If it’s optical, involves lenses and a variety of high quality glass then you can assume Nikon makes it. Nikon is involved in a wide variety of different optical businesses, which ranges from binoculars, spotting scopes, and rifle scopes to the more benign camera lenses, video recorder, etc. To say they’re experienced in the optics world is a bit of an understatement. In terms of rifle scopes, Nikon produces a wide variety of different optics, and a variety of different lines. We have previously reviewed their: Buckmaster, Prostaff and P-223 series scopes.
This time we take on one of their higher level optics – Nikon Monarch that is designed for longer range shooting, or for hunting. The Monarch 3 we are reviewing is the 4-16 power optic with a 50mm objective lens.
Unboxing & First Impression
The Nikon Monarch comes packaged in a simple cardboard box, and is packed away securely. The Optic comes with the basic instruction manual, lens covers, registration and warranty information, and a huge lens cloth. The lens cloth is a nice touch, and certainly comes in handy.
The optic itself feel well constructed and is solid in the hand. The Nikon Monarch 3 is made from a single piece tube that improves durability as well as potential precision. The finish is actually anodized, which is a nice touch in a world of optic painted black. The scope is rather long and large, as you’d imagine a 4-16 x 50 scope would be, but it’s actually pretty light.
Nikon lists the weight as 19.4 ounces, not bad at all for a scope this size. This makes the scope viable for brush guns, as well as those who prefer to stalk their game. The optic is light enough to make off hand, standing shooting much easier when compared to a heavy optic like Millett TRS 1 which is also a 4-16×50 scope, but weighs 29.4 oz.
The controls move nice and smooth. There is no stalling as the magnification wheel turns, and while it’s not overly loose, it’s smooth and concise. The turrets aren’t target style, but are fingertip adjustable. They are covered with an aluminum case and make nice, tactile adjustments. If you can’t hear the clicks you can feel them. While the adjustments are finger tip adjustable, to reindex the turrets you will need a small tool. This can be a screw driver, a coin, or the rim of a cartridge.
The side focus turret is a nice touch and makes focusing easy. The knob works perfectly for keeping a solid sight picture while making adjustments. Another bonus is when winter hunting you can work the knob while wearing gloves. The side focus knob has an easy to use locking mechanism as well, another nice touch to ensure once your focus is set, and it stays set.
The turrets make ¼ MOA adjustments, but they are customizable. The end user can swap the ¼ MOA turrets with smaller, more precise, ⅛ MOA turrets if they decide too. The manual outline swapping the turrets and it is quite easy to do without any special tools, or optic smithing abilities.
Testing Monarch On The Range
The optic is designed primarily for hunting, and for a marksman platform. The Monarch 3 is better suited for a bolt gun in my opinion, or perhaps a nice lever action. I chose the Winchester Model 70, in 30-06 to test the Nikon Monarch out. A classic platform, in a classic cartridge, with a modern scope seemed like a good situation. The 30-06 is a powerful round so we’d get a good idea of the scope’s durability. The Monarch uses a one inch tube, so rings are easy to find, and plenty of high quality examples are available.
Once we hit the range we started with an easy zero, if you’ve zeroed one scope you’ve zeroed them all. It was simple, and turret reset was also very simple. It was done with a dime, and took about 3 seconds. The side focus turret was quite useful when getting on target.
Using The Reticle
The Nikon Monarch 3 has it’s reticle in the second focal plane. The second focal plane means the reticule does not change size as magnification is increased and decreased. This affects the Monarch’s reticule in a variety of ways. First and foremost the Monarch uses Nikon’s BDC to estimate range, so if you do not use the proper magnification level the BDC will not be accurate. Since the BDC is not dialed into one specific caliber you have to find out some information.
To do this you use Nikon’s Spot On app, or website. Using this application you enter in some necessary information including caliber, load, bullet type, so on and so forth. Once it’s all computed the Spot On app will give you the necessary information you need to make accurate shots. This is pretty handy if you plan on switching the optic between different weapons. Personally I prefer a mil dot scope, but this does fill a specific niche.
The optic provides a very clear sight picture and is nice and bright. The four inches of eye relief are a nice touch, so you avoid scope eye from powerful calibers, and aiming at upward slopes. On the lightweight 30-06 the setup was perfect. We started at four hundred yards and began dropping round after round into the target. I made so quick adjustments since I moved from the bench to the prone.
The optic provided a solid sight picture and allowed me to track hits and document my shots in my range book. The optic remained on target through the day, and even after a few intentional drops did not lose zero. I roughed the optic up a bit, and was impressed by its overall performance. Even dumping water on the optic had no effect on its performance.
Good Enough For Most Hunters
I’m a bit torn on the Nikon Monarch. It’s a well built scope, has awesome clarity and is durable and versatile. I hate to have to rely on an app of give me accurate load data and what magnification to use, and where the round will fall on the BDC. The scope itself is around four hundred and fifty dollars, and it’s still in the second focal plane. I feel at that price I should be getting FFP performance.
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