NZRod&Rifle have reviewed a few Nikon scopes over the years, and those who’ve read the reviews will no doubt be aware I see them as good value for money – scopes with decent optics. So, when I was asked to review the New ProStaff 5 scope, I thought, “Haven’t we already covered this off?” Well, as it turns out, Nikon have upgraded the ProStaff range and there are some things worth checking out.
The ProStaff sits below the higher end Monarch range and is positioned as Nikon’s entry into proper hunting scopes. The new version of the popular mid-range ProStaff scope is called the P5, and it has a number of improvements over the previous model. It has a 4x zoom range, a better field of view at low magnification and better detail at high magnification. Interestingly, versions with 3x magnification are called P3, but with 4x, the scope is called P5; I guess P4 just doesn’t have that ring to it!
NZ Nikon agents Lacklands sent us a 4-16×42 P5 for testing, and as it happened, I had a 4-16×42 Nikon Monarch scope on hand which gave me an opportunity to see how the lower priced scope compared to its big brother.
Like all Nikon ProStaff scopes, it’s made in Nikon’s own factory in the Philippines; now this might not be Austria or Germany, but Nikon runs the factory itself and has its own QC staff on site – the reputation of scopes coming from this factory is very good. The new P5 sets no new standards for design and innovation, but to be fair, at this price range, it’s all about covering off the basics.
The dials are capped, but as they’re spring loaded, they can be reset to zero without tools. The adjustments are 1/4 MOA with 12 MOA per rotation, while the left side of the scope has the parallax turret. The scope is a 1-inch main tube with a 42mm objective which I personally think strikes the right balance between light transmission and mounting height for a scope of this magnification. The ocular lens has a new fast-focus eyepiece, and overall, the ProStaff 5 looks just a little bit more upmarket than its predecessor. The reticle is Nikon’s new MK1-MOA reticle; it has 1 MOA hash marks and a bigger mark every 5 MOA while the edge of the reticle has thicker lines that taper in to meet the MOA reticle. As expected, the scope is nitrogen purged and is both waterproof and fog proof.
For testing, the ProStaff 5 was fitted to our Remington 5-R test rifle. The 5-R is a 1/2 MOA rifle with ammo it likes and allows us to shoot tight groups and evaluate the accuracy of adjustments. Initial observations through the scope were very positive; the image was bright and sharp with decent consistency from centre to edge. Looking into a shadowy forest, brightness was good, but next to my Swarovski X5, it wasn’t as bright or detailed – which is to be expected considering the huge price difference between the two scopes.
Compared to the Monarch, it was difficult to tell them apart. Using our 1951 USAF target setup in the shade at 105 yards, I was surprised I could make it onto the -2 scale and, even better, it could consistently resolve to 3 on that scale. This is pretty impressive resolution, especially for a mid-range scope – again it performed on par with bigger brother Monarch. I will point out the Monarch is my personal scope and is a few years old now, but it’s great to see the improvements trickling down, and I’d be interested in testing a new Monarch at some stage to see what Nikon have done to separate it from the ProStaff.
I tested the ability of the scope to dial accurately by dialling up 15 MOA and then measuring the distance; 15 MOA from a .308 will put you on at around 600 yards and around 750 with a 7mm Magnum – for a 1-inch tube scope, this would represent as far as many hunters would look to go with this type of optic. With 40 MOA available for elevation, 15 MOA takes it close to the edge of its adjustment range in one direction, and if there are inconsistencies in dial accuracy, you’re more likely to see them away from the centre.
The Remington 5-R shot very useable .5-.6 MOA groups with Fiocchi 308 loaded with 165gn Sierra GameKing bullets; with its gentle ogive this is a load I’ve found to be consistently accurate in a number of .308 rifles. I checked the distance from the centre of the scope to the target with my laser rangefinder, and it was 105 yards; at this distance, my calculation was 1 MOA or 1.047 inches x 1.05 x 15 = 16.48 inches or 419mm. I measured 416mm from the centre of the groups, so a 3mm difference is well within the variation of the group size.
I may sound like a stuck record, but Nikon scopes always impress me; not because they’re the best, because they’re not, but because they’re a good balance of price vs performance. RRP on this scope is $779, and in this range, higher-end features like BDC (bullet drop compensation) turrets, 30mm tubes and reticle illumination start to make an appearance. You don’t get those features on the ProStaff but you do get some very good optics and a reticle that’s very useable in the field.
Little upgrades like a fast-focus eyepiece, better turret caps and a generous eye-box are nice extras, but to me, the quality optics and accurate adjustments are what makes this a worthwhile purchase. Scopes with a maximum magnification of 12-16 power are starting to become the mainstream and may be the sweet spot for an all-round scope. The 4-16 ProStaff 5 will work as a varmint scope on a .223, and with its sharp optics and reliable adjustments, it could be an affordable alpine hunting choice as well; it’s a scope that ticks a lot of boxes – nothing fancy but well-engineered and very good to look through.