If you are a hunter, you probably have heard the name Buckmasters, but you may not know all that much about them. I intend to change that for you with this article.
This Nikon Buckmasters scope review will cover four different rifle scopes. You should be able to find one that suits your needs and your tastes.
I’ll tell you up front here that the main difference from the one to the next is the zoom magnification power. (See the table below.) There are other differences that come into play too, and I’ll cover those in more detail later.
If you already know you want a Nikon Buckmasters, don’t waste anymore time here. Instead, head over to Amazon and pick out the scope that you want. You won’t be disappointed, since these are all well-made rifle scopes.
On the other hand, if you want to read more about a particular Nikon scope, you can click a link in the box below or just keep on scrolling and reading these Buckmasters scope reviews.
First, Two Disclaimers about the Buckmasters and the Reviews
The first thing you need to know is that Nikon no longer produces the Buckmasters line of scopes.
But don’t let that scare you away.
There are still plenty of them available on the market in brand new condition. Nikon should still honor the warranty, even though you probably will never need to take them up on it.
If you purchase a used or pre-owned scope, you should try to learn its history, but even then you’re more than likely going to get a rifle scope that won’t give you any problems. Many hunters move from one scope to another simply because they find another that suits their needs better and not because there was really anything wrong with the one they are now offering you.
The second thing you need to know is that I am not a hunter.
But don’t let that scare you away.
I have researched the Nikon Buckmasters reviewed here so that you can have the information for several of them all in one place. I am more familiar with optics like binoculars and telescopes, but they all have similarities that I can apply from one type of instrument to another.
I can still give you the highs and the low, the pros and the cons of these scopes based on what I have read as well as what other users have said about them – again, all here in one neat package.
Now, on to the reviews. Here is a quick overview of what you will be reading about.
|Model||Zoom||Objective Lens (mm)||Weight (oz.)|
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9×40 BDC
It seems like almost every product these days has some acronym associated with it. The Buckmasters scopes are no different. Here we have BDC.
BDC stands for Bullet Drop Compensation. This is the reticle used in most of these scopes.
A reticle is the lines you see when looking through the scope. They are there to help you aim at your target and to help you overcome the effects that gravity will have on your bullet over the distance it travels to that target.
Nikon continues to make two other models of scopes: the ProStaff line and the Monarch line. Monarchs are supposed to be the best of the three.
At one time ProStaff was at the low end but at another time it was Buckmasters. So it’s a little bit difficult to compare a Buckmasters to a ProStaff these days. This explains why some users will rate a Buckmasters over a ProStaff and others will do just the opposite.
They are probably both right.
For example, Nikon themselves say that the only difference between a Buckmasters and a ProStaff is the lens coatings. The Buckmasters has single coatings which is not as good for light transmission as the multi-coatings on the ProStaff.
But is the Buckmasters they are referring to one of the earlier models or a later one? If we assume they are talking about an earlier Buckmasters, how does a later model compare with a ProStaff?
Note also that some Buckmasters models are called Buckmasters II. This would seem to indicate a later model, but sometimes the details don’t seem to bear that out.
Hopefully we can try to sort this all out in these reviews.
The Buckmasters II 3-9×40 BDC (pictured above) we are considering first apparently does have multi-coated lenses. As noted above, this is better than just single coating. You will find this especially useful in low light conditions – under the trees, just before sunrise, or just after sunset, for example.
This scope uses O-ring sealers and is filled with nitrogen making them waterproof and fog proof. You always hope you won’t need to test this feature, but sometimes moisture gets in the way when you least expect it. It’s good to know then that your scope will still work even if it gets a little wet.
Users who have compared this scope to the Vortex Diamondback and the Crossfire II state that the Buckmasters has better clarity. Many also prefer the Buckmasters’ turrets over Redfields.
The Nikon’s field of view is a little narrower than other brands, but it isn’t terrible either.
It’s a matter of personal taste, but some prefer the slightly thicker lines of the reticle while others wish they were thinner. So you’ll have to judge that one for yourself.
Overall this Nikon Buckmasters is one of the best scopes for the money.
Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12×40 BDC
The Buckmasters II 4-12×40 BDC is very similar to the scope above. The main difference, of course, being the zoom magnification which is a little stronger here.
Based on the Amazon description (which, admittedly, isn’t always accurate) the lenses on this scope are fully multi-coated to give you the best light transmission currently possible. The claim is that 98% of available light passes through the 40 millimeter objective lens and into your eye. You will have to take their word for that, since there is no way for you to measure it. So if you want to take such claims with a grain of salt, be my guest.
The Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12×40 measures just a fraction of an inch over 14 inches long. It has eye relief of 3.7 inches, so you don’t have to place your eye right up against the eyepiece.
Speaking of the eyepiece, it has a quick-focus mechanism which you should find very useful for zeroing in on your target.
Nikon Buckmasters 4.5-14×40
As we move up to stronger Nikon scopes, you will find that they naturally get longer and heavier. The Nikon Buckmasters 4.5-14×40 measures almost 14 and a half inches long and weighs just over 17 and a half ounces.
Here you get your choice of three different reticles: BDC (bullet drop compensation), mil-dot, or Nikoplex. Nikoplex is Nikon’s name for a more traditional reticle. It has crosshairs in the four main directions that are thicker at the outer limits of the circle.
You can make adjustments to the reticle by hand turning it in ¼-minute increments. The maximum internal adjustment is 50 minutes of arc (MOA).
Eye relief is a touch less than the previous scope at 3.6 inches. The field of view (FOV) runs from just under 20 feet down to 6.8 feet.
Users report very little distortion with the Buckmasters 4.5-14×40, but there is one caveat concerning the magnification power. Even though this can give you up to 14 times magnification, it is effectively only a 12x scope because the reticle is on the second focal plane. The mil-dots will only be accurate up to the 12x magnification setting.
For a quick explanation of the differences between first and second focal plane scopes, watch this video from Vortex.
Some users really appreciate the side focus featured on this scope. You don’t have to take your eye off your target to make a change.
Nikon Buckmasters 6-18×40 BDC
Finally, let’s take a look at the most powerful of these four Nikon scopes, the Nikon Buckmasters 6-18×40 BDC. If you are especially interested in long range shooting, this may be the scope you prefer.
Eye relief is about the same as on the previous scopes, but field of view comes down to about 16 feet to just under 6 feet at the highest magnification.
Being the most powerful brings the most weight – 19.4 ounces – and the longest dimension at 14.7 inches. That’s not a huge amount of weight but something you will want to take into consideration if you are going to be holding your rifle for many hours at a time.
You do get finer adjustment tuning at ⅛ minutes of arc per click. This makes sense when you are aiming at much more distant objects.
Users have noted that the long sun shield you get can really be helpful when shooting in the general direction of a setting sun. Even when pointing your rifle just a few degrees from the sun, you should get little or no glare inside your scope.
One user who compared the Buckmasters to the Coyote said that the Buckmasters was always noticeably brighter. Each scope had a BDC reticle, but the one on the Coyote was often out of focus. The Buckmasters never had such a problem though.
Choosing the Best Nikon Buckmasters Scope
It is really difficult to say that any of these scopes is better than the rest. Hopefully this Nikon Buckmaster scope review pointed you towards one you’ll favor more than the others. When you combine the Nikon quality with their lifetime warranty, it’s hard to go wrong.
For your situation, it most likely will come down to how much magnification you want and you much weight you want to add to your rifle.