The former, of course, are all the rage, have been for a while, and although I’ve hunted with a variety of scopes sporting a range-compensating reticle, I’ve been stingy with my praise.
All those hashes and circles or dots…. Who wants to look at that mess while trying to aim at a deer? Or at least that has been my argument. That and the fact that the average deer hunter–who likely doesn’t shoot a whole lot and probably shouldn’t beyond 300 yards in the field–doesn’t need range compensation. Just get a rifle chambered for a flat-shooting cartridge (.25/06, .257 Wby Mag, .270, .270 WSM, .30/06), sight in dead-on for 200 yards, and never hold out of the hair.
On the other hand, I just got back from a hunt in Nebraska where I used a T/C Venture in .30/06 topped with a Nikon ProStaff 5 3.5-14×40 scope with BDC reticle. [As an aside, this is the second time I’ve tested the Venture; the other was on the range with David E. Petzal, and the gun turned in an average three-shot group of .816 inch. Here again, the rifle proved exceptionally accurate. I had to fight with the magazine a bit, and the trigger has a little creep, but all in all the Venture is one heck of bargain for around $500.] Anyway, after flopping a buck and a doe at 250 yards, hitting both where I aimed, I have to admit that I’m warming up to that mess in the middle of a range-compensating scope.
There is, I concede, an advantage to aiming exactly where you want to hit (at least elevation-wise) instead of holding a bit or a skosh or a bunch high for longer shots. I suspect the average shooter is more likely to pick a precise spot on the animal when aiming true, and more apt to shoot into a general area when aiming off. Here in the big woods around in New York, where I rarely see a shot past 100 yards, I’ll stick with the old duplex. But I wouldn’t rule out updating my .257 Weatherby Mag. with a Nikon BDC.
Which would you rather shoot? Range-compensation or plain old crosshairs?