If you use a red dot sight, understanding what MOA means and how it affects accuracy is an important key to getting the most out of your red dot sight.

MOA is short for “minute of angle,” this concept plays two main roles; adjustment (in terms of windage and elevation) and measuring the size of the reticle. 

Knowing these factors can help make sure that hunters, target shooters, and self-defense red dot users pick the best sight for their needs.

With so many different red dot sights on the market it is important to be armed with the knowledge about what ‘MOA’ describes in order to have more control and less frustration when it comes to finding sights that meet your needs and expectations. Let’s get into it.

What is MOA?

MOA, or ‘minute of angle,’ is a term commonly used in the firearms industry.

Put simply, 1 MOA equals an angular measurement of 1/60th degree, which works out to be about 1 inch at 100 yards for both reticle display and adjustment.

What is MOA
What MOA measures

Put simply, this applies to red dot sights because the size of the dot, and adjustments of a red dot optic are measured using MOA.

MOA Measurements by distance
MOA Cheatsheet by Distance

MOA Adjustments for Windage and Elevation

MOA adjustments come in several variations, including 1/2 MOA and 1/4 MOA being the most common for red dots.

If you’re curious about your particular optic it should state the MOA adjustment per click on the windage and elevation cap or adjustment dial.

It is important that you understand how much each click moves the bullet’s point of impact so that you can accurately measure adjustments when shooting.

For example, if an optic had a 1/4 MOA adjustment and the grouping was one inch to the right of the bullseye at 100 yards, I would adjust my windage four clicks to the left to move the point of impact one inch, or one MOA.

Taking this into account can help prevent frustration while zeroing in an optic.

MOA adjustments are proportionate to distance, meaning that at 400 yards one click of a ¼ MOA adjustment will move the point of impact 1 MOA.

If this seems like too drastic of an adjustment for that range you may want to consider a rifle scope to allow for greater accuracy at distance.

What Does MOA Mean for the Size of a Red Dot?

Selecting the appropriate size of red dot reticle can be critical when it comes to accuracy and usability depending on the purposes you will use it for.

Smaller MOA sizes generally offer more precision over longer distances but may prove difficult for some shooters to easily and quickly acquire. 

On the flipside, larger dots allow faster target acquisition at close range, however without as much pinpoint accuracy due to greater amounts of obstruction of the target from the reticle footprint itself.

To illustrate, a 1 MOA red dot will only cover 1 inch at 100 yards, and half that amount (0.5 inches) at 50 yards.

Further, a 6 MOA red dot may not be ideal for shooting at 100 yards (because the reticle will cover six inches of the target), but will be very easy and fast for the user to acquire their sight picture when shooting at closer ranges.

3 MOA vs. 6 MOA
3 MOA vs. 6 MOA Red Dot

For this reason, most pistol shooters who use red dots tend to favor 3 MOA or 6 MOA red dots.

So which one is right for you? Ultimately, this will depend on your needs and goals.

Choosing the right red dot sight can make a big difference in your shooting performance.

What Size MOA is Best for a Red Dot Sight?

If you’re looking for speed and precision at close distances such as defensive situations and pistol shooting, larger options like 3 MOA or 6 MOA will give you an edge on target acquisition speed.

On the other hand, if accuracy over longer ranges is more important than quick detection then you may want something smaller such as 1 MOA to increase precision.

Regardless of which type of shooter you are, selecting the proper MOA size for your red dot sight will optimize your firearm setup depending on how you prioritize speed vs precision.

Personally, I prefer a 1 MOA dot for accuracy, and a 65 MOA circle around the dot, making this reticle the best of both worlds. If you’re interested in a balanced optic such as my preference, the Predator V2 and Predator V4 from Tacticon Armament will give you multiple reticle options to choose from at an affordable price.