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Types of Scope Reticles – All You Need To Know

When you look into your riflescope or any optical device, you’ll notice some pattern of smooth lines; that’s what we call reticle. Considering the fact that you have to take some crucial features into account before purchasing the ideal scope; reticle is also an essential feature to look into to make your scope purchase worth the while.

Now, we have many different types of scope reticles and it’s important you know how to use them. It won’t matter if your rifle scope is top-notch if you don’t have a good understanding of certain types of reticles. This is because it may cause you to have a hard time with accurate target shooting. Also, you’ll need to obtain a scope with a reticle that suits the type of shooting you’ll be venturing into else, you may have a daunting situation.

So, we’ll be going into details to enlighten you on the types of scope reticles there are. So, continue reading for more insight on this.

Let’s Define What a Reticle is

Firstly, what do you understand by the reticle of a scope? A reticle of scope or any type of optical device is basically that smooth line of pattern you see when you take a peep into the eyepiece of an optical device. We also refer to reticle as a crosshair or cross hairs.

Reticle’s Function

The main function of the reticle is to help your eye find the center of the thin lines. This helps in giving you a centralized and precise aiming point. Take note that this reticle can work to suit various hunting atmospheres, shooting tasks, as well as different kinds of targets.

Reticle can suit different shooting conditions and some of them are bullet drop compensation, tactical reticles, laser rangefinding, low light shooting, illuminated reticles, and general hunting.

Types of Scope Reticles

There are different kinds of rifle scope reticles for you to make a perfect choice for your hunting tasks. So, take a look at the various options we’ve listed below and check out their distinctive features.

Dot reticle

The dot reticle is pretty common and it is one of the simplest types of reticle you can find. It features an enclosed circle and a single dot in the middle. The colors that are commonly seen with this dot reticle are orange, red dot, orange, and green.

Furthermore, you may notice that other reticles (like crosshair) are combined with this dot reticle. You should see this as a sharp dot in the middle featuring a crosshair. This crosshair extends out in a vertical and horizontal manner and this produces that excellent trait for each style of the reticles.

Crosshairs reticle

This crosshairs reticle is simply a basic type of reticle that people usually think of when it comes to gun discussion. This type of reticle shows a simple cross and the intersection of the cross where the two lines meet represents your target.

Duplex reticle

Next, we have the duplex reticle which is also quite common in the world of hunting with your rifle scope. It is great for hunting where you have a thick brush. Duplex reticle is also, perfect for big game hunting for precise shooting.

A duplex reticle is characterized by this thick cross-shape design that has thick lines. But when the lines get around the center, it tends to be a thin cross-shaped pattern.  So, because of this reticle design, it helps lure your eye right into the middle of the scope. Hence, helps with faster and more natural aiming which enables you to have an accurate target.

Additionally, this duplex reticle is excellent to aim at moving targets. No wonder this type of reticle is even considered to be one of the best hunting scope reticle due to many people favoring it. It is even great for most types of shooting.

BDC Reticle

From the acronym – BDC- it simply represents Bullet drop compensation. It is excellent for long range hunting and note that this type of reticle is a ballistic reticle.

With this type of reticle, it will be pretty easy to get that true point of aim for a specific distance which can compensate for bullet drop. Therefore, if you can ascertain the specific distance between you and your target, just be rest assured that your scope is the accurate aiming point to nail your target.

Note that the distance marker that serves as your point of aim can be circles, lines, hash, or even dots. Also, the ballistic may come as a simple and basic reticle that has just a couple of dots or lines where the 6 o’clock cross-shape pattern meets.

This reticle may even get more complicated when there are precise distance markings that falls along the 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock cross-shaped hair pattern.

Additionally, the BDC reticle may get complex further when the reticle design gets combined with a Christmas tree style. This Christmas style can extend across in part or even extend to the whole field on view.

Non-illuminated reticles

From the name non-illuminated reticles, it simply means this type of reticle lacks any in-built illumination. You will only notice a black reticle. It is a budget friendly scope that is great to be used in the daytime. However, it’s not ideal for nighttime use.

Illuminated reticles

This type of reticle is quite the opposite of a non-illuminated reticle. This implies that the reticle has a built-in illumination which will excellently enhance your viewing, especially where the area is low-light.

Take note that any kind of reticle can be illuminate or non-illuminated, therefore, ensure you know the type you’re purchasing.

Christmas tree reticle

From the name, it implies that the reticle gives the shape of a Christmas tree. It has its hash marks looking longer and it features some markings going down the 6 o’clock cross-shaped hair pattern. Thanks to this Christmas tree reticle, you can have some good compensation for any wind drift especially when you’re doing a long range shooting distance. 

It is commonly used in tactical, military, as well as tactical or hunting hybrid scopes.

Mil-dot reticle

This mil dot reticle is excellent for long-range shooting tasks such as hunting, competition shooting, and snipers. The reticle design has the appearance of a cross-shape of a crosshair. However, rather than having lines, it appears to have tiny dots. Take note that the ballistic is measured in Miliradians (short as Mrad).

Now, these small dots are spaced uniformly (spaced to about 1 Mrad apart). Therefore, each dot you see on each reticle means that 1 Mrad equates to 3.6 inches (so, note that 1Mrad equates to 3.6 inches at one hundred yards)

German #1 Reticle

This German reticle comes in many types. However, the one that is pretty common is the German #1 reticle and the German #4 reticle. For German #1 it is characterized by a reticle that its line comes up from the bottom. Then it halts at a sharp point in the middle of the optic.

There seems to be an absent of a vertical line above the middle of the reticle. However, there are two lines that are horizontal and that emerge from the middle to the optic’s end. This makes the cross hair pattern have similar resemblance to a crosshair that has no top line.

German #4 Reticle

Now, this German #4 has some resemblance with the duplex reticle. There is the presence of a crosshair pattern and just 3 of the four lines tend to be thicker once they emerge outside the middle of the reticle. Then the upper part looks thin which is the only thing that makes German #1 different from German #4.

Leupold reticle

The leupold reticle is another type of reticle that can work for your shooting tasks. There’s much more to the type of reticle. This scope has a variety of duplex reticle in addition to a cross hair pattern view and this features a thicker line at the end of the pattern.

You will find a series of dots that spreads out under the main crosshairs. These dots spread out to either side with the way they spread along the bottom. With the help of these dots, it’ll be easy for you to determine certain distances. On the horizontal and vertical lines, you’ll find cross-marks and numbers here and they assist in providing more information that involves your distance.

An amateur shooter may find these plenty of information about this type of reticle distracting and too much. However, with a very experienced shooter, all these information is pretty helpful and can assist you in getting a more precise shooting.

Unique Reticle Features to Consider to Suit Your Hunting Tasks

Since we’ve listed different reticles you can find with your scope, you may be wondering which of these reticle types suits your hunting tasks. Let’s get into the steps that can assist you to determine the one that suits you below:

Considering the center feature

So, when you take a look at the middle or the center of the reticle, find out if it has a cross, a dot, triangles, or an open circle. These are the common reticle types but there are still lots of reticle shapes you may come across.

However, this is because the center of the reticle tends to be pretty crucial. After all, it’ll tell you where your bullet will be going. This means the center is your aiming point and this very center is the point you’ll be using for your estimation and rifle scope aim.

But in all these, you’ll need to know how your shooting will be. So, ensure you obtain the appropriate reticle style for your shooting needs. So, we recommend you consider these points to make your reticle choice worth the while:

·         Consider if it will be visible when the magnification setting is low.

·         Find out if there will be any interference with your target during night vision.

·         Whenever you zoom in your target, will the reticle hinder vital shoot?

·         Are you the type that takes preference to maintain the same size once the magnification is altered?

·         Or will you increase the magnification as you increase the size?  

Thin vs thick

Another factor to look at is if the reticle crosshair pattern is thin or thick. Remember that the reticle’s post will greatly determine how your eye views the targeted image in the scope.


It’s true that most hunters prefer thick cross hairs reticle more. This is because this type of thick cross hair immediately ushers your eye to the main point of aim which is the center of the reticle. Additionally, it gives the shooter more advantage to see backgrounds that are busy more easily. So, it’s great for viewing complicated backgrounds.

Although the cross hairs may look thick, not too worry because almost all the entire reticle tends to thin out when you get to the centre. Or, they may become finer as you get to the center. For a ballistic reticle or a BDC reticle, you may find the upper post to serve as a long range distance.

Furthermore, a thick crosshair will offer you an extra advantage when it comes to better viewing in conditions with low light conditions or background.


We can go for a thin and fine crosshair if you have any concern for minimal subtension and hair splitting accuracy. However, you may find it a bit difficult to use a fine cross hair reticle with a complicated background.

Although this thin cross hair may not be so great with backgrounds that are busy, this thin cross hair usually features illumination. This illumination assists in better view during the daytime or nighttime.


When we talk about subtension in a scope, we’re referring to portion of surface space that your reticle will cover with your targeted image. So, when the subtension goes higher, your target tends to be more concealed by the reticle shape.

There is an effect on the level of subtension caused by the size of reticle and the type of reticle. Also, the position of the glass reticle has been set up relative to the objective lens in the inner part of the scope tube.

So, thin or fine cross hairs usually have minimal subtension due to its small size. However, you may find it a bit hard to view some background with a fine cross hair. On the other hand, a thick cross hair tends to have higher subtension but the advantage is that you’re able to have a good view of any background.

Now, another term under subtension to look at is focal plane. So, this focal plane lets us know if the reticle is positioned at the back or the front of the erector system of the scope. Therefore, once your target stand on the same focal plane just like the reticle, changes will then be made once you use your magnification.

Still on this focal point, you can have the first focal point (FFP) or the second focal point (SFP). So, for the first focal point, it simply implies that the glass reticle is at the magnification lens front. Then SFP, this means there won’t be any change in size no matter much the magnification is used.

Have a look at the details of the manufacture’s description

When you look into the details of the manufacturer’s description, you can obtain some good information about the style of the reticle, the reticle’s size, and more.

Have in mind that things like hash marks, circles, dots, stadia lines, and so on means something. On the other hand, they may simply have less meaning to you if you’re not aware of what you’re looking at.

So, we implore you to carefully check the description of the manufacturer’s reticle. Take note that these special features that may be present on the post, crosshair or present on the whole image lens may signal a bullet drop compensator. This bullet drop compensator may serve as a hold over point or a distance marker.

Remember the dots, lines, patterns; and so on you see the reticle serves as distance measurements which are only estimates. Except you already know the real distance of the target range, the reticle pattern can always give you an estimated distance.

Often times, the distance are measured in yards and this usually depend on a particular type of rifle or caliber so you can have an accurate estimated distance.

Therefore, we implore you to take note of the path or route your gun will be travelling to so you can nail that shot.  

For instance, if you when choosing a BDC reticle, comprehending how to use this reticle type is key. Usually, most BDC reticle type needs complex calculation for getting the accurate bullet drop for your riflescope.

Therefore, whenever you venture into selecting a ballistic reticle, you should get yourself prepared for some calculations. Alternatively, you may be lucky that the manufacturer provides you a ballistic table which will make things easier for you. This will assist you in the estimation of your bullet drop and then remove the calculation job needed to do on the spot.

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