This is part 2 of our series on reticle types, where we take a look at the different rifle scope reticle types used in optics and what they are used for.
The last article was a very broad overview, and you can read about it here.
This article is going to be much more in depth as we take a look at the more complex reticle types that are available.
This can be daunting if you’re unfamiliar with long range shooting. Just looking at some of the different reticles out there can seem like you’re reading a chart out of a physics book from college.
But these are more or less set up in a way to help make your shooting game more effective. The different markings (usually) have a purpose, and if you know what you’re doing these can be incredibly helpful for you and improve your shooting tremendously.
We’re going to go over 3 different complex reticle types from 3 different companies: Leupold, Vortex and Athlon. Each makes very high quality reticles, and each are going to be good examples of what to look for when picking out a complex reticle of your own.
At the end, leave a comment about the reticle you’re the biggest fan of now and what you look for when shopping for scopes.
The 3 Reticles We Will Be Examining
Complex reticles are a pretty big marketing tool for companies. The more complex the reticle is, the fancier the scope seems.
It’s important to understand though that this is just one of many factors that make up the quality of a scope. In fact, it’s a very small part of our optics test we use on scopes to grade their quality.
That being said, using one of these appropriately can make your life much easier. It can also help up your game.
Just don’t think that you can completely depend on a high quality scope to make you successful. Long distance shooting takes skill, and building good habits without a scope tends to lead to better results the farther you go down range.
Let’s take a look at the 3 different reticles we will be examining: the Athlon Cronus BTR APLR, The Leupold Impact 60 and the Vortex Razor HD Gen-II Horus H59.
Athlon Cronus BTR APLR FFP IR MOA
Ah the Cronus, Athlon’s flagship product.
The Cronus BTR has got to be one of the best Rifle Scopes I’ve ever used. With A+ tracking and edge to edge clarity, there aren’t many scopes that are in it’s category.
That being said, this is probably the least fancy reticle of the three we are looking at.
APLR stands for Advanced Precision Long Range. This is simply a name given to the reticle by Athlon and usually serves more for marketing purposes rather than meaning something about the reticle itself. I said usually, not always.
We call this a Christmas Tree reticle. For no other reason than the subtensions make a Christmas tree as they spread out below.
What makes a complex reticle useful is how easily you can lock on your target with the subtensions. This is achieved by having, more or less, the right amount of distance between the hash marks, in MOA or Mil depending on your reticle.
Furthermore, a higher amount of MOA or Mil on the Y axis of the reticle gives you more room to work with when shooting at longer distances. The APLR in particular goes down 50 MOA.
This gives you quite a bit of room to work with, and a lot of shooters use this scope for going out to 2 Miles.
Horizontal drop lines are dispersed every 5 MOA from the crosshairs all the way down to 50 MOA with 1 MOA hash marks in between.
The drop lines themselves start at 10 MOA across at the first drop line and go out as far as 60 MOA at the lowest drop line. Each drop line has dots spaced 1 MOA apart in both directions.
This is very handy for long range shooting. Why?
The farther the bullet has to travel, the greater the effect not only gravity has but also wind has on the bullet. Because of this, a 60 MOA span gives you all of the adjustment range that you need to make the shot.
Which essentially is what this scope and reticle is built for: making those incredibly difficult and long shots. At 2000 yards, you really don’t have room for error.
Leupold (Mark 5 HD 7-35x56mm) Impact 60
Leupold’s Impact 60 reticle is patented and is very popular among long range shooters. This particular one is featured on the Leupold Mark 5HD.
Like the APLR, it’s an MOA based reticle, and unlike the APLR it does not follow the Christmas tree design.
Instead it has a grid of dots spaced 2 MOA from each other all the way down to 60 MOA beneath the Crosshairs. This gives it even more of a distance capability than what the APLR did.
That being said, the Windage distance is not as wide as was the APLR. The reticle itself only goes out to 16 MOA (in either direction, 32 MOA total).
This could be a problem at a really long shot. 16 MOA left and right might not be enough at that long of a distance.
Take the above chart for example. This is data taken from shooterscalculator.com. As you can see, with windage at 15 MPH at a 90 degree angle, you max out the adjustment capabilities at 1125 yards.
15 MPH is a strong wind, granted, but it’s not like this can’t happen.
What I think makes the Impact 60 extremely useful is the grid design. If you’ll notice, the dots are much closer together than the APLR was.
This is going to make those holdovers a lot easier to, well, holdover. There is less spacing and thus more of a probability your adjustment will be able to land directly on the dot, giving you more precise measurements.
Afterall, complex reticles are built for making your shots more precise. The Impact 60 does just that.
Vortex Razor HD Gen-II Horus H59
The Horus H59 is one of the reticles that is featured on the Vortex Razor HD Gen II. And before we talk about the reticle itself, let’s talk about Horus Vision.
Horus Vision is a company that specializes in reticle design. They are considered to be industry leaders in the field of reticle design.
A lot of the top optics companies feature Horus reticles. In fact, US Optics and Leupold also feature their H59 and Tremor 3 reticles on a couple of their scopes.
Now that’s all well and good, but what actually makes this reticle special? Well there is a lot of thought that went into the design of the reticle.
What’s the point of a reticle again? To help you make a more accurate shot.
And that’s where the other two reticles we’ve seen almost fall a little short.
The APLR3 does a great job with the Christmas Tree extending out more the farther it goes down. But there is a lot of empty space outside of the windage adjustments on the tree.
And the Impact 60 does a great job by filling the area beneath the center line with dots that make it more likely your target will fall into. But it too has a lot of empty space.
Now, that’s primarily because they’re designed to cover the shots most people are going to run into. But if you run into a situation where you have more wind, there is a lot of blank space for you to make a mistake, and it almost makes the windage correction redundant.
What you’ll notice the H59 does is it has dots spaced at a Mil apart to the left and right of the Christmas Tree lines. This limits the extra white space and increases your odds of finding a correction, thus increasing your odds of making the shot.
There are also lines at various spacing above the center line, providing the same sort of compensation. This is a pretty unique feature.
Finally, the reticle has an illuminated capability that doesn’t illuminate the entire reticle. Instead illuminated dots will appear at 2 Mil increments all the way down the Christmas Tree, and at the 10 and 20 Mil mark will feature on 2 Mil increments to the left and right.
This is the most complicated reticle we’ve talked about, and definitely the most useful. However, they build more off this design with the Tremor 3, which we’ll go over in the next article.
We talked about 3 complex reticle types, what their design is and how that makes them useful.
Keep in mind, in order to effectively use a complex reticle, you have to:
1) have the fundamentals of shooting long range down
2) have an understanding of the reticle and how to use it
3) choose the right reticle for your uses.
To say we just scratched the surface of this topic would be understating it. We’re going to be releasing more articles about complex reticle types in the future, so stay tuned for more.
I’d like to know – which of these was your favorite and why? What did you find the most useful? Leave your response in the comments below and let’s get a discussion going.
Also, we carry all 3 of these scopes in the shop, and offer 12% off to first time customers and email subscribers. So if one of these was something you were interested in, head to the shop and save yourself some money.