Nightforce SHV 3-10X42mm Review

By Tim Titus

I caught movement in the sage as I traveled through the outbacks of Oregon. Stopping the truck, I exited with my .243AI wearing the new Nightforce 3-10X42mm SHV. Even as the rifle came to my shoulder searching for the fleeing coyote, I was shocked at the clarity and "flatness" of the field of view (FOV) I witnessed in the scope. The coyote, as coyotes often do, disappeared in the only crease in the otherwise flat sagebrush basin in front of me. No shot opportunity this time but I was left impressed with the sight picture. Until you experience a "flat" sight picture, it is hard to describe. It is a characteristic of good glass that you recognize when you see it. Was it because the morning sun behind me so lighted the Great Basin landscape? Maybe. But, it left little doubt that I had a real Nightforce scope on the rifle.


I'm a Nightforce fan, so when Len asked If I'd be interested in trying out the new 3-10X42mm SHV (Shooting-Hunting-Varmint) scope and write a review on it, it was a "twist-my-arm" moment. My excitement was tempered slightly with a skepticism birthed by what I've seen in corporate operations in the past.


Many companies enter a market with a game changing, high quality product. After building a brand name, they, many times, fall prey to reducing costs, price and, before long, quality to capitalize on the brand recognition they enjoy. Over time, what was an elite product line in an upscale market, evolves (or, more accurately, devolves) into a department store product that is a shadow of its former stature. Nightforce has not done that with the SHV line. Nightforce continues to produce the NXS series with all the quality we shooters have come to expect and they have even upped the ante in quality and features with the ATACR series and the BEAST scopes.


The SHV line of rifle scopes is not a reduction in Nightforce quality but a product line fitting a completely new niche in the market. The gap between more common, name brand scopes and the serious tactical scopes has historically been large, spanning hundreds of dollars. Nightforce recognized that not everyone needs to be able to drop their rifle from a two-story building, or continue shooting after taking a bullet through the scope tube or even count on exact click-by-click adjustments at 1000 yards or more, sometimes much more. Although the SHV line may pass these tests, for most of us our scopes aren't used in life-and-death circumstances or in world-class competitions.


Nightforce also recognized that many who run their higher-end scopes in military, tactical, or competitive arenas, and who have grown accustomed to Nightforce quality, have other rifles that don't need full on tactical or competition scopes. The SHV series gives an in-between option for those who still want an "NF" on the side of their scope but have applications not requiring NXS or ATACR scopes.

Len Backus showed wisdom in dolling out the goods for review as I feel the 3-10X42mm model, recently added to the SHV line-up, is perfect for calling predators. The field of view (FOV) at 100 yards (34.9 feet) is just under my self-prescribed limit for a calling rifle but I found it adequate even for my slightly cross-dominant eyes. Cross-dominance forces the rifleman to shoot with the off-side eye closed making target acquisition more difficult on close, moving targets. This makes FOV critical for me.

The top magnification of ten power is plenty for almost all shots in calling situations. Even the occasional coyote that hangs up or is spotted at distance between stands is in serious trouble. This magnification range is also well suited for most big game hunting, allowing the hunter to take the same glass into the timber that he uses at first and last light while overlooking the bigger parks, canyons, and basins.
The Nightforce SHV 3-10X scope is available now in the
Long Range Hunting Store.​
The vital statistics of the 3-10X42 SHV are: length, 11.6 inches; weight, 20.8 ounces; tube diameter, 30mm; click value, 0.25 moa; total elevation adjustment, 90 moa; windage adjustment, 70 moa; and, eye relief is 3.46". The 42mm objective lens gives the hunter a larger exit pupil than some compact scopes in the Nightforce line. The windage and elevation turrets are capped, belying the fact that Nightforce doesn't see this as a turret-twisting, extreme-long-range scope. The capped turrets will be a bonus to those hunters dragging their rifle in and out of vehicles and saddle scabbards in situations that require more speed than deliberation. The hunter doesn't always have time to recheck turret settings when the pressure is on and the last thing he wants to find are adjustments inadvertently turned, causing a miss.

By the same token, there is not a ZeroStop nor illuminated reticle option available for this scope. (Lighted reticles are available on the other SHV models.) Reticle options include the MOAR and the IHR (International Hunting Reticle) which the review scope carried. For those anticipating the need for quick holdover references, the MOAR is a great option. I liked the IHR reticle for predator hunting since the heavy portion of the horizontal and vertical crosshairs extends further into the field of view, drawing the eye to center the target more quickly. Minimizing available options was a conscious decision by Nightforce. The streamlined option offerings minimize production costs to meet a MSRP of $900.00 and a street price of about $873.00. Not a bad price point for Nightforce quality!

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