A riflescope is at its best when mated with equivalent quality products.Case in point: I attended a Nightforce shooting event at the CORE Shooting Solutions Facility in Baker, Florida, last November.
The Nightforce scopes were mounted on Accuracy International rifles with Spuhr mounting systems, and the Daniel Defense gas guns were holding the scopes in Nightforce X-Treme Duty Ultralight Unimounts and Magnamounts. It’s hard to imagine more exquisite pairings.
PRS (Precision Rifle Series) competitions are gaining popularity faster than any shooting events I can recall in the last few decades. A lot of this is due to the remarkable evolution of flatter long-range cartridges, accurate firearms to handle them and excellent optics with well-thought-out FFP (first focal plane) fly swatter-like reticles that are easily understood and don’t make your head spin with complexity.
Combined with ballistic apps on your phone, a standalone device, such as a Kestrel or a mounted device such as the futuristic Rianov Eagle Ballistic Computer, you now have a good sporting chance for first-shot hits at 1,000 yards and much farther, depending on how well you or your spotter can read wind.
Introduced at this two-day event was the new Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 scope. Like all nearly indestructible and incredibly precise Nightforce optics, the ATACR (Advanced TACtical Riflescope) has a tube thickness up to three times as deep as most other riflescopes. This scope is designed for optimum use in PRS competitions, and you have a choice of the Mil-R, MOAR or TReMoR3 reticle. The 34mm tube allows for up to 100 MOA (minutes of angle) or 27 mils (milliradians) in elevation, and adjustments are available in .25 MOA or .10 mil clicks.
The company’s Digillum illumination is standard, as is its excellent ZeroStop. It has an integrated power throw lever for quick magnification adjustment and can correct parallax down to 10 meters.
ONLY THE VERY BEST WILL DO
I shared some libations and pizza with the founder, Dr. Ray L. Dennis, who is a kindred spirit. He started Nightforce because he didn’t see the type of quality he needed on the market. He’s a dedicated varminter and a medical professional who requires the very best instruments in his profession, as well as his hobby.
He and I also share an affinity for spring-piston air guns, and all Nightforce scopes are rated for the punishing reverse recoil of these tooth-vibrating pellet rifles. Not many manufacturers can say that. He broke so many other scopes on springers that he made sure his scopes would be impervious to this type of damage.
The Spuhr mounting systems are widely considered among the very best available to mate hard-use precision scopes to über-accurate long-range guns. It always makes me giddy when I can adjust a scope a certain amount and absolutely know it will always move the correct amount every time—no matter whether it’s one click or 51.
Of course, this means that the gun, ammo, scope and mounting systems must be up to the same level of consistency, and the person mounting it all together must have complete attention to detail, as well. If all that comes together, your only concern is doing your job as operator.
Another hard part is the wind. Know your reticle, and get comfortable with it so you can summon up windage and elevation from your spotter at a second’s notice using only your reticle and without ever touching your adjustment turrets.
AT THE EVENT
Accuracy International (AI) and Daniel Defense provided the firearms in 7.62 NATO and .300 Winchester. Refreshingly, I didn’t shoot a single .22-caliber gun during the whole trip. Black Hills supplied a truckload of match ammo, and at the end of a couple full days of shooting, my shoulder was feeling satisfyingly used. Past the 1,000-yard marker, we shot off a three-story elevated structure using AI rifles chambered in .338 Norma and .338 Lapua.
While the newly introduced ATACR 7-35×56 F1 was the star of the show, the fixed-power Competition 4.5×24 SR also had its time on stage. It’s a new scope made specifically for scope-sighted service rifle competition. The maximum power allowed in this discipline is 4.5x magnification, and its weight of slightly more than 15 ounces makes this scope a superb choice, especially with the Nightforce X-Treme Duty Ultralight Unimount SR. It has a ZeroStop and a fixed parallax setting of 200 yards that allows a parallax-free image to 1,000 yards. Its overall length is slightly less than 10 inches, and it has a 30mm tube. It also has the SR-1 reticle specifically made for service rifle competition.
We used Nightforce TS80 and TS82 spotting scopes mounted on the company’s new, carbon-fiber tripod. Just like all Nightforce products, these spotters are far from entry level. The TS82, in particular, isn’t cheap, but world-class products aren’t. The unmistakable knurling on the power ring is present here, as well, and it’s the most telling attribute identifying a Nightforce optic.
Serious optics for serious work.
- MAKE: Nightforce
- MODEL: ATACR 7-35×56 F1
- FOCAL PLANE: First
- OBJECTIVE DIAMETER: 56mm
- TUBE DIAMETER: 34mm
- INTERNAL ADJUSTMENT: Elev.: 100 MOA; wind: 60 MOA. Elev.: 27 mil; wind: 16 mil
- CLICK VALUE: .25 MOA; .10 mil
- PARALLAX ADJUSTMENT: 10m – ∞
- EXIT PUPIL: 7x: 6.0mm; 35x: 1/6mm
- EYE RELIEF: 83–91mm/3.3–3.6 inches
- FIELD OF VIEW @ 100 YARDS: 7x: 15 feet; 35x: 3.4 feet
- OVERALL LENGTH: 16 inches
- WEIGHT: 39.3 ounces
- MOUNTING LENGTH: 6.5 inches
- PTL: Standard
- AVAILABLE RETICLES: Mil-RTM, MOA-RTM, TReMoR3
- ILLUMINATION: DigIllum
- ELEVATION FEATURE: ZeroStop
MSRP: $3,600 (with MOAR and Mil-R); $4,000 (with TReMoR 3)
NIGHTFORCE OPTICS, INC.
CORE SHOOTING SOLUTIONS
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.