Nightforce SHV 3-10X42mm Review

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Nightforce SHV 3-10x42mm Review - 2

    Installation of the 3-10X42 was quick using the lightweight, titanium NF 30mm rings. The rail on my rifle in combination with the Wheeler Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling Kit made the scope change simple. After an old school bore sighting, sight-in was basically a five shot process then a quick fine-tune for the 200 yard zero I prefer for coyotes. The click values seemed to be slightly long on this scope.

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    If the shooter wants to spin turrets, he should probably check and verify the come-ups. The adjustments were not NXS-crisp but this scope was a pre-production model that Len had arranged to receive early. It may or may not be totally representative of all the SHV scopes. All other scope functions worked well. The power ring was smooth as was the side-focus knob.
    The 3-12X42mm SHV came with a set of rubber scope covers. My first thought was that these are virtually indestructible, unlike some of the plastic flip covers I've seen. They push onto the respective ends of the scope and stay in place very well. The rubber around the objective and ocular lenses adds protection from nicks and jars as well. I did learn that it was better to orient the covers to the five o'clock or seven o'clock positions rather than straight up. The wind or gravity can result in the covers returning back in front of the lenses at an inopportune time -- not a very handy scenario!

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    With the scope mounted and dialed in, it was time for a field test. I had a ranch that I had not called coyotes on all year. The owner told me that coyotes had gotten the very first calf of the year so what was sport hunt became an ADC mission. I bumped one coyote on the way to my stand. It wasn't spooked extremely bad and I knew there were other coyotes in the area.
    The setup was in the shade of a small juniper overlooking the Foxpro Shockwave 25 yards away. I started the stand with some Lone Howls followed a couple of minutes later with some Female Invitation sounds. Female estrus chirps were sent next into the small, juniper studded canyon. Coyote Hurt Pup sounds screamed out a few minutes after that. This was all textbook stuff for February coyotes but the coyotes had evidently skipped class that day!

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    I had found deer kills in the area previously so Fawn Distress was the next logical choice. By the time the deer bleats ran their course, I would have normally packed up and left but this was an ADC mission so I switched up to an old standby, Adult Cottontail, which had produced here in the past. About a minute and a half later, a couple of crows did a fly-by of the area. As they approached, they did a little "crow cussing" then flew past. The extra raucous caught my attention so I kept an eye in that direction. Thirty seconds later a coyote appeared on the fenceline 70 yards to my left from the direction of the crow flight. The crows had given him away. We sometimes find allies in strange associations.

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    The morning sun coming over my shoulder lit the coyote up as the white fur of his chest and underbelly glowed above my shaded position. I normally strongly suggest that a hunter not move while a coyote is stopped scanning but I knew the sun was directly in the coyote's eyes. My shaded position made me virtually invisible to him allowing me a slow 90 degree pivot. As I acquired my target, the coyote showed vividly in the field of view of the Nightforce SHV. One suppressed 65 grain V-max from the .243AI laid him down where he stood. Mission Accomplished: A calf killer down using the new Nightforce SHV 3-10X42!

    In summary, while the SHV performed flawlessly on this hunt, NXS or ATACR owners will notice some subtle differences in form and function when comparing this scope to its more expensive big brothers. The Nightforce SHV won't replace the 2.5-10X NXS for those who want to turn turrets on a consistent basis or who have the need for specialized or lighted reticles. But, for those rifle aficionados wanting an upgrade over other mainstream optics and for current Nightforce owners wanting a more affordable alternative in a scope for less demanding pursuits, the SHV opens another playing field in what is still a very upscale optic. I'm confident this new scope will find its way onto many big game and predator hunting rifles. After all, it has "Nightforce" emblazoned on it for a reason.

    The 3-10X is available now in the Long Range Hunting Store.

    God bless and good shooting!


    Tim Titus has been calling coyotes for 35 years. He lives in the coyote rich country of Southeast Oregon where he and his son spend their winters calling predators and their springs and early summers shooting varmints. Tim owns and operates No Off Season, an on-line predator and varmint hunting store and guiding business. You can check it out at No-Off-Season.com

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