Rifle Scope Review: The Nightforce SHV

First, a cautionary tale: This past summer, I did almost all my shooting with two rifles, both of which had … Continued


First, a cautionary tale: This past summer, I did almost all my shooting with two rifles, both of which had Nightforce scopes on them. I came to take for granted that when I cranked the w&e dials, I got big, distinct clicks that I could feel even in midst of a rifle match. I also took for granted that when you put in 4 clicks up, or right, or down, or left, the bullet went an inch up, or right, or down, or left, exactly, every time.

Which brings us to last December, when I needed a low-magnification scope for my 7mm/08, and lusted for the 1X-4X Nightforce NXS Compact, but it was a lot of money, and with Christmas coming I had other financial obligations, and the cat’s teeth needed capping, so I settled for a very popular scope brand on which I got a hell of a good price.

All was serene until I took it to the range on a bitter cold day and discovered that, while wearing shooting gloves, I could not feel the clicks, which were small, mushy, and indistinct even indoors. I got the windage down OK, but cranking the elevation did nothing. The shots would not rise on the target, even though I was turning the dial. Finally, the crosshairs decided to move, but in the meanwhile I had seen ten 140-grain Swift A-Frames, which are not cheap, go uselessly through the paper and into the sand.
Next time, I’m saving my money and getting the Nightforce.

If you’re not familiar with the company, it bestrides the tactical and target world like a colossus. Nightforce scopes are optically in the top rank, probably the strongest around, have the best ergonomics of any scope I’ve used, and tend to be complex because they’re designed for very precise shooting at long distances.

They’re also expensive, and Nightforce is sensible of this, so they have come out with a scope that’s at the high end of medium-priced called the SHV, which stands for Shooter, Hunter, Varminter. It’s a 4X-14X-56 variable with a 30mm tube, and sells for $1,195 with an illuminated reticle and $995 for non-illuminated models.

Nightforce was able to keep the costs down by utilizing simpler controls, employing a less complex manufacturing process, and by reducing the overbuilding that goes into their tactical scopes. The SHV will stand up to any kind of sane treatment, but you can’t break rocks with it, or chock truck tires, or beat recalcitrant mules, as you can with the higher-priced Nightforces.

It comes with a choice of two reticles (you can see these on the website), the MOAR and the IHR, which is much simpler, and would be my choice unless I wanted to shoot at very long range.

I could go on at length, but why take my word for it? Find a store that stocks Nightforces, take one out of the showcase and put a half-dozen clicks on the windage and elevation knobs. Now do the same with any other scope you care to. You won’t find anything else like the Nightforce. If you like your bullets to go where you send them, you’ll probably find a way to buy it.