I’m not usually a fan of “bullet drop compensated” or “BDC” reticles. The markings on the scope never seem to actually match up with the trajectory of the projectile. And usually that has something to do with the manufacturer not letting you know the particulars of the projectile they used to zero the scope. However, with the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge, the ballistic profile is different enough from the standard 5.56 trajectory that having a BDC reticle makes sense. And the one Nikon just released may be the best out there . . .
The Nikon scope uses a fairly nifty reticle design. It’s still the same familiar BDC style, but instead of solid hash marks at the different distances, the scope has open circles to allow the shooter to better see their target. On the other side of that coin, if your target isn’t precisely 500 yards away then the circles might actually obscure more of the target than they show. The reticle claims to be calibrated for both super and subsonic ammunition, but I couldn’t find any reference to the subsonic substentions in the manual.
Last year, Leupold came out with their take on a 300 BLK scope, a variant of their Mark 4 MR/T scope. The reticle design was interesting as it showed markings for both supersonic and subsonic ammunition on different sides of the reticle, and looked great in theory. Unfortunately, I could never find a commercial load that actually lined up with what was engraved on the reticle. That was my biggest gripe, and one that caused me to kick its final score down a couple notches.
Whether Nikon was listening to my complaint or not I’ll never know, but etched onto the elevation turret is something that every BDC scope needs.
Right there, in plain English, it gives you all the relevant information you need to figure out what loads your scope will match up with. This scope is calibrated for 115gr projectiles traveling at 2280 feet per second, which exactly matches up with Remington UMC 300 AAC Blackout cartridges. And out on the 1,000 yard range in Liberty Hill, Texas, I confirmed that the reticle markings do indeed match up with the listed ballistic properties. I was hitting the 500 yard steel plate with boring repetitiveness, as well as if I were using my bolt gun.
Besides listing the ballistic properties, the scope differs from Leupold’s offering in two other ways. While the Leupold scope is a 1.5-5 variable power scope, Nikon’s optic is a 2-7 power. You sacrifice a little extra on the lower side of the magnification range, but gain some on the higher end. For hunting, I actually like that spread a lot. 2x is about what I leave my scopes on when I head out into the field, so having a 1x magnification of some sort isn’t a dealbreaker for me.
Another difference is that the Nikon is a second focal plane scope. This is especially important with BDC-style scopes as a second focal plane reticle means that the distance markings are only useful at full magnification.
Leupold’s scope is a first focal plane scope, meaning that the distance markings on the reticle will remain the same and useful no matter what the magnification. Since you’d want to be at full magnification anyway if you’re shooting at 250 yards or more this isn’t a big issue, but it’s slightly annoying to someone like me who likes their markings to always align with the proper flight path.
The differences between Nikon’s offering and Leupold’s continue — 1 inch versus 30mm tubes, non-illuminated versus illuminated, foreign versus domestic companies… — but there’s only one comparison that really puts one scope over the other. Leupold’s offering costs a whopping $1,750. Nikon? $200. That’s right, for the price of another tax stamp you have a 300 BLK scope. At that price I’d happily live with my minor gripes.
Nikon P-300 BLK 2-7X32 Rifle Scope w/ SuperSub Reticle for .300 AAC Blackout
Weight: 16.1 oz.
Adjustments: 1/4 MoA
Tube: 1 inch
Ratings (out of five stars):
All ratings are relative to similar products, final rating is not derived from the preceding ratings.
Optical Clarity * * * *
I really can’t tell the difference between this and the Leupold scope.
Feel & Function * * * *
Everything feels right and is self-explanatory. It does, however, feel a bit…cheap.
Overall Rating * * * *
I’m not exactly crazy about a scope with a BDC reticle on the second focal plane, but the price is very right.