Language Lessons: Minute of Angle (MOA)

moa gun term
| October 13, 2016
Categories: Learnin'

Language Lessons: Minute of Angle (MOA)


Term: MOA

Relates to: Measurement(s) and Adjustments

Category: Shooting Terminology

Applications of Use: Shooting, Zeroing, Communicating target size, Accuracy

Definition: MOA is a standard unit of measurement used for adjusting weapon sights and ballistic-related measurements. It is also used to indicate accuracy of a weapon as well as target size.

Minute of Angle is derived from a circle in the following way: a circle has 360 degrees, each degree is further broken down into 60 minutes (visualize a clock). Each minute is an MOA (1/60 of a degree). At a distance of 100 yards, 1 MOA is equal to 1.047”, but most people round it down to 1” at 100, 2” at 200, 3” at 300, and so on.

Here is a great video explanation from Ryan Cleckner:


Why it Matters: The term MOA is used everywhere in the firearms industry, from manufacturers to consumers. It’s used on ranges, at matches, and in online forums. If you don’t know what a Minute of Angle is, you’ll have a hard time not only understanding your weapon system, but also understanding everyone else.

Into the Weeds: MOA is an angular measurement. Angular measurements are used in shooting because bullets don’t shoot in a linear fashion; their trajectory is angular.


We know there are 360 degrees in a circle thanks to early astronomers’ observations that constellations moved each day by a small degree. And 360 days later, the constellations were back at their start point. The astronomers’ conclusions were slightly off since we know there are 365 days in a year (actually 365.242199 degrees in a year to be exact). But, we still use 360 degrees for a circle because ancient math used 360 degrees for a circle and it just works better (mathematically) than using 365.

Though 360 degrees doesn’t initially sound very intuitive, it’s a number that’s easy to half, quarter, and break into thirds–there are 12 inches in a foot and 36 inches in a yard for much the same reason. Analog clocks are also broken down in this way. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but before you walked around with a calculator in your pocket 24×7 in the form of an iPhone….


In Summary, MOA is a standard- just a unit of measure. Now you’ll be able to know what it means when someone says “That target was a 3 MOA target at 600 yards,” or “My new gun shoots 1 MOA.”

Question for the Crowd: What accuracy (MOA accuracy) do you expect for your AR15?

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  1. art

    unfair question! i am not a great shooter, but i enjoy trying. i enjoy the ballistics and all that also. while i am not the smartest cookie in the box, i do know every ar i have is different. and that even goes further when you talk about caliber. certain caliber are better then others when you talk about ballistic coefficient. the 6.5 mm is a great round because of that. the better the BC the less all the outside influences will act on it. so it all depends on rifle, the bullets and how the ammunition is made or how close each round is to the next. a good barrel with a tighter chamber and good bolt match up goes a long way. living in the city if i need it even the democrapest ar will do. my guess is most ar’s are 1 to 3 moa. also depending on how good the bullets are and case dimensions, and how close the powder charges are and wind velocity at time of firing. heck i guess you could go on and on. it sure is fun to bad it is getting so expensive or i am getting poorer or both and i have not had the time to get out in a year. i truly do miss shoot my rifles and pistols, it takes a lot of stress out of me. fun question to think about.

    i have heard that a properly set up ar will match a bench rest rifle. that is truly amazing and one of the reasons i love the ar. it use to seem ugly to me but i have a new beauty i see in it and the democraps have even made me love them more. they can make the guns illegal but i will not give up my guns. they can come and kill me first. i cannot think of a better reason to give my life then the inalienable right to self protection with the best modern weapon i can afford. this is not a government thing but a people thing.

  2. Wilson

    “What accuracy (MOA accuracy) do you expect for your AR15?”

    Not really a fair question. My rifle has a suppressor on it which I note significantly increases accuracy but at 100 yards changes the POI up and to the left about 2″.

    Once that’s accounted for I get groups at 100 yards of about 0.5″ when I’m really OP. If I’m fucking up maybe 1.5″ (noted due to shakes from not being well fed or antsy about the asshole in the next lane not being OP with his safety).

    Generally I’d say the average is 1″ at 100 yards. Again, not fair because the rifle is suppressed and seems to be more accurate with the can than without so it’s not all the “AR”, which btw is an RRA.


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