How Many Generations of Night Vision Are There?

Written by guest contributor Richard Douglas.

Night vision is very old tech. Most night vision optics use analog image intensifier tubes — technology that existed ever since the 1930s. In fact, this is the same fundamental technology that the marines used in the Battle of Okinawa (1945). That said, technology has come a long way since then. And now, it’s gotten very good and affordable. And now, it’s gotten so good (and affordable) that it can even be used as an AR-10 scope

Which night vision device should you choose? By the end of this guide, you’ll find the right generation of night vision for you.

Let’s get started!

Gen 0 Night Vision

The German "Vampir" or Zielgerät 1229 was a very big infrared illuminator and is considered the first night vision optic.
A German soldier with a Zielgerät 1229 night vision scope.

This generation is the ‘father’ of modern night vision. It is what soldiers used in World War II—basically, a big infrared searchlight to see in the dark. This huge searchlight was too heavy and impractical for common deployment. That’s why you can’t buy it. Instead, they developed…

Gen 1 Night Vision

A Gen 1 AN/PVS-2 night vision device mounted to an M16.
A Gen 1 AN/PVS-2 night vision device mounted to an M16.

In Vietnam, the military started using Gen 1 night vision optics. It was lighter, the light sensitivity was better, and it worked in very close-range applications. The result? It was the first usable night vision on the market. But is it the right night Gen for you? To find out, let’s break down its pros, cons, and how it looks:

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Great for light usage

Cons

  • Not very clear
  • ‘Fish-eye’ lens effect
  • Blooming or ‘halo effect’ around visible light sources
  • Shorter lifespan (1,500 hours)
  • Short distance—100 yards maximum range
  • IR illuminator gives off position to others

Best Use

If you’re just getting started or a hobbyist, then Gen 1 night vision is for you. It’s cheap and helps you see in the dark in very close-range applications (up to 50 yards).

That said, if you are a little more serious, then go for…

Gen 2 Night Vision

The AN/PVS-4 night vision scope
The AN/PVS-4 night vision scope

Gen 2 arrived in the late 70s. An added microchannel plate allows the night vision optic to be used without extra infrared illumination. This made Gen 2 night vision the first ‘lightweight’ tactical night vision solution. It changed nighttime warfare forever and it’ll probably change your nighttime hunts, too.

Let’s break it down:

Pros

  • Affordable, quality night vision
  • Doesn’t need an IR illuminator to work (although it has one)
  • Improved image quality
  • Longer lifespan (2,500 – 5000 hours)

Cons

  • Lacks image clarity
  • Medium range applications (up to 200 yards)
  • Can cost as much as Gen 3

Best Use

Either nighttime hunting or medium-range application (up to 200 yards) is best for Gen 2. It’s decent for the price. However, if you’re looking to step it up to the very best, then go for…

Gen 3 Night Vision

A look through the Gen 3 Pulsar Phantom night vision riflescope
A look through the Gen 3 Pulsar Phantom night vision riflescope

This is the latest Gen night vision on the market. It originally arrived in the 80s. For Gen 3, a gallium arsenide photocathode (or an upgraded tube) was added. As a result, you can now see almost everything in the dark. But is it worth the extra money?

To find out, let’s break it down:

Pros

  • Highest quality night vision
  • Great low-light performance
  • Doesn’t need an IR illuminator
  • Longest lifespan (10,000+ hours)
  • Goes to 300 yards and beyond
  • Can be used day or night

Cons

  • Very expensive ($1,000+)

Best Use

It’s best used for serious tactical and long-range applications (up to 300+ yards). To put it simply, Gen 3 is the very best, but it does cost a pretty penny. Sometimes going well above the $2,000 price range!

If Gen 2 or 3 are still too expensive for your budget but you don’t want to sacrifice quality or clarity, you’ll probably love…

Digital Night Vision

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.

Digital utilizes the fundamental technology of night vision (photocathode tubes) and improves it by using modern silicon chips to display the image—similar to a digital camera.

The result?

An affordable optic that performs between Gen 1 to Gen 2 in night vision functionality, which is also completely safe to use during the day. Here’s the breakdown:

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Can be used day or night without breaking the unit
  • Reliable (as it doesn’t burn out easily)
  • Can record video

Cons

  • Not combat-tested yet

How It Looks

Sightmark’s Wraith high-quality digital scope (MSRP $599.99) mixes expensive night vision tech and a magnified riflescope all in one. It is also affordable and reliable.

Here’s a video of Sightmark’s Wraith HD Digital Riflescope in-action:

 

Impressive, isn’t it? With that said, here’s the…

Best Use

Digital day/night vision scopes are for the smart hunter that hunts day and night and shoots up to 200 yards.

So now that we’ve got the night vision generations out of the way, it’s time to address the final question on many people’s minds…

Green or White Phosphor Technology

White phosphor provides great contrast.
White phosphor provides great contrast.

Here’s the truth—both do the same job. There’s no scientific evidence showing one is better than the other. It honestly just boils down to preference. If you like how green phosphor looks, then go for it. Likewise, if you like white phosphor (which looks a bit more natural) go with that. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the resolution of the night optic. So, make sure you spend money on a quality, high-resolution optic rather than going for some fancy phosphor color.

And that’s all there is to night vision. With what you’ve just learned so far…

What Night Vision Technology Will You Choose?

Maybe Gen 2 or the more affordable digital night vision? Either way, let me know in the comments below.

About Richard

Richard Douglas is the founder of Scopes Field, a blog where he reviews the best scopes and guns on the market. He’s been featured on various magazines and publications like Daily Caller, Burris Optics, SOFREP, Boyds Gun Stocks, Talon Grips, American Shooting Journal and so much more.

Riflescope Glossary: What is MOA, FOV and POI?

Have you ever found yourself sitting around the campfire, at the gun range, or out in the field confused about the conversation? Then you probably need to read this. This is scope verbiage for dummies.

I can certainly understand why someone would be lost when hearing acronyms like FOV, POI, and MOA. Even someone who has been around firearms and the outdoors their whole life can find themselves tongue-tied when these riflescope terms come up. I have simplified some of the most common terms any hunter, long-range shooter and firearm owner should recognize and comprehend.

Let’s start with what’s already been mentioned: FOV, POI and MOA.

Field of View (FOV)

The field of view (FOV) is the area visible inside your scope.
The field of view (FOV) is the area visible inside your scope.

The field of view is the observable area that a human can view through an optic device. For example, when you look through a scope, any kind of scope, the area that is confined to what you are actually observing through the end of that scope is your field of view or FOV. The FOV can be measured in degrees or linear field.

Point of Impact (POI)

Woman adjusting a Sightmark riflescope
The POI shows a relationship between where you are aiming and where the bullet is going to hit.

The point of impact is where the bullet or laser hits the target. This is where the most impact will be had by pulling the trigger to fire or by aiming the laser downrange. This is especially useful for shotgun operators since a shotgun is designed to project a scattered pattern rather than a single shot. Your POI also shows a relationship between where you are aiming and where the bullet is going to hit. This can tell a rifle operator how far off their gun is from accurately being sighted in.

Minute of Angle (MOA)

A woman and man hunting
Minute-of-angle (MOA) is 1.047 inches at 100 yards and usually adjustable at 1/8- or 1/4-MOA per click,

You will hear this term most in long-range shooting. Minute of angle is often used to describe the size of the target. 1 MOA on a target that is 500 yards away is 5.” But let’s say the MOA on this target is actually 2. This means the target is 10″ in diameter. However, how much 1 MOA affects your POI, depends on the distance of the target. For example, there is a target sitting at 100 yards. An adjustment of 1 MOA on that target will move your POI 1.” This directly correlates in much higher distances as well. Let’s say there is a target at 1,000 yards. 1 MOA adjustment will now move this POI 10.” This helps shooters to more accurately hit their mark when shooting long-range because the bullet drops after firing due to factors such as wind, upwards or downwards angles, and gravity.

Objective Lens

The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope.
The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope.

This is the lens at the end of the scope. Not the lens that you look through, but the lens on the other end of the optic. For example, anytime you see 1-9×30, this means that scope can magnify from 1 to 9 and the diameter of the objective lens is 30 millimeters.

Reticle

Sighmark Pinnacle scope reticle example.
Sightmark Pinnacle scope reticle example.

A reticle is anything in the scope that helps you aim. In its simplest form, a crosshair is a reticle. A reticle can be etched onto the glass. This allows for the reticle to change in size as the scope magnifies (something also known as first focal plane) or to change color based on user preference. A reticle can also be fixed by being made from wire. You can tell whether a reticle is fixed or not by looking through the scope—if the crosshair is fixed at each edge of the scope, it is most likely not etched onto the glass lens.

Eye Relief

The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and your eye where you can see the full field of view.
The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and your eye where you can see the full field of view.

This is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and where the eye sees the full FOV with no dark edge around the image. If you are looking through a scope and there is a dark circle around the image, scoot your head closer to the sight. If you look through a scope and can’t see any dark edges, move your head back a little. Find that sweet spot where you can rest your cheek comfortably against the stock of the gun and see through the scope without any dark edges, but if you moved even a centimeter forwards, you would see a black circle distorting your FOV. If you take anything away from this article, I would suggest this be it. The repercussions of not allowing yourself enough eye relief can lead to something called “scope eye” or “scope bite.” This is when a shooter is too close to the end of a scope and the gun’s recoil causes the scope to hit the shooter and slices their eyebrow open and/or gives them a black eye.

Second Focal Plane

The Sightmark Citadel LR2 riflescope's reticle is a good example of a first focal plane reticle.
The Citadel LR2’s first focal plane reticle.

As mentioned earlier, the first focal plane is when the reticle gets bigger as the operator zooms in, and gets smaller as the operator zooms out. The reticle adjusts in size as the scope magnifies. A second focal plane is the opposite of this—the reticle is fixed in size no matter how magnified the scope can be.

I hope the understanding of these common terms help you get involved in the conversation and also helps you understand how your firearm can work better for you!

What riflescope or optics terms do you not fully understand? Leave your questions in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them!

About Faith

Faith was born and raised in Ennis, Texas, a rural town just south of Dallas. Faith was a Marketing Intern with Sellmark Corporation and currently a senior at Baylor University, graduating soon with a degree in Marketing, with a focus on Data Analytics. Faith grew up hunting mostly deer, dove, and hog. Faith still spends her free time outdoors, as well as reading and coaching Crossfit.

Citadel Riflescopes: Task Oriented Accuracy… Elevated

Picking the right scope can seem pretty daunting, especially when the folks around you offer their “expert” opinions, and downright scary when you see some of the price tags. Sticking to a budget is a no brainer. My Pop always quipped, “I don’t care if it’s 20 bucks. If you can’t afford it, it’s no deal… might as well be $2,000.” He said this more than once, in fact, often. While truth certainly lies in “you get what you pay for,” you can get awfully close to unaffordable with very little difference in performance if you pay attention to features, warranty and, of course, the purpose for your purchase.

A perfect example of affordable riflescopes with all the features of high-end optics and a lifetime warranty is the Sightmark Citadel lineup.
The Sightmark Citadel line of scopes includes many high-end features.

Riflescopes come at quite a range of pricing, reliability and features, the latter being key. Operating from within your financial arena as foundational to your options, the purpose your prospective riflescope should be the paramount concern. Do you need magnification? What distances do you expect to shoot? Do you expect to use holdovers? Do you prefer MOA, MRAD or perhaps IPHY? Will your riflescope be used for up-close-and-personal target engagement, long-range challenges or mid-range fun? Maybe a bit of a mix?

A perfect example of affordable riflescopes with all the features of high-end optics and a lifetime warranty is the Sightmark Citadel lineup. Citadel riflescopes rise above get-what-you-pay-for optic performance like a fortress on a hill; even better, Citadel scopes deliver big on peace-of-mind with Sightmark’s lifetime warranty and are available in five models, 1-6×24 CR1, 1-10x24CR1, 3-18x50LR1, 3-18×50 LR2 and 5-30×56 LR2, that run the gamut of shooting distances for the lion’s share of recreational plinkers, competitive shooters and long-range precision marksmen.

Citadel 1-6×24 CR1 and 1-10×24 CR1 are tactical-inspired scopes with 24mm objective lenses on 30mm tube platforms. As the Citadel name implies, 1-6×24 and 1-10×24 models include a base magnification of 1x and max of 6x or 10x. With 6x, I can get on target out to 500 yards, even a bit more, quite easily and at 10x, close to 1,000 yards—that may be a stretch for others but, to each their own, as they say. Citadel 1-6×24 and 1-10×24 also feature fine-etched, second-focal-plane, red-illuminated CR1 reticles complete with 11 brightness settings and bullet-drop-compensation, calibrated for 55-grain .223 ammunition with a 100-yard zero, out to 600 yards. Adjustments are MOA with ½-MOA per click windage and elevation, up to 120 MOA total range.

Citadel riflescopes come in tactical and long-range models.
The Citadel line ranges from tactical scopes to long-range.

Citadel 3-18×50 LR2 and 5-30×56 LR2 riflescopes are identical, save the magnification ranges and objective lens sizes. Both feature mil-dash first-focal-plane reticles and .1 Mil windage and elevation adjustments. The Citadel 3-18×50 LR1 Riflescope is identical to the 3-18×50 LR2 with one exception, instead of MRAD, the LR1 model is based on MOA, including MOA reticle subtensions and ¼ MOA-per-click windage and elevation turret adjustments.

Citadel LR models are designed to take you long-range, even to extreme distances, while base magnifications of 3x or 5x are still comfortable at closer yardage. Designed, however, with long-range shooters in mind, Citadel 3-18×50 and 5-30×56 LR model riflescopes include enhancements most precision marksmen simply won’t consider going without. Those features include hard-anodized 30mm tubes and fine-etched, red-illuminated, first-focal-plane LR1 or LR2 reticles complete with 11 brightness settings, subtension lines and lower-half “Christmas tree” style reference grids, perfect for elevation and windage holdovers. Glass is exceptionally clear and offers razor-sharp fields of view on all Citadel models. Citadel LR model riflescopes are designed to help you get on target out to 1,000 yards and well beyond. Some of that help also comes from fine-tuning your sight picture with adjustable diopter and parallax.

When it comes down to it, you can’t hit what you can’t see—common sense advice I’ve heard, essentially from day one, from parents, mentors and even drill instructors and primary marksmanship instructors alike. With Sightmark Citadel riflescopes, you won’t have that problem; in fact, you’ll even have some extra cash for ammo. What could be better?

Click here to check out the Citadel line of scopes.

Don’t know what type of riflescope you need? Click here to learn more about MIL-Dash vs. MOA.

What is the farthest distance you’ve shot? Share your long-range experiences below.

 

 

Sightmark Adds to the Citadel Family

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2019/01/23) – Sightmark expands the Citadel riflescope family with the addition of the Citadel 3-18×50 LR1 riflescope. This premium riflescope is designed for hunters, medium-to-long range shooting, competition shooters and law enforcement.

The Citadel 3-18x50 LR1 reticle features ¼ MOA click adjustments at 100 yards and a first focal plane reticle.
The Citadel 3-18×50 LR1 reticle features ¼ MOA click adjustments at 100 yards and a first focal plane reticle.

The Citadel 3-18×50 LR1 (SM13039LR1) features a 6x optical system giving you a wide magnification to shoot medium-to-long range, fully multi-coated lens system, exposed pop-up locking turrets and a red illuminated reticle with 11 brightness settings for contrast against targets. The Citadel is IP67 waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, fogproof and comes complete with flip-up covers, throw lever and a sunshade cover.

A reticle widely used in shooting sports across North America, a first focal plane reticle means the dimensions of the reticle are true to any magnification, thus range finding and performing holdovers can be done at any magnification. The Citadel 3-18×50 LR1 reticle features ¼ MOA click adjustments at 100 yards.

Unveiling the New Standard in Digital Riflescopes: Wraith

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2019/01/22) – Sightmark introduces the Wraith Digital Riflescope: the future, in high definition. The 4-32x50mm Wraith digital riflescope is a revolutionary, new high-definition optic designed in Texas by hunters, for hunters.

The new Wraith digital high-definition riflescope from Sightmark has 10 different reticles and 9 color choices.
Introducing the new Wraith digital HD riflescope.

The advanced 1920×1080 HD sensor provides full-color clarity in daytime; simply hit the left arrow to enable night mode with classic emerald or black and white viewing options. An included 850nm IR illuminator provides enhanced image brightness and accurate target acquisition to an astounding 200 yards. Notably, the IR is removable for hunters who live in states where emitted light is illegal.

The Wraith allows (and Sightmark encourages) onboard recording and video export so your favorite moments can be shared with your friends and family on your favorite social media platform.

The Wraith also includes:

  • Memory slot for up to 64GB storage
  • Customizability, with 10 reticle options and 9 color choices
  • 4 hours of battery life from 4 common AAs
  • MicroUSB port for external power
  • 4-32 optical magnification; 1-8x digital zoom

Cant IS a Word in Long Range Shooting

When it comes to long-range shooting, luck is most decidedly not in the cards. Lobbing hundreds of rounds down range and employing some semblance of Kentucky is sure to result in a hit or two somewhere in the mix—it certainly doesn’t demonstrate one’s ability to tackle precision shooting…or maybe it does—but not in a good way. At the risk of raining on someone’s parade, using volume of fire to ring long-range steel does nothing to showcase marksmanship unless that volume is put into practice, not raining lead hoping something hits.

Long-range shooting takes skill and practice but also the right rig. Using Sightmark’s bubble level ring helps with cant.
Using Sightmark’s bubble level ring helps with cant.

To be clear, a shooter’s skill, rig, ballistic and environmental conditions either combine to score a hit at distance or not. Some latitude may apply, good or bad, in any of those long-range shooting elements; however, where weaknesses reside, greater strengths in other areas must compensate—weather conditions may be worse one day while the rig and ammunition capabilities are essentially fixed variables. This means a stronger skill set is required to compensate for the weakness in environmental attributes, i.e. wind, rain, etc.

Fortunately, while some elements like your rig and ammo may be unchangeable on the firing line, they certainly can be strengthened to enhance your skillset and overall accuracy, the use of a cant indicator as an example. Cant is a silent long-range killer, responsible for lack of accuracy more than people care to talk about… and more often than not, people don’t talk about it at all. In a world of cause and effect, perhaps they don’t talk about it because they’ve never been talked to about it and now, here we are talking about it. At close- to mid-range, including those gangster kill shots you see on TV, may not make much of a difference but stretch your shooting to respectable distances and it can quickly become a problem.

Marine Corps snipers not only talk about cant, but they are also trained to understand its effect and correct it; in fact, the Marine Corps sniper addresses it pretty directly, stating just 1 degree of cant shifts point of impact as much as 6 inches at 1,000 yards. Six inches may not seem like much but it can easily mean the difference between success and catastrophic failure at long-range, especially when you consider those other pesky variables like wind, humidity, altitude, spin drift, the shooter’s skill set and yes, the capabilities of both rifle setup and ammo.

The Sightmark bubble level ring has a highly visible center line for accuracy.
The Sightmark bubble level ring has a highly visible center line for accuracy.

Six inches may just be six inches or compounded with other issues that take you off target altogether (and may be have been a hit given the shooter got those six inches back.) Precision military shooting aside, ask a competitive long-range shooter chasing points on a target face if six inches matters—believe me, it does. There’s a reason Scott McRee, owner of McRees Precision and the producer of world-class precision rifle chassis, embeds a patented M-Lev cant indicator in each of his stocks. It’s important stuff.

Fortunately, somewhere between going without and buying one of McRee’s chassis, a much more affordable option can certainly be had in rail or optic-mounted cant indicators. The Sightmark Bubble Level Ring is a perfect solution, offering precision cant-indicator accuracy, rugged reliability, simple installation, a lifetime warranty and a price point you simply can’t ignore.

Sightmark offers the aircraft-grade aluminum Bubble Level Ring in 30mm and 34mm sizes for quick, single-bolt attachment to your riflescope with evenly disbursed pressure. At the heart of this simple, effective cant indicator lies an embedded horizontal bubble level complete with a high visibility center-line. When mounted, the Bubble Level Ring provides instant moment-of-truth cant information to ensure your shots are as accurate as your skill, environmental conditions, ballistics and the rest of your rig’s capabilities allow. At 1,000 yards, the value in getting six inches back can be, well, invaluable—quite a trade-off considering MSRP on the Sightmark Bubble Level Ring is just $23.99 and includes a lifetime warranty. But what do I know? I’m just an aging Devil Dog with a passion for going long with lead.

The Bubble Level Ring is available in 30mm and 34mm.

Click Here for the 30mm and Click Here for the 34mm.

Introducing Sightmark’s new Bubble Level Ring!

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/11/13) – Sightmark introduces its newest products, the 30mm Bubble Level Ring (SM19044) and 34mm Bubble Level Ring (SM19045). Bubble rings are designed to indicate whether a riflescope is mounted properly and level on the firearm.

Shoot straight and on target with a precise mounting of your riflescope with Sightmark's bubble level ring.
Mount your riflescope properly with the bubble level ring.
The bubble ring features a highly visible center line that easily ensures the bubble is properly centered, eliminating an offset riflescope.
The bubble ring features a highly visible center line that easily ensures the bubble is properly centered, eliminating an offset riflescope.

Sightmark’s Bubble Level Rings are crafted out of aircraft-grade aluminum for a lightweight, durable design. Quickly attach the bubble ring to your riflescope with the single bolt attachment, helping to evenly distribute pressure when tightened. The bubble ring features a highly visible center line that easily ensures the bubble is properly centered, eliminating an offset riflescope.

How to Use the Sightmark Latitude F-Class Reticle

Running long-range optics like the Latitude 8-32x60 F-Class doesn’t take rocket science but it does take practice.
Running long-range optics like the Latitude 8-32×60 F-Class doesn’t take rocket science but it does take practice.

Running long-range optics like the Latitude 8-32×60 F-Class doesn’t take rocket science but it does take practice. Long-range reticles come in two focal planes, first and second, and in all manner of design from more complicated layouts with subtensions, reference grids and other etched ballistic data to simple, traditional crosshairs. The Latitude features the latter reticle on a second-focal-plane. While some precision shooters may argue the need for subtensions and/or a first focal plane system, this is not necessarily the case in F-class shooting and honestly, for those who know how to run an optic, the Latitude’s simpler reticle is easier to employ—set your crosshairs on center-mass and squeeze the trigger. Adjustments are made via windage and elevation turrets rather than using holdovers.

 

What the Latitude’s reticle system does mean, however, is that you must become proficient at making effective turret adjustments and making such

manipulations does require more time; fortunately, F-class is a slow-fire game—you have plenty of time for adjustments before stages, and even during, if you know what you’re doing behind the optic. That is to say, understanding fundamental optic attributes like MOA or MRAD and first- or second-focal-plane, and how they work for or against you in a given shooting environment are vital to your shooting skill set.

Sightmark’s Surprisingly Simple F-class reticle

The Sightmark Latitude has a second focal plane reticle.
The Sightmark Latitude has a second focal plane reticle.

While many precision shooters, especially those running long-ranges on dynamic stages with varying distance targets, including scenarios where rapid distance changes are required, F-class shooting is not that game. Sure, shooting is timed but match-fire is slow. Thus, the Latitude’s basic crosshair reticle is a solid choice. Moreover, without subtensions or a reference grid, there is absolutely no need for a first-focal-plane reticle (FFP optics are generally quite a bit more expensive).

Good D.O.P.E. – The 411 on MOA, Clicks and Adjustments

The Latitude’s turrets adjust your position of impact (POI) ¼-MOA at 100 yards, or ½-MOA at 200, 1-MOA at 400, 2-MOA at 800 and 3-MOA at 1,200 (the farthest target distance you’re likely to see in F-class shooting). To assign values to these movements in easier to understand language, MOA is 1.047 inches at 100 yards. So, at 1,200 yards, MOA would be 12.564 inches. To that end, simply consider an MOA as an inch. Extending elevation and windage math out over distance, based on load data and environmental conditions and recording that information creates your “Data On Previous Engagements,” also known as D.O.P.E. (DOPE)

The term DOPE is used pretty loosely to include real D.O.P.E. info collected over time as well as ballistic calculators; I routinely have gone the way of high-tech-redneck and now use ballistic calculators often—sure I can do the long-hand math to determine adjustments, but why, if I can the get same data from a cell phone app that actually works? Of course, even then, a calculator’s ballistic chart may be called DOPE, it’s not really… but for many of us, it does a decent job. True DOPE would actually be a collection of info from these ballistic charts, but I digress.

By and large, the key to making effective adjustments is to assess distance from Point of aim (POA) to POI. This information tells you how many clicks on the turrets you need to find your mark but since we’re often talking about ¼-MOA clicks, as is the case on the Latitude 8-32×60, it’s easier to think of MOA only, not clicks yet at all; moreover, it’s easier to begin with considering 1 MOA as 1 inch and move on from there.

Elevation Adjustments

By and large, the key to making effective adjustments is to assess distance from Point of aim (POA) to POI.
By and large, the key to making effective adjustments is to assess distance from Point of aim (POA) to POI.

If 1 MOA is effectively 1 inch at 100 yards, then 1 MOA is 10 inches at 1,000 yards. That means it’s 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards and so on. To determine the value of a click simply divide the distance value by 4. For example, at 1,000 yards, we know 1 MOA is 10.47 inches. Dividing this number by 4 tells us each click moves the POI 2.6 inches. To further simplify to say 1 MOA is 10 inches and 1 click then moves us .25 inches. Even at the extreme range of 1,000 yards, considering 1 MOA as simply 1 inch only leaves a deviation of just under 5/8-inch at 1,000 yards—an incredibly minuscule deviation.

Windage: The KISS Method to Wind Calls and Adjustments

Windage, including spindrift and wind drift, is a bit more complicated, especially since there are forces working against bullet flight at varying velocities and equally varied angles. You’re essentially lucky if you’re only dealing with the effects of consistent head, tail or crosswind. For wind, I generally use a ballistic calculator. Absent of somebody, or something, doing the math for me, as a stubborn Jarhead, I revert back to my Marine Corps training with a decent degree of success. While my instruction was 30 years ago, little to nothing, I suspect in terms of Marine Corps marksmanship training, has changed; in fact, a retired Army major, John Plaster, also summarizes this information pretty eloquently in his article at RifleShooterMag.com. The information can also be found in the publicly available Marine Corps coach’s course on wind call, published August 2008.

In a nutshell, we took distance, divided it by 100, multiplied it by the wind speed (determined by range flags or other environmental elements affected by wind) and divided it by wind constant of 15 to determine MOA of adjustment, then made those adjustments based on the same distance-to-target per-click values we already know. Of course, there are two issues, first, this is more specifically accurate (if that’s even an appropriate term when it comes to wind) to 500 yards. Maj. Plaster (and the Marine Corps) asserts that the wind constant (15 up to 500 yards) is decreased (roughly—pay attention to 700-800 yards) by value of one per 100 yards. i.e. 14 at 600, 13 at 700 and 800, 12 at 900 and 11 at 1,000 yards—many long-range shooters simply use a wind constant of 10 with the expectation of at least minute-of-man accuracy in consistent wind.

Here is an example of a 10 MPH wind at 900 yards in MOA, using a reduced constant of 11:

The Latitude riflescope with F-Class reticle is easy to learn.
The Latitude riflescope with F-Class reticle is easy to learn.

Distance of 900 yards / 100 = 9

Wind speed of 10 mph

9×10 = 90

90 / 11 = 8.2 MOA adjustment

If you were shooting in mils, you would divide 8.2 MOA by 3.4377 (the conversion of MOA to MIL) to arrive at 2.4 mils of adjustment

*Even using a wind constant of 10 would have resulted in 9 MOA or 2.6 mils. When you’re talking about a sub-MOA variance at that distance, which is wrong, the adjustment or the wind call? It’s hard to say.

Of course, remembering that wind values are made up of full, half or zero, if your “clock” observation of wind direction falls into the half value, you simply cut the adjustment in half. You certainly could compensate even further, say ¼ value or ¾ value but doing can make your head explode and isn’t as friendly to work out on the fly when you’re on the range. Considering full value and half value, the half value ranges, as they relate to a clock face, are generally between 12.5 – 2.5, 3.5 – 5.5, 6.5 – 8.5 and 9.5 – 11.5. Using the example, everything equal except wind direction at half-value, the MOA adjustment would be 4 MOA rather than 8 MOA, or 1.2 mils rather than 2.3 mils.

Final Shots

With a grasp on elevation and windage adjustments, the only remaining manipulations to be made are to the Latitude’s variable magnification, fast-focus eyepiece (AKA: diopter), reticle illumination (0-5) and parallax (AKA: side-focus).

Adjust the magnification to your desired level. Adjust the diopter ring until your sight picture is crisp—this is often done at closer range (100-200 yards for me) and lower magnification to minimize mistaking mirage for lack of optic clarity. Thread the locking ring toward the scope tube to lock the diopter in place. Adjust the parallax (side focus) knob to closely match your target distance. Begin rocking your head up and down while continuing to hold your crosshairs on the target. At first, the crosshairs may sweep across the target. As you continue to slowly adjust your parallax, the reticle will lessen its movement over the target center. Adjust the parallax until the reticle rests at center-mass even while continuing to rock your head up and down. Not only is your parallax set, but you should also notice your sight picture is now even crisper. Adjust reticle illumination to off or to the lowest setting comfortable for your sight picture and identification of the reticle against the target.

Click here to check out the Latitude series of riflescopes.

 

Preparing for Your First F-Class Competition

The legacy of long-range precision competition shooting began in 1903 when a government advisory board called the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety, Inc. developed the National Matches to encourage national defense preparedness and improve our military’s marksmanship.

The key to high scores in F-Class is knowing how to compensate for bullet drop.
The key to high scores in F-Class is knowing how to compensate for bullet drop.

Often called CMP/NRA High Power, these shooting competitions have developed substantially over the years. Traditionally, NRA High Power rifle competitions were conducted using only iron sights; however, in 2016, the association started allowing optics. There are also quite a few different divisions so, depending on skill level and devotion, most shooters can find a competition that appeals to them. One of those is F-Class.

F-Class is a long-range rifle shooting competition that measures your marksman’s skills from distances 300 to 1,200 yards. A Full-Bore competition shooter from Canada, George Farquharson started F-Class in the 1990s in his elder years when his eyes aged to where he could not shoot accurately using iron sights. In 2005, it was officially recognized by the NRA.

From the prone position, F-Class shooters fire usually 3 relays in sets of 15 to 20 rounds at a six square foot bullseye target at either various distances or one fixed distance. Divided into two classes, competitors have the choice to shoot Open Class or Target Rifle Class.

Open class allows any rifle .35 caliber and above that weighs less than 22 pounds—including bipod and optic. Open Class participants can use front and rear rests. Target Rifle Class is reserved to unmodified rifles chambered in .223 Remington or .308 Winchester only and aren’t allowed to weigh less than 18.18 pounds including accessories. The only equipment allowed on Target Rifle Class rifles is a bipod or sling and optic. Target Rifle Class competitors can only use a rear rest. Muzzle devices are not allowed in either Class.

F-Class competition shooting doesn’t have many rules, that is why it is such a growing shooting sport. It is easy to learn, fun, challenging and affordable!

Here are the two major things you need to know before joining an F-Class competition.

Gear Up

For both classes, you want an accurate rifle, a clear optic with at least 20x magnification, a rear shooting bag or rest, bipod and high-quality match-grade ammo.

Rifle

Most successful F-Class shooters use a bolt-action rifle. There are plenty of affordable, good factory rifles that achieve sub-MOA accuracy. Check out the Remington 700, Savage Model 10 or 12, and Ruger M77, just to name a few. Popular F-class calibers include 6.5 Creedmoor, .243 Winchester, and .284 Winchester. Just don’t go too big, because recoil can affect your follow up shots. A 24-inch target barrel is ideal.

Ammo

Most experienced F-Class competitors reload their own ammo, but for the beginner F-Class shooter, using pre-loaded match-grade ammo is acceptable. You want a bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient of at least .450 to .500 or better with a minimum velocity of 2,650 feet per second. Hollow point boat tail is recommended.

Scope

The Sightmark Latitude 8-32x60mm long-range scope has an elevation range of 110 MOA.
The Sightmark Latitude 8-32x60mm long-range scope has an elevation range of 110 MOA.

 

The lack of a quality scope can ruin you in F-Class. However, there is no need to drop thousands on your first long-range scope. All you need is clear, crisp glass, a 30mm or larger tube, at least 40 MOA target turrets, a useable reticle and at least 20x magnification.

We Suggest…

The Sightmark Latitude 8-32x60mm F-Class riflescope is quite substantial with its extreme magnification range of 8x up to a staggering 32x; oversized 60mm objective lens; large, tactile, distinct-click turrets; single-piece 32mm tube, perfect ¼ MOA-per-click adjustability and an overall elevation range of 110 MOA—the windage range of adjustability also does not slouch at 70 MOA. For razor-sharp clarity, the nitrogen-purged Latitude boasts premium, fully multi-coated, anti-reflective glass and a fine-etched red/green illuminated, second-focal-plane F-Class reticle with five brightness settings.

Practice

An accurate precision rifle and clear scope certainly help increase your scores, but a lot of it comes down to you—the shooter. The key to high scores is knowing how to compensate for bullet drop so you can make your adjustments accordingly. Before competing, you will want to practice using a spotting scope, ballistic calculator, and wind meter. Begin by boresighting and zeroing your rifle and scope. Then, experiment with different types of ammo to find the best one for your rifle. Keep a shooter’s log of all your shots during practice so you can always refer to the proper adjustments.  When you practice, focus on breath and trigger control, aim and overall rifle handling.

To get started in F-Class Shooting Competitions, you will need the following equipment:

  • Rifle
  • Ammo
  • Scope
  • Comfortable shooting mat
  • Spotting scope
  • Bipod
  • Shooting rest—front and rear or just rear for Target Class
  • Timer
  • Wind meter
  • Ballistic calculator
  • Marksman’s databook

F-Class competition long-range shooting allows you to challenge yourself and push your equipment to its limits. There is a short learning curve and once you understand how to compensate for bullet drop, is a very rewarding sport.

Janet Raab, former manager of the NRA’s High-Power Rifle says, “F-Class is the fastest-growing type of high-power competition because it offers the challenge of long-range shooting in a format that is fun and easy to learn.”

So, gear up and go out there and start competing!

To find F-Class Matches in your area, click here.

For more on F-Class competition shooting rules, click here.

Do you shoot F-Class or any other long-range precision competitions? If so, leave readers your pointers in the comment section.

 

 

8 Factors to Consider Before Buying Your First Riflescope

Deciding to buy a riflescope is a good choice. Scopes make hunting, competition, target and long-range shooting easier and more accurate. However, there is almost an endless amount of choice. How is one supposed to choose? This how-to guide to buying a riflescope will help you narrow your choices.

Written by John Shellenberger

  1. Magnification

    Sightmark Latitude riflescope
    The Sightmark Latitude riflescopes help with precise shot placement and have fine-etched illuminated reticles.

Magnification is one of the most important aspects of a riflescope. Magnification is the range to which you can multiply the naked eye’s vision. In other words, a scope with 2x magnification power is twice the power of your unaided eye.  Magnification is referred to in power level increments and is represented by the first numbers in a riflescope’s name. For example, on a variable zoom 1-4x32mm scope, the magnification would be 1-4x what the naked eye sees. On a fixed scope, like a 4x32mm scope, the magnification is fixed at 4x what the human eye can see.

Magnification is largely preferential. If you are a hunter who shoots moving targets under 100 yards, 3-9x would perform well. If you want to hit bullseyes from 750 yards, then a scope with a larger magnification range like 5-30x might suit your style.

  1. Objective Lens Size

The objective lens size is the diameter of the lens closest to the barrel of the rifle, and farthest away from the stock of the rifle. The objective lens diameter is the number after the x in the riflescopes title. For example, a 1-4x32mm scope has an objective lens with a diameter of 32mm. The size of your objective lens affects how much light the scope will be able to transmit. A larger objective lens lets in more light, producing a brighter image, but at the expense of being heavier than a scope with a smaller objective lens.

Citadel riflescope
This smaller Citadel scope has a 1-6x magnification
  1. Weight

Weight is a factor you want to consider before you make your purchase. Think about where you will be doing most of your shooting. If you are shooting long distances at the range where you’ll have a bipod or sandbags to fire your rifle from, then a heavier scope probably won’t affect you very much. If you are stalking deer in the mountains and have to do a lot of hiking in between shots, it could be beneficial for you to choose a lighter riflescope since constantly raising and holding a heavy rifle takes its toll after some time.

  1. Elevation/Windage Adjustment

Windage and elevation adjustment turrets are used to adjust the position of the bullet’s impact. Windage adjustments have the ability to move the bullet’s point of impact to the left or right in relation to the reticle. Elevation adjustments are used to move the bullet’s point of impact up or down. Scope adjustments are either made in minute of angle units or milliradians. For the beginner hunter, once you sight in your rifle, the windage and elevation turrets won’t need to be adjusted again. These adjustments are extremely helpful for tactical shooters making long distance shots.

  1. Lens Coating

Next, to the objective lens size, lens coatings are the most important aspect of light transmission. When looking through the scope, you want to see the brightest and clearest image possible. This is affected by the amount of reflected light coming through the lens and the amount of light transmitted through the lenses. The goal of optical coatings are to reduce the glare and the loss of light caused by reflection. More coatings generally result in better light transmission. There are four main categories of optical lens coatings:

  • Coated– at least one of the lenses has a single layer of anti-reflective coating
  • Fully Coated– on every air to glass lens (the outer lenses) there is a single layer of anti-reflective coating
  • Multicoated– at least one of the lenses has multiple layers of anti-reflective coating
  • Fully Multicoated– multiple layers of coating have been put on all air to glass lenses

Keep in mind that with higher quality comes a higher price; however, spending the extra money to get quality coatings can greatly impact your shooting experience.

  1. Reticle

Also known as the “crosshair,” the reticle is the part of the riflescope that predicts where the bullet will go. Looking at a reticle through the riflescope is similar to lining up your shot in iron sights. Reticles are a matter of preference and a huge variety is available for shooters to choose from. On a very basic level, the crosshairs’ thickness is going to affect the precision of your shot. Larger reticles are easier to see in low-light situations, but can sometimes dwarf or cover up the target if the target is far away. Thinner crosshairs allow the shooter to be more precise but are more difficult to see in low-light.

Many reticles come with posts or scales on their crosshairs. These small ticks are minute of angle or milliradian measurements used to compensate for the bullet’s drop at greater distances. However, not every tick mark is always accurate at any range, because the reticle can be affected by what focal plane it is set in.

  1. Focal Plane

Focal plane can be found in two forms—first or second. In a second focal plane riflescope, the reticle is at the end of the erector tube near the end closest to the butt of the rifle. This means that the magnification is changing behind the reticle in relation to the shooter, so the reticle image maintains its original size. The reticle is not always proportional to the target, only at a certain magnification (often the greatest magnification possible). As you zoom in, the reticle takes up more and more of your vision, appearing larger though it is actually staying the same size it always was.

In a first focal plane riflescope, the reticle is located in the front of the erector tube—meaning when you zoom in with the scope, it also zooms in on the reticle as well. This creates a proportionate changing of size between the target and your reticle. Since everything is proportional, the reticle’s tick marks are accurate at all ranges, not just the most zoomed-in range. First focal plane riflescopes are more expensive in general, but allow the shooter to make adjustments much faster than changing the windage or elevation adjustments.

  1. Tube Size

Tube size is important to know for a beginner because you want to be able to use your scope after you buy it, meaning you need the right size mounting rings for your scope. Tubes can be found generally in two sizes: 30mm and 1 inch. Other than increasing the adjustment range internally, neither offers greater benefits than the other, a larger tube doesn’t mean it lets more light in. However, you will need to know what size tube you have so when you go to use your scope you aren’t stuck trying to put 1-inch mounting rings on a 30mm tube. If you live in the United States, you might want to remember that more riflescopes are built with one-inch tubes than are not. However, once again, tube size is entirely preferential.

Do you have further questions about riflescopes? Leave them in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them.

Click here to find your new riflescope!