March 21st, 2019

Proper Sight Picture with Various Types of Sighting Systems

NRA sight picture alignment video

As part of the NRA Mentor Program, the NRA offers a helpful video about using sights. This covers all types of sighting systems — blade sights, aperture sights, V-notch sights, red dot sights, shotgun bead sights, and telescopic sights with reticles. For new shooters, this video can be helpful — it explains sight basics in very clear and comprehensible terms. And even for experienced shooters, this can provide some helpful tips on sight alignment, particularly when shooting pistols.

Additional information about using sights is contained in the NRA’s free Guide for New Shooters. This helpful 14-page digital publication provides the key firearms safety rules, explains range etiquette, and even has a section on gun cleaning. CLICK HERE to download Guide for New Shooters.

NRA sight picture alignment video

Training With Lasers — Trigger Control
Training with laser sights helps diagnose and improve trigger control errors by showcasing the importance of “surprise break” and follow-through. Working with gun-mounted lasers, which put a red or green dot right on the target, can quickly diagnose errors such as recoil anticipation, jerking the trigger, and breaking the wrist. This video shows how handgunners can use pistol-mounted lasers to correct bad habits and shoot more consistently.

Permalink - Videos, Handguns, Shooting Skills No Comments »
March 14th, 2016

New Equalizer Scoring Reticle for Score Matches

VFS Scoring Reticle

No doubt you’ve heard the term “reticle” before, but it probably brings to mind the cross-hair you see through a rifle-scope. This term “reticle” can also describe an optical aid used to score targets. This story discusses a new scoring reticle with precisely-defined circles etched on clear plexiglass. This scoring reticle (as attached to a magnifying crystal) is used to determine whether bullet holes fall inside or outside the scoring circles on targets. This unique new scoring reticle allows match scorers to “equalize” the shot placements of all popular calibers from .204 up to .308. This way, there’s a “level playing field” for all calibers, and any caliber rifle can compete on an equal basis with the 30s.

New ‘Equalizer’ VFS Scoring Reticle

by Ron Goodger
The ubiquitous controversy over the advantage of larger caliber bullets in VFS (Varmint for Score) matches still rages, but there is a simple solution that is being embraced by all to whom I have shown it. The concept is simple, and it accomplishes the same thing the UBR (Ultimate Benchrest) targets do with the advantage that it can be used on any target a club happens to have on hand.

I had heard shooters complain about the advantage that larger calibers have many times and wish there was a fair way to score targets that would level the playing field for all calibers. The UBR concept came along and I read up on it. When a match was held close enough that I could enter, I did so and observed first hand what it was all about. The UBR targets essentially make the distance from the bullet hole center to the scoring ring edge the same for each caliber by using different-sized rings on the caliber-specific targets. After seeing the accompanying disadvantages of using this method (the chief one being the large number of targets required by UBR rules and the resulting increased time required to hold a match), I began searching for a simpler way to accomplish the same thing. I was aware of a number of mid-West clubs wanting to make scoring fair but unwilling to use the UBR method because of the disadvantages.

VFS Scoring Reticle

I came up with an idea late in 2015 and designed a scoring reticle that would do the job. The following diagrams graphically explain how UBR and my scoring reticle accomplish the same thing. The illustration above shows how different caliber bullets hitting the same center point of impact will each just score the 10 ring edge on the different-sized, caliber-specific UBR 10 Rings . It is clear that it is the distance from the center of the bullet to the scoring ring that is made uniform by the different 10 Ring sizes.

VFS Scoring Reticle

The illustration below shows how my VFS scoring reticle accomplishes the same thing by scoring every shot with an .308-equivalent ring that circumscribes the inner caliber-specific ring. The dotted line shows that the center of each bullet hits the same distance from the edge of the scoring ring. It is clear that, using current VFS scoring techniques, the .224, .243, and .257 bullets would score misses. However, scoring each bullet with the .308 ring around the hole illustrates that all calibers would be scored the same.

Scoring Reticle Converts Any Caliber Shot to a .308-Equivalent Hole
VFS Scoring Reticle

The above photo of an IBS 100-yard target has a 6mm hole that is clearly a nine (9), using current scoring methods. But consider that, if a .308 bullet from a 30 BR hit in the very same location, that .30-caliber shot would score in the Ten Ring. Why should the 6mm bullet, whose center was just as close to the middle of the target, be penalized because of the bullet diameter? The image on the right shows the scoring reticle with the 6mm scoring ring centered on this hole. With this scoring reticle, the .308 ring around the 6mm hole clearly scores the 10 Ring, just as a 30-caliber bullet centered in the same spot would do. That is as fair as it can get.

VFS Scoring Reticle

The above image (two shots per frame) from a Hillsdale Michigan varmint target has two 6mm holes that scored a 16. Score values are 10 points for a shot in the white, 5 points for a shot in the orange, and 1 point for hitting the center dot. This was a match that had 30BRs shooting in it. The next photo shows how scoring this frame with the VFS reticle would have resulted in a 21 because the left side of the reticle’s .308 circle just extends into the 10-point white bulls-eye region. So, in effect, there were two (2) shots in the white for 2×10 points (based on the .308 equalizer effect of the reticle). This shows how the reticle will level the VFS playing field regardless of what target is being used.

VFS Scoring Reticle Features and Specifications
The 6mm circles have been placed in the center of the reticle because it is expected to be the most commonly-used caliber, and that makes it easier to see in the crystal. Any of the ring sets can be used for a .308. The sizes of the circles are guaranteed accurate to within .001″ on the outside edge of the circle by the reticle’s manufacturer. I have found the best magnifier crystal to use is a genuine Badash crystal that measures 3.25″ in diameter. They are available from several eBay sellers and are easily attached using a piece of packing tape about 3/4-inch wide around the edge of the reticle (visible on the crystal in the lower part of the photo). That makes the Plexiglas reticles easy to replace in the event they become scratched up from frequent use.

A number of Midwest rifle clubs have already purchased these scoring reticles. The Plexiglas reticles are available for $15.00 each plus $2.04 shipping from the author (does not include the crystal). Email him at LRGoodger [at] gmail dot com for more information.

Permalink Competition, New Product, Optics 7 Comments »
January 14th, 2016

NEW 5-45x56mm Scope from Schmidt & Bender

Schmidt Bender 5-45x56mm scope long range
Here’s a “spy photo” of the new scope. Price and release date are yet to be determined.

If you’ve been planning to purchase a premium, high-magnification, variable-power competition scope this year… you may want to hold off for a few weeks. We just learned that Schmidt & Bender will be introducing an all-new, “super-zoom” optic for 2016. Schmidt & Bender’s impressive new 5-45x56mm PM II High Power, offers a remarkable 9X zoom ratio. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of shooting disciplines. A tactical competitor can dial back to 5-power for a wide field of view on close-in targets. Or, for 1000-yard shooting, crank the scope all the way up to 45-power. S&B says the scope is intended for “tactical ultra-long-range shooting”. With its ultra-bright, ultra-sharp German glass, this new scope could also become popular with F-Class competitors — if it is priced reasonably. We called Schmidt & Bender USA, but we were informed that no further product details or pricing information could be released prior to SHOT Show.

In addition to the new 5-45X comp scope, Schmidt & Bender plans to introduce six other new scope models in 2016. There will be two Polar T96 models, a 3-12X and a 4-16X. The current 2.5-10X Polar T96 boasts an industry-leading 96% light transmission. S&B claims this is the “brightest low-light hunting scope in the world”. For 2016, S&B will also introduce two PM II models with digital reticle display features, the 3-27X and 5-25X “Digital BT” scopes. Finally, two new PM II “Ultra-Bright” scopes will be added to the lineup. We believe these will be a 3-12X and a 4-16X.

Permalink New Product, Optics 6 Comments »
October 3rd, 2014

Swarovski’s New 80mm Spotting Scope Offers Illuminated Reticle

STR 80 Swarovski Spotting scope with ReticleSwarovski has a new STR 80 spotting scope with an illuminated reticle. That’s right, this new STR 80 spotter has a ranging reticle like a riflescope, with adjustable brightness levels. This 80mm spotting scope can be used for estimating range to targets, using MIL-based or MOA-based stadia lines on the cross-hairs. This allows you to range targets optically, as you could with a ranging reticle in a riflescope.

Revolutionary Reticle “ON”, Reticle “OFF” Technology
The STR 80’s illuminated ranging reticle makes the new STR 80 a fairly unique product among high-end, imported spotting scopes. Thanks to a new technology, Swarovski is the first manufacturer to successfully project a reticle directly in a spotting scope. The reticle (MOA or MRAD) can be activated or deactivated as required. Notably, because the reticle appears via electro-illumination, it can be “turned off” for un-obstructed viewing. So you can have a totally clear field of view when desired, OR a ranging reticle when that functionality is desired. Having the ability to turn OFF the reticle is great — that’s a very intelligent feature.

STR 80 Swarovski Spotting scope with Reticle

When viewing targets, the STR 80’s sharp HD (high-definition) lenses will resolve bullet holes at long range. Current Swaro 20-60X and 25-50X (wide) eyepieces can be used with the new STR 80 spotter. Optional accessories include Picatinny mounting rail, digiscoping attachment, and a winged eye cup.

How to Range with STR 80 Reticles
The new STR 80 scope offers a choice of either MOA or MRAD reticles with 15 brightness levels, 10 day levels, and 5 night levels. For convenient ranging, set the magnification level so that the MOA reticle displays ¼ MOA divisions, while the MRAD Reticle displays 0.1 MIL divisions. (NOTE: the reticle will change in size relative to the target at different magnifcation levels. Therefore ranging is normally done at one standard magnification level).

STR 80 Swarovski Spotting scope with Reticle

Dustin Woods, Sales Director for Swarovski Optik NA said: “Long range shooters asked for a premium spotting scope with integrated reticle and we have listened. With our new STR spotting scope we now have MOA and Mil-Radian reticle models. Because the reticle is illuminated, the user can have the reticle turned on when they are judging hits and misses but also turn it completely off for an unobstructed view during observation. This product is a real game changer in the precision shooting segment.”

Permalink New Product, Optics 5 Comments »
July 22nd, 2014

Zeiss Ballistics Calculator Mobile App for Android and iOS

Zeiss mobile ballistics appCarl Zeiss Sports Optics (Zeiss) has a new mobile Ballistics Calculator App for iOS (Apple) and Android devices. Modeled after the web-based Zeiss Ballistics Calulator, the new Mobile App is tailored to work precisely with Zeiss Ballistic reticles. Mike Jensen of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics explained: “We wanted those who use our proprietary ballistic reticles to have a ballistic tool that could be used virtually anywhere you have a signal for your device.”

The Zeiss Ballistic Calculator App allows users to pick their ballistic reticle from a drop-down menu. The user also has the ability to select factory or hand load data as well as environmental variables, and then the system will calculate and display the optimum magnification setting. With this system, distant yardages now coincide with the Zeiss ballistic reticle subtensions. The system allows the user to adjust standard settings for altitude and temperature, as well as other advanced settings, e.g. for muzzle velocity and sight height above bore.

Zeiss Ballistics Calculator App Features:

– One page screen application for fast data entry and easy to read results.

– Comprehensive and current database for factory and hand-loaded ammunition.

– Adjustable settings to customize unique shooting environments.

– Slide feature to visualize how magnification change alters point of impact.

Zeiss mobile ballistics app

The Zeiss Mobile Ballistic Calculator App can be downloaded at Google Play (Android App) and iTunes (iPhone App) for $4.99. Zeiss has noted that the App will soon be updated to include the Zeiss ASV ballistic turret system.

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February 22nd, 2014

Hot Deal: Close-Out Pricing on Premium-Quality Leica ER Scopes

If you are looking for a premium-quality hunting scope, with a wide magnification range, here is a great opportunity. Leica has just discontinued the Leica ER Scope Series. These are excellent optics that will be sold on “close-out” basis through EuroOptic.com. These Leica ER Scopes will be offered by EuroOptic for as much as $600.00 off the regular price, with target turret models available for as little as $1179.00. These scopes all include Leica’s Lifetime Warranty. According to EuroOptic: “Quantities vary and there will not be any more once they are gone”.

Leica ER Sale Eurooptic

Leica ER Rifle Scopes are rugged, bright, and precise. Each Leica ER Rifle Scope is designed for field use, with a long tube for easy mounting and eye relief to spare – perfect for large caliber hunting rifles. Choose from the Leica ER 2.5-10×42, an all around scope with a wide field of view for quick acquisition, or the Leica ER 3.5-14×42, a higher magnification scope with an optional ASV elevation turret.

Leica ER 2.5-10×42 Riflescopes | Leica ER 3.5-14×42 Riflescopes | Leica ERi Riflescopes

Leica ER Sale Eurooptic

Leica ER Sale Eurooptic

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
December 22nd, 2013

Varminters Debate Holding-Off vs. Cranking Elevation

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting Varmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View–Click Your Scope
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.”
– Gunamonth

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View–Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View–Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 7 Comments »
December 15th, 2013

New MOA-Based TS-32X1 Reticle from Leupold

Leupold MOA holdoff reticel ts-32x1Leupold has just introduced a new second focal plane reticle with MOA-based hashmarks, allowing precise hold-overs and hold-offs (for wind). The new TS-32X1 reticle, is a minute-of-angle (MOA) based system designed to allow for precision shots without the need for dial adjustments. The TS-32X1 reticle is designed to work with riflescopes that employ 1/4-MOA target adjustments or M1 dials.

The TS-32X1 is the first in a family of MOA-based reticles that will cover several magnification ranges. The TS-32X1 will be available for a wide variety of Leupold riflescopes. For $159.99, the Leupold Custom Shop can also retrofit this reticle into many existing Leupold scopes. Adding the TS-32X1 to a new riflescope ordered through the Custom Shop will cost $129.99.

Leupold MOA holdoff reticel ts-32x1

MOA-Based Hashmarks on Horizontal and Vertical Stadia
On the TS-32X1 reticle, a heavy post and thin stadia crosshair features 1-MOA hashmarks on both the horizontal and vertical lines. Every other hash mark on the horizontal stadia is slightly longer, providing quick and easy 2-MOA measurements. There is a number placed every fourth MOA for quick reference.

The vertical stadia is also set up with 1-MOA tics and longer 2-MOA marks. In addition, every fourth mark is numbered, all the way to the complete 32-MOA elevation range. Wind dots in the lower half of the reticle are spaced in 2=MOA increments, both vertically and horizontally.

This new TS-32X1 reticle is currently available for most second (rear) focal plane VX-3, VX-III, Vari-X III and Mark 4 4.5-14 LR/T riflescopes. Existing riflescopes can be retrofitted for $159.99 through the Leupold Custom Shop. To add the TS-32X1 to a new riflescope ordered through the Custom Shop is $129.99.

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
October 7th, 2013

New Bushnell Scope Has BDC Reticle Calibrated for .22 LR Ammo

Bushnell .22 LR BDC rifle scope 3-7x32Here’s a new scope that may be well-suited for short-range varmint hunting (for smaller critters) and for rimfire tactical matches. Bushnell has released a new, affordable 2-7x32mm variable rifle scope with a Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) reticle configured for the .22 LR rimfire cartridge. Anyone who has shot the .22 LR past 50 yards knows that this round drops a lot in a short distance. The “Drop Zone” BDC reticle, with multiple aiming points out to 125 yards, helps you stay on target. The reticle is calibrated for 38-40 grain, .22 LR high-velocity loads, with a 50-yard zero. This new scope, part of Bushnell’s AR line of scopes, features a 1″ main tube, target-style turrets, and side-focus parallax adjustment. MSRP is $149.99, but web vendors have lower prices. Amazon.com sells the scope for $131.23 with free shipping for Prime Members.

Bushnell .22 LR BDC rifle scope 3-7x32
Permalink New Product 4 Comments »
February 26th, 2013

Using the NP-2DD Reticle — F-TR Champ Danny Biggs Explains

The Nightforce NP-2DD (Double Dot) reticle is popular with both match shooters and long-range varminters. The uncluttered reticle gives you an unobstructed view of the target — and that’s especially important for 1000-yard shooting. You can also use the “gap” between center dot and horizontal lines to judge wind hold-off (this “gap” is 1.1 MOA at 42X and 2.0 MOA at 22X). Some guys use the lower dot for hold-overs when shooting at different distances. At 22X the second dot is 8 MOA lower than the top dot. At full 42X power, the lower dot is 4.3 MOA lower than the top dot.

Nightforce NP-2DD reticle

Clicking Elevation vs. Hold-Over with Double Dots
Danny Biggs F-ClassIf you have a Nightforce scope with NP-2DD reticle should you click for elevation changes, or hold-over using the second dot? The answer is: “It depends”. Danny Biggs, multi-time U.S. F-Class F-TR National Champion, offered this advice is our Shooters’ Forum: “There is nothing wrong with [using] the NP-2DD ‘over and under’ dots. Try it, and if it works for you, fine. However [in most situations] I would not bother to use it. Rather, I just click up/down the elevation going from 600 to 1,000 yards.

There is one exception though where I regularly use the lower dot! That is for 1,200-yard shooting — a fad at the Midwest Palma Championships held annually up at Lodi, WI. Here I fully employ [the hold-over method].

Following the 1,000-yard match, I click up 2-3 minutes of elevation depending on the load being used for my 7mm RSAUM, go to 42 power, and use the ‘lower’ dot. For me, the lower (and smaller diameter dot) at 42 power provides a preferable aiming dot for the much diminished size/appearance (at 1200) of the 1,000-yard target face. In this instance, I’m really not too lazy to just ‘click up’. By using the smaller aiming dot I ‘uncover’ the 10/X rings as much as possible as they are obscured by the larger upper dot. [This also allows] a better hold on the rings horizontally for windage purposes.” — Danny

Nightforce NP-2DD reticle

Permalink Competition, Optics 1 Comment »
December 2nd, 2012

Aiming Advice for F-Class Shooters

In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Forward Focal Plane (FFP) vs. conventional scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.

In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:

Aiming Methods for F-Class Shootingby Monte Milanuk

600-yard F-Class TargetF-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of forward focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.

Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.

Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.

John Sigler F-Class

600-yard F-Class TargetOthers use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.

Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 7 Comments »
November 18th, 2012

Feature Story on Varmint and Hold-Over Reticles

In our articles collection, you’ll find a story of interest to varminters and game hunters. Choosing And Using Modern Reticles, by author John Barsness, reviews the many “hold-over” reticle options currently available for hunting scopes. The latest “hunting hold-over” reticles, such as Leupold’s Varmint Hunter Reticle, offer both vertical marks (for hold-over) and horizontal bars or dots (for wind compensation). The idea is to allow the shooter to move quickly from one target distance to another, without having to dial elevation changes with his scope turrets. Likewise, the horizontal wind-hold markings give the shooter reference points for winds of specific velocities. That makes the process of “holding-off” for wind much more predictable.

In the Barsness article, which originally appeared in Varmint Hunter Magazine, the author traces the history of ranging/hold-over reticles starting with the Mildot reticle. Barsness explains how to use the mildot reticle, noting how it is best used with a First Focal Plane scope design.

First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane Designs
If nothing else, you’ll want to read this article just to improve your understanding of First Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane (SFP) optics operation. If you want to use the markings on a reticle to range at various magnification levels, then you want the FFP design, preferred by the military. If, on the other hand, you prefer the viewed appearance of your reticle to stay constant at all power levels, then you’ll probably prefer the SFP design.

Barsness explains how the modern “Christmas Tree” design reticles, such as the Zeiss Rapid Z, evolved, and he explains how to use these reticles to adjust your point of aim for different target distances. These hold-over reticles can be very handy, but you must remember that the yardages which correspond to the stepped vertical markings are determined by the ballistics of your cartridge. Thus, if you change your cartridge, or even change your load significantly, your hold-over yardage values will change. You will then need to field-test to find the actual value of the reticle’s hold-over points.

Even if you are not a hunter, you can benefit from reading the Barsness article. For anyone shopping for a varmint scope, the article is a “must-read”. And Barness clears up some common misconceptions about FFP vs. SFP optics. Barsness also offers good, common-sense advice. We agree with Barsness when he says that some reticle designs have become too complicated. Barsness writes:

These days there are reticles with everything from a few extra dots along the vertical cross hair to reticles that cover the bottom third of the scope’s field of view, providing an aiming point for every blade of grass in North Dakota. Here we run into the basic fact that simpler reticles are easier to use, if not quite so versatile.

Personally, I particularly like simple reticles in shorter-range varmint rifles, whether rimfires or small centerfires such as the 22 Hornet. These aren’t likely to be used at extended ranges, or in any significant amount of wind. Hence, something like the Burris Ballistic Plex reticle provides about all the information we can realistically use — the reason there are Burris Ballistic Plex scopes on most of my rimfire or small centerfire varmint rifles.

CLICK HERE to Read ‘Choosing and Using Modern Reticles’, by John Barsness.

Permalink - Articles, Optics 3 Comments »
January 21st, 2012

SHOT Show: Nightforce Offers New Reticle, Expands Production

Nightforce Optics logoFor months now, we’ve heard rumors of an all-new, high-magnification Nightforce scope, to be introduced in 2012. Unfortunately, Nightforce had no new “super-scope” on display at SHOT 2012, but Nightforce reps did indicate that “important announcements will be forthcoming in a few months”. Possibly we will see the new model(s) at the NRA Annual meeting, but that’s not definite. The only thing we can tell you — and this is NOT official — is that more magnification may be on tap on the high-end, giving Nightforce something to compete with the latest high-magnification competition scopes from other optics-makers.

We were pleased to see that Nightforce is offering an enhanced MOA-marked reticle with 1 MOA stadia (hash marks), and a center floating “X” that is 2 MOA high and 2 MOA wide. This new “MOAR” reticle should be a good choice for long-range shooters who prefer to hold off for windage corrections, rather than dial windage turrets. By comparison, the popular NP-R1 has 1 MOA marks on the elevation bar and 2 MOA marks on the windage bar. With the MOAR you get 1 MOA stadia (dividers) on the horizontal line as well. This should help shooters make more precise wind holds. NOTE: Initially the MOAR reticle will only be available for new NXS 3.5-15, 5.5-22, and 8-32X models (MOAR will NOT be offered in current Benchrest Models). ETA for the first MOAR-equipped NXS scopes is June, 2012.

In the video above, a Nightforce spokesman covers the function of the New Nightforce Velocity Reticle Calculator. This interactive program helps Nightforce scope owners select the particular velocity reticle (from a series of eight available) which best matches the ballistics of their particular rifle and load. Once you input the bullet velocity and BC data for your load, the calculator selects one of the eight velocity reticle options. This gives the scope owner a reticle with vertical hold-over points that closely match the actual trajectory of his ammunition.

Nightforce Adds Workers and Expands Production Facilities
In other Nightforce news, Nightforce Marketing Director Kyle Brown announced that Nightforce is beefing up its workforce and expanding its production facilities. With Nightforce scopes being in such high demand, there have been extended delivery times for some of the most popular Nightforce models. With more assemblers and a larger assembly plant, Nightforce hopes to keep up with growing demand for its products. We commend Nightforce for committing added resources to scope production. This will certainly benefit scope buyers by increasing “on-the-shelf” inventory at Nightforce stocking dealers.

Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
December 26th, 2011

March Unveils New 5-40x56mm FFP Tactical Scope for 2012

Here’s a sneak preview of the new March FX 5-40x56mm tactical scope from Kelbly.com. This FFP scope features a 34mm main tube, side focus adjustment (10 yards to infinity), and 24 milrads elevation travel (about 94 inches at 100m), with 0.05-milrad click values. The March FX will be offered in both a non-illuminated basic version (weight: 860gm or 30.3 oz.), and a higher-priced illuminated version (weight: 890gm or 31.4 oz.), with four brightness levels. So how much will these babies cost? MSRP for new March FX has not yet been announced, but we expect to get pricing info at SHOT Show in January.

March FX 5-40X scope

First Focal Plane Reticle and Huge Magnification Range
Yes the FX features a First Focal Plane (FFP) milrad-type Reticle. This means that the ranging stadia (hash marks) remain constant relative to the target at all magnifications. So, you can range your targets using the milrad system at any power settings. That’s a big deal for tactical shooters. This new FX scope also offers an 8 times power range — the highest magnification ratio in any FFP rifle scope made to date. Is that valuable? Our tactical shooting buddies say yes.

March FX 5-40X scope

On some tactical courses of fire, you can definitely use the full 40X magnification on precision targets at 800-1000m. However, for target spotting and close-range multiple target courses of fire, the 5X magnification, with its wide field of view, definitely comes in handy. AccurateShooter.com’s “Master Fabricator” Mark LaFevers currently uses a 12-42X Nightforce NXS in tactical matches. He likes the Nightforce but he tells us that: “The NXS I’m using with its minimum 12X does not open up enough for some of the close, multiple-target stations.” Overall, Mark was very intrigued by the new March FX: “I like the March’s 34mm tube and first focal plane design which allows ranging at all magnifications. Depending on the price, this scope would be a contender for the kinds of unknown distance, tactical competitions I’ve been doing. For benchrest, on the other hand, you really need a more finely-graded MOA-based adjustment system, in my opinion.”

March FX 5-40X scope

March FX 5-40X scope

March FX 5-40X scope

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Optics 8 Comments »
December 14th, 2010

WebyShops Offers Reticle Tables for Popular Riflescopes

WebyShops RiflescopesWhen choosing a riflescope, picking the right reticle is vital. Even the highest-quality scope can be disappointing in the field if you don’t select the best reticle for your intended application — whether hunting, tactical, or target use.

Online retailer Webyshops.com has made the process of reticle selection much easier by providing Reticle Selector Tables for popular riflescope brands and models.

The folks at WebyShops tell us that customers often have trouble picking the right combination of reticle type, magnification option and scope finish: “Typically, customers have already narrowed down the brand and often the model, but they want to know all their reticle and finish options for the scope”. To make the process easier, WebyShops now offers Reticle Tables for many of the most popular riflescope brands and models. To access the tables, log on to the WebyShops site and select a scope brand. When you see a gray button like the one below, just click on it to see a list of reticle and finish options.

Webyshops.com Reticle Selector button

Shown below is a sample table for Nikon Monarch scopes. The table provides all available choices for this brand and model, classified by reticle type, magnification, and exterior finish.

Webyshops Reticle Selector Table

WebyShops currently offers Reticle Selector Tables for the following scope brands and models. More tables will be added in the future. Click the links below to access Reticle Tables for particular scope brands and models:

Permalink Optics 2 Comments »
September 22nd, 2010

New 34mm-tube Mark 4 Scope with Horus Reticle for M24E1

Our readers were very interested in the recent announcement that Remington Arms was selected to build the new M24E1 Sniper Weapon System, the successor to the venerable M24 Sniper Rifle used by the U.S. Army for many years.

Leupold MK 4 ERT M24E1

Leupold MK 4 ERT M24E1New Leupold Scope for M24E1
A key component of the M24E1 system is the new Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm Extended Range/Tactical (ER/T) M5 riflescope (34mm locking version). This scope features First Focal Plane (FFP) Horus ranging reticles (H27 or H58), side parallax adjustment, and a beefy 34mm maintube.

Other key features of the new ER/T include M5 windage and elevation adjustment dials with audible, tactile 1/10 (0.1) milrad clicks to match the mil-based Horus reticles. An elevation zero-stop helps prevent under-rotation in high-stress situations. The eyepiece offers long eye relief and it employs a “lockable” fast-focus design to ensure that the reticle remains in sharp focus. The scope has an auto-locking elevation adjustment.

Horus H-37 mil ranging reticleWith either a Horus H27 or H58 reticle in the front focal plane, the scope can accurately range at all magnification settings (the reticle magnifies with the image). The 34mm maintube allows for ample windage and elevation adjustment — a full 100 MOA of elevation and 100 MOA of windage adjustment.

The Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm ER/T M5 Locking Adjustment riflescope is waterproof, fog proof and shock proof. With its M5 Locking Adjustment, the scope’s platform is unique in the Mark 4 ER/T line. It is controlled under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and limited to domestic and international government sales only.

Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
December 12th, 2009

Half-Off Pricing on Kahles Hunting Scopes at CDNN

Texas discount vendor CDNN Investments has released its latest 2009-5 catalog (30 mb PDF file). As usual, the catalog features big discounts on handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Among the many bargains, we spotted two exceptional deals in the latest CDNN catalog….

Kahles opticsHalf-Price Kahles Hunting Scopes
CDNN acquired a selection of 1″-tube Kahles Helia CL hunting scopes and is selling them at liquidation prices. Kahles is a highly respected Austrian optics-maker. We wouldn’t say that Kahles is on a par with Swarovski or Schmidt & Bender, but Kahles scopes are very high quality, with excellent glass, etched reticles (no reticle wires to drift or break), wide field of view, +2/-3.5 diopter eyepiece, and very good fit and finish. If you’re looking for a quality 3-9 or 4-12 hunting scope, here’s a chance to own a premium European scope for a “below wholesale” price.

CLICK HERE for CDNN KAHLES Scope Sale Order Page.

Kahles scope sale

Kahles scope sale

Mikes holster saleUncle Mike’s Holster for $9.99
CDNN is selling the Uncle Mike’s straight drop belt holster for half price — just $9.99. Models are available for popular Beretta, Glock, HK, Ruger, S&W, SIG, Springfield, and Walther pistols. The holster is made from injection-molded Kydex. Injection molding allows for a MUCH more precise fit than the typical folded-over Kydex holster. This editor has used this injection-molded Uncle Mike’s holster for my Glocks and HKs, and the fit is excellent. The handgun is secure but the draw is easy. Injection-molding allows nice straight corners, so the plastic doesn’t bind or grab as with many “hand-made” Kydex holsters. If you want an “on the belt” holster, I highly recommend this model. You may be surprised to see how much better it works than holsters costing 5 or 10 times as much.

Don’t be put off by the low price. This editor owns and uses Uncle Mike’s injection molded holsters for various handguns. I consider this the best outside-belt holster I’ve ever tried. It is clearly superior to a $85 Blade-Tech Kydex I had for an HK USP, and, I have to admit, it works better than the pretty $125 Milt Sparks leather holster I had custom-made for a 1911. The straight-drop is ideal for range use, and in a vehicle you can wear it on the left-side as a cross-draw (CCW permit required). These holsters fit close to your belt and all metal fittings are recessed or covered so they don’t scratch your gun. IMPORTANT: All plastic/Kydex holsters will cause some wear on high-gloss blued finishes. If your pistol is high-gloss blued, I suggest a soft leather holster instead.

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