The Nikon P-223

posted on August 10, 2012


You can never accuse Nikon of not being at the forefront of riflescope technology or not working to give customers what they want and need. Innovations like the BDC reticle and the Spot-On ballistics program are perfect examples. For 2012, Nikon launched a new and affordable riflescope, the P-223, designed specifically for shooters and hunters who like being able to get first round hits at longer ranges when shooting an AR-15.

The P-223 riflescope is available in two configurations: a fixed 3X with a 32 mm objective and a 3-9X variable with a 40 mm objective. Both feature a Nikon BDC reticle. When zeroed at 200 yards the BDC reticle in the 3x32 mm Carbine model has two additional aiming points; one for 400 and one for 600 yards. The 3-9X version utilizes the BDC 600 reticle, which has additional aiming points at 50 and 100 yard increments out to 600 yards. Both reticles are optimized to correspond to the trajectory of a high-ballistic coefficient (BC), 55-grain bullet.

In addition to these range-compensating reticles, both P-223 riflescopes are also equipped with target turrets. The 3-9X model offers 1/4-inch click adjustments at 100 yards while the 3X version provides 1/2-inch click adjustments. Additionally, both the windage and elevation turrets can be pulled out to allow free-wheeling, which makes resetting the turret to zero a snap.

Other features include a fast-focus eye-piece, multi-coated optics, generous eye relief, waterproof and fog proof construction and a parallax-free setting at 100 yards. Like all modern Nikon riflescopes, both P-223 models are optimized for use with the incredibly efficient and accurate Nikon Spot-On ballistics program, which is available on-line and as an App for your smart phone.

You might ask why Nikon would need yet another riflescope specifically configured for the AR. After all, it already has the excellent M-223 line of scopes. Several reasons; the M-223 line is a higher-end model with features that, though very cool and beneficial, increase price. P-223 riflescopes cost about half that of a comparable M-223 scope. The 3X Carbine model will retail for around $150 and the 3-9X version will cost only about $25 more.

A question many ask is, "Do these ballistic reticles actually work?" In short, they all work. The key is zeroing the scope correctly for your rifle and ammunition. You see, a ballistic reticle offers nothing more than additional aiming points designed to correspond to a certain trajectory. With the BDC reticle, Nikon has tried to find a sweet spot that will work with common .223 Rem. ammunition when the scope is mounted high above the receiver as is common with the AR platform. As a side note, Nikon also offers P-Series ring/base mounts, rugged alloy mounts that have a built in extension to make spacing a non issue when mounting and they eliminate the need for a separate riser.

Those are the rings I used when I mounted the P-223, 3-9X riflescope on my DMPS LBR in .223 Rem. After zeroing at 100 yards I conducted a box drill by moving the reticle 17 clicks up, right, down and left to make sure the adjustments were positive. While running the box drill, I chronographed the 55-grain Ballistic Silvertip load from Winchester and found the average velocity to be 3,113 fps. Since the BDC 600 reticle is optimized for that bullet at a slightly higher velocity, I needed to make a correction.

To do so, I picked up my iPhone and opened the Nikon Spot-On App. Once in the App, I entered the scope, ammo, velocity and height above bore information and pushed the "FIRE" button. The next screen that popped up was a schematic of the BDC 600 reticle with a yardage indicator out from every additional aiming point.

Another screen option labeled "Expand BDC" provides the same data but also gives the trajectory compensation reference for the tops and bottoms of each circle. This lets you add a bit more precision to your long-range trajectory compensation. For instance, for my rifle/load combination, I found that holding between the second hash mark and the top of the first circle should put me on at 200 yards and the bottom of the third circle, on at 350 yards.

The only way to actually confirm any of this is at the range, and using the affordable and portable steel Stake Target from Tubb Enterprises I tested it out. Just as a side note; you should verify on a range any ballistic reticle before trusting in the field. Using the referenced aiming points, I scored first round hits at 100, 200 and 350 yards. The BDC 600 reticle/Spot-On interface system works, but only if you do your part. You have to zero correctly, input the correct information and, most importantly, shoot straight.

Of course you have the option of completely disregarding the BDC reticle and clicking your way to long range hits. The Spot-On program told me I need an elevation correction of 15 clicks to hit at 350 yards. I made the correction to the scope, held on a water-filled milk jug at 350 yards and about a half second later, it was leaking.

Nikon's P-223 riflescopes offer a lot of technology and engineering at a very competitive price. The optics are clear and distortion free and you'll be hard pressed to find an equal for your AR for less money. Actually, you'll need to double the price to find a better option and when you get there, Nikon has the M-223 line of riflescopes waiting on you.

Manufacturer: Nikon,, (631) 547-4200
Model: P-223 3-9X40
Magnification: 3-9X
Objective: 40 mm
Tube: 1”
Field of View at 100 yards: 3X (33.8 feet) 9X (11.3 feet)
Eye Relief: 3.6”
Exit Pupil: 4X (13.4”) 16X (4.4”)
Reticle: BDC 600
Reticle Adjustment Increment: 0.25” at 100 yards
Elevation Adjustment Range: 24” at 100 yards
Windage Adjustment Range: 24” at 100 yards
Weight: 16 ozs.
Length: 16.1” (Without Sun Shade.)
Suggested Retail Price: $ 199.00


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