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Big Green Blog

Long Range Fundamentals: Ballistic Coefficient, Caliber Selection, and MOA

03.09.2023 | by Remington Contributor

Long range shooter looking down a rifle scope next to a spotter

As with most technical pursuits, long-range shooting has a good number of basic terms a shooter needs to know on their way to being a top shot. These terms include:

Ballistic Coefficient 

The ballistic coefficient (BC) of a body is a measure of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight. Less air resistance equals less drag, and less drag means better performance from a “body,” in this case, a bullet.

BC is denoted numerically, and the higher the BC number, the easier and more efficiently the bullet passes through the air. BC is determined by several factors, including the shape or design of the bullet, its weight, and the diameter. Long-range shooters want bullets with a high BC to retain speed longer, drop less and be less affected by wind.

For example, a round in 6.5 Creedmoor, loaded with a 140-grain bullet, has a very high BC rated at .646. Meantime, a 30-30 hunting round, loaded with a round-nose 150-grain bullet, has a BC of .186.

Guess which is the better choice for banging steel at 1,000 yards?

Caliber Selection

Long-range shooters use a variety of calibers, and within each caliber, there are many, many loads available. And each specific load will have its unique bullet weight, BC, and muzzle velocity.  

So how does a new shooter know which caliber and cartridge might be best for their long-range endeavors? 

A great place to start is Ballistic and its huge load library to make that decision. It contains information on over 5,000 projectiles, factory loads, and military loads, plus performance data points (like BC’s) from leading manufacturers and military and performance testing. 

Simply plug in the various calibers and cartridge loads within the calibers under consideration, the distances at which they will be used, and the anticipated environmental conditions. The app will calculate all the data needed to make the best load choice. 

Remington rifle cartridge being removed from tray


MOA stands for “minute of angle.” It is an angular measurement used in rifle scope adjustment values.

Think of a circle cut into 60 equal slices, and each slice equals one minute of angle. At 100 yards, each individual minute equals 1.047 inches. Let’s say a rifle is hitting the center of the bullseye at 100 yards. If the elevation control on the scope moved up one full MOA, the bullet should now strike 1.047 inches higher. Move the windage control one full MOA to the right, and the bullet should hit 1.047 inches to the right.

Angles work proportionally, so at 200 yards, 1 MOA is 2.054 inches. At 1000 yards, that 1 MOA is 10.47 inches.

Now, go back to the 100 yards standard. Most rifle scopes have elevation and windage adjustments set at either .5 or .25 MOA per click. So, the shooter takes three shots at 100 yards to zero the scope and rifle, and the three bullets all hit two inches low and a half-inch to the left. With a .5 MOA scope, a bullseye hit will require the shooter to give the elevation control 4 clicks up (.5×4 = 2 inches) and 1 click to the right (.5×1 = .5 inch).

*Note that MOA is not the same as MILs or Mil-RADs, which are also angular measurements used in some scopes but perform their measurement on a different scale.