Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, June 05, 2006

Scope reticles

by Tex Force

A reader who calls himself sav300 asked for a blog on scope reticles, so today's the day.

Riflescope history
Scopes were first used as rifle sights some time before the American Civil War. The first crosshairs were two strands of silk or sometimes two strands of spider web. I won't go into the history of scope-making, but today's reticles are either actual metal wires or dark lines etched onto glass. When you adjust the scope, the entire reticle moves together as a unit inside a tube called the erector tube. Knowing this, you can understand how a scope reticle could be a single dot in the center of view, or it could look like the video landing display of a commercial passenger jet. Both those types do exist! In fact, with just a change of the laser etching software, your reticle could look like Madonna!

Avoid the hype
There's a lot of hype today about exotic-looking scope reticles. I believe this is due to so many young shooters never having served in the military, and all these different patterns look strange and cool. If you served in any combat force, you have seen, used and become bored with mil-dot reticles, ranging scales found in crew-served gun sights and so on. Since Hollywood is using them in action movies, they're the rage among those who don't actually have to use them.

Start simple
Let's begin with the simplest reticle of all - the plain crosshair. You may think there isn't much to a plain crosshair, but the thickness of the reticle lines makes all the difference in the world! Thick lines cover too much area to aim precisely enough for the best accuracy. When your crosshair intersection covers a 2"-square section of the target, you can hardly expect to shoot 1/2" groups. On the other hand, thin crosshairs are difficult to see if the lighting isn't perfect. You can see thin reticle lines against a stationary paper target that is well lit by bright sunlight coming from behind you, but you will never be able to find them in the deep woods when the squirrels are jumping from branch to branch. It's exasperating to look through a scope and see the target clearly without a clue where the reticle lines are!

Match the reticle to the type of shooting
So, a thick crosshair is easy to see in a fast-moving hunting situation, while a thin crosshair gives the most precision. Hate to say this, but you can't do both with just one reticle!

Enter the duplex reticle
Some bright optics engineer got the idea of combining a thick reticle for fast acquisition and a thin reticle for greater precision. What he did was start the crosshair lines thick at the edge of view and then taper them to thin near the place where they intersect.

The duplex reticle lines are thick at the edges and tapered to thin near the aim point. They give the best of all combinations for fast acquisition with aiming precision.

Okay, that's a look at the two most popular scope reticles found today. If there is any interest, I will continue this discussion with a look at other reticle types. Talk to me.


  • What is a mil-dot reticle I have been in the army for 8 years and I'm not sure what you are talking about. My scope has a single thick post that comes to a point in the center of the scope. On the point in a piece of glowing stuff for shooting at night. Scope adjustments are made externally in the mount.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:43 PM, June 05, 2006  

  • The mil-dot is two lines that are simular to the thin crosshairs except they 8 dots going up and down and 8 across.They were desighned for the military use, but were released to the public. Most people that own them own them because they think they are cool like Tex said and don't know how to use them or know what they are for. I own one and it is perfect for longe range shooting on pests and game or targets. The reticle is desinged for range estimating and is easy to use(if you like math). Once you get the hang of it you know how to do it fast. On the other hand Tex I am still not sure about your gun. If you can give me some specific detail of what it is doing that would be helpful(how it acts on paper, how you hold it, trigger pull, stuff like that). That was an excellent blog and you should do one on choices of reticles.


    By Blogger sav300, at 8:31 PM, June 05, 2006  

  • Mil dot refers to dots placed on the crosshair at certain mill angle separations. It does not refer to the military, but since the military often has need to adjust indirect fire at long range, a mil scale reticle makes the job easy.

    When I was in the Army, I never saw a pair of binoculars that DID NOT have a mil scale etchds on the lens. It is used for adjusting indirect (artillery and mortar) fire by applying a formula known as the WORM formula to determine lateral distance at range.

    Mill dots are a similar concept. If there is enough interest, I will make a report on a mil dot reticle.


    By Anonymous Tex Force, at 6:15 AM, June 06, 2006  

  • Blog it up Tex, I can't wait to read it.


    By Blogger sav300, at 7:23 PM, June 06, 2006  

  • Mil dots are a very confusing topic to me. First the dots have to be a mil apart but I don´t believe in chinese precision (all my scopes are from China); look at the distance-marks at the parallax adjustment and you know what I mean.
    Second the reticle will not expand at higher magnifications in those popular 6-24x50 scopes because the mildots are at the wrong focus. This is OK for crosshairs because they will always stay thin, but it also means the dots on a mildot scope have the right distance at only one magnification.

    What ist the benefit of green illuminatet reticles over red ones?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:05 AM, June 07, 2006  

  • Markus,

    The Chinese make the finest optics in the world today, which is why Nikon, Rollei, Olympus, Cannon (I believe) and most American optics are made in China.

    Read the piece I did on Tech Force optics a few weeks back - it says it all.

    I will explain the mil dots completely. They retain their correct angle and size at all ranges. That's why they work. If they got larger and smaller, they would be worthless.

    Red and green illumination happens to work best for color-blind people like me. I'm red-green color-blind, which 14 percent of all men are. The choice between the colors helps me pick out the reticles in all lighting circumstances.


    By Anonymous Tex Force, at 7:30 AM, June 07, 2006  

  • I ordered a scope with “RGB Red/Green Illuminated Tactical Range Estimating Reticle, Excellent +/- 40MOA.” I am embarrassed to admit I have no idea what that is, but doesn't it sound cool. I was wondering if you would have the time to explain all of this.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 PM, June 07, 2006  

  • Ed,

    The 40 MOA means 40 minutes of angle adjustability in the reticles. That means the scope can move the strike of the round a total of approximately 40 inches at 100 yards.

    I presume you understand the rest.

    I will cover the range estimating and how that works in the next post about mil dot retucles.


    By Anonymous Tex Force, at 4:52 PM, June 07, 2006  

  • Thanks I will check in next week


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:13 PM, June 07, 2006  

  • Tex,
    I am not sure whats up with your 99 magnum, other than I think you got a bad one. My 22 performed flawlesly today and printed a remarkable 1.03" group at 50 yds. So much for the theory that chinese rifles aren't accurate.

    By Blogger sav300, at 9:17 PM, June 08, 2006  

  • sav300,

    Good for you! Keep it up!


    By Anonymous Tex Force, at 2:34 AM, June 09, 2006  

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