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The Pros and Cons of Turret Dialing

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Turret dialing is a great way to aim precisely at extreme range targets—But it’s not perfect. Before you wed yourself to a turret dialing scope, you should consider your targeting needs and how they balance with the pros and cons of turret dialing scopes.

Combining turret dialing with maximum point blank range zeroing prepares you to take quick, dead-on-hold shots out to 300 yards, sometimes as far as 400 yards, without needing to dial. Useful for most hunting situations when game can pop up quickly.

Turret Dialing Advantages

  1. The center crosshair will always be your aiming point. You don’t have to get confused by multiple reticle bars and lines. There is no cluttered “Christmas tree” to obscure the target. You cannot select the wrong aiming line or dot.
  2. Change loads or even rifles, and you can still dial to precise aiming points. The numbers may change, but the versatility of the turret system adjusts perfectly.
  3. Dialing to precise ranges is easy with a custom turret matched to your pet load. Large, clearly marked numbers such as 1, 2, 3, etc. correspond to 100-yard intervals. Intermediate lines match 25-yard or 50-yard intervals. Fast, obvious, simple.

Turret Dialing Disadvantages

rifle scope with custom turrets

Custom turrets can be built to number-specific, dial-to distances. Easy to see and select. Swarovski Z5.

  1. Generally, you must take your eye off the target, focus on the turret, dial, then refocus on the reticle and relocate the target, which might have moved.
  2. When hunting, the time you take to dial could cost you a shot. Fortunately, long-range shots usually mean your game will be calm, so you’ll probably have the time.
  3. You could forget to return dials to your zero distance. They can be accidentally bumped, too. Well-designed turrets have locks to prevent this.
  4. The erector tube/turret screw connection and the erector tube springs could wear, stick, or otherwise malfunction. Buy top quality.

Turret dialing isn’t necessary for big game hunting/shooting out to roughly 275 yards, perhaps as far as 400 yards with most modern, bottlenecked cartridges and spire-pointed, low-drag bullets. The trick is to zero 2 to 3 inches high at 100 yards. Mid-range trajectory peak shouldn’t exceed 3 or 4 inches. The bullet shouldn’t drop more than 4 or 6 inches. Some cartridges/bullets will reach 400 yards before dropping out of the kill zone. For shots beyond this maximum point-blank range, start dialing. Turrets add precision and boost confidence. Practice extensively with any turret scope until dialing becomes almost second nature.

What is your preferred method for aiming at distance—turret adjustment, hold over, multiplex reticle, or WAG? Share your answer in the comment section.

Veteran outdoorsman Ron Spomer began writing and photographing about wildlife, hunting, guns, optics and all things wild and wonderful waaaay back in 1975. He’s been privileged to have hunted on six continents for small game, upland birds, waterfowl, big game mammals, and—no croc—even some reptiles. From the Arctic to the equator, from mountain tops to ocean marshes, Spomer celebrates our hunter-gatherer heritage. You can see him on his YouTube channel at RonSpomerOutdoors.com.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!’s blog, “The Shooter’s Log,” is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!



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