A few years ago I was approached by Nikon and asked to tell them what I would want in the perfect sniper scope for police work. I say for Police Work because the requirements for a Military Sniper Scope are different. Nikon did their homework before jumping in. Nikon went to the professionals and asked what we wanted before attempting to jam something off the shelf down our throats. The project took several years before coming to the market place. That is a welcome change from how some scope companies have simply put a mil dot reticle in a "hunting scope" and said "It's Tactical".
Police snipers tend to shoot within 500 yards and need higher precision than their military counterparts. The typical target size target area, for LE is fifty-cent piece size. A sniper needs to be precise to hit this at 200 and 300 yards. That requires fine adjustments, such as quarter minute of angle. The military requires the ability to hit a chest sized target from 100 to 1000 yards in one turn of the adjustment knob. This is because under field stress conditions, it is easy to forget how many turns you have made on the elevation knob. To get from 100 to 1000 yards takes about 35-40moa. Elevation knobs typically have somewhere between 40 and 48 clicks in each turn. The amount of movement is therefore determined by how fine the clicks are. A 1/4moa-per-click scope with 40 clicks per turn will have a total of ten moa adjustment per turn. That would translate to nearly four complete turns to get the required elevation adjustment to 1000 yards from a 100 yard zero. The same scope with 1moa-per-click would have 40moa per turn and reach the 1000 yard setting in only one turn. It's a tradeoff of either fine adjustment (1/4moa) or course adjustment (1moa) but all in one turn. For LE work the fine adjustment is needed. For Military snipers the 1moa clicks are usually preferred. One MOA roughly equals 1.047" per each hundred yards, or 10.47" at 1000 yards.
This scope from Nikon has a primary marketplace for the LE Sniper so this scope has 1/4moa clicks. This scope has 85 total MOA of elevation travel; 85 MOA of windage travel also. The adjustment range will take a typical police rifle to 1000 yards, with or without an angled scope base. Most Police Sniper scopes require an angled scope base to adjust from 100 to 1000 yards. The Nikon with a total of 85 moa travel, with 42.5 up and 42.5 down from the reticle centered position, has more than enough travel/adjustment for either flat or angled scope base use to 1000 yards. If you add an angled base of 20moa you would have 62.5 moa travel or enough elevation adjustment to get a .338 Lapua to over 1500 meters. Needless to say the Nikon has plenty of travel.
One of the things that bug me about today's scope market is a push toward huge objectives and far too much power for the intended purpose. Most scope companies are selling what many now refer to as "Weapon mounted Hubble telescopes". Nikon avoided this trend and made the scope for the purpose it was intended. That purpose is a medium range sniper rifle. The size is just about perfect. Its overall length is 13.9", weight 24oz. Tube diameter is 30mm and objective is the size most sniper scopes in this class should be limited to - 44mm. Larger objectives bring many problems with them. The larger objective gives more reflection and is easier for an enemy to spot. The larger objective forces the scope to be mounted higher creating additional problems getting a good stock weld and thus an additional challenge in hitting the target. I see no need for any daytime sniper scope to have a larger objective than 50mm. The power range of 2.5-10 is perfect for LE Sniping.
Nikon listened to what LE snipers wanted/needed and gave it to us. The scope can be had with or without the lit reticle option. The lit reticle has five intensity positions and can be set in either green or red color. It, unlike some other brands, does not affect the total adjustment range of the scope. It is well done and uses a common watch type CR2032 battery.
Reticle options are of either the Nikoplex, or a new modified Miliradian/MilDot Reticle. I chose the Mil Dot Reticle. This new reticle from Nikon has some changes to it to make use far more accurate and simple. Nikon has mounted the glass-etched reticle in the rear focal plane. This places the reticle in a manner that is most common to US made scopes. In the rear plane the reticle appears to be the same size, no matter what the power setting is. This once again was what most snipers wanted. Like anything else it has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is the reticle is easier to see in low light and faster at the lower power settings. The disadvantage is the ranging features of the reticle are only precise at one setting. In this case that's 10x. To use the Mils for ranging and leads the scope must be set at 10X.
This variation of the Mildot reticle has some new features. In short the reticle allows snipers to mil within a tenth of a mil and be taught to do so in about a third of the time as with a standard mil dot reticle. It does this by adding an additional mark halfway between the dots and making the dots themselves .20 mil in diameter. My experience with older Mildot reticles was it is very hard to mil smaller than .25 of a mil. This made hold over and range estimates less accurate than with this new system. One of the great things about the mil type reticles is the ability to quickly compensate for range, wind and moving targets without turning an adjustment knob. This new system simply does a better job than the older mildots.
A scope, no matter what features, is only good if it can do several things:
Overall this scope gets excellent ratings and would make even the pickiest LE sniper happy.
A side note is the scope comes with excellent instructions and a certificate for a free "MilDot Master" This is a slide rule type device that makes ranging with any Mildot scope simple and as quick as you can match the target size with the apparent mil size seen. Simply put the best thing for field ranging/sniping to come along - ever! Nikon not only made a scope worthy of use they gave the tools needed to make it even easier to use.