How Far Is a 'Klick'?

Soldiers with the Georgia Army National Guard complete a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart.
Soldiers with the Georgia Army National Guard complete a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart, Jan. 11, 2017. (Capt. William Carraway/Georgia National Guard photo)

A military "klick" is a colloquial way to express the distance of one kilometer, or about 0.62 miles.

Using this shorthand word of one syllable, instead of the longer four-syllable word, allows for briefer and more efficient communication, a hallmark of military culture.

Military Klick Conversion

How far is a klick? Here is a breakdown of the conversions for a klick distance:

  1. Kilometers to klicks:
    • 1 klick is equivalent to 1 kilometer.
  2. Klicks to miles:
    • 1 klick is approximately equal to 0.62 miles.
  3. Klicks to feet:
    • 1 klick is equivalent to approximately 3,280.84 feet.

Why Does the US Military Use Klicks?

The use of the word "klick" in the U.S. military, and in military jargon more broadly, is due to brevity and ease of understanding.

Using the word "klick" instead of saying "kilometer" is concise, saves time and reduces the chance of misunderstandings during critical moments.

A kilometer is a measurement within the metric system, which is in widespread use globally.

Is There a Difference Between 'Klick' and 'Click' in the Military?

As klick is a slang word, sometimes people spell it "click." Within this context, there is no difference. For example, if someone writes, "The target is located two clicks to the east," it means the target is approximately two kilometers away in the eastward direction.

In other military contexts, however, the word "click" means one notch of a rifle sight. The word comes from the sound produced when this rifle adjustment is made.

Origin of Klicks

Although it's well-known that the term "klick" as a slang term for a kilometer in military culture likely originated from the phonetic pronunciation of the letter "k" in "kilometer," the exact timing of its origins is unclear.

Some believe that widespread use of the word began during the Vietnam War. One piece of evidence supporting this theory is a 1965 Associated Press article listing "Viet War Slang," which included "klick."

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