Simplifying Scopes : How To Use a Ballistic Calculator for a Turreted Riflescope


unspecifiedMany times the most daunting part of setting up a new rifle and scope can be the process of sighting it in, calculating the ballistic system, and feeling confident in your shooting skills during the entire process. As a woman who loves hunting and the outdoors, I take a lot of pride in setting up my own shooting systems and sighting in my own rifles. I found myself in a time-sensitive situation last fall while bear hunting in Montana when I needed to replace a riflescope on my .300 RUM on the morning of my bear hunt.

Some of the potential shots that we could be taking on this hunt can reach out to 500 yards or more. I needed a scope that would simplify that shot for me if it presented itself, and fortunately our good friends at Swarovski Optik set me up with the perfect tool for the job. The Swarovski Z5 3.5 18×44 arrived just in time for me to mount it, bore sight it, and set up a shooting range in my friends backyard to sight it in.

This is the part where some people, especially some women, would feel intimidated. This scope has a ballistic turret system that is color coded, and at first glance appears to be confusing. After a little bit of research I quickly realized that this riflescope is what had been missing in my life, and I was fully capable of setting it up on my own.

As long as you know what type of rifle you’re holding, what grain bullets you’re prepared to shoot, and what distance your target is from you, you have no reason to be intimidated by this. And to make it even easier for all of us, Swarovski Optik has a program built directly into their website ( that will calculate your ballistics for you. They also have an app for any iPhone or Android device that will make the calculations for you at the press of a button.

 unspecified-4This is how I set up my Z5 riflescope:

After the scope had been mounted and bore sighted, I set up a target at my desired zero range (100 yards).

unspecified-7I went to the ballistic calculator on the Swarovski Optik website and entered the details. You’ll need to know some specific information like who manufactured your ammunition, the bullet size and weight, and your elevation above sea level.

Simply enter the information, most of which can be found on your ammunition box, and allow the system to calculate it for you.

In my case, I was shooting a .300 Remington Ultra Mag with Hornady bullets (220 grain). The calculator instantly told me that my muzzle velocity is 2910fps.

When you are shooting long range this is crucial information.

If you click the “Submit” button you’ll see a page pop up that looks like a reticle with some numbers on it.

The ballistic turret can be set to the exact yardage by clicking on the tab that says “Table”.  You’ll be able to see the difference in your target range vs. elevation and how many clicks you’ll need to hear for your reticle to be set for that yardage.

unspecified-9I set my color-coded turrets to be zeroed at 100 yards, and then moving up in 100 yard increments. If I glass up an animal that is 500 yards away, I can instantly move my turret to the color coded notch on my scope that corresponds with that yardage and ballistic performance. When I pull the trigger, as long as I am using the ammunition that I entered into the calculator, I can be confident in knowing that my bullet will hit it’s mark.

This is a scientific method of determining what your bullet will do at a specific speed, altitude, and distance. Of course, human error will play a part in every shot, but if you hold steady and do your part, this scope will not let you down.

When I realized how simple it was to set this up and carry my gun with confidence, it changed everything I thought I knew about ballistic performance.

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