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How to Pick a Scope by Todd Hodnett

By: Todd Hodnett



This is a huge decision and one that should not be taken lightly.  I can remember growing up and saving all my money to buy a rifle and then I would just put whatever scope on it that I could afford.  I now know this process is backwards.  The optic is the defining element of the whole experience.  How well you enjoy the time out in the field is based on what you can see which is totally based on the optic.  Your scope allows you to get the most out of your rifle.  Your rifle will never shoot better than what the scope allows. Let’s define each element of your decision.




Accuracy is a big component of why I chose a scope.  If the scope is not of high quality, you may never realize the accuracy of your rifle.  This comes from several different issues with a scope.  For me, one of my first concerns is the ease of setting the parallax.  This allows you to place the target on the same focal plane as the reticle.  When this is done properly, the shooter is capable of getting the most out of their rifle.  If the parallax is not set properly, the shooter may see a large group size or fliers due to where the shooters eye is in relation to the scope.  When parallax is removed from the scope, the target now in sharp focus is on the same focal plane as the reticle. When this happens, it doesn’t matter where the shooters eye is in relation to the center of the scope.  The reticle is where the shooter perceives it to be on target. 


The problem here is that a lot of shooters will be fooled by the fact that the eye is fast to adjust and will focus on the reticle which is actually blurred, but the shooters eye will change shape to make it in focus.  Then when the shooter moves his/her head slightly, the reticle moves on target.  If the shooter didn’t move the rifle, how do we know where the reticle really is when it’s moving on target?  This is a huge problem.  Some scopes are much easier to set the ocular focus to where the reticle is clear and then with the side parallax adjustment the parallax can be removed for each shot by making the image of the target crisp in focus. 



Another big issue is returning zero when dialing.  We see a lot of scopes that don’t return repeatedly to zero and some scopes that just don’t track.  What I mean by this is when you dial up; you don’t get the actual amount of mils or MOA adjustment that you dialed on the turret.  I remember back in the day, we would do a box drill, this was done by dialing one mil up, one mil right, one mil down and one mil left.  You should have a perfect box.  Nearly all scopes can do this.  The issue is when the small errors in the scope start to start to add up.  I remember testing a scope one time and I had a Navy SEAL with me.  I told him to make sure he made the mils in the scope match the mils we had on the CATS target.  This is a calibration target that Horus makes and it is awesome for knowing if your scope tracks.


When we lay down he said the mils match in his reticle to the mil on the target. I was perplexed because the scope I was using was off.  When we moved back and I made 10 mils in my scope equal 10 mils on the target, he said he was still good.  After questioning him I found he was looking at only 1 mil.  In the test the scope I was using would not track perfectly, when I dialed up 10 mils, I would get 10.4 mils but if we would have only dialed 1 mil this would have been 1.04 and I would have never seen the error as the group size of even a .25 moa rifle would have been lost in the noise.  Obviously, this can create a problem when dialing as your dope dialed on the turret would not match the actual realized dope that the scope gave you.


One must be sure when testing a scope for tracking that we make the mils in the scope match the mils on the target and the more you can match up the more accurate your test will be.  The reason behind this is that this is an angular measurement.  If we measure the distance to the target and then mark exact increments of a measured mil on the target.  The target should be plumb to ensure this stays in alignment.  But if we just measure the mils in the scope on the target and mark the target accordingly, the scope should track with the mils in the scope. 



All scopes are not equal when it comes to the clarity of the image.  Some scopes will have coatings that make you think under some lighting in stores that the image is just as nice as a higher quality scope.  Make sure you test this outside before you buy.  Most higher end scopes use much better glass than the rest.  When you have a quality scope, you spend more time glassing with it than shooting. I have used scopes that the parallax knob seemed to not do anything.  The target became clearer but never obtained what I would consider a crisp image. 


If there is any mirage or moisture in the air, this can create an issue as you can never find when you have removed parallax for the shot as the target never becomes crisp.  Please remember the range numbers on the parallax adjustment really don’t mean anything, setting it to 500 meters doesn’t mean you’re parallax free at 500 meters.  Just make the target crisp and never be concerned about what number you are on.




I can remember when this was a real issue for virtually all scopes, but most quality scopes have figured this out.  The industry had an issue with what was called the pin cushion effect.  This was with gridded reticles and the curve of the glass would give this pin cushion appearance.  Not a problem with quality glass now days.  I hear people say they want to shoot in the best part of the glass.  I agree with this 100%, but what is perceived as the center is not where the center always is.  For example, if you hold 8 mils and dial 8 mils, you are looking at the exact same area of glass in either situation.  The erector tube in the scope will move as you dial and the perceived “center” is not always the crosshair. 


It depends on how much bias you had in the rail or rings and at what range you zero.  But we are not looking at the outer edges until you are dialed all the way and then looking at the bottom of the glass while the power is turned down on a FFP scope. Additionally, high quality modern scopes are designed to have more consistent image quality across the entire field of view.  


First focal plane (FFP) or 2nd


This is a good question.  I am the first to say go FFP, lots of reasons why, one the target and the reticle in your scope stay in relationship in size throughout the power range.  This way it does not matter what power you are at if you want to mil a target for range.  We also use this for judging the size of a rack on a deer.  I would hate to have to be at a certain power to use the reticle accurately.


This is also true when you are holding instead of dialing.  If you hold a second focal plane reticle, you would have to be on the one power that makes the reticle correct.  This may be a problem in certain shooting conditions.  I like the capability to shoot on any power range that I want. The reticle on a second focal appears to stay the same size as you move up and down with power.  But in relationship to the target, the reticle is actually growing and or shrinking.


On a FFP scope the reticle is always the same size in relationship to the target and gets smaller with the target as we go down in power.  This is where most hunter don’t like the FFP scope as the reticle gets small at low power.  Just remember when using second focal scopes, you may have an issue if your holding and not on a power range where you know the reticle is accurate and you can always dial your elevation to solve this issue but you may have to dial wind as well as your reticle may give you a false assumption of what wind hold you are really using. 


For instance, if you are dialed down to half power and now each mil equal 2 mils.  This is not always correct but just an example.  Meaning that a 10x scope would not always be correct half power when set to 5x.  This is something you need to measure and test on a scope.  But even if you dial elevation and held a mil of wind, if you were at half power, this 1 mil hold would now really be a 2 mil hold.  Nothing wrong with second focal if you use them correctly.  It’s just easier to use the FFP scopes for most and that’s why most military’s all over the world have went this way.


Then when we look at low power optics, this is one place where most of the time you are at either 1x or 8x, so with this type of power option, a second focal plane scope is a definite option as you have an illuminated dot at 1x or just bold crosshair and at 8x one could use the holds and it would still be accurate. Just be careful not to be at any other power while holding.




This is like religion and something most people are passionate about and not easy to persuade someone otherwise.  There are a lot of choices and to me each one is a tool. We have crosshairs that honestly would work for many applications.  For some hunters that never shoot past 300, they could zero at 250 and still be good at 300.  This is called max point blank.  A simple method of where your bullet will be on target based off target size and distance.  Yes, if you zero for 250 you may be 4” high at 100 and 6” low at 300, but for most hunters they are good with that.  I used a duplex crosshair for years, it just has its limits.


Then we have mils or moa reticles.  This is the next step in the evolution, still very basic but now offering more in the field of being able to accurately hold on target.  One may have to dial to be real accurate and nothing wrong with dialing except for the loss of speed and the accuracy of the turrets and the loss of refined second shot correction.  Still a step up but still has its limits.


I did bring up mil/moa, so let’s be quick. Either works, but having moa reticles in scopes that have mil turrets is horrible.  Used them for years and hated it.  Most people still using MOA think it’s easier and they are afraid to try MILS.  I was the same way and wished I would have changed years ago.  MILS are so much better and easier to use.  It’s just a number but the fractions with MOA are harder and the MILS being devisable by 10 just makes it easy.  I hear people say “ I can get smaller adjustments with MOA, like 1/8” adjustments and I always ask if they have and 1/8”MOA gun, which they don’t, so they could never see that adjustment anyway.


Then we have moved to gridded reticles and now they have taken over the long-range and competitive world for the most part.  These reticles offer speed that was not capable in the past.  As well as a second shot correction with accuracy we could not achieve with other style reticles. Then with the Tremor wind dots, we are capable of “seeing” the amount of wind bracket on the target and this gives us the ability to make easy and fast wind calls.


Power ranges


This is something that has really stepped up in the past decade.  We now have options from low power 1×8 up to 7×35 power range and everything in between.  Now we can pick the tool for the job or try to get a good all-around scope.  Personally, I use a 7×35 for long range shooting with a TREMOR3 reticle but on some rifle platforms, I may select a 4×16 or 5×25 based on the ranges I plan on shooting with that platform.  Then with my 5.56, I have a 1×8 for quick acquisition and helo shooting. 


There are pluses and minuses to everything.  High power scope may have a more critical eye box, meaning if you move your head at all, the ability to see thru the scope may be a bit touchy.  This can cause issues with self-spotting under recoil.  I thought this would be the case when I was shown the 7×35 and I really wasn’t interested in a scope with that high of power, but when I looked thru it I was amazed at the capability and the parallax adjustment.  I was wrong with all my assumption that the eye box would be too critical and mirage at high power would be overwhelming, again I was wrong.


Also, you don’t have to stay at the highest power, I can power up to make sure the deer is the one I was looking for and then back out to whatever power range I want to use for the shot.

The low power scope usually is set for 130 to 150 on the parallax and don’t have an adjustment. This is not that big of a deal as we are not taking them out to distance where this may become an issue.




As we have discussed here, there are lots of options on the market from all-around scopes or very specific tools for close range needs up to high power for extreme long range (ELR) options.  The thing to remember is all scopes are not equal.  Just because the scopes cost the same doesn’t mean they are even close in quality.  I have used scopes across the board and have seen the full spectrum of quality.  Just do your homework and try to shoot the scope before you buy it.  Run a tracking drill on it to see if it will track for you.  This one part of the equation may make or break your shooting experience. Choose wisely.

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How to Use TREMOR Reticle Wind Dots

Patented Time of Flights Wind Dots provide accurate wind holds in wind speed values (mph, kph, m/s, etc.) to allow for quick and easy holds without  a ballistic solver or counting numerous subtensions. These can be calibrated for any ballistics and density altitude providing a universal solution. 

The easiest method to calibrate wind dots for your ballistics and current atmospherics is using the FREE Horus Ballistics App or our online Wind Dot Calculator.

To manually calibrate using a ballistic calculator:
• Use the 4th mil line and 2nd wind dot along it, to calibrate the reticle
to your specific ballistics.
• Turn off spin drift in your ballistic engine, manipulate target range
until 4 mils is your elevation solution.
• Using this elevation solution, manipulate the full wind value until your
windage solution is as close to 0.95 mil (sub-tension of 2nd wind dot
on 4th mil line) as possible. This is the 2nd wind dot value.
• Divide the 2nd wind dot value by two, use this new wind value for all ToF wind dots.

620 yds = 4 Mil elevation hold
0.95 mil wind hold = 8 mph wind value (2nd dot, 4th mil line)
8 ÷ 2 = 4 mph wind dot value


The Horus TREMOR3, TREMOR4, and TREMOR5 reticles all have wind dots. You can find a list of brands offering Horus reticles HERE.


Watch the full video HERE.

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Australian Defense Force Chooses TREMOR3 Reticles

The patented Horus TREMOR3 reticle is selected yet again, this time by elite snipers in the Australian Defence Force.  As chosen by USSOCOM, the US Secret Service, FBI, and over 30 allied militaries, the TREMOR reticle has become the standard for elite marksmen. 

The TREMOR3 will be installed in a NightForce Optics MIL-SPEC ATACR 7-35x56F1 scope which has quickly become the apex of day view optics for long range and precision marksmanship. 

Force Ordnance Business Development Manager, Paul Mason, served as a sniper in the ADF for 17 years, 12 of which with the Special Air Service Regiment, and believes the ATACR 7-35x56mm F1 is a ‘game-changer’ for ADF snipers.

“The obvious benefit is the magnification improvement which takes ADF scope capability from 3-12 to 7-35 power, which in practical terms means that snipers can accurately identify targets at 1200m, which is double the currently capability,” Mason said.

“Currently, a sniper would have to use an independent spotting scope to accurately identify targets beyond 600 metres whereas now that capability is built into the scope.”

For Mason, of perhaps equal advantage is the addition of the TREMOR3TM reticle to the system, which he says allows snipers to accurately range targets. Built by Horus Vision Reticle Technologies, a Lightforce Group company, the TREMOR3TM reticle reportedly gives users the capability to quickly estimate the range to targets while also giving the user wind speed and drop correction information for fast and accurate second shot corrections.

“The TREMOR3TM reticle is used by USSOCOM and US Navy SEALS and is a preferred choice of multiple Precision Rifle Series (PRS) Champions,” Mason said.

–Australian Defence Magazine

Read the full article from Australian Defence Magazine HERE.

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Sniper Competition Winners Use TREMOR3 and TREMOR4 Reticles

The 2022 United States Army Special Operations Command’s International Sniper Competition winners have been announced. The winning team used a NightForce ATACR 7-35x riflescope with the patented Horus TREMOR3 reticle and the Horus HoVR 6.5-40x spotting scope with the TREMOR4 reticle. 


Coming in first place was, unsurprisingly, a sniper team from USASOC. But rounding out the remaining spots in the top five were a diverse set of teams, coming from France, 20th Special Forces Group, U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command, and Germany.


The week-long competition includes completing different tasks that test the surgical skills sniper teams need to hone in every aspect of their craft, according to Col. Matthew Tucker, commander of the 2nd Special Warfare Training Group.



Read the entire ArmyTimes story HERE.


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Simplifying Long Range – HoVR Complete Shooters Package

That was just a cold bore shot at 1,000 yards with a caliber and rifle that I have never shot a thousand yards with before. I did it with the help of the Horus HoVR system. You are going to say it was fake or stages, but I have no reason to lie about it. I am not being paid by Horus and I don’t get a dime if you decide to buy this system or not

— Alabama Arsenal

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Understanding Rifle Scope Reticles

When it comes to buying a rifle scope it’s critical to understand your reticle options and select the best one for your use case. In this article from Shooting Illustrated they provide an overview of modern reticles to help you determine which reticle is right for you. 

Horus Vision’s old workhorse H25 was an effective, basic reticle. But, its later designs, such as the trimmed-down H27 and my personal favorite, the H59, have far greater utility. The TREMOR series of reticles, such as the TREMOR3 in current use by USSOCOM, are extremely popular in both military and long-range competitive circles.”


Read the entire article HERE

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Top 5 Long Range Riflescopes

Are you looking for the best long range or precision riflescope for your next build? If so learn why the Horus HoVR 5-20×50 FFP optic was chosen as a Top 5 scope and why 4 of the top 5 riflescopes offer patented Horus Reticles! Click HERE to learn more. 


In addition to the HoVR 5-20×50 riflescope being named best riflescope, four of the top 5 best scopes offer patented Horus Reticles. Learn why Horus Reticles are the choice for the worlds most elite markesmen. Click HERE to learn more. 

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Horus TREMOR5™ now in Schmidt & Bender

Horus Vision is excited to announce the latest scope with the new TREMOR5™ Competition Optimized Reticle. The Schmidt & Bender 5-20×50 PM II Ultra Short Rifle Scope is designed to be compact and packed with features like the new Illumination Parallax Integrated. 

The TREMOR5™ is designed on the same principles as the legendary TREMOR3™ but f

eatures a better field of view by removing the Rapid Range Bars and moving target holds. The TREMOR5™ features the patented Horus Time of Flight Winds Dots and the Horus Grid. 


Click here for more information on the TREMOR5™


Click here for more information on the Schmidt & Bender 5-20×50 PM II Ultra Short


To see a list of all optics brands offering Horus Reticles click HERE

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Horus Products Now in Australia

Orofino, Idaho – June, 2022 – Horus Vision, an industry leader in advanced reticles and quality optics, is excited to announce that the popular line of HoVR™ precision shooting products are now available to the Australian market.

The Horus HoVR™ line includes the HoVR™ 5-20×50 FFP Rifle Scope, HoVR™ 1.0 BT 2000 Laser Range Finder, and the HoVR™ 1.0 Weather Meter. The system works in conjunction with the Free Horus Ballistics App via Bluetooth to give new and advanced shooters everything they need for precision shooting.

The HoVR™ 5-20×50 FFP Rifle Scope is available with three different Horus Advanced Reticles; the legendary TREMOR3™, the competition ready TREMOR5™, and the H59™-MOA. All of these reticles utilize the Horus Grid and other patented features that make them ideal for all precision and long range shooting. 

“We are very excited for the opportunity to have these products in the Australian market. The reticles have been very popular here in other brands of scopes and now the market has another unique option to get the best reticles available.” Joshua Waite, National Sales Manager of Lightforce Group.

For more information on Horus Vision products or to find a local dealer in Australia please visit and select the dealer locator. 

For more information on becoming a dealer in Australia please contact

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Discover why You Need a Weather Meter

Did you know that density altitude is one of the most important variables when calculating your ballistic solution? For example, if the density altitude where you zero your rifle is 4,200 feet and the location of your next competition is 700 feet that could be a difference of 0.4 mils (1.44 MOA) or more and at 1,000 yards that is a miss of 14.4 inches. Do not confuse geographic altitude with density altitude. Geographic altitude is simply how far above sea level you are and density altitude is calculated based on barometric pressure and temperature. 


A weather meter is required to accurately measure local temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity which are required to calculate density altitude and accurately calculate the trajectory of a bullet. Without this information any ballistic solver is making assumptions that will significantly reduce your accuracy and any reticle designed with a fixed density altitude will have limited accuracy. 


Additionally, wind will affect the bullet trajectory based on the direction and speed. With a wind direction and speed measurement, a shooter can use ballistic software, or an advanced reticle like the TREMOR3™ or TREMOR5™, to make more accurate shots. A wind meter, also known as an anemometer, is a tool for measuring the speed of wind. While this is just one data point on the bullets flight, it provides an accurate starting point that combined with other visual cues and advanced reticle features will improve your accuracy. 

Using the tools available will provide you critical data and help you make informed decisions, ultimately increasing your likelihood for a hit on target. The HoVR™ 1.0 Weather Meter is an affordable option to get you the weather information critical to accuracy that could mean the difference between first place, a full freezer, or a miss.