from target to target. The system is insanely fun at long range on a nice .22LR.

York - The system was really intended to deliver just that — expertise without the learning curve. We want long-range shooting to be more accessible to more shooters and we believe delivering this technology also provides a potentially more humane and ethical hunt. Even if a shooter does not want to rely solely on the equipment and just wants a real-time validation of their manual holdovers, the BDX can provide that.

Unlike some other systems, the shooter always has the ability to take the shot how they want with the original rifle zero and use the lite aiming points for confirmation, aiming, or as input into how they ultimately take the shot. In our testing, the civilian BDX system has consistently delivered +/-1 MOA accuracy or better. This is the shooting solution margin of error a shooter would calculate manually but completed and presented in an instant. A cool feature about the system is you do not have to have a rangefinder and optic. Most of the features can be used with the smartphone BDX app and just a riflescope, just a rangefinder or with a complete integrated system with a scope/rangefinder combo kit.

SSR - What are the successful dealers doing with Sig Optics?

York - First and foremost we are a pistol and AR manufacturer. The dealers who are doing well are selling a lot of red dots and reflex sights on those guns. The better dealers are really selling the BDX Ballistic Exchange systems through demos. Dealers who are taking the time to walk customers outside and demo the system are selling them. Seeing is believing. The better dealers are doing range events or demos for large-format stores. We are getting calls, texts and emails all the time from customers telling us how unbelievable the technology is.

SSR - ... and the military is adopting the technology because it is easy to use?

York - We’ve spent countless hours on ergonomics and human interaction testing with all of our products. Many of the military comments were around the quality, clarity and ease of use of our products compared to others. SOCOM selected the Tango 6T 1-6 for their squad’s variable powered scopes and the Romeo 4T red dot with user-selectable variable BDC reticles. The Army is using our rangefinders assembled here in Oregon. The rangefinders they’re using are based on the commercial Kilo 2200 and 2400 models but undergo additional component compliance and testing. 

SSR - Will the military start using the BDX system?

York - The BDX system is a 95-percent solution for 5 percent of the cost but building consensus in the military is tough. Some areas are really interested, but there are some that still want a 100-percent solution regardless of the cost. Adoption in the military is so much slower than in the commercial markets. We definitely have hopes that the military will begin adopting the system. The BDX was designed for the hunting market, but allows for ballistic, environmental condition, humidity, elevation, temperature and wind information at the press of the button. It could really provide some amazing advantages in the field over an old-fashioned rifle scope especially in the longer-range shooting engagements currently seen overseas. Longer term we get a lot of inquiries about the commercial and military market on where this technology will go.

SSR – Does Sig have more BDX enabled products coming?

York - We just launched our Kil0 3000 rangefinder binoculars, which take a step out of the scout-range-and-shoot process. Shooters can range and scout at the same time and then drop down to the optic to immediately take the shot. Once customers see the simplicity of the system they are sold. We are also doing some really fun things in our non-BDX offerings, like a ROMEO5XDR with a triangle Predator reticle.

SSR – It seems Sig has done a lot to simplify the user interface.

York - At this point we feel more like a software and hardware company that is actually holding back the really advanced capabilities because the customers and market need to catch up a bit first, similar to the patch we saw with Apple. Apple does a great job with the simplicity of the interface and we are attempting to replicate that level of ease of use while delivering all the advanced capabilities. We are very thoughtful about the tabs, including notes and building the human interface. We believe we are leading the industry from a human interface perspective. The customer reaction has been “Oh wow, this is amazing,” but we know there is still room to streamline the interface across the product line.

The challenge with new electronic technology is you have to be really mindful of which features to go for and which to postpone. At this point we have a backlog of ideas and technology that we would love to roll out, but the timing is wrong. For many dealers and customers, what we have brought to market with the BDX is already mind-blowing.

SSR – What’s new for 2019?

York - The hottest sellers right now are the Combo BDX kits. The Tango 4 was updated with improved glass and eyepiece, better illumination, throw lever, simplified elevation turret and a lower retail price. In the entry-level Whiskey 3 line, we introduced a BDC reticle, simplified the line and also lowered the price point. The Tango 6 has been shifted to all tactical black instead of gray and we added the SOCOM Tango 6T 1-6x24 model. The Kilo 3000 BDX Ranging Binocular will be a big hit for hunters and competitive shooters and the Kilo 3000 BDX and 2400 BDX will now also daisy chain with Kestrel or Garmin Foretrex 701 wind meters. We’ve made a big bet on our BDX and customers are giving us two thumbs up to keep going.


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