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MOA Meaning: Explained Simply [By An Expert]

Andrew Maurer | Updated February 23, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of MOA meaning showing a soldier aiming a rifle at a target

Have you ever heard someone at the range say they have a 1/4″ MOA on the target and wondered what that meant?

Knowing the answer to this could mean the difference between nailing bullseyes or missing completely.

Just keep reading…

Key Takeaways

  • MOA or Minute of Angle is an angular measurement representing a sixtieth of a degree and is often used in shooting or optics.
  • One MOA equates to 1.047 inches at 100 yards, but we often round off to one inch since the .047 doesn’t make a significant difference.
  • Both MOA and Mil are units of scope measurements where MOA uses the empirical system (inches, yards) and Mil aligns better with the metric system (centimeters, meters)

What Is a MOA on Scopes?

Let’s start by answering the question of what a MOA is. So, MOA stands for Minute of Angle, and it’s an angular measurement representing a sixtieth of a degree. The formula helps improve shooting accuracy once you understand how it works and how to do the math. 

Still confused? Let’s break it down further.

Diagram showing the 360 degrees in a circle

A circle has 360 degrees. Now, take one degree and divide it into 60. That’s what a MOA is. So, in other words, one MOA is equal to 1/60th of 1 degree. Understanding MOA is crucial as this important concept is the key to making proper scope adjustment measurements.

Other people use Milliradian, which is abbreviated as MRAD or Mil. It’s also a unit of measurement in scopes and commonly used by the military or someone looking for extreme precisions.

But before confusing you any further, let’s keep it to MOA. We’ll discuss Mil later.

Now, the next question that comes to mind is why we’re talking about circles and degrees, yet we shoot in a straight line. 

Bullet fired from a gun

The simple explanation is that when you fire a bullet, it won’t travel in a straight line or path. Bullets drop because of gravity. The bullet path is not in a straight line but more of an arc.

When you point a laser at a target, it will hold a straight line at whatever distance.

However, a bullet can’t behave the same because of gravity, which causes it to drop. That means when you aim at a particular spot at a target, the bullet will hit slightly lower than that because of bullet drop impact.

Also, remember that bullet drops depend on distance, cartridge used, and gun ballistics. But that’s a topic for another time. Today, we focus on MOA.

Diagram showing 1 inch at 100 yards at 1 MOA

The important part in all this is knowing that one MOA equals an inch at 100 yards. Actually, if we’re being accurate, it’s 1.047 inches. However, we round off to one because the .047 is quite small and insignificant unless we’re shooting at long distances.

Simply put, for every minute adjustment you make to your scope, there will be a change in where the bullet strikes if our target is 100 yards away. The further our target is the more the inches increase. That means if our target is 500 yards away, then one MOA equals five inches.

MOA becomes applicable during scope adjustments. Hitting a target with accuracy requires scope adjustments, which change the angle of elevation and windage of a rifle.

So, you might find that your first attempt at hitting a target is inaccurate despite the fact that you’ve aimed the crosshairs at the center of the target.

Adjusting one minute of angle modifies your aim’s accuracy by bringing you an inch closer to the center of the target. This calculation ensures you don’t use too many bullets unnecessarily and saves you time. (Reference: MOA Meaning)

What Does an MOA Reticle Dot Mean?

A Minute of Angle reticle dot found on optics is a reference point shooters use for aiming or measuring angular distances.

Some people use these reticle dots to hold off for wind to avoid fiddling with the windage turret. You may have heard people calling this method the Kentucky Windage method.

Rifle in an outdoor setting

Instead of adjusting the windage turret to compensate for wind, the shooter simply moves to the left or right to the correct dot on the windage crosshair. The new dot will become your aiming point to ensure you hit your target. 

It’s a quick method and comes in handy when in the field. That said, you can still adjust your windage turrets if you want.

Tips for Using MOA

The trick to using MOA is knowing the right formulas and calculations and ensuring you have accurate distances. This will help you make accurate shots. Here are tips for using MOA, and let’s start with formulas.


A concept to remember is that one MOA isn’t always equal to an inch at all distances. Different distances will necessitate different inch adjustments for the same 1 MOA.

What’s more, different scopes come with different click adjustments for each MOA adjustment. You will find in one scope, one-click equates to one MOA, and in another one, one click represents a 1/4 MOA. That said, keep these formulas in mind:

  • Inches per MOA = yards to target / 100
  • MOA adjustment = inches of adjustment required / inches per MOA
  • Number of adjustment clicks needed on a scope = number of clicks per MOA x MOA Adjustment

Calculation Examples

Let’s put that into practice, assuming our target is 600 yards away.

600 / 100 = 6 (The six is the number of inches that represent one MOA)

Now, let’s assume we have been off target by 15 inches at the same distance of 600 yards.

15 / 6 = 2.5 (The 2.5 will be our MOA adjustment needed)

So, the number of clicks you’ll need will be 2.5 multiplied by one, which gives us 2.5 clicks. Keep in mind that we have multiplied by one, assuming that in our scope, one click is equal to one MOA.

You can also use 1.047 inches per 100 yards rather than one inch. Simply replace the numbers, but the formula will remain the same.

MOA And Target Distance

MOA isn’t really dependent on distance. Does that mean the two have no relation? 

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. MOA is an angular measurement that we use on scopes to make adjustments to compensate for bullet drop. You adjust it using the turrets on your rifle scope. 

A finger pointing at the turret of the scope

Now, translating MOA to linear measurements is quite simple and follows one rule. 1 MOA is equal to 1 inch at 100 yards or, if you want to be exact, 1.047 inches at 100 yards. 

As stated before, we often disregard the 0.047 inches by rounding it to one in most shooting applications. However, in long-distance shooting, the 0.047 becomes applicable.

Why is that?

There are several factors, both internal and external, that affect your bullet’s flight. This includes things like powder types, primer, powder burn rate, wind speed, air density, and humidity. All this can lead to significant fluctuations in our MOA calculation.

However, if the distance is short, say 100 or 200 yards, external factors like weather don’t affect the bullet’s trajectory as much. That’s why we can round off our figure from 1.047 to one inch.

Man aiming at a target in a grassy field

If the distance is longer, like 1000 yards, then natural factors will affect the bullet more, which is why we recommend using exact figures for increased accuracy or precision.

With that said, 1 MOA being equal to one inch at 100 yards implies that when you make an MOA adjustment on your scope, you can expect a one-inch change in the point the bullet will land at 100 yards. The more the distance increases, the more the size increases, but the MOA will remain one. 

So, for example, at 1000 yards, 1 MOA remains 1 MOA, but it will now equal 10 inches.

How to Calculate the Bullet Drop

With the above formula in mind, you can now calculate your bullet drop, allowing you to make the correct adjustments to ensure you can hit your target the next time. Here’s a simple example to guide you.

Let’s say you fired a shot at your target located 300 yards away and realized that it landed 9 inches from the target. Keeping in mind that at 300 yards, 1 MOA is 3 inches, it means you will adjust your turret by three clicks. Here’s the equation to use:

Target distance x 1 inch / 100 = inches per 1 MOA at that distance
300 x 1 inch / 100 = 3 inches per 1 MOA at 300 yards

If you want more precise figures, then use 1.047 inches. So that will be:

300 x 1.047 inch / 100 = 3.141 inches per 1 MOA at 300 yards

As you can see, the difference is so little, almost negligible.

How to Use MOA

Most of us at first understand MOA in theory, but when it comes to using it in the field, it becomes challenging. The tip that most shooters will give you is to think of MOA in chunks instead of the number of clicks on a turret or in terms of distance.

Always remember that MOA is simply a measurement of angles that help you calculate distance. Here are three ways to use MOA.

Adjusting MOA

Adjusting MOA is simply changing the point of impact of your bullets, ensuring they’ll hit the target where you want. Before you start, you’ll need a good grasp of MOA. But don’t worry – we go into further detail below.

When adjusting MOA, you should ensure you have the right figures to adjust the turrets properly. This will inform you how many MOA clicks are required so that you can make the proper adjustments.

Scope Turrets

We use scope turrets to make MOA adjustments. On the turrets themselves, there will be symbols indicating which direction you need to turn it for your necessary adjustments. Don’t be in a rush to turn the turrets, as otherwise, you won’t feel the click.

Man peeking through a scope mounted on a rifle

When you make the right MOA adjustments, shoot your target again. You may have to do this several times before getting your scope dialed correctly.

When adjusting MOA, you must know how to read your scope turrets correctly. Today, most scopes use 1/4 MOA turrets, but some also use 1/2 MOA and 1 MOA. Several precision scopes may use a 1/8th MOA click value, but it’s a top-notch feature found in expensive scopes.

So, if your scope has a 1/4 MOA click value, it means the turret will adjust by a quarter inch. You’ll notice certain numbers and lines on your turrets, which can be confusing. Some lines are small, and others big. A large line indicates a full MOA, and a small line indicates the number of clicks that add up to one MOA.

With each turn you make, you’ll hear a clicking sound. The clicks simply indicate you’re making physical MOA adjustments. Take a look at this example.

Turret labeled with “1 Click is equal to ¼ MOA”

Let’s say your scope turrets use 1/4 MOA click value. We know that we need four quarters to make one inch. That means in our scope, four clicks make one MOA adjustment at whatever distance.

If we’re using a scope with a 1/2 MOA click value, then we’ll need two clicks to make 1 MOA, and if we’re using 1 MOA, then we just need one click to make 1 MOA. See how it works?

Now, let’s throw distance into the mix. If we have a 1/2 MOA turret, it means each click is equal to 1/2 an inch. So, with each click, we expect a 1/2-inch change in where our bullet hits the target. 2 clicks add up to one MOA, and at 100 yards, 1 MOA is 1 inch. 

So if you’re off target by 6 inches and 1 MOA is two clicks, you will multiply the six by two to get 12 clicks. Keep in mind that MOA size doesn’t change.

This table explains how to translate MOA on turrets:

11 click equals 1 MOA
1/22 clicks equal 1 MOA
1/44 clicks equal 1 MOA
1/88 clicks equal 1 MOA
So simple… right?

While Shooting

When a bullet leaves a muzzle, it immediately starts dropping. That’s because of aerodynamic resistance and gravity. The further it travels, the more it drops. 

Man aiming a hunting rifle with a scope

That’s why we have to observe where the shot ends up and take corrective action to ensure it hits the intended target the next time. We achieve this by doing MOA calculations.

How Many Clicks Are There in One MOA?

As we’ve mentioned, different scopes may come with different MOA adjustments. Some will be marked 1/2 MOA per click, 1/4 MOA per click, etc. None is better than the other. 

Just understand the type of scope you have at hand, and you’re good to go. If your scope is 1/2 MOA, it will need two clicks to form one MOA, and if it’s 1/4 MOA, then it will need four clicks.

Elevation turret of a rifle scope and annotations

To help you understand better, let’s say you have a 1/2 MOA scope, and when you fire your bullet, you find you’re two inches to the right of your target that’s 100 yards away. How many clicks will you need to ensure you hit the target?

At 100 yards, one inch is equal to one MOA. If one click on this scope is half an MOA, we need two clicks for one MOA. Since we are off by two inches, we will multiply it by the number of clicks that make one MOA, giving us 4 MOA.

So, you have to adjust your windage to four clicks left to hit the target at the center.

Mil vs MOA

MOA vs MIL reticle side by side

Earlier on, we touched on Milliradian (Mil). And just like MOA, it’s an angular measurement that helps the shooter adjust the bullet’s impact by adjusting a scope. 

Most people wonder which one is better. The simple answer is that none is superior to the other. Both come in equally handy.

The major difference is that Mil works better with centimeters and meters, while MOA uses inches and yards. 

To understand the term milliradian, we have to dissect it into two parts. Milli represents 1/1000th of something, while a radian is an angle whose arc length on a circle is equal to the radius of that circle.

It can be hard to wrap your head around the concept at first, so let’s simplify that. Imagine you take a circle, and you take a piece of string equal to the length of the circle’s radius. If you lay that string on the edge of the circle, the angle you just sectioned off with that string is one radian.

One radian has 1000 milliradians, meaning 1 milliradian is 1/1000 radians. At 1 radian, the length is equal to your shooting distance (radius). That means at 1 Mil, the length will be 1/1000 of your shooting distance. So, if the distance to our target is 1000 meters, then 1 Mil will be 1 meter at 1000 meters. 

Now, Mil scopes adjust in 1/10th increments because a full Mil makes a significant difference. So, in the same way that 1 MOA is about an inch at 100 yards, 0.10 Mils is 1 cm at 100 meters.

You’ll notice most Americans find the MOA system easy to use because they’re familiar with measurements like inches, yards, and feet instead of the metric system of meters and centimeters. That said, if you understand the metric system more than the imperial system, consider a Mil scope.

Soldier holding a rifle with scope

The US Military was the first people to start using Mils during WW1. That’s why you may find the Military still using this unit of measurement, particularly precision shooters.

If you want to convert between MOA and Mil, here is what you can use:

To convert MOA to Mil, divide MOA by 3.438, and to convert Mil to MOA, multiply Mil by 3.438.

MOA Table

This MOA table gives you simple conversions to help you convert the numbers on your own.

MOAMILSInches/100 yds (approximate)Inches/100 yds (exact)CM per 100 meters

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MOA in gun stats?

MOA, or Minutes of Angle in gun stats, is an angular measurement representing a sixtieth (1/60) degree and is used with rifle scopes to help you make accurate adjustments on your scope.

What is the MOA of a gun?

The MOA of a gun is a measure of its precision and accuracy when referring to its basic capability to group shots at a particular distance.

How many clicks is 1 MOA at 400 yards?

To determine the number of clicks in 1 MOA at 400 yards, check your turrets’ MOA value. A scope with a 1/4 MOA click value means 1 MOA is four clicks. Multiply the four clicks by 4 inches (because at 400 yards, one MOA is 4 inches), giving us 16 clicks.

What is 6 MOA for rifle?

A 6 MOA for a rifle means that the rifle will fire shots that cover a full 6-inch circle on a target.

What does 2 MOA mean?

2 MOA means that the dot or reticle in the scope will cover roughly 2 inches of a target at 100 yards. To be precise, it will cover 2.094 inches.

What is 1 MOA at 100 yards?

1 MOA at 100 yards is 1 inch.


1. NSSF, Minute of Angle (MOA). Retrieved from https://www.nssf.org/shooting/minute-angle-moa/

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