The Leupold Custom Dial System was designed to solve the constant guesswork and turret-turning required to account for bullet drops.
It was designed to increase a user’s accuracy and long-range shooting ability.
Plenty of shooters note that the custom dial is very sensitive.
Any discrepancy in details related to bullet drop compensation can get you from shooting dead-center to firing blindly.
Let’s look at the most common issues with the Leupold CDS dials and the data needed to make the shots that count. We’ll look at how to make the Leupold Custom Dial work for you.
- Overview of Leupold CDS Dial System
- 6 Common Leupold CDS Dial Problems + Solutions
- Data Needed for CDS Turret
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of Leupold CDS Dial System
Before we go over some of the problems Leupold CDS dial users have to deal with, we have to look at the CDS Dial system.
We’ll discuss how the CDS dial works and what benefits the dial brings when used correctly.
The Leupold CDS Dial and Bullet Drop
The Leupold Custom Dial System was designed to account for bullet drop, or how low the bullet will land from your point of aim.
The farther out you are, the lower your bullet will land.
Accounting for this is a tedious process that requires expert ballistic math knowledge, considering the distance, windage, elevation, gravity, bullet velocity, and even ammo type.
Yes, it can get confusing.
You must make a fine dial adjustment every time you fire a shot. Getting a hit entails adjusting your point of aim and praying your reticle finds its target.
The Leupold CDS dial system is designed to do the math for you!
It swaps out with your pre-installed turrets and is designed to give you the correct aiming point every time you shoot.
The CDS allows you to make rapid adjustments without losing accuracy!
It’s pre-configured with the necessary math, allowing you to turn the dial and mark your targets without worrying about holdovers.
The CDS dial is an excellent solution for shooters looking to get straight to hunting WITHOUT crunching the numbers every time.
It produces consistent accuracy and gives users access to the best shots possible!
How Does the Leupold CDS Dial Work?
The Leupold CDS dial is designed to screw onto any Leupold scope that’s CDS-enabled easily. It’s a smart system designed to make ultra-quick adjustments and work with your loadout.
Each CDS Dial is unique, custom-made by Leupold to help you nail the prey you prefer at a distance you find comfortable.
It gives you unparalleled accuracy and user comfort every time you pull the trigger.
Every CDS scope owner is entitled to a free custom CDS dial!
They must send their bullet information, shooting conditions, and bullet velocity through the Leupold online shop.
This stuff is used to program the rifle scope turret dial to give you the information you need while compensating for the information you shouldn’t worry about.
The dial makes ballistics MORE ACCESSIBLE to shooters. It allows them to go hunting without worrying about environmental factors or losing sight of their prey.
It gives them precise accuracy up to 400 yards.
Thanks to the CDS dial, you will need to range your sight (for targets over 400 yards), dial it up to 4, and place your reticle dead center. The dial does the heavy lifting for you!
How to Use the Leupold CDS Dial
The Leupold custom dial system builds bullet ballistics into your turrets. It allows you to point, aim, shoot and land your bullet on the mark.
It’s made for quick, worry-free accuracy!
The Leupold CDS dials are made primarily with the VX rifle scope series (VX 3,5.6 etc.) in mind. Every owner of these scopes is entitled to a free CDS dial, which screws on easily.
Once installed, using the scope dial is fairly straightforward. You will need to dial the scope in at 100 yards.
This will allow you to shoot targets up to 400 yards away simply by turning the dial to “4.”
After you dial in your rifle scope, you’ll be able to adjust your scopes without looking at ballistics charts!
EXAMPLE: Let’s say you’re hunting an animal at a distance of 450 yards. You must turn your CDS dial to 4.5, as its turret measurements are taken in yards.
This allows you to sight your scope faster and more efficiently. The scope also typically becomes more responsive to your needs than other dials.
All you need to know is your DISTANCE from the prey, and the Leupold dial does the rest!
6 Common Leupold CDS Dial Problems + Solutions
The CDS dial is a unique scope accessory that typically does what it sets out to do.
However, the system is imperfect, especially when certain variables are incorrectly recorded.
Users have noticed several issues that arise when changes are made that can affect how the Leupold rifle scope CDS dial compensates for environmental factors.
Let’s look at some of the common issues that arise when using the CDS dial by Leupold and how to ensure that they don’t get in the way of your rifle hitting where it should.
1. Not Sighting the Scope After You Install CDS Dials
Every rifle scope owner knows you should zero your scope for your bullets to land where they should.
However, many users forget to do the same when they install their CDS dial turret.
This is an example of user negligence resulting in sighted optics losing their zero. However, it will save you plenty of ammunition if you know how to solve the problem.
This is a simple fix!
As with every small alteration made to your viewing device, such as installing a CDS, you will need to sight in your optic at 100 yards (or whatever length works for you.)
2. Using the Wrong Ballistic Coefficient (G7 Instead of G1)
The two most common ballistic coefficients used are G1 and G7.
Leupold prefers the G1 for the CDS dial, which throws rifle users for a loop when they find out they’re using the incorrect BC.
Using the EXACT BC to determine velocity and how your ammunition travels across the air is important.
This will save a shooter from needing to calculate each turret click manually.
This is an example of incorrect data and conversions changing the ballistic calculations and sending bullets flying where they shouldn’t.
Fortunately, the fix doesn’t involve spending $80 to buy another CDS.
Leupold offers conversions from G7 to G1 with minimal work and no hassle on your end!
3. Wrong Sight Height Data
Sight height is important because it allows the scope and the gun to stay in line, giving you more accurate hits over a longer distance.
However, if the scope ring height is the same as the scope height basis, your alignment will be off, meaning you cannot calculate the distance from the middle of the rifle to the scope.
The average example of this kind of height will yield about 1.5-1.8 inches between the bore and the optic.
For your CDS to be accurate, however, you must be PRECISE.
The simplest way to address this problem is to measure from the midpoint of the bore/barrel to the midpoint of the optic tube.
This will give you the correct measurements needed to nail your target.
The CDS dial takes this information and allows the turret to adjust for discrepancies between the optic and the weapon.
Your bullets fly at the right velocity to where you’re aiming at!
4. Inaccurate Muzzle Velocity
Getting the actual velocity is important for putting your bullets on paper and not having them miss wildly.
The CDS requires correct measurements for Leupold to give you what you’re looking for.
As a related example, it’s known that bullets will not go as low if they’re moving at a faster velocity.
You can determine this by crunching the numbers or verifying them with live ammunition.
No one wants to waste time calculating the kinematics required for your scope if you have the stag you’ve been hunting in your sights.
This makes an accurate CDS dial so important!
If you want your scope turret to reflect the proper velocity, you must fire near a chronograph that can determine how fast your bullets are flying.
This will allow you to determine how many feet per second your bullets are going.
Once you have the information, the CDS remembers it and saves you time and effort on calculations.
5. Changing Your Ammunition Brand
Ammo type is a vital factor when looking at how far your bullets can go before they kiss the ground. This means staying loyal to a specific brand and ammo type.
The use of the CDS dial is predicated on CONSISTENCY. It uses measurements you typically keep in mind and remembers them for you.
All you have to do is find out how far you are, aim and fire!
However, the CDS dial is sensitive and doesn’t react well to you using a different brand or type of ammunition. This changes the velocity and scope, and turret reliability.
For example, the .308 Winchester and the 7.62mm share the same dimensions. While they can be chambered in each others’ guns, the firing will be inconsistent.
Consistency is key when it comes to the CDS.
As much as possible, it’s recommended that you use the SAME type, manufacturer, and caliber that you send to Leupold when ordering a CDS.
6. Indoor vs. Outdoor Accuracy Issues
The CDS dial by Leupold can work perfectly for hunters going after their prey outdoors and yet fail to wing an indoor target the same distance away.
This is just one example of a problem CDS users experience.
Everything can be the same with the rifle and the scope, but your shots will not land if the environment changes.
This may not be a problem with your turret or velocity but a parallax issue caused by indoor lighting issues.
You will need to zero again for indoor use.
You can also try remounting your CDS and see if it improves your ability to make contact.
If those don’t work, you could loosen your scope’s rings or try to troubleshoot your optics or CDS before asking Leupold to send you another one.
Data Needed for CDS Turret
Leupold considers many variables when programming the ballistics on your CDS dial, such as rifle velocity, sight height, ammunition, and environmental sensitivity.
These allow the CDS dial turret to help you land long-distance kills without calculating velocity by hand.
Let’s examine the factors that help the CDS give you a worry-free shooting experience.
Brand and Make
Rifle and ammunition manufacturers can all offer the same ammunition caliber and type, yet each round will impact your quarry differently.
The CDS notes this discrepancy.
The Leupold brand prides itself on the CDS turret because its ballistics are SO precise that even the company and make of the ammunition used can affect its ability to compensate.
Before ordering a CDS dial, try calling your ammo manufacturer and asking for the specific make of your rifle round.
Doing so will allow you to ensure that you’re nailing EVERYTHING you plan on hitting.
Bullet Caliber and Cartridge
The bullet’s caliber is based on your rifle barrel’s interior diameter.
When shooting, the ammunition caliber can affect how far and fast your bullet travels before being affected by gravity and loss of speed.
The bullet type is thus vital for determining how low bullets fall and adjusting for it. Your CDS dial calibration should also include the specific ammunition caliber and cartridge.
After all, Leupold designed the CDS to create pin-point accuracy by accounting for EVERY ASPECT of your ammunition, and any small deviation can throw off its calibration!
If you are using an AR platform, this means programming your CDS to handle ballistics for a 5.56 mm round, specifically a ball type, if that’s the kind of ammunition you buy.
Using a 5.56 tracer round, in this case, may affect your CDS’ effectiveness.
A bullet’s weight is measured in grains; the heavier the bullet is, the more affected it is by environmental factors.
Your sight and turret may not consider it, but your CDS dial sure can.
The CDS factors in the bullet’s weight because a heavier round will carry more energy, creating a more forceful impact.
However, it will be much lower than where you’re aiming at.
It’s thus important to include your ammo’s weight in your sent measurements to get the proper compensation levels.
You can find the weight of your rifle ammunition on its cartridge box labels. When in doubt, you can contact your manufacturer for specific details.
The ballistic coefficient refers to the ability of an object to overcome air resistance (drag) when in flight.
It’s a measure of how well bullets fly through the air. It is also referred to as BC.
BC is determined by the G model, which ranges from G1-G8 and GL. Leupold users prefer G1 BC-related data, the measurement used on most common bullets.
Accurate coefficient calculations require both the muzzle velocity (determined via chronograph) and the time the ammunition spent in flight.
For your CDS dial to be an asset on your sight or scope, you should be able to send the proper G1 coefficient calculations to Leupold.
This will allow them to compensate for drag on your behalf.
Long-distance shooting and hunting enthusiasts often have preferred terrain or an area they know, like the back of their hand.
Leupold will need to know this to set up their CDS dial.
This means researching and declaring the average altitude in your preferred area.
This may not matter as much for larger targets but may make all the difference when you have a smaller game in your sight.
Mounting a CDS on your sight will allow you to factor in altitude when on the hunt. This helps you save ammunition in the long run and lets you stay on top of the situation.
Firing in California is way different from firing in Alaska.
The environment can get to a point where it begins to impact your sight and how you view what you’re aiming at.
Leupold thus also asks for the temperature where you plan on shooting if you are ordering a CDS dial. This ensures that your scope, rifle, and ammunition work together.
After all, your sight must overcome fogging, light reflection, and other issues to help you win that prize-winning game.
Actual Muzzle Velocity
Most companies will give you the average velocity their rounds travel.
In this case, you will need a chronograph to measure the exact velocity with which your barrel sends rounds-down range.
Muzzle velocity is one of the main factors affecting ammunition’s ability to not drop too far below your sight alignment.
That’s why it’s a MUST-KNOW if you use a CDS dial!
It’s not enough to rely on manufacturing averages. You must measure muzzle speed to ensure the right findings if you want accurate hits.
This will save you from a world of trouble.
The sight height is another vital (and often misunderstood) measurement that will make the CDS dial more effective once your scope is mounted on your gun.
The sight height is the height (in inches) from the barrel’s bore axis (longitudinal axis running through the middle of the barrel) to the bore axis of the scope.
The sight height helps the CDS adapt to the difference between where you sit and your ammunition travels.
This can greatly affect BDC and where your round lands in relation to your line of sight.
Sight-In Zero Distance
Sighting your rifle is essential to ensuring accurate hits every time.
After all, zeroing is the first step in ensuring that your sight is right where it should be.
Leupold asks for the distances at which you plan to send your ammunition through paper for the sake of your CDS dial.
For most shooters, this will mean 100 yards.
This is a good amount of space that allows you to mark your paper and see your round land through your scope.
This makes sight zeroing easier to manage. It also allows you to know when you’re accurate.
If you plan on using rimfire ammunition, your sight-in distances can be 50 yards or less.
Frequently Asked Questions
Having gone over the important features and calculations the CDS dial by Leupold offers, let’s answer a few questions that can help hunters choose this turret.
Let’s clarify some misconceptions and look at some of the most important things to remember before buying a CDS dial for your Leupold rifle scope.
How Much Are Leupold CDS Dials Worth?
It costs around $80 for a new CDS dial from Leupold.
Leupold customers who buy CDS-related scopes are entitled to a free CDS dial once they send their pertinent shooting information to the Leupold online shop.
Each dial is custom-made for your scope and rifle, so it should be worth the money!
It’s important to note that delivery of the CDS dial will take about 4-6 weeks. However, if all the details are right, the price and wait for your new CDS will be well worth it!
Are Any Leupold Scopes Made in China?
While Leupold has been a fixture in the American firearms market for the past 100 years, they’ve begun outsourcing production of their non-rifle scope products to China.
These include their non-gold ring spotter scopes and green-ring binoculars.
Although they warn users about Chinese CDS counterfeits, they’ve partnered with Chinese manufacturers.
Does CDS Have Zero Stop?
A zero stop is a locking mechanism that stops your turret when it reaches a preset distance. The CDS dial has a zero-stop, allowing shooting enthusiasts to lock their distances.
This makes aiming easy, as they don’t have to worry about their CDS turret shaking with the rifle recoil!
They can place each bullet at the center of their targets at a set distance every time.
We can look at an example involving a Leupold rifle scope aiming at 240 yards.
Once you’ve zeroed your CDS turret to 2.4, your scope will deploy its stop, allowing you to fire consistently at that distance.
Are Leupold CDS Dials Reliable?
While the CDS system does have its issues when inaccurate information is reported and calibrated, it is typically reliable.
A CDS dial is made to help shooters consistently hit the center of their target, knowing that the reticles are in the middle of where they should be.
Furthermore, the CDS system allows you to take shot after shot, knowing that their rifle scope is aiming DEAD-CENTER at the set distance.
As a result, you can save ammunition and not waste time calculating!
It should get the job of aligning your aiming point while compensating for gravity done well.
Is the CDS Dial System Worth the Money?
To answer this related question, we must also ask: “Who benefits most from this CDS dial system by Leupold?“
This will tell us who will typically find this system most worthy.
The Leupold turret is WORTH installing if you typically:
- Engage at a distance of 200 yards or over
- Find ballistic math confusing
- Don’t like BDC reticles.
However, the precision comes in sending Leupold the RIGHT information they need to make the scope CDS.
REMEMBER: If your ammunition type, chronograph measurements, and bullet data are off, you’re in for a bad time.
The CDS dial system by Leupold is an EXCELLENT companion for any rifle scope.
It allows you to adjust for bullet drop and nail your targets without endlessly clicking turrets or crunching numbers.
If you’re looking for consistent accuracy when using the SAME ammunition and engagement distances, the CDS dial helps you place your reticle on target with minimal effort.
However, the CDS doesn’t do well when variables change.
It may be best to skip CDS turrets and sight manually if you’re hunting elusive game, switch to a different ammo brand, or are happy with your current rifle scope configuration.