How To Get The Most From Your BDC Reticle
You’ve got yourself a scope with a BDC reticle. Maybe you’re thinking about getting one. The big question remains. Where will that bullet from your gun with your exact ammunition go in relation to that BDC reticle? It’s a lot easier and faster to find out than you may think.
The amount a bullet drops over a given distance is the study of external ballistics. It takes into account the speed of the bullet, the drag that bullet has, the environment it’s in (air) and how dense it is, and how it all comes together against that constant we all know – gravity. It can get pretty complicated and time consuming to figure things out. That’s especially true during the heat of the moment when a 12-point’s in your scope.
Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) reticles are supposed to aid in speeding up all of the external ballistics questions for you so you can take that shot quickly and accurately. The truth is they’re really just getting you somewhat close and that’s with the published ammunition and environmental factors, if that’s even given to you. In the case of a second focal plane scope, which many hunting scopes are, those drop points on the reticle will only be accurate with those published conditions at a given magnification. The variables are very much infinite. What’s a hunter to do?
The free Bushnell Ballistics App, for Android or IOS, takes into account almost all the variables to give you a solution that’s extremely accurate. Want to know what that 3rd drop line on the reticle is for your favorite ammunition is out of your trusty rifle at your given altitude and temperature? It’s right there in an instant. Not only does it give you the drops but it also gives you a detailed drawing to show what each of those lines is for distance. Temperature drop 24 degrees from yesterday? No problem. Update the temperature and a new detailed drawing with the drop amounts for that temperature is there. Forget your ammo and need to pick up the house brand from a local hardware store? No problem. Put the new published bullet speed and bullet info into the app and you have an accurate shooting solution.
For convenience we’ve put all the Bushnell scopes and their reticles into the app so you can see on your phone the reticle that you see through the scope. It also pairs with our Bluetooth enabled laser rangefinders. This allows your rangefinder to know the external ballistics for your rifle and it’ll display the shooting solution in the rangefinder for that distance.
Setup - App Install
Setup easy. Simply go to the App or Play Store on your device and search for ‘Bushnell Ballistics’ and install.
Once in the app click on ‘Profile’ and tap on ‘Riflescope’. From there it’ll display all the Bushnell riflescope families. Pick the family then the specific configuration you have. For this I’ll use the Banner 2 3-9x40 DOA-QBR. After selecting it’ll go back to the profile screen and your scope and reticle will filled out.
Next, under the profile screen you’ll see ‘Gun Specs’. Tap on ‘Muzzle Velocity’ and either enter in the velocity from the ammunition box, or the velocity you obtained from a chronograph and tap done. Next tap on ‘Zero Range’ and put in the range that you zeroed your firearm at, for most it’ll likely be 100 yards, then tap done. There are additional specs that can only be entered in with an upgrade, but the free version will still get the job done for most folks.
Next task under the Profile tab is the ‘Bullet Specs’. Tap on ‘Bullet Library’ and scroll through caliber. Pick the caliber you’re working with, then scroll through the manufacturer list and it’ll take you to select a bullet. For this I’ll be using a Federal 180-grain Trophy Bonded Tip .308 and tap done, it’ll prompt G1 or G7 drag model and you can just tap G1. You’ll now notice that the diameter, weight, bullet length, and bullet drag coefficient are filled in for you on the Profile screen.
Next we’ll go to the Environment tab. When you click on that you may get a warning about location services if you have GPS off. If so, under ‘Weather Source’ you can simply toggle the source from ‘Internet’ to ‘Manual’. The manual mode can be especially useful if you’re out hunting in an area without cell service.
Once on Manual Weather Source you can edit the weather yourself under the ‘Wind/Air’ section. Simply enter in Temperature, Pressure, and Humidity if you have them. I highly suggest getting all of those from your usual weather source if you can. Wind speed is going to be quite useful, enter that in if you have it along with the wind direction.
Altitude can also be entered in and I highly recommend putting that in as well. Again, this can come from GPS, or you can enter it in manually using the toggle. You can also enter in the target incline angle if you have it.
Now you’re ready for the solution tab, so tap that. In it you’ll see your quick settings at the top – it’s all the info you entered in prior. Most importantly, here’s where you’re rewarded with all those shooting solutions. At the bottom are three tabs: Reticle; Targets; & Range Card.
On Reticle you’ll see your actual reticle and all those bullet drop points with actual distances using your gun, ammo, and scope. Remember how I said many hunting scopes are second focal plane and those drops on the reticle are only accurate at one magnification? That’s no longer the case with this app. See That ‘Magnification’ slider at the bottom? Just tap whatever magnification you’re using to get a new firing solution.
Select the Targets tab – You’ll get a note saying it’ll only be accurate on your scope’s designated magnification range for BDC accuracy, which is usually maximum magnification. Click ok and proceed. On the Targets tab you’ll have five different target ranges and the defaults are 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 yards. This is especially useful if you have different ‘sighting locations’ picked out in your hunting area. You can tap on those and put up to 5 different ranges in there to get all the drop amounts to those pre-sighted ranges. It’ll also give you the velocity that the bullet will be at when it gets to those distances as well as the energy it has out there.
On the Range card tab you’ll receive another warning about magnification, click okay. Here it’ll give you eight different drop ranges every 100 yards out to 800 yards. It’s similar to the Targets Tab but not editable.
Even though you now have an accurate firing solution for your rifle and optic with your particular reticle, I highly suggest getting out and range testing it. Trigger time and practice will make perfect and give you the confidence and accuracy to make clean and ethical shots on whatever game you’re after.
BDC reticles can be quite helpful in the field. Hopefully you find this tutorial useful and getting you on track to punching tags.