Upon receipt and initial inspection of the M-223 I was pleasantly surprised to find it came standard with a couple accessories. Aside from the scope itself and the usual owners manual and warranty card, Nikon includes a set of plastic flip-up lens covers as well as a KillFlash Anti-Reflective Device (ARD). The lens caps are similar to those offered by Butler Creek but lack the quick open feature on the ocular end. The KillFlash ARD is a nice additional touch, but quite honesty it will be of little use or benefit for most users. One oddity that I did discover though is that the lens cap for the objective end of the scope is to large to fit the ARD and thus they cannot be used in tandem without wrapping the ARD with a few layers of electrical tape.
One of the key factors that lead me to purchasing the Nikon M-223 was the Rapid Action Turret (RAT). Most every single scope I looked over the past several months had some ill-conceived, overly complicated and downright distracting reticle in it. For whatever reason every optics manufacturer out there has gone the way of tacti-cool over practical when it comes to reticles, and Nikon is no exception. When it comes to reticles I'm a firm believer in keeping it simple and fortunately for me Nikon also offers the M-223 with a standard duplex reticle. When combined with the Rapid Action Turret a standard duplex reticle will still give you the ability to quickly and easily shoot at different ranges without having to deal with all the clutter of multiple stadia lines or dots cluttering up your view of the target.
Nikon's Rapid Action Turret System is nothing more than a calibrated turret designed to be used with a specific load with a specific muzzle velocity. In this case the prescribed combination consists of an AR-15 with a 16" barrel combined with a 55-grain bullet exiting the muzzle at 3,240 feet-per-second. This combination is an exact match to not only the M-193 Ball 56-grain military surplus ammunition, but also to Hornady's 55-grain HP Steel Match ammunition. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a few more factory loads out there that fit the bill as well.
The key benefit of the RAT is that once zeroed at 100 yards one can easily shoot at any distance out to 600 yards by simply dialing in the elevation turret up or down to the appropriate yardage mark. Not only is it quick and easy, but it's also very repeatable and reliable. The downside to such a system as you might have guessed is that it's limited to one very specific configuration. As such, if you handload for your AR-15, have a longer barrel, or want to shoot something other than a 55-grain bullet this option probably wouldn't be the best choice for you. In my case there were two key factors that helped influence my decision: 1) the intended use for my AR-15 is my personal defense and dispatching the occasional coyote, and 2) having done the math I've found it's cheaper to purchase any of the above mention factory loaded .223 ammunition than it is to reload. As such, the prescribed combination necessary to utilize the M-223's RATS is perfectly suited for my end use needs.
Hitting the range I was again very happy with the performance and results provided by the M-223. Optically the lenses provide a very clear, crisp sight picture clear out to the edge of the lens with no discernible distortion. The elevation and windage turrets proved to be very accurate and repeatable while offering both a good tactful detent and crisp audible click for each click of adjustment. While my range is limited to only 200 yards I found the 100 to 200 come-up on the elevation turret to be spot on with the Hornady Steel Match ammunition used for testing.
One thing I don't really care for on the M-223 is the magnification dial. The thin line of striations along the dial, the low-profile and rather smooth hump, and the very stiff movement combine to make it difficult to manipulate - especially if wearing gloves. Even if the stiffness fades with use over time, a dial with much larger and more positive traction is needed for quick, easy adjustment both with and without gloves.
So by now you're probably wondering why I'm reviewing an AR scope on a Savage site. Well, the truth is it's only an AR scope if you want to limit it to being an AR scope. By handloading one can easily tailor their own loads to match the prescribed velocity from your own rifle be it a Savage or anything else. Another option is to build a short-barreled (16") Savage truck gun in which the factory 55gr ammunition would match the ballistic requirements of the Rapid Action Turret.
All said and done I've been very pleased with the Nikon M-223 2-8x32mm optic. It's an ideal compromise between a low magnification (1-6x) and higher magnification (3-9x or higher) variable scope that is well suited for short to intermediate range shooting. The quality is there, the repeatability is there, and it's relatively wallet friendly so what else can one ask for?
1300 Walt Whitman Road
Melville, NY 11747-3064, U.S.A.