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Product Review: Mildot Master

-- by Kent W. Gooch, CWO2, USMC (ret)

Having been in this business for about 19 years or so I've had many people come to me with ideas for widgets and gizmos that are supposed to make a snipers life easier. Most of these devices usually end up being rip-offs of something the military has already developed or something that is too technical to be practical in the field. So when I got an email from some guy in New Mexico who had developed a gizmo for working with mil dots I was instantly skeptical. Then Bruce Robinson got in touch with me over the phone and proceeded to explain that he was a former engineer with BMW and being that I am the son of an engineer I decided to listen to this guy. He explained that he was a shooting enthusiast who had had a vision one day about a mildot calculator using a design based on the slide rules that he had grown up with. He had also been working with an Albuquerque NM SWAT officer, Neil Terry, on the design so I figured this thing might have some merit. So after a few more phone calls I had a sample in my hands.

It was great! Simple, durable and something that even a Marine grunt like myself could figure out. It came with an in depth manual for those who didn't know the mildot system and being the manly man that I am I put the manual aside and started playing with the device. Simple things amaze simple minds and I had its operation down in a minute.

The Mildot Master is comprised of a 7" x 3" sleeve made of riveted khaki-colored heavy vinyl, a slide, which moves within the sleeve, and a manual (providing instructions and practical exercises). The slide is calibrated for yards on one side and meters on the other. The device can be manipulated for targets as small as 1.75 inches to as large as 20 feet and can give distances from 100 - 2000 yards or meters. It is also available with a slide that measures target dimensions in centimeters/meters

Once I had the basic operation down I noticed other features. At this point I picked up the manual and found that it would also:

  1. Compute minute of angle/Inch/mils equivalents at given distances. This can be used to calculate sight adjustments or mildot holds when bullet drop or drift in inches is known.
  2. Determine gun target angle for firing at extreme angles. The mildot master has a protractor printed on the back, which used in conjunction with a plumb line gives the shooter, the GT angle. The correct distance is then read off of the front of the device. It will also correct for target distortion when the target is being mil'd at extreme angles.
  3. Convert inches/centimeters through a bar scale on the device.

Let me explain how the primary function of converting a mil reading to target distance is accomplished.

On the front of the sleeve are two windows which, when the device is manipulated, allow the shooter to read target distance in the left window and inches/moa/mil equivalents in the right window. The device is used by doing the following:

  1. The shooter aligns target size opposite mils measured.
  2. The shooter reads the distance at the target range index.
  3. If the shot is uphill/downhill, the shooter measures angle and reads corrected distance at appropriate point on angle scale below the target range index.
  4. The shooter selects bullet drop/drift figure appropriate to the range and load being used and uses scale on Right-hand side for scope adj. (MOA) or holdover/hold off (mils)
  5. The shooter holds hard and squeezes.

I used the Mildot Master under practical shooting conditions for the first time at the D&L Sports, Tactical Marksmanship Competition from 21 - 23 August 1998. My initial plan was to use a laser range finder as the primary distance determination aid. Light and terrain conditions forced a change in plan, as the laser would not function past 600 meters. This resulted in the use of the M24 SWS' Leupold M3A scope with mildot reticle and a Mildot Master. This was a departure from my normal SOP of using a calculator with the mil scale.

During competition, it was obvious that the Mildot Master was an excellent aid. It was actually faster than a calculator was and I was able to do multiple calculations using different dimensions of the same target much faster than with a calculator. This is important when using mil dots as it is best to check measurements against each other. For example it is better to measure the targets height and width to ensure that they give the same distance. This helps to confirm distance. Moreover, I used the "firing angle correction" feature a few times and found it very functional.

At the recent Gunny Hathcock Memorial Sniper Competition at the Storm Mountain Training Center, the Mildot Master was a standard piece of gear for most of the competitors and were very evident at the range estimation competition and the unknown distance field fire match. I saw one competitor go into a near panic when he misplaced his Mildot master prior to the field fire. He almost kissed another competitor who loaned him his Mildot Master. This was after turning down the loan of a calculator saying, "#&$% that, calculators are too slow!" In a review of the match for the Sniper Country website the author lamented, "I would HIGHLY recommend that you obtain a Mildot Master for such an event, and also for use in the field. I did not have one and I struggled to keep up with the rest of the A-team."

As an instructor I find that the Mildot Master simplifies the process when teaching the use of mil dots for acquiring distances to targets. In the initial steps of learning how to use the mildot system a student must learn to read the dots correctly and learn the importance of properly focusing the target and ensuring the scope is on the proper magnification when using variable power scopes prior to reading the scale. Errors in measurements of .1 mil can result in error so an instructor must be able to tell the student what reading he should be getting at any target distance. The Mildot Master simplifies this effort as it can be worked backwards when the distance is known by laser, or other methods. The correct target distance is aligned with the target range index line and the target dimension in mils is read next to the targets size. The student then knows what he should be seeing through the scope and can focus the objective, play with his power adjustments etc until he sees this reading.

As stated in the Mildot Master manual, the Mildot Master will not make you shoot any better or help you to read the scopes mil scale. It does however make the calculation of distance and sight adjustments much easier, faster and reliable than a calculator does. It requires no batteries, the shooter can confirm elements of the formula at a glance (target dimension and mil reading) which require a reentry of data on a calculator and can be used in environmental conditions where a calculator would have difficulty performing (extreme cold, in water, etc.).

I highly recommend the Mildot Master as a companion/backup system to a laser range finder when the shooter is using the mil relation formula with a mil dot or duplex reticle.