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Sightmark: Hunting Ethics and Choosing the Right Optic

By Kevin Reese and Gergana Panayotova

“While the arts were making us spiritually viable, hunting did the heavy lifting of not only keeping us alive but inspiring us.”

- Steven Rinella

Since the dawn of human history, hunting has been foundational to sustenance and for many, survival well into the 20th century. Indeed, countless people the world over still rely upon the benefits of hunting, whether for sustenance, depredation, other conservation strategies or even revenue. Of course, hunting is not without responsibility. Our end game is serious business and calls our ethics and honor to question always—as well it should. The notion of taking wild creatures should always carry with it a posture of reverence, humility and gratitude. Equally as important, we should aspire to treat the wild places in which these creatures roam with equal reverence.

And while hunting today is rightly laden with focus on individual journeys, stewardship and sustenance for the soul, so to speak, killing and the resulting benefits, including physical sustenance are no less important. While it is great to become immersed in the hunting experience and pay homage to the traditions of those generations before us, our commitments to our pretty quickly, humanely and respectfully, remain our highest calling.

Fortunately, we live in a golden age of hunting. Where these principles, forged in ethics, mix exceptionally well with technological advancements, especially when those innovations come from the minds of people who share your outdoor passions—people who shoot, hunt and are reverent about the traditions and stewardship-minded responsibilities we assume as hunters. In the optic world, this means they develop purpose driven optics you can rely upon in extreme environments and you choose the right type for your tasks at hand. Some riflescope producers like Sightmark have made their mark by delivering premium optic performance, including a lifetime warranty. Moreover, Sightmark’s optic improvements, from the beginning, have been rooted heavily in your expert feedback—they listen and improve. As a result, Sightmark continues to offer a robust array of riflescopes literally designed or enhanced by the fist-full-of-dirt hunters and shooters they serve.

Choosing the right scope

Determining which type of riflescope you need for your next hunt really comes down to a few factors: The type of firearm being used, the caliber, your expected shooting range and your environmental conditions. You want to be sure the scope you choose can withstand the recoil impulse of your rifle and caliber. You want to be sure the optic’s magnification range complements your average shooting distances, even if your range is 50 meters or 1,000. You also want to be sure the riflescope you choose is appropriate for your environment. Are you hunting in low, dawn and dusk light? Are you hunting at night? Are you hunting in extreme high or low temperatures?

Most hunters demanding a hunting optic magnification range for close-range to mid- or long-range shots are comfortable with base magnifications of 3x or 4x. For decades, the most popular hunting scope setup consisted of a magnification range of 3x to 9x and an objective lens diameter of 40mm, most routinely called out as a 3-9x40 riflescope. Second to a 3-9x40, a base magnification of 4x also has been popular; however, the higher magnification makes it even more suitable for mid- to long-range shots. Most often, 4x scopes have boasted a top magnification power of 16x and objective lens most often at 50mm.

The perfect fit

More recently, companies like Sightmark have offered the perfect middle-ground hunting riflescope for most any environment—lowlands to mountain tops—and virtually any prey from fox, roe deer and sheep to wild boar, bear and red stag. The Sightmark Citadel 3-18x50 is a perfect example. The Citadel offers the performance and reliability hunters and long-range shooters desire, like red-illuminated first-focal-plane reticles. And, while many debate whether MOA or milliradian reticle systems and windage/elevation turret adjustments are better, the Citadel is available for both; in fact, the Citadel 3-18x50 is available in two MRAD reticle models (LR2 and MR2) and one MOA reticle model (LR1). Turret adjustments for each model match the reticle type: .1 MIL per click for LR2 and MR2 models, up to 17 mils of W/E adjustments and ¼-MOA per click on LR1 models, up to 60 MOA of W/E adjustments.

Using MRAD or MOA reticles and turret adjustments is subjective. Hunters often prefer MOA while precision shooters prefer MRAD. Precision shooters who also enjoy hunting sometimes prefer MRAD because they are used to the system on the range. In terms of longer-range shots on the range and on the hunt, first-focal-plane (FFP) reticles can be incredibly beneficial. While second-focal-plane (SFP) reticles have been more popular for most close- to mid-range hunting, FFP optics have become more prevalent in the field than ever before and using an FFP reticle certainly has its benefits. Since an FFP reticle increases and decreases as a hunter zooms in or out, the subtension values are consistently accurate throughout the range of magnification. This means holdovers are incredibly accurate and the reticle itself becomes a reliable rangefinder. Using an FFP reticle to determine range is incredibly important when trying to make ethical shots at longer distances.

Considering the benefits of a first-focal-plane reticle on the hunt, it is well worth explaining a second-focal-plane reticle. Second-focal-plane reticles remain a constant size while magnification increases or decreases. This means the reticle’s subtension values are only accurate at a single power of magnification, usually the highest. Not only do inaccurate subtension values complicate holdovers, they make ranging your prey in the field incredibly difficult. So, what is the draw back of using a first-focal-plane reticle while hunting? I have successfully used FFP reticles while hunting for years—I prefer them—however, the drawback is simply that at closer range and at lesser magnification, your reticle size also is exponentially smaller. Still, for the most robust hunting riflescope designed to deliver accurate results up close to long-range, I prefer an FFP reticle system like those of the Sightmark Citadel 3-18x50 riflescope offerings.

While FFP riflescopes are generally quite a bit more expensive than their SFP counterparts, sometimes costing thousands of dollars, Citadel riflescopes offer premium FFP performance at quite affordable price points without compromising on reliability. Honestly, who knew that 15 years ago such advanced optics would be more affordable than ever? Considering value as it is, and as it was back then, we are living in the golden age of performance riflescope affordability and Sightmark has become a literal light on the hill.

Citadel riflescopes, like the 3-18x50 are designed to perform in harsh environments. With a larger-diameter objective lens of 50mm, incredibly clear glass and red-illuminated reticle, the Sightmark Citadel delivers premium riflescope performance even in low-light, dusk and dawn situations. Citadel riflescopes also boast nitrogen-purged, IP67-rated waterproof, dustproof and fogproof construction; pop-up locking turrets; variable reticle brightness settings; adjustable parallax and diopter; 30mm aircraft-grade aluminum tube construction and scratch-resistant, anti-reflective glass coating.

To learn more about Sightmark Citadel Riflescopes, visit Dealer inquiries for the EMEA region are welcome at U.S. inquiries should be sent to

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