Leupold Custom Dial System (CDS)

By David Rearick

In the not so distant past, using most commercial hunting optics, shooting at distances beyond 200 yards required the operator to place the center of the crosshair at different locations of an animal’s body to adjust for longer ranges.

Sure, there were mil-dot systems and other types of hashed reticles, and while they certainly work, they also require a tad bit of guessing and approximation since they are fixed locations and not adjustable to each individual bullet/load combination.

Leupold VX-3i CDS 30mm Riflescope
Leupold VX-3i CDS 30mm Riflescope

This isn’t a knock against them, as they have proved to work, but placing the same hashed reticle style on a .30-06 and .375 H&H causes a very different result.

Over the past couple years, Leupold’s Custom Dial System (CDS) has gained in popularity, especially among long-range shooters.

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Tip: The Leupold® VX-3i CDS 30mm Riflescope features the Leupold Custom Dial System (CDS). This system allows you to quickly and easily dial your elevation to different sight-in ranges using a custom adjustment that matches up with your ammo's specific ballistics information.

The Leupold Custom Dial System Itself is Simple

Leupold VX-Freedom CDS Rifle Scope
Leupold VX-Freedom CDS Rifle Scope

A shooter purchases a CDS scope, he or she sends the load data to Leupold along with some environmental factors, and Leupold produces a dial for each individual load the scope might be used with.

After placing the dial on the scope, and zeroing it to the rifle, you are ready to shoot.

When a target’s range is found, the user simply adjusts the dial to the range and places the crosshair directly on the target.

No more holding over the target, no more guesswork, and no more confusion as to what hash or dot to use at a specific range.

In order to ensure the dial is made to the exact specifications of the load and a user’s specific scenario, a few simple steps must be followed.

How to Make Sure Your Leupold Dial is Just Right for You

1. Select a load/loads for the specific caliber to have a dial matched to. In most cases, having two or more dials for each scope will allow the user to change between loads when switching from an elk load to a bear load.

2. Using a chronograph, measure the muzzle velocity of each load a dial will be custom-built for.

3. Write down the weight, brand, type and ballistic coefficient of each bullet choice.

4. Determine average elevation and temperature where the load will be used. For instance, if you hunt predominately for mule deer during the early season at high elevations with a particular load, use something like 8,000 feet and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other end, if your elk load will be used during the third season, perhaps make it for 30F and 5,000 feet. This doesn’t need to be 100-percent accurate, as subtle changes in temperature and elevation don’t have a drastic effect. Just use your best judgment.

5. Measure the scope height, which is the center of the bore to the center of the scope.

After you find all these values, send them to Leupold to have a custom dial manufactured, and get ready for the best long-distance accuracy possible with a scope custom tailored to your exact load data.