Friday, January 14, 2022

MRAD or MOA Reticle Explained Simply and the MILDOT Confusion

Which Reticle Should I Choose?
MRAD or MOA Reticle Explained Simply and the MILDOT Confusion

A good friend of mine is shopping for a high tier optic for his SKAR asked the simple question of which reticle subtense MRAD or MOA? It is a simple question with often a more complex answer and really depends on the person and how they set up across their kit, who they shoot with, how they range, and shoot.

Generally, it is good to pick one and stick with it without going back and forth, however there are times it makes sense to have both. Not many people can mentally swap back and forth well between MRAD or MOA as they are very different angular measurements. 

Notably they are angular measurements, not dimensional measurements. Even when we say 1 MOA at 100-yards conveniently equals about 1", at 200-yards 1MOA equals 2", so MOA and MRAD are not measurements, but an angle that increases at a consistent rate from the shooter to infinity. If we shot a laser and we were off 1 MRAD left at 100-meters, we would be 8 MRAD left (80 cm) at 800 Meters. Everything scales.

MRAD also known as MIL short for the metric Mill Radian in cm/meters is usually 10 clicks/units per 1 MRAD on the turret

MOA is MIl Minute of Angle in inches/yards and usually 4 Clicks per 1 MOA on the turret

When we are buying an optic, we have to be careful just looking at the reticle. MILDOTs and "MILDOT style" reticles are available in both/either MRAD reticle and turrets, MOA reticle and turrets and several years ago (confusingly) a combo of MRAD reticles with MOA turrets. Check the specs on the manufacture site as it can be confusing just note that MIL style reticles do not necessarily equal MRAD or MRAD turret adjustments. There are plenty of MOA based optics with MOA style reticles and turrents. Generally you can buy what you want.


Both are easy to think about if you know your measurements but MIL/MRAD is metric and MOA is imperial inches/yards. 

1 MRAD is one 10cm (3.8-inches) unit at 100 Meters. with 10 click units per MRAD - 1/10th MRAD adjustments.

1 MOA is 1" at 100-Yards - 4 clicks per MOA, but some have 1/8 clicks or 8 per MOA - 1/4 or 1/8 MOA Adjustments

So thinking that 1CM equals about 1/2" you can see that MOA are usually considered more precise since they can typically go down to 1/4" or even 1/8" adjustments where MRAD can just adjust down to about 1/2" (1cm). Most consider MOA a bit faster and simpler to adjust on the fly with only 4-clicks per MIL. Notably a lot of super precision bench-rest shooters will opt for MOA optics to dial in point of impact more precisely.

If the rest of your optics are  MRAD adjustment, I like to keep things simple so you do not get confused and start thinking you're adjusting for MRAD when you are actually adjusting for MOA. If you are mostly a MOA shooter, I would stick with that.

I lot of US shooters prefer MOA since they know what 100-yards and 1" is, however many ranges and target competitions are set in Meters. Some top competitors will actually swap optics from MOA to MRAD based on the known distance shots they would take. Some shooters will opt for whatever their buddies are shooting so if someone is spotting for them and says 1 MOA over, everyone is on the same page.

My Simplified Perspective on Using Either
Here is my take and this and how I have seen pro shooters use either scale. They will either have a DOPE range card (Data on Previous Engagement) with all their drops listed per hash or have some type of APP or ballistic calculator (I like Strelok).  They range and then look at their range card or plug the value in to their Bal Calc that has the round data and drops and take the shot and then adjust as needed. Where either MRAD or MOA MIL systems are handy is that when you miss and know you were one MIL high and one MIL left, you can just make that hold adjustment using the reticle dots and take the shot - what range it is and all the other calc data is irrelevant, because you know where your hits are landing and you can either just dial the adjustment or make the adjustment hold in the reticle.

I generally like to have a picture card of my reticle with the range verified drops for each mark with my selected ammo - every ammo will deliver different drops. Example Center dot is 200-yard zero, HASH1 - 310yards, HASH2 - 430yards...etc with a particular ammo and rifle. I may have different ammo I might be using.

I am typically an MRAD guy since I have all my longer range rifles set up that way and if I use my DOPE card data and a rangefinder, I will be one shot one and if not can adjust for a 2nd shot hit. However, a lot of my .22LR rights are MOA based to give me more adjustment precision at 75, 100 out to 300 yards.

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