Handgun Hunting: Who Needs a Hashmark — And Why?


Burris offers two long eye-relief handgun scopes shown here. Mounted on the
Freedom Arms .357 Magnum is their 2-7x Ballistic Plex model. The other scope is
their 3-12x Ballistic Plex with adjustable parallax on the objective end.

Compensating reticles on scopes are nothing new. It’s not uncommon to find optics companies referring to them in a variety of ways. For example, Leupold offers their Boone & Crockett reticle, Burris goes by Ballistic-Plex and Crimson Trace has the Custom BDC Pro, while others define their system in different terms. However you slice it, hashmarks provide hunters with a means of holdover for shooting at extended range.

If your hunting conditions do not allow for extended-range shooting, you probably don’t need any holdover reticle system. If I’m hunting in the woods with a .44 Magnum revolver and my farthest possible shot is inside a football field, I really don’t need holdover reticles. However, there are a lot of possibilities in the hunting world where extended shots with both revolvers and single-shot handguns are aided by hashmarks.

For example, varmint hunters, who often encounter long-range shooting opportunities, will welcome hashmarks for precise shot placement. For you antelope hunters enjoying the wide-open spaces of the west and often find yourself shooting beyond 100 yards, the holdover reticle system may very well help fill the freezer and punch your tag.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of options available in long eye-relief handgun scopes. Granted, many who hunt with single-shot handguns chambered in bottle-neck cartridges often mount a rifle scope simply because these optics provide a wide variety of features compared to handgun scopes. Some hunters like to dial for distance. This is an option, but like everything else in life, it may not work well in all situations. I have witnessed hunters spend excessive time looking at their drop charts and then fooling around with the turrets in order to get everything just right. In the meantime, the game disappears along with their shooting opportunity.


Burris offers two handgun scopes with their Ballistic-Plex reticle. Their 2-7x and 3-12x handgun scopes feature three hashmarks below the center crosshair. This reticle works well when you spend quality time at the range determining the point of impact for each hashmark. When I’m hunting with a revolver, I normally sight in at 50 yards, and I will see where the point of impact is at subsequent 50-yard intervals. For single-shots, whether it’s on a varmint gun such as .223 or a deer hunting candidate like 6.5 Creedmoor, I usually sight-in at 100 yards and work my way out to the longest distance I anticipate a shooting opportunity.

This fact-finding mission takes dedicated time on the range. I shoot the same load I’ll be hunting with, so there is no variance or change of impact. Once you see where the bullet impacts with each hashmark using 50-yard increments, you can easily transfer this data to the field. So, when a groundhog pops up at 300 yards, you know exactly which hashmark to use without a lot of guesswork.

Crimson Trace provides handgun hunters with their long eye-relief Brushline Pro
2.5-8x BDC pistol scope. Another great addition to handgun hunting optics.

Crimson Trace

Another company providing a long eye-relief handgun scope is Crimson Trace. Currently, I’m working with their Brushline Pro 2.5-8x BDC pistol scope. Crimson Trace calls this reticle system the CT Custom BDC Pro. The reticle features four diamonds. At first I wasn’t too sure about the diamond-shaped symbols as hashmarks. Now that I’ve had time to get familiar with this reticle, it makes life easy. I simply use the top or bottom portion of the diamond as two different aiming points. In essence, you have a total of eight different points in addition to the top of the post on the bottom crosshair. I don’t put the target in the center of the diamond.

Compared to a duplex reticle, these compensating reticle systems offer an advantage to handgun hunters who are shooting at extended ranges. I cannot overstate the importance of appropriate range time to determine exactly your point of impact at various distances with your scope’s reticle graduations.

At a recent Handgun Hunters Competition in Newcastle, Wyo., my wife and I both shot the rimfire event with a Burris 2-7x handgun scope. Challenging targets varied widely, out to 150 yards. With the Ballistic-Plex reticle, we knew where to hold from 25 yards out to 150 yards, thanks to range time calibrating those marks. Even though most of my squirrel hunting revolves around 25-yard shots, I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a tree rat from 50 yards or beyond simply because the holdover reticle provides a means of a well-placed shot. The same Burris optic was fitted on my Freedom Arms .357 Mag. for the Revolver Optics event, where steel targets were placed out to 200 yards.

Thanks to Burris and Crimson Trace for their offerings of holdover reticles. They work!

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2023 Issue Now!