Nikon is Exiting the Rifle Scope Business

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For the last few months, there have been a number of rumors swirling around online that Nikon might be getting out of the rifle scope business. Well I somewhat “cornered” our Nikon representative at my day job and confirmed that they are in fact planning on stopping the production of rifle scopes at the end of 2019. As of January 1st, 2020, Nikon will officially be out of the rifle scope business.

Nikon Black FX1000 scope

The Nikon rep I spoke with indicated that the reps had been told that the decision was based on two factors:

  • The scopes that Nikon produced were marketed towards the entry level to mid-level range of the rifle scope market, which is extremely competitive, and it wasn’t really a very profitable market for them.
  • Nikon wanted to divert the resources of their Sporting Optics division towards the more profitable product families of that division, which are spotting scopes, range finders, and binoculars.

This news somewhat makes sense because in the beginning of 2018, Nikon abruptly changed the distribution model of their rifle scope division when they transitioned from an open supply chain over to a registered dealer only program.

This change meant that Nikon rifle scopes were no longer being sold through the traditional wholesale supply chain. Instead, Nikon migrated over to a very focused dealer direct program, where only a registered Nikon Optics dealer could access and sell their rifle scope line.

Nikon exiting the rifle scope business

In 2018, I asked one of our Nikon reps what was driving that change, and he reported that Nikon wanted to focus their efforts on working with their most successful dealers (as in volume of Nikon scope sales annually), and wanted the ability to enforce MAP pricing more effectively.

If you aren’t familiar with MAP pricing, it stands for Minimum Advertised Pricing, and that’s a number that is set by the scope manufacturer that determines the absolute lowest price that a dealer can advertise or sell their product. So, Nikon sets the MAP pricing on a certain rifle scope as $399.99, then it means that a Nikon scope dealer is not allowed to advertise or sell that scope for less than $399.99 (although there are some exceptions to MAP pricing rules).

I also got the impression that Nikon was having some real issues enforcing MAP pricing on platforms like Ebay and Gunbroker.

Here are some of the commonly asked questions that I’ve seen regarding the Nikon scope situation:

#1 – So, if you are a fan of Nikon rifle scopes, what does this mean for you going forward?

Most likely it means the following:

  • If you are a fan of particular Nikon rifle scope model, then you may want to give some thought to grabbing a couple of more of that particular model as Nikon has indicated that once the current inventory is sold, there won’t be any more.
  • You’ll probably start seeing some really good deals on Nikon scope models as dealers will be trying to get rid of the existing inventory.

#2 – What about Nikon warranty and repair of scopes after they get out of the business?

Good question, and the Nikon rep I spoke with said that as far as he knew, Nikon was still planning on honoring any valid warranty on any Nikon scope.

While I never was a die-hard Nikon scope fan, this news is a shame as it means there will be one less brand of rifle scope models for shooters to choose from.

#3 – Are Nikon scopes going out of business?

Like I mentioned above, Nikon stopped making rifle scopes as of January 1st, 2020. They are still producing other optical products like rangefinders, spotting scopes, and binoculars though.

#4 – Have or were Nikon scopes discontinued?

In late 2019, Nikon announced that they were going to phase out the rifle scopes portion of their optical division. Effective January 1st, 2020, Nikon stopped producing or offering rifle scopes.

Now, there are still a number of new Nikon rifle scopes that are still available in different channels, but when those channels sell out, there will not be any more new Nikon scopes entering the market.