The growing popularity of AR-15-style rifles has seen the market make huge strides in recent years, with more and more manufacturers focusing on creating a range of outstanding, innovative accessories. One such product is the Nikon M223, a moderately priced, versatile Scope designed specifically for black rifles.
Once known mostly as a camera company, more and more firearm owners are beginning to take notice of Nikon due to its growing reputation for producing high quality, affordable optics. Although they may not quite match up to the priciest scopes in every single aspect, there's a reason why many experts consider Nikon to be one of the optics industry's best kept secrets. As you'll see in this Nikon M 223 review, these scopes offer many of the same high end features and functions, while remaining fully within most people's price range.
The main M 223 range is available in four different sizes: 1-4x20mm, 2-8x32mm, 3-12x42mm and 4-16x42mm. Earlier this year Nikon also released a pioneering 1.5-6x24mm, which features a slightly wider diameter body tube than the other sizes (around 1.18 inches compared to 1 inch). By increasing the size of the Main Body Tube, the resulting scope is more durable, has a superior adjustment range and offers better resolution. It also offers superior performance in low light situations.
Other than the increased main body tube diameter, the rest of the specs are virtually identical across all models, including four-inch eye relief, spring-loaded Instant Zero-Reset turrets and fully multi-coated optics. Depending on the size you choose, you'll have up to three Reticle choices—the Nicoplex reticle, Point Blank reticle and BDC 600—which will be discussed in a bit more detail shortly.
However, first it's important to note one thing about the M 223. Not only is it designed for AR-15, but these scopes are actually designed specifically around the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO cartridge. This is important to remember when considering the reticles, as two of the three available reticles are designed to make it easier to compensate for distance when taking longer shots.
Nikon M 223 Review
- Excellent value for the money
- Outstanding light transmission and excellent performance in any light condition
- Lightweight and durable
- Picture not quite as clear as on some top-dollar models
One of the reasons that the AR-15 and other similar rifles are so popular is their flatter shooting trajectory, which provides numerous benefits for nearly all types of shooting applications. However, this flat trajectory means that you'll need to compensate more when shooting at longer distances than you would with rifles that shoot with a more arched trajectory—especially since AR-type rifles can easily shoot distances up to 600 yards or more.
Deciding which of the three reticle choices to go with depends first and foremost on how you'll be using the scope, primarily at what distances you will typically be shooting. If you plan on mainly shooting shorter to intermediate shots, the basic Point Blank reticle is your best bet, as this standard reticle allows for point blank shooting at anywhere from zero to 200 yards. With this reticle, fast target acquisition is the name of the game.
The Nikoplex reticle makes it super easy to dial in your shots at any distance from 100 to 600 yards. Featuring a standard crosshair-type reticle, the biggest benefit of this system is Nikon's Rapid Action Turret. After sighting in the scope at 100 yards and then lifting the adjustment knob and resetting it to zero, all you have to do is use the adjustment knob to set your shooting distance, line your target up in the crosshairs and fire. With this reticle, there's no need to hold above your target at longer distances, as the Rapid Action Turret will dial the scope in to your chosen distance.
The third reticle choice is Nikon's excellent BDC 600 reticle, one of the most popular reticle styles currently on the market. Like the Nikoplex, this reticle is designed to help you accurately adjust for distance. However, instead of having to manually adjust the scope for distance, the BDC 600 has five dots located below the center of the crosshairs, with each dot corresponding to a distance from 200 to 600 yards. Once you have the scope sighted in at 100 yards, the dots allow you to more accurately compensate for the bullet drop experienced at longer distances.
Although both the Nicoplex and BDC 600 reticles are great choices for longer distance shooting, when it comes to hunting, there is only one clear winner—the BDC 600. The reason behind this is speed, as the fact that you don't have to manually adjust the scope before taking your shot provides much faster target acquisition. Still, some people do find the Nikoplex to be a bit more accurate/easier to use, as it ensures you always line up the target directly in the center of the crosshairs. As well, adjusting for distance on the Rapid Action Turret takes less than a second, so it's really a matter of which you prefer.
If you happen to go with the 1.5-6x24mm scope, you'll also have the choice of the BDC 600 illuminated reticle, which by all accounts seems to be the best one of them all, as it provides all of the benefits of the standard BDC 600 with the added bonus of adjustable illumination to improve performance in low-light situations.
One of the main reasons for the growing popularity of Nikon scopes is that, despite their more affordable price, these scopes have many features that you'll typically only find on the high-end, top-dollar products. Like the best hunting scopes, the M 223 is constructed from a solid, single-piece main body tube that makes it much stronger and more durable. Better still, the main body tube is built using aeronautical-grade aluminum alloy that is both extremely strong and incredibly lightweight. The scope is also nitrogen-filled and sealed with O-rings to make it fully air-tight, ensuring that it's both waterproof and fog-proof.
Another area where the M 223 easily performs as well or even better than many high-end scopes is in its fully multi-coated optics. Made with Nikon's Ultra ClearCoat optics system that provides up to 95-percent light transmission (theoretically the highest amount possible), this scope performs exceptionally well in virtually all light conditions. These optics ensure a bright, crystal clear image every time you look through the scope. What more could you ask for?
Value for the Money
Considering all of the outstanding features and functions listed above, on face value you might think that the M 223 was rather expensive. However, as previously stated, it's actually quite affordable, costing anywhere between $300 and $800 depending on the size and style of reticle. Considering that it performs as well or sometimes even better than many tactical scopes costing $1000 to $2000 or more, it's no wonder that many experts consider the M 223 to be the best value for the money.
Of course, if money is no option, there are definitely better AR-type tactical scopes on the market. However, as this Nikon M 223 review has shown, this scope is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality product that won't break the bank
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