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
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
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
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.
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.