Riflescope selection can be a daunting task. There are many manufacturers and each has what seems to be an endless array of offerings. Selecting the right riflescope is not as simple as picking a brand; sub-brands offering varying levels of quality are available from most optics companies. Nikon has three primary sub-brands-the top of the line Monarch series, and the more affordable Buckmasters and Prostaff series.
This sub-branding of product lines allow consumers to shop within their means. In other words, as a hunter you probably know what you need in a riflescope with regard to magnification, objective size and reticle specifics. You also probably know how much you can afford to invest. Nikon manufactures more than 100 different scopes, so being able to narrow that selection by price is helpful.
The Monarch line of Nikon scopes is priced between $280 and $1,400 dollars. The Buckmasters collection contains fewer options, but is more affordable with prices ranging between $250 and $350. Options within the Prostaff brand of Nikon scopes are just as extensive as in the Monarch line, but prices start at about $190 and range to a shade less than $600.
Times, as they say, are tough and even die-hard hunters are looking to save some cash. While your little heart might go pitter-patter when you pick up a Nikon Monarch 4-16x42 mm scope with side focus and a BDC reticle, you might also know your son needs new shoes, your daughter wants gymnastic lessons and your wife desires that new coffee maker for her birthday. Saving $100 is a good thing, and by moving to Nikon’s Prostaff line you can do that and still walk out of the gun shop with a quality riflescope.
For example, look at Nikon’s Prostaff 3.5-14x40 mm riflescope with the BDC reticle. This scope is loaded with features like hand-turn, ¼-m.o.a. windage and elevation adjustments that incorporate spring-loaded, zero-reset turrets. It also has a quick-focus eyepiece and a four times magnification range. There’s also 4 inches of eye relief so you can put it on your hard-kicking magnum and not walk away with a bleeding forehead every time you pull the trigger.
Additionally, multiple layers of anti-reflective compounds are applied to every glass surface on Prostaff scopes. This is done to provide a bright and vivid sight picture and optimum light transmission, along with maximum brightness from dawn to dusk. As a hunter, you know early morning and late evening are when things happen and you need to be able to see clearly.
One of the coolest features of this or any Nikon scope is how the reticle interfaces with the Nikon Spot On Ballistic Match Technology. Lets face it, unless long-range shooting is something you do every day, it can seem as complicated as calculus. Nikon has solved this complexity by interfacing all its reticles, specifically the BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) reticle, with Spot On technology.
Here’s how it works. The BDC reticle has multiple circular aiming points built into the bottom, vertical crosswire. These points are spaced to match the average ballistic curve of modern high-velocity sporting cartridges. They’re not exact but they’re close. In reality they cannot be exact because of the varied trajectory of different bullets fired from different cartridges and the variation in muzzle velocity from one rifle to the next.
To make them exact, the Nikon Spot On program includes a database for most commercially manufactured loads. You power up the Spot On program–either on your smart phone or on the web–pick your scope, pick your reticle, pick your load and push the “fire” button. You can further tune the data by inputting the exact muzzle velocity your load generates from your rifle. The Spot On program then spits out the exact range each additional aiming point coincides to, with your rifle and your load.
I recently tested the Prostaff 3.5-14x40 riflescope with the BDC reticle on a Marlin X7 rifle chambered in .30-06. The rifle and scope made a great package and suggested retail for the pair was only $750! The scope performed to perfection. Adjustments were positive and exact; if you clicked in 2 inches of adjustment at 100 yards (8 clicks) that’s what you got. The optics were also as clear and distortion free as those in other scopes I’ve tested in the same price range.
Because I couldn’t resist and because it’s also fun, I plugged the Fusion 180-grain load into the Spot On software on my iPhone-at the average velocity this load generated from the Marlin X7-and consulted the reticle schematic. It said the first circular aiming point below reticle center would be “Spot On” at 199 yards. I held that aiming point on a 5-inch steel target at 200 yards, squeezed the trigger and heard the bullet smack steel. The Spot On program said the second aiming point would be spot on at 289 yards. A hit on an 8-inch steel plate at 300 yards showed confirmation.
For the money, Nikon Prostaff riflescopes bring a lot to the table, especially when you consider the ballistic advantage they offer when combined with the Nikon Spot On program. Choose a Prostaff scope and you’ll be ready for the range or the hunt and you’ll have some cash left over for the family and for some ammo.
Manufacturer: Nikon, www.nikonsportoptics.com, (800) 645-6687
Model: Prostaff 3.5-14x40 mm Matte BDC
Weight: 17.2 ozs.
Objective diameter: 40 mm
Tube diameter: 1”
Exit Pupil: 2.8 mm at 14X – 11.4 mm at 3.5X
Adjustment range: Elevation – 74 m.o.a., Windage – 73 m.o.a.
Adjustments: hand turn, ¼ m.o.a.
Parallax: Adjustable (side) from 50 yards to infinity
Focus method: Fast-focus eyepiece
Eye relief: 4”
Reticles available: BDC, Mil Dot, Nikoplex
Suggested Retail Price: $359 - $369