Nightforce 2017 Update
By Alton Chiu
Nightforce is a well-known name in the tactical shooting community, with the NXS line being used by the US military. Recently, Nightforce showcased their products at the CORE shooting facility in Baker, FL, where the scopes were partnered with bolt action AX, AXMC and AT rifles from Accuracy International, semi-automatic DD5 and MK12 rifles from Daniel Defense and match-grade ammunition from Black Hills Ammunition, such as the 7.62x51 mm with a 175-gr TMK and 5.56x45 mm with a 77-gr SMK. Although the author is a left-hander, the smooth AI bolt helped him cycle the action quickly with the right hand. The ambidextrous controls of the DD5 also afforded good ergonomics for left-handed shooters, and the author was not affected by the gas or ejected brass. Of note for southpaws is that left-handed models of the AX rifles should ship in the first quarter of 2017.
Amongst the new products for 2017 is the Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56 F1 first-focal plane rifle scope with an MSRP of $3,600-4,000 USD. The author had a chance to use that scope atop an AXMC rifle to hit an IPSC silhouette at just over 1,000 yards. The high quality optics enabled the author to observe thermal mirages for making wind calls, as well as to spot misses. In addition, the author was able to distinguish and engage the same 1,000-yard target during twilight when the sun had sunk below the horizon. Smaller scopes such as the ATACR 4-16x42 F1 paired with the DD5 allowed a more nimble package for positional shooting. When spotting for other shooters, the clarity of the TS80 spotting scope was such that the author could discern the impact locations on a 700-yard steel silhouette.
In speaking with the Nightforce engineers, the author came to understand that the optical performance of the scopes derive from the use of Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass and achromatic doublets. Dispersion is a phenomenon whereby different wavelengths (e.g., different color of light) travel through a media (e.g., lens) at different speeds and are bent differently.
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