Dial VS Hold – Which Is More Accurate?

Dialing vs. holdover – it's a question that's been around in the long-range shooting world for ages. Which method is better for adjusting for elevation and wind?

Well, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Both techniques have their pros and cons, and the right choice depends on the situation.

Understanding Dialing and Holdover

Let's break down what dialing and holdover mean:

  • Dialing: Adjusting the elevation turret to temporarily zero the reticle for your current firing solution.
  • Holdover: Aiming higher or to the side of your target to compensate for bullet drop and wind.

Now, let's explore when to use each technique.

When to Hold

  • Quick Shots: For fast opportunities at close to medium range, holding is quick and may be accurate enough.
  • Busy Reticle: If the holding reference point won't get you lost in the reticle, holding is the way to go.

When to Dial

  • Standard Reticle: Dialing is efficient when using a standard reticle with one vertical and one horizontal line.
  • Long Shots: For very long shots, dialing provides greater precision, especially for extreme long-range and high-angle shooting.

Variables That Affect Your Aim

Two main factors affect your bullet's path:

  • Gravity: It pulls the bullet down as soon as it leaves the barrel.
  • Wind: It can blow the bullet off its original path.

Shooters aim higher to counter gravity and shoot "into the wind" to offset wind effects.

Holdover Technique: Pros and Cons


  • Speed: Holding is faster than adjusting turrets.
  • Flexibility: Reticles with holdover reference lines and dots, along with ballistic apps, make holding easier.
  • Wind Adaptation: The variable nature of wind makes holding a good technique.


  • Guesswork: Simple reticles require guesswork, and not knowing exactly how much you're holding can lead to missed shots.
  • Obstruction: Thick reticle lines can obstruct the target at long ranges.
  • Math Challenges: Mixing MOA and Mil units can complicate adjustments.

Dialing Technique: Pros and Cons


  • Natural Aiming: The aiming point stays near the center of the reticle.
  • Precision: Accurate adjustments to the exact number of clicks required.
  • Fast Adjustments: Exposed tactical turrets allow for quick changes.
  • Easy Windage: Move side to side along the horizontal reticle for windage.


  • Wind Challenges: Can't dial for accurate wind-hold as wind changes.
  • Tool Requirement: Some scopes require tools for adjustment.
  • Confusing Turrets: Markings or multiple revolutions can be confusing.
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