How Far Is a Klick, as Used in the Military?

If you’ve ever been around any setting or in a profession that uses lots of jargon and lingo before, even if English is being spoken it can still sound like a different language.

man hiking with backpack into the woods

The military is a great example, peppered with tons of pronounceable acronyms and terms that are virtually indecipherable to outsiders.

One term you hear all the time is klick, spelled with a ‘k’. This is a unit of distance, but just how far is a klick?

A klick is equivalent to 1,000 meters, or one kilometer.

That, at least, is simple enough. But as you might expect, there’s a lot more you can and should learn about the term if you want better understanding.

Keep reading, and I’ll tell you a whole lot more…

How Many Miles is a Klick?

A klick is precisely equal to 0.6214 miles, most commonly rounded to 0.62 miles. Accordingly, two klicks is equivalent to about 1 1/4 miles. 5 miles is about 8 klicks.

How Many Kilometers is a Klick?

A klick is equal to 1 kilometer, no more, no less. That is 1,000 meters.

How Many Feet are in a Klick?

There are nearly 3,281 feet in a klick.

How Far is “Half a Klick”?

Half a klick is 500 meters.

Why is Klick Spelled with a K and not a C?

Klick, in this parlance is spelled with a ‘k’ and not a ‘c’ because klick is ultimately a shortened slang term for kilometer, which also starts with a ‘k’.

It also helps to distinguish it from the usage of “click” in other written contexts, although it sounds exactly the same audibly.

What Does Click Mean in Military Parlance?

To be clear, you might see the term klick, the unit of distance, spelled with a ‘c’ but it is usually spelled with a ‘k’ to differentiate it from click.

In military parlance, click, with a ‘c’, typically refers to the unit of adjustment for the sighting system of a weapon, be it iron sights or some sort of optical sighting system.

A click of adjustment, be it elevation or windage, will move the point of impact a certain amount at a set distance: for small arms it usually equates to half an inch or one full inch at 100 meters.

All you need to know is that if you see klick spelled with a ‘k’, someone is talking about distance, whereas if it is spelled with a ‘c’ it is referring to something else- probably!

If you want to look like you know your stuff, make sure you always spell klick with a ‘k’ when referring to distance or timelines.

Where did the Term Klick Come From?

To this day, no one is really sure where the term klick originated from when referring to distance.

Most sources generally agree that it came about way back in World War I as shorthand for kilometer, and has stuck around ever since.

Some historians even assert that it was a sort of universal word that was understood for relaying critical information between allies that might not speak the same language.

A similar but distinct origin story for the word states that it was accepted as an easily understood code word for kilometer to facilitate radio communication.

As most users of radio know already, lengthy words with many syllables are more prone to being disrupted over a radio, meaning the sender’s intention could be made less clear.

Klick is short, crisp, quick and easily understood making it a great bit of lingo for radio comms.

For this reason, klick has percolated down through other industries, and you regularly hear it referred to on ham radio, CB radio, and even in use with air traffic control around the world.

Lastly, there’s a plausible theory that states klick came from Australian soldiers who we’re forced to come up with an improvised pace counting method for tracking how far they had moved through dense and disorienting jungle terrain in the Vietnam War.

Supposedly, the story goes, the soldier who is keeping the pace would turn the gas regulator of his issued rifle one position for every 100 meters traveled, more or less.

Once the gas regulator knob completed a full revolution of 10 increments, it would make an audible clicking sound, meaning that a single kilometer had been traveled and giving birth to the term we all still use today.

Which one is correct? Who knows! It’s up to you to decide, but all that matters is that you understand how far a klick is and how to use it.

1 thought on “How Far Is a Klick, as Used in the Military?”

  1. Metric system is the solution to a problem. Second point why would we be using the system? Remember the code talkers from World War II. America has always thought differently and that has given us the advantage of on hospital field. Third point in explanation of military terms is indeed helpful, and thank you for the article.

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