Estimating range with Mil Dot reticle

What if it doesn't line up? If your scope is a Second Focal Plane scope, then experiment with different power settings until you find the one that matches up. When you do, take a silver sharpie and make a mark across the ring and the scope body so that you can quickly locate the correct setting in the field. If your scope is a First Focal Plane and you are sure that you measured correctly when laying our your board, then you need to contact the manufacturer for warranty service.

Milling the Target.

Hopefully your scope came with literature showing the scale of the different portions of your reticle. In any Mil based reticle the center to center distance of the most prominent marks should be one mil. All other measurements are up for grabs.

Here are a couple of common reticles:

We will use the "Army" type Mildots for most of our examples. These are the most common and found in Leupold as well as many other makes of rifle scope. I am not aware of any new scopes using the USMC Mildot. I include them here on the odd chance someone comes across an old USMC scope.

To range a target to a tenth of a mil we need to build a stable position just like if we were going to send a shot downrange. Any tremor is going to cause problems.

Place the reticle over the target and count how many full mil increments there are.

In the image above we see that the Taliban fighter is 4 mils tall. Since our S2 briefed us that this selected target is 5'8" (68") we can plug these figures into our formula.

68 inches tall times 27.77 (our constant) divided by the number of mils the target measured in the scope (4). Crank that through your calculator and you see that our target is 472 yards away.

Now let's make this a little more difficult.

In this image we can see that our innocent little friends are taking a stroll. Our loader is more than two and a half mils tall, but that's not going to cut it.

If we look closely at where his foot falls above the third mill dot we can begin to break it down. With your minds eye, split that mildot in half. That half mildot measure 0.1 mil. Now you can't quite fit that half mildot between his foot and the top of the whole mildot, so we break it down again. This gives us 0.05 mil. Now add that to the "half" mildot and we get 0.15 mil between the center of the dot and the bottom of our jihadist's foot. If we subtract 0.15 mils from 1, we get 0.85 mils. Add back in the two mils above that and we get a measured height of 2.85 mils. Lets assume that our militant here is 64" tall (from our intel reports). Let's plug that into our formula.

If we didn't go to the trouble of breaking it down and just rounded it to 3 mils we would have come up with 592.42 yards to target. In this case that would have resulted in an elevation error of about 12" with M118LR. Breaking the dot down to .05 will give you improved accuracy but is not required for closer range targets.

When the target won't stand still, or you do not know the height of your target you can use objects nearby. In the city this is pretty easy. Out in the woods it's a bit more difficult. If you have several objects in your field of view, range the largest first. Larger targets will generally give you more accuracy. Ranging several targets and taking the average will also cut down your error. After time you may notice patterns to your errors. It's good to note these so that in the future you can take them into account. A laser rangefinder is an excellent tool to have to confirm your calculations when you are learning to read mils.

If you are working with a spotter, both of you should do the calculations independently and then take the average.

Mildot ranging is an excellent skill, but is only as accurate as you are. It is also slow and difficult to use on moving tagets. In this a laser rangefinder excells. However, batteries die and electronics fail. Backup skills are nice to have.

Additional Formulas Common Items Item Size Standard Doorway 36" wide x 84" tall Basketball 9.75" License Plate 12" wide x 6" tall Speed Limit Sign 24" x 30" Yield Sign 36" Wood Pallet 4' x 4' Paper (Letter Size) 8.5" x 11" Payphone 8.5" x 21.5"

All dimensions are approximate and should be verified by the user. When possible it is a good idea for you to actually go out to the areas you work and measure common items. If you find yourself frequently in the same housing projects, then measure some windows and doors. They may come in handy some night if your LRF dies.

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