The Difference Between Map Scales
So, what is the difference between a map that is 1:24,000 scale vs. a map that is 1:48,000 scale. The 1:48,000 scale map would cover the same area as four 1:24,000 scale maps. In terms of large scale vs. small scale, the 1:24,000 would be considered a larger scale map than a 1:48,000 map.
- A ratio of 1:24,000 means that the objects on the ground are 1/24,000 of their actual size on the ground
- A ratio of 1:48,000 means that the objects on the ground are 1/48,000 of their actual size on the ground
- A map with a smaller scale will cover a larger area but show less detail
- A map with a larger scale will cover a smaller area but show more detail
- The scale of the GMU maps will vary depending on the size of the GMU. The scale ranges from about 1:50,000 to well over 1:200,000. The larger the GMU, the less detail on the map.
- The Zone maps are all 1:48,000 scale, and cover an area approximately 15×18 miles.
- The Stealth maps are 1:48,000 scale, and cover an area approximately 15×18 miles.
- The Bullseye and Navigator maps are 1:24,000 scale and cover an area approximately 7×9 miles.
- The Stalker maps are 1:12,000 and cover roughly 3.5×4.5 miles in area.
Another way to look at map scale would be to imagine that you are in a hot air balloon that is 1,000 feet off the ground. You could see everything below you in really good detail, but you would not be able to see very far from side to side. Now imagine rising to 2,000 feet above the ground. You would still be able to see the same features below you that you could at 1,000 feet, but in less detail. However, you would now be able to see a greater distance from side to side across the horizon and survey a larger area. The same is true of map scales. Just think of the balloon at 1,000 feet above the ground comparable to a map scale of 1:24,000 and the balloon at 2,000 feet above the ground equivalent to a scale of 1:48,000.
Click on the image below for a graphical explanation.