February 15th, 2009

Canted Reticles — Serious Problem Needs to Be Addressed

Unfortunately, we still see too many scopes sold to the public with canted reticles. The problem of canted reticles is a serious issue that some manufacturers (both domestic and foreign) have failed to address. (Note: here we are talking about an INTERNAL scope assembly problem that results in reticles being off-axis relative to the turrets. Don’t confuse this with the canting which occurs if you don’t level your rifle. A canted reticle is a scope production defect requiring factory repair.)

One degree of scope reticle cant is noticeable. Three degrees is “slap in the face” obvious and, frankly, pretty unpleasant to work with. Unfortunately, three degrees happens to be one major domestic scope-maker’s production tolerance. And sure enough, you can find this company’s scopes in retail outlets with the reticles located a full three degrees off-axis.

We believe that badly canted reticles are unacceptable in a high-dollar scope, one costing more than $450.00. Optics-makers — it’s high time to improve your quality control.

Three degrees may not sound like much–after all it is less than 1% of a 360-degree circle. Nonetheless, as the diagrams show, three degrees of cant is VERY noticeable in a scope. In fact, most people will be bothered by a reticle that is just one degree off-axis. Canted reticles are not just annoying to look at, but off-axis reticles cause a number of problems with sighting and accuracy. For example, if you set up your rifle so the vertical cross-hair is straight up and down, your turrets will be slightly tilted. This means that when you click elevation you will change windage slightly, and vice-versa. If, on the other hand, you cant (or tilt) the whole rifle to make the turrets square, this throws off the bullet trajectory–causing bullet impact that is low and displaced horizontally*.

Now, all manufacturers can have a production flaw now and then. Yet we’ve never heard a complaint about canted reticles in Nightforce, U.S. Optics, or Schmidt & Bender scopes. So, it IS possible for the better manufacturers to get it right. Our point here is that it is time for the major scope-makers to address this problem and improve their quality control. That will happen sooner if consumers pay greater attention to reticle alignment during the purchasing process. If you have a scope with a canted reticle, send it back to the maker and ask for the problem to be fixed. If enough shooters do that, we expect the scope-makers will take notice and improve their products.

*CLICK HERE to read a very thorough technical article that explains the effect of rifle canting on bullet trajectory. CLICK HERE to see targets shot with canted rifles showing bullet displacement. The diagram below shows how this occurs.

Illustration courtesy Long Shot Products, Ltd.

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