Photos by Mark Fingar
Nightforce has been making super-durable, variable-powered scopes for a couple decades. The special forces community uses a lot of their products, which is a statement of the scopes’ dependability in some of the harshest environments and engagements.
The scope line that started it all was the NXS, which is still around. However, Nightforce decided it was time to take everything they learned with the NXS and try to make a better product. According to Klaus Johnson, product and business development manager at Nightforce, they wanted to make a scope smaller than the NXS that had equal image quality and offered an 8X zoom ratio.
That effort was a success with the introduction of the new NX8 line. The first scope appeared about a year ago with the 1-8x24mm. For 2019, we welcome the 2.5-20x50mm and 4-32x50mm.
WHAT’S GREAT ABOUT THE 8?
So what’s changed on the NX8 that makes it different from the NXS? All NX8 scopes will be as small as Nightforce can make them. Making a scope small is difficult because the smaller it is, the harder it is to maintain good image quality. Once lenses start getting crowded together, it’s hard to keep all light wavelengths in the same focal plane.
The solution that made it possible for Nightforce to keep great image quality in a very small scope is extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass. ED glass was very expensive and exotic five years ago, but it is now much more accessible and less expensive for optics manufacturers. Nightforce developed the NX8 optical designs around ED glass and used it extensively, so they can pass on the savings of this material to the customer.
While smaller was a prime design imperative, having a scope with a higher zoom ratio was also desired. Zoom ratio dictates how wide the magnification range is by the length of the internal erector assembly. Where the NXS has a 4X zoom ratio (5.5-22X, for example), the NX8 has an eight-power zoom ratio (4-32X).
By doubling the zoom ratio in the NX8, Nightforce gives the customer an optic that has a wider field of view at the low end while simultaneously having higher magnification to see the target better at the high end. They managed to do this while also putting the improved optical capability in a smaller package.
SEEING THE LIGHT
One of the additional NX8 upgrades is an improved illumination system called “Digillum.” The analog illumination system in the NXS is either on or off, and there is no easy way to change illumination brightness in the field. Digillum, found in the NX8, allows the user to adjust brightness to multiple settings and to switch colors of illumination between red and green.
Being able to dial down illumination at dusk to where the crosshair is barely visible is tremendously useful when hunting. Cranking it up for daylight bright is very helpful when shooting at the low end of magnification with a first focal plane reticle. Digillum allows the shooter to do all of that.
The NX8’s side-focus knob also allows the shooter to focus the image on targets as close as 10 meters away. This is important to rimfire shooters and anyone that dry-fires in the house. Nightforce designed this feature into the scope by putting a lot more travel in the focus lens that rides in front of the first focal plane (forward of the turrets).
The zero-stop on the NX8 functions identically to that found in the ATACR line; it’s just smaller. The zero-stop allows the shooter to quickly return to zero by spinning the turret clockwise until it stops. This is useful because it makes it easy to know what revolution the turret is on when dialing for multiple target distances.
Nightforce applied their standard manufacturing techniques to the NX8 that built their brand in the first place. Lenses are bedded to ensure no lens movement under impact that prevents any chance of a point-of-impact shift. The turrets are all hand-burnished to ensure the mechanicals interface completely, guaranteeing perfect tracking throughout the entire erector assembly movement.
The NX8 is a smaller and improved NXS. It allows more shooter flexibility due to the increased zoom ratio, and it has a better illumination system. Image quality also saw a bump up in performance thanks to the use of ED glass. The new NX8 scopes are a great choice for anyone that wants maximum performance in a more compact package.