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Mil Dot

# Mil Dot

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05/20/2012

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MILS and MOA
A Shooters Guide to Understanding:- Mils- Minute of Angle (moa)- The Range Estimation Equations

By Robert J. Simeone

2Shooters use the following equations to determine the range to a targetdepending on what type of reticle they have:
What really is a “mil” or a “moa”, and where did these equations comefrom?
In this paper I will attempt to explain, in simple terms, what
mils
and
moa
are,and I will
derive the distance equations
involving them. I will try to keep it simple,methodical and easy to understand. The reason I wanted to do this is because I believethat if you know where something comes from, as well as how it works, you get a better understanding and appreciation of it, as well as its uses and limitations.

What is a Mil?
A “mil” in “shooters” terminology is short for
, a
realtrigonometric unit of angular measurement
of a circle. Every circle has 6283.2milliradians, which are small angles, in it (we’ll discuss how they got this number later).A mil is finer in measurement than degrees, thus more precise (6,283.2 mils in acircle vs. 360 degrees in a circle). In shooting, we use mils to find the distance to targets,which we need to know, in order to adjust our shots. It’s also used to adjust shots for winds and/or the movements of targets.
(Note: The actual techniques of how to use mils for shot adjustments are beyond the scope of this paper since this paper mainly deals with the math behind mils, moa, and their distance equations.)

There is some controversy out there about what type of “mils” Americanmilitary and tactical shooters use
. Some think they use a mil that is based on a circlethat has
6400
mils in it instead of 6283.2. This has widely been circulated, written aboutand even taught, including in the military. But this is not the case. While it may be truethat some Artillery and other military units do use this type of mil (the one based on6400),
American military snipers and tactical shooters use scopes that are based onand calibrated using “real mathematical milliradians”, which are 6283.2milliradians (mils) per circle
. (Note: Some other countries, like Russia for example, douse different types of mils for their scopes, but for American shooters, our “mil” is6283.2 milliradians per circle).

3

MOA

What is a
minute of angle
(
moa)
? Like the “mil”, it is an actual “true” unit of angular measurement, and is used quite often in shooting (
I will abbreviate this “true”moa angular measurement as just “moa”
). It is even more precise than a mil (21,600minutes in a circle vs. 6283.2 mils). Many scopes use reticles etched in mils to find therange to the target, but have their knob adjustments in “minutes of angle” (moa). Manytimes we also talk about our shot “groupings” in moa. Furthermore, some scopes likemine have their reticles etched in minutes of angle (moa) rather than in “mils”.There is another slightly different “moa” that we will discuss that some shootersuse and that some rifle scopes are calibrated in. It is close to the actual “true” moa but notequal to it. It is referred to as
“inch per 100 yards” (IPHY)
or
“shooters moa” (s-moa)
.(Because “shooters moa” (s-moa) is easier to say than “IPHY”, I will mostly use thatterminology in this paper).Before we can proceed, we need to define a few terms and establish a fewrelations. So just follow along, hang in there, and you will see why we will need theselater.

What is a radian? (Warning: you might have to read this paragraph a few times).A “radian” is a unit of angular measurement. Officially,
one radian subtends an arcequal in length to the radius (r) of a circle