We've all noticed the push toward the military-style dial turrets and away from the traditional drop-compensating reticles. Some have resisted this march. I have. Until now.
I recently forced myself to use a tactical turret on a hunt. I don't think I'll ever go back to the vague holdovers that I've settled for. Most of my hunting is within a couple hundred yards, so I was not in need of a long-range scope.
But once the shot is close to 300 yards, and the bullet weight gets to the 200-grain range, suddenly determining drop from the inch numbers on a box is a little dubious.
And nothing will rob accuracy like a shooter who lacks confidendence.
I chose a medium-price-point scope, a new Bushnell Engage, for the hunt. There are eight new models, and four come with dial turrets.
My 4-16x44mm scope weighs 20 ounces and has an MSRP of $399.
Bushnell has more expensive tactical hunting scopes, like the Elite Long Range Hunter, which starts at about $1,000.
With the Engage, you give up some of the premium coatings you get with higher-priced scopes. Similarly, the turret does not stop at 0, like most higher-price zero-stop turrets do. So you will have to keep track of how many revolutions you make when you're dialing. Not optimal, but it shaves hundreds of dollars off the price.
Crossover scopes, like the Engage, are a great leg into the brave new turret world. Your investment is limited, but it buys you a number of good features to check out at the range.
What ultimately changed my mind toward turrets was peace of mind.
With any laser rangefinder that gives MOA, I can range the target and dial to that MOA number on my turret. I didn't have to try to figure out how to split the difference between two drop-compensating reticle hash marks, or try to remember which circle, or which part of the circle, I need to hold on.
There are too many variables and factors to worry about while taking a shot. Shedding some of these reticle concerns when you are staring through your tube at a distant game animal is the way shooting should be.
Plus, if you have a smart laser rangefinder, like a Bushnell CONX and Kestrel combination, or Nikon's Spot On LRF with Wind Meter, you can put your ballistic info in the LRF for your drop and use the wind info to adjust your side turret for windage.
If you've never done this, you'll find it's liberating to simply dial the elevation and windage turrets, and just concentrate on a smooth, well-timed trigger pull.
Here are a few other 2017 scopes that cross over between turrets and compensating reticles.
NIKON | BLACK X1000
These new models are made for long-distance shooting and AR rifles. Two — the 4-16x50mm and 6-25x50mm — are second-focal-plane 30mm tubes with MOA reticles or an advanced MRAD-style reticle, the choice of snipers. Like the Engage, they do not lock at zero and are second-plane, hence the lower price.
MSRP, $499-$649 nikonsportoptics.com
SIG SAUER | WHISKEY5
The Whiskey5 has been around for a few years now, but this year, Sig unveiled a new digital leveler to the scope. They call it the LevelPlex, and it indicates if your scope is not level as you are about to take the shot. Of course, at long distances, a canted scope will not give you an accurate POI. Inside the scope you'll see two small arrows in either side. When canted, one or the other will light up to indicate you need to rotate your gun. Elevation turret offers a resettable zero stop and lock-at-zero. Six configurations from 1-5x20mm to 5-25x52mm.
MSRP, $1,079-$2,159 sigoptics.com
LEUPOLD | VX-5HD
Leupold introduced a line that fits between two other popular models. The new VX-5HD features a 5x erector assembly, fitting between the VX-3i and the VX-6HD. New adjustments, called CDS-ZL2, have secure locking dial that can be calibrated to your exact rifle and load with Leupold's custom dial system. The CDS-ZL2 lets you dial two complete revolutions of the dial, yet makes it clear to the shooter where he is on the turret with two distinct levels of dial numbers. Initial launch of the line offers a 1-5X, 2-10X and 3-15X models.
MSRP, $909-$1,429 leupold.com