What Does MOA Mean? Everything You Need To Know

What Does MOA Mean
Alfred Mendoza

Understanding and learning how to use Minute of Angle (MOA) is crucial to achieving target shooting accuracy, hunting, or ranging. You need to know simple mathematical formulas to determine the MOA required to make accurate adjustments. So, what does MOA mean? How will it help you hit targets at the exact point of impact?

MOA is the acronym for Minute of Angle. 1 MOA is 1/60th of a degree. It’s incredibly small, but it can make a huge difference in accuracy and shot placement. 

It’s an angular measurement and not a linear measurement. This means that it pertains to the angle of two things and not their length or yardage. 

Know that 1 MOA is equivalent to 1.047 inches per 100 yards. Often it is rounded off to just an inch. If you take a minute of adjustment on your scope, there will be an inch change in the bullet’s point of impact (POI) at one hundred yards. The size increases, but it remains 1 minute. For 200 yards, it’ll be 2 inches and so on. 

Knowing how to use and calculate MOA will help you use your scope to its optimal potential and efficiently acquire targets.

MOA adjustment

Why Measure Shooting in Minutes

We usually associate minutes with time. However, in shooting, minutes pertain to a tiny degree in an angle. There are 360 degrees in a circle, 180 degrees in a half a circle, and so on. Each degree is divided into 60 equal parts, so a minute is 1/60 of a degree. 

The bullet’s trajectory is like an arc, which becomes steeper as the bullet’s velocity decreases due to the force of gravity. The arc is measured in degrees. Hence we have MOA. The distance between your bullet and the point of impact is the bullet drop. It’s measured in inches. 

Here are the Easy Steps in Measuring MOA:

5 General Steps

Determine the distance you are shooting and the bullet drop.

If your target is at 400 yards, the distance is 400 yards. Let’s assume that the bullet drop is at 20 inches. 

Figure out how many inches one MOA calculates to at that distance. 

Formula: Distance to the target (yards) /100 = inches per MOA at that distance

If you are 400 yards away, then that will be 400/100 = 4 inches.

Instead of 1″, you can use the 1.047″ when computing for the MOA. It will be 4.12 inches. 

1 MOA is roughly 4 inches at 400 yards. This means that you need 1 MOA for every 4 inches off the target.

Figure out how many MOA you need to adjust to compensate for the drop at a certain distance.

Formula: Number of inches of adjustment needed /inches of MOA at that distance = MOA adjustment


Number of bullet drop inches / MOA inches at that distance = MOA needed

For example, you need 20 inches of adjustment to hit the point of impact. 

20 inches low/4 = 5MOA, number of adjustments needed

Figure out how many clicks you need to make. 

Formula: MOA Turret Measurement x Number of adjustments needed= Number of Clicks needed 

  • On a ¼ MOA turret, there are 4 clicks per 1 MOA: 5 x 4 = 20 clicks.
  • On a ½ MOA turret, there are 2 clicks per 1 MOA: 5 x 2 = 10 clicks.
  • On a 1 MOA turret, there is 1 click per 1 MOA: 5 x 1 = 5 clicks.

How It Affects Scope and Rifle Capacity

scope and rifle capacity


The bullet’s path follows an arc pattern. When you look down the scope, either 50 yards, 300 yards, or 800 yards, the angle stays the same. 

MOA or minute of angle only applies to rifles with mounted scopes. Scopes have numbered dials used for adjusting the scope in relationship with the rifle. This is vital to ensure that the bullet will hit the exact spot where the scope is centered. 

For instance, your MOA rifle has a scope with 1/4 MOA clicks at a hundred yards. The bullet is perfectly centered left-to-right after a shot but fell exactly an inch below the desired point of impact. Thus, you need to adjust the scope 4 clicks upward so your rifle will now be perfectly sighted to 100 yards. 

Related Posts:

Dot Sights 

Handguns, some rifles, and dot sights (including boresights) have designated MOA measurements. If you bought a firearm with 2 MOA, this means that it will have a shot-placement dispersion of 2 inches at one hundred yards. At 300 yards, it would cover areas at 6 inches in diameter. As you go further, say 600 yards, the dispersion will be bigger.

Many shooters suggest that larger MOA dots ( e.g. 4 MOA, 5 MOA) are preferable for short-range shooting while lower MOA dots (e.g., 2 MOA) are preferable for long-range shooting.

MOA and Distance

MOA or minutes of angle is independent of distance. One MOA spreads out an inch per 100 yards and .5 inches at 50 yards. 

MOA is an angular measurement. Scopes are used for making angular adjustments so that your firearm is properly zeroed. More specifically, turrets are used for these adjustments.

When you make a minute of adjustment to your scope, you’ll get an inch change of bullet impact at 100 yards. However, at various distances, the size of 1 MOA changes significantly. An angle adjustment in the scope translates to size at a certain range. But what’s the difference between MRAD & MOA?


Remember that 1 minute of angle is approximately 1″. Three MOA means that the dot will cover an area of 3 inches at 100 yards, 6 inches at 200 yards, and so on. This size is great for close targets and for self-defense or home-defense situations.

MOA adjustments on scopes are often in ¼MOA per click or ¼inch increments per 100 yards. Each “click” of an elevation or windage turret[1] will move the POI ¼inch. At two hundred yards, that ¼inch will adjust your POI at ½ of an inch, or ⅛ at 50 yards. 

Some scopes have ⅛, ½ or 1-inch adjustments. Depending on your calculation, you may have to adjust the turrets using 4, 6, or 8 clicks.

It depends. Magnification doesn’t affect the MOA with first focal planes. Often, it is correct at the highest magnification setting. An optic with 8 power magnification and magnified 8x will still have 1 MOA at one hundred yards.

Wrapping Up - What MOA Means

MOA stands for Minute of Angle. Shooters use MOA as an angular measurement. It’s equivalent to .5 inches at 50 yards, 1 inch at 100 yards, 2 inches at 200 yards, and so on. Regardless of distance, the minute of angle remains the same, but the ring of shot disbursement will adjust. 

It’s important to know how many MOA to adjust so that your rifle or handgun will be perfectly zeroed and your shooting accuracy will improve. As such, you can hit your POI correctly and acquire your target successfully.

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