Nightforce SHV 5-20×56 Review

Last updated on March 5th, 2024

We have used a few different Nightforce optics and have come to truly appreciate the build quality of their scopes. One of our favourite optics is the Nightforce NX8 series and we were interested to see if the SHV line of scopes kept the level of quality Nightforce is known for. Lucky for us, a friend picked up the Nightforce SHV 5-20×56 in the second focal plane for their Sako 85 Hunter setup and gave us the opportunity to get some time behind the optic. 

SHV in the optic title stands for Shooter-Hunter-Varminter, meaning the scope is designed with all three disciplines of shooting in mind. The SHV line of optics are the lowest price scopes on offer from Nightforce and we were keen to check out just how the SHV compared to other optics in a similar price point. 

The price of the optic puts it up against some tough competition. The table below shows other popular optics around the same price point of the SHV. 

Nightforce SHV 5-20×561811 AUD / 1345 USD
Vortex HS-LR 6-24×501699 AUD / 1249 USD
Leupold VX-3i LRP1929 AUD / 1000 USD
Burris Xtreme XTR 5-25×501900 AUD / 1249 USD
Price Comparison at time of writing


The SHV range offers the following magnifications 3-10×42, 4-14×50, 4-14×56 and 5-20×56. We had the 5-20×56 variant of the SHV which is a great magnification range for both target shooting and hunting purposes. We found the magnification ring to be firm and stayed in position when set. The magnification level numbering is easy to read however is angled away from the user and you may need to raise your head slightly above the optic to see which exact magnification is set.

Nightforce do offer an aftermarket throw lever which aids in quick magnification changes. We recommend these levers if you hunt in cold climates as the cold weather can make magnification changes even stiffer on most optics. Throw levers are also beneficial for target shooters to make frequent magnification changes a lot easier.


The SHV scopes are manufactured in Japan and the quality of manufacturing that Nightforce is known for is still present. The optics are smaller and lighter than the NX8 and ATACR series, however still pack many of the same capabilities as other Nightforce scopes. The maintube on the SHV is 30mm and made from aircraft grade aluminium. The scope is coated in an anodised matte black finish that looks sleek and professional.

One of the ways this scope is made cheaper than other optics on offer from Nightforce is that it isn’t manufactured the same as its sister scopes in the NX8 and ATACR ranges. Having said that, it still feels solid and we don’t have any hesitation putting the scope through its paces in bush and alpine hunting conditions. The scope has an exposed elevation turret on top, windage to the right side and an illumination and parallax dial on the left.

Nightforce SHV Scope


The elevation turret dial has large easy to read numbering which helps keep track of changes. The total internal elevation range is 80 MOA. Below the turret are horizontal lines that indicate how many rotations the turret cap has been turned.

The scope does come with a zero stop feature which Nightforce calls ZeroSet. For those unfamiliar with zero set, once zeroed, you can loosen the elevation cap and set the zero of the elevation turret. By providing Zero Set over Zero Stop, Nightforce has been able to offer this optic at a better price point.

The feel and sound of the clicks on the turrets are in line with the quality expected from Nightforce. The adjustment clicks have a good tactile feel and high quality. Each revolution of the turret is 10 MOA and each click is in .25 MOA increments. The windage turret is slightly smaller than the elevation turret in height and diameter but does offer the same tactile clicks as the elevation turret. The total internal adjustment range of the windage turret is 50 MOA.

On the opposite side of the windage turret is the parallax and illumination dial. The parallax dial is adjustable from 25 yards out to 500 and then infinity. The illumination dial has 11 brightness levels and illuminates the very center of the reticle. Nightforce also offer the scope without an illuminated reticle. 

Nightforce SHV


The reticle we used was the MOAR variant which is our preferred reticle for a target and hunting hybrid setup. The reticle is a more simple reticle compared to the HORUS or ‘Christmas tree’ style reticle but not just a basic crosshair. The MOAR reticle provides the shooter basic hold over capability for elevation and windage. The optic is available in a few different reticles including the MOAR reticle to suit competition shooters or the IHR/4A reticle which is a simple crosshair style hunting reticle. When looking at other optics in this price range, be sure to checkout the reticle options as some don’t offer a choice as seen by the SHV.

MOAR Reticle

If you are looking at the SHV 4-14 F1 optic, it is offered in MOAR and MIL-R reticle types. These can be viewed on Nightforces website.


From our sessions behind the optic the glass does provide a clear image at lower and higher magnifications with no signs of chromatic aberrations or vignetting. The large objective lens on the 5-20×56 variant does help capture light and deliver a bright image.


The SHV 5-20×56 comes in at 29.1oz/824grams. This is a good weight for an optic built for both the target shooter and hunter. Its good to see the magnification range and larger objective lens haven’t massively impacted the overall weight of the optic.

Nightforce SHV 5-20×56 29.1 oz / 825g
Vortex HS-LR 6-24×50 22.9 / 652g
Leupold VX-3i LRP 21.7 oz / 615g
Burris Xtreme XTR 5-25×5032.1 o / 910g
Weight Comparison


The SHV line means that the budget minded long range shooter has an alternate option in the Nightforce scope series. The simpler and more economical optic performs well and still comes with features you expect such as solid clicks and offers the ability to Set Zero on the elevation turret. The optic is available in a variety of magnifications with or without an illuminated reticle. You can also save hundreds off discounted showroom models at EuroOptic.


  • Value
  • Glass quality
  • Range of reticles


  • Throw lever doesn’t come as standard, look at adding one


Focal PlaneSecond
Magnification Range5-20x
Objective lens diameter56mm
Tube diameter30 mm/1.18 in
Internal adjustment range (MOA/Mil)e: 80 MOA
w: 50 MOA
e: 21.8 Mil
w: 13.6 Mil
Click value.250 MOA
Calibrated Ranging Power20x
Parallax adjustment25 yd–∞
Exit pupil diameter5x: 8.7 mm
20x: 2.5 mm
Eye relief80-90 mm/3.15-3.54 in
Field of view @100 yards/100 meters5x: 17.9 ft
20x: 5.0 ft
5x: 5.46 m
20x: 1.52 m
Objective outer diameter65 mm
Eyepiece outer diameter43 mm
Overall length (inches/mm)15.2 in/386 mm
Weight (ounces/grams)29.1 oz/825g* 30.5 oz/865g**
Mounting length (inches/mm)6.5 in/165 mm
Front/Rear Mounting Length2.81 in/2.04 in
PTL (Power Throw Lever)Accessory
Reticles availableIHR™
 * Non-Illuminated
** Illuminated
Elevation FeatureZeroSet™

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