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Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles
Discussions related to Guns and Firearms
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slimjim
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:55 am    Post subject: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

In the process of researching a new scope selection, I investigated bullet drop compensation (BDC) reticles I found in scopes that I could afford to purchase. I wrote an article that provides an overview of the different reticles I looked at.

Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles

I set up this post to allow others to add their experience with BDC scopes and to attach a .zip’d Excel file that allows anyone to compare how well their rifle will ballistically match each reticle. I ended up choosing a Mil-Dot Reticle vs Burris’s B-PlexTM, Cabella’s Rangefinder or EXT, Nikon’s BDC Reticle, or Leupold’s Boone & CrockettTM. As much as I researched what I thought the best BDC reticle was for my application, it turned out that the scope’s overall characteristics were more important to me. I wanted a low power of 3x or less to not restrict my field-of-view at closer ranges because I sometimes hunt in brush. With my aging eyes, I needed a magnification of 12x or greater to effectively see if a deer has spike antlers, count points, and estimate antler size, even at 100-150 yards as my state has antler size restrictions in some counties, as well as special antlerless deer and spike buck seasons. Eye relief was also important to me. Thus, I decided what scope I wanted first then accepted the BDC reticle that was available for it or in this case, a Mil-Dot). I also thought I could learn to shoot with any of the BDC reticles offered by the various manufactures. All BDC reticles require some amount of shooter compensation because when you hunt, the game doesn’t stop at hundred yard increments. Also, a BDC reticle may not closely match the trajectory of your rifle thus “tuning” is required either by adjusting the magnification, hold-over, or using non-standard ranges for each BDC tic. Example, with flat-based bullets, the shooter may have to adjust their scope to 7¼ power to get the BDC reticle to be on at 300 yards. With boat-tail bullets in the same caliber, the scope may have to be set on 8½ magnification. In both cases, the BDC reticle will be on at 100 and 300 yards but could be off as much as 4 or more inches at the other marks. Or the shooter can use the scope’s high power and determine that tics represent 285 yards, 375 yards, etc. for their rifle.

There is an aspect of BDC reticles that I didn’t realize before I bought my Mil-Dot scope. You can usually reduce magnification to provide increase compensation for trajectory drop, but if your rifle shoots flatter, there is typically not an option to increase magnification to reduce trajectory drop because most of the BDC settings are already designed for a scope’s highest power settings. Your options are to sight in at a longer range like 200 or 300 yards (didn’t work for my load) and or learn to compensate for your bullets impacts being high at each range tic (not my desire). As it turns out, a Mil-Dot reticle was best for my application because my .270 Winchester load, using Barnes’ 110 gr TTSX copper banded bullets with their higher velocity, shoots flatter than the BDC reticles I considered. The only BDC scope that would have come close to matching my load’s performance was the Burris Ballistic Mil-Dot but at the longer ranges my impacts were still high. If you rifle is a flat shooter, I would suggest doing some homework to see how well the BDC scope you intend on buying can be matched to your rifle’s performance. This may also be important with standard calibers because each BDC reticle is different. Attached is a zip’d Excel worksheet that will allow you to compare your rifle’s trajectory to the different BDC reticles and determine what magnification setting best tunes to your rifle’s performance. If you fine tune a BDC to your rifle’s performance by adjusting the scopes magnification, you will most likely need to mark that power setting in some manner as a reference.

See the article for more detail. Remember this is no substitute for practice and verifying performance with shots down range.

Note: If you don't use Point Blank Software, an easy to use website for obtaining ballistic calculations is provided by Hornady.

www.hornady.com/ballis...calculator



bdc reticle comparison & tuning r0.zip
 Description:
Unzip to obtain an Excel file that will allow you to compare BDC Reticles and how well they match the trajectory of your individual rifle
 Filename:  bdc reticle comparison & tuning r0.zip
 Filesize:  126.99 KB
 Downloaded:  444 Time(s)


Last edited by slimjim on Wed May 07, 2014 5:49 pm; edited 3 times in total
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slimjim
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:56 am    Post subject: Cabela's New EXT Reticle Reply with quote

Just as I was publishing the article, Cabela’s came out with their new EXT Reticle. I couldn’t find any details about it on the web so I went down to their outfitter store to look at it. Their Alpha 3-12 was on sale for $99. I liked the reticle (see below), the eye relief, and other features including the price so brought it home to check out. Turns out the ballistics of their EXT Reticle matched my .308 perfectly and shots down range confirmed it. The Alpha scope may not have the optical qualities of some of the more expensive BDC scopes, but it shoots just as well. And at that price, this scope provides an affordable as well as an effective BDC solution that is going to stay on my .308.

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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:25 am    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

I like biggame info too.

I have gone full circle on mildots, BDC's and the like.
For the reasons you mentioned, While they are close... the actual distance for point of impact for each line on a BDC has to be tuned to the load you use and frankly should be rechecked if you switch lots of ammo. Plus, over 400 yards most hunting loads are dropping vertically about as fast as they are moving horizontally( well not really but it looks like it on the ballistics chart). A few yards off in your range estimation and you miss the target completely.

I do not use a Mil dot scope because I hate doing the math in my head Very Happy
I have the Mildot Master Slide rule tool and got pretty good at using it to estimate distances to objects of known size but the mil's were only accurate at 10X some times this was not the optimal magnification. Most of the predator hunting I do is too fast action to take advantage of the mil dots abilities. It is truly set up for sniping

For the type of hunting I do it makes more sense to have a 300 yard point blank zero set on the gun and a ballistics chart with the come ups clicks for distances greater than 300 yards taped to the stock on the rifle. So - While it looks really cool to have all of those aiming points on my reticle, I really only needed a crosshair and a good target type elevation knob. My Nikon Buckmaster has the BDC marks but I do not use them. It has the target turrets and I use a Stoney point target turret on my other scopes. If my prey is over 300 yards away I have the time to lase the distance and adjust the elevation to the right setting.

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chambered221
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

To my understanding you can use your scope on 20X by cutting your mil-dot reading in half!!!
If you’re on 20X and get a 2 mil reading use 1 mil when doing your calculation.
I would imagine you could mathematically figure this out at any power setting. But your right it takes time that isn’t always available!!!

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

Dawgdad wrote:
For the type of hunting I do it makes more sense to have a 300 yard point blank zero set on the gun and a ballistics chart with the come ups clicks for distances greater than 300 yards taped to the stock on the rifle.

I don't do range estimating with a Mil-Dot because I don't do it often enough to be accurate. I'm going to rely on a laser range finder. With a know range I can use it to estimate antler size.

I use my Mil-Dot like you use your turrets. I zero at 250 yards (that the limit of my range) and then tape the ballistic chart to my stock based on mil depression and don't touch the turrets. I also use the Mil-Dot for wind. This has worked well for me.
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woods
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

Hey slimjim

Have you tried the RapidZ calculator on the Zeiss website?

www.zeiss.com/C1256BCF0020BE5F?Open

If you have one of the Rapid Z reticles



You have to find the RapidZ calculator from the link that I gave, you can't give links to different pages, they all go to the main page. But if you hit all the right buttons and put in all the right data then it will give you the optimum power to set your scope on to match the ballistics of your load. It is very close in the one that I have: 4.5x14x44 Conquest RapidZ 800 on a 6.5 rem mag shooting a 130 gr Scirrocco (BC .571) at 3100 fps 500 ft altitude scope height 1.6" , the optimized power is 13.15.


I also have a Burris Ballistic Mil Dot on a 22-250 shooting the 55 gr bullet at 3640 fps. That is what that reticle is made for and it is close.

I also have a Kahles TDS reticle on a 30-06 and shoot a 200 gr Accbuond at 2675 fps and it is very close when zeroed at 100 yards.

But the best ballistic compensating type scope I have are a couple of Kahles MultiZeros. I can set up my marks to match any trajectory I am shooting



they have a zero stop and I zero them at 200 yards and set my marks for 300, 400, 500 and 600 yards. If I change my load or move the scope to another rifle I just reset my marks.

And before the naysayers start, I shoot a lot at the longer ranges and find it is much more accurate to have an aiming point inside the scope than to guess at how far above the wanted point of impact 32" is above the target at 450 yards.

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:15 am    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

woods - I knew Zeiss had some great scopes and reticles but, as I prefaced my article, I reviewed the scopes with BDC reticles I could afford. As I get mor serious about long range shooting, I will need to invest in equipment like this. Got to get the kids through college first. Thanks for adding some good information to the database. I hope to catch up with your experience level as I shoot more a longer ranges.

I agree that having a defined aimpoint in your scope for longer range shots is more accurate. Next week I'll publish an article about how to shoot accurately at loner ranges with a Duplex Reticle by using the tip of the lower post below the crosshairs. To be accuarate at longer ranges, everything is important.
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woods
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

Zeiss Conquests aren't that expensive. The lower powered scopes in 3x9 or 3.5x10 can be had for under $700.00 and the 4.5x14 for $750.00 or so. Great scopes.

What you also need to address is the canting issues at the longer ranges. It can cause problems

www.riflescopelevel.co...rrors.html

The main thing is you need to shoot with your reticle level.

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SwampFox
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:44 am    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

The real trick for most of us is to find a scope with 100% repeatable click adjustments, verify the increments of adjustment, on target, and then with a crono and a ballistics program (that is increment adjustable), set your click adjustments to your scale. Print that scale and attach it to the scope using clear packing tape.

Example, my fast twist 22-250 AI has a scale set for 80 gr Sierra MK bullets at my velocity, in 50 yard increments out to 800 yards. That 8 font scale is clear taped to my scope bell. My rangefinder is good out to 800 yards, verified. I then verify the adjustments by shooting. Should I change the load, I just re-run the program, replace the scale, and re-verify the adjustments.

Best,
Ed

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

woods wrote:
Zeiss Conquests aren't that expensive. Great scopes.

The main thing is you need to shoot with your reticle level.


Those are good prices for Zeiss scopes. I also think their reticles are one of the best because they help with wind compensation. However, when I lucked out and got the Bushnell 6500 on-line for $402 that is the most I ever paid for a scope. I know its not uncommon to pay more for your optics than the rifle. As I shoot at longer and longer ranges, I know one day, I'll have to invest in a better rifle configuration.

Good analysis on keeping your rifle level. I'm going to study that.


One of the advantages of using turret adjustment at longer ranges is always using the crosshairs as the aiming point. I have heard many say they prefer this method as they only have to offset aim for wind and that is along the horizontal cursor.
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chambered221
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:47 am    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

The multi-zero has my attention but I know nothing about Kahles as a company or their reputation!!!

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woods
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

chambered221 wrote:
The multi-zero has my attention but I know nothing about Kahles as a company or their reputation!!!

Kahles is an excellent scope and I have not heard of anyone having any trouble with them. That is probably a good thing since Swarovski sold Kahles or something like that and they are in transition. As far as I know that includes the distributorship in USA.

It would be a bummer to have to send it back to Europe if something went wrong.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

I thought Cabela’s or Midway sold them but can’t find them, maybe that’s why!!!

Definitely wouldn’t want to buy something that needed to be serviced in Europe!!!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

I have first hand experience w Kahles and it good stuff. Back to the post I agree w Dawgdad and have canned the whole mil dot thing my current scope is a u.s. optics that has moa reticle as well as adjustments and the range math is a whole lot easier. I think slimjim will find this out for himself but maybe I can save him some grief. The accuracy you'll need for ranges that this stuff is designed to "work" at doesn't really jive together the way the marketing would suggest. Any really serious marksman clicks in the known dope for the range and conditions. The only reason I can think of for this brand of Kentucky windage is multiple targets that don't give you the opportunity or time to make the adjustment. (i.e. they are returning fire.) This isn't the game I'm currently playing and I think someone needs to speak to quick fixes offered by the scope companies or maybe to the demand that this is filling which is nothing new as i remember an old Redfield add that comes to mind. I really don't mean to lecture just trying to add a hint of reality.

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Scopes with BDC Reticles for Centerfire Rifles Reply with quote

fnuser wrote:
The accuracy you'll need for ranges that this stuff is designed to "work" at doesn't really jive together the way the marketing would suggest. Any really serious marksman clicks in the known dope for the range and conditions. The only reason I can think of for this brand of Kentucky windage is multiple targets that don't give you the opportunity or time to make the adjustment.

fnuser, I'm not certain where your comments are specifically directed. I shot 3 of the BDC Scopes Reticles in the article I wrote and I obtained the engineering drawings or did actual measurements on all of them. I was surprised how much difference their was between the individual companies BDC offerings. Some of them did not match very well with my calibers so in that sense, their BDC capability didn't match up with the marketing. None of the BDC reticles matches the trajectories of my .270 with Barnes 110 and 120 gr banded bullets so a Mil-Dot reticle was as good as any BDC reticle for using the depressed marks for longer range shots. I've been shooting 2-inch groups at 400 to 550 yards so I don't feel I'm grieving or being disadvantaged by using the mil dots to aim with. As I stated earlier, many shooters find it is easier to use the crosshairs, especially when offsetting for wind, if you have time to click in the range.

I really like the capability to not have to twist any knobs to get a shot off. Big game often doesn't give you much time to make adjustments. Its nice to be able to use the BDC mark you need for the range and just concentrate on getting the shot off. Also, pin point accuracy isn't critical when you are trying to get your bullet into the heart lung area. Right now I'm looking for accuracy to harvest a deer out to 500 to 600 yards.

I've set-up my ballistic reference cards for mil-dot and click offsets so I'll start using both. My Bushnell 6500 scope has been returning to point-of-aim so there is no concern changing the turrets with my .270.
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