Testfire: Nikko Stirling Diamond 4-16x44 HMDBy Darrin Tunnicliffe-Smith
- 13th Aug, 2020 Aug 13, 2020, 1:10 PM
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There is an old adage amongst shooters when it comes to buying a rifle scope. “Spend more on your scope than you spent on your rifle”. The reasoning being, no matter how good the rifle is, it will be limited by the optic you use to aim when it counts.
A sub MOA rifle will not group if the scope you are using won’t hold zero, you can’t hit what you can’t see, and you will never nail the longer shots if the turrets don’t track as they should. The theory here is true, but does that adage still hold up today?
Machining and production practices today allow for higher production runs with tighter tolerances in less time. Despite this, the basic function of a rifle scope is the same as it has always been - they provide a point of aim through magnified lenses to increase the accuracy of a shot at range.
“When I asked a group of shooters what their thoughts were in regard to Nikko Stirling scopes, the overwhelming majority of responses were “excellent value for money, that works”.”
Development has seen many useful features made available such as: variable magnification, dialable turrets for elevation/windage/parallax in the field, inert gas filled tubes and various glass coatings. All these features help when it comes to making a shot count, but the primary function remains the same.
Nikko Stirling have specialized in sports optics since 1956, with the philosophy to provide shooters with the optics they need to be successful in their sport.
When I asked a group of shooters what their thoughts were in regard to Nikko Stirling scopes, the overwhelming majority of responses were “excellent value for money, that works”.
Nikko Stirling do not produce the “Ferraris” of the scope world, but do you need a Ferrari to get a bullet from A to B or will a Corolla get the job done?
Enter the Nikko Stirling Diamond scope range - these scopes are packed with features that are normally reserved for high end scopes, at a reasonable price point. The model reviewed here is the Diamond FFP 4-16x44 which retails for $599.99.
A one-piece 30mm aluminium tube provides a sturdy shock proof body to maintain accuracy in the field. The tube is waterproof, and nitrogen filled to avoid any internal fogging.
Using a 30mm tube has the added benefits of increased field of view and wider adjustment range over a traditional 1” tube.
After a couple of cold, wet, winter hunts in some thick north island bush, the scope had no problems with internal fog, never lost zero or had any issues from normal field use.
The unit weighs in at 620g, this is about twice the weight of the scope I normally carry however it felt solid and wasn’t an issue to carry or hold for offhand shots.
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This scope has a first focal plane (FFP) reticle which you normally cannot find in this price point. An FFP reticle is in scale with the image you are viewing through the scope, as you magnify the image the reticle also increases in size.
The plus side to this is that the reticles hash marks are always correct for shot correction/holdover regardless of the magnification you are set to. The downside can be that on low magnification the reticle can be very fine and a little harder to see.
This is combated by the fact that this reticle is illuminated with 11 different brightness settings - I found midrange to be great in lower light settings such as when bush stalking.
The reticle is a Skeleton HMD (half MIL-Dot) which is a variation of a standard MIL-Dot reticle to include half MIL increments for finer shot correction and hold overs. These are military standard markings so 1 MIL (dot) is equal to 10cm at 100m.
The lower section of the reticle also includes range estimation markings where set lines measure 1m at 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m & 1000m.
I found the reticle excellent for target shooting and found the FFP markings useful throughout the magnification range. On 4x magnification whilst bush stalking, the reticle is difficult to see at times.
However, setting the illumination to midway removes this problem. I found the brighter end of the illumination settings can make it hard to pick out the finer hash marks.
TURRETS AND ADJUSTMENT
Setting zero was easy, and fast. The exposed tactical turrets for elevation and windage with 1/10mm adjustments allowed quick and precise adjustments, then one Torx screw to realign the dials at zero.
From the zero position, dialling for extended range is simple, there is an audible click as you move the dials and clear markings for reference. I did find there is a small amount of play in the dials that make it possible to mistakenly dial 1/10 MIL more or less than intended which is something to watch.
A big plus for these dials is the locking feature where you click the dials down and they are locked in place, this prevents losing zero in the field.
During box testing the turret adjustments tracked true and returned to zero perfectly. 1 MIL adjustment (10 clicks) is equal to a point of aim shift of 10cm at a range of 100m. After moving through the range with both elevation and windage, then returning to zero I shot a 3-shot group at .55 MOA.
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Parallax is adjustable via a dial that starts from 10 yards - this is great for getting a clear sight picture at any range and perfect for precise shooting.
When I first set up the scope the parallax dial was incredibly stiff to move - to the point where I could not adjust it in time for a deer I was stalking. With use this has loosened up and become much more user friendly.
Externally on the parallax dial is the reticle illumination control ranging from 0-11, there is no half click off setting, but otherwise it works well. Battery housing is on the end of this dial with toolless entry.
If there is one area that really separates scopes by price point, it is the glass. The glass here is listed as “multi-coated lenses” with a 44mm objective lens. In use the glass here is crisp and clear from 4x to 10x magnification.
There is some loss of clarity around the edges at max 16x magnification, however the target is very visible and reticle markings are clear and usable.
“If there is one area that really separates scopes by price point, it is the glass. The glass here is listed as “multi-coated lenses” with a 44mm objective lens.”
Lens coatings are generally there to protect against scratches, decrease external fogging, and improve light transmission. On the coldest and dampest day, I spent in the bush with this scope I did have some trouble with the external lenses fogging up and found myself having to regularly clean the lenses.
Overall, I am impressed with this scope. It brings a feature list from a much higher end scope into an entry level price point and makes longer range shooting much more accessible. Those shooters I asked about Nikko Stirling were right, this is excellent value for money.
Do you need to spend more on your scope than you did on your rifle? Well that depends on what you are looking to achieve - for the vast majority we might like the Ferrari, but the Corolla will do the job every day of the week.
|Nikko Stirling Diamond 4-16x44 HMD|
|Focal plane:||First (FFP)|
|Reticle:||Skeleton HMD NATO, Illuminated|
|Field of view:||2.4/8.7m at 100m|
|Adjustment graduations:||1/10 MIL|
|Parallax range:||Starting from 0 yards|
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