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How to Use Mildot Scopes: All the Essentials to Learn

how to use a mil dot scope
Written by Erik Himmel

Mil-Dot scopes are preferred by renowned military forces including NATO for their precision and simplicity.  Many riflescopes have a rangefinding reticle of one type or another. The most common one is definitely the Mil Dot Reticle.

Here our veteran marksmen and sharpshooters showed you how to use a Mil-Dot scope the right way to ensure accuracy and precision every time you take a shot.

How to Use Mil dot Scopes

Mil dot Scopes

Basics of Riflescopes

Riflescopes are telescopic aiming devices used to spectate the target clearly and give a precise image of the target from various distances. Some of their components are lenses (objective and ocular), turret (windage and elevation), reticle, power selector, erector lens, scope tube, and eyepiece.

The larger objective lens collects the light around the target and transmits it to the smaller ocular lens through the erector lens. The ocular lens offers a clear horizon to the user.

Windage and elevation turrets are two knobs for reticle adjustments. Windage is responsible for horizontal, while elevation’s for the vertical direction.

The power selector controls the magnification (zoom in or out) range.

The reticle is another name for crosshair: two lines cross each other in the center to give the target’s focal point. Different types of gun scopes have several types of reticles to focus on the target: fine, duplex, German, target, Mil-Dot, bullet drop compensator, and many more.
The first and second focal planes are the two places to install the reticle. FFP at the front of the power selector means the reticle will change during magnification, whereas SFP at the rear of magnification won’t change the reticle size.

What is So Special about Mil-Dot?

Mil-Dot is one of the many types of reticles used in both short-and long-range scopes. It’s one of a kind because of its precision. It offers calculations like the estimated range of the target, ballistic effect, hitting point as the size of the target, and more. Mil-Dot uses the manual optical device.

Its quick aiming and estimated-distance are the greatest blend of the reticle. This reticle will assist you in crosswind shooting and when you lock a moving target.

Mil is a term used for milliradians, sometimes referred to as MRAD. This unit of angular measurement equals a 1000th of a radian, so a mil is 0.001 radian. With this calculation, one yard equals to 1000 yards, and one meter equals to 1000 meters.

How to Measure Distance To Your Target Accurately?

For this, you need to understand the pattern of the reticle. There are a number of dots on it; they are at 1 mil distance when measured from the half of one dot to the half of another. Otherwise, it’ll be wrong if you measure from one end to the other.

1 mil dot equals to 3.6” or 10 cm when at a 100 yards distance. So, you need to make 1 mil adjustment on the scope and learn about the horizontal direction at a known difference.

Distance (yards) 100 200 300 400 500
1 mil size (inches) 3.6 7.2 10.8 14.4 18.0
Distance (meters) 100 200 300 400 500
1 mil size (centimetres) 10 20 30 40 50

And so on.

Formula for 1 mil size adjustment at any defined distance (in inches):

(Distance (yards) × 3.6 (inches))/100 = inches on which 1 mil size is adjusted

Example: (720×3.6)/100 = 25.92”

Formula for 1 mil size adjustment at any defined distances (in centimeters):

(Distance (meters))/10 = centimeters on which 1 mil size is adjusted

Example: (1450)/10 = 145 cm

Making Adjustments with a Mil Dot Scope

Another complex adjustment is the turret (windage and elevation) adjustment. The most common adjustment is of 0.1 or 1/10th per Mil-Dot scope. This adjustment will offer you 10 clicks per Mil-Dot.

Formula: Bullet drop as per yards / 1 mil size as per yards = mil adjustment

Distance (yards) 100 200 300 400 500
Bullet drop (inches) 0 4.2 15.7 37.6 73
1 mil size (inches) 3.6 7.2 10.8 14.4 18
Mil adjustment 0 0.6 1.5 2.6 4.1
Turret clicks 0 6 15 26 41

Example: At 300 yards, you’ll get 15.7 inches bullet drop.

15.7”/10.8”= 1.5 mil

So, the Mil-Dot difference is 1.5 inches; then, this adjustment will give 15 clicks.

You can go further with the formula for centimeters calculation: change that centimeters calculation into inches and apply the same formula. Although, an online calculator is better.

How to Use a Mil-Dot in a Scope?

How to Use a Mil-Dot in a Scope

The use of Mil-Dots in a hunting scope is not that easy. Nowadays, people lean towards a laser rangefinder to get the estimated distance, but a Mil-Dot can come to the rescue when the rangefinder fails.

Formula for estimated distance in yards:

(Size of the target in inches × 27.778 (a constant used for calculating distance in yards)) / mil size = estimated distance (yards)

Formula for estimated distance in meters:

(Size of the target in cm × 10 (a constant used for calculating distance in meters)) / mil size = estimated distance (meters)

For example, if an object on the reticle is 15” or 38.1 cm tall and it’s spreading to almost 1.5 mil space on the reticle, then use this formula to calculate the distance.

In yards:

(15” ×27.778) / 1.5 = 416.67 / 1.5 = 277.78 yards

In meters:

(38.1 cm ×10) / 1.5 = 381/ 1.5 = 254 meters

You can use these two formulas or you can use only one formula by converting either converting cm into inches or inches into cm.

How to Use a Mil-Dot Reticle Scope for Range Finding?

How to Use a Mil-Dot Reticle Scope for Range Finding

Whenever you are ready to target a specific range, you need to go through all the calculations for the perfect shot. Keep in the view the ballistic impact and wind speed for the ideal shot.

Mil captures the angular measurement, not the linear measurement. It’s 1/ 6400th of a circle as per standard evaluation. So, a milliradian equals 1 yard at 1000 yards and 1 meter at 1000 meters.

Here’s the formula to find the range in a Mil Dot reticle scope:

(The width or height of the target in yards × 1000) / target’s width or height in mils = range (in yards)

The formula for the meters is actually the same, but all the measurements should be in meters, not yards.

(The width or height of the target in meters × 1000) / target’s width or height in mils = range (in meters)

For example, if a target object is of 2 yards in height, and covers 1.5 lengths in mils, then range equals:

(2×1000)/ 1.5 = 1333.34 yards

How to Use Mil for Bullet Drop?

Bullet drop shows the exact dropping limit at a certain range or distance. In order to get a precise calculation of your aiming point and hitting point at the drop rate, you need to know about your rifle and ballistic effect.

There are numerous online calculators available for getting a precise number for bullet drop.

If you want to shoot at 100 yards, you won’t face any bullet drop. However, keep in mind that it’ll gradually increase every 100 yards.

Distance (yards) 100 200 300 400 500
Bullet drop (inches) 0 4.2 15.7 37.6 73.0
Mil adjustment 0 0.6 1.5 2.6 4.1
Distance (meters) 100 200 300 400 500
Bullet drop (centimeters) 0 14 51.7 122.37 242.3
Mil adjustment 0 0.7 1.7 3.1 4.8

The formula that can help you understand and adjust your scope:

Bullet drop / fixed 1 mil size for the distance (as 3.6 per 100 yards) = required adjustment

Example: For 300 yards, the trajectory will be something like this:

15.7” / 10.8” = 1.5 is the required adjustment.

For centimeters calculation, you need to convert the centimeters into inches and apply the same formula.


1. What‘s better – Mil-Dot or MOA?

Ans. Mil-Dot (milliradian) and MOA (minute of angle) have their pros and cons. A Mil-Dot provides 1/10 clicks, which is considered less fine than the MOA’s ¼ clicks adjustment.

2. How many inches are a mil at 100 yards?

Ans. There are 3.6 inches in a mil at 100 yards, but these inches will change when the yards change. For example, at 200 yards, they’ll change into 7.2 inches. In meters, 1 mil equals 10 cm at 100 yards.

3. What does the military use – Mil or MOA?

Ans. The military uses mil mostly, but definitely, they haven’t forgotten about their best blend, from the 70s and 80s, of mil based reticle and MOA knobs.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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