September 22, 2023
How to Choose a hunting reticle title with hunter looking through a Vortex® riflescope

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the riflescope reticle options.

Take even a small step down the hunting reticle rabbit hole online and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of options. The good news is that with a basic understanding of where and how you hunt, finding the right riflescope reticle is simple.

In this article, we delve into five compelling reasons why every hunter should equip themselves with a binocular harness. From heightened safety and comfort to increased efficiency and a sharper focus on targets, this essential accessory can so transform your hunting experience that you’ll wonder how you ever managed to get along without one.

What does a reticle do?

At the most basic level, a reticle acts as your point of aim. But reticles can also do a lot more. Here are three reticles you can find in our optics, arranged from the most basic to the most complex. They’ll give you an idea of what a reticle can do.

V-plex Reticle and hunting landscape

A simple “point-and-shoot” choice, reticles like the V-Plex are frequently a hunter’s first. And, depending on where and how you hunt, they could easily be all you’ll ever need.

Dead-hold BDC Reticle and hunting landscape

While still a visually simple option, BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) reticles allow you to make adjustments for drop and windage quickly with relatively simple calculations. For more on using reticles like the Dead-Hold® BDC, check out this video.

XLR-2 Reticle and hunting landscape

For more experienced hunters, and those shooting at extreme long ranges, “Christmas tree” style reticles offer an incredible amount of power at the cost of a more “cluttered” view. Want to learn more about Christmas tree reticles and their applications? Check out this podcast.

First focal plane vs. second focal plane – what’s the difference?

In first focal plane riflescopes, the reticle subtension remains consistent across the entire magnification range. This means it increases or decreases in size as you adjust your magnification. With a second focal plane optic—which is what most people have experience with—the reticle will remain the same size whether you’re at maximum or minimum zoom.

Quick tip: Most hunters will be better served by a second focal plane reticle. First focal plane optics are amazing for competitive shooters using technical reticles while shooting against a clock, where dialing adjustments is simply not an option. For hunters, about the only time an FFP reticle outperforms an SFP reticle is when you encounter game suddenly, at distance, and don’t have time to dial your turrets.If you want to dive deeper on first focal plane vs. second focal plane, check out this video.

Choose the right reticle for your hunting style

Now that we know what a reticle does and we’ve got an idea about focal plane, let’s dive into your specific application.

Various hunting landscapes collage

Where you hunt can have a huge impact on what reticle you should use.

  • Big woods or dense timber. Close range. The simpler, the better. In dense cover, where shot opportunities can happen quickly, reticles like the V-Plex give you a simple, clean point of aim that’s easy to pick up in the clutter. This is also the perfect time to bring up reticle illumination. In darker environments, or at dusk and dawn, illuminated reticles like our V-Brite® provide an illuminated point of aim.
  • Open fields and rolling hills. Close to mid-range. As you begin to extend your range, reticles with more features, like the Dead-Hold® BDC, allow you to make adjustments for wind and bullet drop while still providing a clear point of aim at lower magnifications.
  • High Country. Mid- to long-range. It’s time to start considering a more technical reticle. Technical or BDC reticles deliver a point of aim and a measurement tool for windage and elevation to maximize long-range accuracy.
  • Open Country. Long range. “Christmas tree” reticles like the XLR-2 give you powerful, in-optic tools to make adjustments for long-range game, but they aren’t necessary. These reticles take full advantage of your optic’s ability to dial and allow you to place accurate shots at maximum distances.

Choosing the best reticle for you

It goes without saying that you should use a reticle in which you have total confidence, which can mean putting in some time at the range. (Darn, huh? You might have to sling some extra lead …) That means not shooting game past distances where you have total confidence. That said, matching your reticle to your hunt is one of the easiest ways to ensure you place ethical shots that drop game fast.

It’s our hope you can learn and laugh along with the expert voices we feature on this blog. We want to be clear that the opinions you see featured here are just that: opinions. The content belongs to the authors and is not necessarily the opinion of Vortex Optics.

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