How to Use a Mil Dot Reticle

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The term "mil dot reticle" refers to a type of targeting reticle designed by the US military to help shooters estimate the distance to a target. Mil-dot reticle sights use a unit of measurement called the "mil" -- 0.05625 degrees of the compass -- and denote each mil by a dot placed along the vertical and horizontal axes of a rifle scope. The mil-dot reticle sighting system has become the standard for military and tactical rifle scopes, and its proper use allows the shooter to correctly estimate the distance to a target, or even the size of the target in cases where the distance is already known.

Things You'll Need

  • Firearm equipped with a mil-dot reticle sight
  • Paper target of a known size

Determining Distance to the Target

  • Post the paper target downrange at a local gun range.

  • Stabilize the rifle by means of a shooting bench or other stable platform.

  • Look through the scope and find your target downrange. Place the reticle of the scope on the target.

  • Multiply the known height of your target (in yards) by 1,000.

  • Divide the number calculated in Step 4 by the number of mils it takes to cover your target vertically. The resulting number will be the range (in yards) to your target.

Determining Target Size

  • Post the paper target downrange at a local gun range. It should be at a known distance, such as 100 yards.

  • Look through the scope and locate the target downrange, placing the reticle of the scope on the target.

  • Count the number of mils it takes to cover your target vertically.

  • Divide the range to the target (in yards) by the number determined in Step 3. This will give the the approximate height of the target in yards.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger off of the trigger and out of the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
  • When at a range, be sure to abide by any rules enforced by the establishment.
  • Posting your target at 100 yards is a good starting distance. At this distance, a mil is exactly 3.6 inches, which makes it easy to verify your results.
  • The mil-dot system only works when used with correct numbers. Incorrect estimations of size/distance will give incorrect results.
  • All firearms are deadly weapons and should be handled with care. Consult the safety guidelines outlined in your owner's manual before use.

References

  • Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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