Review: The New Nikon Monarch 7 Riflescope
September 19, 2016
We're not supposed to pass on a buck on Day 1 that we'd be willing to shoot on the last day of a hunt. But that is exactly what I did near Waurika, Oklahoma, last November.
I was hunting over an expansive wheat field from a box blind. Since first light that morning, I had been watching two young eight-points feed and spar no more than 20 yards from the window.
An hour later, they had wandered to the edge of the wheat when I noticed their heads snap toward the back of the field. I could see the tips of a noticeably wider and more mature 10-point begin to appear, ultimately fighting off the pair of young bucks.
Using a Nikon Prostaff laser rangefinder I measured his distance at 250 yards. I had time to consider the shot, so I plugged in the Spot On windmeter and opened the free Spot On ballistic app on my smartphone. The Advanced BDC reticle in my rifle's Nikon Monarch 5 riflescope has four aiming points that correlate to the bullet drop referenced in the Spot On app. I could have taken the 10-point that morning and spent the next four days in camp, but I decided to hold out for the 14-point monster I overheard the guides discussing the night before.
Over the next few days, I saw plenty of deer, but most were juveniles. On the last day in the field, I was regretting not having planted the 10-point. After a final day of stalking the ghostly tracks of the 14-point buck, I felt defeated but I circled back to Day One's blind. In the final hour of daylight, my guide broke off to hike back to his truck, while I sat in the blind. As the golden hour's sunlight cast its warm glow on the field, the 10-point from that first day walked out to bask in it. With my phone already in hand, I plugged in my windmeter and downloaded the temperature, elevation and humidity of my location from a nearby weather station.
The Spot On app took this information and recalculated the holdover distances for the scope's BDC reticle. I didn't need it for this shot, though, because the buck walked to within 100 yards and stopped. The glass and coatings of the Monarch scope made me feel like I could split hairs, and a second later I did. With one shot from my .270, the buck fell.
Once the excitement settled, a curious old doe walked out from a tree line to my right. I still had a doe tag for meat, so I ranged her at 280 yards as she stood broadside. I had the scope powered up to 14X, and my Spot On app suggested I hold on the first aiming circle below the crosshair. I pulled the trigger, and she dropped with one shot, too. That evening, I became a believer in the Nikon Spot On system and learned a lesson about taking advantage of what's in front of you.
Unlike the Monarch 5 I used previously, the new Monarch 7 is a 4-16x50mm scope with Nikon's new Advanced BDC reticle. Not only can you use the reticle for holdover aiming points, but you can order custom XR turrets for dialing elevation to a specific load. Depending on the situation, I've used both.
The new Monarch 7 is also a little different from the Monarch 5 in that it has a 30mm rather than a 1-inch tube. It also has an Advanced BDC reticle with hold offs for windage below the center post. The larger 30mm main tube translates to larger lenses, a bigger resolution sweet spot and a wider field of view. However, shooters also benefit from the Monarch 7's quick-focus eyepiece, locking side-focus adjustment knob and its generous yet consistent eye relief. Field of view is also better on the Monarch 7.
With its 1-inch tube and power ring set at maximum magnification, the Monarch 3 delivers a field of view that measures 25 feet. The Monarch 7's field of view is 30 feet — 15 percent more field of view than 1-inch scopes. We also benefit by getting more range of internal adjustment, which becomes important for shooters that use their scopes to hit targets beyond 400 yards.
The Monarch 3 and Monarch 5, both with 1-inch-diameter tubes and the same 4-16X magnification, feature 43 and 45 MOA respectively. The Monarch 7, with its 30mm tube and etched Advanced BDC reticle, offers 58 MOA of internal adjustment — more than 30 percent more adjustment than the 1-inch models.
Most hunters won't be dialing in adjustments, and that's where the holdover points of the Nikon Advanced BDC reticle really shine, especially when using the Nikon Spot On system. At maximum magnification (16X in my Monarch 7), the lowest hold point is 553 yards. Say we want to shoot a target we've ranged at 900 yards. When we shoot at longer ranges, we can dial down the magnification for a wider field of view. Simply consult the information from the Spot On app.
It may say that the 4th BDC circle represents 900 yards at 6X. I'd also consider using the new windage marks according to the information obtained from the Nikon Spot On windmeter. Wind at your location will have an adverse effect on trajectory the moment a bullet exits the muzzle. Each point on the reticle represents a 10mph crosswind. Spot On provides a reference that minimizes guesswork.
When we're talking about hold-off points in a reticle, we're going to want a glass-etched reticle. It's typically a stronger reticle than a traditional wire crosshair, and I don't know of another scope that offers hold off points for wind using a wire reticle. The anti-reflective coatings that Nikon applies to the lenses ensure that the reticle is sharp and provides good contrast, and if you have an illuminated version of this scope, different portions of the reticle can be illuminated for aiming without cluttering the window.
Before I hunt, I print out an expanded BDC reference chart for 6X that I pin up in my blind or carry in my pocket for quick reference. I come up with this information before the season starts.
It's summertime, and we're at the range sighting in. This is the time of year when hunters like us are trying out new optics and getting things set up for next fall. Shooting, for me, is a bit of a ritual, and the Nikon Spot On is the system I've been using to minimize human error and ensure my shots are repeatable.
I have Nikon's windmeter, and I've already got the Spot On app downloaded to my phone. I always carry a rangefinder with me, like the Nikon Prostaff 3i laser rangefinder I used on Oklahoma hunt last year, because knowing the distance to your target makes the precision of your shot more predictable. It's a lot easier to push a button on a rangefinder than trying to memorize subtensions and do math in the field.
Owning the Monarch 7 with the Advanced BDC reticle is like making an investment in your shooting. Not only will the Spot On system educate us as riflemen, these scopes are easy to use, intuitive and built to last. In fact, Nikon backs them up with a lifetime warranty and a no-fault policy. Just send it in. All things considered, if you're using Spot On this fall, there is no reason to miss the next buck that walks out whether it's on Day 1 or your last day in the field.