• Category: Optics

CW or CCW turrets - what to choose?

When discussing scopes for long range shooting, the question of clock-wise or counter clock-wise turrets quickly comes up. Actually, the choice is easier than you might think.

The mighty Minox ZP5 TAC 5-25x56 almost dwarfs the Vortex Viper PA 6,5-20x50

I have worked my way thru a decent array of "long range" or rather target scopes by now (some refer to them as "tactical" which is a term I detest), and made a few observations along the way. The scope list looks like this, in chronological order:

- Nightforce NXS 5,5-22x56 #MLR (CCW)
- Zeiss Conquest 6,5-20x50 #mildot (CW)
- Nightforce NXS 8-32x56 #MLR (CCW)
- Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 #EBR-1 MRAD SFP (CCW)
- Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 #EBR-1 MRAD FFP (CCW)
- Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 #EBR-1 MRAD SFP (CCW) [this weird sequence might be addressed in a later post]
- Kahles Helia 5-25x56 #MSR (CCW)
- Vortex Viper PA 6,5-20x50 #mildot (CCW)

and the current Minox ZP5 TAC 5-25x56 #MR2 (CCW)

All of these scopes have their strengths and weaknesses, and also a quite big difference in price which needs to be taken into consideration. Some manufacturers stick to CW turrets to a large extent; Zeiss seem quite keen on this for some reason. While others like Nightforce and Vortex have CCW as standard. And then we have brands which simply offer both without any bias, such as Kahles, Schmidt & Bender (aah yes, the reference scope PMII) and Minox, to mention just a few.
So which is best - CW or CCW? Well, that is entirely up to you, fellow rifleman! But here is my take on CW vs. CCW.
The first time I came into contact with turrets without caps was when I shot International 50 meter rifle back in 1996. The metal sights on those Anschutz rifles had CCW turrets, without me ever thinking about it. To adjust the point of impact upwards, you turned the turret counter clock-wise (or "CCW" for short) if you look at it from above. Imagine it's a screw and by rotating it that way, the screw would come up - right? That is the beauty of CCW turrets - they work exactly like rotating a screw! To move the point of impact to the right, you rotate the windage screw (on the right-hand side) counter clock-wise. Again - just like a screw! If you start this way I believe, and have experienced myself, that adjusting to CW turrets is darn near impossible! I didn't need to look at the sights back then - I simply reached for the knurled turret head and rotated it the number of clicks needed to correct the point of impact. Absolutely marvelous!
The exact same thing is valid for a target or long range scope. But in this case you have the luxury of "measuring" how far the shot or group is off your point of aim thru the scope (by using the reticle as a ruler), and then correcting quickly by rotating the turrets without even looking at them. Again - it's that simple! If you're using a MIL based reticle such as the MR2 in the Minox, it's as easy as can be. Bullet is off by 0,3 mils? Just turn the knob 3 clicks - bam, dead center!
For me - the only reason I can see for CW turrets is that it looks nicer when you look at the scale. This is because the numbers align in the right order on the scale - 1 2 3 4 etc. This is also the only disadvantage of CCW turrets - the scale looks to be backwards:

The turrets and the crisp feel of the clicks on the Minox ZP5 TAC 5-25x56 are some of the best I've ever come across
So, let's wrap up shall we? If you like the scale to read in numerical order, or if you simply must have a Zeiss scope, then go with CW turrets and stick with that. Otherwise, get yourself a scope with CCW turrets and enjoy this wonderful system. I think you will get used to it in very short order.