Advice on choosing tactical reticle for long range hunting application

Discussion in 'Scopes, Optics, LRFs, Spotters, BoreScopes' started by Art Dirindin, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. Art Dirindin

    Art Dirindin

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    I have spent the last several YEARS trying to pic the best scope and reticle combination for use in making shots on north American game from antelope up to elk out to 800 yards maximum. Reticles I have looked at and most attracted to are reticles similar in design to the Leupold VX6 HD 3-18x44 TMOA.

    What I like about the tactical design of reticles like the TMOA is I can use the hash marks to effectively estimate range to target similar to a MIL-DOT scope as a back range estimation if my LRF ever fails me or I don't have time to use it and I must make a shot in a limited amount of time on a animal about to disappear into the woods.

    I also much prefer a tactical type of reticle as it isn't caliber or load specific and I believe it will allow the most versatility. I also like the retaliative uncluttered simplicity of a reticle like the TMOA as it allows IMHO more precise range estimation VS a standard MIL-DOT.

    So what i need is advice from those that are far more knowledgeable than I on using tactical rifle scopes and scope reticles of a tactical design for both range estimation then dialing and shooting if i am on the right track in my choice. By that i mean is a reticle like the TMOA or similar design a wise choice for hunting when you have to either use the hash marks for bullet drop or dial once range is known and shoot. I am quite adverse to reticles like the HORUS for hunting as I feel it makes for a to cluttered view and this scope is for a 100% purely hunting application. I'm certain i will shoot at all types of targets out to 1000 yards with it but the scopes primary function is for hunting at distances beyond 500 yards out to what happens to be my maximum effective range.

    As a little extra info from me I only prefer second focal plane scopes and as an example are seriously drawn to scope types and reticles like the Leupold VX6 HD in 3-18x44mm with the TMOA reticle, locking turrets with a zero set elevation.

    A scope like the VX6 seams about perfect for a all around hunting scope for shots from under 100 yards out to 800 max.

    Thanks to all who offer their help,
    Art.
     
  2. jepp2

    jepp2 Gold $$ Contributor

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    So it sounds like you are really seeking confirmation of your preference?

    Take my input at face value. For the long range shooting, sounds like you have more experience than I do, but I'm working on it.

    I spend a month each year shooting prairie dogs. Normally I only shoot out to about 350-375 yards, as I try to keep my hit percentage up. And beyond that, too many factors can cause misses in my opinion. But I shoot in the wind every day. And I wouldn't use a second focal plane scope for anything. I don't want to have to determine my holds if I reduce magnification when the day heats up. And I like a busy reticle (Christmas tree style). I know that crosswind at 10mph, at 200 yards, I need to hold 3 moa into the wind. So I just go to the 3 moa hash and another prairie dog retired. I range every shot, but I use Vortex Fury binoculars for ranging and spotting. I mostly shoot on 24 power, and every shot I am holding so that my bullet impact should be center of mass.

    For big game where I consider longer shots in the right conditions I want more magnification than you do. I also want a FFP scope, so if I want to use my moa hash marks, I'm not restricted on power setting. Out to 400 I will probably just use the hash marks and hold over. Anything beyond that I will dial in what I need (elevation and windage) so I hold right where I want to be, without math going on in my head while I am concentrating on the animal and when I want to shoot. And I absolutely want to range with my rangefinder and not count on the reticle for ranging. Not worried about my LRF failing as I have my Vortex Fury with me, and my Leupold LRF in my pocket. If I don't have time to range and the animal isn't close enough not to be a factor, I will pass on that shot.

    So I guess that is why there are so many different choices in scope design. So folks can get what they want. And this is the reticle on all my prairie dog rifles.
    vhs-4315-lr-vortex-optics-vhs-4315-lr-viper-hs-lr-6-24x50mm-ffp-rifle-scope-xlr-reticle-10.jpg
     
  3. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    I really like BOTH my Athlon Ares ETR 6.5 - 30 x 34mm tube scope . Very similar to jepps reticle above, but with a floating dot in the middle, which I really like
     
  4. natdscott

    natdscott P100, HM, DR, experienced beginner. Gold $$ Contributor

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    Art, you need a GOOD LRF, a repeatable scope, and a duplex. No more.

    "Ranging" targets with reticles is prone to significantly more error than an LRF, and you aren't shooting steel. You also aren't shooting humans or HMMVs, just trying to get "casualties"...which is all the ranging reticle was really ever intended to do.

    At the ranges you are discussing, you need to be pretty damn precise. If you had the ability to range that closely with a scope, you wouldn't be here asking about it....


    -Nate
     
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  5. CharlieNC

    CharlieNC Gold $$ Contributor

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    I have several mil hash reticles that serve the purpose. More important to me is that it is ffp for holdover at any power since you don't always have time to dial the turrets, and illuminated to have contrast of the reticle vs the animal. No time to waste when it's time to shoot!
     
  6. 338 dude

    338 dude Silver $$ Contributor

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    I like the night force MOAR reticle, I have two a NXS and an atacr they both work great for me
     
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  7. LonewolfMcquade

    LonewolfMcquade

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    Check out Shepard Tactical Scopes, they got range finding reticle as well
     
  8. natdscott

    natdscott P100, HM, DR, experienced beginner. Gold $$ Contributor

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    I get what you’re saying, Charlie. But I’d counter with the fact that you can’t ever take a shitty shot fast enough to make it a good one.

    Sure, perfect is the enemy of good enough, but for this guy, why would you recommend speed to him, since he’s not really interested in shots under 500 yards?

    If you don’t have time to run a speed turret for a 500+ yard shot on a game animal, well, you didn’t have a shot.
     
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  9. CharlieNC

    CharlieNC Gold $$ Contributor

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    Another angle to the story. Last year after this old fat flatlander hiked up a draw for over a mile to get a shot at an elk, somewhere along the way I dropped my reading glasses. Down prone and stable, I started dialing for the range and realized I couldn't read the turret. So dial back to zero to use the reticle. Well an elk against a scrub brush background yields poor contrast for a black graduated reticle. Opportunity squandered. I had plenty of time were it not for my self imposed misadventures, but anything can happen and the longer you live the more likely you will experience it. This year the illuminated ffp scope will be there just in case.
     
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  10. sawcarver

    sawcarver Gold $$ Contributor

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    For me the perfect hunting reticle would be the leupold wind plex in FFP. I am always going to dial distance and use the reticle for wind. So an exposed elevation turret and capped windage would be perfect.

    If you dont have time to range and dial on a long range animal you shouldnt be taking the shot in my opinion.
     
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  11. boltfluter

    boltfluter Gold $$ Contributor

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    You owe it to the animal, not to use the reticle for ranging, as no two animals are the same size. As stated, if you do not have time to use the range finder, you do not have an ethical shot. That wind plex is the ideal reticle for me. Dial for elevation, and hold for wind. Fast enough and very effective. :D:D

    Paul
     
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  12. 284winner

    284winner Gold $$ Contributor

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    I know alot of hunters prefer the FFP scopes. I think if your dialing in the low to mid range power and use the MOA reticle, you'd need the FFP for wind and elevation. I prefer the SFP only because I like the reticle size at whatever power I set the scope on. If I need to use windage or elevation on the reticle, it's because I'm shooting from a very long range so I'd be in max power anyway. Not being a tactical competitor or having need to range with the reticle, I prefer the SFP. But for the answer on reticle, I prefer an MOA reticle and illuminated if the option is there. I have mildot reticles and not a huge fan but they are as good as the MOA. Just this user isn't as educated on there use fully
     
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  13. Art Dirindin

    Art Dirindin

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    Thanks a great deal for the well thought out and informative replies and for sharing your experience with me.

    Jepp2
    I can understand how my thread could give the impression, but I'm not actually looking for confirmation on the Leupold VX6 HD, it's simply one of the few scopes that matched certain must have criteria of;
    >SFP reticle
    >3-15-18 power range
    >40-44mm front objective = minimal weight
    >Has locking but exposed turrets for dialing elevation and windage with zero stop elevation
    >Has reticle that can be used illuminated or not

    The reason I am considering a range finding capable reticle is as I stated in my original post to have a reliable range finding capability back up in case my LRF fails.

    The purpose of my post was considering the only reticle I have ever used is a standard duplex and as such I am seeking information form those with much more experience than mine to help decide if based on my criteria that is devoid of actual personal experience with such tactical reticles for use primarily for making shots on game over 500 yards to a maximum of 700-800 is this:
    Is the criteria I am using to choose a reticle the best for use in a hunting application first and foremost. I have shot quite a bit to 500 yards with my Weaver Grand Slam 4.5-14 that has only a simple duplex reticle and adjusted the scope for drop and wind and did very well, by very well I mean hitting a 10" steel plate consistently. Also I have shot at 700 yards and did just well enough to know #1-With A LOT of practice I will be able to shoot that far at game ethically and #2-As I presently don't have one, I need a scope better suited for long range and don't want a BDC type reticle. I will add I was VERY impressed with my WGS's ability to track and then return to zero.

    Lastly my scope budget is can not exceed $1800
     
  14. rammac

    rammac

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    You are mistakenly assuming that using the reticlle is a reliable way to estimate range - it's not. It only works for the military because we used known dimensions for common items, even then that was a backup technique and not our primary. With game animals there are no consistent dimensions, for the average elk you can have a variation of around a foot for some dimensions. This is exactly why I don't agree with so called "Long Range Hunting"; too many amateurs assuming things that are wrong and potentially wounding an animal that they had no business taking a shot anyways.

    For example, the distance from the ground to the top of the shoulder of an average elk in the United States can vary from 48 to 58 inches. If you were shooting a 168gr bullet from a .308 rifle at an elk that was 800 yards away, your error could be as much as 7 feet in elevation due to that potential height estimate error.
     
  15. SPJ

    SPJ Gold $$ Contributor

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    I always thought Ziess made a great scope for hunting, but I don’t hear much water cooler talk about them.
     
  16. Art Dirindin

    Art Dirindin

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    You are mistakenly assuming that using the reticlle is a reliable way to estimate range - it's not. It only works for the military because we used known dimensions for common items, even then that was a backup technique and not our primary. With game animals there are no consistent dimensions, for the average elk you can have a variation of around a foot for some dimensions. This is exactly why I don't agree with so called "Long Range Hunting"; too many amateurs assuming things that are wrong and potentially wounding an animal that they had no business taking a shot anyways.
    Rammac;
    THE only reason(S) I ever came to believe that you could use a reticle to reliably estimate range to an animal was based on more than few videos made by actual U.S. military trained snipers saying you can do exactly that, add to that number a much greater number of state and nationally ranked long range shooters also producing videos saying you can use a scopes reticle to accurately determine distance to animals as small as prairie dogs to as large as elk. If I can not take legitimately accomplished long range marksman at their word, who can novices such as I can? No sarcasm what so ever and my sincere apologizes if I was wrong to do so as I said I am a novice if not slightly less than when it comes to long range shooting, but like everyone who presently IS and accomplished long range shooter both military and civilian, they all were also once like me and knew little to nothing but again like me were more than willing to invest the time, money and near unlimited effort to become proficient. Except unlike our beloved U.S. military long range marksman I will have to be self taught for a host of reasons not the least of which is my job eats up over 1000 hours of my time every year in O.T. and what little personal time I do get one can imagine how attending a long range marksmanship class in a state 800-1000 miles from my home would be very difficult at best.

    I am not saying they are correct and you are wrong as I don't know enough about long range shooting YET to do so, but I am asking you and others who share your opinion to try to understand there are an awful lot of very accomplished long range marksman making videos saying that with a rifle and optic up to the task combined with a shooter willing to no B.S. invest the time and ammunition to do so you can become proficient enough to make not necessarily very long range shots but most certainly LONGER range shots from 400-700 yards.
    I openly admit I am at best not even an amateur YET at shooting long range, BUT I also know during my last two elk trips and multiple trips to the only long range facility near my home that in low wind at or below 10 mph ( how do I know that? because I invested in a Kestral weather meter) I can consistently hit a 10'x10' steel plate out to 500 yards. I also learned quickly shooting in winds much above 8mph long range shooting is the exclusive territory of those who are know they are ACTUALLY capable not those who think they are. AS I already know I am not I wish to join the ranks of those that do.
    While in Wyoming on my last elk hunt I did quite a bit of shooting at 400 yards and hit a empty Colaman fuel can 8x out of ten with my M700 338wm and both misses would have still been in the vital area of a mature elk. Now for the information I left out. #1 It was right at first shooting light and I was shooting in if not perfect near perfect conditions, if there was any wind it certainly wasn't strong enough to registrar on my Kestral or have any affect on my shots. #2 I was using a huge bolder as a shooting rest that Davis Tubb himself couldn't have designed it as a more perfect shooting rest as in it allowed me to lean/lay almost prone to shoot of of. None the less I proved to myself with the proper optics and rifle and A LOT more shooting and fact based education shooting at gradually longer distances beginning at 400 I feel confident I can be more than proficient enough to 700 yards and if I prove myself wrong well then I will limit my shots to what ever my maximum range ends up being.

    Steel plates covered in spray paint and misses that hit grass covered back stops and not wound fur covered animals will be all I shoot until my learning curve is over and my abilities more than equal my goals.

    Forgot to add I have since switched to a Tikka T3 Lite 300 wsm shooting 180 NAB's where legal for all my big game hunting. I also have a crazy accurate but equally ugly 116 SFWW in 7mm STW and 10FS in .308 I plan on using to learn long range shooting. And no I am not the LEAST bit recoil sensitive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  17. Delfuego

    Delfuego Silver $$ Contributor

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    No offense, but you should get off youtube and stop thinking about shooting an elk at 800 yards. You're not doing yourself or the potential animal any favors thinking about this. The more you type trying to justify your skill level the more I think about that poor animal...
     
  18. sawcarver

    sawcarver Gold $$ Contributor

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    "if there was any wind it certainly wasn't strong enough to registrar on my Kestral or have any affect on my shots".....just because youre Kestrel doesnt show any wind where you are shooting from doesnt mean there isnt some effecting the bullet between you and the target. A LOT goes on between you and the target from 200 to 1200 yards.

    The guys on you tube can take 10 takes on a video until its right and just because they are on you tube doesnt mean they have a clue what they are saying. Most guys who know how to shoot long are fairly humble.

    If you want a scope to do the estimating for you get a Burris Eliminator with the range finder built in. But even then practice a lot with wind reading before long shots on game
     
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  19. CharlieNC

    CharlieNC Gold $$ Contributor

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    A decent laser rangefinder for hunting out to several hundred yards does not cost much, that is what you should use instead of the reticle because the size of the target (game animal) is not accurately known. And the amount of time to take a reading using the reticle and then calculate the range is too long, plus given the excitement / pressure of the situation easily leads to hasty errors.
     
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  20. Tommie

    Tommie Gold $$ Contributor

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    I’m just having fun picturing tactical hunting.
     

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