Skip to main content

Introducing Nightforce's Two New 1-8x24 Low-Powered Variables

NightforceScopes

United States' Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is at it again. They're waving around their cash letting the industry know they're in the market for a Squad Variable Power Scope (SVPS).

Up until now the Raytheon ELCAN 1-4X has been doing the heavy lifting in this category. It's a quality choice, but SOCOM has decided that the 1-4X is no longer sufficient and has decided it's time to choose an heir apparent.

TWO MODELS


Nightforce has two new 1-8x24mm scopes releasing at the same time. While it's unusual to see two scopes in the same magnification range coming to market simultaneously, they are different enough that they will find homes in two separate shooting demographics.


NightforceNX8INTRODUCING THE NX8

The NX8 is Nightforce's smallest and least expensive 1-8X variable that will be competing for the SOCOM contract. The NX8 does not belong to any other line in the Nightforce family and represents the potential for and totally merits an entirely new product line. I suspect that future NX8 scopes (should there be any) will all share the new 8X erector assembly, 30mm maintube and remain compact and very light for their magnification range. These scopes will have a very broad appeal to everyone from tactical shooters to hunters.

Compact and light is the name of the game with the new 1-8X NX8. The NX8 is so small I had to bust out an old Nightforce 1-4X NXS to see which was smaller. The NX8 is about a quarter-inch shorter than the 1-4X (and the 1-4X is not a large scope in any sense).

The NX8 has parallax fixed at 125 meters, 10 illumination settings, is either mil- or MOA-adjustable, features a Lightforce ZeroStop and has a capped windage turret. The NX8 comes with an optional power throw lever that provides an ergonomic means of quickly changing magnification settings.


Internally, the NX8 has a new illumination system in which it shares some of the same technology of the 1-8X ATACR. The new illumination system differs significantly from what's commonly found in scopes and the end result is no one has a brighter illuminated reticle than Nightforce.

Illumination systems in scopes historically consisted of two types: an etched reticle bathed in red LED light or a fiber-optic system. Etched reticles frequently have reflective material put in the etching and a red LED bathes the entire lens in light. Some of that light reflects back towards the shooter's eye and "illuminates" the reticle. Such a system has about 5 percent efficiency, and is why the battery powering the system can't generate enough juice to make the reticle easily visible in bright daylight.

Fiber-optic illumination systems use a cable to channel the light directly at the shooter's eye. These systems are very bright, but they're only relevant in second focal plane reticles. While durable, the wire reticles that accompany them are prone to breakage. Under recoil, wire reticles don't hold up well over the long term.


While it sounds too simple to matter, Nightforce put a lens on their light source that focuses all of the red LED light on just the center portion of the reticle, instead of letting LED light hit run around inside the scope.

Focusing all the red LED light down to just the center of the reticle boosts system efficiency to about 90 percent. Almost all of the light coming from the red LED gets focused and bounced back to the shooter's eye. It makes for the brightest reticle I have ever seen in any scope. The segmented circle in this 1-8x24mm scope functions very much like a red dot optic when the brightness is turned up to 10 and magnification is turned down to 1X.

NightforceACATRTHE NEWEST ATACR

This new 1-8X has the features that have made the ATACR line of scopes so popular amongst rifle enthusiasts and professionals. Key fixed lens are bedded in place to ensure no lens movement. Lens movement is the number one scope-centric source of point-of-impact shift and ATACRs don't suffer from that problem, even when treated like a rented mule.

This ATACR uses extra-low-dispersion glass. Low-dispersion glass is a glass family that offers exceptional optical quality but is difficult to manufacture. It is also expensive. Few optics companies are willing to make the effort required to use it, but Nightforce is one of them, and it's one of the reasons why ATACR scopes have such excellent image quality.

The improved image quality that comes from using extra-low-dispersion glass occurs because light passing through it doesn't split into individual colors as much as it does through lesser grades of glass. Each color has a different wavelength and keeping them all corralled into the same focal plane is a much harder task that it sounds. Low-dispersion glass ensures all the light remains in the same focal plane, which contributes heavily to good image quality.

As 1-8X scopes go, the ATACR is very short. There's a rule that applies to all optics (which is a rare occurrence) and that is the shorter the scope, the harder it is to get good image quality from it. The reason behind this principle is a short scope requires light to bend very aggressively and light doesn't like to do that. To make it work, there is no room for error.

Every variable-powered scope has an erector assembly that consists of two lenses that slide back and forth in a tube. The erector sits between the shooter's eye and the scope's turrets. The two lenses in the erector slide back and forth when the shooter adjusts magnification. The relationship between those two lenses across the entire range of motion is critical to good image quality. If at any time those lenses get a little too far apart, close together or tilt, image quality will suffer.

The 1-8X ATACR has an entirely new erector design that uses modern technology to ensure the lenses inside it cannot tilt or move out of place while they track inside the erector. A little tilt that wouldn't be a problem in a longer scope was unacceptable in this short ATACR. Nightforce had to design something new for a scope this short and it works beautifully.

NXupcloseFIELD NOTES

Lighting conditions were great for an optics shoot-out between these two 1-8Xs. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was directly in front of both scopes about halfway between overhead and the horizon. This put a significant amount of direct sunlight on the objective lens and my face simultaneously, a difficult light condition for any scope to handle.

There was plenty of vegetation and shadow on the range that allowed me to assess resolution and contrast in shadow, a key scope performance metric. Most things that you really want to shoot are smart enough to hide in shadows. A good scope will allow you to see your target.

Once most get past the physical dimensions and differences between the two scopes, the first question asked is probably going to be, "How good is the glass?" This is always a difficult question to answer, but there are some clear differences between the image characteristics. It should come as no surprise that the ATACR has better image quality than the NX8 for the reasons outlined above.

I've competed with an ATACR for the past three years on the Precision Rifle Series circuit and come to know these scopes well. While other scopes on the market offer optical performance with different characteristics, I continually find myself returning to the ATACR because of its durability and exceptional image quality.

When I first saw the NX8, I thought it might be too small to have a chance at decent image quality. By the time I got to the end of my evaluation, I was more excited about the NX8 than I was about the ATACR. That was unexpected, but occurred because of the size, weight and price of the NX8. To me, represents incredible value, performance and utility for the price.

When comparing the 1-8X ATACR with the NX8, there are some very subtle differences in what you see through the scope. I would expect so to justify the $1,000 price difference between the two. I observed small colored bands surrounding objects of high contrast (chromatic aberration) on objects near the edge of the field of view (FOV) in the NX8. This softens the edges of objects in the FOV forcing the eye to work a little harder and, when viewed for hours at a time, can lead to eye fatigue and headaches. If you don't spend hours at a time behind a scope, this may not be an issue.

I also noticed the NX8 portrayed black shadows with a slightly gray tint when compared to the ATACR. The graying shadows caused resolution in those shadows to slightly fall off. This means that anything hiding there is going to be a little harder to recognize because the resolution isn't quite as good. If you don't plan on hunting critters that hide in shadows, this is a non-issue. Both of these scenarios are very minor details, but I feel are necessary to help explain the cost and size differences between the two scopes.

While Nightforce is unveiling these two 1-8X scopes at the same time, do not be fooled into thinking they are the same. As much as I love the ATACR line, the new NX8 is going to be a better seller. It has good optical quality, and pairs it with such a compact and portable package that most (myself included) are going to be powerless to resist.

NightforceATACR2

Nightforce 1-8x24mm ATACR

Power: 1-8X

Objective: 24mm

Tube Diameter: 34mm

Elevation adjustment: .1-mil per click

Windage: .1-mil per click

Reticle: FC-DM

Length: 10.06 in.

Weight: 21 oz.

Eye Relief: 3.74 in.

MSRP: $2,800

Manufacturer: Nightforce Optics, 208-476-9814, nightforceoptics.com

NightforceNX82Nightforce 1-8x24mm NX8

Power: 1-8X

Objective: 24mm

Tube Diameter: 30mm

Elevation adjustment: .5-MOA/.2-mil per click

Windage: .5-MOA/ .2-mil per click

Reticle: FC-MOA, FC-MIL

Length: 8.42 in.

Weight: 17 oz.

Eye Relief: 3.15 in.

MSRP: $1,750

Manfacturer: Nightforce Optics, 208-476-9814, nightforceoptics.com

NX8Upclose

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

At the heart of the rifle is the Model 2020 action which wish designed and built with very tight tolerances thanks to Springfield's technology-driven manufacturing capabilities The stainless steel action features an integral recoil lug, and pairs with a fluted bolt employing dual cocking cams and an enhanced extractor for high pressure loads. The blueprinted and precisely machined action allows Springfield to offer the Model 2020 with .75" MOA accuracy guarantee. Despite being a production rifle, the Model 2020 should rival more expensive custom builds.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

It is unlike any other rifle on the market because it offers features no one else does; those looking for a rifle that fits like a custom-made firearm should look no further than the Benelli Lupo.

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket-Pistol Carry Tips and Tricks

Pocket carry, as a method of concealed carry for a defensive firearm, can be a practical option when done right. This is especially true during the colder months when heavy outer garments can obstruct access to a traditional waistline holster. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales, president of Trident Concepts, joins G&A contributor Kimberly Heath-Chudwin to discuss guns, training and gear, including Blackhawk's TecGrip holster that can make pocket carry more successful.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps.How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Here's why.Savage MSR 15 Competition Review Reviews

Savage MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

9 Commonly Misused Gun Terms How-To

9 Commonly Misused Gun Terms

Kyle Wintersteen

"Assault weapon." Sixteen-round "clip." A box of "bullets." When it comes to guns and gun...

See More Trending Articles

More Handgun

Winchester Ammunition has been selected for a $38 million contract by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).Winchester Awarded U.S. Department of Defense Contract Handgun

Winchester Awarded U.S. Department of Defense Contract

Guns & Ammo Staff - June 18, 2020

Winchester Ammunition has been selected for a $38 million contract by the U.S. Department of...

Whether you're looking to thin the herd of lawn-destroying gophers without alarming your neighbors, or if you simply need a low-noise alternative that helps protect your hearing while shooting, here's a look at five of the best subsonic .22 LR ammo loads.5 Best Subsonic .22 LR Ammo Options Rifle

5 Best Subsonic .22 LR Ammo Options

Eric Conn - September 17, 2019

Whether you're looking to thin the herd of lawn-destroying gophers without alarming your...

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP Handgun

Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 05, 2020

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For...

The terminal performance of Speer Gold Dot has been adjusted for compact and subcompact handguns. This new-for-2020 product features an optimized G2 bullet design.Speer Gold Dot CarryGun Ammo Handgun

Speer Gold Dot CarryGun Ammo

G&A Staff - March 25, 2020

The terminal performance of Speer Gold Dot has been adjusted for compact and subcompact...

See More Handgun

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now