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Best Nikon Scope Reviews Of 2016

Beyond a certain range, even the most skilled sharpshooter will require a riflescope to make their shots count. With numerous riflescopes being offered today by several different manufacturers, and in lots of different varieties, it can be a tough selecting the right one for your rifle and bullet configuration.

The ideal manufacturer would be one that not only offers a wide range of scopes under its roof with lucid designations to differentiate them based on rifle type, bullet caliber and velocity, but also provides excellent quality and reliability across the board. Nikon Sport Optics is one such manufacturer that I’d like to bring your attention to, so I’ve created this guide about their offerings, along with some choice Nikon scope reviews to give you an idea of their diverse product line.

Top 5 Nikon Scope Comparisons

Model

Mag. Range

Optimum Bullet Caliber

Reticle Type

Warranty

Price

Our Ratings

Nikon M-308

4-16x / 42

7.62 NATO / .308 WIN w/ 168gr HPBT

BDC 800

Limited Lifetime Warranty

$$$$

Nikon P-223

3-9x / 40

223 Rem /5.56 NATO w/ 55gr polymer tip

BDC 600

Limited Lifetime Warranty

$$

Nikon ProStaff

4-12x / 40

N/A

BDC​

Limited Lifetime Warranty

$$$

Nikon Monarch 7

4-16x / 50

N/A

BDC w/ wind compensation​

Limited Lifetime Warranty

$$$$$

Nikon ProStaff Rimfire

3-9x / 40

.22LR Rimfire

BDC 150​

Limited Lifetime Warranty

$

What Makes Nikon Scopes So Popular?

Nikon scopes have a reputation among seasoned competition shooters and hunters alike for being deadly accurate, crystal clear and built for rugged handling. The manufacturer has cultivated their reputation after years of research and development to bring their customers the best possible products for the money they spend, and they continue to push the boundaries of what field hunters can achieve with their rifles. Here are some of the most prominent features of Nikon rifle scopes which make them such a big hit with pros and newbies alike:

Excellent Light Transmission

All Nikon rifle scopes employ multi-coated optics, and the more advanced versions have an UltraCoat® Optical system. This ensures light transmission up to 95% and more, so you can use them reliably in a wide range of lighting situations, including dusk and dawn.

Support For Multiple Crosshair Styles

Discretion plays a major role in determining the crosshair you’ll use. Purists tend to prefer conventional duplex reticles, whereas tactical, precise sharpshooters would rather go for advanced BDC reticles. Fortunately, Nikon produces its popular scopes in both flavors, so you don’t have to compromise on the crosshair style to enjoy them.

Diverse Range Of Magnifications

Whether you’re a hunter who primarily takes prey down at (relatively) close range e.g. 100-200 yards, or a competitive marksman who takes shots at 500+ yard ranges, Nikon has got you covered in the magnification department. With scopes sporting lower magnification ranges from 1x to 6x, and upper magnification ranges from 2x to 24x, the manufacturer has given their clientele a lot of choice, so they can find a product that suits their hunting style.

Intuitive Adjustment Features

These rifle scopes come with tactile adjustment turrets to let you easily dial in for the perfect shot in the field. They provide feedback in the form of audible clicks as you change the MOAs as needed. Zero reset in the field is made easy thanks to spring loaded adjustment knobs which function instantly. Furthermore, side focus turrets are present to allow for the elimination of parallax.

Consistent Eye Relief

The quick-focus eyepiece incorporated into these scopes offers around 4” (practically 3.5”) of consistent eye relief, regardless of the mag setting you are using. This is enough to keep your brow safe from injury even when you’re using a recoil prone weapon / bullet caliber.

BDC / Nikon Spot On Program Support

The Spot On program is accessible via a smartphone app, and over a web browser, and lets you acquire optimal settings for your scope, based on various inputs such as bullet caliber, velocity, distance to target and so on. 

This means that you can use Nikon scopes with virtually any caliber and velocity, even when they are optimized for a specific bullet by default.

Weapon Specific Products

Besides their standard Monarch and ProStaff lines, Nikon offers scopes which are engineered specifically for various types of rifles.

  • Their AR riflescopes are designed to work with nearly every AR Platform rifle out there and fully support Spot On Ballistic Match Technology.
  • Their Rimfire riflescopes are optimized for rifles that use 22LR Rimfire ammunition.
  • Their Muzzleloader Riflescopes help enthusiasts achieve the best results with these antique firearms.
  • Their Handgun series’ rugged, recoil-proof designs and power range is optimized for professional handgun hunters.
  • Their Varminter/Predator product line is geared towards calibers utilized in hunting these elusive, cunning targets, which can be hard to spot, and often appear close to sundown.
  • Their SlugHunter/Shotgun Hunter series has been crafted to maximize the potential of even the most demanding shotgun hunters.

Designed For Field Usage

Nikon scopes are made to withstand intense field conditions – this holds true for even their lowest priced offerings. They are nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed to ensure fog-proofing, water-proofing and shock-proofing, and the more expensive ones have a single-piece main tube which ensures optimum structural integrity and minimal weight.

Lots Of Options In Terms Of Price

By offering products in a wide range of prices, the manufacturer shows a clear understanding of the fact that most hunters do not have access to an unlimited amount of cash. Their low-cost products are designed to provide quality optics and field performance while remaining exceptionally affordable, making them ideal for budget hunters and beginners.

There are also products which offer a nice balance between affordability and premium features, such as the ProStaff line. Then, there are scopes that are unashamedly expensive (I’m looking at you, Monarch 7), but pack the very best features in the industry; they’re designed for the ultimate marksman.

Solid Warranty

Nikon backs their claims of quality and reliability with a limited lifetime warranty under which the manufacturer guarantees repairing / replacement of a defective rifle scope, without any charge, throughout its lifetime.

Top Rated Nikon Rifle Scope Reviews

Nikon 4-16x42 M-308 Rifle Scope w/ BDC 800 Reticle

  • Mag. Range / Lens Diameter (mm): 4-16x / 42
  • Optimum Bullet Caliber: 7.62 NATO / .308 WIN w/ 168gr HPBT
  • Reticle Type: BDC 800
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty

This scope has been designed specifically to go with AR style modern sporting rifles that utilize the .308 Win / 7.62 NATO bullet caliber. It has the same advanced, high quality optics as Nikon’s Monarch line (fully multi-coated, Ultra ClearCoat® Optical System) that ensure up to 95% light transmission.

The 16x 42mm maximum magnification means you can get a decent picture of a target that’s located as far as a .308 bullet can effectively go, and the 800 yard BDC reticle ensures you’ll score a first shot hit, by letting you lock on to the target precisely.

Even if you’re not using the HPBT 168gr ammo for which the BDC reticle is optimized, Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match program facilitates long range shots by giving you precise subtension numbers for virtually any kind of bullet / velocity combination.Besides the tactical adjustment turrets, 4” consistent eye relief, sturdy construction (O-ring sealed, nitrogen filled) and a solid warranty - all high end features that are pretty much standard for Nikon products - this scope has a one-piece tube construction to enhance its structural strength and keep it lightweight. The M308 mount is included with it has a 20 MOA adjustment built into its base, to allow for extreme long range shooting.




Pros

  • Tailored for 7.62 NATO / .308 WIN AR shooters.
  • Tailored for 7.62 NATO / .308 WIN AR shooters.
  • Robust construction for intense field usage.
  • BDC reticle, compatible with Spot On technology.
  • Custom M308 mount adds 20 MOA to elevation potential.
  • Brilliant light transmission, even in poor lighting.

Cons

  • Considerably pricey.
  • Not suitable for close range hunting/shooting.

Recommended For:
If you want to maximize your effectiveness with an AR .308 WIN / 7.62 NATO chambered weapon, this scope is definitely a worthy candidate.

Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600 Review

  • Mag. Range / Lens Diameter (mm): 3-9x / 40
  • Optimum Bullet Caliber: 223 Rem /5.56 NATO w/ 55gr polymer tip
  • Reticle Type: BDC 600
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty

This product has been designed for use with AR-15 rifles, in particular, those that utilize 55 grain polymer tipped 5.56 NATO / .223 REM bullets. Its BDC 600 reticle has been optimized for this bullet’s trajectory, up to 600 yards. Thanks to the Spot On Ballistic Match software though, you could use it successfully with other rifle/ammunition combinations as well.

While the 3-9x 40mm magnification range and lens diameter combination manages to provide a decent picture for short to mid-long ranges when combined with the scope’s multi-coated optics, I did find the 9x upper limit to be a bit restrictive when it came to sighting extra-long range targets. The scope has an instant zero-reset feature, just like all other Nikon products, and lets you make precise, tactile ¼ MOA adjustments with turrets that hold your settings even through serious recoil.

The P-223 is O-ring sealed and nitrogen filled so it can withstand wet/humid weather pretty well. Affordable pricing, a parallax adjustment knob, consistent eye relief, and limited lifetime warranty round it off as one of the best offerings in the market for AR-15 hunters.




Pros

  • Affordable, AR-15 specific rifle scope.
  • BDC 600 reticle optimized for 5.56/.223 REM trajectory, compatible with Spot On technology.
  • Excellent light transmission.
  • 3-9x40mm power range/lens diameter are effective for close to mid-long range encounters.
  • Tactical and precise adjustment features.

Cons

  • Not suitable for extra-long range target sighting because of limited upper magnification limit.

Recommended For:
Affordable pricing, a parallax adjustment knob, consistent eye relief, and limited lifetime warranty round it off as one of the best offerings in the market for AR-15 hunters.

Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Review

  • Mag. Range / Lens Diameter (mm):  4-12x / 40
  • Optimum Bullet Caliber: N/A
  • Reticle Type: BDC
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty

While lots of Nikon products are good for specific rifle and bullet types, the ProStaff 4-12x40 is an affordable offering, geared towards both pro and rookie-going-pro marksmen/hunters who want a general purpose scope that goes with several different rifle/bullet combinations.

The 4-12x zoom and 40mm lens diameter provide a clear image of the target at medium to long ranges, and the multi-coated optics ensure up to 98% light transmission, which means you’ll be able to sight your prey even at sunset and sunrise. However, you should note that the 4x minimal zoom means this scope isn’t the best for close range engagement.

The scope comes with a Quick Focus eyepiece which provides ample eye relief, so you don’t have to worry about recoil even when you’re using a bullet caliber / rifle that is bound to introduce it.

The BDC reticle lets you hold your target dead-on even at distant ranges, and when used with the Spot On program provided by Nikon, makes it possible to get a direct hit on target the first time too! The Spot On program requires you to input a number of parameters and returns optimum subtension values for your situation. The adjustment controls, which allow for accurate ¼ MOA adjustments, produce positive clicks as your turn the dial, giving you direct feedback as you’re perfecting your shot.

Even at its affordable price, the ProStaff 4-12x 40 is exceptionally well built: it is nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed to make it both water- and fog-proof, and comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.




Pros

  • 4-12x 40mm optics optimized for medium-to-long range encounters.
  • Multi-coated optics for up to 98% light transmission.
  • Rugged construction in spite of low cost.
  • Intuitive adjustment controls.
  • BDC reticle compatible with Spot On technology.

Cons

  • Not suitable for close range shooting.

Recommended For:
An affordable offering, geared towards both pro and rookie-going-pro marksmen/hunters who want a general purpose scope that goes with several different rifle/bullet combinations.

Nikon Monarch 7 4-16x50 SF Matte Advanced BDC

  • Mag. Range / Lens Diameter (mm): 4-16x / 50
  • Optimum Bullet Caliber: N/A
  • Reticle Type: BDC w/ wind compensation
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty

The Monarch line has been designed to provide superior, versatile performance with a wide variety of rifles, calibers and bullet velocities. This Nikon Monarch 7 rifle scope review covers the 4-16x50 SF Advanced BDC variant: in a nutshell, with this scope, you can pretty much expect unbeatable performance regardless of the weapon/bullet combination you’re using.

The fully multi-coated optical system ensures optimum light transmission, even at dusk and dawn, and the 4 to 16x zoom lets you get a detailed picture of the target at a wide range of distances. The 30mm main tube made from aluminum alloy yields a lightweight and sturdy structure, and the larger internal lenses it incorporates produce a wider field of view. The larger tube also gives more headroom for elevation and windage adjustment.

The scope’s Advanced BDC reticle isn’t just designed to compensate for bullet drop - it also has windage marks to the right and left of the main sighting post that allow you to compensate for wind: by default, these marks are optimized for 10mph crosswind at a 100 yard or 200 yard zero. When used with the Spot On technology offered by the manufacturer, this reticle ensures a perfect lock on your target no matter what weapon and ammo you’re using.

The Monarch Eye Box Technology incorporated into this product delivers a high-res, bright picture while also giving you plenty of eye relief, so your brow is safe even when you’re using a recoil prone weapon. Spring loaded instant zero reset turrets and a side focus parallax adjustment allow you to fine-tune your shot right before you take it, to maximize the chances of a successful hit.




Pros

  • Exceptionally well built to withstand rough usage.
  • Combination of 50mm wide ocular lens, multi-coated optics, 30mm main tube, yield crystal clear image.
  • Advanced BDC reticle has crosswind compensation as well as bullet drop compensation.
  • Compatible with Nikon Spot On Ballistic Match program.
  • Eye Box Technology ensures plenty of non-critical eye relief.
  • Works with a wide range of rifle / bullet combos.

Cons

  • Extremely expensive.
  • Not suited for hunting at very close ranges.

Recommended For:
In a nutshell, with this scope, you can pretty much expect unbeatable performance regardless of the weapon/bullet combination you’re using.

Nikon ProStaff 3-9x40 Rimfire Matte BDC 150

  • Mag. Range / Lens Diameter (mm):  3-9x / 40
  • Optimum Bullet Caliber: .22LR Rimfire
  • Reticle Type: BDC 150
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty

This offering is geared towards hunters that utilize Rimfire ammunition, specifically the .22LR and are looking for a dependable scope for close to mid-range hunting. The 3-9x zoom, combined with the 40mm lens and multi-coated optics, ensures a clear image even in rather difficult lighting scenarios, at ranges that are expected from .22LR ammo.

The scope has a 150 yard BDC reticle that has been marked for .22 LR bullet trajectories, but you can use the Spot On program to acquire subtensions for different ammunition as well. A spring loaded adjustment knob allows you to rapidly zero-in and reengage in the field. The adjustments themselves are precise to ¼” and provide a tactile positive click response, making it an intuitive experience.

The ProStaff 3-9x40 has an eyepiece that ensures consistent, ample eye relief – unfortunately, the latest model has lost the quick focus adjustment feature that was present in its previous iteration. The scope has been O-ring sealed and nitrogen filled to make it fogproof and waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about adverse weather conditions. At its remarkably low cost, you’d be concerned about poor quality, but the scope is backed by a solid lifetime warranty which indicates the manufacturer’s trust in their product.




Pros

  • Intuitive adjustments and rapid zero reset.
  • Up to 98% light transmission thanks to multi-coated optics.
  • 3-9x zoom suitable for close to mid-range hunting.
  • BDC reticle optimized for .22LR Rimfire ammo.
  • Remarkably affordable yet backed by solid warranty.
  • Waterproof/fogproof.

Cons

  • Not suitable for long range engagements.
  • Current model doesn’t come with a quick focus adjustment feature.

Recommended For:
This offering is geared towards hunters that utilize Rimfire ammunition, specifically the .22LR and are looking for a dependable scope for close to mid-range hunting.

Conclusion

Having gone through this guide, you will now have a better idea of the sheer multitude of what Nikon has to offer. It’s tough to choose a winning product from such a diverse lineup, particularly because rifle scopes are designed for very specific applications in most cases.

That being said, the best Nikon rifle scope I’ve come across is the Nikon 4-16x42 M308 BDC 800; even though it is optimized for .308 REM / 5.56 NATO ammo, it's balanced price makes it tough to pass over, especially since the Spot On program lets you acquire numbers to make it work with other bullet calibers as well. It has a 4x to 12x zoom and a 42mm lens dia. which makes it suitable for the vast majority of ranged encounters.

Plus, the custom M308 mount included with it gives you 20 MOAs worth of additional elevation adjustment, besides what the adjustment controls offer by default. Lastly, the quality one-piece main tube design, and the limited lifetime warranty backing the product, make it as reliable as it is effective.

Once again, this may not the ideal scope for everyone: beginners may favor the more affordable options from the ProStaff line, while the consummate professional willing to spend big bucks may go for high end Monarch scopes. However, this particular scope provides a balance between quality and price that is pretty hard to beat.

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