Nikon 1.5-4.5x20mm Monarch UCC Riflescope

By Ed Turner

Nikon 1.5-4.5x20mm Monarch
Nikon 1.5-4.5x20mm Monarch. Photo by Ed Turner.

There are many scopes out there from which to choose, many brands and lots of models. I hope that today's buyer is wise enough to have an idea of what he/she needs. Some shooters/hunters think power is all-important in any scope choice they make. They see a 4-12x that is the same price as a 2-7x and immediately think that the 4-12x is a better decision. I prefer to make a decision based on what a scope/rifle combination will be used for.

Are we talking a laser flat ultra-magnum used to shoot a mountain goat in some far-away land at 450 yards? Alternatively, is it to be used to aim at a whitetail/mulie/blacktail at a range of likely less than 100 yards? (Most deer shot in the U.S. still fit this category.)

I am of the opinion that added magnification is NOT always the answer. I have learned the hard way that scopes of higher magnification (over 9 or 10 at the top end) are not really needed in the real life realm of big game hunting.

Many shooters like high magnification when firing at the rifle range at 100, 200 or 300 yard targets. However, when a deer-sized animal is the target your heart is pumping and your rifle is not in a steady rest. When it's time for the bullet to meet the hide, high magnification may not be your friend!

Your 4-12x50mm scope is not be the best choice when a buck eases out from a thicket 35 yards from your stand. It is not the best ticket for an elk that explodes from a deadfall 45 yards from your position, as you still-hunt black timber.

Deer can be shot with great precision at ranges of 250-300 yards with a 4x scope. Elk can be shot another 100 yards further away using the same magnification. This is not meant to say that someone who is pleased with his or her 4-12x or 5-15x scopes are not justifiably happy.

It is meant to remind us that a high quality, lower powered scope may well be a wiser purchase that a higher powered sight, especially if of lower quality. We will never shoot well using a scope that does not allow us to see well. We will very likely not see well with an "el cheapo" 50mm scope when conditions are less than perfect.

This particular scope, a Nikon Monarch 1.5-4.5x20mm, is a scope that can (and should) be used by a lot more people, trust me on that one. It is compact, clear, bright and its adjustment system is excellent.

Few things make me smile more than looking through a quality piece of glass after squinting through an average scope for a while. This Nikon Monarch is light, handsomely styled (although I wouldn't mind a gloss model) and the fact that it's parallax adjusted at 75 rather than 100 yards matters not one iota to me. I personally think some of these "shotgun" models, which are normally adjusted to 75 rather than the typical "rifle" distance of 100 yards would likely sell much better if they were listed online as both rifle and shotgun models. The difference on a scope for hunting big game at moderate ranges is zilch.

I am almost ashamed to mention the fact that I own three of these fine scopes, after ordering one on sale from a big internet/catalogue sales firm and then finding the same scope apparently marked incorrectly on another internet dealer's site. I bought two more when they were offered at half of the typical internet price.

My gain, my great luck! This scope is exactly what the doctor ordered for a carbine sized rifle, a caliber with less than 400 yard potential, or any rifle you want to keep light and handy. It is easy to mount, has decent eye-relief and would look good atop a myriad of rifle designs.

The duplex-type (Niko-plex) reticle is done well and nearly a duplicate of the excellent, original Leupold Duplex. If you're going to emulate something, make it something good! The matte black anodized finish is well done and even in color. It comes from the factory with good lens caps and a lens cleaning cloth.

I have definitely become a Nikon Monarch fan, little doubt there. I've liked their Prostaff line, which has great "bang for buck," on a par with the great value found in Elite 3200 scopes. This Monarch, however, is flatly nicer than the 3200. Do not get me wrong, I still own a bunch of 3200's that will not be replaced. However, these Nikon Monarchs are very fine scopes, period.

The two Monarch 1.5-4.5x20mm scopes that are now mounted sit atop a Winchester Model 88 in .308 Win. and a handy Marlin Model 336 in .356 Win. They match both of these rifles extremely well. The third is sequestered, awaiting a fine rifle.

Nikon Monarch 1.5-4.5x20mm specifications

  • Length: 9.7"
  • Weight: 9.9 oz.
  • Adjustment click value: 1/2"
  • Reticle: Niko-plex (and circle-X also available)
  • Field of view: 33.5-11.2'
  • Eye relief: 3.6-3.7"
  • Objective bell diameter: 25.4mm
  • Ocular bell diameter: 41mm
  • Exit pupil diameter: 4.4mm
  • Main tube diameter: 1"
  • 2008 Discount Retail price: Approx. $260 (online)

I find this Nikon scope to be fully the equal of the Leupold VXII 1-4. It is, to my eye, superior to the Weaver V3. It also sits nicely between these two fine competitors in price. In both instances, mounting and sight-in was easy, just as it should be.

The 1/2" windage and elevation click values were just that and the well above average optical clarity helped. I learned to judge optics by checking night vision goggles used in low level nighttime flight while an instructor pilot for the U.S. Army.

Whether that was good training for looking through rifle scopes, I don't know. However, I like this scope; it passes muster! Those who think high magnification is needed for clarity should rethink their supposition.

My Model 88 is a good shooter and the maximum 4.5x allowed me to shoot a 1-3/8" group on final sighting at 100 yards. Try that with a bargain priced, high power scope set at 4x and tell me what your groups look like. I can promise you that a high quality, fixed power or low power variable scope is a better choice for big game hunting.

If you are a typical deer hunter looking to slay a nice buck at 25-300 yards and like a compact, handy rifle/scope package for so doing, have a look at this Nikon Monarch scope. I still have one waiting for a fitting companion rifle and we'll both smile when it's finally found. Good scope, good value. That is a tough combination to beat!

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Copyright 2008, 2010 by Ed Turner. All rights reserved.