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3 MOA vs. 6 MOA – Which Red Dot Sight is Right for You?

Every shooter will agree that optics are the most important equipment for any shooter. One such optic is a red dot sight. Purchasing the best red dot sight for your pistol can be a challenge.

Red dot sights are available in 3 MOA and 6 MOA. But what does this mean? How does it affect the decision of the red dot sight to buy?

The term MOA (Minute of Angle) is used in relation to red dot sights. It’s an angular measurement representing a 1-inch diameter in a circle of 100 yards.

Before we get started, let’s understand what red dot sights are.

What is a red dot sight?

As you’ve seen, MOA terms are used with red dot sights. A clear understanding of red dot sights will help you understand the two dots and what they each do.

A red dot sight is also called a reflex sight. It’s a device used on firearms for aiming. The shooter will see a red dot on the target ensuring pinpoint accuracy.

Most sights feature a red dot, but that isn’t the case always. However, all sights are referred to as red dot sights.

Red dot sights are not the same as laser sights which project lasers on the target. Lasers have the actual dot on the target. Red dot sights project a small LED light into the lens which is projected into the shooter’s eye.

The sights feature curved glasses that allow the dot to move precisely and align with the point of impact. The red dot doesn’t have to be aligned with anything else. It also doesn’t have to be in the middle of the glass. This makes red dot sights quite popular for target acquisition and shooting.

In red dots, you direct the bullet where to go, then pull the trigger. These dots are quite popular for recreational shooting and shooters with aging eyes. This is because they allow very fast target acquisition.

Shooters just need to align the dot and the target. This is the opposite of aligning the front sight with the rear sight.

And, this is where MOA comes in. So, what exactly is MOA, and what are the differences between 3 MOA and 6 MOA?

What is MOA?

As indicated earlier, MOA is a Minute of Angle and is an angular measurement used when making scope adjustments. But MOA can be used to measure the size of a dot in a reflex sight or red dot.

1 MOA is equal to a 1/60 degree in the circle. 1 MOA is also equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards. This is usually rounded off to 1 inch. Therefore, 1 MOA at 100 yards is 1 inch and 2 inches at 200 yards.

Now let’s dive deeper and see the differences between a 3 MOA and a 6 MOA reticle.

3 MOA vs 6 MOA

Now that you know a red dot sight and what MOA means, let’s see the differences between the two MOAs.

A 3 MOA red dot will appear 3 inches large when you look through the glass at 100 yards. A 6 MOA dot on the other hand will appear 6 inches at 100 yards.

The exact measurement of a 3 MOA dot is 3.141 inches which are rounded off to 3 inches. A 6 MOA dot measures 6.282 inches which are rounded off to 6 inches.

From these measurements, you can calculate the different MOA dot measurements at varying ranges.

Below is a table to show different MOA measurements at varying ranges.

DistanceExact 3 MOA3 MOA roundedExact 6 MOA6 MOA rounded

As you can see, the exact 3 MOA and 6 MOAs will vary as you change the distance.

But the biggest question for most shooters is when they can get a 3 MOA or 6 MOA dot.

When to get a 3 MOA dot?

Are you able to see very small dots? Are you interested in the highest precision? If you answered yes to the two questions, then consider getting a 3 MOA.

3 MOA dots are more precise since they cover less part of the target. They are also versatile and support use in varying distances. This allows for an excellent balance between precision and speed.

However, in bright sunlight, a small dot MOA can be difficult to see. That’s why the 3 MOA dot should be used by persons with good vision. In such cases, you might consider iron sights as backups.

A 3 MOA dot is pretty excellent if you’re using night vision.

When to get a 6 MOA dot?

You can use a 6 MOA dot when you want to see the dot very fast. Are you looking to make the fastest shot on the target? If yes, then a 6 MOA dot is the best. But this might affect precision.

But if you want more precision and don’t have any need for rapid target acquisition, then a 3 MOA dot is the best option.

A 6 MOA dot covers a pretty large area of the target. It also poses challenges when adjusting to zero on the target.

But the 6 MOA dot is quite popular for use on pistols. This is because it allows for faster target acquisition once you draw your pistol. It’s the most common reticle for most law enforcement officers that need to draw and acquire the target faster.

What’s more, most pistol users are not looking to shoot more than 100 yards. Most aim at short ranges of 25 yards.

It’s pretty difficult to acquire the dot when drawing faster. But within the pistol limitations, a 3 MOA dot will allow for more precision.

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