Nightforce Tech Tip: Dialing or Holding for Bullet Drop
In this Nightforce Tech Tip, we will introduce two methods for adjusting for bullet drop at distance; dialing and holding.
When shooting at distance, the shooter must compensate for bullet drop. There are two common methods to do so using most modern riflescopes and either one can work equally well when it comes to adjusting for the effects of gravity on bullet trajectory. Each one is performed using different methods, and may also have unique advantages in certain shooting situations.
In the accompanying video, we will be demonstrating each of the methods using our Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. 5-25x56 F1 first focal plane riflescope which includes the Horus H59 reticle. We are engaging a target at 420 yard which requires 2.2 mils of elevation adjustment for our rifle system.
The first method is to dial your elevation adjustment. In our example, we engage a 420 yard target using 2.2 mils (mil-radians) of elevation adjustment. The shooter will dial 2.2 mils on their elevation adjustment, and hold the center of the cross hair on the center of the target.
Alternatively, the shooter can dial their elevation adjustment to zero, and hold the 2.2 mils within the reticle. This "hold over" will place the center of the crosshair above the target. The 2.2 mil indication point within the reticle will be used to hold center on the target.
Both methods perform the same function, adjusting for bullet drop, equally well but use different methods and have their own advantages.
Holding for elevation adjustments can allow the shooter to engage a single target very quickly without having to take the time to dial the necessary elevation adjustment. Holding over can also be a way to rapidly engage multiple targets or for taking a quick follow up shot after a miss. For example, by creating a list of elevation adjustments for each target to be engaged (dope chart), the shooter can quickly glance at the adjustment and hold over the appropriate amount within the reticle. For a quick follow up shot after a miss, the shooter can measure the distance of the miss by utilizing the information within the reticle and can make a corresponding hold adjustment.
In certain situations, dialing is a preferred method for making elevation adjustments. One example is the reticle design within the riflescope and another example is when making precise wind holds.
Not all reticles are designed for this purpose and may not offer as much information within them to allow the shooter to precisely hold over for elevation (or wind) adjustments. For example, our IHRTM reticle is an excellent hunting and dangerous game reticle and does offer hold over reference points. However, by design it has a very clean, unobstructed view yet contains less "intelligence' or information within it versus the H59 reticle referenced in this article or other Nightforce intelligent reticles such as the MOARTM or Mil-RTM. Therefore, dialing may be a preferred method of making precise elevation adjustments when using this style of reticle.
When holding for wind, especially at extended distances, dialing the elevation adjustment may be a preferred method. By dialing the necessary elevation, the shooter can keep the target along the main horizontal stadia line, and hold off for the necessary wind adjustment by using the information in an intelligent reticle.
Look for a future article which will dive deeper into fully utilizing the information within an intelligent reticle.