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Nikon Monarch Gold UCC 1.5-6x42mm riflescope

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I had my first experience using a Nikon brand scope on a recent safari to Zimbabwe and South Africa. I am a long time user of Nikon cameras and their superb optics are well known to every member of the photographic community. This heritage of quality has been carried on to their Field Sports Division and was immediately apparent to me the first time I used the scope in a low light situation.

As luck would have it, I got a chance to kill a big bull kudu in the last few seconds of daylight, while hunting in the northern Transvaal (Limpopo) province with PH Buks Botha of Bateleur Safaris. As we eased through the thick acacia thorns, Buks warned me to stay alert, since the gloom of the gathering twilight is not called "kudu time" for no good reason. Sure enough, just as we cleared the thicket, a bull and two cows stepped into view about 200 meters away.

When I looked through the scope in the near darkness, it was as if the big bull was standing in the noonday sun. I can well remember seeing the kudu’s mane rustling in the evening breeze as I squeezed the trigger.

I have used almost every brand of European scope optics at one time or another and the Nikon definitely holds its own with any of them. Optical quality is as much a function of your personal vision quality as it is with the scientific details of the actual riflescope. In other words, if you cannot see very well to begin with, you cannot improve things by throwing money at the problem.

This is why some people cannot see any optical difference between a Leupold and say, a Zeiss. They wonder why there is all this extra expense for the European optics, but actually, their eyesight is not capable of ascertaining much difference in image quality. I asked my optometrist about this at my annual eye examination, and he told me that most people are not very discerning when it comes to matters of visual acuity. The exception of course is photographers, as they make a living judging subtle distinctions of color and focus.

Here are the technical specifications of the Nikon Monarch Gold UCC 1.5-6x42mm riflescope that I used. Like most Nikon products, it was manufactured in Japan and features a very rugged 30mm tube that was developed for their "Tactical Riflescope" program. The advantages of the 30mm diameter over a one-inch tube are its greater tube strength, its wider windage and elevation travel, and its broader light path from the objective lens to the eyepiece. By the way, these are true 30mm optics and not one-inch optics placed in a 30mm tube like some other popular brands. This does not mean it gathers or transmits any more light than a one-inch scope, but it does provide a larger sweet spot for enhanced resolution.

Of special interest to users of heavy caliber and heavy recoiling rifles, is its extremely long eye relief, with a minimum of 4 inches throughout the full range of magnification, combined with a 7mm exit pupil at 6x and a 28mm exit pupil at 1.5x. Finally for the most extreme "stock crawlers" who compromise that 4 inch safety zone, there is a rubber ring that, not only allows for easy gripping while wearing gloves and protection for the end of the eyepiece, but will also let the scope bounce right off your head. At 1.5x, the eye relief is actually out to 4.1 inches. This extra tenth of an inch can be considered irrelevant, except in those cases where we are talking about penetrating of your skull!

Another part of the light gathering formula is the UCC part of its model name. UCC stands for Ultra Clear Coat; it is a fully multi-coated lens system that enables light transmission in excess of 95%. These are some very useful features, not only useful for hunting dangerous game like the hippo I killed in the "jess" of Zimbabwe using this scope, but also capable in any extreme low light situation such as with the aforementioned shot at the kudu.

The optics are controlled with a fast-focus eyepiece and low profile target turrets. They feature big ¼ MOA hand-turned windage and elevation adjustments that have positive audible and tactile clicks for easy zeroing and in-the-field adjustments if needed. No screwdrivers or coins needed. The total range of windage and elevation adjustment is a tremendous 120 MOA of travel. Combine this with a field of view at 100 yards that varies from 64.7 feet at 1.5x to 17.3 feet at 6x — you have enough latitude to cover most any field situation thrown at you.

The length of 11.4 inches and weight of 17.3 ounces makes this scope a tidy but powerful package that would work well with any hunting rifle except a long-range rig, and even then, its 6x magnification would be handy in a pinch. You have a choice of a traditional duplex (Nikoplex) or a German #4 reticle. I chose the German #4 for its extremely quick targeting and the more open sight picture it affords in the upper sight plane.

Nikon guarantees this scope to be 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof - and of special interest to African hunters, 100% dustproof as well. They back this up with a lifetime full warranty that covers virtually any contingency. With the package of features above and a list price of only US$599, the Nikon 1.5-6x42 is the riflescope of choice for the big bore shooter.

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