What Does BDC Mean in a Rifle Scope

Most hunters and military personnel who own firearms have strong opinions on BDC scopes, often falling into two camps: love them or despise them. It has never been very popular with gun fans, but as the idea grows and new technologies come out, so does its popularity. The Bullet Drop Compensating Scopes (BDC) use a reticle design to estimate how much a bullet will drop at a specific range. A BDC reticle sight isn’t without flaws, but it has its uses nonetheless. Let’s discuss what a BDC scope is, how it functions, and the advantages it offers. Keep reading!

BDC Scope: What Is It?

BDC Scope: What Is It?

Using a particular reticle or customized turret pattern, bullet drop compensation (BDC) scopes show how much projectiles drop over a specified distance. The reticle, which is visible through a scope, has several aiming points stacked beneath the primary crosshair. Even more, the shooter might say that a BDC reticle looks like it has several reticles inside the main one.

The gravitational force starts acting on a bullet as soon as it leaves a rifle barrel, propelling it in the direction of the target. As the bullet moves away from the rifle barrel, this impact causes its height to decrease, with the amount of drop growing with distance. The reticle design forecasts the bullet drop at a specific range. If your rifle is zeroed at 50 yards, for example, the dots under the crosshair show where the bullet will hit at 100 yards, 150 yards, etc.

BDC Scope Benefits 

The BDC reticle may produce excellent results even though using it could seem ominous. The BDC reticle is an excellent tool for making an accurate shot. It uses a fast focus eyepiece that magnifies the high muzzle velocity of a bullet. If used and sighted properly, it can enable you to utilize the patterns that are located underneath the reticle’s middle point as nearly another complete set of reticles. To aim your weapon at a specific distance, choose an aiming point from the list. These hash marks frequently represent the expected bullet drop for a specific distance. As a result, you may alter your shot depending on how far away your target is while still knowing very precisely where it will land.

A single hash or aiming point is placed at standard distances. The 100-yard mark is indicated on each hash. To enable even more accurate adjustment, the elevation aiming point on some BDC scopes will be 50 yards apart. This is a great feature for hunters who shoot from far away to hide their presence from their prey.

The elevation is another advantage. The elevation turret modification on a common rifle sight must typically be changed depending on your range and resolution. Nevertheless, the targeting point will function as an elevation turret with a bullet drop compensating reticle. Essentially, you can merely select the proper aiming position, find your target, and fire instead of constantly having to turn a knob to adjust your scope. As a result, hunters and other shooters won’t need to spend as much time adjusting.

Another idea to talk about with a bullet drop compensator is a holdover. Holdover is the term for shooting above your target to ensure a successful shot. Some hunters see the BDC scope as the best scope because BDC reticles entirely remove holdovers. No optic can ever totally remove the need for a holdover, even though they do a lot to help with the situation. You may finish the holdover without having to manually do it by using BDC reticles, which will give you a fair sense of how to account for bullet drops. Just keep in mind that holdovers can happen with any kind of sight. There are circumstances where you could still need to holdover, regardless of the type of scope you are using—red dot, spotting scope, night vision, or even simply a regular rifle scope.

Drawbacks for the BDC Riflescope  

Just as anything has advantages, we must also discuss disadvantages. It takes a lot of time and effort to understand how to use a BDC reticle, even though it can offer incredibly precise shooting. It takes practice to become proficient with using this scope due to the obvious reticle configuration and calculations needed. Before attempting to hit a target with the scope, you must first grasp how it operates.

Additionally, BDC reticles often provide an estimation of the overall location of your bullet. Every gun enthusiast is aware that numerous factors can even slightly alter the direction in which the bullet will strike the target. Each bullet drop compensator requires a certain bullet to be fired out of a unique barrel to produce the greatest results and a precise shot. For that reticle to work well, the barrel must be a certain length to account for the drop.

How to Manage BDC Scope Limitations 

There are generally three options to overcome the basic issues with caliber-specific BDC rifle scopes:

  • Traditional Range Testing Based on Trial and Error 

Another technique for getting around BDC scope restrictions is to solve the issue the old-fashioned way by shooting on the range until you determine the hit points for each BDC holdover point at specific ranges and scope power ranges. The problem with this plan is that it will likely take a lot of time and ammunition to confirm the impact points. Some modern hunters greatly like to employ technology to their benefit, even though the majority of specialists regard this strategy as an intriguing technique to move forward.

  • BDC Turrets, Customized

If a hunter doesn’t want to take the time to learn how to use the factory BDC reticle or BDC turret, they could also spend money on a bespoke BDC turret that is made for the exact caliber, ammunition, bullet weight, and bullet speed of their rifle. If they (hunters) feel the need to learn, here is a recommendation: 

To find out the typical bullet speed of the specific ammunition they intend to use, take the time to fire a few groups of the rifle through a chronograph. The biggest mistake with this type of turret is relying on bullet speed estimates from the manufacturer of the ammo or weapon. The idea behind this strategy is rather straightforward: After getting all the information it needs from you (bullet speed, caliber, bullet weight, ammunition, sight-in distance, etc.), the custom turret creator makes a turret that mounts on their scopes and has BDC built-in for certain distance identification on the turret. This is a more specialized alternative than what you would see with a more standard caliber-based BDC setup, but it typically produces very accurate results. The BDC functionality is perfect if you supply the right data points and make proper settings like using a scope mount. The disadvantage of this strategy is that not every rifle sight manufacturer manufactures scopes that can accommodate a custom BDC turret dialing. Moreover, there are expenses related to the unique turrets.

  • Applications for BDC on Mobile Phones 

If your BDC reticle doesn’t work with how your rifle is set up, your only other choice is to use a mobile BDC app. This kind of program lets users enter all the necessary data for compensating for bullet drops. Then, depending on how far away the target is, the program uses your unique BDC reticle to do all the ballistic calculations. This kind of arrangement has been employed by modern hunters and military personnel to make a sort of dope card that is attached to the stock for quick reference. Although there are other manufacturers of this kind of ballistic application, iStrelok, an iPhone model, is some hunters’ preferred choice. They bought the upgraded version, which lets them change the app to work with a lot of different guns.

Use of a BDC Scope in the Physical World Imagine You are Out Hunting

You have your eye on a whitetail deer buck who is your objective. You may even bet your last money that deer can’t evaluate yards and won’t be precisely spaced out by 80 yards. Therefore, in this case, a little off the BDC scope can be helpful because of its second focal plane and illuminated reticle.

Hunters can calculate ranges on demand without making any alterations thanks to the various targeting points. The ability to point, target, and shoot with versatility makes a BDC appear even more alluring.

Gun experts can’t help but be drawn to the Bushnell Tactical SMRS II Pro Riflescope or the Nikon BDC rifle scope, especially if they want to buy excellent, high-quality equipment or plan on long range shooting in low light with an adjustable magnification range.

What are the Differences Between Mil Scopes and BDC?  

MRAD or Milliradian

Milliradian dot reticles and bullet drop compensation reticles are nearly identical. It’s difficult to distinguish between them at all by thinking about them if you don’t use them. Additionally, a red dot sight can be utilized with either of them. You possibly wouldn’t even recognize the differences unless you’re acquainted with all varieties of optics or have utilized one or both forms. The differences are quite minor once you realize that. Both appear comparable in terms of their reticle images and measurement methods.

It is simple to distinguish between the measurements themselves after using both systems, though. There are two different measurement systems: MIL dot reticle and BDC reticle. A MIL scope is harder to use and understand for people with less experience, while a BDC scope might be better for people with less experience.

Using the BDC scope, shooters can only predict how the bullet drop will affect their shot. Users won’t get any further details from this; it is only provided with the hashes that are located along the elevation axis. A user can get a lot more forecasts and information from a MIL scope on how it will affect your shot and how to adjust for it. A mil reticle, which uses a reticle that looks like the BDC, will tell you things like how fast the wind is blowing and how far away the target is.

How to Use the BCD’s Ballistic Charts 

For those who struggle with understanding ballistic match technology due to its mathematical nature, a ballistics chart or calculator is available. You can determine how much your bullet will drop with a certain weapon by using the appropriate ballistics table. When first learning to use BDC scopes, these tables help make quick calculations. There are a few different versions of these charts; select the one that is appropriate for the cartridge and firearm you intend to use. It’s a lot to take in at first glance, but it will prove to be an excellent resource for all hunters once you get out into the field. Once you know how to read them, you can use these charts to understand information like wind speed, optical height, wind angle, and shooting angle. All of these factors will determine the final resting place of your bullet. This is why the BDC reticle is so useful to those who master it. When hunting, it’s important to be able to quickly and accurately judge your target and change your plan accordingly.

Final Thoughts

There was some misunderstanding between BDC scopes and mil-dot scopes. The latter term describes a scope that includes a mil-dot reticle instead of the more common bullet drop compensator. When comparing these two sights, keep in mind that a BDC reticle scope normally only has BDC aiming points on the base of the vertical post. A mil-dot reticle is characterized by mil-dots along its vertical and horizontal posts. The greatest BDC rifles, however, are designed to follow a ballistic curve, the path a bullet takes as it falls to Earth under the force of gravity. In addition, most shooters don’t bother to test the BDC precision on the range, and even fewer take a moment to run through the complete setting process. The shooter can keep their eye on the target while adjusting the reticle for long range with the reticle system, but they have to take their eye off the glass to use the turret.