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Recently I had a visitor to this site send an email asking for help determining the differences between two Nikon scope models from different series. My answer ended up being so long-winded that I thought it might make sense to publish online for anyone asking the same question.
His original email was (republished with his permission):
Hey, I’m looking at a Nikon Monarch 5 and a Nikon Monarch 7 scope that are both on clearance with the Monarch 7 costing about $200 more. I’ve looked around online and see quite a bit of information discussing the differences between the Monarch 5 and Monarch 7 binoculars, but very little in terms of a comparison between the two scope models. Before I spend money, do you any experiences with either Nikon scope model?
He and I went back and forth via email a bit, and he basically narrowed down his request for information to this question: what’s the difference between the Nikon Monarch 5 and Monarch 7 scopes?
Since Nikon stopped producing riflescopes at the end of 2019, I’m sure that finding information about either of these Nikon scope lines is becoming increasingly difficult.
Fortunately, I have some experiences with both the Monarch 5 and the Monarch 7 professionally at my day job, and personally, as I owned one of the Monarch 5 models for a bit.
Before I jump into the specific differences, let’s first talk about each of those scope series.
Nikon Monarch 5 Rifle Scopes
Nikon first introduced the Monarch 5 line of scopes in late 2015, and they were officially on display at the 2016 SHOT show.
This scope series was a second focal plane (SFP) model built using Nikon’s ED glass, and featured a 5X zoom ratio. With the exception of the 2-10×42 and 2-10×50 models, these scopes were also equipped with a side focus system that would lock into place. Every model in this series was also equipped with Nikon’s spring-loaded “Instant Zero-Reset” turrets.
This series was also the first Nikon scopes to offer their upgraded Advanced BDC reticle, which was advertised as an upgraded version of their original BDC reticle. The Advanced BDC version features the standard Nikon open BDC aiming points on the vertical post, but it also has windage marks on the horizontal post for wind drift corrections.
Like most Nikon scopes, the Monarch 5 models were also built to fully integrate with Nikon’s SPOT-On Ballistic application. If you are not familiar with this application, it’s Nikon’s in-house BDC calculator, and it works pretty well.
All the Monarch 5 scopes were built on a 1-inch tube.
The Monarch 5 scopes featured the following models:
The Monarch 5 models were offered until the end of 2018 and phased out for the newer Monarch M5 that was introduced at the 2019 SHOT Show.
To me, the Monarch 5 looks like an updated version of the original Monarch series with the same optical quality coupled with a few new reticle options. I found my Monarch 5 scope to have decent to good glass and excellent features. My only complaint with it were these:
- The side focus would only adjust down to 50 yards.
- Mine had the new Advanced BDC reticle option, but I really preferred the original Nikon BDC reticle over the Advanced model.
Shopping for a Monarch 5?
Finding a new in box Nikon Monarch 5 scope may be a challenge, but here are a few that I found: (if you don’t see anything listed, then the ones I located have already sold)
Nikon Monarch 7 Rifle Scopes
The Monarch 7 lines of scopes was introduced at the 2014 SHOT show and consisted of the following models:
- 2.5-10X50SF with BDC XR turret
- 4-16x50SF with BDC XR turret
At that time, the Monarch 7 was considered Nikon’s flagship line of scopes and geared towards hunters who wanted a top-tier second focal plane scope capable of meeting the optical needs of most any hunter.
In 2017, Nikon expanded the Monarch 7 line with the following models:
- 3-12x56mm with Advanced BDC Reticle
- 3-12x56mm with IL Advanced BDC Reticle (illuminated)
- 4-16x56mm with IL Advanced BDC Reticle (illuminated)
The addition of illuminated reticle options was geared towards hunters who might need the lighted reticle for low-light hunting scenarios.
All the Monarch 7 scopes are built on a 30mm tube and were available with either the standard Nikon BDC reticle, the Nikon Advanced BDC reticle, or an illuminated version of the Advanced BDC reticle.
This scope series also offered most of the features found on the Monarch 5, including:
- The ED glass
- Locking side focus
- Instant Zero-Reset Turrets
- 5x zoom system
- Integration with the Nikon SPOT-On Ballistic Calculator program
Nikon opted to phase out the Monarch 7 scopes at the end of 2018.
The Monarch 7 series seemed to be a rebadged version of the Nikon Monarch X or Monarch Gold scopes that featured a 30mm tube and slightly better glass, coupled with different reticle options.
I don’t dislike the Monarch 7 series, but they were not an inexpensive scope. The illuminated reticle models routinely sold for between $900 and $1100.
My only complaints with the Monarch 7 scopes were:
- The costs were a bit on the high side (at least in my opinion)
- The side focus which bottomed out at 50 yards. (which annoyed me)
- The optical quality on the Monarch 7 seemed to be equal to the Monarch 5 models. In my book, the added costs of the Monarch 7 series “should” equate to better glass (but maybe that’s just me).
Shopping for a Monarch 7?
Since Nikon hasn’t been making the Monarch 7 scopes for a few years, finding a new-in-box model may be tricky. Here are a few that I came across for sale:
And here are few pre-owned ones that I found for sale:
The Differences Between these Scopes
Like most members of the Nikon scope family, these two series have several areas where they are the same and several where they are different. Let’s look at the differences:
- Tube Size – The Monarch 7 is built on a 30mm tube, while the Monarch 5 was built on a smaller 1-inch scope tube.
- Number of Models within each series – The Monarch 5 series featured seven different scope models, while the Monarch 7 series only featured five models.
- Power Ranges – The Monarch 5 series featured magnification ranges that started at 2-10×42 and went all the way up to 6-30×50. The Monarch 7 series started at 2-10×50 and topped out at 4-16×56. If you were shopping for a scope with a magnification range above 4-16, then the Monarch 5 series was a better option.
- Illuminated reticle – Between the two scope families, only the Monarch 7 offered an illuminated reticle option.
- Glass Quality – I mentioned this previously, but it’s worth repeating: in my opinion, the Monarch 7 offered the same optical quality as the Monarch 5 models. The additional costs commonly associated with the Monarch 7 seem to be tied to features, not an improvement in glass quality.
Here are some frequently asked questions that I see associated with the Monarch 5 and Monarch 7 scopes:
Where are the Nikon Monarch 5 scopes made?
The Nikon Monarch 5 scopes were manufactured in the Philippines and built to Nikon specs. I have an older Nikon Monarch made in Japan, and the optical quality on it is better than the newer Philippine-made Monarchs, but not by much.
Are Nikon Monarch 7 scopes first focal plane?
All the Nikon Monarch 7 scope models are second focal plane scopes. The only Monarch models I’m aware of that were done in an FFP configuration were a select few of the Monarch 3 scopes.
Is the Nikon Monarch M5 scope the same as the Nikon Monarch 5 scope?
No, the Monarch M5 and the Monarch 5 are not the same scope model. The M5 is the updated version of the Monarch 5 and offers a few more features and slightly better optics.
Where are the Nikon Monarch 7 scopes made?
Like the Monarch 5 series, the Monarch 7 scopes are also made at a facility in the Philippines.
As I come across more questions related to these Monarch models, 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.