The military uses a variety of codes and phrases that may seem foreign to civilians. For example, characters in military movies and TV shows frequently describe distances in “clicks”. You may also see it spelled as “klick”. What is a military click or klick?
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A military click is a unit of measurement. The correct spelling is “klick”. One klick is equal to one kilometer, which is a unit of measurement in the metric system. While the United States uses the imperial system, most militaries rely on the metric system.
How Far Is One Klick in Military Terms?
A klick represents a single kilometer and is used by many militaries to describe distances. One klick is equal to 1000 meters, 1 kilometer, 0.6214 miles, or 3280.84 feet. The United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Australia, France, and NATO all use klicks when referencing distances.
Historians have proposed two theories for the origin of the word. Some historians believe that the term comes from the sound of the odometer in military vehicles after traveling one kilometer.
Yet other historians believe that Australian soldiers originated the term “klick” during the Vietnam War. Soldiers would measure distances by pacing. Depending on the terrain, a specific number of paces equaled 100 meters:
- 110 paces on flat land
- 120 paces going uphill
- 100 paces going downhill
Every 100 meters was considered a “mark”. After pacing 10 marks (1000 meters or 1 kilometer), the soldiers would hoist their rifles above their heads and move the gas regulator, which creates an audible click. The word was spelled as “klick”. Kilometer + click = klick.
Why Does the US Military Use Klicks?
The US military uses klicks and the metric system to simplify communications with individuals in other parts of the world. Branches of the US military frequently work with military partners in other countries. Due to the joint operations and training, it is easier for the US military to adopt the metric system.
Using the metric system also makes it easier to reference location points using the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS). The MGRS is the geocoordinate standard used by the US military and NATO for locating specific points anywhere on the planet.
The MGRS divides the earth into a square grid. The size of each grid square varies depending on the precision needed. However, the sizes are based on the metric system. The available grid sizes are measured in meters, ranging from 1 meter to 10,000 meters (10 kilometers).
Only three countries in the world have not adopted the metric system. The US, Liberia, and Myanmar continue to use the imperial system.
What Is the Difference Between Click and Klick?
The term click typically refers to a military klick when discussing military lingo. However, hunters and soldiers also occasionally use the word “click” when sighting a weapon.
Sighting-in involves adjusting the sight on a firearm to increase accuracy at specific distances. Scopes and other sights use one of two systems of measurement – minute of angle (MOA) and mils. 1 MOA is often referred to as 1 click.
Both units of measure angles inside circles. A circle has 60 MOAs. Adjusting a sight 1 MOA adjusts the sight 1 inch at 100 yards. If an individual adjusts the sight 2 inches at 100 yards, they adjust it 2 clicks.
How Far Is a Mike in Military Terms?
A “mike” is not a unit of distance but is part of the phonetic alphabet used by the military. Mike is the phonetic word for the letter “M.” When communicating over the radio, soldiers may use the word Mike in place of the letter. For example, Mike-Alpha-Tango spells M-A-T.
Phonetic alphabets are used by the military and civilian groups to prevent spelling errors. The speaker can use a word to phonetically represent a letter. People may mistake the letter M for the letter N or the letter B for the letter D.
Mike is also used in a common military phrase for 40-millimeter grenades. A 40mm grenade may be referred to as a “40 Mike Mike.”
The military may also use the word “Mike” in place of the word “minute”. Instead of “wait four more minutes,” a soldier may say, “wait four more Mikes.”