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Rifle scope turret systems are all based around some of the most vital factors in successful hunting – distance and accuracy.
With target and ballistic turrets, you can place precise and accurate shots well past 1000 yards.
With an intimidating reputation, do these turrets hold up to their promise?
Let’s get into what turret systems are and how they can improve accuracy, no matter the distance, in your next hunt.
What are Target Turrets?
Target turrets are your external, raised knobs located at the beginning of the eye bell on the top and right side of the rifle scope.
These are called the windage and elevation knobs and they make adjustments.
Their objective is to change your bullet impact by using the reticle cross hairs to raise, lower, or move sideways for a true point of aim.
The turrets may or may not have distance markings on them.
More commonly than not, they rotate in MOA or Mrad clicks. A friction turret doesn’t have the clicking mechanism. If you’re curious about what a friction turret is, check out our Leupold Rifleman 4-12X40 Review.
How to Use Target Turrets
The physical use of target turrets is elementary in design. Here’s a simple how-to to get you started.
The next most common method is the coin-slot. You’ll need to keep a coin, flat head screwdriver, or the tool that the manufacturer sent with the scope on you at all times to be able to make adjustments. Other turret constructions can be awkward and impractical. You might have to use a specialized tool to use it.
What to Look For in a Target Turret System
Here are some tips to remember when scrutinizing a potential buy to make using target turrets easy, simple, and smooth.
Are the clicks positive? Positive in this case means crisp, sharp, and you can feel the cogs and gears moving in place.
What are Target Turrets Used For?
Target turrets are used for two things. The first is to sight in or zero your rifle scope to the rifle and ammunition you’re using. Sighting in needs to be done every time you use a different type of bullet with the same scope and rifle.
If you’re not quite sure what sighting in means or how to do it, here’s a comprehensive step-by-step plan on how to sight your new rifle scope. With that to read over, you’ll get a fully detailed look at everything that’s involved with getting your scope into tip-top shape before you ever fire off a round. From focusing the diopter and bore sighting to zeroing your scope, you’ll get everything you need to know.
But, for a simple and quick round-up of target turret use right now, I’ll drop off a few sighting in tips for you to muse over.
You should now be sighted in. This distance that you just sighted in your scope for is usually 100 yards. If you’re using ballistic turrets for very long distances, you may be sighting in at 200 yards. This is called your original zero. This brings us to discovering how to use features that reset back to zero that we will discuss in a minute. But first, let’s briefly talk about the second use of the target turret system.
Bullet Drop Compensation
The further out you shoot, the more of an effect gravity, bullet velocity, bullet weight, rifle power, wind, and almost anything you can think of that has to do with shooting will affect where your bullet strike is.
Back with the old school ways, without telescopic technology like what we have today, long distance shots out to 300 yards or more was really just a guess at best. With so many factors coming into play as to where your bullet will actually strike the target, technology really has improved accuracy, preciseness, and the rules surrounding ethical hunting.
Ballistic reticles play a large part in compensating for bullet drop using the target turret system.
Here are some tips on what to look for in a ballistic reticle:
How to Use the Turret System for BDC Adjustments
Each rifle scope will be different – even if the turret measurement system is the same i.e. 1/4 MOA clicks. Here’s a brief how-to to get you started.
Just make the number of clicks on the turret system then aim at the correct marking on the ballistic reticle to get dead on. When increasing your distance, you’ll need to dial your turrets up. When decreasing your distance, you’ll need to dial your turrets back down.
How to Use Turrets to Reset Zero
This isn’t always an aspect that rifle scopes have, but it’s a super convenient feature that makes shooting a much more streamlined and pleasant experience.
Being able to reset zero means being able to go back to your original zero in a jiffy. This feature takes away the need for you to remember how many clicks you made or how far up you dialed to reverse the process and get back to zero.
While nearly all manufacturers have slightly different ways to mark your original zero, there is a stress-free, simple, fast, and popular way to do it.
But, what about ballistic turrets? How do they work? And, isn’t a ballistic reticle enough? Let’s get your questions answered and your concerns addressed about this type of turret system next.
What are Ballistic Turrets?
Ballistic turrets are large and over-sized components that sit on top of the elevation turret. It has distance markings on it, usually in 100 yard increments, for easy reference and simple use. It enables you to compensate for bullet drop from known distances.
Features of a Ballistic Turret
Here are some things to look out for when considering a ballistic turret.
To have your turret outfitted for you, just send in what zero distance you want, all the usual bullet specifications (pretty much all the information you would put into a ballistic program), and even better, give them the number of clicks it takes to get from your zero to an ever further distance.
This would be like having your scope and rifle zeroed for 200 yards and then making 55 clicks to get dead on at 600 yards.
With all of this intimate information, you can have a fully calibrated turret for your exact ammo and rifle. On the flip side, if you were to change anything about the shooting variables such as the bullet, the scope, extreme elevation and wind changes, and more, your ballistic turret will be unusable.
Pros and Cons of Ballistic Turrets
Benefits of Ballistic Turrets:
- Very easy and simple to use – just turn the dial to the distance your target is in and shoot
- Can work with any magnification
- Designed for extreme long range shooting
- Allows for multiple zeros
- Takes holdovers and bullet drop out of the equation
- Custom make dials for specific loads
- More precise and finer accuracy
- Has zero stop features
- Perfect tool to use with a laser rangefinder
Drawbacks of Ballistic Turrets:
- Requires added set up, time, and practice to know how to use correctly
- Can encourage misplaced shots in poor conditions
- Extremely more expensive than conventional rifle scopes
- More costly than a ballistic reticle
- Custom-made makes turret useless if you change any variable in your scope, ammo, and hunting conditions
Becoming a master at long distance shooting is never going to be a destination. It’s always going to be a journey to properly maintain and hone your skills. For more information on how to integrate the ethics of long distance hunting and long range rifle scopes, see our NightForce scope reviews here.
Turret systems have been designed to help maximize not only your enjoyment, but your accuracy. While they can be intimidating to look upon, they’ll certainly grow on you as you get intimate with it at the range. You might not be able to go without again.