Sights

What Is MOA On A Red Dot Sight?

what is MOA red dot

As a long-time hunter and shooting enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the technical aspects that make a significant difference in performance.

One such aspect is MOA (Minute of Angle) – a measurement unit we use in red dot sights. In this piece, I’ll explain MOA and its role in red dots.

Additionally, I’ll guide you through choosing the right MOA size for your red dot sight. This article is crafted from my experiences and research, aiming to educate fellow shooters about the technical terms I also struggled with at the start of my shooting journey.


What Is MOA?

MOA, or “Minute of Angle,” is an annual measurement we use in the firearm industry.

One MOA corresponds to an angular measurement of 1/60th degree, roughly equating to 1 inch at 100 yards.

To visualize this, imagine you’re holding two laser pointers at a 1/60th of a degree angle from each other; at 100 yards, the distance between the two dots would be about 1.047 inches, which we consider as 1 inch or 1 MOA in a red dot sight.


What Does MOA Mean On A Red Dot Sight?

On a red dot sight, MOA is the main unit of measurement. MOA has two main roles on red dots: adjustment (windage and elevation) and measuring the reticle’s size.

We use the MOA number to indicate how large the dot will appear on a target 100 yards away. So, a red dot with a 3 MOA dot size would appear 3 inches in diameter at a target that is at a shooting distance of 100 yards.

MOA Size Chart


What Does MOA Mean In Terms Of Shooting Distance?

The MOA measurement expands with distance. If your target is 200 yards away, 1 MOA equals 2 inches; at 300 yards, it’s 3 inches.

If you understand what MOA means regarding shooting distance, it will help you pick a red dot MOA size that is ideal for your use case and shooting distance.


How To Pick An MOA Size For A Red Dot Sight?

There’s no right or wrong answer to picking the right size for a red dot sight. However, certain red dot reticle MOA sizes are better suited for certain use cases and shooting distances.

For precision shooting and long-range target shooting, you want to go for a smaller dot. In comparison, larger dots are better for close-range shooting and rapid target acquisition.

So, ultimately, it comes down to your use case and shooting distance when picking your red dot MOA size.


When Is It Better To Use A Smaller MOA Red Dot?

It is better to use a smaller MOA red dot if you do a lot of long-range shooting. It is also better to use a smaller red dot for rifles.

I mostly use a 1 and 2 MOA red dot size for my AR-15s and other rifles. The main use cases for these smaller dots are hunting and precision shooting.


When Is It Better To Use A Larger MOA Red Dot?

A larger MOA red dot is better suited for shotguns and pistols because you must rely on fast target acquisition, especially if used within 25 yards.

Larger dots like the 6 MOA red dot are ideal for close-range shooting use cases, like concealed carry, self-defense, hunting fast-moving targets, and competition shooting (close range).


What Are The Most Common MOA Sizes On A Red Dot Optic?

The most common MOA sizes on a red dot optic are a 2 MOA, 3 MOA, and 6 MOA. Comparing the 2 MOA vs 3 MOA vs 6 MOA, you’ll notice the 2 MOA dot size is better for longer distances, like hunting and precision shooting (it’s also my favorite size).

The 3 MOA dot is the best all-around MOA size. This versatile size makes target acquisition easier while still providing an accurate dot for longer distances.

The 6 MOA dot, as highlighted in the chart below, is best if you want to prioritize speed. This dot is ideal for close-range and use cases such as law enforcement situations, self-defense, and concealed carry.


MOA Reticle Size Chart

Below is a visual representation of how large each MOA reticle size is relative to the other MOA reticle sizes.

MOA red dot


Can You Adjust MOA On A Red Dot Sight?

Yes, some red dot sights, like Holosun’s HS507C, allow you to adjust your reticle MOA size. The Holosun allows you to switch between a 2 MOA dot, 32 MOA circle ring, or a combination of both.

Furthermore, you can also adjust the MOA of the windage and elevation settings. This basically means zeroing a red dot sight and involves adjusting in 1 or 0.5 MOA increments until your red dot sight hits exactly where you aim.


Which Brands Offer Red Dot Sights With Multiple Reticle Options?

Holosun offers red dot sights with a multiple reticle system, allowing you to toggle between different reticle sizes on the red dot sight.

Alternatively, brands like Trijicon and Vortex offer certain models, like the RMR and Venom, with different MOA sizes.

So, you can choose either between a 3 MOA or a 6 MOA Venom model. This allows you to choose a red dot sight you really like and pick a MOA size that caters to your shooting needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a smaller MOA value associated with a more precise aiming point on a red dot sight?

Yes, we use a smaller MOA dot, such as a 1 or 2 MOA dot, for precision shooting, like hunting and range shooting with rifles. We use a smaller MOA dot for precision shooting because it covers less of the target area at a particular distance.

Does gun choice affect your optimal red dot sight MOA size?

Yes, the gun choice affects your optimal red dot sight MOA size. For instance, for rifles, I use a smaller MOA like the 2 and 3 MOA dot because I shoot at longer ranges and need accuracy. In comparison, we use pistols at closer ranges, so a better MOA size is a 4 or 6 MOA because it offers a better target acquisition rate.

The Bottom Line

When you understand how MOA is influenced by distance, you can optimize your red dot sight for your use case. If you’re a hunter, you know a smaller dot works better, while a range shooter or self-defense specialist will use a larger MOA dot.

Most importantly, with the numerous options available in the market, make sure your red dot sight aligns with your specific needs and preferences. Happy shooting!

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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