John's Journal...

Shooting More Accurately – How to Mount and Sight-In Scopes

What’s the Best Reticle

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: The secrets to shooting accurately include choosing the best rifle for your hunt, the correct ammunition and the right bases and rings, mounting your scope properly and then sighting-in your scope correctly. To gather the best information on how to make rifles shoot more accurately, I talked with Russ Sockwell of Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham, Alabama, a gunsmith with 10 years of experience who mounts scopes and sights-in thousands of rifles each year.

Click to enlargeYou need to think about the style of reticle you want for your scope, with the most-popular reticles today the German No. 4s, which have three bold crosshairs with finer crosshairs in the middle of the reticle,” Russ Sockwell says. “Late in the evening, you still can see the bold crosshairs, even if the fine ones disappear. So, you can make the shot even under low-light conditions. The other popular reticle configuration is the Leupold Duplex, which many scope manufacturers have copied. The Duplex features a heavy crosshair that narrows-down to a much-finer crosshair in the center of the scope. Both these kinds of reticles enable the hunter to aim accurately in extremely-low light.”
Many rifles now feature reticles with mil dots, which allow the hunter to hold dead on at 100 yards and then use the dots to make shots out to 200, 300, 400 and even 500 yarClick to enlargeds. However, Sockwell warns that, “If your gun’s capable of shooting from 200 to 400 yards, and you want to use those mil dots as sighting references, you need to aim at those distances with those mil dots and see where they place the bullet at those distances. Mil dots are set up for certain distances inside the scope without considering your bullet weight, your gun, the manufacturer of the bullet, the grains of powder you’re shooting and/or your shooting ability. If you want to purchase a riflescope that has mil dots as a part of the reticle, don’t think you can use those mil dots for aiming without sighting-in your rifle at those distances with those mil dots. The dots aren’t idiot-proof. You still have to sightClick to enlarge-in your rifle with the style of ammunition that you’ll shoot at the distances that the mil dots are set up to shoot accurately. For most hunters, I believe the duplex type of reticle, which is bold at the walls of the scope and narrows down to the center of the field of view is the best all-around reticle for most hunters to use.”
The Best Scope for Squirrel Hunters:
When choosing a riflescope for squirrel hunting, Russ Sockwell recommends a 3-9X variable scope. “A Simmons or a Tasco that cost about $150 each is usually adequate for the squirrel hunter. I have put $400 and $500 Zeiss Conquest riflescopes on squirrel rifles. You also need a fairly-compact scope because the squirrel gun isn’t a big or a heavy rifle.”

To learn more, go to, email Sockwell at or call (205) 822-2010.

Check back each day this week for more about " Shooting More Accurately – How to Mount and Sight-In Scopes"

Day 1: How to Mount Your Riflescope
Day 2: How to Sight-In Your Scope
Day 3: How to Pick a Riflescope
Day 4: What’s the Best Reticle
Day 5: What Price to Pay for a Scope


Entry 373, Day 4