I just bought one of these from the US (cannot find them in the UK) and wanted to let everyone know my thoughts. What a great scope...
- Optically very good indeed, but with Monarch optics thats no surprise. I've only done a preliminary test, but it seems to be very good in low light. Much better than the Simmons Pro Diamond it is replacing.
- Very solid, about 590g, with the most positive turrets I have ever used. Tactical type, resettable to '0'. Overall sense of build quality is high.
- Reticle is tremendous. The main cross hair is not too thin, so will not get lost in low light like some can and there are plenty of aim points for air gun ranges - far more than the regular BDC scope and the loop aim points are smaller. Its in the 2nd plane so if you want to, you could literally come up with an aim point at every possible distance by adjusting magnification and using the 10 possible aiming points. The loop aim points are very precise. At 12 mag, they have 1/4 inch inside diameter at 50m, so at 6 mag they are 1/4 inch inside at 25. I like this because you can see through and nothing is being obscured by a crosshair/aimpoints. The aim points are alternating loops and diamond mil dots on the downward stadia.
- Parallax (side adjusted) comes down to about 45m/50yds. This works fine and its easy to get sharp results at full mag at around 35 yds. At 3 mag everything is crisp at about 7yds, so perfect for ratting.
- 1 inch tube, so fits nicely on my Rapid with regular mounts. Positioning for me is such that the parallax turret just clears the magazine entry. Its worth noting that this scope has pretty flexible eye relief too.
- Comes with butler creek style caps as std.
If you pay import duty and VAT it works out the same price as a regular Monarch here (roughly £400), but obviously if you don't its a bunch cheaper ($420-450 + shipping).
If you are looking for something that is optically a good deal better than a Viper/Mamba etc, but can't afford a Swarovski or Zeiss, this is a very good option in the middle ground. I've been looking for some time to find something in this quality bracket AND a decent air gun reticle and this is by far the best I could find. Its half the price of a Zeiss Conquest and provides what is arguably an even better reticle for general hunting than the Z600 or Z800 reticles on the Zeiss. The optics are not supposed to be quite as good, but they are dramatically better than those in my Simmons 3.8-12x44 Pro Diamond, which it is replacing. Put the cross hairs on a pigeon at 40 yds and the difference in clarity and resolution is blindingly obvious, especially once you climb up the magnification range. It also has much greater contrast, colour saturation and reduces chromatic aberrations, peripheral sharpness etc.
If you are looking for a hunting scope, whatever the calibre or power level, I think this is one of the finest options for airgun use. The only negatives are:
- Does not parallax closer than 45m, but it is tack sharp at 7-8 mag at about 20 yards, so you can still generate a well magnified image at closer ranges if you must. As I say, at 3 mag, crystal clear 7 yard rats are possible.
There is no aim point above the central cross hair, only below. Not much of an issue, depending on how your trajectory falls. If you like to have your kit set up with a longer main zero distance and so quite a large portion of your normal hunting range (say 20-30 yards) seeing a high impact point of 1/2 and inch or more, this will be an issue.
- Tactical turrets are kinda large and clumsy and do not lock. However, the clicks are very positive and have strong resistance so it won't change zero unless you are really bashing it about. With turrets that can be rest to zero, its easy to check if anything has moved.
Depending on your set up, eye relief etc, the side parallax could get in the way of Theoben Rapid mags. It just misses mine!
Mine managed to sneak through without duty etc so for £300 I have an absolutely cracking hunting scope for my Rapid 12/.20
The next step is to set it all up so I know which aim points and magnification to use. I think I will work it all out for 6 mag, then perhaps a higher one, like 10, for very deliberate shooting from hides.
Nikon offer excellent optics as you say and this is to be expected based on the quality of their camera optics over decades. The debate about top Japanese v top German rumbles on but to me as a Nikon camera user for a long time now, I would say that the Germans-Zeiss, Leitz etc- offer better photo optics but at massively higher prices. Is it worth it? Probably yes provided you can afford it. Anyway, moving to rifle scopes the debate here is pretty similar. Very few airgun shooters would stick a Zeiss or Schmidt and Bender scope on top of an air rifle so the top middle ground usually represents the top of air rifle requirements. This to me means Bushnell Elite or the Simmons Aetec range if mildot or other more involved reticles are not required. I use Simmons Aetec 3.8-12x44 scopes on my rimfires and the cheaper but still excellent Bushnell Legend 5-15x40 mildot scopes on my air rifles. These cost very much less than the Nikon you review BUT-and this to me is a big 'but' -they focus down to a few yards so are much more useful for air rifle use. Quite honestly a scope which only goes down to 45 metres wouldn't suit me for airgun use-even FAC airgun use.
'It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others'.
I suppose it depends on your requirements. With parallax at 45m, the actual error at shorter ranges is so small as not to matter and it focuses perfectly at shorter ranges on the lower magnification most people would shoot with. 6 mag at 18 yards is crisp all round and I would never need more mag than that at such a distance, but of course it is a personal thing. I am sure there are some who would take a hunting shot on a bunny at 12 mag and 15 yards, but most would not I suspect. Bunny takes one hop and its out of your field of view...
As for utility, a mil dot does not come close to being as useful as the BDC 600 reticle. Mil dots are far too far apart IMO and leave huge gaps in which pellet trajectory is changing considerably, especially at longer ranges. The other problem is that to get the mil dots close together you have to shoot on high mag, such as 10-20 and this is again hunter unfriendly in low light. With the 3-12 BDC 600 scope, the distance between the cross hair and the first 'circle' aim point is .5" at 35 yards on 12 mag (for example) which is starting to look very, very useful. Thats less than 1/2 a mil dot. The next aim point (a diamond) is about 1/3 of a mil dot after the first circle! The aim points are very small and precise, which combined with a 4a type reticle, gives for a very clear sight picture with rapidly gained sight/target picture.
There are some great scopes out there for less than the £300 this cost me, but I can't think of any that offer such a combination of reticle and optical quality, especially with such a useful magnification range. I can also probably re-parallax it, but doubt I'll bother taking the risk, as if I can get a crisp image and cross hair at 35 or so yards on 10/11 mag and by 40 yards 12 x is perfect, then why the need?
Considering that the reticle is in the 2nd plane, its important not to standardise all your aim points on a very high mag because then you are screwed in low light. The beauty of this scope is that you can standardise on, say, 6 mag, because the aim points are so close together. You can't do that on anything else out there to my knowledge without ending up with giant gaps between aim points. I'll probably sort out the aim points for 6 and 9 mag to give some extra flexibility on long shots.
All these things are very personal, but I can't see why a lack of v-close parallax is a problem at all, if the end result is a sharp reticle/sight picture at shooting distances and magnifications.
'It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others'.
can the scope be re-parallaxed by the user?
Nikon usually can, may be worth a look.