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Old January 21, 2018, 08:05 PM   #1
firme67
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Nikon Scopes

I'm just looking for some clarification on the different levels of "quality" of the different models of Nikon scopes. In 2012 I bought a PROSTAFF 3x9 to put on a .223 bolt gun. Then I got a Buckmasters 3x9 to put on a .243 a couple months later.

At that time I'm pretty sure the Nikons were presented to me as such:

Prostaff: lower end, entry level (believe I paid around $130-$145)
Buckmasters: significantly better than Prostaff good mid level scope (believe I paid around $199-$220)
Monarchs: best of Nikon, at that point out of my budget

Then last fall I wanted to replace an old scope on my .270 so I went shopping again looking for another Buckmasters, because the one I have is a really nice scope, and I like the profile. But I was told that Buckmasters are the cheapies sold at Wal-Mart now and that I didn't want the regular Prostaff because it wasn't as good as the Prostaff 5 or Prostaff 7. I was still not looking to spend Monarch $. So I ended up buying a Prostaff 5 2.5x10, it cost me $179, and is a nice scope also but I'm not sure it is quite as nice as the Buckmasters on my .243.

Anyway, I like my Nikon scopes, just looking for a little info on how they are presented now. I know it gets confusing when you also throw in all the caliber specific models also. To clarify, I also have Bushnell, Vortex, Redfield, and Vortex scopes, and I am also happy with them. Just trying to figure out Nikons "levels" of their models. Thanks.
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Old January 22, 2018, 06:59 AM   #2
Kvon2
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I've always understood them to be excellent quality glass that may have some durability issues putting them kind of in the middle of the pack.

The majority of my optics are just for plinking so its rare I spend more than $100 on an optic but if I were to, I would look at nikon.
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Old January 22, 2018, 12:13 PM   #3
Don Fischer
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I have two Nikon's both Buckmaster's, like then both except for the BDC in one. Didn't bother me one bit to get them, been shooting Nikon cameras for a lot of years, always seemed to me they made an inexpensive model of every thing and they were better than some much more expensive models. Been a long time since I've paid under $150 for a scope but a Nikon on sale under that, I would buy. My other Nikon is a 4 1/2-14x I got on sale for right at $200, haven't had a problem one with it other than that BDC reticule!
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Old January 22, 2018, 01:57 PM   #4
NoSecondBest
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They have great glass, but I'm with the camp that doesn't like the reticle. The BDC reticle is just too "busy" and it's a pain trying to look at a small target inside a circle. I've never been able to understand how they keep selling that thing.
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Old January 22, 2018, 02:53 PM   #5
Dufus
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Everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

I have the BDC tuned to my load in one of my 30-06s and I like it a lot.

That takes some of the guess work out of the shot. YMMV

I only have the one BDC, but it works good for me.
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Old January 22, 2018, 03:22 PM   #6
Slamfire
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What you pay for optics, and what you get, is much improved from 30 years ago. A cheap Tasco spotting scope from the 70's, about $100.00, you could not see 30 caliber holes at 100 yards with the things.

I don't know what the difference in performance between the different price ranges that occur in scopes. I also don't know the difference in construction between one price range or another. I am of the opinion that there is hardly any difference between fully coated, multi coated lenses. Manufacturer's today cannot run a production line, sometimes producing excellent product, and other times producing crap. If everything coming off the production is not excellent product, then the manufacturer will simply lose out in competition between those who can make excellent product each and every time. Automation has done this, product quality is much more consistent than it has ever been. I am of the opinion we are seeing this effect with lenses, even cheap scopes today have clear optics, that is the ones with fully coated, multi coated lenses.

I don't know if the price difference is based on tube construction or reticle construction, or what. I can say, you can bolt on a cheap scope, zero the thing, and see what you are doing.
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Old January 22, 2018, 07:11 PM   #7
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Nikon as a rule has some of the clearest, sharpest glass in it's price range and that sells a lot of scopes for them. But that isn't the only consideration. The FOV, eye relief, adjustments, tracking, length, weight, reticle style, and reputation for ruggedness are more important. When I consider everything I really don't care for Nikon scopes. I like the glass, and their binoculars are good for the money. It is the other things where they come up short in scopes.

Price is a pretty good predictor of quality in scopes. With a handful of exceptions a MSRP of right at $200 is where you get a decent scope. That is true of Nikon as well as most any brand. If you can get one for less than MSRP then great, but $200 MSRP is the starting point. Sometimes discontinued models get discounted heavily. I have some Zeiss scopes that originally sold for $550-$600 10-15 years ago that I was able to pick up for $250.

The $300-$500 price range gets you about as good a scope as most of us can use. Over $500 and you are paying for special features that some need, but most don't.

Nikon has certainly mixed things up in recent years, but let the price guide you. Remember this, you will always get the most scope for the dollar with a 3-9X40 scope (or something close to that) from any manufacturer. Sometimes lower power 2-7X scopes are a little cheaper, but the 4-12X40 or anything with a 50mm objective will cost at least $100 more than a comparable 3-9X40.

Right now, the 3-9X40 Burris FF-II priced at $189-$199 is by far the best deal going under $300. I'd rather have it than a lot of $400 scopes.
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Old January 22, 2018, 08:50 PM   #8
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Monarch is still top of the line and I've got three of them. Two 3X9 and one 1x4. All hold zero well and in their price range, I wouldn't pick any other scope.

To your point, Buckmasters seemed to be very good mid range scopes and Prostaffs were entry level.
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Old January 22, 2018, 09:57 PM   #9
firme67
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Thanks for the replies. I was just wondering why a few years ago it seems the Buckmaser was better than the Prostaff and now it is the low end model and the ProStaff is the better model.

I have several scopes. No high end ones, but the Buckmaster I have is by far my favorite and clearest. It has the reticle that turns "bronze" in low light. This is compared to the ProStaff, Prostaff 5, Redfield Revolution, Vortex Crossfire, and Bushnell scopes I have.
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Old January 23, 2018, 01:59 AM   #10
reynolds357
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Their product line changed. The current Buckmasters has inferior glass to Prostaff.
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Old January 23, 2018, 09:05 AM   #11
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I have a 223P, 308P and 5 Prostaff 5s. They are the best I've ever owned, including Leupold. I especially like the external adjustments and range focus.
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Old January 23, 2018, 12:52 PM   #12
Don Fischer
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What do you guy's mean by inferior glass? How do you tell? Right now I've got two very old Redfields, a very old Banner, two Nikons and two new Redfield's. Just looking through the scope's I could not tell you which one has better glass. You guy's have a machine to test them with? Read in an American Hunter magazine and advertisement by Night Force. Say's, "put holes in your target, not your budget". Wonder what they consider budget? Read an article on the new Remington rifle. Another described it as a rifle for the man on a working mans budget, $1150! Seem's to be a war starting on the $300 -$500 rifles nd sounds like Night Force isn't selling enough scopes so they are calling them budget scope's now!
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Old January 23, 2018, 05:45 PM   #13
shootniron
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Everyone's eyes are different...as far as glass goes, good or great glass is subjective.

As for me, I seldom see much difference in glass between $200 scopes and $500 scopes.

Length/weight, tracking, FOV, eye relief and other definitive measures are not subjective.

For my eyes and hunting situations, the $500-600 Meopta's are top dog...although, I have more Nikon and Leupold.

Last edited by shootniron; January 23, 2018 at 05:53 PM.
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Old January 23, 2018, 10:40 PM   #14
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Our club President conducted an experiment with his scopes. He put up targets at 200 yards and looked through his scopes for details. He had one very expensive Zess. He categorized the scopes by clarity, and then had a teenager come over and look through the scopes. The kid could see things he could not, so his comparison was bogus!

I talked with an optics manufacturer, and at some point, you have to take an optical interferometer to determine the difference between lenses. The human eye has limitations, and as we age, gets more limited. So, I think the criteria is, look down the tube, if the image looks clear to your eyes, it is a good scope. Now a teenager may claim the image is blurry, but you can't see it, so what does it matter to you?

It is similar to what a friend of mine used to do on weekends. He drank expensive beer until he could no longer taste the difference, than he drank the cheapest stuff, usually Schaefer, till he had to go back to work.
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Old January 23, 2018, 10:43 PM   #15
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difference

I own one Nikon, a 3-9x Prostaff from 4-5 yrs ago and both bamaboy and I agree that it is a "bright" scope. It does not have the ballistic reticle, and I am glad.

I've got a wide range of scopes and can detect differences in some them in terms of brightness and clarity without any type of machine. In broad daylight, on a clear day, shooting at paper, all do pretty good. But take those same scopes out on a cloudy day, in flat/cloudy light, in a shaded hollow, earlyAm or late PM, and the differences become readily apparent. I had several old USA Redfields and a Banner 4x from the 70's that I quit hunting, they were just not as clear or bright as contemporary numbers.
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Old January 23, 2018, 10:57 PM   #16
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I had an El Paso Weaver 4X on top of this 30-06



It shot well out to 300 yards, on a bright day. I do not believe the lenses were coated at all, might have, but the image is darker than a modern scope. I had it on the rifle for the retro look.



but once I figured out the rifle was a very accurate for a sporter rifle, I put on a 4 X 12X Leupold, which is brighter still. New scope, shoots just as well in daylight, probably much better at dusk than the old vintage scope.

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Old January 24, 2018, 10:05 AM   #17
Yosemite Steve
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I love my Buckmaster.
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Old January 24, 2018, 10:14 AM   #18
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Bamaranger, you're spot on in your evaluation. I've found exactly the same thing and I've been doing this a long time.
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Old January 25, 2018, 06:47 PM   #19
reynolds357
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Quote:
What do you guy's mean by inferior glass? How do you tell?
The specs tell you. In the same brand, Coated is inferior to multi coated which is inferior to fully multi coated. Light % transmission numbers are listed. Origin of the glass?
Chinese (Junk)Phillipines(junk to decent and sometimes pretty good) Japanese(good to super good) German or Austrian(top end) (USA)-Probably not actually made here, but if it is its still inferior to European)
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Old January 26, 2018, 07:49 PM   #20
gw44
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I have always had good luck with Nikon !!!
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