Long Range ShootingPrecision Rifles

Mils or MOA which is right for you

Mils or MOA

[g1_dropcap]T[/g1_dropcap]his debate is never going to end, but we should agree on the facts. Every day we see the uninformed arguments how one angular unit of measurement is better than the other. The truth of the matter is, one is not better, they are just different ways of breaking down the same thing.

Personally, outside of the disciplines like Benchrest Shooting and F Class, I think Minutes of Angle should be retired. We have bastardized the unit to the point people have no idea a true MOA is not 1″ at 100 yards, or 10″ at 1000, but 1.047″ and 10.47″ at 1000. If you round this angle, you create errors at the longer distances. Today we shoot a lot farther than before, 5% of error compounding at an extended range will cause a miss. In fact, this is one of the main reason your ballistic software does not work. You default to MOA when in reality your scope adjusts in Inches Per Hundred Yards.

Shooter MOA or Inches Per Hundred Yards (IPHY) is not a True MOA, and yes it does matter when companies mix them. Having someone question how IPHY is different when they don’t understand we don’t use 1 MOA or even 10 MOA to hit a 1000 yard target is frustrating to explain. If we consider a 308 as a point of reference, we are looking at almost 17″ of variation between the two units of adjustment.

We can quickly point to the adoption of Mils here with the Military to demonstrate the ease of use, but then the Americans reading this will argue how they think in Inches and Yards as if Mils only work with the metric system. Mils are base 10 and unfortunately Mr & Mrs. America thinking in fractions is nowhere as simple.

3600 inches is 100 yards, 1/1000 of that is 3.6″ and adjusting in .1 mils means we moved the bullet .36″ per click at 100. See what we did there, we moved the decimal point. Some people believe an MOA is a finer unit of adjustment. Failing to note that: .3 Mils is 1.08″ at 100 yards. Contrary to popular belief you can get a Mil Based scope that moves the reticle .18 Inches per click. Mil based scopes usually adjust in .1 Mil Increments; however, they do make scopes that adjust in .05 Mils.

While Milliradians were added to the metric system many years ago, it was never designed to be a metric only unit and works outside the metric system as this is an angle. Every angle has a linear distance between it. You should be ignoring this fact and using the angle vs. picking a linear value to adjust your correction. If I am shooting 873 yards away, saying the bullet 6″ off the target is neither honest or accurate. You’re guessing; in your mind, it looked six inches away, but what if it was 9″? Using the linear value is more work, why not just adjust the angle?

Minutes of Angle started out like that too, but unfortunately, companies took shortcuts and ruined it for everyone. It was easier to manufacturer 1″ vs. adding in the .047″. Long range back in the day was between 400 and 800 yards. Read any old school book on ballistic, and it rarely goes past those ranges in their examples. Today we are shooting beyond 1000 yards, so it matters more than ever, you have to take it into account.

Defaulting your program to MOA when you are using IPHY is a significant point of error. JBM online is a great place to demonstrate this as you can include both MOA and IPHY in the output. The same amount of adjustment is accomplished with two different values. Mix these numbers, and the result is a miss. Did you dial 40.1 or 38.3 MOA?

I highly recommend you map and calibrate your MOA scope to confirm it’s actual value. It works both ways, not every MOA based scope is TMOA, some are SMOA. The compounding error is a lot bigger than .47 inches.

One is not more accurate than the other. I can hit the center of any target using either unit of adjustment. Using JBM the same way we can see that both correctly move us to the target. The difference is less than a bullet width. I have no trouble zeroing or hitting the center of a Shoot N C target keeping me squared away.

Which unit of adjustment is right for me?

This is the ultimate question; it should not be up to someone else to answer it for you. Communication is your number one consideration.

What are your friends and fellow competitors shooting?

You want to be able to communicate and understand what a fellow competitor is talking about when he walks off the line. You can convert using 3.43, by multiplying or dividing the competing unit of adjustment against the other. That will give you a direct conversion.

12 MOA / 3.43 = 3.5 Mils
4.2 Mils x 3.43 = 14.4 MOA

Next, you have your reticle choices. You will find more versatile options when it comes to Mil Based scopes vs. an MOA one. That is changing a small amount as manufacturers adapt. But a reticle with 1 MOA hash marks is not as fine as a scope with .2 Mil lines in it. You now have to break up an already small 1 MOA into quarters. The Mil based scope is already breaking up the Milliradian for you.

Pick the reticle based on your initial impression as well as your use. You don’t need a Christmas tree reticle to shoot F Class. You don’t want to use a floating dot bench rest scope for Tactical Style Competition. Put your intended use into the proper context.

There are a lot of articles about the nuts and bolts of Mils and MOA. You can dig deep or understand we are using the angle and there is no need to convert to a linear distance. A Mil is a Mil, and an MOA is an MOA (Unless it’s not because you didn’t check) Today I don’t even teach, 1″ at 100, 2″ at 200 yards, 5″ at 500 yards. It’s an unnecessary step and confusing to a lot of people. Not to mention, it’s not right, that is IPHY, not MOA.

We match our scope reticle to our turret adjustment, so at the end of the day, “What you See is What You Get.” It matches what we see in the reticle so we can dial the correction on the turret. A super simple concept that allows the shooter to use the calibrated ruler 3 inches in front of their nose. That calibrated ruler is called a reticle taking away the need to “Think” about the adjustment, you just read it.

If the impact is off in any direction, you measure with the reticle and then translate that reading directly to the turrets. 1 Mils is always 1 Mil, and 1 MOA in any direction is a 1 MOA correction on the turret.

If you have not made the change to Mils, consider it. You will find it’s much more intuitive. You do not have to be a resident of Germany to understand it, and you do not have to use it with Meters. All my data is in yards, and mils directly translate to whatever range you use.

Sniper’s Hide mission is to uphold the traditions of those who came before us by expanding on the Science of Long Range Shooting while developing the Art of Precision Rifle Marksmanship.

  • S
  • September 17, 2019
I am just getting interested in long range shooting and find some of this material a little confusing because everyone that tries to explain it does so in a different way. I kind of understand what is outlined in this article but still not 100% clear on it. I am also new on the forum so hopefully I will gain more knowledge as I go.
    • R
      rob x
    • October 10, 2019
    It's not confusing at all, in fact it's really simple.

    Try really concentrating and reading the article again.
      Spec 4 here,I'm in need of a new scope(old one mounted on another rifle) the younger men all veterans,have been attempting to re-educate this old soldier on the subject of Milliradians verses "old school thinking"I was a tad slow at mathematics in grade school but "caught on" in high school algebra.I am a hunter,I have dropped many,many deer.The farthest being 551 yards (paced)My 165 gr.30/06 sighted a tad high at 100 yds. I held 20" or so above his back line and caressed that fine Remington 700 Trigger.BOOM he ran in a semi circle and piled up at wood line.a hole just above his ticker.??
  • G
    Gary Ahlers
  • October 7, 2019
Thanks from a new member/new long range shooter. I won a Ruger Precision Rifle in 300 Win-Mag at the NRA banquet the other night, and now I'm going to have to outfit it. Came here for all the good info. Looks like Mils is the way to go for a newby. thanks again
    • D
      Dennis Rhodes
    • May 5, 2020
    Please tell me how you are supposed to communicate correction without assigning a linear value. You say just use an angle? So, instead of just telling my buddy he missed a steel plate 6" left, I'm supposed to guess at what angle he missed the plate by? Indent see how that is easier. I'm truly trying to understand how mil is easier to use than MOA, but every time I do, I still come to the conclusion that MOA is easier to make corrections for. I understand you can get used to it. But, why not just use what your brain is already accustomed to? Is it because the military uses it, so it must be better?
      You have a calibrated Mil based reticle 3 inches in front of your nose
  • B
    Bob S
  • October 14, 2019
when I was shooting NRA highpower we were using MOA.
I could dial in and hit the target with MOA adjustments from 100 to 1000 yards with iron sights!
I am very aware that 1 minute of angle does not compute to exactly 1 inch at 100 yards. I was a mechanical designer and am very aware of trigonometry.
    Trigger what lol...? Bob S. I inherited my dads M1, have only shot it at 115 yards but I plan to "take him out" this year at my new shooting club.Im loading various bullet weights up to and including 175 SMK.Piwders H-4895,Varget,IMR 4064 and IMR 4320 respectively.My father never refused a challenge from anyone,scoped or non scoped rifle...God rest his soul??
  • B
  • November 3, 2019
It's funny how "outside of benchrest and fclass moa should be retired" yet these disciplines depend on absolute accuracy. The core argument here is that mils are technically more accurate because everyone uses the flawed assumption that 1moa = 1" @ 100yds. While this may be true, the fact is that disciplines outside of bench rest and extreme long range don't require precise measurements and the practicality that moa offers, in my opinion, outweigh the tiny error that is incurred. With respect to PRS, shooters use mils because everyone and their mothers do when in reality, moa is just as competitive, if not more so due to its practicality when dealing in yards
    You are part of the problem

    .3 Mils is 1.08:"

    The difference between IPHY and MOA is 5%, the difference between .25 MOA and .36 MIls is, what scopes actually adjust in, is .11, which is 1/2 the bullet width for most calibers.

    We cannot hold the difference, we are talking 1/4 MOA or 1/10th Mils, the difference is minimum, but since errors accumulate 5% is worse than .11"
  • J
  • November 22, 2019
I wish a better system was invented.... like having a true 1 inch at 100 and 10 inch at 1000. #pleasereinventmoa
  • R
    Ronald Vanbuskirk
  • December 3, 2019
WOW I get it. I have read threads from DIFFERENT forums regarding this subject. One reference seemed to be consistently referred to.... SNIPERSHIDE. I've spent almost every free moment I can over the last 3 days reading your Reviews and Threads.
  • M
  • December 12, 2019
a lot of wrong statements:
0,1 mil IS bigger than 1/4 moa
mil is mil and moa is not allways moa? not all mil scopes doesnt track perfectly, neither does moa; we should sheck all our scopes !
use what is easier for you is right decision.
Funny how King of 2 mile winners are all using MOA scoops now
    • D
      David Starr
    • March 26, 2020
    Thank you that’s what I’m saying
    Meaningless, most come from F Class so they used to it

    Doesn't make a difference
  • D
  • January 7, 2020
Could anyone tell me what chassis that is in the photo at the top of this article?
Carlos Norman Hathcock ?? Used his boyhood hunting skills,polished up in the Marine corp,proven on the 1000 yard Wimbleton match(he beat 3000) competitors to WIN the coveted cup in 1965,...and then on to war...!! The Winchester m70,30/06-173 gr.accounted for hundreds of enemy kills,of which 93 were confirmed.Gunnery Sargent Hathcock used " Inches per" and S.W.A.G. To make most of his hits.He knew his rifle,and his load,he read the mirage,He was a legend. Can we as "wanna be's" measure up..probably not..but the will to strive to learn all that we can and apply that knowledge to our shooting makes us better shots.??
  • T
    Tom Bender
  • April 17, 2020
I just ordered my Vortex scope. I had my choice of MOA or MRAD. I like both systems I decided to go with the MOA reticle, mostly due to health issues and do not plan on going past the 200 yard marker. My days of poker chips out to 600 yards have past.
The MOA will work just fine for me.
As with a pistol, pick which fits your needs best and what you are comfortable with.
  • R
  • April 19, 2020
" We cannot hold the difference, we are talking 1/4 MOA or 1/10th Mils, the difference is minimum, but since errors accumulate 5% is worse than .11″ "

The difference between 0.25 MOA and 0.1 mrads is NOT 0.11 inches at all ranges. Consider the following calculations for arc length associated with angles of 0.25 moa and 0.1 mrad:

Arc length (y) associated with 0.1 mrad at 100 yards: y = 0.1*3600/1000 = 0.36 inch.

Arc length (y) associated with 0.25 MOA at 100 yards: y = 2*PI*3600*.25/(60*360) = 0.26 inch .

The previous expressions for arc length illustrate that arc length is proportional to range:

At 1000 yards, arc length y associated with 0.1 mrad = 3.6 inch .
At 1000 yards, arc length y associated with 0.25 moa is 2.6 inch.

At 1 mile (1760 yards):

arc length for 0.1 mrad is 6.34 inch
arc length for 0.25 moa is 4.58 inch

And at 2 miles:

arc length for 0.1 mrad is 12.68 inch
arc length for 0.5 moa is 9.16 inch

For those shooting at extreme long ranges, it makes sense to use a scope that provides 3.5 inches more precision at 2 miles for exactly the same cost. Hence, just about all of the competitors are using moa optics.
    Not really cause you don't know which one is actually closer to your impact, but thanks for posting this much, we have actually already provided the real numbers and they include:

    Taken from Forum Discussion:

    The second graph plots the difference between how close 1/4 MOA is vs how close .1 MRAD is for each POI of .002, .004, .006 ... 3.0 MOA.
    The beginning of the graph where it is flat is because from 0 to .125, neither 1/4 MOA nor .1 MRAD can get any closer then each-other. The parts in this graph above the X axis represent when 1/4 MOA is further from the POA then .1 MRAD. And the parts in this graph below the X axis represent when 1/4 MOA is closer to the POA then .1 MRAD.

    If I add up the values that represent the difference between 1/4 MOA and .1 MRAD closeness to POA and divide them by the total number of points, we get .0235 MOA. Which means, that if we assume you are just as likely to need to adjust left 1.236 MOA as you are 2.488 MOA or 3.106 MOA etc;
    Then we can say the adjusted difference between 1/4 MOA and .1 MRAD is .0235 MOA. Which in practical terms, is extremely negligible.

    I thought seeing the difference in graph form might help clarify how little of a difference there is between 1/4 MOA clicks and .1 MRAD clicks. And that it is not an improvement of .094 MOA.
I'm 61, been shooting since I was 12. I've used MOA scopes exclusively, until last year when I bought my first MIL scope. It took a while to make the mental conversion between the two systems, but once I did I saw that the advantages outweigh the negatives. Just bought my second MIL scope, and that will be my preferred option from now on.
I started with MOA, then got a MIL scope and never looked back. Took me a few years to change all of my optics to MILS but I'll never own another MOA scope again.