CLEARLY SUPERIOR THE NIGHTFORCE NXS 2.5-10X42MM COMPACT SCOPE. ver since Nightforce Optics opened shop in the little town of Orofino, Idaho, in 1992, their rifle scopes have enjoyed a fine reputation for both ruggedness and repeatable, accurate adjustments. However, their reliability comes at a price. Well, actually two prices, monetary and dimensional. E JOHN BARSNESS Except for certain specialized uses, have to be crowded into something the most popular riflescopes made are smaller than an average summer variables around 3-10X in magnifica- sausage. But Nightforces are strontion range, for several valid reasons. ger than most other scopes, and the At the low end, 3X provides plenty of reason is they’re beefed up in all the field of view for almost any situation, right places—though that also means and at the top end 10X provides all the they’re larger. aiming accuracy needed for most field Eventually some shooters, in particuse, without the exaggerated parallax ular hunters, wanted smaller, lighter problems of magnification above 10X. Nightforces, and the company obliged Such scopes can also be reasonably light and compact. Most conventional scopes in this magnification range weigh 12 to 15 ounces, but over the years I’ve eventually broken, though sheer use, conventional variables from at least 16 companies. That is 16 brands, DIAL TWISTING not the total number of scopes, and some have no I mounted the scope in doubt been forgotten, for Talley Lightweight rings good reason. on a stainless/synthetic Usually repeated Remington 700 BDL in recoil does the job, and 7mm Remington Short on rifles chambered for Action Ultra Magnum, cartridges delivering purchased in 2003, the year .300 magnum class recoil after the cartridge appeared. or larger, failure only The Nightforce NXS 2.5-10x42 Compact fits well on a typical hunting rifle. This just happened to be required a box or two one of those factory rifles of ammo. In other scopes the wind- with the NXS Compacts. These that shoots as well as most custom age, elevation and even magnification range in magnification from 1-4X to rifles, and is extremely accurate with adjustments have ceased to function 2.5-10X and in weight from 17 to 20.5 the 168-grain Berger Hunting VLD at after being turned back and forth a ounces, not exactly feathery but still a just under 3,000 fps, even though the lot. And no, these weren’t all “afford- long way from the 30+ ounces of most long bullet has to be seated somewhat able” scopes, since several cost over other Nightforce scopes. off the lands. $1,000. The 1/4-MOA adjustments were That hasn’t happened with any of LIGHT TRANSMISSION spot-on when tested both on an optiOne minor complaint about Night- cal collimator and when shooting, the Nightforce scopes I’ve owned. This doesn’t mean Nightforces aren’t force for some years was their optics and in the collimator there was no unbreakable, since no matter how weren’t quite as first-class as their wavering either horizontally or vertirugged a scope is, it’s normally the mechanics. I tested more than one cally as the reticle was clicked around weakest link in a modern rifle, partly on my nighttime brightness/sharp- the screen. The shooting test was because so many tiny, complex parts ness chart and found that was sort-of done at a 100-yard target by twisting 30 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • APRIL 2015 true. The average rating for modern scopes on the chart is 6, and the very bright, sharpest scopes have rated 8. Nightforces usually tested 7, noticeably better than average but not superlative. However, all the Nightforces tested had complex illuminated reticles, and one of the side-effects of a multi-point etched reticle is a very slight dimming of the view caused by scattered light. Here it should be emphasized that while many people rate scopes by their optics, a scope is useless if it doesn’t put the bullet where we want it to go. This is exactly why many experienced shooters who use scopes hard prize reliability above tiny differences in optical quality. However, my friend Charlie Sisk, a Texas gunsmith who uses a lot of different scopes, told me during one of our regular phone conversations that the latest Nightforce NXS Compacts had really good glass, so I decided to test one. After some e-mails with Sean Murphy of Nightforce, the sample Compact ended up being a 2.5-10x42 with the HV (high velocity) version of their Velocity 600 reticle, a “Christmas tree” type with four horizontal crosshairs below the primary intersection. On the night-chart it rated 7+, as high as any scope with an illuminated reticle has ever tested.