It's absolutely important to understand what you can benefit from the reticles that you're using for specific hunting applications.
Is it close-up with moving targets? or is it long range steady deer hunt?
Each reticle has their own unique capabilities to help the shooter get that shot fast and accurately by eliminate doing math or guess work.
After reading this guide, You will learn the following:
- 8 Best Reticles For Hunting
- Choosing a reticle for your hunting conditions
- Premier scope builders and their reticle technologies
- Precision optics and the ecosystem
- Future reticle technologies and concepts
Modern hunters have access to the most advanced technologies the sport has ever experienced.
Let's check out reticle types that are most helpful to hunters.
8 Best Scope Reticles For Hunting
Every premier scope and rangefinder builder in the world have crafted reticles for precision hunting. Each reticle is fabricated to work seamlessly with specific scopes or series.
Some of these patterns have become industry models. Third-party vendors have devoted themselves to producing high technology solutions for every type of hunting situation.
- ACSS HUD DMR
- ACSS Predator
- ACSS Orion
- BDC 600
- Dead-Hold BDC
Check out: Best Long Range Scopes
Nightforce Optics features an extensive array of precision reticles optimized for first and second focal plane scopes. Nightforce has made substantial advancements with its MOAR™ reticle. This aiming point has a floating center crosshair for quick precision shooting for smaller targets at longer ranges.
The Nightforce MOAR™ F1 Reticle features an extraordinary 80 MOA elevation adjustment below center and 40 MOA windage adjustment. Nightforce has licensed several technologies, including ZeroStop and Digillum. ZeroStop is a mechanical Zero system that returns scope settings to their original Zero.
Digillum is an automatic illumination technology hunters can use to improve their targeting in varied conditions.
Sophisticated optics, advanced reticles, and scope technology is progressing toward precision-guided targeting. It allows hunters, with any skill level, to make shots beyond their capabilities.
Once the target has been tagged, precision-guided optics track position and velocity, making modifications in real-time.
ACSS HUD DMR Reticle 5.56/308
ACSS stands for Advanced Combined Sighting System. it’s a reticle patented by Primary Arms that combines a number of features for CQB & mid range accuracy without compromising speed.
It’s very much like the ACOG TA 31 reticle, but with added features to help the shooter range estimate better, faster and hold easier without doing any math.
The ranging reference points are designed based on average human size target either facing straight or sideways, which provides tons of combat capabilities in the field by eliminating guess work.
The core reticle features are:
- Bullet Drop Compensator
- Wind holds
ACSS Predator Reticles (Up-Close)
What makes this reticle fast - Primary Arms's Predator and Orin are simple to use reticles for hunting. What makes them special is that the shooter doesn't have to do the math for close up moving targets.
How easy is it to use - Estimating the distance to game with the ACSS Predator is as easy as fitting your target inside the appropriate ranging circle, each of which correspond to 10 inches at the given distance – 300, 400 and 500 yards.
After getting the range data, the shooter have also appropriately compensated for the bullet drop at that distance, no guessing or counting clicks required.
Added wind correction dots - Predator reticle also features 5-mph full value wind holdover bars extending from the sides of the ACSS horseshoe as well as from each ranging circle.
Using the bars, you can effectively estimate the distance your shot will be pushed by the wind at a given distance and adjust your aim accordingly.
The wind hold bars can also serve as moving target leads, making shots on running coyotes or scattering hogs much easier.
Great for hog & coyote hunting with AR15 and AR10 style rifle platforms.
ACSS Orin Reticle (For long range)
What makes this reticle fast & easy - Designed for use with .308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, and .223 Remington hunting loadings, the Orion provides bullet drop compensation, auto ranging scale, and wind holdovers out to 600 yards. (Very similar to the ACSS HUD DMR just with less dots and lines)
Place a known size target on the ranging scale to know the exact shooting distance makes this reticle super easy to use without a rangefinder if the hunter is in a hurry.
What's different from ACSS Predator - The Orion has more flexibility than the Predator’s reticle system, which seamlessly incorporates standard MIL measurement points into the reticle without over-complicating the design or crowding your field of view through the system.
The wind hold dots are added to give fast wind correction without doing math as long as the shooter understand what he/she is looking at.
Added BDC + Wind correction dots - The BDC line extends down from the open horseshoe with holdover points at each distance. As distance increases, so does the effect of wind forces acting on the bullet.
To account for that, the Orion reticle features wind holdoff points of aim for 2.5-, 5-, and 10-mph full value crosswinds.
The ACSS Orion reticle is currently available for Primary Arms' top first focal plane high magnification scopes like the 4-14x44mm FFP, which keeps the advanced reticle features true at all magnification ranges.
Burris Optics is a brand that is bringing considerable technological resources to the business of precision reticles. The X96 reticle is designed solely for its Eliminator scope.
The reticle displays a range to target in milliseconds. Place the crosshair on the target, hit a button on the objective bell housing, and range to target is instantly revealed.
A lighted dot is located on the target, whether motionless or running, providing the exact aiming point—the X96 reticle functions at any magnification level.
The X96 reticle displays a wind value for the specific cartridge you have chambered.
Burris has generated a comprehensive range of targeting solutions for hunters, competition shooters, and tactical applications.
BDC 600 Reticle
No other brand is as recognizable as Nikon Sport Optics. Several of the firms products have become industry norms. The Nikoplex reticle has long been regarded as one of the definitive specifications for hunting reticles.
The BDC 600 reticle is an extraordinary improvement in precision technology. This aiming point is designed for the Remington .223/NATO 5.56mm at 55 grain.
The BDC 600 provides aiming points at
- 200 yards
- 300 yards
- 400 yards
- 500 yards
- 600 yards
Nikon also offers an extensive collection of advanced hunting reticles:
- FS-MOA and MRAD
- SPEEDFORCE glass etched
One of the most distinguished corporations in the realm of hunting reticles is Horus Vision. Many of the leading scope builders, rangefinders, and optics companies use Horus products and their patented technologies.
Horus has fabricated an excellent solution for hunters with its H59 reticle. This advanced aiming point features excellent range evaluation and allowance for wind and bullet drop.
Vortex Optics is a brand dedicated entirely to precision scopes for hunting, law enforcement, and the military. The company's precision optics are rapidly gaining legendary stature. Vortex builds its reticles specifically to withstand situations hunters face every time out.
The Vortex Dead-Hold BDC reticle is a unique design that minimizes guesswork for hold-over at longer distances. The Dead-Hold reticle is accurate at compensating for drift in blustery conditions.
Unlike other reticles, the Dead-Hold can be utilized for a mixture of firearm applications including shotguns and muzzle-loaders. The reticle is outstanding at ranging targets.
Vortex offers a line of extraordinary range reticles, the RAZOR HD 1–4x24 EBR-556 MOA RETICLE is one such aiming point. This FFP reticle compensates for bullet drop and drifts for targets up to 700 yards or better.
Choosing the Right Reticle For Hunting
For fast moving targets close up - Pick a reticle with moving target hold dots for speed
For long range targets - Pick a reticle with auto ranging scale & BDC etched on the reticle. You can also use precision shooting reticle like the H59 or Tremor 3
There is an immense volume of equipment and configuration choices for hunters in the contemporary world of precision hunting. Decades ago, 400 yards was regarded a makeable shot for only the most experienced marksman.
Today, what we have really made our lives easier.
Holdover reticles have developed into the aiming points of choice for the most accomplished hunters and long range precision shooters using first focal point scopes.
Holdover/holdunder reticles feature hash marks on the vertical crosshair, with each hash mark representing the accelerating pace of bullet drop in MOA or MRAD.
As distance increases, readings become less precise. As your hunting experience develops, it is essential to understand the bullet drop in terms of MOA or MRAD for the proper hold or dial.
Experienced shooters will use ballistic apps to calculate the exact hold point after inserting wind speed, elevation data, pressure, BC value, scope over bore height....etc Then the shooter just aim with that...SUPER EASY
Reticle Terms & Concepts
BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator)
The BDC pattern informs the hunter how a bullet drops at an indicated range. If your scope is zeroed at 100 yards, hash marks beneath the crosshair give you the bullet's impact at different yardage like 200, 300 and so on.
Each scope builder has its own interpretation of a BDC reticle based on the caliber and rifle platforms used. Some arrangements have a sequence of trajectory circles while others utilize a Christmas tree architecture.
So it's not recommended to just throw a BDC reticle on an random rifle and call it good. You have to match the retice calibrated for a specific ammo type to a specific rifle platform.
This is another reason why BDC reticles are not recommened for long range shooting, instead people use the holdover reticle.
- Original: simple vertical and horizontal crosshair
- Dot reticle: features an enclosed circle – a dot, in the center of the reticle.
- German: crosshairs that taper off towards the center.
- Duplex: thicker posts thin out to attract the eye to the center.
- Mil Dot Reticle: constructed as a ranging reticle for the military.
- Non-illuminated: simply black in color
- Illuminated reticle: any type reticle can be made illuminated.
- Christmas Tree: hash marks get relatively longer with each marking down.
For long range shooting, BDC reticles are not recommended because the markings are never calibrated accurately to the bullet depend on what rifle you use. Reticles like the H59 and Tremor 3 are way better reticles to use.
What are reticle subtensions? This term applies to the volume of an area the crosshairs cover on the target reticle, in other words, as distance increases so do subtensions.
First focal plane scopes, the reticle size varies as you change magnification settings. Second focal plane and reticle size does not vary.
We have detailed guide explaining the difference between first and second focal plane, as they are important before you buy.
Brief History Of Aiming Reticle
In the early days of scope building, reticles were produced from actual hair or spiderweb, hence the nickname Crosshair. These small aiming points have been applied in a variety of optical devices.
Reticles date to the 17th century and earlier if the myth is to be considered. The graticule is another name for the reticle. However, the word graticule is practiced primarily in British technical manuals.
Future Reticle Technologies
There is no end in sight to the advancements being produced by scope builders and third party optic companies. However, according to Photonics.com, there are only 29 companies in the World with the potential to generate precision optics at the level of the above scope builders.
VECO is a third party OEM manufacture that fabricates advanced reticles. The firm uses nickel materials down to a width of 45 microns or .00177165 inches.
The electroforming processes is so exact, the enterprise produces its metal parts atom by atom. Another fascinating advancement is the Meopta Diochroic reticle.
This concept is rather a coating which alters the reticle's visibility in differing light and color conditions. The reticle coating provides maximum contrast, automatically enhancing target acquisition.
Holographic reticles are an amazing technology that has yet to be fully exploited. In reality, holographic reticles are the very cusp of precision optics.
These reticles are intuitive and extremely fast at target acquisition. Holographic sights use a laser hologram through a sequence of lenses which transmits the image back to the shooter's eye. The reticle is projected outward, making target acquisition in seconds.
Much of the reticle technologies for modern rifle scopes, and rangefinders are restricted to the military and experimental labs. It is not prudent to rush out and make a purchase on some of these advancements.
They have yet to come down in price. As a case in point; a TrackingPoint precision rifle and scope top out at a substantial $17,000.00. That’s an opening price point!
Learn more: Top Reasons To Learn Long Range Shooting
Bachelor of Business Admin from The University of Georgia
Worked as a firearm professional with COLT under the custom gun shop department for 11 years
Rich experience with firearm trade, hunting, and accessories