MikeCR, I have to disagree with you on your last post. I shoot tactical matches that don't allow LRFs and I manage to make first or second shot hits on 2 MOA sized targets out to 1200yds. Your comment about mildots being used for ranging and not holdoffs is wrong. So is your MOA comment. I don't use a MOA reticle, but do perform ranging, holdoffs and second shot corrections with the mildot reticle. The MOA reticle can be used just the same with slightly different math.
With regards to your detent comment, the scope should be tested to ensure the reticle is calibrated. This is quite easy and can be done with a yard stick placed at 100yds. If it doesn't calibrate correctly, simply turn the power to where is does calibrate and place a tick mark on the power adjustment ring so this setting can be repeated. Pretty easy.
Keep in mind what these reticles were designed for; to range/hit man sized targets at long range. Exact dimensions of the target are required for pinpoint accuracy, which is still difficult, but the idea for the military is to "hit" the target for a kill or take them out of the fight. A success is when the threat is eliminated. If that means a leg/abdomen/shoulder shot at 700yds, the mildot was accurate enough.
I wouldn't and don't use it for ranging game. The idea is to kill the animal with a single shot, and the mildot system can be hard to get that kind of precision. However, I routinely use it for follow-up shots if I miss. It's quicker and in most cases more accurate than trying to dial in a miss. I also use it to hold off for wind, and it has proven quite accurate.
Now as far as varmints are concerned, go for it. It will be hard to get the precision on such a small animal, but if you hit them anywhere they are going down. Practicing on varmints is a great way to become proficient, but can be frustrating. I even have a mildot reticle on my 22LR that I use for headshots on groundhogs out to 125yds. It's sighted for 50yds and I don't ever touch the dials. Simply hold mildots for elevation and windage, but I do range using a LRF.
Different standards I guess..
I never suggested that these systems COULDN'T be used other ways, or that they aren't. I simply stated their actual purpose, and tried to highlight error potential outside this.
This is not a sniper site. Throwing lead at water heaters, gongs, or whatever until you finally hit them, really departs from what people strive to achieve here. This isn't a target shooting site. There are no sighters, known target sizes, at known distances, grazing those fields in front of benchrests.
And frankly, neither impresses me at all.
If nothing more than my opinion:
You will not improve on Laser ranging with optical guessing. It does sound like fun, it's required in some competitions, but don't create any delusions about it's value for LONG RANGE HUNTING (dot com)
Before laser rangefinders were invented and made life simple for people, the only thing we had were optical range finding techniques. With practice and with experience one could do very well with them. I would also mention that there were no PDA nor PCs and the abilitiy to adjust ones drop chart for altitude and temperature was very limited. Nor was there any internet to make people into instant experts. Some of us did the best we could with what equipment we could put together. If you never have taken the time to learn any of the old skills then that is up to you, but it does not diminish the effectiveness of the old skills.
In addition to what Buffalo said, people still do take sighters even with a LRF. LR hunters routinely crack off a round at a rock or structure near the target (animal) to get real time data on what the wind is doing and to ensure proper come-ups before engaging the animal. I'm not argueing with your points on the LRF. You obviously use them and rely on them. But don't put out misinformation on the mildot/MOA reticles when you clearly don't understand them and how they can be used effectively.
U know honestly, it's just plain fun to apply a system few know anything about really-- heck, if nothing else it might just be good for a free beer when you're hitting or coming closer to varmint tgts. on the 1st shot than any of your other buddies will, that's for sure. IMO it's just 1 more feather in the long-rangers cap, that can be pulled out when needed.
It does have some side effects that one may not consider too. Awhile back we were shooting a "500 yd. tgt." somebody else had set up. A buddy of mine couldn't quite figure out why he wasn't making 1st shot connections on it. One of the other guys wanted to learn a little about reticle ranging with his optic, so we set a tgt. up @ a known closer distance and we were gonna apply his reticle to range it. Well even with all the literature (catalogs i brought with me) i couldn't find the specs on his Burris BP reticle he had, but understanding the system, we improvised. We adjusted the power of his scope so the tgt. fit perfectly between 2 stadia. We then had our "subtension factor" to plug into the "modified mil-ranging formula", as noted in an earlier post, since we then knew reticle subtension, and range. I told the guy to "mil" the 500 yd. tgt, and then we could punch it into the MMRF as noted above. We calculated a range of 440 or 460--can't remember exactly now, but it just wasn't fitting right, so i knew something was wrong. Just for the heck of it, i picked up my laser, and ranged the 500 yd. tgt. @ 440 yds.---several times!! Just understanding "the system" allowed us to do 3 things--
1) Apply a ballistic reticle for accurate ranging
2) Manipulate the subtensions to get a reasonably accurate "subtension factor."
and 3) Help a guy that was starting to lose confidence in the system.
Heck, i like my reticle ranging, and i'm gonna have it under my hat whenever needed.
The NP R1 reticle does work pretty slick for ranging... if you know the target size to a very close degee.
The NightForce reticles are second focal plane, as mentioned, and they are true MOA (1.047" @ 100yds) vs. IPHY (1" @ 100yds), aka 'shooters MOA'.
Where I tend to agree w/ Mike is that it is all well and good to be able to range with your reticle on a paper or steel target that is of known dimensions (even then mirage and other optical distortion can play hob with the observed size of the target vs. the stadia)... but in the field, on game... how do you know if the animal you are looking at is 15", 16"o r 17"? Add that to any optical distortion... and you might well be clean over the target, or under it.
We had a practical/tactical match recently (more of a get-together of friends, all fairly 'serious' riflemen), and one of the stages involved shooting a 12"wx16"h piece of steel. By the time you got to the firing point that most people used... it was about 632yds (lazed afterwards, as you *had* to range the target w/ your scope for this stage) to the target, which should have been a chip shot, so to speak. I ranged it @ something right around 700yds using the reticle. Most other people ranged it at something like 530-550yds.
Everybody had 3 shots.Nobody hit it on the first shot, not even the guys w/ 6.5-284s and similarly 'flat' shooting cartridges. Only two got it on the second shot. My .308 Winchester sailed waaaay over the target on the first two, and I think I nicked the conveyor belt holding the plate on the third. Nobody else hit it, period.
I went back and played with the numbers on the PDA to see WTF was the deal, as I was 'sure' I'd measured the target @ 2.2MOA with my R1 reticle. Turns out, if I was 'off', and it should have measured... 2.4 moa, I would have been dead-nutz on. 0.2 moa was pretty hard to make out in the haze and mirage, and that was at 0900 in the morning, before it got *hot*.
As such... I came to two conclusions... one, I need to practice ranging w/ the reticle more often, and two... use a laser rangefinder for ranging, and save the reticle for hold-offs when possible.