Dialing elevation vs mil dot holdover

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by phillietimothy, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. phillietimothy

    phillietimothy Well-Known Member

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    Hello again. I have been researching scopes for small bore silhouette. Based on advice from fellow members, one scope I am looking at is the Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x40 SF w/Mil Dot. I was advised to check out the Nikon spot on software, very nice by the way. I was curious as to what would be more accurate - dialing elevation or mil-dot hold-over. I chose a generic 40gr 22lr with standard velocity. The software indicates that the third mil dot - 139 yards, the fourth mil dot - 159 yards. This scope mils at 12x, I verified that 1 mil equals 3.6" at 12x. Here is the issue, using the same software - it states that the 140 yard drop would be 17.37" which equals 12.49" at 100 yards or 11.98 MOA. When I convert that to mils it equals 3.43 mils, but the chart indicates a 3 mil holdover. The fourth mil dot - 159 yards, I checked this as well. The 160 yard drop would be 26.36" which equals 16.57" at 100 yards or 15.89 MOA. When I convert that to mils it equals 4.62 mils, but the chart indicates a 4 mil holdover. 4/10 mil and 6/10 mil differences are pretty large, it seems to me that dialing elevation is much more accurate assuming proper tracking and repeatabilty. By the way, the softwares MOA come-up figures closely matched mine. The 140 yard come-up in MOA is 11.8, I figured 11.98, the 160 yard come-up in MOA is 15.7, I figured 15.89. With all the variables the same - 70 yard zero, same cartridge, same program, etc. it seems mil dot holdover is not reliable; can mil dot holdover be accurate? I do realize that both methods have to be verified at the range.
     
  2. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely, Mildot holdover can be accurate. But as you've seen, a mil is quite a huge amount really. We need to break down the mil to 1/10's to be precise.

    Breaking down a mil to 1/10 visually really isn't nearly as easy as breaking down a minute by 1/3. The resulting end product is virtually the same for both 1/10 mil and 1/3 minute.

    Assuming you'd like to try holdover technique, I recommend a MOA or IPHY reticle if you want to truely be precise as possible. You can always still dial the scope if you want to. Only downside I've ever heard of MOA reticles is that they appear cluttered......? Guess it depends on who you are and what you're used to. Personally, I like them and have been using them for about 15 years now.

    I can't believe so many people got sucked into the mildot system. (actually I can, it was hard to find moa reticles up till recently). NightForce has been making them for alot of years, but I don't think others really have.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011

  3. phillietimothy

    phillietimothy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the input SBruce. Nikon Spot-On software actually showed yardage figures for the top, middle, and bottom of the mildot. I was using the middle to middle number but it simply was not matching up with the MOA come-up. I do realize the drop for a 22lr is significant out past 100 yards. When I get my first centerfire, I will absolutely use a MOA reticle. For now I think it will be best to get a fine cross-hair reticle and dial for elevation. My initial thought was to experiment with mil-dot vs dialing, I think mil-dot may be okay with a flatter shooting cartridge. 6/10 mil at 160 yards is 3.45", a potential error that large is too much. This would represent a potential 2.35" error at 109 yards, the body of the ram at 109 yards is a shade over 2.5" high. I noticed you are from Wyoming, one of my long term goals is to own land in Wyoming. Beautiful country, I appreciate your thoughts and advice.

    Tim
     
  4. Jon A

    Jon A Well-Known Member

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    With a good Mil reticle with 1/2 Mil marks I find it pretty easy to hold to the nearest 1/10th. Keep in mind, until relatively recently the NF R2 only had marks every 2 MOA for elevation which is farther apart than 1/2 Mil. And 5 MOA windage was really far apart. The R1 is finer for elevation but it's still 2 MOA for wind.

    In short, either can work very well if the reticle is good and the user is practiced.

    Especially with a regular mildot reticle in that scope, dialing will be more accurate (if the scope tracks reliably). Holding is a lot faster in competitions where you're against the clock and the targets aren't extremely small. If you do want to hold, I'd suggest forgetting about what the Nikon software says and print (and memorize for competition) simple drop charts in mils from JBM or similar showing the mil hold value for round distances. The odd yardages a dot happens to represent are not intuitive to use. Also, converting mils to inches to MOA and back to Mils is unnecessary and only makes things seem much more complicated than they really are--and also more error-prone.
     
  5. phillietimothy

    phillietimothy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for responding Jon A. What I was trying to do was compare the mil-dot holdover to drop at a specific range and the corresponding MOA come-up. I apologize for the convoluted math, I was trying to show that I understood the relationship between mils, moa, and different distances. Many times my misunderstanding was based on mathematical errors, I was trying to eliminate that as a possibility. I agree a reticle with half mil marks is a good thing. You are correct shooting the different ranges is the best indicator. I was hoping to use the shortest range as my zero, then try mil dot holdover. I will experiment, for now I will zero at the shortest distance and record how many MOA I need to come up for the three longer distances. Thanks again for the input, I will see if I can use the JBM software to create mil hold values for the silhouette distances 45, 66, 87, and 109 yards. I did not know I could use it for distances this small.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  6. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    Jon A,
    I respectfully have to both agree and disagree.

    The mil system has been in use longer, true.

    But, I believe the 1/2 mil marks/ticks are also relatively new, probably even newer than the 1 moa vertical spacing (most scope makers anyway). Regardless, my reason for disagreement is not the timeline, but the precision.

    A 1/2 mil visually divided into 3rds is still .6 IPHY................An MOA visually divided into 3rds is .35 IPHY.......nearly double the precision a mil system is capable of (visually speaking only).

    As far as windage marks being 2 moa...............Windage correction changes very little relative to distance, when compared to elevation correction relative to distance. I am speaking of overall distance and more so toward long range, with higher velocity/BC's, so this may or may not be relavent to Phillie Timothy's question.?

    I do Totally agree that both are capable of precision, and what matters most is practice/use with any system and learning said system.

    Personally, I learned the mil dot system before I learned the IPHY/MOA system, and after using all 3; I firmly believe the IPHY is the quickest, easiest way for precision ranging and holdover/windage without ever dialing any knobs (short of custom designed BDC reticles, which is another story, LoL).

    Not trying to be combative here, just showing another viewpoint.:)
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011
  7. Jon A

    Jon A Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. Premier was putting the Gen II in Leupolds nearly 10 years ago (or longer, I can't remember exactly when they started). The S&B P4 and IOR MP-8 have been around as long as I can remember. I can't remember if NF had the MLR before the R1 or not.

    What's with dividing things into 3rds? It seems very unnatural to me. 1/2's, 1/4's, etc always seem natural to me. I'm just curious where that came from.

    Anyway, with a line reticle with 1/2 mil marks, half way in between is .25. Slightly less is .2. Right next to the mark is .1. Slightly more than 1/2 is .3. Right next to the 1/2 mark is .4. It's really much easier to see visually than it is to describe in words. Some reticles with dots (and some other things you will see very soon) give you a solid edge of the dot .1 on each side which can actually make things easier by further reducing the space in the middle.

    But you're right, of course, either can be used well. I also agree a nice BDC reticle can be faster than anything else and plenty accurate to the mid ranges if done right. With a straight MOA or Mil reticle you gain adaptability, versatility and precision out to long range if you take your time...but you do give up some speed in the close-medium ranges.
     
  8. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    I just stuck with the 1/3 on this post, because I had referenced in earlier post that 1/10 mil was basically equal to 1/3 moa.

    Bought my first Nightforce pretty close to 15 years ago. Reason I bought it was because Leupold didn't offer MOA, and I really didn't want to use Mil any more (thought "there has gotta be something a little more precise and maybe quicker/easier for ranging"). What reticles they did have at the time has long since escaped my memory though.?

    I never looked into S&B or IOR.
     
  9. Jon A

    Jon A Well-Known Member

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    And they still don't!
     
  10. sscoyote

    sscoyote Well-Known Member

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    I always break up whatever unit of subtension i'm using into tenths interpolatively (and even attempt 20ths sometimes)to give the highest degree of accuracy i can realize. I have the HUMR reticle that Darrell Holland's offering which is a .5 mil line system. It's set up for an 11" back to brisket coyote. Here's the dope--

    [​IMG]

    If i were using the 4.5-14x Nikon MD reticle i wouldn't apply it at 12x (mil-cald.). I'd go straight to 14 where i get a sort of "zero reticle stop" if u will that ensures my subtensions will be the same every time, besides being a bit more accurate for interpolating between dots. In that optic at 14x the subtension should be 3.12 inch per hundred yds. between dots according to the catalog. Nice thing about 2nd FP mil-dot reticles that use a .2 mrad dot is that the .2 relationship stays the same regardless of what power u are on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  11. sscoyote

    sscoyote Well-Known Member

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    Of course the problem with holding for both elevation and windage with a subtension of 3.6 IPHY is that trying to inteprolate both windage and elevation (holding off in space) becomes difficult and increasingly so the further out u go and the windier it gets.

    I use the 6-18x Nikon Buckmasters MD on a 17 MIV XP-100 for prairie dogs, and have made some 1st-shots to ~500 yds. using the 1/8th IPHY turret for elevation and windage calcd. to 2.4 IPHY "mil subtension" when the optic is adjusted to 18x (besides giving me basically a 1/2" dot instead of the mil-std. ~3/4")--

    [​IMG]

    Trying to interpolate the hold for windage using this reticle on 1st shots is a great and fun challenge for me. This is what happens when u get into this long-range stuff. The prairie dog splat (gore) factor takes a big back seat to an accurately calcd. system for 1st-shot connections. Like my buddy Mitch says, "mathematics my friend, mathematics."
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  12. dig

    dig Well-Known Member

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    Been hunting with MILs for a while. I print charts in 1/4 mil drops as I find it pretty easy with either dots or the Luepy TMR to make 1/4 mil adjustments. I would have to agree that MOA would be technicaly more accurate but one system on multiple rifles/scopes works for me, cant justify learning another system.