Hands-On: Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II 3-9x40mm Review

nikon prostaff rimfire 3 9x40 review

Nikon is a familiar name even to people who have never fired a gun in their lives, thanks to their production of cameras, binoculars, and pretty much anything else that involves lenses. But for hunters and target shooters alike, Nikon rifle scopes have long been synonymous with quality and clarity. 

It's probably no surprise that the Prostaff Rimfire II is no exception—it's a great little optic at a very reasonable price point, and it's one of the most common scopes you're likely to see on top of a Ruger 10/22 or Marlin Model 60.

Unfortunately, Nikon announced at the end of 2019 that they were stepping away from the riflescope market, citing shrinking profit margins, more competitors, and an increased focus on production of cameras and binoculars. 

Many shooters were understandably shocked, and while Nikon scopes can still be found at affordable prices if you look hard enough, once the supply is gone—that's it. With that in mind, this review will also be looking at a couple of alternative rimfire rifle scope options that best fit the same niche as the Prostaff Rimfire II.

Alternatives

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

ALTERNATIVE

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Length: 11.3 in
ALTERNATIVE

Leupold VX-1 Rimfire

leupold rimfire

Leupold VX-1 Rimfire

  • Diameter: 28mm
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Length: 10.1 in

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire

Vortex is one of my go-to brands for quality, no-frills optics at an affordable price point, and their rimfire scopes are worthy competitors for the Prostaff Rimfire II. Though the magnification range on this optic is slightly more narrow, I never really felt like I was missing anything; I rarely find myself shooting .22 or .17HMR much past 100 yards, so 2-7x hits that same sweet spot while also allowing the optic to be slightly lighter and more compact.

The Crossfire II has a very similar windage and elevation reset turret setup to the Prostaff, though the V-plex reticle is much simpler and lacks the bullet drop compensation hashmarks. Vortex also backs up all of their optics with a comprehensive lifetime warranty, though I can happily report that I've never had to use it across years of owning their products.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire

The price of Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire varies, so check the latest price at

2. Leupold VX-1 Rimfire

Leupold VX-1 Rimfire

Like Nikon, Leupold's scopes are renowned for their clarity, brightness, and overall optical quality. The VX-1 Rimfire is their take on an affordable rimfire scope, and it's another strong contender to fill the gap left behind by the Prostaff Rimfire II.

Like the Vortex, it's a 2-7x, meaning it loses a slight amount of magnification compared to the Nikon, but in exchange for a lighter, smaller scope body, which is more noticeable on a .22 than you might think. The crosshair is crisp and unobtrusive, and while it may not be quite as bright as the Nikon, it still performs well even in low light conditions.

Leupold FX-I 4x28mm Rimfire/Ultralight Riflescope

Leupold VX-1 Rimfire

The price of Leupold VX-1 Rimfire varies, so check the latest price at

Overview

Is the Prostaff 3-9x40 worth tracking down even after going out of production? If you can find one at close to the original retail price, I would say yes. The optical quality is excellent, competing with scopes that cost twice as much, and it produces clear, high-contrast images ideal for varmint hunting and target shooting alike. Put simply, it’s a good scope at a good price.

nikon prostaff rimfire 3-9x40 review

The reticle is fine enough for precision work, but not so fine that you risk losing the crosshair when you're trying to keep up with a rabbit moving in dense brush. The BDC markings are probably not really necessary considering you'll most likely be making most of your shots inside of 50 yards, but it's still a nice feature to have for those edge cases. 

The field of view is large enough to follow skittish game even at max magnification, and it's also worth noting that the eye relief is fairly forgiving, which is more rare than it should be when trying to pick out a rimfire scope.

The adjustment turrets have a nice, tactile feel, with audible clicks, and the spring-loaded instant-zero reset design makes sighting in fast and easy. Parallax setting is at 50 yards, and adjustments are in 1/4th MOA increments at that distance. 

I will say that this is one area that the Vortex Crossfire II and Leupold VX-1 come out ahead for me, as both of them offer an adjustable objective (AO) lens—it comes down to personal preference, but it's a feature I definitely like on my rimfire scopes.

When it comes to durability and reliability, all three scopes featured in this review are built from solid aircraft grade aluminum and come rated for waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof performance, meaning they should have no problem handling whatever mother nature throws at you.

All three come in a matte finish, though the Leupold VX-1 can also be purchased in a gloss finish if you prefer a more classic look on your hunting rifle. All three scopes are also covered under warranty – I've never had to send a scope back from any of these manufacturers, though I would say that on paper, Vortex probably has the most comprehensive coverage out of the bunch.

What's in the Box?

If you're lucky enough to track down a Prostaff Rimfire II new in box, you will find the following inside:

  • The optic itself
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Instruction manual
  • Lens covers
  • Allen wrench

All in all, pretty much what you would expect from a sub-$150 optic. It doesn't include rings, which are the only thing you'd need to buy to start shooting right out of the box, and some shooters prefer to swap out the band-style lens covers with a set of flip-up lens caps (Butler Creek is my preferred brand). A sunshade is optional – I didn't find it necessary even in central Texas, but if you tend to shoot in the sunniest parts of the day it's always nice to have one.

Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II 3-9x40mm

The price of Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II 3-9x40mm varies, so check the latest price at

Features

BDC 150 Reticle

The Prostaff Rimfire II comes equipped with a BDC reticle with hashmarks out to 150 yards, allowing the shooter to quickly and easily make holdover adjustments if shooting at targets across varying ranges. It's a handy feature for varmint hunting, especially given how fast and active small game can be, and while you're probably not going to find yourself making many shots with a .22 at 150 yards, it's nice to know you have the option. Neither the Vortex nor the Leupold scope in this review have a BDC reticle, so if this feature is a dealbreaker for you, it's worth tracking down the Nikon.

nikon prostaff rimfire ii 3 9x40

Another factor worth mentioning is Nikon’s Spot-On Ballistic Software (currently available on PC, Android and iPhone), which allows the shooter to enter the scope model, rifle model, brand of factory ammo in order to receive accurate ballistic reports and reference information for zeroing and field adjustments. It’s a nice feature, though it’s unclear whether it will stick around for the long haul with Nikon no longer involved in the industry.

Zero-Reset Turrets

Both the Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II and the Vortex Crossfire II Rimfire offer spring-loaded zero-reset turrets that can be re-indexed without the use of tools once your rifle has been sighted in. This is another nice quality of life feature that I often find myself glad to have in the field, just because anything that makes it easier to zero my optic and fine-tune the adjustments without fiddling with tools and instruction manuals is a big plus in my book.

High-Clarity Glass

Nikon has spent decades refining their technology and creating lenses for a wide variety of different products and industries, so it's no surprise that their scopes boast some of the best clarity, sharpness, and light transmission that you can find in this price range. While Leupold's glass quality is also top notch and Vortex scopes tend to be surprisingly bright even for the more compact models, the Prostaff Rimfire II is hard to beat in terms of overall optical performance.

Performance

As I've already mentioned, the Prostaff Rimfire II has genuinely one of the clearest, most crisp sight pictures I've seen from a scope under $200, and thanks to the 40mm objective lens, light transmission is also good enough to give you a bit of extra shooting time during those dawn and dusk hours. 

My only complaint is that the lack of an adjustable objective (compared to both the Vortex and Leupold) means you lose a small bit of sharpness when you're shooting at the effective limits of the scope's range – it's not something that bothers me, but I'm mentioning it just in case.

nikon prostaff rimfire ii 3-9x40 review

Running the Prostaff through a basic box test at 50 yards revealed that the scope tracks quite well, and adjustments are fine enough at this distance to turn your rifle into a 50-yard tackdriver. 

Do yourself a favor and invest in a solid set of scope rings—if you're mounting it on something like a standard Ruger 10/22 Weaver base, medium-height rings will be your best bet, but many of the picatinny rails available for the most popular rimfire rifles are a bit taller, in which case I'd recommend low-height rings. With a solid mount and good rings, you should encounter zero problems with drifting zero once you've got your rifle sighted in properly.

I don't make a habit out of beating up my gear on purpose, but I don't baby it either, and I can confidently say that this optic will hold up against inclement weather and typical wear and tear. I wouldn't go trying to hammer nails with it or anything, but it's sturdy enough to take a tumble or a few dings here and there.

Pros / Cons

Pros

  • Excellent clarity
  • Bullet drop compensation markings out to 150 yards
  • Zero-reset turrets
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • No adjustable objective or parallax adjustment
  • Out of production and may be difficult to find

Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II 3-9x40mm

The price of Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II 3-9x40mm varies, so check the latest price at

Parting Shots

I picked up one of these scopes for a 10/22 target shooting build that I put together a few years ago for $120 brand new, and if you're lucky enough to snag a Prostaff Rimfire II off of eBay or from a certified re-seller on Amazon for close to that price point, you won't be disappointed. Unfortunately, as supply dries up and prices increase, it becomes harder and harder to recommend it over some of the other alternatives that are still in production.

I've spent time around both the Vortex Crossfire II and the Leupold VX-1, and I think both of them are worthy successors to the Nikon in terms of high quality scopes that won't break the bank. Whether you're hunting small game, punching out the bullseye at 50 yards, or just plinking for fun, all three of these scopes will serve your needs.

Do you have any experience with these optics? Did we leave out one of your favorite alternatives? If so, sound off in the comments and let us know what you think. And if you're interested in checking out some other rimfire scope options, head on over to our rundown on the Best Rimfire Scopes.

Reference

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