How to Use a Mil-Dot Scope for Dummies – Easy Guide with Tips

How to Use a Mil-Dot Scope for Dummies

We will learn how to use a Mil-Dot Scope

But, let’s learn what a mil-dot is first as it is crucial to do before using it…

What is Mildot?

How to Use a Mil-Dot Scope for Dummies

The military uses mils for measurements. Mil is not an abbreviation of the military. Mil is a short form of milliradian. Milliradians are angular measurements used by the military. Radians are portions of arcs created when two radius lines begin at the center and end on the circumference of a circle, and a mil is a short form of a milliradian.

A mil is a mil regardless of whether you’re talking about a circle or a pie. There are approximately 6,283 million milliradians in an entire circle.

Radians are used in mathematics and physics, but most shooters aren’t aware of them. A mil is equal to 1/60th of a degree. This means that 1 mil equals 1/360th of a radian. Radians are also used in trigonometry.

Mil-Dot is a term used to describe the distance between two dots in a scope. It is measured in mils (1/1000th of an inch).

How to Use Mil Dots in a Scope?

Laser rangefinders are used by hunters to determine distances. These devices are very accurate, but if they malfunction, it could be disastrous.

A mil-dot slide ruler is a tool used for measuring distances. It provides a measurement of a certain number of millimeters or inches. You can use this tool to measure the distance between two points. It does not require batteries, and it makes calculating the distance easier.

Mildot vs Distance

A mil is a mil. It doesn’t matter how far away something is. Mils are angular measurements. Linear measurements are different. You can make a mil adjustment on your scope and it’s just a mil adjustment. But, you can also calculate the linear size of how far you want your bullet to travel.

Here are some numbers that reflect how big 1 mil will be at known distances:

  • Distance (Yards)
  • Size (Inches)
  • Distance (Meters)
  • Size (CM) 100

The distance between each number is equal to the distance between the corresponding number in meters.

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Measuring for Size

Most hunters use scopes to measure size. It is very difficult to train your eyes to be able to do this. No one uses this method any longer. Hunters memorize their targets’ zones, and then they shoot within those zones.

Laser rangefinders are useful tools for hunters. You can use them to measure distances, but also to calculate antler size.

Antlers span 4 mils across the horizontal crosshair from point A to point C. We can calculate the distance in inches by multiplying the length of inch times the number of inches in a mile. For example, 1-inch x 12 inches 1 foot. So, if you want to know how many inches long the antlers are, multiply the number of miles by 12. In this case, the antlers are 4 mils long. To calculate the size in centimeters, divide the distance in meters by 10. So, the antlers are 3.33 cm long.

Antlers span at 39.2 inches (99.6cm) from point A to point C.

How to Use Mil for Bullet Drop?

To use a mil-dot scope, you need to know your rifle and your bullet’s drop rate. This means knowing how far it falls over any given distance. Online, you can look up this information using an ammunition manufacturer’s site, or by filling out some basic info into an online ballistics software.

The bullet drop formula is as follows: Yds X + Z * 1000 / BPM. In inches, this translates into Yds X – Z * 0.0393701 / BPM. In centimeters, this translates into: yds x – z * 0.00393701 / bpm. In meters, this translates into m x – z * 3.93701 / bpm

I calculate the adjustments for bullets based on the distance from the target. This formula works well for me because I shoot at a very consistent range.

There are two different types of bullets. One type is called a.45 ACP (9mm) round. This type of bullet is commonly found in handguns. Another type of bullet is called a 9x19mm round. This type of round is commonly found in rifles. Round diameters are measured in millimeters. A millimeter equals 1/1000th of an inch. For example, if you want to know how many inches are in a millimeter, multiply by 1000. So, a.45 caliber round is 45 times 1000 or 450,000ths of an inch. To convert this into millimeters, divide by.0045 or 0.0122.

So, the diameter of a.45 caliber round is about 0.0122 x 450,000 5.3 millimeters.

How did they calculate the mil? They took the bullet-drop value in centimeters and converted it to inches. Then, they used the formula above. 95.4 cm converted to inches is 18 inches. Now, they use the formula outlined above. 18 / 18” 1 mil. Believe it or not, these calculations were given to us by an online calculator in the previous year. What did they do differently? They converted the bullet drop from centimeters to inches, but they still used the MIL value for the distance of 500 yards using imperial measurement. In this example the MIL value at 500yards is 18″. 95.4” / 18” 0.5 mil.

We need to adjust our calculations by multiplying by 4.8 instead of 19.69.

The formula is correct.

There were some slight differences in trajectory and bullet drop because I used different data in the two calculators.

Rifle and ammo have a lot of impact on how much damage you can deal. You should be aware of this before using the formula.

A mil-dot reticle is usually placed in front of the objective lens. When you zoom in or out, the mil-dot stays the same size. This helps you see how far away an object is.

Each scope will use a different type of mil-dot reticle. You can get complex dots and lines that cover up to or more than 1000 yards. Some scopes may only offer a windage crosshair. You’ll need a specialized turret for bullet drop.

A mil reticle is a military-style reticle. Mil reticles are usually very complicated and hard to use. However, they do make it easy to see what you’re shooting at.

The bullet drops 14 cm when it hits the ground. The mil adjustments are made by multiplying the distance by 0.7. The bullet drops 242.3 cm when it hits the target. The mil adjustments are multiplied by 4.8.

A distance of 200 yards means that bullets travel about four-and-a-half feet per second. Bullets drop by about four-and-one-half inches when traveling this far. A distance of 500 yards means that bullets travel more than seven feet per second. Bullets fall by about seventy-three inches when traveling this far away.

Moving from MOA scope use to Mil-Dot is challenging, but possible. With patience and practice, you’ll get better results. Tactical and long-distance shooters will benefit most from using Mil-Dot scoped rifles.

MOA is a unit of measurement used to measure distances. It stands for Minute Of Angle. A minute of angle is 1/60th of a degree. There are 60 minutes in an hour, 60 hours in a day, and 360 degrees in a circle. In other words, a minute of angle is equal to 1/60th of the circumference of a circle.

Conclusion and Points to Remember…


Target size in cm x 10/ Mil Size equals the estimated distance in meters
OR
Target size in inches x 27.778/ Mil Size equals the estimated distance in yards.

  • Most hunters use laser rangefinder to measure target distance.
  • Focal Plane Scopes: It is important to know if your scope has a second or first focal plane reticle.
  • Mil dot rifle scopes capture the angular measurement not the linear measurement.
  • Ballistic calculator and windage conversion data can be determined by online conversion charts.
  • Measurements using the scope reticle are made in MILS.
  • MOA is used to describe the size of target.
  • Most Mil Dot scopes come with 1/10th milliradian adjustment
  • There are some who only offer a windage crosshair which requires you to make elevation adjustment using a specialized turret for bullet drop. 
  • A mil-dot reticle gives the ability to estimate an approxi­mate hold-over or perform scopes eleva­tion adjustments when ammunition ballistics are known.
  • With an optic equipped with a mil dot reticle, a trained shooter can accurately estimate size of objects by measuring the length of lines drawn from one point to another using a ruler held next to the target.
  • Bullet weight and loads vary, so you might need to do a little of your own math and keep a record for height adjustments.
  • If you calculate using the size of objects in meters, the distance to the object will be in meters (for that matter, any measurement system will calculate accurately size of target in inches to inches to target, kilometers to kilometers, fathoms to fathoms). 
  • A target turret is traditionally a very tall turret with external markings in minutes of angle (MOA), which the shooter could adjust to raise or lower the bullet impact.
  • Reticles set in the second focal plane are usually calibrated to work at the scope’s maximum magnification.

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