Should I Consider a Ballistic Turret System?

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by RockyMtnHigh, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. RockyMtnHigh

    RockyMtnHigh Member

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    I am a complete novice with respect to long range shooting, although I have hunted my entire life. I'm trying to sort through the noise with respect to rifle scopes on what will be my first dedicated long range rifle.

    I've spent lots of time researching optics including reticle type based on aiming methodology, but one thing that repeatedly comes up that I don't completely understand is the newer scopes that incorporate a "ballistic turret."

    Before I buy dedicated equipment, I want to decide what aiming methodology (MOA or Mil-Dot) I should learn (and hopefully master eventually). Realizing I have no background in either methodology, what are the pros and cons of each and is a ballistic turret of any value to someone like myself?

    I will be hunting the open, rugged country of the Colorado and Wyoming mountains after I spend a lot of time training and practicing at the range.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    Ballistic turrets are quick and easy, but have limitations. As the distance of the shot increases the efects of altitude, ambient temerature and other field conditions affect the trajectory of the bullet. These affects are tollerable out to a distance but become a probablem as the errors increase with range. Seperate turrets can be made for different elevation and temps but soon becomes (IMO) more trouble than it is worth. On a large cal magnum I try to limit use of a ballistic turret to 700 yards, and less wth smaller cals. I feel I will always have time to use a program to put me spot on from these long distances, if the game is moving and I dont have time I would probably not have taken the shot anyway.

    I am a MOA shooter and shoot MOA reticles as I feel it is easier for me. I started with a 1/4 moa scope years ago. But if you are changing to a graduated turret with printed distances the type of turret adjustment becomes irrelevant. Then it would be on to what reticle is used for a wind hold or measuring if ranging with the reticle was of interest.

    So, I guess it is dependant on your longest shot and the caliber. For the beginner I feel the ballistic turret is a good method, just be aware of its limitations and inconsistencies.

    Jeff
     

  3. RockyMtnHigh

    RockyMtnHigh Member

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    Jeff,

    That is extremely helpful. I guess a perfect compromise for a beginner would be some sort of ballistic turret system combined with a 1/4 MOA reticle (if I go the MOA route), but, again, I'm a novice. It seems like Swaro (and perhaps others), don't offer a robust MOA reticle combined with a ballistic turret.

    Is it true that it is kind of one or the other? Or am I completely wrong and you wouldn't even want both?

    I like the idea of eventually developing my skill set to that point that I'm using a ballistic calculator, rangefinder and wind meter to calculate holdovers, and if this is the eventual goal I guess your point is that a ballistic turret doesn't do you much good.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. 42769vette

    42769vette Well-Known Member

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    i wouldn't, ballistic turret systems are a gimic. you can do the exact same thing with a little range time to find out exactly what your gun does
     
  5. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    The Viper PST can be purchased in a MOA turret with an MOA reticle. I feel this is a good choice to get started , in fact I have one on order for a begining friend. I will be either making him a drop chart to tape to the stock, or my own tape on the turret for him with graduations in yards out to what I feel will be the effective range of this system.

    Maybe for you this would be best. Get an MOA/MOA scope with a .25 moa turret. Then do a range card with proven actual drops of your combination for reference. AS you shoot and confirm dial ups for different distances, and extend your cart, or charts, you will also learn the MOA system well. Such as for example, at 600 yards I am 6" low so I need to dial up another 1 moa to make me right on. And at 700 yards I am 3 1/2" low, thats 1/2 of 7 so I need another 1/2 moa to be on.

    The beauty of this method will be you will learn the system and become comfortable with it as you are setting up your rifle and practicing. Also as you take it out you will start to see the affects of the different altitudes and temps from range day to range day. Then when ready it will be an easier change over to a ballistic program and hand held weather station as you will already have a familiar feel for most of it.

    Jeff
     
  6. davewilson

    davewilson Well-Known Member

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    i'm a believer that a beginner should follow the "KISS" system. that would be Keep It Simple Stupid. not making any statements about your intelligence, but just making the point that when you're starting out, try to keep things as easy as possible. as mentioned by others the variables that come into play as the distance increases are numerous. plus you shouldn't be shooting all that far, probably 6-700 max. when you start cranking turrets on a scope for different range impacts, you're asking a lot of that scope. not to mention the rifle/shooter system. my advice for beginners is to use the reticle for ranges out to 700. many of the reticles in quite a few scopes can be used very effectively for the first 6-700 yards. it's simpler and the variable of the scope not working right doesn't come into play. there's quite a learning curve to all of this but in the beginning you will be better off if you KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID! everyone watched the best of the west and thinks i'll get me a setup like that and be shooting stuff in the next zip code next week. it's not as easy as it looks. take baby steps for a while and before you know it you'll be running with the big dogs!
     
  7. Autorotate

    Autorotate Well-Known Member

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    This is very good advice above.

    This is a fun way to hunt...Laser and a ballistic turrent. Depending on your specific application, by limiting yourself to some predefined (learned through practice in the field with the rifle/bullet/powder/scope combo) conditions (example of <700 yds stated above, wind 5 kts or less, +/- 15 Deg F, +/- 1000' PA, etc)...this can be a fun way to hunt without having to break into a kestral weather station or a PDA/Iphone app and, or require a spotter to call conditions.

    I recommend the Sightron SIII series scopes, as I had a very positive experience with a 6-24x50. It tracked straight/consistent, had a reticle that was aligned with the elevation tracking plane, and handled the abuse that a 15 lb rifle slinging 300 grain SMKs at 3080 fps with no problems. I wish I still owned it, but sold it to make all my optics uniform in terms of knob/reticle.

    Kenton Industries makes custom turrents for this optic as well. You will have a very accurate system (using the above listed constraints), if you can shoot and validate the elevation adjustment necessary under the intended field hunting conditions of PA/Temp/etc....and then send that data to Kenton to make the knob.

    For example.....+4000 PA, +50 Deg F, 30% humidity, 3205 fps, Berger 210 VLD, it took 66 clicks (16.5 MOA) to go from a 302 yd zero to my steel target at 1001 yds with a 300 RUM Ackley Improved. This load was validated on multiple shooting sessions (+6) before commiting to the turrent.

    Good shooting! gun)
     
  8. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    From a ballistics point of view, very good advice. Change altitude by 2,000 ft, and you need the change turrets and rezero. Change bullets or move the scope to a different rifle? Yep, change turrets. Go down this road as a beginner and be prepared to buy a few turrets. Or limit yourself to a shorter range, say <400-500 yds, depending on the caliber.

    From an optical performance point of view, I'm not wild about Sightron SIII variable mag scopes. Glare performance is average. Glare matters on a hunting scope. IMHO, there are better scopes (optically speaking) out there for a similar price.

    Either way you go, I recommend that you get some kind of wind meter so that you can learn to estimate wind in the field. This does not require shooting. Take the wind meter with you when you hike, walk the dog, etc. Learn to correlate measured wind speed with grass, leaf, twig and branch movement. Hold the meter up high when you take a reading.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012