MIL vs MOA Which One is the right one?!
It’s not inches. It’s not millimeters. It’s all about angular measurements over a given distance. Not following yet? Don’t worry, we will explain. Whether it’s Minute of Angle (MOA) or Milliradian (Mil) This article is going to help you decide which is the right choice for you.
The Short answer
There are a few things we could consider when trying to decide between these two rifle scope measurement systems.
- If you are a casual shooter or hunter, you could stick with what you know. Keep it simple.
- If you shoot with your friends or compete, you are probably spotting for each other. In this case, I would certainly stick with the most popular option in your group. When helping each other make adjustment calls for windage and holdover, it’s much easier to convey a message if you are all speaking the same language. If one person is using equipment in MIL and another in MOA, there’s going to be unnecessary confusion and delay while your converting your units of measure.
- Math and reticle ranging. A nice benefit to using a MIL-based scope is the math can be a little easier since the linear metric measurements work in powers of 10. We will cover that in a future article.
Linear vs. Angular measurements
Ok, it’s time we elaborate on this subject. You’ve probably heard your buddies or the sales associate at the gun shop say that 1 MOA equals 1” or 1 Mill equals 3.6” That’s only partly true. It really depends on the distance. The correct answer here is 1 MOA equals 1 minute of angle and 1 Mil equals one milliradian. MOA and MIL are not a measurement of inches, feet, yards, centimeters or meters (linear measurements). It’s a representation of an angle. With angular measurements, if we are going to state a linear measurement such as inches or centimeters, we must pair it with a distance.
Let’s head back to geometry class. A circle is comprised of 360 degrees. Each degree is broken down a step further into MOA and Mil. 1 degree equals 60 MOA, or 17.78 MILS. At a given distance of 100 yards, 1 MOA will equate to 1.047”. 1 Mil ill be equal to 3.6” That same 1 MOA and 1 Mil adjustment at 1,000 yards equals 10.47” and 36” respectively.
Which is more precise?
So far, 1 MOA and 1 MIL is obviously too large of an adjustment for any kind of precision work. They must be broken down further. Most commonly, 1 MOA will be broken down into fourths, represented by ¼ MOA turret click adjustments. In other words, there are 4 “clicks” to 1 MOA. Rounded off (as it often is) that’s .25” at 100 yards and 2.5 inches at 1,000 yards. Mil, likewise, is also broken down into smaller segments. Each Mil is divided into tenths, with each click value equal to .36” at 100 yards and 3.6” at 1,000 yards.
So, each click value at 1,000 yards represents 2.5” and 3.6” for MOA and Mil respectively. With a difference of only 1.1” it can be argued that unless the long-range shooter is capable of 1” groups at 1,000 yards, neither Mil or MOA has a huge precision benefit over the other.
For the benchrest shooter focusing on small targets at close range, MOA might be the better choice. If you were shooting .25” targets at 100 yards, a Mil-based scope with .36” clicks would move you from one side of the bullseye to the other. Your level of skill is still a factor. As a 1 MOA shooter, capable of shooting a 1” group at 100 yards (angular measurement represented by a linear measurement and distance, see?!), MOA vs Mil doesn’t offer a significant precision benefit in my mind.
My general advice is to shoot what you are comfortable with. If you shoot with others or compete, use the same unit of measure as everyone else in your group. Both MOA and Mil have their place, but there is no clear winner. Which do you prefer and why?