How Far is a Klick in Military Terms and Its Distance

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

how far is a klick in military terms

The military term “klick,” sometimes spelled as “click,” is equivalent to the international metric system’s kilometer. This means 1 click measurement is equivalent to 1 kilometer, 0.6214 in miles, and 3280.84 in feet.

Knowing ‘how far is a klick in military terms’ is only one of the many military jargon you’re about to learn from this article.

What is a Klick?


The term klick was derived from the word kilometer. Both of these terms are recognized by NATO and the Military Grid Reference System or MGRS.

So, is a klick a kilometer? Yes, the distance of a click is equivalent to the distance of one kilometer.

History of the Clicks Military Term

Why do they call a kilometer a click? The term’s history is closely related to the actual sound of a click. Some historians claim that this originated from the Australian troops stationed in Vietnam.

At the time, the Australian soldiers needed to develop a method to track their movement and measure their distances; this was a period where modern GPS technology was not yet around. They figured that pacing and monitoring their steps was the best way.


The soldiers then counted their steps per 100-meter lot, estimated to be equivalent to 110 paces if done on flat land, 120 paces if walking uphill, and 110 paces if going downhill. Every 100-meter count was marked by the soldier’s adjusting of his rifle’s gas regulator, which, as a result, gave an audible clicking sound.

One click was recorded after another until ten clicks were added up to a full kilometer.

Importance of Klicks


Military decisions are made in consideration of numerous factors, the distance being one of these important aspects. As such, units of distance measurement are very important in military lingo.

Quick Conversion

For a quick conversion reference when you want to know the distance of the click vs mile, or simply for a visual illustration of how long klick in the military distance system is, refer below:


Why Does the Military Use Klicks?


In terms of common usage, the term kilometer is more widely used, while click in the military is more of a slang term that refers to walking distance. For example, when soldiers define click distance to one another via radio, they usually say, “10 clicks north of the base” or “100 clicks south of your position.”

Another probable reason is that the term can be easier said and heard when communicated over the radio, avoiding miscommunication and information blurring.

What is MGPS Used for?

While on the topic of distance measurement and positioning, an important aspect of the discussion is the use of the military global positioning system or MGPS.

Compared to the single-frequency GPS accessed by civilians, MGPS receivers access two frequencies and thus receive more accurate feedback.

GPS technology in the military is used broadly across numerous operations, such as search and rescue, and unmanned aircraft piloting, to name a few.


Other Common Military Distance Measurements

Now that we’ve gone through the clicks meaning military, and the klick distance equivalence, you may be curious about other distance measurements commonly used within the military.

Here are a few:


  • Knots – This is not a measurement unit for distance, but it is one for speed. It is equivalent to one nautical mile per hour and is usually used by pilots.
  • Rod – This is not as commonly used as the rest of the terms in this section. It is equivalent to 16.5 US survey feet.
  • Furlong – This is equivalent to ¼ of a mile.

Frequently Asked Questions


Klick vs. mile: What’s the difference?

Referring to the figure presented in the previous section, one klick is 0.6214 miles. Since one klick is one kilometer, this question is the same as asking what the equivalence of one kilometer is to a mile.

Additionally, while both refer to the measurement of distance, klick or kilometer belongs to the metric system of units while mile belongs to the imperial units system.

How big of a difference it would be as to whether you use klick or miles when expressing distance, is really dependent on your preference, and the common system used in your area.

How can civilians use klicks in everyday life?

Whether reading the GPS coordinates on your car’s system, looking at the map application on your phone, or checking the distance of your morning jog, civilians can use klick as much as the military do! The term is a mere military slang but is one not exclusive to the military, after all.


In conclusion, this article discussed how far is a klick in military terms, the history of the terminology, its conversion across other units of measurement that express distance, and its use in the military.

Hopefully, you learned a lot and share this knowledge with friends and family.


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