When it comes to high end optics on the line at the shooting range, you will be hard pressed not seeing a Nightforce scope. Spanning several decades, Nightforce has earned a reputation for producing high performance optics tailored to meet the needs of military, sporting shooters and hunters alike. Below, we will look into the range of Nightforce optics and answer some common questions to help you make an informed decision when looking at what’s on offer from Nightforce.
Are Nightforce Optics Any Good?
I am fortunate to have had a lot of trigger time behind Nightforce scopes over the years from the high-end ATACR series to the more affordable SHV. One of the most important considerations for the shooter or hunter looking at high end optics is the reliability and quality of the scope. With this in mind, Nightforce optics have a proven reputation for making exceptional optics for shooters on the range at the bench and in the field. Nightforce’s motto is “Rugged, reliable and repeatable” and from my experience with them its true to form.
Nightforce optics are not a budget optics company and their scopes are engineered to withstand harsh environmental conditions, the best example of this is the Nightforce NXS that took a bullet in combat through the main tube and still functioned in combat for the next three days.
When your life depends on your optic working or your multi-day back country hunt comes down to the one shot, you want an optic that can take a bump or drop in the field and still perform. The strong build and engineering has made them ideal for traversing rough terrain when hunting and for military personnel in the field.
How Do Nightforce Optics Compare to Vortex Optics?
Nightforce and Vortex Optics are both popular choices and have a great reputation among shooters, there are however some differences between the two brands. I often get asked ‘why shouldn’t I just get a Vortex?’. Vortex cater to a variety of budgets, whereas Nightforce are more focused on the higher end of optics. Nightforce’s robust construction and optical quality comes with a higher price tag, but for those seeking the best in performance, Nightforce is worth the investment.
On the other hand, Vortex Optics appeals to a broader market, offering a range of scopes suitable for various shooting applications and budgets. Vortex emphasises providing optics at more affordable price points, making them a popular choice for recreational shooters and hunters who value performance without breaking the bank.
Nightforce’s Range of Optics
Nightforce has an extensive lineup of optics tailored to meet the diverse needs of sporting shooters and hunters. Before anyone asks, the BEAST series was recently discontinued so it’s not included in the line-up.
Nightforce SHV Series:
The Shooter, Hunter, Varminter (SHV) series strikes a balance between performance and affordability. The entry level optic from Nightforce is ideal for hunters and casual shooters chasing reliable tracking and a robust construction at a more accessible price point. The SHV series makes Nightforce quality accessible to a broader audience.
Nightforce Benchrest Series:
As the name suggests, the Nightforce Benchrest series are built specifically for benchrest shooting. The Nightforce Benchrest optics are widely used for 1000 yrd and longer competitions around the world. They are a favorite due to the precision internal mechanics and quality glass.
The major difference with the Nightforce Benchrest scope series is the lack of side parallax adjustment, zero stop, and the huge magnification ranges. The 1/8 MOA adjustments and quality glass make this combo great value for the money. Another interesting factor with the Benchrest series is the 1/8 MOA adjustment values for precise point of impact adjustment.
Nightforce Competition Series:
The Nightforce Competition series are geared towards F-class and benchrest competitions. They feature high magnification, a relatively small objective diameter and thin reticles. The narrow field of view and thin reticles are preferred in F-class style shooting as the targets are paper, where as in other PRS style shoots competitors need to spot impacts on steel, trace and plate swing.
These are great F class scopes, designed for competition shooters who demand the highest level of precision and magnification, but remember it’s not a tactical scope.
Nightforce NXS Series:
The strengths of the NXS series are its glass, turrets and illumination all coming in at a good weight and price point. The NXS series also have more reticles available than the SHV series. The NXS series is a well established line known for its ruggedness and versatility. Built to endure the most challenging conditions, these scopes feature ZeroStop, which allows for instant return to zero after making elevation adjustments. Additionally, the NXS series often includes illuminated reticles, providing enhanced visibility in low-light environments. One major difference between the NXS series and the higher priced NX8 and ATACR range is that the NXS’s are all in the second focal plane.
Nightforce NX8 Series
The optic is high-end and does come with the associated price tag of a high-quality optic. However you do get what you pay for with this scope. The Nightforce NX8 comes in three variants, 1-8x, 2.5-20x and 4-32x. I have had plenty of time behind the long-range 4-32x variant and was impressed with the solid construction. The NX8 comes with features you would expect on a high-end scope such as zero stop, parallax adjustment and a built-in throw lever for changing magnification more easily.
All of the NX8 models are available in both SFP and FFP. They are also available in the traditional black or new flat dark earth colour.
Compared to the higher priced ATACR range, the ATACR has better turrets, glass and build quality than the NX8 series. If you are looking at better parallax adjustment and a more forgiving eyebox then extra dollars on the ATACR range is worth considering if its within your budget. That said I would still happily run an NX8 on my long distance rifle but he general consensus in the shooting community is ‘just buy the ATACR’.
Nightforce ATACR Series:
The ATACR (Advanced Tactical Riflescope) series is designed to deliver long-range precision for tactical applications and competitive shooting. These scopes offer outstanding optical performance, wide magnification ranges, and exceptional clarity, making them a favorite among precision shooters and law enforcement personnel. The ATACR line is the flagship series on offer from Nightforce, the quality rivals other top brands such as Zero Compromise and Schmidt & Bender.
The 7-35x ATACR is one of the most popular optics for PRS match rifles for a reason. It’s an excellent scope and the price point gets you some of the best glass and build quality on offer in the optics world. The massive field of view in the middle of its power range. The massive field of view makes it much easier to get behind and much more forgiving in terms of depth of field and parallax when compared to an NX8 series.
Nightforce Spotting Scope
Most people aren’t aware that Nightforce make a spotting scope too. The Nightforce TS-82 is a high end spotter available in both straight and angled. The huge magnification range of 20-70x will have you easily spotting impacts on steel well past 800m. The large objective lens size of 82mm lets you have a wide field of view to spot bullet trace and call out corrections. The competition at this price point is heading towards the Swarovski spotting scope lineup, however the Nightforce spotters have a solid reputation from users in the PRS community.
Nightforce optics have solidified their position as a top-tier choice for shooters and hunters seeking precision and reliability. With a diverse range of optics catering to a a range of shooting applications, Nightforce continues to push the boundaries of optical performance. Whether you are a competitive shooter, a professional marksman, or an avid hunter, Nightforce has a quality scope to suit your needs.
Don’t forget you can save a few hundred by getting a near new demo model at EuroOptic.