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How does the rangefinder reticle work?

Jun 07, 2022 | 11:55 am 57 0
How does the rangefinder reticle work?

What does it take to make a good shot? Of course, a rifle and the right optics for it, taking into account the person who runs it. However, the optics have to be precisely the suitable optics in this context, not the good, expensive, and best ones. It makes no sense to put cheap optics on a costly rifle, just as it makes no sense to put the best optics on an evil gun. In both cases, the result will be almost the same - optics can't correct mistakes of the rifle and can't reveal all possibilities of the rifle. Here you should take advantage of a rule when the cost of a gun equals the price of sight on average. So, it is better to follow the general recommendations, which summarize the experience of many generations of shooters. First of all, we need a sight and approximate distances of its use. And the first step to choosing a telescopic company is to become acquainted with its reticle.

Everything is simple: telescopic sight can be compared with a spyglass fixed on the weapon. In one or several image planes, unique markings are applied to aim the gun at the target.

Another way of referring to it is as a "reticle." 


When we buy a gun, we imagine some cool trophies, at least the incisors of wild boar or the cherished horn of the black rhinoceros. After all, we are dangerous and armed! Dreams quickly evaporate in real life when you realize that the actual use of weapons differs from the pictures our imagination depicts. You become convinced that hunting is, above all, about knowledge and experience. And not the last place in this list is occupied by a sighting reticle made in the form of two intersecting metal lines or glass with a picture on it. The reticle in the focal plane is usually in the middle of the sight or the eyepiece area with a straight image. The weapon is aimed by aligning the two images - the target and the reticle. We can accurately aim the gun at the target and determine its exact dimensions thanks to the reticle. And having other rangefinder scales and different sighting corners, we can quickly calculate the distance, which allows us to take a shot without readjusting the sight. It comes to the understanding that for hunting big animals such as wild boar or deer, a proven reticle type "stump" consisting of three lines - two on the sides and one at the bottom will do. This sight accurately aims at fast-moving large prey, especially for driven hunting at numbers with a distance of up to three hundred meters. However, especially in the evening, it is difficult to catch a small trophy such as a raccoon, hare, or pheasant with this sight at one hundred meters or more. At such distances, the reticle lines of this sight just merge, and to increase the percentage of hit, it is better to choose another type of reticle. Let's say a "cross" type pattern, which is better adapted for precision shooting. There are two intersecting vertical and thin horizontal lines in the center of the eyepiece field. Although, this sight is not adapted to shooting at point-blank range at a moving target.  

Some nets combine the advantages of the two types, whereas the "cross" has thick vertical and horizontal lines crossing each other, with the difference that they are skinny at the point of intersection. This allows you to aim at a moving target at point-blank range or to hit small targets with a thin cross. 

So how do you choose the suitable reticle characteristics for you, given your hunting needs? First, choose a reticle point in the center of the scope. It is in the form of a cross, an open circle, or a dot that indicates where you intend to make the shot. You are left to evaluate the problems with target visibility, how the target size changes when you zoom in, and whether the alignment will be evident at low magnifications. Second, the manufacturer and its recommendations on hash markers, rangefinders, and distance marker explanations. If you have a manufacturer's ballistics program assist you in mastering them. Third, decide on the thin and thick reticle threads, which significantly affect how your eye sees the image through the scope. It doesn't make sense to put a cheap scope on a high-precision weapon and vice versa. Good sight is a good sharpness and contrast of image, 

high target indiscernibility, high light transmission coefficient, wide field of view, high accuracy of lenses and aiming reticle installation, and system resistance to shock loads during shooting. 

So what makes each reticle unique? Among different types of sighting reticles, one can distinguish ballistic reticles that give the possibility to set a clear target point for a certain distance taking into account the bullet's fall. Hash marks, circles, or dots are used as distance markers. The reticles without backlighting and with backlighting work excellent. In the first case, they are suitable for daytime use, are cheap, and are the standard for today's sighting reticles. Backlit reticles are best suited for hunting in dark conditions. 

Famous and influential collimator sights are used for short-range shooting. The readiness to shoot with this sight does not differ much from other types. Align the point of impact with the aiming end and enjoy it, remembering to make sure that the sight does not move during each shot. Only after the collimator is mounted on the weapon, choose the type of sighting mark and decide on the parameters of the brightness of the glow when the sighting point is visible on the target. 


How do you calculate the distance from the observer to the target?  How does a hunter make a successful long-range shot at a game? It is possible by using a device designed to determine the distance referred to as a "rangefinder."  There are dynamic sound, light, and laser range-finders and passive range-finders based on optical parallax in the range-finder lineup. The operating principle of active type rangefinders is built on measuring the time on the sent signal to travel the distance to and from the object. A pulsed laser rangefinder consists of a pulsed laser, and a radiation detector has a long-range and is usually used in military sights. Phase laser rangefinders are used for rifle scopes for price and quality. They do not have a timer to measure the reflected signal and operate at distances up to a kilometer, which perfectly solves the problem of both hunting and their cheapness. The principle of a phase laser rangefinder is based on the reflection of a wave in different phases depending on the distance to the target. Practically a laser rangefinder is the simplest version of a lidar.


The purpose of a reticle, or sight in simple terms, is to provide estimated reference points when aiming at a target and help the shooter make an accurate shot with minimum effort to prepare it. The most common among rangefinder reticles is the open sight. It is enough to align the rear sight with the front sight and point the barrel at the target. Aperture or closed sights are also one the types of rangefinder reticles. Aperture sight is an aperture in the disc-shaped plate used to aim the rifle at the target - it is faster to aim through this aperture than through the open sight. The laser sight in this row works by using the laser beam to create a dot on the target, which is the fact of aiming. The barrel must be positioned so that the dot hits the mark. The reticle-optical sight has a unique optical attachment for seeking through the lens, with a reticle for aspiring and the possible correction of the bullet's flight on the ground. Collimator sight - a type of sight with very quick aiming thanks to constant illumination of the aiming point regardless of the angle of view. A shot can be fired. An expensive holographic sight formed by a hologram is essentially the same as a collimator sight. The aiming mark, which can be of any shape, replaces the holographic image and is permanently fixed in the center under the influence of laser light. 

There is another type of sight - thermal sight, which does not use any reflected radiation, with the ability to work in absolute darkness. According to the principle of thermal imaging cameras, everything in the field of view of the objective lens measures the temperature of the sight's target at a point in space. In all light conditions and complete darkness, these reticles process temperature-contrast targets, which are all hunting objects, equally well.

In addition, some models of thermal imaging sights are equipped with a rangefinder and ballistic calculator, which automatically calculates the position of the aiming mark on the screen.  

A few words about the reticle illumination unit in some rifle scopes: the light source is usually LEDs, there is an adjustable illumination brightness, and typically red LEDs are used. Some models have double illumination of the reticle, more often red and green, which is incredibly convenient for operation at dusk.  Usually, the illumination unit is combined with the corrections unit.

As you can see, there are a lot of excellent spotting scopes, which make the life of the hunter much easier. Although these sights make aiming more accessible, you should not forget about the reliable and verified method of seeking the barrel using the rear sight with a front sight.

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