Best Nightforce Scope in 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Last updated on May 13th, 2024

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.

Nightforce Optics
@redbeardgunworks

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.

Nightforce SHV

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.

Nightforce Optics

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: Hunting Scope of Choice

Nightforce SHV
Hunting in New Zealand with the Nightforce SHV

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  shv

HUNTING OPTIC

Nightforce SHV 3-10×42

Versatile optic suitable for hunting and tactical use

HUNTING OPTIC

Nightforce SHV 4-14×50

Mid to long-range shooting and hunting. Good low-light performance

HUNTING OPTIC

Nightforce SHV 4-14×56

Larger objective lens with better light transmission

HUNTING OPTIC

Nightforce SHV 5-20×56

Larger objective lens for long-range engagements

Nightforce Benchrest: Static Long Distance Scope

Nightforce  benchrest

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, zerostop, but the addition of the huge magnification ranges. The 1/8 MOA adjustments and quality glass make this combo great value for the money. The 1/8 MOA adjustment values and huge magnification ranges make precise point of impact adjustment a breeze.

BENCHREST OPTIC

Nightforce Benchrest 12-42×56

Precise adjustments and high magnification range

BENCHREST OPTIC

Nightforce Benchrest 8-32×56

Responsible for many records set and competitions won.

Nightforce Competition: F Class Competition Pick

Nightforce  competition

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  competition

COMPETITION OPTIC

Nightforce Competition 4.5×24

Built with service rifle comps in mind.

COMPETITION OPTIC

Nightforce Competition 15-55×52

Easy to read turrets with light weight.

Nightforce NXS: Crossover Optic

Nightforce NXS

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. These scopes are often used for hunting as well as target shooting and make a great crossover scope that can be used for both disciplines.

Nightforce NXS

MEDIUM RANGE

Nightforce NXS 2.5-10×42

Hunting and shooting optic for medium to close distances.

GREAT FOR HUNTING

Nightforce NXS 3.5-15×50

Excellent for mid to long-range shooting with large objective lens

ALL ROUNDER

Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×50

Ideal for long-range precision shooting and hunting.

MILITARY FAVORITE

Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×56

Larger objective lens for even better low-light performance.

LONG DISTANCE PICK

Nightforce NXS 8-32×56

Extreme long-range shooting with high magnification and optimal image quality.

Nightforce NX8: Compact Long Distance Scope

Nightforce NX8

The Nightforce NX8 series stands as a premium optic line, justifying its upscale price point with exceptional quality. Available in three magnifications—1-8x, 2.5-20x, and 4-32x—the NX8 caters to various shooting needs. My experience primarily lies with the 4-32x model, where its robust build quality left a notable impression. This high-end scope series boasts essential features for superior performance, including a zero stop, parallax adjustment, and an integrated throw lever for swift magnification changes.

Options for the NX8 include both Second Focal Plane (SFP) and First Focal Plane (FFP) models, with color choices of traditional black or the modern flat dark earth.

When comparing it to the pricier ATACR series, the ATACR edges out with slightly superior turrets, optics, and overall construction. However, for those prioritizing enhanced parallax adjustment and a more lenient eyebox, investing in the ATACR could be worthwhile, budget permitting. Nevertheless, the NX8 remains a favored choice for my long-range shooting setup. Despite this, the broader consensus within the shooting community leans towards opting for the ATACR series.

Nightforce  NX8

HIGH QUALITY LPVO

Nightforce NX8 1-8×24

Excellent LPVO well-suited for both tactical applications and competitions.

ALL ROUND FAVORITE

Nightforce NX8 2.5-20×50

Great all round magnification and excellent compact optic.

DURABLE LONG DISTANCE OPTIC

Nightforce NX8 4-32×50

Built for long distance shooting and hard field work in mind.

Nightforce ATACR: PRS Optic of Choice

Nightforce ATACR

The ATACR series, a pinnacle in tactical and competitive shooting scopes, stands out for its exceptional range accuracy and superior optical performance. Crafted to meet the demands of precision shooters and law enforcement professionals, these scopes are celebrated for their high-quality visuals, extensive magnification options, and unparalleled clarity. As a leading offering from Nightforce, the ATACR competes closely with premier brands like Zero Compromise and Schmidt & Bender in terms of quality.

Among its standout models, the 7-35x ATACR enjoys widespread acclaim in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) community, attributed to its superior lens quality and robust construction, all available at a competitive price point. This model is particularly noted for its expansive field of view at mid-range magnifications, offering enhanced ease of use, depth of field, and parallax adjustment over the NX8 series, making it a top choice for those seeking excellence in their shooting optics.

Nightforce ATACR

HIGH QUALITY LPVO

Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24

Arguably one of the best LPVO’s on the market.

SOLID HUNTING OPTIC

Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42

Close to mid-range optic with quality glass.

BETTER LOW LIGHT PERFORMANCE

Nightforce ATACR 4-16×50

Larger objective lens for better light transmission.

ALL ROUNDER

Nightforce ATACR 4-20×50

Excellent high quality medium to long range optic.

PRS FAVORITE

Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56

Great glass, magnification range and solid build.

ULTIMATE LONG RANGE OPTIC

Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56

One of the best long distance shooting optics on the market.

Nightforce Spotting Scope

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.

STRAIGHT SCOPE

Nightforce TS-82 20-70×82

Quality glass and solid construction.

Summing Up

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.

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