USFCLASS is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our website, I may earn an affiliate commission.*

What Does MOA Mean?

MOA is the solution to precision shooting. You’ve probably read or heard instructors talk about it. But what exactly is MOA? This is a common term when learning how to sight a riflescope

The term is widely used when you’re zeroing in on a target. You’ll hear words like MOA increment. When shooting, we always think of a 1 MOA increment at whatever distance you’re shooting.

In this post, I’ll break down MOA in the simplest way possible that every layman can understand.

What does MOA stand for?

MOA stands for “Minute of Angle” correlating to the minute hand of a 360-degree clock. It’s an angular measurement unit with a minute equivalent to 1/60 of a degree.

This is the same case as the 60 minutes in an hour. When shooting, precision is key. The slightest angle miss can make you miss the target. The accuracy of shooting in guns is given in angles. This makes it possible for one to know the exact group the gun shoots within a certain range.

When shooting, you need to fine-tune MOA to the precise minute or angle for accurate shots. 

Bullets usually move in an arc-shaped trajectory. Bullet distance is measured in yards. And, the further the bullet has to travel, the greater the effect of gravity on it. The bullet tends to drop as velocity reduces.

Ideally, when you’re far away from the target, the bullet will hit the target at a lower level than you initially aimed. Bullet drop is measured in inches.

To understand MOA even better, take a circle. Circles are 360 degrees. Each degree arc is 60 minutes. This gives a total of 21,600 minutes in the complete circle.

Take the shooter to be at the center of the circle and the target at the edge of the circle. The distance the bullet travels in this case is the radius. One minute for any given range is calculated by (2) x (Π) x (R) / (21,600). R is the range the bullet has to travel.

How to Calculate MOA

Let’s take a range of 100 yards which is used as a standard to calculate 1 MOA. 100 yards is equal to 3600 inches. Let’s substitute our R in the formula with 3600. That gives us.

One MOA is equal to (2) x (Π) x (3600) / (21,600) + 1.0472 inches. Therefore, one MOA at 100 yards is equal to 1.0472 inches.

You can use the formula to calculate MOA at different ranges. For example, 1 MOA at 500 yards equals 5.2360 inches.

Still confused? Most shooters take away digits after the point and equate 1 MOA at yards to 1 inch. Here is a breakdown of MOA at different ranges.

  • 100 yards = 1 inch MOA
  • 200 yards = 2 inches MOA
  • 300 yards = 3 inches MOA
  • 400 yards = 4 inches MOA
  • 500 yards = 5 inches MOA
  • 800 yards = 8 inches MOA

This goes on and on.

But one might ask why we took away the digits after the point. When sighting a riflescope, targets are usually on an inch grid. Adjustments are usually done in fractions of inches. The difference between a shooter’s minute of angle and the true minute of angle is usually very minimal and considered academic at close range.

How to Calculate Bullet Drop

Now that you know how to calculate MOA, you also need to know how to calculate bullet drop.

You need to know how far your bullet drops and the necessary adjustments you can make. With proper bullet drop adjustment, you can be sure of hitting your target at the exact point.

Let’s take a bullet drop of 20 inches at 200 yards. At 200 yards, 1 MOA is equal to 2 inches. Here is the formula to calculate MOA adjustment for a bullet drop.

MOA adjustment = bullet drop in inches/ MOA inches at distance.

Using our example above,

MOA adjustment = 20 inches/ 2 inches (1 MOA is 2 inches at 200 yards) giving us 10 MOA.

Now you know the MOA adjustment you can make to hit the target more precisely. The adjustments help compensate for the bullet drop.

Is that all? Ideally, that’s everything about MOA adjustments. But you still have to learn and practice using MOA on the riflescope. 

How does MOA translate on the scope turrets? Does a single click mean 1 MOA adjustment?

Keep reading to learn more.

Translating MOA on Scope Turrets

Scopes feature turrets through which one can make MOA adjustments. The scope turrets are usually specified so that you know what one click means. Below is the common specification on scope turrets.

  • 1/8 MOA turrets
  • 1/4 MOA turrets
  • 1/2 MOA turrets
  • 1 MOA turrets

When making MOA adjustments on your scope, you must remember your scope turret specifications. You’ll be turning the turrets keeping in mind the increment a single click makes.

For example, a ½ MOA turret will have a 1/2-inch increment while a ⅛ MOA turret will have a one-eight increment, and so on. 

This answers our question above. A turret click doesn’t mean a 1 MOA increment. This is unless the turret MOA spec is 1 MOA.

But the majority of retail scopes feature a ¼ MOA turret adjustment. This simply means you have to adjust four times to make a MOA increment. You simply need to know the MOA turret specs to make the correct adjustments.

For example, if you want to make a 2 MOA increment on a ¼ MOA turret scope. You need to turn the turrets 8 times to make 2 MOA increments.

Since nearly all MOA turrets are ¼, every 4th click is what makes a MOA. Turret feature lines will clearly show you how many clicks you’ve made. 1 MOA click is usually longer and appears the same as the hour mark on the clock.

It’s a lot easier when you practice it. As the turret turns once, you’ll hear a click. You can check the lines below each number for guidance. Some indicators also feature a headlamp. But listen for clicks, especially when hunting at night as they will not alert the game.

How many clicks do you need to make for a ½ MOA turret to make 10 MOA increments?

It’s pretty simple, you need two clicks to make 1 MOA increment. It means you’ll need 20 clicks to make 10 MOA increments for a ½ MOA turret.

In addition, you need to check the turret markers which are arrows of UP/DOWN and LEFT/RIGHT. The markings indicate where you want to move toward the point of impact. Are you trying to adjust your angles to the left? If yes, then the clicks need to be turned to the left.

If you’re adjusting for bullet drop to avoid hitting low, then you’re going to use the UP arrow. Simply put, click the arrows in the direction you want to shift the point of impact.

Tips for Using MOA

Think of 1 MOA increment at whatever distance you’re shooting.

It becomes easier when you think of 1 MOA increment. Even when shooting at, let’s say 400 yards, thinking of 1 MOA makes your calculations easier. 100 yards increment is considered the standard giving us a 1 MOA increment.

 You know at 400 yards you need 4 MOA increments. If you have trouble calculating the MOA, divide the distance by 100. For example, 400 divided by 100 gives us 4. That gives you a 4 MOA increment. At 250 yards, you’ll have a 2.5 MOA increment.

You can then check your MOA turret specifications and see how many clicks you need to make to get 1 MOA. A ½ MOA turret means you’ll make 2 clicks to get a 1 MOA increment. At 400 yards, you’ll make 8 clicks to make 4 MOA increments.

Think MOA and not clicks

I’ve already discussed this. You need to think of MOA and not clicks as clicks don’t mean MOA adjustments.

Check the turret specifications to know how many clicks you’ll make to have 1 MOA.

Other important tips include:

  • Adjust turrets to the direction you want the impact point. You can click up, low, left, or right.
  • For a Second Focal Plane (SFP), hold-over is only used once at the highest magnification.
  • For a First Focal Plane (FFP) scope, hold-over can be used at any magnification.

Final Verdict

If you’re new to guns, scopes, and shooting, learning the meaning of MOA and what it does is very crucial to precision shooting. MOA is the minute angle and is an angular measurement used to measure shooting in minutes. When shooting, accuracy is important. A slight angle can make you miss the target. Adjustments are usually done in minutes, with each minute equal to 1/60 of a degree.

You need to combine your MOA knowledge with bullet drop to ensure precision shooting. Bullet drop compensates for gravity with the bullet drop further as velocity decreases. Overall, taking all these measures into consideration will make you a better shooter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top