I recently got my hands on the Nightforce NX8 4-32×50 and tested out how suited it was for long distance shooting.
With the abundance of rifle scopes available to the long distance and precision rifle shooter, one company’s optics are particularly well represented on the firing line. You will be hard pressed not seeing a Nightforce scope whether it’s a ATACR or NX8 on a PRS rifle, a SHV on a hunting rifle or the NXS series on a target rifle. At the price point the NX8 sits in, you want to know you are getting good value for money as there is some tough competition at that price. Nightforce’s motto is ‘Rugged, Reliable and Repeatable’ and after reading about Nightforce scopes being selected for several military contracts in the United States I was keen to see how the NX8 stacked up.
For a military application, tracking and durability are incredibly important factors that get serious consideration when selecting an optic. These factors are becoming more important to the modern hunter and precision rifle shooter who have been stretching shots out to further and further distances. In short, the modern shooter looking to make hits at greater distances has many similar requirements to that of the military user. With this in mind, I was keen to finally spend some time behind the NX8 mounting it on my Ruger Precision Rifle in .308 and seeing if it lived upto the Nightforce motto.
The optic is high end and does come with the associated price tag of a high quality optic. I wanted to know what you are getting with the large price tag and if the features were worth it. The NX8 series comes in a total of three variants including 1-8x, 2.5-20x and 4-32x. I had the ideal long range shooting magnification of 4-32x in first focal plane (FFP). The NX8 sits below the higher priced Nightforce ATACR series and above the NXS series. The Nightforce NXS series of scopes are all in the second focal plane where as the NX8 are in the FFP. The ATACR line are the flagship series from Nightforce and have a little higher quality turrets and glass.
The NX8 comes with features you would expect on a high end scope such as zero stop, parallax adjustment and a handy built-in throw lever for changing magnification more easily.
From first picking up the scope you can see it’s a well thought out optic that is built to take a beating. The build quality is excellent and the design is well executed. The scope is made of a thick aluminum case and covered in a black mat finish. The 30mm tube houses the impressive magnification range. One interesting feature of this variant in the NX8 line is the 50mm objective lens which keeps the optic more compact and shaves off some weight.
I had high expectations for the glass in the NX8 due to the scopes price point and I wasn’t disappointed. Looking down range I was impressed with the crisp and clear sight picture that the scope offers in the price bracket it sits. The glass remains bright at higher magnifications which made target acquisition easy. With such a large magnification range I was executing the NX8 to struggle with chromatic aberration however to my surprise it was difficult to get any major distortion.
The contrast range is good and I had no complaints there. The resolution held up well even at maximum magnification.
Colours are nice and neutral without a warm or cold tint through the glass. The smaller 50mm objective lens works well to capture light but if you are prioritising glass in your next scope order consider spending the extra cash on the ATACR series.
A long-range scope’s turrets are going to get more of a workout than most scopes that are used for quick shots in deer season. With this in mind I was impressed with exactly the right amount of resistance when dialing the elevation and windage turrets up and down. The turrets were well within the quality expected for the price.
The elevation turret is exposed and the windage turret is capped. Adjustments were made in .1 MRAD with a total of 26 MRAD of elevation adjustment and MRAD for windage.
The zero-stop feature made it easy to return the scope to its original sight in setting at 100 yards. This ensures when dialing back down after shooting at longer distances, you don’t go past your sighting in setting. Tracking was on point with the NX8, as expected with the brands reputation the scope was very reliable.
The Nightforce NX8 comes in a variety of reticles to suit different users. I was using the MIL-R F1 reticle. This allowed me to have a clear view of my target’s at the range and easily adjust for hold over shots.
The NX8 comes in several other reticles including MOAXT, MOAR, MIL-C, MIL-XT and TREMOR3.
The NX8 is without a doubt robust, it’s very well put together. However, durability does come at a cost to weight, with the scope coming in at 28.6oz/811grams. For range use, the weight of the optic isn’t a big deal as the rifle isn’t going far from the carpark to the bench. For lightweight hunting applications weight can have bigger impacts and is usually a more important factor to consider. Especially after all the expense, effort and organisation that goes into some hunting trips, the last thing I want is for my optics to let me down. With this in mind, I often make exceptions when hunting for heavy, more durable optics, as more durable optics stand up to taking hits in the field.
The smaller objective lens compared to the heavier ATACR helps keep the overall weight down at the cost of some light transmission. Overall the scope is on the lighter side for long distance optics and I wouldn’t have a problem using the NX8 for long range shots in the mountains.
In the Field
Once I had the NX8 mounted I headed to the range where I was running 175grain Sierra Match King’s through the Ruger Precision Rifle. The RPR is a decent target rifle and the perfect to test the tracking and sight picture of the NX8. Once at the range the Nightforce NX8 was easy to sight in at 100 yards and when pushing it to longer distances I began to get a feel for all its features such as the zero stop, parallax and throw lever. After shooting out to 200 yards on paper targets, I moved to shooting steel gongs from the prone position at 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards. The optic performed flawlessly and was a pleasure to use. Winding the turrets up and down and hearing the audible clicks was satisfying. Target acquisition was made easy through the simple reticle and bright glass.
From spending time behind the NX8, I can see how Nightforce have managed to carve their way into becoming one of the leading choices for long range shooters around the world. I see people weighing up between the NX8 and the Vortex Viper PST Gen II, which both have good magnification and 50mm objective lenses, however the extra cost in the NX8 gets you a much more robust optic.
If you are looking for a robust optic that can take a beating in the field combined with good glass, you won’t be disappointed with the Nightforce NX8.
- Tactical Turrets
- Quality Glass
- Good Reticle Choices
- Pricey, however you can save hundreds off discounted showroom models at EuroOptic.