My Nikon Prostaff Review


September 29, 2010, 08:11 PM
I got a lot of positive comments after my CenterPoint scope review, so I thought I’d do another one about the Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 I picked up lately to do some testing with. I got a heck of a deal on this scope and had been wanting to play around with one so I figured now was the time to do it. I had read another review in the “Inexpensive Scope Comparison” thread on, and I can say that his opinion is pretty much spot on.

I got this scope with the regular Nikoplex reticle as I’m not a fan of BDC type scopes. I mounted it in a set of Burris Signature Zee rings. (Great rings btw).

After mounting the scope my initial impression on looking through it was that the glass looked pretty decent. This was in broad daylight just looking off of the deck. The more I played with this scope and compared it to others the less impressed I became. I also have a Burris Fullfield II on hand that it got compared to as well as getting the chance to compare it to a few others. First off when looking into the Burris and this Nikon side by side the difference imo is pretty large. The Burris blows this thing away. None the less in the back yard the glass looked decent. Certainly better than the CenterPoint I reviewed that looked milky on the higher powers.

Now, out of the back yard and onto the range. I found that at 100 yards I had a really hard time seeing bullet holes in the target. I could see them, but I really had to look and it was very hard to see them. This scope didn’t look milky or anything bad like that. However, it didn’t look very sharp and detailed either. It was almost as if I was watching old standard definition tv versus HD. It didn’t look milky, hazy, blurry, or anything else, I just couldn’t see much detail at 100 yards and past. I also noticed that it had a little distortion around the edges. This was minor, but it did seem to be there.

So, onto the shooting. I had this rifle sighted in with just a few shots. It was one of those times where it just goes too easy. My complaint here is that the turrets on this scope are a pain imo. You have to use a coin or screwdriver to adjust the turrets which is kind of a pain. However, for most hunters they sight their guns in and never mess with them again. These turrets will be fine for all of these people. If you are someone who is constantly adjusting your turrets this is probably not the scope for you. I also found the turrets fairly hard to turn, and the clicks felt soft. That being said, this isn’t a huge issue, just something that imo takes away from the scope. One a positive side, when I made adjustments they seemed to take place immediately. Some cheap scopes sometimes take a shot or so to “settle” the cross hairs in after making adjustments. There was none of this with this scope, and when I adjusted the turrets, it moved the cross hairs instantly. Once sighted in I shot it for groups and it grouped well as usual. I then shot it at 9x, 5x, and 3x. At all three magnification levels tested I got the exact same POI. So it doesn’t change POI with magnification changes. This was a good sign. I didn’t do a box test, or move the turrets once I got it sighted in and then reset to zero. So I’m not sure if the scope is repeatable or not. I do have my doubts that each click is really ” like claimed. Seemed more like 3 clicks moved me around an inch, but it was really hard to tell if it was me ” off or the scope. Either way the adjustments were close if they weren’t precise. With the shooting, I was fairly happy with this scope. Even though it was kind of a pain turning the turrets it shot well once sighted in.

Now Onto the low light comparison. I tested several scope. I tested a Burris Fullfield II in 3-9x40, a Simmons 3-9x32, a Tasco Bucksight ($30 cheapo from Walmart), a CenterPoint 4-16x40, and a Leupold VX-I 3-9x40.

The test I'm sure wasn't the best, but we were looking across the yard which is around 25 yards. We had a light on the house that was on and you could see the edge of the woods with the naked eye, but the corners were very dark, and you couldn't see them. All were tried on their lowest powers and all on 4x since that was the CenterPoints lo
Anyway, this is just my opinion, and it was really hard to tell a difference at all between some of these scopes, so don't take my opinion for gospel. Plus it wasn't a very formal test.

Anyway, the Burris Fullfield II was the clear winner. It just blew away the other scopes. In the part of the woods that you could see with your naked eye, just looked bright and super clear through this scope. I could clearly make out bark on some of the tree's. The reticle was also probably the most visible in the low light. This scope just stood out from the others. In the corners of the woods that I couldn't make out with the naked eye, I could see one or two shadows, but not tell what anything was. Well, when looking through this scope, I could clearly see a wood pile with logs piled up, as well as some brush. It was very clear, and I could make out everything very well even in the dark spots as well as still see the reticle. This scope didn't surprise me being the winner.

The second place is what really surprised me. This would go to the Simmons 3-9x32. It was very clear, and while I could see the reticle the whole time, It didn't stand out as well as the Burris. In the lit area's of the woods, I could see just fine. It wasn't as clear as the Burris, but it was decently clear. In the low light area's of the woods in the corners, I could still clearly make out the wood piles, the brush, and most of the things I could with the Burris. Now it didn't look as detailed to me, but I could see pretty well with it still.

Next up is a hard spot to pick. The Tasco, Nikon Prostaff, The Leupold VX-I and the CenterPoint all seemed pretty close. The Tasco was fairly clear and I could see well in both the lit area's as well as the darker corners. The reticle stood out decently on the Tasco. Overall, it was pretty decent, but nothing super special. The Nikon didn't seem quite as clear and looked slightly darker to me as well as the reticle being harder to see. This was the standard Nikon reticle, not the BDC. It just didn't seem quite as nice as the Tasco in the low light. The CenterPoint I could still make out the wood pile and brush in the dark area's, but it wasn't near as clear, and while I could tell it was brush, I couldn't see the detail on the sticks. The reticle was visible, but I couldn't make out the mil dots on it, I could just see the main lines. Now the illuminated reticle of the CenterPoint would have worked nicely here except for the fact that even on the lowest setting it really washed out the rest of the picture and you couldn't really see anything else except for the lit up reticle. This was a really hard position to pick, as they were all pretty close and it was very small differences. I guess I'd have to say the Tasco, then Prostaff, then CenterPoint, but they just were all really so close.

I would have given the last spot to the Leupold VX-I. This was the worst, and it wasn't by a little bit. It was a huge difference. In the lit area's that I could see fine with my eyes, looked great through this scope. I could make out the bark on the trees, and just looked great. When I moved to the darker corners of the woods, I couldn't see anything at all. It looked washed out looking. I couldn't make out the wood pile, or the brush. I wouldn't even be able to tell you there was a wood pile there. For some reason it just looked washed out and made it really hard to see in all of the darker area's. I could still see the reticle, but nothing behind it.

However, I did a little more comparing tonight. I cleaned the lens on the Leupold VX-I tonight. It looked fairly clean when just visually looking at it, but I decided what the heck and cleaned them anyway. Doing a low light test now, it's a lot better than it was. It's still no where near on par with the FFII, but it's pretty close to the Prostaff now. It was very very hard to tell a difference in low light between the Prostaff and the VX-I.

I will also say that this scope replaced a Simmons el cheapo package deal scope and optically I feel that the Simmons and Prostaff were very close. The Prostaff does track better though, and I'm hoping it will hold up better.

So overall, I think this scope is a decent scope as mechanically it seems pretty sound. However, it could benefit from better glass and better turrets. It’s certainly better than some of the el cheapo scopes like the Bushnell Banner, etc. However, it’s not even in the same class as the Burris FFII or other similar scopes, and the price difference isn’t that significant. If you could pick one of these up for $80 or so used like I did it’s a great choice in that price range. However, in the $160-170 price range my opinion is you’d be better off either buying a Burris FFII on eBay for cheaper, or pay the few dollars extra at a store as it really is a night and day difference. It’s certainly not a bad scope, just not up to par with others in that price range. As far as a hunting scope, I think it’s a fine scope, but still maintain my opinion. I’m just not sure I can recommend this scope for the price. I think at about half the going price it could be a great scope in it’s category, but unfortunately it’s in the same price range as several other much better scopes.

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September 29, 2010, 09:50 PM
Good info. Nice review. Thanks for the effort.

Lloyd Smale
September 30, 2010, 07:29 AM
Ive got a couple prostaffs and wont buy another. i totaly agree with your poor low light performance. Mine are dissmal in low light. they also have alot of distortion around the edges and not a great field of view width. IMO even the buckmasters arent the best in low light. In that price range your much better off with a bushenll 3200 or buris (even though im not a fan of buris) if the redfields had a more precise windage and elevation knobs id say them too as there opticaly alot better then a prostaff. Weaver is another good one to look at in the mid priced scope market. The only nikons im impressed with are the monarchs. I know they cost alot more but they are a good bang for the buck

September 30, 2010, 10:52 AM
I forgot to mention it in the review, but mine also has the distortion around the edges. It's very minor which is why I forgot to mention it. I'm going to have to edit the article. I think. This scope isn't a horrible scope, it's just not up to par with others in it's price range. IMO it's more in the class of a Bushnell Banner or similar.

September 30, 2010, 11:34 AM
Great review and timing for me!! I am in the market for a new 2.5-16 or 4-20 x 50 or 44 scope. I have a Simmons I got on eBay new for $89 (normal retail $239ish) it's a 2.6-10x44(?) mounted on a 16" AR. I just use it during daylight for some of my longer shots which for me is 300 to 350 yards.

Thanks again for the great review.

P.S were the old banner scopes better than the new stuff. 71-4124 which is a 4-12x40 came with my 20" AR and I use it for a spotting scope sometimes or do you know?

September 30, 2010, 11:53 AM
Also the 6-24x40 banner is $129 anyone used one? The Bushnell Banner I have 2.6-10x44, so far no problems with it.

September 30, 2010, 12:01 PM
I'm not sure as I've not really had the chance to use or test any of the older Banners. The only exception to that is a friend had one that's on a shotgun, that I shot, but I wasn't looking through it with the intentions of writing a review or comparing it to anything else. I've gotten the chance to look through a couple of new ones, all have been 3-9x40, but they have not been impressive to me. That being said, they also seem to be $80 scopes and they are decent for that price range. They just aren't near the quality you can get in the $180-200 price range.

BTW there is a great writeup on Optics Talk comparing inexpensive scopes, I will get the link for you. I read this review and feel as though he pretty much hit the nail head on with the Prostaff and the FFII. I've not had a chance to review the others, but I'd trust his opinion after seeing how accurate it was on the two I have reviewed. I just wanted to write this review as more of a second opinion and to see for myself how the Prostaff's were as I'd heard some guys say they really liked them, but also some guys claiming that they weren't impressive.

September 30, 2010, 12:03 PM
BTW here is the Optics Talk link to a thread comparing several $200 and under scopes. It really is a great read if you are looking to purchase a scope in this price range.

September 30, 2010, 12:18 PM
Great stuff thank you!!

September 30, 2010, 01:08 PM
I am glad Vortex did so well in the test. Great customer support.

1st Place: Vortex Diamondback 3-9x40
This is the best overall scope here and not by a small margin. It is mechanically good and optically excellent for the money. The eyepiece is a little fatter than on other scopes here, but I doubt it is sufficiently large to cause bolt handle clearance issues on most rifles. The reticle remains fairly visible even in rather nasty lighting conditions (I still think that #4 reticle in this scope would be better) and low light image artifacts are well controlled.

2nd Place: Burris Fullfield II 3-9x40
FFII is in a firm second place. It is not quite as good as the Diamondback, but it is appreciably better than the other scopes I looked at. This model has been around for some time, so perhaps it is overshadowed by the Diamondback simply because it is an older design. On the other hand FFII has an excellent record for durability and performance in the field. Optically, its center field performance is very good, but Diamondback offer a more contrasty image and wider field of view.

3rd Place: Bushnell Elite 3200 3-9x40
While I was pretty sure of where this scope fits in this comparison, I was not entirely sure of how to summarize my impressions on it. For example, Burris that ranked above it was pretty good in everything, but I can't say there is one feature that stands out. It is just a good allround scope. Elite 3200 is a different story altogether. Mechanically, it is the most solid-feeling scope here. Also, it has Rainguard outer coatings which are helpful in wet weather. On the other hand, it has a little bit of tunnel vision (not much) and it needs better coatings since there were some fairly strong internal reflections off of the glass. Another positive is that Elite 3200 line up is very extensive and offers several reticle choices including the FireFly reticle that works very well in low light. Like the Fullfield II, Elite 3200 3-9x40 has been around for some time now. Perhaps, I would have been better served by one of the more recently designed Elite 3200 scopes, but 3-9x40 was the configuration I wanted.

4th Place: Redfield Revolution 3-9x40
This is the new kid on the block, and it is getting a pretty good start. It has a few things going for it:
◦assembled in USA by Leupold (i.e. built in customer base of Leupold fans)
◦slim eyepiece and nice styling: the scope looks right
◦good allround performance
This scope, to me, was kinda like Burris FFII only fifty bucks cheaper and not quite as good. I wish it had a little better contrast, and I wish the knobs were less flimsy feeling. Aside from that, I liked the scope and I can't think of another scope that costs $150 and performs better. I think I have a Sightron S1 3-9x40 sitting in my safe somewhere. I think I'll dig it out and quickly compare it to the Redfield. I suspect that these two are your best bets in this price range (assuming it holds up long term, but only time can determine that).

5th Place: Nikon ProStaff 3-9x40
I might get some flak for what I am about to say, but here it is anyway: I do not get the reason behind this scope. I just can't figure out who I would recommend it to. That is my litmus test: "will this scope be my recommendation for any sort of situation?" With the ProStaff, the answer is an emphatic "no". Optically, is pretty close to Elite 3200, except it does not have Rainguard, knobs are not finger adjustable and available reticles do not work well in low light. Redfield is cheaper and sleeker styled. Plus it has the support of Leupold customer service behind it. Now, here is the kicker: ProStaf is most certainly not a bad scope; however, the competition is awfully good and numerous.

Sav .250
September 30, 2010, 03:34 PM
Good read.

Funny thing though, I`ve got a Pro-Staff and for me, I have no complaints.

September 30, 2010, 04:21 PM
Funny thing though, I`ve got a Pro-Staff and for me, I have no complaints. Me too. I have 3 Pro-staffs and am very happy with them.(And my Buckmaster and my VX-1 and my Bushnell Banner Dusk 'til Dawn)

September 30, 2010, 04:43 PM
So far, it shoots great and works well. I'm not trying to say that it's a bad scope as it doesn't seem to be. However, optically, it's not up to par with others options that cost similar in price. Well, actually about $20 more, but still close in price. That's all I'm trying to say. I just think the Prostaff is more comparable optically to scopes I've used in the $80-100 price range like the Banners. The Banners are decent too, they just aren't optically what some of the $180-200 scopes are. Now there are a few higher priced scopes too that optically aren't even as good as the Prostaff, but there are several good choices in that price range at the same time.

September 30, 2010, 04:48 PM
BTW I plan to do a few more reviews soon, but I've got to find the time to work on them first.

September 30, 2010, 04:49 PM
The Banners are decent too, Agreed. My Banner Dusk-to-Dawn is much brighter and sharper than all of the others.

September 30, 2010, 05:21 PM
Well I just pulled the trigger on the Vortex 6.5-20x50 from SWFA. Will be happy to compare it against my other scopes. It will be mounted on a 24" Bushmaster chrome barreled mo mo!

September 30, 2010, 06:03 PM
I have no complaints with my Prostaff, or my Buckmaster. Nice solid scopes. If it takes game, and is reliable, good enough for me. I'm not taking pictures through it.

September 30, 2010, 08:06 PM
I think I'm going to have to update my review as I did a little more comparing tonight. I cleaned the lens on the Leupold VX-I tonight. It looked fairly clean when just visually looking at it, but I decided what the heck and cleaned them anyway. Doing a low light test now, it's a lot better than it was. It's still no where near on par with the FFII, but it's pretty close to the Prostaff now. It was very very hard to tell a difference in low light between the Prostaff and the VX-I.

September 30, 2010, 09:00 PM
Agreed. My Banner Dusk-to-Dawn is much brighter and sharper than all of the others.

That's funny because the Banner Dusk-to-Dawn I had was very dark at upper magnification. I took it back for one with less magnification and a bigger objective and that was ok, not great optically, but it died on top of a .243 after about 100 rounds. I don't doubt I had a couple lemons as many really like the Banner line, but I've struck out twice. It's funny too because the rate the 6-18(the one that broke) as being both centerfire and airgun rated like it was tougher than normal. The 6-24 was just so dark at upper magnification, even in bright daylight, that it went back before I had a chance to use it.

September 30, 2010, 09:16 PM
The 4 Banners I've personally seen were not very good in low light. However, they have held up fine. Well three of them. One wasn't on a gun, one is on a shotgun, one is on a 30-06, and one is on a blackpowder rifle. I don't own any, but 2 friends own those three and I've gotten to check them out.

Al Thompson
September 30, 2010, 09:17 PM
HTM. thanks. Great job! :D

September 30, 2010, 09:27 PM
No problem. I enjoy reviewing products, and if you guys like the reviews, I will do more in the future.

I hate the fact that in my original comparison I hadn't cleaned the lens on the Leupold. It looked fine to the eye which is why I didn't clean it. I'd cleaned the Prostaff, and CenterPoint. Once I cleaned the Leupold, it was better, but still not great. It made did make it very close to the Prostaff, but no better and I'm not sure it's quite as good, but it's close.

I updated my original review to fix this, but I'd like to offer an apology to Leupold as it was completely my fault for not cleaning the lenses to start with.

Redneck with a 40
September 30, 2010, 10:25 PM
I agree, the Burris FFII on my Mini-14 blows away the Pro-Staff that is on my .308. I'm very impressed with the Burris.

September 30, 2010, 10:50 PM
I'm very impressed with the Burris too. I'd love to get one of the Vortex Vipers that are only clearance right now and review them too. However, I don't have the funds for one right now, so maybe a review of the Vipers will come in the future.

October 1, 2010, 08:19 AM
That's funny because the Banner Dusk-to-Dawn I had was very dark at upper magnification My Banner D2D is 3x9x50 with the battery operated red/green dot. It is exceptionally bright in low light and has been on my 7mm magnum for almost 4 years. I guess it is another one of those things that I own that is the exception to what everybody else got.

Bird Dog II
October 1, 2010, 09:26 AM
For the money, for durability, image, and customer service if you have an issue, Burris Fullfields are hard to beat at this time. I own some Leupold, Nikon, and Weaver scopes as well, but the FF IIs are the workhorse scopes in my inventory. Just hard to beat for the price.

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