Thursday, May 12, 2016
Nikon Prostaff 5: 2.5-10x50
I recently decided to upgrade the rifle scope on top of my 35 Whelen. The rifle is a Remington 700 classic. I had originally topped it with a Nikon Prostaff 5 in 2.5-10x40.
My hunting experience with the scope had been very positive. I had taken 3 moose and an elk with it, and the scope had proven outstanding in close-in circumstances, where quick acquisition of target was necessary. The price point had been good, and overall I was completely pleased.
I hunt in Saskatchewan, Canada, where we are allowed to legally hunt from one half hour prior to sunrise, to one half hour after sunset. In late October and especially in November, what this means is that we can hunt in very dim conditions. For example, on a cloudy day in November in the thick timber, visibility from sunset to half an hour after is very low. Hence, I decided to upgrade to a rifle scope that offered good low light visibility. I should mention that the Nikon I already had was very good; but being the kind of person who is always trying to improve my hunting rig, I decided to go one better.
Budget was a consideration in this case. The rifle itself is not expensive, even after being free floated and bedded and brought back to it's original Remington shine; so I did not intend on breaking the bank on a scope which was worth more than the rifle itself.
The main criteria for my choice were that it needed to be 50mm and reasonably priced. The rifle scopes I considered were Cabelas, Vortex, Bushnell, Nikon, and Leupold. I should admit that going in I had a bias towards Nikon rifle scopes believing that they offer perhaps the best value in mid priced scopes. I eliminated Cabelas and Vortex scopes early on, simply because I either didn't like the look, or the optics, or the feel. Bushnell, which has improved it's brand immensely over the years offered some good choices. Leupold, in the price range I limited myself to offered little. The "affordable" Leupold scopes had far too little eye relief and very substandard optics, in my opinion.
In the end it came down to the Bushnell Elite 3500 in 3-9x50 and the Nikon Prostaff 5 in 2.5-10x50. The winner ended up being the Nikon for several reasons.
The Prostaff 5 offers a greater power range, spring loaded zero reset turrets, and is cheaper by almost $100. I also found that on 2.5 power the Nikon is remarkably quick in acquiring close targets, even though it is just .5 power less than the Bushnell's 3 power. The Nikon also has an easy to turn power adjustment ring with a good sized dial and knob that makes operation in cold weather with heavy gloves easy; ergonomically it's one of the best scopes I've handled. And finally, the Nikon gives 4 inches of eye relief, compared to the Bushnell's 3.3".
The two downsides to the Nikon in my opinion were that the turret caps were plastic, which might become brittle in extreme cold. And, the scope didn't offer enough mounting space for a Remington Long Action (unlike the 40mm version). It required me using a Weaver 1" offset ring. In the future I may replace my bases with a one piece base that offers multiple ring slots. (Update: I have since upgraded to Burris XTB bases and Burris Signature Rings).
A pleasant surprise when matching the Prostaff 2.5-10x50 with 35 Whelen is that if you shoot 250 bullets at or near 2500 fps, the thick vertical post, where it meets the thin wire, is exactly at 300 yards at 10 power. It makes for a perfect aim point.
I'll be out this fall again spooking around the woods and I expect that my early morning and evening hunts will be that much brighter, now that the 50 mm Nikon sits atop my Whelen.