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Intro To Long Range Mil Dot Shooting

By Major Rob Robinette


Table of Contents

Introduction

The Mil Dot Scope

Scope Mount

Adjusting For Bullet Strike

Mil Dot Ranging

Ballistics & Range Cards

Wind Reading & Correction

The Long Range Rifle

Bipod

The Mil Dot Spotting Scope

Suppressor

Steel Targets


Introduction

This article is about getting you up to speed quickly in long rang shooting using a mil dot scope. There's lots of myths and gotchas that can cost you time and money in this sport. It will take just a few minutes to read this page but you'll gain some valuable insight into long range shooting and mil dot scope use.

I have read that mil dot reticles are useful only if we do our shooting in meters but as you'll see below the mil reticle works just fine when working in yards, feet and inches. There are two benefits to using mils over MOA (minute of angle). Range estimation is simple and turret adjustments are in a more logical 1/10 of a mil versus 0.25 of an MOA.


The Mil Dot Scope and Reticle

A mil dot reticle is marked out in mils and fractions of mils to allow us to estimate the range of distant objects and quickly get on target. "Mil" is short for milliradian (MRAD). Although there are 6,283 mils in a geometric circle, NATO countries including the USA use 6,400 mils per circle. I recommend you stick with the NATO mil. 1 NATO mil is equal to 3.375 MOA and 3.5" at 100 yards. A 0.1 mil turret click is equal to .35 inch at 100 yards and 3.5 inches at 1000 yards.

At 1000 yards 1 mil is equal to 1 yard. At 1000 meters 1 mil is equal to 1 meter. There are 1760 yards in a mile.

True Mil Dot Reticle

Bare bones true mil dot reticle. The distance between each dot is 1mil (1 milliradian or MRAD).

I highly recommend a variable magnification mil dot scope with 20 to 25x max zoom. The scope should also have a first focal plane (FFP) reticle and both turret adjusters calibrated in mills. Having the reticle on the first focal plane allows range estimation at any scope magnification. A second focal plane scope can only do range estimation at a specified zoom level (usually max zoom). I also highly recommend turret adjusters calibrated in mils, not MOA. If we see our bullet strike 0.6mil left we simply need six 0.1 mill clicks to get on target.

Be aware there are scopes with mil dot reticles but MOA turret adjusters. You must closely read a scope's specifications to make sure you're getting exactly what you want because most quality long range scopes come with several different reticles and turrets in both MOA and mils. If you don't pay close attention you'll end up having to ship it back.

I do not recommend bullet drop compensation (BDC) reticles for long range shooting because their drop marks are specific to a particular bullet at a specified muzzle velocity and standard weather conditions. Even if the reticle is in mil the drop marks will clutter the scope.

A long range scope should have exposed turret adjusters (not under removable caps). When shooting at 1000 yards and beyond we have to dial in elevation so easy access is needed. Zero stop turrets can be reset to zero after zeroing the rifle so we can dial in corrections then easily get back to our zero.

Scope tube diameter is also important for long range shooting. A 30mm tube is adequate but personally I would never go below 34mm for a 1000+ yard scope. A large tube diameter allows for more adjustment range and we need that range due to the extreme bullet drop at very long distance. We have to drop the reticle way down to get the barrel high enough to loft a bullet out beyond 1000 yards.

I also like a medium size objective around 50mm for light gathering but without being crazy big.

For scopes with variable zoom we need a parallax adjuster to set range on the scope and eliminate parallax error.

A diopter adjuster allows us to tune the scope to match our vision to keep the reticle in sharp focus with old eyeballs.

My scope of choice is the Burris XTR II with 5-25x zoom with the Steiner developed SCR mil reticle, 34mm tube, 50mm objective and 0.1 mill click turrets for both elevation and windage. Its multi-coated lenses create a sharp view even at 25x magnification. It comes with a sun shade but no lens caps. It has an easy to use left side parallax/range adjuster knob, diopter adjustment ring and zero stop turret knobs. The red portion of the reticle can be illuminated and is night vision goggle compatible. This scope is so packed with value I own three of them. I have them on a Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor, a Ruger Precision Rimfire in 22 Long Rifle and a Serbu BFG-50 in 50BMG. Using the same scope and reticle on all three keeps things consistent and helped me get really good with the scope. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to remember the dimensions of two or three different mil reticles.

Burris XTR II 5-25x Mil Reticle Scope

This inexpensive 50mm honeycomb killflash fits the Burris XTR II 50mm scope.

50mm killflash reduces lens flash and sun glare.


The Scope Mount

The important things to consider here are to use quality scope rings (or single piece mount), get the right height mount for the rifle and whether or not we need built in elevation. My Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor has 20 MOA (6mil) of elevation built in to it's Picatinny rail scope mount. This built in elevation keeps us from running out of elevation adjustment at long range. The Ruger Precision Rimfire in 22LR has 30 MOA (9mil) built in to its rail so we may not need our scope mount or rings to come with built in elevation too. I use the Burris AR-P.E.P.R 34mm mount with 20 MOA of built in elevation on both my Ruger long range rifles and it's not too much when combined with the rifles' built in rail elevation. 50 MOA (15mil) total elevation for the Precision Rimfire still works fine with the XTR II scope. The Burris AR-P.E.P.R mount is a little low for the Ruger Precision Rifle and Rimfire. The Ruger Precision Rifles like a tall scope mount to get the butt stock down on our shoulder but my Serbu 50BMG has a tall Picatinny rail and doesn't need a tall scope mount. Many rings and mounts come in low, medium and high height.

A scope bubble level is an important accessory which helps keep us from canting the scope and throwing off our shots. You'd be surprised what an imperceptible amount of cant can do to our shot placement at 1000 yards. I have this Vortex bubble level on all of my long range scopes. I shoot with both eyes open so I mount the level on the left side of the scope and can see the level with my left eye while looking through the scope with my right. We can also use the scope level to level the rifle using our bipod's cant lock.

Related accessories used to precisely level our scope during mounting are the Arisaka Defense Optic Leveler and the Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System. The Arisaka Defense Optic Leveler must slide between the bottom of the scope and rifle or scope mount. There was not enough room between my Burris scope mount and scope so I used the Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System instead. We start by leveling the gun's optic rail with the scope removed, then attach a barrel mounted precision level. We then mount the scope and place a level on the scope upper turret. When the barrel and scope levels match we're ready to tighten down the scope. I like this system and it gives me a very precise level for my long range guns.


Using the Mil Dot Reticle

We can't estimate range accurately using the mil dot system if we don't know our reticle. There are hundreds of mil dot reticles so spend some time in your scope's user manual to get to know your reticle dimensions (subtensions). Knowing them will allow you to quickly and precisely measure bullet strikes and objects to the tenths of a mil.

10mils across for target measurement. The distance between each dot is 1mil and each dot is 0.22mil wide. The thick black crosshairs are 0.33mil wide.

 

Burris XTR II SCR Mil Reticle Dimensions

This is my scope's reticle specification. I really like the SCR Mil reticle. Burris also has an SCR reticle in MOA.

The SCR (Special Competition Reticle) available in the Burris XTR II scope is licensed from Steiner. Each major hash is 1 mil. Numbers make that obvious. Note the three 0.1mil ranging brackets which aid in accurate target measurement. The red part of the reticle can be illuminated for low light conditions and is compatible with night vision goggles. Be aware the Burris XTR II scopes have several reticle options in mil and MOA.


Adjusting For Bullet Strike

With a mil reticle and mil turrets adjusting for bullet strike is very straightforward. What we measure in the scope is exactly what we dial in on the turrets. Most scopes with mil turrets move 0.1mil per click.

We fire and strike 1.1mil low and .4mil right so the correction is 11 clicks up and 4 clicks left. Target is standard B-27 silhouette target. In a tactical situation where a rapid second shot is required we would simply hold 1.1mil high and 0.4mil left and fire.

We normally zero our rifle at 100 yards and record the temperature, humidity, wind and barometric pressure. These values will be needed to make our range cards as accurate as possible. Once zeroed we reset our turrets to 0. The Burris XTR II scopes have zero stop turret caps. After zeroing we loosen two hex-head screws in each of the turret caps. For elevation we set zero to the index mark and push the turret cap down against the stop and tighten the hex screws. This allows us to reset to zero by simply turning the turret down until it stops so we don't have to look at the turret index. To set the windage turret to zero we set zero to the index mark and push the turret cap in until the cap edge aligns with the index mark, then tighten the hex screws.

After zeroing we generate our range cards. Range cards give us turret adjustments from zero for other ranges and weather conditions.


Mil Dot Ranging

This is why the mil dot reticle is so popular. It offers a simple method for quickly estimating range.

To estimate range using a mil dot reticle we must know the size of the object we're looking at.

A typical Whitetail deer is 18 inches from back-to-belly and an Elk is 30 inches.

We must measure with our reticle to 0.1mil accuracy to get good range estimation. Being off by 0.1mil at 1000 yards means a ranging error of 142 yards.

Mil Dot Ranging Formula

size in inches * 27.8 / mils = range in yards

See Alternate Ranging Formulae for inches-to-meters and centimeters-to-meters formulae

Example: A Whitetail deer measures 18 inches from back-to-belly and is measured in the scope at 1.6 mills: 18" * 27.8 / 1.6 mils = 313 yards.  27.8 is a conversion constant.

We measure our target through the scope from back-to-belly, which we know is approximately 18 inches, at 1.6mils. Note how I position the deer on the reticle so I can use the ranging bracket's fine 0.1mil hash marks for a more precise measurement.

When entering this equation into a calculator you do not need to use parenthesis. Just key it in exactly as it's written.

We can also use our mil dot reticle to determine if a target is inside our max target range. Let's say we don't want to take a shot at a deer at greater than 700 yards. We can use this version of the ranging formula:

size in inches * 27.8 / max range = mils

18" * 27.8 / 700 = 0.7mils. If a deer measures less than 0.7mils back-to-belly then we are outside our max range of 700 yards.

A typical man is 6 feet or 72 inches tall.

Typical Size Man

72 inches tall, 40 inches from crotch to top of head, 30 inches from belt to top of head and 20 inches shoulder width.

Example: A typical 72" tall man is measured in the scope at 2.4 mills tall: 72" * 27.8 / 2.4 mils = 834 yards

We can also measure his shoulder width. 20" wide shoulders * 27.8 / 0.7mils = 794 yards. Yes, that's all there is to mil dot ranging. It's that simple.

 

Using the vertical reticle fine hash marks for accurate measurement. Each fine hash mark is 0.1mil. 40 inches top of head to crotch * 27.8 / 1.7mil = range of 654 yards.

 

Using the horizontal ranging bracket's 0.1mil fine hash marks to measure shoulder width. 20 inches * 27.8 / 0.6mil = 927 yards.

Many long range paper targets are 21" x 21" so we can use this known size to estimate range. The standard B-27 silhouette target is 24" x 45" (black silhouette size, not paper).

Standard B-27 silhouette target is 24" x 45" (black silhouette, not paper) so 45 inches * 27.8 / 3.3mils = 379 yards.

Knowing sizes like the standard height of doorways or window width can also help with range estimation.

If our target is something specific such as a Scud missile at 34.6 inches in diameter and 37 feet in length we can use that for very accurate ranging. If you know your intended target's dimensions then make note of it in your field notebook.

37 feet * 12 = size in inches of 444 inches. 444" * 27.8 / 10.0mil = 1,234 yards. We can also use an equation for target size in feet: size in feet * 333 / mils: 37 feet * 333 / 10.0mils = 1,232 yards.


Alternate Ranging Formulae

    Simplified Formula which is within 7 yards at 1000 yards: Inches x 28 / Mils = Range in Yards

    Feet * 333 / Mils = Range in Yards

    Inches x 25.4 / Mils = Range in Meters

    Millimeters / Mils = Range in Meters (damn it, we should have switched to metric!)

    Centimeters * 10 / Mils = Range in Meters


Ballistics and Range Cards

There are some great free online ballistic calculators that generate the range cards we need to determine turret adjustments from zero for different ranges and conditions. My favorite is the JBM Ballistics Trajectory Card. We just plug in our values and a very accurate range card is created. Right-click the range card and select print and you're golden.

The JBM Ballistics Range Card (shown below) lists ranges down the two outer columns and different ambient temperatures are shown across the top. Each intersection of range and temperature shows two numbers. The upper number is the elevation adjustment in clicks and the lower is the windage adjustment in clicks needed for a 10mph direct crosswind.

Gemtech 22LR Subsonic Range Card

Yardage down both sides of the table, ambient temperature across the top and turret clicks in the middle. I zeroed my Ruger Precision Rimfire 22LR at 100 yards on a 50 degree day. This range card lets me dial in scope turret clicks to compensate for different ranges, temperature and wind. For example on an 80 degree day at 200 yards I would need 54 clicks of up elevation (5.4mil) and 23 clicks of windage (2.3mil) for a direct 10mph crosswind. For a 5mph wind we simply cut the windage adjustment in half. For a 20mph wind we double the windage adjustment. For my scope each click is 0.1mil. Gemtech 22LR Subsonic is the most accurate subsonic ammo I have tried.

My JBM Range Card Input Values

Click on "Explanation of terms" at top left of the JBM input page for an explanation of all the inputs. If our bullet isn't in the JBM library we can usually get its specs from the manufacturer's website.

Range cards are also called ballistic tables or DOPE (Data Of Previous Engagement) cards.

Mildot Master

Here's an indispensible piece of gear every long range shooter should have. The little Mildot Master ranging slide rule works with no batteries and it's easy to use. It does the ranging math for us and also converts bullet drop in inches to mils.


Wind Reading & Correction

Wind, by far, has the most effect on accuracy and learning to read the wind is one of the most difficult skills to master for long range shooting. The US Army's FM 23-10 Sniper Training manual has several wind reading methods:

 

From FM 23-10: A common method of estimating the velocity of the wind is to watch the range flag. The shooter determines the angle between the flag and pole, in degrees, then divides by 4. The result gives the approximate velocity in miles per hour. A similar wind estimation method is to drop a piece of paper, grass, cotton, or some other light material from shoulder level. We then point directly at the spot where it lands and divide the angle between our body and arm by 4 to get the wind velocity in miles per hour. A 3-to-5 mile per hour wind can barely be felt on the face. With a 5-to-8 mile per hour wind tree leaves are in constant motion and with a 12-to-15 mile per hour wind small trees begin to sway.

Reading Mirage For Crosswind

We can get a wind reading by watching how a mirage is blown around. To do this, focus the scope halfway down range then bring the scope up to the target or slightly above. The mirage will appear to move at the same speed as the crosswind.

Reading Mirage For Crosswind

USMC MCTP 3-01E

US Army FM 23-10.

Wind Correction

The JBM range card shown above gives a wind correction for a 10mph direct crosswind. We only use this exact correction if we have a 10mph wind from 3 or 9 o'clock (with the target at 12 o'clock). If the wind is 5mph we would use half the range card windage correction. If the wind is 20mph we would double the correction.

I like to use the US Army's "wind clock system" to adjust for wind other than a direct crosswind.

US Army FM 23-10 wind clock system.

If the wind is in our face or back (12 or 6 o'clock) we can disregard the windage correction.

If the wind is a direct crosswind from 3 or 9 o'clock we use the wind correction from the range card.

If the wind is from any other direction (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 or 11 o'clock) we cut the wind value in half.

Example we'll use the above range card with 40mph of wind from the right-front (2 o'clock). Our target is at 280 yards and the temperature is 30 degrees so the range card says the correction for 10mph of direct crosswind is 35 clicks (3.5mil). With the wind from 2 o'clock we cut the wind value in half to 20mph. For 20mph of wind we double the range card wind correction of 35 to 70 clicks (7mil). We can then either hold off right of the target 7mil or adjust the turrets 70 clicks right (into the wind). I dial the turret for bullet drop but prefer to hold off for wind correction unless the wind is very steady.

Here's a formula for 308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) wind correction in mils:

Range in hundreds-of-yards * Wind Velocity / X  (if range is 800 yards then use 8 in the formula)

X = 50 up to 500 yards

X = 47 @ 600

X = 45 @ 700

X = 43 @ 800

X = 40 @ 900

X = 37 @ 1000 yards

Example: Our target is 800 yards away and wind is at 9 o'clock @ 20mph:

8 * 20 / 43 = 3.7mil left

If the wind shifts to 8 o'clock we cut the wind in half:

8 * 10 / 43 = 1.9mil left

I you shoot 308/7.62 then I recommend you put this formula in your shooting notebook as a backup wind technique.

Kestrel 1000 Handheld Wind Meter

Small, lightweight and accurate wind meter.


The Long Range Rifle

I love long range shooting with 22 Long Rifle. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy shooting 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 Winchester and 50BMG but at four or five cents a shot 22LR is easy on the wallet which allows of us to stay on the range longer and really get better. There's no substitute for sending lead down range. Another advantage of 22LR is "long range" is shorter than a typical long range caliber. It can be a challenge to find a 1000 yard range with a bench open when you're ready to shoot. 22LR at 400+ yards is a similar challenge to shooting 6.5mm at 1000 yards. You'll quickly learn to work your scope and read the wind and this skill will directly transfer to high caliber long range shooting. Subsonic 22LR is even more challenging because the wind really pushes the slow moving bullet around.

Serbu BFG-50 in 50BMG, Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor and Ruger Precision Rimfire in 22 Long Rifle. All with Burris XTR II 5-25x scopes and Harris bipods on the Rugers. The 6.5mm has a Silencerco Phantom 7.62mm suppressor and the 22LR has a home made suppressor (with Form 1 & tax stamp). I also use the Phantom on my long range AR-10 and 300 Blackout coyote gun.

If you are new or just getting started in long range shooting I highly recommend the Ruger Precision Rimfire in 22 Long Rifle for learning to hit small things at great distances. You can find them for around 380 well spent dollars. The best thing about the Ruger Precision Rimfire is its similarity to Ruger's other Precision Rifles such as the 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor and 338 Lapua. The Precision Rimfire even has a built in option to increase its bolt throw to match the 308 and 6.5mm bolt throw for positive training transfer.

I also highly recommend the Ruger Precision Rifle in 6 or 6.5mm Creedmoor. They are a fantastic value for a true long range bolt action chassis system rifle and they are so popular there are a host of options and upgrades available for them. For a pure target rifle the 6mm Creedmoor's ballistics are a little better than 6.5mm but if you think you may hunt anything larger than small varmints with the rifle then the 6.5mm Creedmoor is a better choice.

I recommend using a bolt action rifle for maximum accuracy because a semi-automatic action will use more or less gas energy depending on the temperature, cleanliness and lubrication of the action which affects consistency and accuracy. If you have the coin, consider a custom Remington 700 based chassis rifle, Tikka T3x and Sako TRG. They are highly regarded long range bolt action rifles.

Tikka T3x TAC A1 Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor & 308

The venerable 308 Winchester (7.62mm NATO) is right at its max range for 1000 yard shooting. If you load your own ammo and optimize it for a 24" barreled target rifle you can ensure it will still be stable and supersonic at 1000 yards.

Long range shooting is so popular today we are living in a golden age of long range firearms. Like many people, I'm a big fan of 6.5 Creedmoor. It stays supersonic well beyond 308 Winchester and kicks less too. The new 224 Valkyrie is also a good choice for long range shooting. Its ballistics are very similar to 6.5 Creedmoor but with a smaller, less recoil producing .224 bullet.

You may be tempted to go straight to a high power long range rifle such as the 300 Win Mag, 338 Lapua or 50BMG (I did) but the cost per round and the pounding your body will take will present a very steep learning curve. You may be a good shot but you'll be surprised how much you'll learn when you start lobbing bullets down range 1000 yards or more. Pick a less expensive round so you can afford to shoot as much as you like and actually enjoy pulling the trigger.


These are my favorite books on long range shooting:

The Long Range Shooting Handbook is a very good intro but the three books by Bryan Litz cover everything you need to know about external ballistics. I highly recommend his Applied Ballistics For Long Range Shooting book. One tidbit I found invaluable from the Long Range Shooting Handbook was the author's mantra, "Focus on the reticle, steady pressure on the trigger." It helps you focus on the fundamentals. The Complete .50 Cal Sniper Course digs very deep and focuses on the tactical application of the .50 caliber rifle. It is the most comprehensive tactical long range shooting book available. The Army Field Manual FM 23-10 Sniper Training is a good, free reference but be advised the section on humidity is wrong. High humidity decreases air density and makes a bullet strike high, not low. The USMC Sniping manual is very similar to the Army manual.

Ruger Precision Rimfire With Scope, Bipod & Suppressor

Nothin's more fun than long range subsonic .22 gong ringing. Consistently hitting a 6 inch gong at 150 yards or a full size target at 300 yards with subsonic ammo is a challenge because of the large elevation and windage corrections required for the slow moving bullet. Shooting this saves money compared to shooting my Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. Both rifles have identical scopes, bipod, buttstock monopod and stock adjustment. Here I'm shooting from my home's rear upper deck and the family doesn't even notice. The hammer fall is louder than the muzzle blast. Newcon Optik Spotter ED mil dot reticle spotting scope at left. I have a BATFE Form 1 with tax stamp for the home-built suppressor.

A high quality, correctly adjusted sling can improve marksmanship in certain positions. Arm is placed in sling loop, loop is pulled up around bicep, two small keepers are slid against the bicep to keep the sling in place. Note the wrist wrap for additional stability. From FM 23-10

To get the most out of your range sessions I recommend following the Army's FM 23-10 Sniper Training manual and fill out a data card during every practice session. This will help you focus on every pull of the trigger, help you learn to call your shots and provide valuable data for future reference.

Example of Completed FM 23-10 Sniper's Data Card

Blank Data Card

Right-click the form and select "Save Image as" or "Print". From FM 23-10.

 


Bipod

You'll need a bipod for long range shooting and you can't go wrong with the Harris Engineering S-LM Hinged Base Bipod with 9-13" telescoping legs. The legs are the right length for prone and bench top shooting and the hinged base allows you to cant the rifle to keep it level on uneven terrain. The bipod mounts to a forearm sling stud.

If you do get this bipod I highly recommend this quick adjust cant lever.

If you use a Ruger Precision Rifle or Tikka T3x TAC A1 you'll need one of these M-LOC stud mounts to mount a bipod.

A valuable companion to your bipod is a butt stock monopod. The Accu-Shot BT12-QK Precision Rail Monopod fits perfectly on the Tikka T3x TAC A1 and Ruger Precision Rifle & Rimfire rifles. They have a small section of Picatinny rail on the bottom of the butt stock made for a monopod. You adjust the length of the monopod to get precisely on target. The bipod leg length can also be adjusted if needed.


Mil Dot Spotting Scope

A quality spotting scope with a mil dot reticle can be very expensive but the Newcon Optik Spotter ED spotting scope is a tremendous value. It has extremely high quality coated optics, zooms from 20 to 60x, has a big 85mm objective lens, has course and fine focus and a diopter adjustment. It comes with a nice case, field cover and a little tripod too. Newcon Optik is a Canadian company that makes gear for the world's militaries. Compare the Spotter ED to other mil dot spotting scopes and you'll see its inherent value. Of course our spotting scope doesn't have to have a mil dot reticle but it really helps when working with a spotter. He can call our bullet strike corrections without having to do any conversions and he can backup our range estimations.

My shooting bench is a bit too crowded to fit my spotting scope so I purchased a full size Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod to mount the Spotter ED. It's very sturdy but lightweight and wreaks of quality.


Suppressor

I'm a big suppressor fan, especially when I'm home on my personal range. I don't have to wear hearing protection, it keeps my wife, dogs and neighbors happy and cuts recoil by about 20% (due to both reduction in muzzle gas velocity and additional rifle weight). Shooting suppressed subsonic 22LR at 300 yards is crazy fun but my 6.5 Creedmoor and 308 Win rifles benefit from suppression too. They're both hearing safe with my Phantom 7.62 suppressor.

Once you start shooting suppressed you won't want to go back to bare barrel shooting. Just find your local Class III firearms dealer and get the 6 month to 1 year purchase process going. The Tikka T3x TAC A1 and Ruger Precision Rifle and Rimfire have threaded barrels for easy suppressor and muzzle brake attachment. See my suppressor page for more info.


Recoil Management

I mentioned the recoil reduction offered by a suppressor but large, heavy muzzle brakes are popular, especially for larger caliber rifles. A muzzle brake will reduce recoil by redirecting muzzle gas and by adding weight. A well designed and heavy muzzle brake can cut more than 40% of total recoil energy. The big downside of a muzzle brake is the noise and blast, not only for our self but the guys on the firing line with us. That said, I would never fire a 50BMG rifle without a muzzle brake. PrecisionRifleBlog.com has an excellent test and analysis of a number of quality muzzle brakes.

The physics of shooting tells us a heavier rifle will hit us with less recoil so many long range shooters use very heavy rifles (see my free online Recoil Calculator for proof). I added a pair of these XLR Industries M-LOC Steel Chassis Weights to my 6.5mm Ruger Precision Rifle (the 22LR Precision Rimfire doesn't need them). Adding a pair at 15 total ounces will reduce the 6.5 Creedmoor Ruger Precision Rifle's recoil energy by 8%. The 6.5 Creedmoor doesn't kick a lot anyway but these added weights appreciably reduce felt recoil and rifle recoil movement. Less rifle movement makes it easier to keep the target in sight during bullet flight and impact. They're easy to remove if we want to take the rifle hunting.

Chassis Weights

XLR Industries M-LOC Steel Chassis Weights mounted on a Ruger Precision Rifle reduce felt recoil and rifle movement. A set of two add 15 ounces (15/16 pound) and cost $89.


Steel Targets

I get all my steel gongs and hanging hardware from ShootingTargets7.com. Their prices + free shipping are excellent and they have a wide variety of targets, stands and mounting hardware suitable for 22LR up to 50BMG. I like to pair 16" and 6" gongs for long distance shooting. Get dialed in on the large gong then try to hit the smaller. 1/2" thick AR500 steel will handle 6.5 Creedmoor through 338 Lapua. 50BMG needs 5/8" thick steel.


Now that you know some of the basics of mil dot long range shooting get out to your local range and throw some lead down range or better yet find a friend with property and a 1000 yard view.

By Major Rob Robinette

US Army and Air Force (Retired)

Major Robinette was a Battalion Marksmanship Champion, Squadron Rifle Team Captain and Range Officer. He enjoys all forms of rifle and pistol use.


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