Nikon has become what you might call a “niche market sport optics company.” In the past several years, Nikon has managed to not only capitalize on but somehow all in the same motion almost monopolize the upper echelon areas of quality budget hunting optics. The popular and longstanding ProStaff (Pro Staff) line was followed by what Nikon called their patented BDC reticle. Just because something is patented doesn’t mean there won’t be a mass of imitators, but just the same the fine people at Nikon, also masters of marketing, convinced us we couldn’t live without their long range bullet drop compensating reticles. So, in came the Monarch, Primos, Buckmaster and even ProStaff lines with the BDC. They were quickly joined by the Omega muzzleloading BDC scope that made us believe sniper-esque shots were possible with our smoke poles. Then the “Coyote Special” (See COYOTE SPECIAL REVIEW) came on the scene last year adding the red-headed stepchild of the hunting world to the mix. Predator hunting.

The Nikon M223 Turret Scope has a top adjustment for drop compensation when using a 55 Grain Polymer tipped bullet, and a right side windage adjustment for drift compensation. There is also an external adjustment for parallax, i.e. precision focus knob based on target distance.

Well, the folks at Nikon have once again zeroed in on the rabid popularity of the ever growing AR-15. The AR-15 has become and continues to become the most popular, most customizable, most accurate, and most sought after semi-automatic (former and present battle) rifle of all time. Riding on the growing current they saw with their Coyote scopes, Nikon has gone a step further into their “niche product focus” to offer scopes specifically based on and for the AR-15 platform. Their thinking is this, “sure, you COULD drop $1200 on a brand new Trijicon ACOG scope for your AR, or $800 on a low powered Burris Tactical scope, but do you want to?”

Thus enters our new line of M223 AR-15 rifle scopes. Scopes designed for but not limited to use on your .223 Remington Calibered AR-15 rifles. I had the privilege of scoping one out (pun intended) tonight for the first time at the Sportsman’s Warehouse down the road from us and was very surprised at its simplicity. This particular scope like many of Nikon’s gems comes in a fairly standard 3-12x magnification with a 42mm objective lens, nothing too out of the ordinary. The adjustable turret knobs click very intentionally and while very smooth, they’re also very solid. I’m more inclined to like this particular scope for the simple reason that it’s the classic crosshairs, a Nikoplex reticle as opposed to the more recently popular BDC platform (the M223 scopes are not completely devoid of the BDC system, however. Each model of the M223 has either the option of the BDC 600 reticle or the Nikoplex point blank reticle with the rapid action turrets). The idea of adjusting for yardage, then holding point blank range on your target is VERY appealing to this shooter who prefers a more unobstructed view in his magnification window.

I was a little surprised to see a price tag of $450 on this particular model as I’m not accustomed to seeing Nikon scopes run that high that aren’t the ultra-clear Monarch series they offer. For that price it seemed like there would have been more to offer than just a single turret knob for the 55 grain polymer typed bullet, the front lens shade, a la Coyote Special and some flip caps for the front and rear caps. It seems Nikon would do well to offer their M223 one piece AR scope mount to the mix. Not only would it bolster sales, but a little good will from a manufacturer (whose man purpose is to take your money) never hurt any one. I’m always on board for supporting the people who support the little guys!

All kidding aside, if this scope legitimately performs as well as they say it will, it’s a massive black eye on scopes that claim the same but cost 3-4x more. On the other hand, is this really more than just a glorified BSA Sweet 223 scope (which by the way comes with multiple turrets for different bullet weights/sizes)? It’s easy to run my mouth and offer opinions. But it’s a completely different thing to get one out, test it, and and verify/disprove any previous claims that have been made. While I complain about the lack of bells and whistles, I’m sure our friends at Nikon are rolling their eyes at my stupidity. “Of COURSE that’s the point, Ebbs because our stuff JUST WORKS!”

Even more exciting in the rumor mill, Nikon has just added another model to their M223 assault, this one with a LASER RANGEFINDER built in, most likely an answer both in price and accessibility to Burris’s “Eliminator” released last year. But don’t take my word for it, click here to check out the new Nikon M223 Laser IRT scope for yourself (they really should be paying me for this). I’m sure I don’t “NEED” it, but like most Americans, I’m a sucker for gadgets!

FINAL THOUGHT: For practical shooters/hunters, doesn’t all this “extra” stuff make things more complicated for us? Wouldn’t we do better to learn about true POINT BLANK RANGE, site our rifles in such a way that we could hold on a critter or a target out to 200 or 300 yards without the need to click a knob or hold on the second or third dot down from center? Whatever happened to point, breath, squeeze? In my mind, if I’m paying $500 for glass for my rifle, I want a Leupold VX-III, Nikon Monarch, Kahles or a Trijicon for that matter! Just my 2 cents, the fewer things that move and/or get in the way, the fewer things that could possibly break or let me down in a crunch.

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