I like simplicity. Its not the fact that I was dropped once as a child, or the fact that being a male of the species, I am, according to the gentler persuasion, a bit of a Neanderthal. I have always liked my gear hard-core tuff yet plain and simple, easy to use. Some of you know I am into motorcycle racing. I love my modern 600 cc race bike. Yet my favorite toy in the garage is a dirt simple 1949 Russian M72 that I bought for a song. You can not get a bike any less complicated unless you buy a 3-speed bicycle!
Range finding with mil-dots is not a hard chore. However, it can be time consuming at times and unless you have a calculator, or an excellent memory, it can appear more daunting than it really need be. Formulas abound. Methods vary. Dots are footballs and footballs are for Jar-heads. It can all be a bit confusing. Thankfully for those who are less than mathematically inclined, several manufacturers have created easy to use tools to help the needy. Most of you are familiar with the Mil-Dot Master, and some of you may be familiar with the circular D.F.T. Mil-Dot Ranging Computer, both hand held computing systems made of sturdy laminated stock or plastic. Now the market has a third product, this one by IOR, those wonderful people who bring East to West and keep surprising me with just how biased I was against most things from the old iron curtain.
Measuring 3.1 x 5.5 inches, the Pocket Mil Rangefinder fits easily in any pocket. It's made of two layers of heavy-duty, elasticized card stock, riveted together at the corners, with a third laminated card that slides inside, ala slide rule fashion. A window appears on each side of the card labeled MILS. A second window is divided up into increments based on your target's size in inches and is appropriately labeled, Target Size - Inches. Are you seeing a trend here? Simplicity itself. Ranging can be done on targets from 9 tall to 108 tall. Side one lists the following target sizes: 9, 18, 27.5, 36, and 48. A little bit of extrapolation will net you target sizes in between those figures. Side two covers 60, 72, 84 96 and 108 targets. In use, one takes note of the target size, in mils, in their mil-dot equipped sniper scope, than slides the card up or down until the size of the target, in mils, appears in the MILS window. Looking to the right, at the Target Size window, you then locate the known size of the target or a close proximity thereof.
Example; You are shooting at a prairie dog -- just being politically correct here for the hell of it, insert drug lord's head if you wish. From past experience, you estimate its about 9 tall (ok, so the drug lord is a pin-head). As you look through your mil-dot reticle, you note that the Prairie dog appears to be .75 mils tall. Looking at Target Size window, you read 333 yards under the 9 block. Set your scope for 330 yards and have at it. It's pretty basic and simple. The layout does not require much in the way of searching or interpolation. Its basic, it's simple, and it works very quickly.
The Mil settings are broken down into .25 mil increments. Side 1 of the Pocket Mil Rangefinder presents you mil sizes from .25 mils to 5.00 mils. Side 2 gives you mil sizes from 2.00 to 6.75 mils. Just for trivia's sake, you could theoretically range targets from 50 yards to 5200 yards.
The calculator has instructions printed on both sides and again, the simple design means there is very little to say. It's intuitive to use and totally straight forward. The calculator is printed in a two tone green. Fits in any pocket and is flexible enough to not be destroyed by bending over with it in your pants. One can attach a dummy cord to it through one of the rivets so you can hang it around your neck, under your BDUs.
Like all mil ranging calculators of this type, its one downfall, if you can call it that, is that it does not list mil sizes in between the indicated MIL settings. In other words if your target appears outside that .25 mil incremental division you have to extrapolate. Example: If your target is, say, .6 mils, or .4 mils, you are out of luck in terms of EXACT range. However, all is not lost! One can come reasonably close by splitting the difference. After all, these tools are designed to allow you to get in close proximity of the target without the need of a battery-operated calculator. Having had more than one battery operated calculator go bad on me in the field, I can definitely appreciate the value of a simple slide rule based system that requires nothing more than daylight to see. While one might argue that to be totally precise, you need to crunch numbers and break the mils down to the 10th or the 8th depending on which reticle system you are using, a calculator of this nature, when used properly, will get you darn close. I am a big user of the battery-operated calculator. It's very precise and I am, or was, very fast on it. But having seen shooters use any number of these simple slide-rule based tools, all I can say that they were doing pretty well filling in the gaps between the mils and were dinging targets as well as I.
How? Example: say you have a known target measuring 18 wide. It subtends 1.8 to 1.9 mils in your scope. The Pocket Mil Rangefinder, having .25 mil increments, has markings for 1.75 mils and 2.00 mils. Over in the Target Size window, you look at the 18 setting and sliding the slide up a bit you can see that 1.75 mils would be 286 yards while 2.00 mils would be 250 yards. A 36 yard difference. Split that difference (18 yards) and set your scope for 268 yards and shoot. Not a perfect solution, but its how you make a non-electrical hand calculator work in a pinch.
Of all the tools of this type on the market, the IOR produced Pocket Mil Rangefinder seems to be the most simple to use. The D.F.T Mil-Dot Ranging Computer is a bit more confusing by comparison and does not offer nearly as precise a break down. The IORs size, combined with its simplicity make it ideal as a back up to your electrical calculator or as a main tool for utilizing your mil-dot scope. The Pocket Mil Rangefinder can be ordered direct from IOR or through the Sniper country PX, which now carries the product.