May 28, 2019
By Tom Beckstrand
Nikon’s scope offerings have become a lot more relevant over the years. There are significant improvements in reticles, features offered, and magnification ranges that now make Nikon a part of any optic selection discussions.
Nikon’s new MONARCH M5 4-16x50mm Side Focus MK1-MOA serves as a great example of what makes the new Nikon different from the old Nikon. This new MONARCH M5 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a long-range hunting optic because each scope feature has been selected with this exact goal in mind.
I spoke with Jeremy Bentham, Nikon’s Senior Manager for sport optics and lead influencer on the MONARCH M5. Jeremy said “Nikon has very high-quality standards. If even two to three percent of a product gets returned, we want to know why.” This is significant because Nikon’s competitors with sports optics similar to the MONARCH M5 can see return rates as high as eight or nine percent.
People only return scopes that don’t work. When you shoot with a Nikon, the numbers demonstrate the odds are deeply in the customers favor the scope will function exactly as described. A lifetime warranty isn’t helpful when you’re afield chasing once in a lifetime quarry. As such, Nikon’s company culture demands perfection, and the statistics show they’re doing a good job preserving it.
The MONARCH M5 is designed for long-range hunting. It has a Second Focal Plane (SFP) reticle placement that uses a hashmark-style reticle with MOA (minute of angle) subtensions. The test scope I evaluated featured Nikon's MK1-MOA and would be my top choice of the three reticles available. Having subtension in minute of angle increments allows for very precise aiming points, and simplifies the holdover process when using the MONARCH M5 at less than maximum magnification.
The MK1-MOA reticle has every 2 MOA marked with a small hash mark, and every 10 MOA has a long hash mark. This makes rapidly moving along the entire length of the reticle easy. However, there are no numbers next to the hash marks, which I think is a good idea in an optic destined for hunting use.
The test scope I used was a 4-16x50mm with MK-1 reticle located in the SFP. The reticle subtends “correctly” at maximum magnification (16X). I always recommend keeping hunting scopes at lowest magnification to get the widest field of view possible in the event that a critter jumps out at 50 yards. If you see something at 300 yards, there will be time to turn magnification up. At 50 yards, there is no time to turn magnification down.
The MK1-MOA is still easily usable at 4X. All you have to do is remember that cutting the magnification in half doubles the value of the hash marks. At 8X, each small hash mark represents 4 MOA, and each large hash mark is 20 MOA. Cut magnification in half again and each of the small hash marks represents a 8-MOA interval, and the larger hash marks are 40 MOA. There’s a little math involved at first, but once you get it – you get it.
The MONARCH M5 has capped windage and elevation turrets. Most shooters will zero the scope to the rifle and then leave the turrets alone. With the caps removed, each turret adjusts in ¼-MOA increments. Each turret is also spring loaded, allowing the shooter to easily adjust the cap to “0” once the scope is zeroed. All you have to do is lift the cap up and turn it until the “0” lines up, then let it slide down in place.
Another option is to remove the turrets that ship with the Nikon MONARCH M5 and order Spot On custom turrets to replace them. The shooter needs to know bullet weight and muzzle velocity for his pet load, along with general temperature, elevation, pressure, and humidity for the area in which the scope will be used. The Spot On turrets allow the shooter to simply spin the turret to the target distance to match point-of-aim with point- of-impact. This feature is becoming increasing popular among the shooting public and manufacturers, due to its ease of use and accuracy results down range.
Our test model had excellent image quality thanks to the simplicity of the four-power erector assembly and the longer main tube length. It is far easier to get good image quality from a longer scope than it is from a short one. The image quality on the MONARCH M5 is excellent, especially for a scope in its price range.
The eye relief is a touch longer than the standard 3.5 inches, with ours measuring 3.6 inches. When mounting scopes on hard-kicking rifles, it’s advantageous to always be aware of eye relief. Every bit counts.
Each MONARCH M5 scope also features a side-focus knob, allowing shooters to dial all parallax out of the system regardless of the target distance. Impacting targets at longer ranges requires elimination of as many variables as possible, so having the side-focus knob is a must.
Between the superb image quality and full list of features, the MONARCH M5 is a strong contender for any long-range hunting rifle. Multiple models are available with magnification ranges of 3-12x, 4-16, and 5-20x. Each feature one of three SFP reticles and allow the shooter to select the one best suited for their needs. Retail pricing varies from $500 to $650, and each scope comes with a lifetime warranty. Nikon offers a compelling product with the MONARCH M5, and long-range hunters would be wise to take note.
Nikon Monarch M5 4-16x50mm Side Focus BDC Specs
Tube Diameter: 30mm (1.2 in.)
Elevation adjustment: .25 MOA per click
Windage: .25 MOA per click
Length: 14.7 in.
Weight: 1 lbs. 3 ounces (19.4 oz).
Eye Relief: 4 in.
Manufacturer: Nikon Inc.; 1-800-645-6687; nikonsportoptics.com
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