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MOA vs MRAD Scopes: The Differences, Advantages, and More

MOA vs MRAD

MOA and MRAD are two different systems of angular measure for tactical rifle scopes that are used to help you adjust your aim while shooting.

The debate between the usage of MOA vs MRAD is a long-standing one among many hunters and gun enthusiasts of all levels.

Before we can go into the debate between MOA and MRAD, it is important to first talk about the main components of sight alignment.

The Basics of Sight Alignment

There are two main components for rifle scope alignment: The reticle and the turret.

Both the turret and the reticle are important for making a good shot.

Reticle

The reticle is the part of the scope which holds the aiming point within the scope’s field of vision. They are usually curated from wire or etched directly onto the glass using lasers.

The two most common types of reticles are the red dot and the crosshair reticle. Both of these types of reticles are built to compensate for windage and bullet drop.

Turret

The turret is the twistable knob that is used to adjust scope reticles.

There are two main types of turrets: Ballistic and target turrets.

Ballistic turrets, which come in increments of 100 yards, allow for quick and easy adjustment of bullet trajectory.

Target turrets are great at fine adjustment to change the position of bullet impact. They are mostly used for windage and elevation adjustments.

Both types of turret use either MOA or MRAD to make their adjustments.

What Is MOA/Minute of Angle?

MOA stands for “Minute of Angle,” which basically refers to 1/60th of an angle.

What does this mean?

Imagine the angles on your rifle scope. As a full circle, standard rifle scopes have 360 degrees.

Each one of those degrees is divided into 60 parts. One part is one “minute of angle.”

What Is MOA (Minute of Angle) Diagram

This division allows the shooter to make fine adjustments to their rifle scopes.

Why is this division necessary?

A change in one degree of the angle would result in the impact point moving by 62.83 inches, which is more than 5 feet. Any shots taken with these kinds of adjustments are bound to be too off the mark.

To rectify this, each angle is divided into 1 MOA, which refers to that 1/60 partition, or one “minute of angle.”

1 MOA, or a change in 1/60 of an angle, results in a much more precise change.

1 MOA will cause the point of impact to move by just one inch at 100 yards (1.047 inches, if you want to be exact).

MOA adjustment at 1 inch is one of the reasons why targets are usually designed to have 1-inch grids. If all shots land within a single square on the target, that indicates a sub MOA grouping.

One click is equivalent to around .25 inches at 100 yards for most MOA rifle scopes.

TAKE NOTE: The angle must be measured between the aim point and the shot’s physical impact when using MOA.

While aiming through the scope may seem straight at the impact point, the rifle’s barrel and line of sight are angled against each other to form a trajectory.

This means that the bullet will need more time to drop at longer distances. The projectile drop in relation to your target can be measured through an angle by MOA.

To get perfect accuracy, you need to consider this to calculate MOA properly. The most popular MOAs are 3MOA and 6MOA.

What Is MRAD/Milrad/Milliradian?

MIL, also known as MRAD, which is short for milliradian, is an SI unit of angular measurement used to define .001 radians of the rifle scope reticle. 

Note that a radian, which is part of the International Standard of Measurements, is slightly larger than one degree.

Under the MRAD/Milrad/Milliradian system, the riflescope is divided into sections of 6.283 radians.

What Is MRAD/Milrad/Milliradian Diagram

This means that one adjustment will cause a change of 6.283 radians.

The distance between any two adjacent dots, or one MIL, is equivalent to 3.6 inches at 100 yards.

This is the system more common in the military, leading to it being adopted by the civilian market as well.

MOA Scopes vs. MRAD Scopes

The main difference for MRAD vs. MOA is just what their equivalent distances are at 100 yards. 

At 100 yards, one MIL is equivalent to 3.6 inches, while one MOA is equivalent to 1.047 inches.

Which is better for you? It really boils down to personal preference.

To help you figure it out, let’s look at some of the advantages of each system:

Advantages of MOA

#1 Allows for More Precision at Closer Ranges

Because MOA allows for smaller increments of adjustment, it is better for small, precise changes at closer ranges.

In fact, a one-quarter MOA adjustment is more refined and effortless than 1/10 MIL adjustments at the same distance of 100 yards.

Understand that at a distance of 1000 yards, one MOA is equivalent to 10 inches.

This would mean that a single click would be equivalent to 2.5 inches at 100 yards.

If you compare MRAD vs. MOA based on clicks, you will see that MOA is slightly more accurate.

#2 Better for Those Used to Imperial Measurements

If you are more comfortable with imperial measurements, such as inches, the MOA system is ideal for your rifle scopes.

Most ballistic tables for MOA reticles are recorded in terms of yards and feet.

Advantages of MRAD

#1 More Commonly Used by the Military

MRAD style scopes are great for high-precision shooting.

For this very reason, MRAD/MIL scopes are often used for tactical scenarios where many shooters have to measure targets quickly at a distance and react quickly to changes in the environment.

While the little adjustments may seem intimidating, a little practice with the MRAD system should be able to help you achieve high precision measurements on the field.

#2 More Compatible With Red Dot Sights

Red dot sights usually have a 1 MIL reticle.

For this reason, MIL is more ideal for usage with a red dot sight.

#3 Easier to Make Long Range Adjustments

It is worth noting that MRAD/MIL can be adjusted in 1/10 clicks.

A MIL-based scope usually has turrets that can make adjustments at 0.1 MIL increments. This means that the difference at 100 yards for each click is only 0.36 inches.

You can have more precise adjustments for long-range targets thanks to this.

#4 Better for Those Used to the Metric System

If you are more used to the International System of measurement or are more comfortable measuring length by meter, you should use an MRAD scope.

MOA vs. MRAD Conversion

There are 3.438 MOA in 1 MIL at 100 yards, which is equivalent to around 3.599 inches.

Thus, you can use the following quick conversion for MOA and MIL measurements:

  • MOA to MIL: MOA ÷ 3.438
  • MIL to MOA: MIL x 3.438

MOA Scope vs. MRAD Scope: Which Is Better for Hunting?

Because it’s easier to understand and convert 1 MOA at 100 yards (1 MOA = 1 inch at 100 yards), MOA offers incredibly precise shooting at a medium range.

However, it also requires more turret adjustments, which may be a problem when hunting moving targets.

A MIL scope is a preferable option if you are after moving targets as its quick-adjust turrets require fewer clicks than MOA turrets.

This makes it ideal for hunting at long range (around 600 yards).

Both MOA and MIL scopes have their advantages and disadvantages for hunting. It really boils down to what your hunting style is.

If you prefer hunting stationary targets at medium ranges, then MOA scopes are perfect for you.

However, if you prefer moving targets at long ranges, the MIL rifle scope would be a better choice.

MOA vs. MRAD: Which Is More Accurate for Long Range Shooting?

The MRAD, without a doubt, is better for long-range shooting.

When shooting with long-range scopes where you will need to make bigger adjustments to make up for longer distances, it would be easier to shoot at one-tenth of a meter instead of adjusting at a quarter of an inch.

To this end, most competitive shooting games have come to utilize MRAD.

Other than the bigger adjustments offered by MRAD for long distances, MRAD is also easier to translate into the games.

This is because the called misses, target size, elevation holds, and other aspects of shooting games make use of angular measurements.

A reticle set in angular measurements makes it easier to make the necessary scope adjustments without needing further translation.

Frequently Asked Questions About MOA and MRAD Rifle Scopes

Can You Combine MOA and MIL in One Scope?

You can, but it isn’t recommended as it might confuse you.

However, finding a MIL dot reticle with turret adjustments of 1/4 MOA isn’t impossible.

Does MOA Change With Magnification?

No.

While magnification offers better accuracy, it doesn’t usually change MOA.

In fact, some MOA-based scope optics with 10 power magnification are at their most accurate when magnification is at the highest level.

Does MIL Change With Magnification?

It can.

As the magnification of most scopes is increased, the distance between two adjacent dots decreases.

This means that it can change, and the right magnification for each distance can give you the most accurate MIL aiming point.

HOWEVER, if you are using a scope with a second focal plane system, magnification should not alter the size of the reticle.

Does the Military Use MOA or MRAD?

The US Military and police snipers mostly use MRAD on their tactical rifle scope since red dot sights contain one mil dots.

However, they do use MOA (minute of angle) to teach bullet trajectory.

What Is 1 MOA at 100/200/400/1000 Yards?

With 1 MOA for every 100 yards, it is surprisingly easy to calculate MOA at various distances.

Distance (yards) MOA (inches)
100 1
200 2
400 4
1000 10

What Is 1 MIL/MRAD at 100/200/400/1000 Yards?

1 MIL is equivalent to 3.6 inches at 100 yards.

Doing the math would give us the following measurements:

Distance (yards) MIL (inches)
100 3.6
200 7.2
400 14.4
1000 36

How Many Clicks on a Scope Is Equivalent to an Inch?

For many scopes, four clicks are enough to move a bullet by 1 inch when you are shooting at 100 yards. 

If a scope uses 1/8 MOA per click, you will need 8 clicks for a single MOA.

This means that with 8 clicks, you will be able to move the scope at 1 inch for every 100 yards. 

You can also say that this is equivalent to .36 inches per click at 100 yards. 

With that, many manufacturers are starting to return to the setting of having .1 MRAD per click.

This would result in much more accurate marking and more precise adjustments. 

MOA vs. MRAD: Which Is the Better Rifle Scope?

You can’t really say that MOA is better than MRAD or that MRAD is better than MOA.

They are two different systems of angular measurement. It’s like the imperial system and the metric system. You can’t exactly say that miles are better than kilometers or vice versa.

In other words, it all depends on which you are more comfortable with and in what situation you find yourself in.

If you’re shooting with a group of friends, it might be better for everyone to use the same system for better coordination.

One system in a group will eliminate the need for any conversions among the members, making for quicker and easier shooting.

MOA may be better for medium-range shooting, but if you find yourself more comfortable using MRAD, there is no need to complicate things further.

MRAD may be better for long-range shooting, but whatever advantage it offers will be offset if you aren’t familiar with MRAD.

FINAL TIP: Ready to take aim? You can check out our Top Scopes for 500-Yard Shooting for some top options.

 

CHANGELOG:

July 26, 2022 - added 1 new article link, minor formatting edits
May 26, 2022 - minor content and formatting edits

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