I began hunting with simple optics by today’s standards. They worked well and one day, when I found a Lyman Alaskan for the Winchester 70, I thought things were pretty modern. Today, we rely on specialized scopes that do an excellent job in each niche and a few, such as Nikon’s M-223, are very versatile.
Nikon’s M-223 Riflescope is available in several variations. I have the greatest respect for Nikon; I took the images in this article with a Nikon camera. I have used Nikon rifle scopes for many years, however, this one is the best yet. The M-223 is designed for .223 rifles—the AR-15.
Many use the AR-15, and we need good optics. You may order the M-223 with different reticle systems. So do your homework and decide which fits the need for target acquisition in your personal game, chore or hunting situation. Many value speed on target, and the M-223 delivers.
Nikon designed the scopes around the use of a 55-grain loading. That is the most common .223 load; however, the scopes are useful with a variety of ammunition brands. The reticle, designed for long-range shooting to 500 yards or more, features lines for aiming at longer distances, represented by a wire below the middle reticle. That is not a line of wires to impede your field of view, rather they are small ballistic circles that represent the drop at certain, set yardage. It is a fast system to learn.
You can use the dots running targets, and they are brilliantly fast in option. You may set the scope at 50 yards to 100 yards or out to 600 yards. While 600 yards is beyond the capabilities of my local rifle range, 200 yards presented no problem, with excellent clarity and accuracy.
The M-223 is a solid choice for anyone using an AR-15, and I think those who have used Nikon products on hunting rifles will naturally gravitate to the M-223 for the AR-15. Nikon says the reticle subtends 3 MOA, which is ideal for the wildly popular three-gun competition.
Does it Work as Designed?
If you rely on Winchester white-box USA 55-grain FMJ for practice, you will be well served. Switch to the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip, and you are still in like Flynn. However, there are differences in ballistics across the board and differences in rifle-barrel lengths.
Hot air is less dense. I do not really regard ballistic coefficient (BC) as science because BC changes with velocity. Nevertheless, the M-223 certainly does the business when properly sighted in, just like any other scope. The ballistic dots are incredibly efficient; I love the concept and I fire mainly 55-grain loads, so it works for me.
Some time ago, I had a quality scope with a complicated, state-of-the-art drop compensator that required flipping a dial for 200- and 300-yard work. The M-223 is much better. Aim for 100 yards, 200 yards or 300 yards using the ballistic dots. And remember, I am very pleased with the system after only a few hundred rounds. A dedicated rifleman who goes to the range and works in a rifle will be even more satisfied.
At present, I realize the potential and am ready for gilt-edged accuracy at 100 yards, especially for varmints. The rifle and scope are better than I currently am able to shoot. Nikon offers factory website support for zeroing, which brings us to another question.
M-223 and Ammunition Compatibility
Is the M-223 compatible with anything other than 55-grain loads? In a word, yes; however, that demands more of the shooter. For example, I fired several rounds of 40-grain V Max from Hornady, a splendid, specialized varmint load. With the rifle sighted for 100 yards, that fast load fired about 2 inches high. However, it would be simple to sight in the rifle at longer varmint range; the ballistic circles simply would be not as useful. It is still an advantage over other scopes in most areas. The 77-grain loads are useful for long-range-sized game.
I used the Hornady BTHP 75-grain MATCH. Predictably, it struck lower on target. Those loads may not be fast, although they maintain rotation at long range and the wind effect on the nose is much less than a high-velocity bullet. They are effective and useful.
That being said, the 55-grain standard load is still ideal for the AR-15. Inexpensive FMJ loads are useful for practice, and the Winchester Varmint X load or Hornady Varmint Express in 55-grain are excellent loads. So use the 55-grain for ease of use and, if you are dedicated to other weights, take care in confirming zero.
The riflescope is composed of aircraft-grade aluminum, and the tube is nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed. The glass is multi-coated, well, because it is a Nikon. Adjustment steps were solid, positive and confirmed they move the point of impact 0.25 inch at 100 yards.
Frankly, sighting in the .223 rifle without noticeable recoil is so much fun that I played with the settings a good bit. The scope worked. Field of view is excellent.
For three-gun, varmint hunting or tactical use, this is the scope you need.
This is a great riflescope for getting things done. Do you have one? After reading this post, do you plan on giving it a try? Share your thoughts in the comments section.