A scope pointing towards a rhino in the bush

MIL vs MOA: Which One Should You Choose?


When it comes to rifle scopes, there are two options: an MOA-based or MIL-based scope. Both options are based on their own set of mathematics, and if you have no prior knowledge, you may be wondering which choice is ideal for you. Because both systems have distinct advantages and limitations, this article will help you decide which one you need to choose.


What Are MIL Reticles?


An image of MIL reticles

Credit: Riflesscopesuk


An MIL scope, short for milliradians or mils, is commonly used by law enforcement and the military for precision shooting. When you look through this scope, you'll notice crosshairs and dots. These dots are spaced to represent a 10-centimeter (about 3.6 inches) gap on your target when you're 100 yards away, which is a typical distance for sighting in a hunting rifle. As you move closer or farther from your target, the spacing between the MIL dots changes accordingly.


What Are MOA Reticles?


An image of MOA reticles

Credit: MidwayUSA


MOA or "minute of angle" is an angular measurement within a circle. It is similar to a MIL scope in appearance but differs in size, with MIL being the bigger of the two. Additionally, MOA is a little easier to understand than MIL.

Like an MIL scope, you will be able to see your crosshairs as well as lines or dashes when you look through a MOA scope. Using the earlier 100-yard example, the space between these dots represents roughly 1.047 inches in height. Since that's very close to one inch, we usually round it down. So, in practical terms, one MOA equals about one inch at a distance of 100 yards.


MIL vs MOA Scopes: What's the Difference?


 infographic showing the difference between MIL vs MOA


Although MOA and MIL dot scopes look similar, there are a few differences that distinguish them:


  • An MOA reticle scope is more accurate than a MIL dot scope.
  • A MIL reticle is larger than an MOA scope.
  • MOA adjustments are simpler to work with because they use yards and inches instead of centimeters and meters.


Which One Should You Choose?


A rifle with a scope on the top of it pointing out to the fields

Credit: Envato Elements/ byrdyak


When comparing MIL against MOA, neither MIL nor MOA has an edge. Both are angular measurements. The best one for you is determined by your knowledge and comfort level with the system.


However, if you are unfamiliar with scopes, here are two variables that will help you make a decision:


  • If you're used to thinking in inches and yards and have expertise in MOA, you might want to stick with it. However, if you are familiar with the metric system or are starting from scratch and do not have MOA expertise, you may want to use MIL scopes. 

    One option to explore for MIL scopes is the Hawke Vantage Riflescope, while for MOA scopes, the Vortex Optics Red Dot Sight is a noteworthy consideration.

  • Another thing to think about is what unit your competitors or friends will be using. When a competitor gets off the line, you should be able to communicate and understand what he is saying.


How to Zero Your Scope Using an MOA Reticle or MIL Dot


If you're new to zeroing a scope reticle, here are a few steps to get you started:


1)  Set Your Target


A row of targets that are lined up at a shooting range

Credit: Envato Elements/ MargJohnsonVA


Begin by selecting an appropriate target like those from EasyShot. These targets are ideal for range practice or dry firing.

Once you have your target, set it on a solid stand 100 yards away from the shooting station. When it comes to your shooting station, ensure that your rifle is properly supported so that you can fire repeatedly.


2)  Begin With the First Shot Group


A person in military uniform pointing their rifle at a target

Credit: Envato Elements/ StudioPeace


To zero your scope, start by firing three-shot groups. Set your scope's crosshairs to the center of the aiming spot and take three shots.


3)  Calculate the Corrections


A person pointing at a hole in a green target

Credit: Envato Elements/ Vailery


Examine the point of impact of your shot. This will determine how much you need to adjust your scope. Estimate the middle of the shots on the target and utilize that position for corrections. The relative center of the shot group shows the average impact point of the shots.


4)  Shoot Three More Times at the Same Target


A person in military looking through a scope on a rifle

Credit: Envato Elements/ StudioPeace


Hold the sight reticle at the same shooting position as the first round and release three more shots. This shot should hit the target. You may need to make some little tweaks to get your fire cluster precisely where you'd like them. Carefully calculate the necessary modifications.


5)  Check Your Settings and Adjust the Aiming Point


An image showing sight settings

Credit: Envato Elements/ orcearo


Move your target and discharge three more shots once you're pleased with your sight settings. Because you'll need to reposition your rifle and scope, this will immediately inform you if your sight settings are precise and reliable. 




An MOA and MIL dot reticle is best used for long-range shooting. When choosing between the two, keep your goals in mind. A skilled marksman can make the most of any rifle scope. After all, the greatest precision comes from time behind the trigger, not from reading reviews.

Ready to enhance your shooting skills? Try EasyShot shooting targets for an even more satisfying and accurate shooting experience. Shop with us today.


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