Last week I made some pretty stiff comments both toward the BDC system in the Nikon Coyote Special scope I reviewed in one of our first posts, and again later on in some remarks about the Nikon M223 AR-15 scope I had a chance to look at for the first time. I stand by those feelings, but would be remiss and feeling a bit dishonest if I didn’t offer full disclosure about what Nikon has done to make their BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) system even more effective and precise than ever.
One of my main beefs about the BDC system as it stands is that out of the box it is limited to a specific bullet weight/load for each caliber you intend to use the BDC for. On top of that, when you change the magnification up or down it in turn changes the calibration and corresponding distances each circle is good to shoot at. For instance if I sight my rifle in using the 6x magnified power on a 3-9x scope, I assume the subsequent circles on the scope will shoot at the same distances regardless of magnification. This isn’t so. Because the BDC uses what is called a single focus plane that means the BDC distances change depending on the chosen power. Unless you want to pay four times what a Nikon BDC costs, we were forced to do the math ourselves or burn the ammo to figure out where exactly our scopes shoot at any given range.
Then enters Nikon “Spot On” software (http://nikonhunting.com/spoton). In my humble opinion (as an amateur gun enthusiast) this is a “Spot On” brilliant idea. Rather than going back to the drawing board, recreating scopes with a reticle on the second focus plane that would cost exponentially more, the witty folks at Nikon came up with this dandy online software for you to customize your BDC with. When I say customize, I mean absolutely TO THE HILT. You start out by choosing your specific scope model (sorry guys it ONLY works for Nikon BDC scopes), then by choosing your caliber, round, and load/factory ammo, then simply enter your ballistic info. Only have a 25 yard range to site your rifle on? No problem! Spot On differentiates between your ZERO DISTANCE (sighted for) and your TARGET DISTANCE (actual shooting distance) and tells you where to put the bullet in order to have it dead on at your desired ZERO. Want a 200 yard zero but can’t shoot past 50 yards where you are? No problem! It does it all for you!
To take matters even further, the software allows you to play with your chosen BDC reticle, fiddle with the magnification and even print out a “field image” for your preferred power of zero so you don’t have to come up with your own crude drawing or memorize things in a pinch. The third step also gives the shooter the ability to generate 3 different ballistic reports, all of which open in their own window and have the ability to be saved as a PDF file (for you nerds), printed to be taped to your gun stock to be used as a field reference chart or even exported into EXCEL!!! Those three reports are a field reference chart, a ballistic table and even a ballistic trajectory/graph for you super nerdy shooters.
Don’t have a BDC? DON’T FEEL LEFT OUT! Spot On works for standard reticle scopes as well. Whether you shoot a straight cross hair or “Nikoplex” reticle scope or even a non-Nikon scope, you can use Spot On to your advantage as well!
Regardless of your BDC application to the shooting sports, you will NOT be disappointed by what Nikon has done to make this reticle an even more effective precision shooting tool. I HIGHLY recommend Spot On software to all BDC users, and even guys who prefer a standard “duplex” style reticle who want to calculate their bullet drop and be more educated on the external ballistics of their rifle and load.
In all my ramblings I may have forgotten to mention the best part… NIKON SPOT ON SOFTWARE IS 100% FREE OF COST TO YOU!!! All you need is a computer with internet access and a current web browser (time to upgrade from Netscape you guys) and you’re good to go! How’s that for a company who believes in the shooting sports? It’s nice to find an outdoor product manufacturer who listens to its customers. Oh, and did I mention they have a Spot On iPhone app? Whoop! Let the cat out of the bag. Looks like you’ll have to wait till next time to see that one. It may even be enough to push our smartphone naysaying outdoorsmen friends over the edge and into the 21st century with Nikon and their new software!