Leupold vs Nightforce



I'm looking for a new scope for my .264 Win mag. I'll use the scope for general hunting ,long range hunting, and ocassional 1000 yard competition. Is there anything that makes the Nightforce a lot superior to the Leupold long range target? Is there enough of a difference for what I'm doing to justify the extra cost?
I have both scopes and yes I think it is most deffinitly worth the extra cost of the Nightforce. They are the clearest scopes I have ever used. I have a 3.5 x 15 and with it I can see a pop can and tell what kind it is at 1100 yards. I also have a 8 x 32 and it is even better at a 1100 yards. It makes a coke can look like a one gallon milk carton. You won't be sorry for buying the Nightforce.
That is a tough one since there is a fair difference in dollars and in the individual's ability to assess optical qualities. To my eyes the Nightforce is definitely sharper and brighter than both the Vari-X lll LR's and the MK4's. But I have talked to some guys who don't see much or any difference. Seems that the Leupold 8-25 is kicking butt these days with LR shooters, partly because of price.
There are other considerations such as eye relief and turret accuracy that are important. I like the NXS turrets better than the MK4 turrets and my NXS scopes have excellent eye relief whereas the MK4 is one fussy scope, particularly in 16x.
Let's face it, Leupold makes some very good scopes and they back them up completely. Nightforce does also, and their scopes are of more recent design. They spec out top quality components from a top manufacturer in Japan and assemble the scopes in the US.

Many shooters are awaiting a Vari-X lV or a Mk5 design from Leupold, would be nice to see something new in their LR/tactical models. Perhaps they are so busy making scopes that they don't see the need to replace those older lines.
The internal adjustment is greater on the Nightforce scopes.

The NXS 3.5-15x50 has 110 moa of elevation internally.

The Leupold 4.5-14x50 has 80 moa.
Leupold 3.5-10x40LR M1 has 65 moa.
Leupold 6.5-20x50 LR has 72 moa.

This could be a consideration depending how far you plan to shoot.

The extra weight of the Nightforce may be a consideration depending on your style of hunting.


[ 07-29-2002: Message edited by: MontanaMarine ]
NXS made of steel? Not sure what you mean as NXS's are aluminum bodies (catalog says 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum), got a rock-nick on one last autumn and it sure looks like aluminum. You are correct that they are heavier, maybe that has to do with the "innards", plus the tube is quite thick like a MK4. Good point about adjustment lattitude, NXS has lots, only Leupold close is the MK4 16X I believe.

I must be wrong then. I'm going from research, not firsthand experience on the Nightforce. I thought I had read and/or heard that they were steel bodied, and that accounted for the weight difference.

Thanks for the correction. I hate passing bum scoop.

I have the 3.4x15x50NXS and like it but I did notice the windage was a bit sticky yesterday. I forgot I had 1.5moa left wind in for my first shot and put it 1.5" out to the left,, so I dialed back to zero and the next shot was 1" to the left. Next shot was dead center, as well as all my other shots of the day. I'll dial past my come up and windage and go back from now on. Minor complaint, but for $1200 it shoud be right the first time. Oh, and I can only dial 97 actual MOA from bottom to top. Another very minor point, but 13 moa is 13 moa.

I also shoot a VariX III LR in 3x10x40. I like it very much also, and unless I was extremely comcerned about the light at dawn or dusk, I don't see where the nightforce is giving me that much of an edge. I've shot both to 1K several times. Both get me into the 190's.


[ 07-29-2002: Message edited by: FatBoy... ]
Fatboy, I have the same problem with my new NXS 5.5-22. The 89 MOA is a far cry from 100. Come on that's way off. I cannot believe they even passed QC like that. Every other scope I checked so far has 100 moa exactly in the 5.5-22 model so I'm a little dissapointed to say the least. I left a message for Jeff at Nightforce last wednesday but got no call back yet. Another message left Friday so I'll let you all know how this is handled, I'm not happy and don't think I'll be happy until it's corrected for the price I paid.

The windage was off in the neiborhood of 10% too. That extra 10 moa is worth over 100 inches at just 1000 yards and that's part of the reason I went with it over their 8-32 or a Leopold. We'll see if they have Leopold like service or what.

I'll mention your 13 moa shortage too, I figure about $12.00 per moa is what we're paying for these so.......

I will say they are tough. My brothers flew 6 feet behind him landing in the gravel when his old style Leopold QWR ring crossbolts broke on recoil. The 50 BMG was too much. His new Max 50 Badger Ordinance rings got here last week.

Also does anybody know how a scope would stick 1 moa off like Fatboys appears to have done and upon firing finally click into place? Is there even more than one reason this could happen? I knew calibration could be off and mounts could offer less than repeatable conditions.

I've seen the errectors stick before, I just didn't exspect it with this scope. I'm goint to run it through it's travel 4 more times today and see if that works loose whatever was causing it to stick. I've given up on the 13 moa. I don't need it anyway....

I had my suspicions last 1K match. I dialed in 25 moa, shot and completely missed the target board. I aimed at the bottom of tbe target board for my second shot and sent wood chips flying all over the pit workers. Next three shots were X's. Something is not right,, and it may be the speed in which I turn the knobs, but I would think that this would not happen at any speed with a proper errector set up.

As far as binding from mounting, the rings are badger, on a badger 20moa base (8x40 screws) and they were lapped to 100% on the lower base and 50% on the caps. No flex in this tube, and the 6.5x284 doesn't have enought recoil to flex anything I'd think.

I'll let you know how it goes, but as to the orginal question Leupold vs. Nightforce,,,, Right now I'd have to say Leupold.

On the internal adjustments of these (ANY) scopes...

The maximum elevation is only available IF the windage is perfectly centered... and visa-versa.

Crank the elevation down til it stops, then try moving the windage. It will probably move a little in one direction, and not very much.

Move the windage to one side until it stops, and write down the setting, then move it to the other side, until it stops and write down the setting... split the two, and move the windage to that center setting, then crank the elevation down til it stops. From this place, count the MOA up you can get with the elevation... that will be the max.

If your scope is offset in the mounts, and requires windage to get zero'ed, then you loose out on your maximum elevation.

When I mount scopes on LR riffles, I center the scope windage first, then set the elevation to be 2 or 3 MOA off the bottom, then get the mounts centered and aligned, so when aero'ed at 100, all the elevation is "UP", and none is wasted... why pay $1,000++ for a scope with 140 MOA of elevation, and only get to use 60 or 70??


On sticky windage (or elevation)...

The erector cell (responsible for W/E adjustments) is a cylinder that is held against the ends of the elevation and windage spindles by one or two springs.

Think of two shafts at 12 o'clock and 3 o'clock, with a spring at 7:30 oclock pushing the cylinder against the two shafts. There is heavy grease applied there, plus the normal resistance. It you turn the knobs "IN", the cell must move by force of the spindle, but if you turn the knobs "OUT" it is only the spring that pushes the cell to follow the shaft.
If there is any friction, or the grease is cold and thick, or the springs aren't really up to it, the cell can stick in place, and not follow the spindle face... so you crank in some "UP", or some "Right", and the cell doesn't move, until the gun is shot... the recoil jolts the gun, and the cell snaps into place.

If you have this problem, you can either send it back, describe the problem, and ask that it be cleaned and re-lubed, or you can tap the scope with a wooden stick to make sure that the cell is where it needs to be.

Many shooters move the knob way past the desired setting, and then go back to it, so the last "adjustment" was a push against the cell.


I ran the NXS through it's entire adjustment range 20 times for ele and 15 times for windage today. It's not sticking any more, but I did find another oddity.

I did a box test and found that when I dial in 6 moa up it gives my 7.5"@100yards,, the next 6 moa up gives me exactly 6". I thought this was odd, but it was exactly the same on the way back down on the opposite side of the paper. Very strange,,,,,

Found out my scope doesn't track and lost the pull weight/engagement on my trigger today... Went for a crisp 2.5lbs to about 2oz... What a day at the range..

the first thing I thought it was that the windage was off to one side and limiting it's overall elevation. I not only was wrong but astonished to find that when I dialed full left or right windage and checked overall elevation travel, it was NEVER even reduced by 1 full MOA! I figured it would be reduced by 5, 10 maybe even 20 MOA or more but not even 1 MOA did it differ. Everyone elses NXS is the same too I presume? How is this explained? The turret stops are VERY positive when contacted too.

I assume something would have to be wrong with the threads to make that happen because like Catshooter says the spring can only stick one way not both as it is being pushed by the shaft itself the other way. 7.5 moa both ways when dialing in 6, that's just plain wrong. I'll be checking mine carefully.

BTW Catshooter, great description of the erector setup there.

The Nightforce must be made to stop on something other than the tube contacting the other tube otherwise the windage setting would clearly affect it, true?
I'm gonna do some more testing.. I'll run it in 3 moa blocks for the first test and 6moa for the second in the opposite direction. If it's still messed up, I'll have the patterns to send with the scope. I guess as long as it's repeatable,, it's not as huge problem,, but I'd like it to be right. I'm waiting until the end of the 1K season though...

Triggers fixed too, Had to give it 1/6 turn more engagment and it's fine. Screw ddin't back out.. Must have worn the bar down some. Next time it happens, I'll get a Jewell.

I spoke with Kevin at Nightforce today. My elevation turret has zero above the 9 on the vernier scale like the other 5.5-22's have. He sayed it may have the wrong turret installed and to send it back so it could be checked out. It's in the mail tomarrow.

Fatboy, I told him your tale of woe, and he said he would run mine through a series of tests to verify repeatability before it was even sent back to me.

He did say it was odd it didn't track like an arrow though. But send it back to be looked at was the common theme.

When asked about my return date,(hunting season for moose starts in two weeks) he said it will be returned UPS just a day or two after they get it. Will wait and see now.

Who knows what the allen screw under the elevation and windage caps directly in the center of the brass dial is for? I never even noticed them until I took the set screw loose a couple turns and pulled off the caps.

I forgot to add that my windage travel was 67 moa not the advertized 60 moa. It was actually over not under, as I never zeroed it and then added wrong to top it off.

[ 08-06-2002: Message edited by: Brent ]
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