Dispelling Reticle Myths
A reticle is the term used to refer to the perpendicular pattern of fine lines and/or markings built into the optical viewer of your riflescope. They can also be referred to as ‘crosshairs.’
Reticles were originally constructed from tightly wound fine hair, silk, or wire, and platinum or tungsten wire is still used in most rudimentary models. Wire reticles serve their purpose in that they can be manipulated for thickness and don’t block light transmission. However, they have their obvious drawbacks: they are more susceptible to damage from pressure and long drops, and are more likely to break in more challenging shooting conditions. Further, there are only so many ways in which you can manipulate a wire reticle to give you the sharpest possible view of the target.
This is why more and more modern riflescope manufacturers have been transitioning to the use of glass etched reticles, where the crosshair pattern is laser cut into the glass in place of the wire frame. There is a common myth among old school hunters that glass etched reticles are more unreliable, less durable and accurate than wire, which is objectively untrue. Glass reticles are far more indestructible than wire ones, and sandwiches the etched crosshair within itself to protect the pattern and help it last longer, even in tough conditions. With the limitations of wire removed, glass etching allows for greater variations in crosshair patterns including floating components, enabling you to have even more pinpoint accuracy at long ranges.
All our ZeroTech riflescopes come equipped with dual coated glass etched reticles, with 92% light transmission so your field of vision remains exceptionally clear no matter where you shoot. With over 50 years of experience in the optics industry, we are firmly of the belief that glass etched reticles are the way to go for the modern-day backcountry shooter.
How Do I Select My Reticle?
Generally riflescope manufacturers select the reticles for each model based on its intended use – be it pig hunting, tactical hunting, low light shooting, etc. But if you want to look at the reticle on its own to see if it suits you, there are a few crucial factors to consider:
- The center feature: This can take a variety of shapes; the most common are a cross, open circle, or dot. This is very important to consider since it tells you the exact location of your bullet strike. So when testing it out, you need to make sure it will not obscure your kill zone or interfere with your field of vision. Some reticles allow the center feature to increase or decrease with magnification; this is personal preference.
- Crosshair width: Depending on desired visibility and your own sight, you may want to choose reticles with thick or thin crosshairs. Thick crosshairs are not always completely ‘thick’ – they usually thin towards the center, and are often thicker on the edges with bars or chevrons; they are more helpful in low light conditions or busy areas where you need to see the reticle better against the background. Thin crosshairs are better for cases where you need extreme accuracy, and often come illuminated so visibility isn’t an issue.
There are many different reticle patterns currently in use, at varying degrees of simplicity: from the most basic such as the trusted ZEROPLEX reticle and the Mildot, to more complex variations such as the floating-point and Christmas tree reticles. All of these mentioned are available in our range.
Each reticle manufacturer will use their own guides (dots, lines, circles etc) to distinguish each crosshair, and each one represents yardage distances, distance markers, and holdover points. Our ZeroTech reticles are all individually gradated with clear markings in mils for unobtrusive elevation holds. Our specs are always presented to you in clean, precise detail.
FFP vs SFP: What’s The Difference?
Second focal plane (SFP) is the most common design available in glass etched reticles. It means the reticle is located behind the magnifying lens, and thus the subtension (the space covered by the crosshairs on the target) constantly changes when the magnification is increased or decreased, but the size of the crosshairs is constant. In first focal plane (FFP) reticles, the reticle is located in front of the magnifying lens, so while the subtension remains fixed with magnification, the crosshairs will increase or decrease in size relative to the target.
A Final Note
So you’ve learnt all there is to know about reticles, and now you’re well equipped to choose the ideal riflescope model for your great hunting adventure. With this knowledge in mind, you can narrow down your selection with the following basic criteria:
- Type of firearm used with your riflescope
- User – casual or competitive shooter
- Type of shooting – everyday hunt, low light, etc.
- Magnification – long or short range
- Extra features
Browse our full range of ZeroTech riflescopes with high quality, high visibility reticles, designed for the modern American backcountry shooter.