MIL vs. MOA – A detailed Comparison

mil vs moa

Understanding Your Options for Accuracy

Whether you’re target shooting or hunting, accuracy is vital, but should you use MIL or MOA? We’ll walk you through what you need to know regarding MIL vs. MOA.

Whether you’re trying to hit a target at 1,000 yards or bag that record buck, accuracy is the name of the game. Your scope or spotting scope will give you a great view, but you need to understand how to measure things. Both MIL and MOA are used here, but is there one that’s better than the other? In this article, we’ll explore MIL vs. MOA so that you can understand what each brings to the table.

What Are They All About?

When you talk about MIL vs. MOA, you’re comparing two very similar things. They are both angular measurements, and they can also be converted into one another with a little bit of basic math, which we’ll touch on shortly.

  • MIL – MIL stands for milliradian. It is equal to 3.6 inches at 100 yards.
  • MOA – MOA stands for minute of angle. It is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards.

Both of these are designed to help you gauge the angle at which your bullet will descend from its original trajectory over a specified amount of space. The longer the range of your shot, the greater the ultimate angle at the end. You’ll need to account for that descent to hit your target accurately. Both MIL and MOA divide a circle into smaller pieces and then tie those pieces to adjustments made by turning the knob on your refile scope or spotting scope.

MIL

A circle is divided into 6.2832 radians. Each of those is comprised of 1,000 milliradians, giving us a total of 6,283 milliradians per circle. With that figure in mind, you can see that 1 mil at 100 yards is equal to 10 cm, or 3.6 inches. The beauty with the MIL system is that it can be used with both metric and imperial measurements, so whether you think in inches or meters, you can still use it. Based on the 3.6-inch-per-100-yard measurement, you can extrapolate upward. At 1,000 yards, it would be 36 inches, or three feet.

MOA

MOA stands for minute of angle. Basically, it divides a circle into 360 degrees, each of which consists of 60 minutes. That gives you 21,600 minutes. One MOA is 1.047 inches at 100 yards. However, many people round that down to one inch to make the math easier. In shorter-range shooting, that is fine. However, it does ultimately add up to a lot of variance in very long-range shooting. Of course, if you don’t shoot more than 1,000 yards at a time, it’s not likely to be an issue for you.

You may also hear MOA used to describe target size in relation to distance. For example, a target that is 2 MOA in size equates to about 10 inches in width at 500 yards. However, that changes based on the distance of the target from the shooter.

Converting MIL and MOA

In some cases, you may find that you need to convert MIL to MOA or vice versa. Doing so is very simple. All you need to do is take the total and multiply it or divide it by 3.438. If you’re converting MOA to MIL, you need to divide the number by 3.438 to get MILs. To get MOA from MIL, you’ll need to multiply the MILs by 3.438 to get MOA.

What Does It Ultimately Mean?

As you might have guessed by this point, there is no “winner” here. They’re simply two ways of breaking down the same thing. It really comes down to personal preference. Both of them are equally effective, but you should use the one that you’re most comfortable with. Switching from one to the other can create errors in your shooting, particularly at very long ranges. With that being said, there are a few things to know that might play at least some role in your decision about which to use:

  • When it comes to precision, 1/4 MOA adjustments are very slightly better.
  • However, MIL values are easier to communicate and understand that MOA adjustments.
  • If you use imperial measurements (inches, feet, etc.), MOA is going to be easier to understand and use.
  • If you use the metric system, then MIL is going to be second nature.
  • There are world-class sights available in both MIL and MOA, so you should really just pick the one that you’re most comfortable with.

The Question of Precision

Ok, so let’s address the question of precision first. How exactly is 1/4 MOA more precise than MOA adjustments? It comes down to adjustments. With 1/4 MOA clicks, you get a very, very slightly more precise adjustment than with 1/10 MIL. In fact, the difference is so slight that it only equates to 0.1 inches at 100 yards. At 1,000 yards, it’s about an inch in difference. Only world-class, record-holding shooters are going to be able to hold well enough for that to make a difference in their performance.

Of course, some scopes offer 1/8 MOA clicks, which gets you even finer. However, there is such a thing as too fine. Many accomplished shooters prefer coarser adjustments up to 1/2 MOA. It basically boils down to the number of clicks you want to make and the amount of time you want to spend dialing it in.

Are You Shooting with Someone?

If you’ll be hunting or target shooting with a friend or family member, there’s a lot to be said for using the same system as one another. If one of you is shooting with MIL and the other with MOA, you’ll have a harder time communicating with one another. This is even truer if you regularly hunt with the same person or group. Make sure that you’re all on the same page so you can compare apples to apples.

With all that being said, you will find both MOA and MIL scopes on the market. Below, we’ll walk you through four of the better options, with two each for MOA shooters and MIL shooters.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II

Vortex Optics Crossfire II

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is a great rifle scope for those who prefer MOA shooting. It offers 2-7×32 functionality with a Dead-Hold BDC reticle, which is great for both target shooters and hunters. It also features long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box for additional comfort and protection while firing.

Dialing in your shot is simple thanks to the fast-focus eyepiece. You also get a max elevation adjustment of 60 MOA, along with fully multi-coated lenses and an anti-reflective coating to help improve brightness and the clarity of the view. The capped reset turrets can be adjusted by hand for on-the-fly functionality and can be reset to zero after you sight in.

Finally, the body of the scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum to deliver the strength, durability, and resilience that you need. It is sealed with an O-ring to make it water and fog-proof, and it is nitrogen purged so you can benefit from inert gas rather than air.

PROS:
  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • 60 MOA
  • 2-7x32
  • Reset turrets are adjustable by hand
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum body
CONS:
  • Does not come with flip-up lens covers
  • Some users note that the zoom ring is difficult to turn
  • Some users note shadows in images with the scope

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Scope

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Scope

Another option from Vortex Optics, the Diamondback Tactical Scope is a great option for many shooters. It features 4-12×40 performance, so it’s higher performing than the previous Vortex model. It also features extra-low dispersion glass and XR fully multi-coated lenses for bright, clear images.

This scope uses a hashmark style reticle that was designed for outstanding performance in very long-range shooting. The VMR-1 MOA reticle can also be used to determine a wide range of important factors, including windage corrections, target leads, and more.

The exposed tactical turret can be easily dialed-in to whatever you need. Resetting to zero is also easy. The knurled knobs on the top, side, and at the eyepiece are easy to grasp and turn even in wet conditions.

Finally, the body of the scope is made from high-quality metal and nitrogen purged. It is sealed with an O-ring and completely waterproof and fog-proof to support shooting in any conditions.

PROS:
  • 4-12x40 performance
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Hashmarked reticle
  • Nitrogen purged to be water and fog proof
  • 80 MOA max
CONS:
  • Some users noted a compressed FOV
  • Some users have noted that the scope is very sensitive

Athlon Optics Argos BTR Rifle Scope

Athlon Optics Argos BTR Rifle Scope

For shooters who prefer MIL to MOA, the Athlon Optics Argos BTR delivers some pretty important performance and benefits. The first focal plane reticle stays valid at all settings, and the scope also features fully multi-coated lenses for a bright, clear view at all times.

One reticle is etched onto the glass, unlike other scopes on the market. It also provides good backing support for complex reticle design and has very good resistance to recoil. The scope features an illuminated reticle, as well for better visibility during low-light shooting.

The body of this scope is made from aircraft aluminum with additional strengthening points for better durability in the field. It has also been purged with argon rather than nitrogen. The extra-strong O-ring seals the scope tight against water and fog, as well, while delivering better thermal stability than nitrogen.

PROS:
  • Argon purged
  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • Heat-strengthened tubular body
  • 4-12x40 performance
  • XPL lens coatings
CONS:
  • Some users have noted the scope does not hold zero
  • Some users have reported unreliable turret tracking
  • Some users have noted that edges are not crisp

UTG BugBuster Scope Ao

UTG BugBuster Scope Ao

Another scope for the MIL shooters out there that can also double for MOA shooters, the UTG BugBuster AO offers plenty of perks and benefits. The tube measures one inch wide and offers an emerald coating for enhanced light transmission. The turrets are lockable and can be reset to zero with ease thanks to the knurled knobs.

The turrets provide you with 1/4 MOA per click so it is easy to dial in your shot. The MIL dot reticle also helps you estimate the range and improves your shooting performance. It works from three yards distant.

You also get red/green dual illumination, one of the widest fields of view available, and excellent eye relief so that even if you’re wearing glasses, you can use the scope comfortably.

This scope also comes with a built-in sunshade, as well as flip-open lens caps to protect your optics when the scope is not in use. The unit is completely sealed with an O-ring against moisture, and it is nitrogen purged, as well.

PROS:
  • 1/4 MOA + MIL dot reticle
  • Built-in sunshade
  • Includes lens caps
  • Nitrogen purged and waterproof
  • Emerald lens coating
  • Batteries included
CONS:
  • Some users have noted that scope does not maintain accuracy over prolonged shooting
  • Some users have noted the scope will not hold zero

In Conclusion

In the end, the question of MIL vs. MOA largely comes down to personal preference. Both methods offer a way to track angular measurements. And, as long as you remember that MOA is not 1 inch per 100 yards, but slightly more than that, you’ll be able to accurately dial in everything for accurate shooting. This is particularly true for long-range shooting. Most of us shoot far beyond 1,000 yards any more, which means that fractional extra adds up to a lot. Of course, if you don’t want to bother with fractions, you can always go with the MIL method and simply adjust your decimal point to make things easier on you.

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