Minute of Angle or, as commonly referred to by shooters, MOA sounds fancy but in reality, it’s very simple. In this post, I’ll attempt to explain in simple terms why MOA is used in marksmanship, and how it can be a useful tool when measuring for accuracy and distance.
OK, let me give you an example of how MOA works in a practical sense.
The .300 Winmag rifle we used in the Navy SEALs was a 1 Minute of Angle gun. Meaning that with match-grade issued ammunition the gun could shoot as accurately as 1 MOA. This means that at 100 yards the gun could hold one-inch diameter groups.
These would equate to: 200 yards = two-inch diameter; 600 yards = six-inch diameter; 1,000 yards=10-inch diameter
If you are holding dead accurate at 1,000 yards the best you could hope to achieve is putting the bullet within a 10-inches diameter of accuracy.
There are several rifle systems, like the Cheytac, that are capable of .5 MOA. In that case, you would just half what I’ve listed above. Make sense? It’s really that simple.
There Is More to Consider Than the MOA
However, note that not all ammunition is created equal. This is why serious rifle shooters know their ammo and sometimes reload to save money on match-grade or to control the batch. In the SEAL snipers, we would record the ammunition lot number for our records. We would also record the velocity of the rifle’s signature to enter into our ballistic software. Some rifles would shoot 100 feet per second faster or slower than others.
Not all shooters are created equally, also! This is why training is so important.
Our philosophy as snipers was to control every factor that we could because some factors are out of our control; the weather being the biggest such factor through the determination of barometric pressure. Density altitude also plays an important part in long-gun shooting as sometimes the density altitude rises with warmer temps. But, back to MOA.
A reason I prefer MOA scope reticles is that it becomes an excellent measurement tool for making fast adjustments.
Example: I shoot at an enemy Taliban 500 meters away and see the bullet impact low. I can quickly use my scope to place the crosshair on the bullet impact and see how many MOA I need to adjust as I compare bullet impact to target. Then I can dial in the minutes on my scope elevation or do a quick hold so the next shot is a kill.
Working with a spotter also allows for easy adjustments in MOA.
“Hold 2 Minutes left for wind and send it.” In this scenario, the shooter knows exactly what’s happening and what to hold for wind. Usually, we hold for wind up to 800 yards and beyond that distance, we dial windage into our windage scope knob.
It’s really that simple when talking about Minute of Angle. There’s a ton of great literature out there on the subject. One of the best books I can recommend is one I wrote with my best friend and former teammate, Glen Doherty (KIA Benghazi, Libya). The book is titled, Navy SEAL Sniper. In the book, we break down ballistics in as simple a format as possible.
What Is Minute of Angle (MOA) Video
I’ve also sorted through a bunch of crappy videos on YouTube to find you a good one without a creepy NRA guy, who explains MOA simply.
I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial on MOA and if you did please leave a comment below and share it on your social media.
Shoot straight and send it.
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