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When Nikon announced that they were exiting the riflescope market in December of 2019, it sent shock waves through the industry as they were a major industry player in the sporting optics market. Although there have been a number of theories floated around as to why Nikon exited the business, I suspect that, ultimately, it was a culmination of factors that led to the exit.
Now that Nikon is officially out of the riflescope business, I’ve had a number of customers at my day job come in looking to acquire another of their favorite Nikon scope models before they are gone for good. One Nikon model that I’ve been asked about is the M-308 scope, and more than one customer has asked the following question: Have the Nikon M 308 scopes been discontinued?
Nikon M 308 Scopes
Before I get into details and answer that question, let me take a second to go over this Nikon scope series.
The Nikon M-308 scope series is/was part of Nikon’s M-Tactical family of scopes. This series was basically introduced as an enhanced version of Nikon’s very popular P-Tactical series of scopes.
Like the name somewhat implies, the M-Tactical family of scopes was built to primarily focus on tactical based shooting, although it works equally well for hunting. This series was available in two styles:
- Caliber specific models for either the .308 or .223 caliber
- Non-specific calibers
Nikon only offered one 308 caliber version, which was introduced in 2014, with an MSRP of $449.99. This model was officially called the Nikon M-Tactical .308 scope, and was only available in a 4-16×42 version with one of the following reticle options:
|Nikon BDC 800 Reticle
|Nikon Nikoplex Reticle
- Nikon BDC 800 reticle – This reticle was specifically designed to offer known BDC (bullet drop) functionality out to 800 yards (hence the “800” in the name). The turret is configured to work with a 168-grain hollow point or boat tail .308 bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2680 feet per second.
- Nikoplex reticle – The Nikoplex reticle is Nikon’s version of a standard duplex crosshair design. It features slightly thicker lines on the outer part of the reticle that narrow down into fine crosshairs. This reticle is the better choice for hunting or general target shooting as opposed to long range shooting.
When this scope was released it seemed to have caught the eye of many AR-10 shooters, as I mounted this model on a number of customer AR-10 builds.
Here are a couple of nice features found on the Nikon M-308:
- 4x Zoom Magnification
- 30mm tube
- Exposed turrets with spring loaded Zero Set
- Side focus with a parallax that adjusts down to 50 yards
Let’s talk about a few specifics on this scope model:
As the M-Tactical scope series was designed to be a step above the Nikon P-Tactical scope series, the optical quality on the M-308 model is better than the P-308 scope. Given the price point, the M 308 scope model has surprisingly good glass with edge to edge clarity and resolution.
Nikon advertises the M 308 4-16×42 model as having an eye relief range of 3.7 to 4 inches. To be honest, I don’t think it’s quite that far. I’d estimate that the real-world eye relief is more like 3.5 inches max.
The eye relief is also a little bit on the sensitive side. If your head shifts side to side just a little, a black ring shows up at the very edge of the glass.
I have to say that the zero-reset feature on this scope is pretty well thought out and works well. Keep in mind, it’s not a mechanical-based zero rest as it uses springs to control the reset point. That being said, you don’t typically see a decent zero-reset feature like this one at this price point.
This scope model is covered under one of two Nikon warranty programs, and which one will depend on the date that the scope was purchased:
- Any of the M-308 scope models that were purchased prior to November 1st of 2019, should be covered under Nikon’s “No Fault” warranty.
- Any M-308 scope purchased after the November 1st, 2019 date is covered under Nikon’s newer “Limited Lifetime Warranty”.
I have some firsthand experience with the No Fault warranty program, and it always served me well in the few times that I’ve engaged it.
The newer Limited Lifetime Warranty program doesn’t seem as customer-friendly as the older No Fault warranty program, but the Limited Lifetime program is in line with the warranty that you typically see with most European based scope brands.
Here are the three things I’m not really a fan of with this scope model:
(1) As I mentioned above, the eye relief is just a hair critical, but not enough to shy me away from this scope.
(2) The parallax only goes down to 50 yards, which is one of my pet peeves about good scopes. The 50-yard minimum is fine for range work and long-range shooting but could be a liability for hunting. If a game animal happens to be under the 50-yard minimum focus distance, then, even on the lowest power setting, they will be blurry and out of focus in the scope.
(3) Limitations on the BDC-800 reticle – The BDC 800 reticle is designed to be used with a 168 grain .308 bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2680. This means that the BDC functionality does not work if you happen to shoot a bullet with a different gain weight, or .308 round with a slower or faster speed of 2680 FPS.
What do you do if you happen to prefer a different .308 bullet as it offers better accuracy? You basically have 3 options in that scenario:
- Invest some time testing the BDC functionality with the .308 round you prefer and manually determine the POI of the BDC marks.
- Buy a custom turret configured to the specifics of that particular .308 round based on bullet weight, speed, etc. Nikon offers a custom BDC based turret option through Kenton Turrets.
- Use another application, like the Nikon Spot-On app, to configure a cheat sheet so you know which BDC circle on the reticle impacts at what yardage.
So, have the Nikon M 308 scopes been discontinued?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. When Nikon migrated out of the scope business, they ceased production on all riflescope models, including the M-308 scope series.
Here are a few locations that I was able to locate that have new and pre-owned M 308 scopes available at discounted prices, and they can be seen below:
Here are some frequently asked questions that I see and hear regarding the Nikon M-308 4-16×42 scopes:
What’s the difference between the Nikon M 308 Nikoplex vs BDC reticles?
The Nikoplex reticle is basically a very nice duplex that does not have any BDC markings, hash marks, or sub tension marks. This means that it has no point of reference for longer distance shooting than the center of the crosshairs (other than good ole fashion Kentucky windage). In my humble opinion, this makes the Nikoplex better suited for hunting or general range work. I have seen it mounted on a number of AR-10’s that were used for hog hunting.
The BDC 800 reticle offers some advantages over the Nikoplex, but those advantages are really more geared towards long-range shooting or long-range hunting. That being said, I’ve hunted with a Nikon scope equipped with a BDC-600 reticle and had no issues at all.
The BDC functionality also has some limits as, out of the box, it ties you to s specific bullet weight and bullet speed. There are a few hoops to jump through to get the BDC configured for an alternative bullet weight and/or bullet speed, but I prefer that option over being tied to a specific ammo configuration.
At the end of the day, I’d say this:
- If you are familiar with a duplex reticle and don’t plan to shoot long-range, then consider the Nikoplex.
- If you want the best of both worlds, then consider the BDC reticle.
- I personally prefer the versatility of the BDC reticle over the Nikoplex.
Where is/was the Nikon M-308 scopes made or manufactured?
Like many of the mid-range Nikon scopes, the M-308 scopes were made in the Philippines. With Nikon, you don’t typically see any of their scopes being manufactured in Japan anymore.
Was the Nikon M 308 scope ever offered with a mil dot reticle?
To my knowledge, the Nikon M-308 scope series was not offered with a mil-dot reticle option. I do know that Nikon did offer the P3 and P5 line of scopes with a dedicated mil-dot reticle.
Can you compare the Nikon M 308 vs P308 scopes?
The Nikon P 308 scope and the Nikon M 308 scope models are very similar but also have a number of differences. Here’s a list of the differences:
- The M-308 scopes are built on a 30mm tube (at least the most recent models are. There are a few out there that were made in a 1-inch tube) compared to the P-308 model being built on a 1-inch tube.
- The optical quality on the M 308 scopes is superior to the optics on the P 308 scopes. The optical clarity on the M series is not light years better but is noticeably better if you compare them side by side.
- The P 308 scopes feature a 4-12 magnification range where the M 308 has a more powerful 4-16 magnification range.
- The M series of scopes features a side focus that adjusts all the way down to 50 yards, where the P series has no side focus and has a parallax that is fixed at 100 yards.
And all those extra features explain why the Nikon M 308 scopes have a higher price point than the P series of scopes.
As I come across more questions related to this topic, I’ll update this section.
I’ve been working in the firearms and sporting optics industry for over 20 years, with a personal and professional interest in all things related to rifle scopes, Through a combination of work experience, formal training, and personal experiences, I have extensive experience mounting, testing, and evaluating different rifle scope models across most major optical brands.