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Snippet of Big Game Hunting Podcast: 94 - How To Pick The Right Hunting Scope

Last Played: March 26, 2021
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Big Game Hunting Podcast host, John McAdams, goes through a variety of different scopes for hunting and gives helpful tips on picking the right hunting scope. McAdams tells us the benefits of having a custom scope and how to magnify your scope correctly. We also learn the major differences between a first and second plane scope.
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first, we'll start with the difference between the first and second focal plane scopes, with a first focal plane scope the size of the radical changes with magnification. So when you have the magnification turned all the way down, you'll typically have across air just like any other scope. But any of the hash marks around it for elevation holdovers or wind holds will be very small. And as you increase the magnification of the scope, the cross air will get thicker. And all of those hash marks will grow in size now, since the hash marks will grow in size as magnification increases, They're always the same size relative to your target, which also grows in size as you turn the magnification up in the scope. So this means that all of the holdover points remain the same regardless of magnification. For example, let's say you have a radical with hash marks to the left and the right of the crosshairs to help with your wind holds its a particular hash mark is five m away to the left of the cross air. Then it will be exactly five them away to the left at all magnification. Now compare that to a second focal plane scope. The radical size does not change with magnification, so for that reason, the size of the radical and any hash marks on them change in size relative to the target as you increase or decrease magnification. For this reason, the hash marks on the scopes are calibrated for use at one magnification, usually the highest magnification. So going back to the same example with the hash marks the estimate wind holds that five m o a. Mark will only be exactly five them away at the highest magnification setting at lower magnification, the mark will be greater than five. M. O. A. Know exactly how much of a difference we're talking about depends on the exact magnification at half the maximum magnification, say, 7.5 magnification For a 15 power scope, the marks will be twice as far from the radical relative to the target, so that five m o. A mark we keep talking about will turn into a 10 m. O. A hold at half the magnification. Now relative to the target is the key point here. Now, remember, on his second focal plane scope, the radical always stays the same size, but the target changes in size with magnification. Does this stuff make your head swim? It's confusing. I know. Now note that all of this stuff does not affect the crosshairs. With the first focal plane scope, the crosshairs may get thicker or thinner, but the zero of the scope does not change with magnification for either a first focal plane or a second focal plane scope. So if your scope is zero at 100 yards, it should have the exact same point of impact, regardless of the magnification level. For both types of scopes, this stuff only affects the actual thickness of the radical in the case of a of a first focal plane scope or the stuff around it. So the advantage of a first focal plane scope is that the holds remain exactly the same regardless of magnification. So this is most important when you're shooting at very long range with a pretty high magnification scope, like a 5 to 25 power or a 7 to 35 power scope. That is a lot of magnification that you don't always necessarily need. So, for instance, it's possible that you'll have a lot of Mirage at maximum magnification under certain conditions, and so this may necessitate turning the magnification down a little bit. In that case, it's nice to know that all of your elevation and wind salt wind holds are exactly the same 15 power or 20 power as they are 25 or 35 power now, the downside of a first focal plane radical is that it appears small and thin at low power, and it gets much thicker at high power. So it can be hard to see the at the low settings, and it can cover too much of the target at the highest setting. Now, with a second focal plane scope, the radical looks exactly the same at all magnification. So you don't have that issue with a tiny radical or a gigantic radical at the extremes. Now, the downside of a second focal plane radical is that the holdover points are calibrated for use at the highest magnification setting. At other magnification settings, you obviously need to do some math to see what sort of hold the various parts of the radical represent. Now. This can be very difficult, and it's really easy to mess up in the heat of the moment on hunt. Some scopes, like my loophole VX five, have a mark on the adjustment ring that denotes the exact middle of the magnification range. This simplifies but does not eliminate the math that you need to do to use those holdovers at other magnification. Now all that said, I only use those hold points when I'm shooting at longer ranges. In that case, I generally have plenty of time, and my scope is normally turned all the way up to the highest magnification setting anyway, if I want to. If I run into something at 50 yards, then I want to take a shot. I don't care about my wind Hold now. If you do all of your long range shooting at only the highest magnification, none of this stuff is an issue, and the second focal plane scope will work just fine. One advantage is that you have a strong and easy to see radical at even the lowest magnification with that kind of scope. So for what it's worth, all of my scopes are second focal plane. I had a first focal plane scope at one point, but I personally didn't really care for it. I didn't like how busy the radical looked at the highest magnification setting. And I'm really not, uh, in a position to take maximum advantage of the strength of the first focal plane scope just due to the type of hunting and shooting that I do so know that those scopes make sense for some people. But just not for me. The vast majority of scopes that you find in sporting goods stores that are marketed for hunters will be second focal plane scopes. They were great. Just make sure that you're at the highest magnification setting if you try and use any of the marks on the radical other than the center across there. Okay, now let's talk about custom dials and turrets for your scope. This is a feature that I love, and they're part of the reason why I don't really like first focal plane scopes. So back in the old days, you zero your rifle for a particular range, and you could calculate bullet drop and hold over at various ranges past that. It was a pretty simple matter to tape a dope card to your stock that you could refer to okay. The deer is at 350 yards. That means I need three m o a fault over. So I placed three mos below the crosshairs on the deer and squeeze the trigger. By the same token, you can use the exact same technique with your wind hold. I've got a 10 mile an hour cross wind left to right. So that same dear needs a three m o a. Hold to the left so up three m o and three m o a left. So why you can do these holes with a second focal plane scope that has the right type of radical? Remember, it only works at the highest magnification. A first focal plane scope makes these holds a little bit easier. However, today, hunters have easy access to custom turrets for scopes. So those elevation holds aren't as big of a deal. All right, so what the heck is accustomed to it? Well, a typical scope will have elevation and windage dials on the scope that allow you to make adjustments as necessary. To cite the scope in. They typically have a cap on him to keep the dials from getting accidentally moved. Now, those dials work very well for what they're intended for. But that's not a system that lends itself to easy adjustment in the field. So in situations where you're shooting at longer range or in a strong enough wind, you need potentially to do some sort of Kentucky windage where you hold off the target to hit where you want to in order to compensate for wind drift and bullet drop. Hash marks on the radical are one way of doing that. But regardless of exactly how you do it, the key takeaway is that you're not adjusting the scope in that case, but adjusting your point of aim now, this can be pretty challenging even for experienced shooters at longer range. That's where custom tourists come in. Loophole has a feature on some of their hunting scopes called the custom dial system. Basically, loophole will build a custom elevation custom elevation adjustment dial for your specific rifle scope and hunting load and your typical hunting conditions. You send them your scope, serial number, cartridge, bullet manufacturer, bullet model of weight, ballistic coefficient, multi velocity, average temperature, average elevation above sea level, height of the scope and your desired site in distance, and they'll send you a custom down made exactly for you with those specific variables that you sent him. Once you install the new dial, it's a simple matter of turning it to the right range and doing your part as a shooter, so you don't necessarily need to take a bullet dope chart to stock your rifle or try and determine the proper amount of holdover before you take any longer range shot. So if your targets 400 yards away set the custom elevation down to 400 yards, hold across there exactly where you want to hit. Squeeze the trigger now. Loophole is not the only company that does that, and in fact, just about every good rifle scope company offers, uh, an almost identical feature on their scopes, and they call them by various different names. So I have two different scopes that have C. D. S tiles on them, both by loopholes, and they both worked really well. I feel very comfortable shooting both rifles and big game out to about 450 yards now. Other hunters do routinely shoot further than that, so the system does
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