MRAD vs MOA Riflescope – Which is Right for You?

Whether your riflescope comes with MRAD or MOA reticle subtension measurement, both are equally effective. There are no inherent advantage of one on the other. Both MOA and MRAD (or Mil) are angular measurements. Choice of MRAD rifle scopes over MOA scopes and vice versa are mainly dependent upon the measurement one is comfortable with. Therefore, it’s important to know more about these measurements.

To know which rifle scope is better for you, have a look at the differences mentioned below:

What is MRAD?

“MRAD” stands for Milliradian measurement. Many also prefer to call it “Mil”.

Radian is an angle that subtends at center of a circle where the arc is equal to the radius length of the circle. If you are new to reticle measurements, some basics will clear the air about this measurement.

In a circle, there are 6.283 radians.
In a radian, there are 1,000 milliradians.
Therefore, in a circle, there are 6,283 milliradians (MRADs).

Now, let’s have a clear idea on the measurement from the perspective of a shooter:

  • MRAD is a conical measurement, which covers (or subtends to) 3.6 inches diameter circle at 100 yards.
  • At 200 yards, it subtends to 7.2 inches diameter circle.
  • At 300 yards, it subtends to 10.8 inches diameter circle, and so on.
  • At 1,000 yards, it covers 36.0 inches diameter circle.

It has been seen that most MRAD adjustment riflescopes come with .1 MRAD clicks that cover .36 inches at 100 yards (equivalent to 1cm at 100 meters). Example of a popular MRAD scope is Vortex Viper PST 4-16×50 EBR-1 Riflescope PST-416S1-M.

What is MOA?

MOA stands for Minute of Angle, which is essentially a conical measurement, just like the MRAD ones. Here, tip of the cone is at the muzzle of rifle.

The measurements are as follows:

  • At 100 yards, cone spreads out at 1.047 inches diameter circle approximately.
  • At 200 yards, cone spreads out at 2.094 inches diameter circle approximately.
  • At 300 yards, cone spreads out at 3.141 inches diameter circle approximately, and so on.
  • At 1,000 yards, cone spreads out at 10.47 inches diameter circle approximately.

Now, we know what the two measurement systems – Minute of Angle (MOA) and Millradian (MRAD or Mil) – actually are.

Let’s have a look at the differences between MRAD and MOA measurement systems so that you can decide which riflescope to choose. Example of a popular MOA scope is Vortex Vortex Razor HD Gen II 1-6×24 VMR-2 Riflescope RZR-16005.

1/4 MOA vs 1/10 MIL

Most common adjustments found in the riflescopes are 1/4 MOA clicks and 1/10 MRAD or MIL.

1/4 MOA clicks is a finer measurement than 1/10 MIL or MRAD. Let’s have a look at the table below to know more about the finer adjustment:

Precision of 1 Click @ 100 Yards

MOA Measurement MIL or MRAD Measurement
1 MOA = 1.0475 inches 1 MRAD = 3.6 inches
¼ MOA = 0.26 inches 1/10 MRAD = 0.36 inches

If adjustment precision of 1 click at 100 yards is considered, 1/4 MOA is found to be 0.1 inch finer than that of 1/10 MIL.

Precision of 1 Click @ 1,000 Yards

MOA Measurement MIL or MRAD Measurement
1 MOA = 10.475 inches 1 MRAD= 36 inches
¼ MOA = 2.3 inches 1/10 MRAD = 3.6 inches

If adjustment precision of 1 click at 1,000 yards is considered, 1/4 MOA is found to be 1 inch finer than that of 1/10 MIL.

It must be said here that there are only a handful of top shooters in the world who would notice such finer difference. Most shooters will agree that both 1/4 MOA clicks and 1/10 MIL riflescopes revolve around the sweet spot.

MRAD Values are Easier to Communicate than MOA

1/10 MIL or MRAD is little easier to read and communicate to partner than that of ¼ MOA.

This will be clear to understand if real ballistic range charts (in both MRAD and MOA) is seen:

Range (Yards) Elevation (MRAD) Elevation (MOA) Wind (MRAD) Wind (MOA)
600 4.8 16.50 1.5 5.2
625 5.2 17.75 1.6 5.5
650 5.5 19.00 1.7 5.8
675 5.9 20.25 1.8 6.1
700 6.3 21.50 1.9 6.4
725 6.6 22.75 2.0 6.7

Now, suppose you are checking the elevation data for 700 yards. You will find that elevation in MIL is 6.9 (which are two digits) and elevation in MOA is 22.75 (which are four digits). Though both angular adjustments are same, MILs are larger units. That’s why MILs are represented by considerably smaller values than that of MOAs.

More importantly, MILs come in 10ths, fitting numerical system more naturally. In fact, range cards in case of MILs are easier to read as well as communicate to others. At 725 yards range, 6.6 MIL elevation is easier to process than 22.75 MOA.

MRAD vs MOA – Choice as per Natural Measurement Thinking

If you are natural at using yards and inches as measurements, you’ll be most comfortable with MOA system. In case, your natural thinking process is in terms of meters and centimeters, you will find MIL or MRAD system to be easier in range estimation. However, you can always train your brain over time in different measurements to use both MIL and MOA systems.

MRAD or MIL vs MOA – What the Pros Use?

Most pro shooters use Mil or MRAD based reticles. However, this doesn’t mean that MIL scopes are better than MOA scopes. Propensity of using MIL based riflescopes are higher in pro shooters because high end MIL or MRAD riflescopes are more easily available.

MOA vs MRAD – Ranging Formula

Range estimation can be done by using certain formulas, where both MRAD and MOA measurements are used.

Formulas are given below:

  • Range (in Yards) = Target Size (in Yards) x 1000 / Target Size (in MRAD)
  • Range (in Meters) = Target Size (Meters) x 1000 / Target Size (in MRAD)
  • Range (in Yards) = Target Size (Inches) x 27.8 / Target Size (in MRAD)
  • Range (in Yards) = Target Size (in Inches) x 100 / Target Size (in MOA)
  • Range (in Meters) = Target Size (in Centimeters) x 10 / Target Size (in MRAD)

To get a result out of these formulas, the shooter must know the target’s measured size or even a nearby object. Either you can consider horizontal MRAD or MOA scale or the vertical MRAD or MOA scale. Now, place the reticle on the target, whose measurement is known. Read the MRADs or MOAs spanned. When taking the measurement, you should have a steady hold on the rifle, otherwise the reading will be faulty. Once you have accurate MRAD or MOA reading, you can place the data in the formula and get the result of range. Most accurate ranging can be achieved if the MRAD estimation is done in tenths. Formulas having multiplication by 10 or 100 are easier to calculate on field. When multiplied by constants such as 27.8 (some also take 27.778), calculation becomes complicated and the same becomes tough on field.

Final Verdict

Both MOA and MRAD scopes are equally effective. There are no inherent advantage of one over the other. Choice of MRAD rifle scopes over MOA scopes and vice versa are mainly dependent upon the measurement you are comfortable in. Buy MRAD and MOA scope as per your convenience and natural use of measurement.

by Scopelist