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Mils Versus Mils Versus MilsBy Joe Huffman

Object True Size 
Range Using True Mils  Range using US military Mils  Russian Mils 
Exactly 2 yards  500 yards  509 yards  477 yards 
2 yards + 2 inches  514 yards  523 yards  491 yards 
In other words, if you are off just two inches in your estimate of the size of an object that is six feet long then your total error from that one source is greater than the error from using the US military version of mils and over half of the error if you are using a Russian mil optic device. Another way of looking at it is that a true mil is 102% of a US military mil and 95.5% of a Russian mil. When estimating the size of object 500 yards away and with the errors in measuring the number of mils in most optics, the errors in estimation and number of mils are almost for certain greater than the errors introduced by the approximations used by the US and Russian military.
I did some tests with two Leupold scopes and a pair of Russian binoculars with mil reticules. I put a series of markers at 99 (+/ 1) yards away. I then measured the distance for an integral number of mils. The results are below:
Optics.  Object size (inches).  Apparent mils.  Actual mils.  "mils"/circle.  Error. 
Russian Binoculars  76.75  20  21.5  5850  7.0% 
Leupold 10 X scope  29.5  8  8.28  6070  3.4% 
Leupold 4.5 > 14 scope (at 14)  28.75  8  8.07  6223  0.87% 
My measurement were probably accurate to about 1%.
My conclusions are:
1) One should test their optics before relying on them for critical
measurements  even if you know what the manufacture intends them to be.
2) My 14power Leupold optics can be
assumed to use the mathematical definition of a milliradian.
3) My 10power Leupold optics may be using the European definition but are
probably close enough to the mathematical definition for most purposes.
3) The Russian and probably Europe in general use a different definition of mils
and one needs to take this into account.
From our 'resident' military expert:
From: Eugene Econ
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 8:46 AM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: Re: Mildots.
Joe:
[...off topic stuff deleted...]
Soviet mils are 6000 to a circle. US are 6400. These are Artillery mils used for artillery work and apply to how the Russian and US artillery estimate range and give corrections for Artillery fire.
If you do some math with these numbers you find that the US Artillery mil (6400) equates to one degree equaling 17.777 mils. Thus one mil equals 3.375 minutes. Therefore one mil equals just under one yard at a thousand yards and one meter at a thousand meters.
The Russian mil (6000) equates to one degree equaling 16.666 mils. One mil equals 3.6 minutes. And so one mil equals very, very slightly over one yard at 1000 yards.
Either way  artillery considers hits if the round lands within fifty meters of a target so use of 6400 or 6000 mils is more a matter of convenience in fire direction control than precision in terms of exactly equaling one yard or one meter. Both are close enough.
BTW  the PSO1 scope for the SVD bases its ranging reticle on a 5'7" man and we use a six foot tall man. The PSO1 scope does not use mil dots. Instead it uses a scale where you fit the average 5'7" man into the scale and where he fits you read the range. Then you index the range on the elevation dial that is a BDC in hundreds of meters.
Unlike the US optics, the windage of the Russian optics are graduated in Russian mils with two clicks between each mil on the knob. Each click then corresponds to about one minute of angle for windage.
Hope this helps you out.
Gene
From: Shapiro Gregor
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 1:34 AM
To: joeh@boomershoot.org
Subject: mils
Swedish mills (used by the Swedish military) are 6300 mils (called ‘streck’
in Swedish and symbolized with an apostrophe [‘]) to a circle the French are a
little more mathematically stringent with 6280 mils to a circle.
/GS
From: Shapiro Gregor
Sent: Monday, March 27, 2006 12:49 AM
To: Joe Huffman
Subject: RE: mils
Yes you may use my name. I probably should make you aware that presently the
Swedish military is in the process of internationalization and will adopt the
NATO standards of measurements and methods of ordering indirect fire, other
artillery orders as well as generally adopting international ‘standards’ (read
US forces) across the board. So the 6300 to a circle ‘Swedish mils’ is on it’s
way out. I have no time scale for this transition but the simulators that my
company has delivered and is in the process of developing have multiple units of
measurement including both 6300 and 6400.
/Gregor
See also Mildots and Minutesofangle, From a Technical Perspective.
Email: Joe
Huffman
Last updated:
February 10, 2008