Our Rating: 8.4 / 10
Reviewing is an art. In this art, you're expected to review things not based on what they could be, but based on what they're trying to be. The ProStaff 3 isn't trying to be the perfect hunting scope, or an advanced military-grade tactical scope. It is a budget-friendly general purpose scope, and for those purposes, it's an absolute must-buy.
Nikon has created an excellent true-entry-level general-purpose scope intended for medium to long range shooting. You can't really go wrong with this buy. It's got smart optics and easy features that will help you start bagging targets in no time at all after picking it up and mounting it. The specs and craftsmanship of this scope make it an ideal choice for hunting, bench shooting, and target shooting in particular, but it's also a fantastic option for most general purpose applications.
Linear FOV (low zoom)
33.8 ft/100 yd
Linear FOV (high zoom)
11.3 ft/100 yd
Eye Relief (low zoom)
Eye Relief (high zoom)
Elevation Adjustment (MOA)
Wind Adjustment (MOA)
$179.99 or less on sale
There's a saying in the optics community: your scope should cost twice as much as your gun. While funny, there’s definitely a grain of truth to the statement. A bullet is a bullet. What matters is whether or not it hits your target. Usually, this means that shelling out for a higher priced scope, and by extension a higher quality scope, is all-in-all a solid decision. So what’s really surprising is when there is a true budget scope: a scope that doesn’t cost much at all, but that does an excellent job regardless.
This is exactly what you’ll find in the Nikon ProStaff 3 9x40. Many gunsmiths recommend this scope to novice shooters because of the fact that it’s pretty cheap, but it’s super reliable. We take the same position. For the price, there’s almost no way you can do better than it.
The advantages start with the brilliant optics. At this price point, finding great glass is pretty rare, but the glass in this scope is on par with scopes that are twice or even three times as much. The careful construction lends it to gather light extremely well, and this in turn makes it an excellent scope even in the first and last moments of light. This quality is maintained through the various levels of magnification, and even at the highest zoom, you’ll find a really solid and clear picture. This clear picture is accented by a very wide field of view that lets you see to know exactly what you could be bagging in the next 15 minutes, which in turn is bolstered by a forgiving eye relief aimed at novice shooters who may not have the best posture or habits yet. If buying this as a gift, you can rest assured that they won’t get scope bite thanks to this
For the price range, the reticle is really pretty good. It’s got a nice bullet-drop compensation system, making it easier for newer shooters who aren’t as familiar with adjusting based on range to get clear and accurate shots. Even veteran shooters will enjoy the feature, since it can save them time taking a shot on a ranged target. Some don’t like the BDC reticle, and say that the BDC circles are too large to be useful. For the most part, though, everybody I’ve talked to and who I’ve seen write about this scope has loved it.
Adjustments are relatively easy. The scope offers high-quality turrets that feel like they cost more than they really do. Standard elevation and windage adjustments make it easy to adapt on the fly to various situations. If you like to switch out ammo based on your prey, you’ll really appreciate the turrets’ zeroing capabilities which make it super easy to change your ammo, adjust, then go right back to zero when you’re done.
The only thing really to complain about in terms of adjustments is the lack of parallax adjustment, but this is understandable and expected for the price range, and the parallax is fixed by default at 100 yards. Additionally, a few fellow shooters have mentioned the adjustments not working as well as they’d like, but they seem to be in the minority. On a lighter note, Nikon offers a super handy application to help you figure out bullet drop compensation and adjustments for various different kinds of ammo and guns, so that’s just another practical feature that buyers of this scope will get to enjoy
I mentioned that the turrets feel like they're a lot more expensive than they really are, and this is true for the whole scope. The build quality of the entire thing is well above its price range. They expect young shooters and novices to use this scope, and this means that they expect it to be dropped and altogether treated kind of poorly. No less, since it’s meant to be a general purpose scope, it’s meant to accompany novice shooters in the truck where it’ll be bumped around and in the forest where it’ll scratch against brush. It stands up to all of this just fine. Anecdotally, it can even take standing in the pouring rain for hours at a time without a flinch. Through all of this, not only do the strong body stand up and the delicate internals remain unaffected, but usually, the scope will maintain its zero without a hitch, often requiring at most only slight adjustment if any.
In terms of setting this scope up, it’s a walk in the park. It’s meant to mount easily to a lot of different rifles, especially hunting rifles, so getting it set up is simple. After mounting it, zeroing usually doesn’t take more than 10 to 15 rounds, which really isn’t a lot if you consider the value you save in the scope itself and the fact that it holds its zero spectacularly.
In general, this scope is really reminiscent of a lot of higher-priced scopes, and can in a lot of cases compete with them in terms of quality. Things get slightly frustrating in terms of company interaction, though. Nikon is a major company with a lot of hands in a lot of industries. In some ways, this is nice: you know they have a set protocol and method for working through support demands, for instance. In other ways, it can be frustrating. Sometimes, instead of getting caught up in the bureaucracy of massive corporations, you’d rather just talk to a company all about optics. Nonetheless, this scope does come with a lifetime warranty, where Nikon basically promises to cover damage to it by either repairing or replacing it. Some have reported getting their scopes (or new scopes) back in worse condition than they sent it, but most experiences seem neutral to positive. Since it’s super hardy, you hopefully won’t have to even use your warranty for a long time.
This scope successfully fills a niche that not a lot of scopes can: an incredible budget scope. Whether you’re just looking for a backup scope, you’ve got specialized scopes but are trying to get a general purpose one for a new niche, you’re buying for somebody else, you’re trying to get a child into hunting, or you’re looking to buy your first scope yourself, when it comes to the Nikon ProStaff 3 9x40, Yes, you should buy it.
I always research these scopes while I do these reviews, that way I can tell if my opinion is the general opinion or not. In doing so, I found out something interesting - a lot of people actually will buy two or more of these scopes because they love them so much. Eventually, everything gets discontinued, and I guess people like this scope enough that they want to make sure they have backups in case something ever happens and they can’t get their hands on another. They also probably want to put them on as many rifles as they can. I think there's definitely a reason for that. Don't splurge on a general purpose $400-$600 scope when the ProStaff 3 offers a similar-or-better experience at a fraction of the price. Spend that money on ammo or training, and get out there and bag some deer.