Core Stories

Understanding Your Long-Range Riflescope

To be accurate at long distances, not just any scope will do. You need a system that’s specifically designed to deliver the highest degree of precision, quality, and performance. Leupold’s line of long-range riflescopes are built to max out the capabilities of the latest long-range rifles and ammo, here’s how.

The Heart Of A Scope

Today, shooters and hunters alike are pushing the limits of their gear. They’re dialing out to distances that used to seem improbable, and they’re doing it with relative ease. But this type of precision doesn’t just happen by accident. Not only do you need the shooting knowledge and physical ability to deliver long-range hits, you need a rifle, ammo, and a scope that are precise and repeatable.

Manufacturing tolerances are a major key to this success. The slightest error in the design can create a giant deviation at 1000 yards. And while many shooters will tout their shooting system as being the best, few know exactly what goes into making these tools so exact.

So what makes a scope capable of shooting out past 1000 yards with precision? Let’s take a look.

1) The Erector System

Located inside your scope’s maintube is a mechanical system that controls point of impact, creates magnification, and houses the reticle. When you turn the adjustment dial, this “erector system” tilts up and down, and right to left inside the scope, which, in turn, moves the reticle and ultimately changes your point of impact. Each simple click accounts for a precise .0002 inch of movement. That’s roughly 1/20th the width of a human hair. Making sure these tiny adjustments in the erector system are precise and repeatable is key to long-range accuracy. Since the erector system is made up of moving parts, it’s vital that the design is as rugged as it is precise. Not only do you want each click to work exactly the same every time, you want to make sure it’s unaffected by recoil, no matter what rifle it’s mounted on.

2) The Maintube

The erector system sits inside the maintube. The more space it has to move, the more adjustment travel you can account for. Simply put, the size of your scope’s maintube does matter, and it will directly affect the distance you can dial to. The smaller the maintube, the less the erector system can tilt, thus, limiting your adjustment travel. A larger maintube provides more room, allowing you to max out your internal adjustments and shoot longer distances. But an extremely precise erector system housed inside a spacious maintube is only part of the equation. The technology that brings it all together is a dial that gives you enough revolutions of travel to take advantage of the first two components.

3) The Dial

Dials come in all shapes and sizes and serve as the controls for your scope. The farther the shot, the more your dial needs to turn. But with all of that travel and all of those revolutions, it’s easy to get lost. That’s why adjustment dials designed specifically for multiple revolutions help shooters take full advantage of their long-range systems.

Dialing For Distance

Leupold has led the charge in designing 3-revolution dials, so shooters can send rounds downrange with confidence. We created a new generation of 3-revolution dials: the CDS-TZL3, M5C3, and M1C3 dial systems.


This system features an easy-to-read revolution indicator built into the base of the dial. As the dial turns, the indicator ring, which is marked with MOA increments, moves up and down and aligns with the static index mark on the outer collar.


This dial’s ZeroLock push-button acts as the indicator, providing both a visual and a tactile reference. During the first revolution the button protrudes from the dial. On the second revolution the dial sucks in flush with the face of the dial. Then on the third revolution the button recesses into the dial and a silver pin on top of the dial will pop up. These indicators are easy to see and feel without shifting position.

Return To Zero, Without Question

Leupold dials incorporate easy-to-read revolution indicators, solid zero-stops, and our proprietary push-button ZeroLock technology.


Being able to dial for extended ranges is great, but having the ability to quickly dial back down to your zero without counting clicks or look at the dial is a valuable feature. Both of our dial systems have solid zero-stops to get you back on target quicker.


Once you’ve dialed back down to zero, knowing that your dial won’t move unless you want it to is one less thing you have to worry about. Our push-button ZeroLock technology physically locks the dial in place, preventing it from moving until you push the button.

Details Matter

The next time you pick up a Leupold scope, don’t just be amazed by its crystal-clear glass. Take a closer look at the engineering that went into making it the lightest and most precise piece of equipment in your shooting system. The attention to detail that goes into the smallest features is what makes our products stand above the rest and outperform the competition.

Learn more about your shooting system on the Core Insider Podcast:

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