Scoping Out the Competition: Choosing Your Reticle
Whether you’re experienced or just starting out in long-range shooting, you’ll be looking for the right scope. However, there’s more to a scope than magnification and knobs. The reticle is an essential component of your optic, so the choice is important. Here’s what you need to know.
To help narrow down your choice, one of the easiest ways is to look at specific manufacturers. This is because some reticle designs are exclusive to a manufacturer, so if you have one in mind that you want to use this can be a quick way to find the right one for you.
Just like when looking for the perfect scope, it’s important to choose a reticle that you’re most comfortable with. Some designs are more complex than others, like the “Christmas Tree” compared to the duplex reticle.
The Horus reticle is meant for experienced marksmen that have learned how to use the bullet-drop mechanics and holdover points, so you may want to reconsider if you’re new to shooting or don’t have the time to put in to learn. That’s what makes the simpler designs so accessible for almost anyone.
Of course, it’s not just about experience level when choosing a reticle. Depending on what you’re planning to use it for, will the reticle get in the way of your shot? Target shooting requires a completely different reticle than hunting large game, for instance.
The holdover reticles are better suited for moving targets, but they’re not for everyone. Make sure to do your research and choose according to your skillset and intention.
MIL or MOA?
Most reticles have bullet-drop compensation built into the design, but one of the biggest differences is whether the marks are in MIL or MOA. MIL is short for milliradians and MOA is short for Minute-of-Angle.
MOA is easier to work with, since the measurement is close enough that it can be rounded down in a pinch, but MIL is more common for trained marksmen. Most of the time, shooters prefer the reticle to match the turrets. So, if you have turrets that click in MIL you might look for a reticle with MIL measurements.
Either one can be used to zero in your rifle, most commonly done at around 100 yards. At that distance, you can adjust accordingly. However, like choosing your weapon, sometimes the best way to find the reticle that works for you is to try a few at the range and go from there.
After you’ve chosen your reticle and optic, the first you’ll want to do is zero your scope. Remember that MIL and MOA each have their own mathematical formula for adjustment and they have different values, so a shot high with a MIL reticle will require different clicks than a MOA reticle.
Once you’re done zeroing your scope and shooting, relax by cleaning your scope and rifle before locking it up for the day. This step is important if you have kids in the house or multiple firearms. Many experienced shooters like to shoot with “dirty weapons,” meaning that they don’t clean them until they’ve fired 300-500 rounds but it’s entirely up to you.
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.