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nightforce clarity

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Unread 02-18-2009, 11:12 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Flag, Az
Posts: 68
nightforce clarity

I was wondering what some had to say about nightforce's clarity and light gathering compared to zeiss or swarovski?
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Unread 02-19-2009, 10:38 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 17
Re: nightforce clarity

I wasn't all that impressed with NSX optics. They were really heavy and the glass wasn't much better than VX-III scopes. Maybe I just looked at a lemon as I have heard they have variability in the glass. I compared all of them side by side just awhile back when considering high end scopes. Swarovski has decent glass, but the lack of both eye relief and side focus were turn offs for me. The Zeiss scopes are very bright and clear, but again I didn't care for the 56mm objective which comes standard for the magnification range I was looking for.

I was impressed with the Leupold VX7scopes....to my eyes, they were right up there with Zeiss.

What scope did I end up with....I decided to spend a few hundred more and get a Schmidt and Bender.
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Unread 02-19-2009, 12:53 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 6,068
Re: nightforce clarity

I have an NSX 5 1/2 - 22 x 50 and have never had the opportunity to look through some of the other higher end scopes, so I cant really give you a comparison.

But I can share my experience with you. IMO, the clarity is more than adequate to engage game well beyond 1K. The longest confirmed sniper kill of 2430 M was accomplished with an NSX 5 1/2 - 22.

As for light gathering, this past Dec I scoped elk one evening just at the end of legal shooting hours, 30 min past sunset, on high power setting of 22 with sun shade still attached. It was cloudy and we were on an eastern slope. The light and contrast were great.

There may be scopes with better glass, but IMHO, a NF is more than adequate for most any hunting stuation. Someone else in another thread said he prefered for USO for their optics and their greater ability at night hunting. But then the USO and S&B will cost more $$$.

I'm very happy with my NSX.

Last edited by MontanaRifleman; 02-19-2009 at 09:31 PM.
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Unread 02-19-2009, 03:14 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Potomac River
Posts: 5,087
Re: nightforce clarity

with sun shade still attached

In case it hasn't occurred to you yet-- the sunshade works 24-7. It eliminates non-target light in bright light and in low light and even in the dark. You have totally no use for any light that is not coming from the target and immediate background.

Here is you a little exercise in applied math.

Go and get your NF and a ruler and straight edge. Measure the depth of the lens at the edge of the housing and again at the center of the housing and then determine at what angle (O'clock) the sun will hit the lens. Determine what amount of time during the day the direct rays from the sun will not hit the lens because it is shaded.

Then put the sunshade on and do the same exercise of what times of the day the direct rays of the sun will hit the lens. Remember that the only light we are interested in is the light that is reflected off the fur of the animals and the grass and trees in the near vicinity and maybe we would would like some light from the big ole massive 400+ antlers.


There are a couple of things to look for in a scope and most people will just say words like "bright" or "clear". As best I can decipher, when a person says their scope is bright it means it has poor optical coatings and is letting in too much stray light which causes the whole image to "lighten". I certainly am not a linguistics expert but that is my impression of what people are seeing. To me brightness is not a criteria. Resolution of fine detail is a criteria and that goes with what most people call clarity. Another important attribute of a scope to a hunter is color transmission. If you are shooting black on white targets color may not be important. But for the hunter, many of the animals are not that different in color from their background so the lens system needs to not mix up the colors. This helps in distinguishing fine details such as where the tips of the horns end.

Clarity is the ability to resolve detail. Here is a picture of my rifle set up and the NXS 8X-32X-56mm is dialed up on a 3X3 elk at 1870 yards. There is 8 inches of snow where he is standing so you get a lot of reflected light but you also have a high contrast background so it is six of one and half dozen of the other. With the 56mm objective and magnificatin set at 32X it will let me see the ice crystals on his muzzle!!! I could see each individual crystal. I could identify the plant he pulled out from under the snow.

My son said that he had watched a forkhorn deer with the NXS at 1980 yards two days earlier and could tell that it had two points on each side.

I often shoot antelope with a Leupold V3 6.5-20X-50MM and my best shot is 1140 yards with that scope. For antelope shooting, which is normally broad daylight, I can see enough detail at about 1400 yards to perhaps 1500 yards to know a buck from a doe and have a very well defined aiming point.

So for me, I feel comfortable with a Leupold V3 out to about 1500 yards in good light and on the 240 Wby that is all the rifle needs and after that I want the Nightforce with the 56mm objective and it will get me out past 2K on the elk rifle in any light I have ever seen an animal in. I go subsonic at about 2300 yards IIRC so I have all the scope that rifle can use

The Smokin Fur Rifle Club
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Unread 02-19-2009, 08:59 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Orofino,ID
Posts: 75
Re: nightforce clarity


That is a great looking setup and a great write up as well.

Did'nt mean to highjack the thread.

Last edited by NightforceKen; 02-20-2009 at 12:14 AM. Reason: Thread highjacked
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Unread 02-19-2009, 09:57 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: South of Canada and North of Wyoming
Posts: 6,068
Re: nightforce clarity

BB, thanks for the edumication. One of these nights I'll go find an alphapha field full of deer or elk and spot them with my NSX shade on and off and see if I can detect a difference. It gives me a warm fuzzy that I dont have to worry about taking my sunshade off at last light
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Unread 02-20-2009, 09:08 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: NC, oceanfront
Posts: 4,222
Re: nightforce clarity

I would say my NXS and Mk4 scopes are equal as far as optical qualities(and flaws).
Neither is even close to Swarovski.

But as pointed out, there is alot more to scopes than just optics. You have to consider the whole package..
It won't matter a bit how good the optics are if the scope lacks needed functions, adjusts in some awkward way, is too high, weighs too much, subtends to conceal your target, won't work for your gun because of this or that, etc. And cost is no indicator for this, but it is a factor like all the others.
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