When you’re holding that brand new, fully completed 300 Blackout in your hand or you just got your hands on a brand new AR-15, the next obvious step is to get started browsing optics and get one mounted. If your options boil down to 3 MOA vs 6 MOA, you’re in for a treat either way, although there are significant pros and cons to both.
MOA stands for Minute of Angle If you take the eyepiece as a whole and split it up into 360 segments (like tiny slivers of pie), each sliver is one minute or inch. A 3 MOA is 3 minutes or three inches while a 6 MOA is 6 minutes or 6 inches.
So it’s not a linear measurement but an angle of measurement. It’s mostly explained at 100-yard distances because it’s just easier that way. If you want to get really specific and technical, it’s 1.047” rather than 1”.
3 MOA vs 6 MOA – What’s the Difference?
The first and most obvious difference is the measurement at 100 yards. When sighting in at 100 yards, the 6 MOA reticle will appear to cover 6” of the target, while the 3 MOA reticle will appear to cover 3” of the target.
This makes the 6 MOA optic the optimal choice for short-range targets and the 3 MOA the optimal choice for long-distance targets.
There are a lot of fantastic options for 3 MOA dot optics. One of them is the Vortex Venom, which is one of the more popular optics on the market. In bright light conditions, you can set it at the highest brightness level and still have a pretty decent view.
However, some people have problems seeing 3 MOA dots on really bright days and that’s one of its primary drawbacks. If you don’t have a problem seeing the 3 MOA in bright conditions, it’s easily the best red dot sight for long-distance targets.
It’s also the preferred option if you are using night vision because the 6 MOA is far too bright and large. Since the dot is smaller, it’s easier to see the target at long range, whether it’s daytime or you’re using night vision.
- Great long distance reticle
- 100 + yards
- A good fit for a rifle mount
- Works exceptionally well for night vision
- Ideal for competition shooting
- Slower target acquisition
- Not great for home defense and short distance
- Not as effective in bright light
The much larger reticle in 6 MOA optics is the best option for short-range targets and home defense. Anything inside your house is going to be fairly close range. It’s easier to quickly acquire your target with a 6 MOA, due to its size.
It lacks the precision of a 3 MOA, but fortunately, precision with anything farther than 50 yards or so is not why people purchase 6 MOA sights. It’s also decent in dark or dim light conditions, just not with night vision.
You would probably find that a 6 MOA sight is perfect for a handgun, rather than a rifle. Vortex Venom also comes with a 6 MOA version, but the Sig Sauer SOR1P103 Romeo1Pro is an excellent choice as well, especially if you’re rocking a Sig Sauer P320 .45 ACP.
- Bright and easy to see
- Perfect for 50 yards or closer
- Great for mounting on handguns
- Works well in low-light
- Great home defense optic
- Not precise at long range
- Too bright and large for nigh vision
- Not a good choice for rifles
When to use each
The 3 MOA sights are more at home on rifles, since they are designed for long-distance target acquisition. Of course, you can put one on a pistol with no problem, so long as you prefer the smaller dot, a handgun, and potentially slower target acquisition.
The 6 MOA sights are better matched with a handgun, with a brighter dot, higher efficacy at closer range, and personal or home defense. The 6 MOA is considered the jack of all trades, master of all reticles because it’s used often and just makes sense for anything under 50 yards.
Both 3 MOA and 6 MOA sights have their specific uses, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be interchangeable, especially the 3 MOA, which is probably more viable in short range situations than a 6 MOA is in long-range situations.
Whichever one you choose, red dots are easy to use and offer faster target acquisition and accuracy, without having to line up your front sight post with your rear sight aperture. It makes everything a bit simpler, from a tactical, hunting, or competitive shooting standpoint.
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