Nikon is well known in the camera world as one of the premier camera and lens makers and they have been making
sport optics as well for a long time. Their glass has always been known to be good, especially on their
higher end optics. This scope is known as the Monarch X which if my memory serves me correctly, is a fairly
new name for their tactical scopes. I do not believe much changed with the name and their two scope offerings
in this sector remain the 2.5-10x44 and the 4-16x50mm. The scope we reviewed here is the 2.5-10x44mm and comes
with a sunshade, bikini cover, lends cloth and some flip up scope caps, though not butler creeks.
The scope has a 30mm Tube made from aircraft grade aluminum and is of a traditional design. The design is nothing
fancy with the knobs sitting up on a rounded and elevated shoulder and the tube, like all good quality tactical
scopes these days, is a one piece tube.
The over all shape of the scope is pleasing and it is a nice scope to look at. The size of the scope
falls right in the mid range area, not one of the "huge" scopes, but not compact either with a weight that
is about average.
The entire scope has a matte black anodized finish with none of the normal gold Nikon emblems anywhere on the scope or
the knobs. Those gold emblems that are on most of the Nikon scopes were replaced by simple engraved
nikon emblems that are completely matte black. It
is a similar appearance to the Leupold Mk4 scopes where they have removed all of their traditional Gold rings,
etc. The subdued all matte black appearance gives the scope a purposeful look and of course makes it more tactical
in nature, at least you will not have to tape or paint over the bright emblems.
The eye piece has a more traditional focus ring on it which is a non "fast focus" design. So the threads are
fine which does take a bit longer to focus it in for your eyes, but offers a very fine adjustment range. It has
serrations for gripping that eye piece focus ring with some sort of rubberized finish to aide in all weather
use. The power selection ring is right in front of the eye piece and is separate from the eye piece allowing the use
of flip up scope caps without a problem. The power ring has serrations as well and a large knob protruding from it
to help with selecting the power while behind the scope. The markings are in white and easy to read from
above the scope, but they are placed in a location that makes it impossible to easily read what power
you are on from behind the scope. The power ring itself was smooth throughout the range and provided a good
amount of resistance.
The elevation and windage knobs are of an exposed design with no dust covers and are fairly large. They
are easy to grip with serrations on top with plenty of gripping surface. The clicks are very nice with a
muted sound but with a nice positive tactile feel. I really like the way the knobs felt and operated and you
are certain when a click is made by the feel, even when wearing gloves. The knobs have 4 set screws around the
top portion which might be overkill, but you can be confident that the knobs will stay in place once zeroed and set.
There is 12 MOA of travel per rotation
with a total of 80 MOA of elevation. This is a good amount of travel and one thing of note is that from the
factory the mechanical zero on this scope was biased toward the lower end with 31 MOA of down and 49 MOA of up
elevation. This was nice to see and helps provide maximum use of up elevation and combined with a 15 or 20 MOA
base would provide a large amount of up elevation for long range engagements. It was also interesting to see
exactly 80 MOA of adjustment, most scopes get "close" to their advertised amount but are usually a bit
higher or lower, rarely exactly the published amount like with this scope.
The windage knob is the same size and shape as the elevation knob with the same 12 MOA per revolution. I
did notice that the windage clicks seemed to be a bit stiffer than the elevation clicks. I am not sure
if that would even out with more use and it was not a huge difference, but was interesting to note.
The markings on the windage knob count up in only one direction, not in both direction like I prefer,
but not a problem
either. I will note that the knobs were clearly marked in two locations as to exactly which direction
was up and which direction was right. These were easily viewable from behind the scope or from above which
was a nice feature and was well thought out instead of just putting the indicator down on the shoulder where
it is hidden by the rings, or only up on the very top of the knob where you have to move your head a large
amount to see. This usually is not that big of a deal if you have just a single duty rifle, but if you have
several, it can be a nice reminder of which direction to turn the knobs since the various makers of
scopes are different.
The focus/parallax adjustment knob on the left of the scope is the same diameter as the windage and elevation
knobs but is shorter in height and is a slightly different shape. The knob itself is very smooth and requires
a fairly light amount of force to adjust. The functionality of the focus knob itself worked without a problem
and the scope was easy to get a good crisp picture.
The optics on this scope is of high quality and the picture was very bright, clear and sharp. The quality
of the optics is certainly on par with the other scopes in this scopes class and it compares very nicely with some
of the better scopes out there, as it should at its current price point. The Monarch X scopes also have reticles
that are glass etched instead of wire which is the ultimate in durability. We, of course, ordered the
version with the mil-dot reticle, but it is also available with a duplex reticle as well. The reticle was
sharp and had the proper dimensions and was the simple, clean and effective mil-dot reticle I love.
The scope has a good range of eye relief and should be no problem to use on high recoiling rifles and the
good amount of up elevation also lends itself well to higher power rifles, though the magnification
limitation of 10x might prevent it from being used on long range rifles, though 1200+ would be doable with
the right shooter. The combination of a 44mm objective lens and lower power range does offer a larger
exit pupil which aids in quickly picking up targets without scope shadow.
For our shooting tests we mounted the scope on a Kimber 8400 Tactical rifle, chambered in 308 Winchester,
using Nightforce steel rings. This rifle ended up being the permanent home for the Nikon.
As we expected, the clicks and adjustments were very precise and accurate with good
repeatability. We fired the rifle and scope though various box exercises with groups at each corner and
the adjustments were right on. The scope was clear and easily focused at longer ranges as well as short ranges and
over all the performance is as you would expect from a mid to higher end scope.
Overall I was impressed with this scope and I think Nikon did their homework and their consultants paid off.
When I looked at the rap sheet on the review I could not find any glaring faults. Sure, a fast focus eye
piece or a windage knob that counted up both ways might be preferred, but those are minor and more of a
personal preference issue than a deficiency. Perhaps the only thing possibly missing is an option for an
illuminated reticle, but beyond that, the scope is a
very solid offering for tactical use with very good optical performance as well as good ergonomics.
There is a 4-16x50mm version of the Monarch X scope as well but it only has a disappointing 50 MOA of
elevation adjustment which hurts all the advantages for shooting long range that the extra magnification
provides. This 2.5-10x version does not offer anything
earth shattering in terms of features or new innovations and some might even call it "run of the mill".
But if the basic design and concept of the tactical scope is not broken, then do not fix it. It seems to do
all the required things
a tactical scope needs to do, and does them well. I'm not sure what else an operator could ask for.