The upper echelon of scopes can be an enigma. When you step into the realm of extreme duty scopes it’s important to remember that these aren’t made for the average shooter. NightForce, Schmitt and Bender, Zeiss, and Leupold all make scopes for experts and just using the optics takes a crash course in long-range sniping. It takes almost a college degree in optical engineering to really understand the jargon and specialized features that these scopes bring to the table.
Getting a real expert’s advice on individual products can be a golden opportunity in understanding the capabilities. This NightForce ATACR review gives a 5 star look into an awesome piece of gear for a real shooter.
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NightForce ATACR Review
There’s nothing easy about hitting a man sized target at 1000 yards or beyond, but military snipers, and competitive long-range shooters do it every day. American’s in particular are obsessed with the idea of a 1000 yard first round hit. Challenges like the infamous milk jug challenge are popular out west where there’s actually room to stretch out that far. Back east there’s precious few civilian ranges with facilities for 1,000 yard pot shots.
This brings up the first caveat of the review: do you need this kind of equipment? Yes, this is a very, very cool scope. It has ridiculous levels of zoom and has the appeal of being the ultimate level of tactical scopes, but it is rarely necessary for the job at hand. Especially considering the price tag along with the weight and bulk, this kind of scope is like a dually truck. When you need it, you REALLY need it, but when you don’t you just look dumb.
The ATACR comes in three different sizes; 4-16×46, 4-16×50 and 5-25×56. The 5-25×56 is also available in an enhanced model with a few upgraded features that make the scope easier to use under stress. In fact, the whole scope is laid out to use under pressure. You can tell the people who made these scopes are shooters. From end to end these scopes look and feel like military hardware.
Probably the most useful scope in the lineup is the 5-25×56. If you need a scope like this chances are you need a whole bunch of magnification and this delivers plenty. The tube is a massive 34mm across and requires proprietary or special order rings to fit the wide body. The objective bell and large tube makes this scope fit very high which can be a problem, but it will easily clear almost any suppressor or muzzle device you would mount on a rifle of this type.
Because of the huge bell, wide body, and crystal clear glass the scope is bright all the way through its magnification range. Even at 25x power the scope isn’t blurry, dark or harsh on the eyes when shooting. But there’s no free lunch and the scope is just over 15 inches long and weighs 34oz.
Without too much jargon, the scope comes in several different reticles and adjusts in MOA, and Mils with four different reticles depending on the exact scope you order. The parallax turret adjusts from 45yards to infinity to dial in for a dead on shot and all the turrets are huge and very tactile.
Despite being over 15 inches long there is very critical eye relief needing to be mounted at 3.3-3.5 inches from your pupil. This makes it a good choice for intermediate rounds and small battle rifle cartridges, but I would feel cautious about putting this scope on a hard recoiling rig like a .338 Lapua, .50 BMG or even a lighter .300 win mag. Unless you’re searching for a several thousand dollar punch in the eye.
The scope’s reticles look like a periscope from an old school battleship movie. These reticles are made with calling your own shots and walking in precision rifle fire and have a steep learning curve. Try and shoot through similar scopes before you buy because it’s rough if you get this wrong.
Who needs a scope like this?
The NightForce ATACR is a scope built specifically for long distance precision shooting. Shooting through a scope like a NightForce sounds great, just like driving a manual Ferrari sounds great, until you sit in traffic or have to carry your big scoped rig through the high country chasing elk.
These scopes are intended for high intensity military operations; getting in and out of armored cars banging optics on doors, jumping out of helicopters with a long rifle, falling on top of your rifle or dropping it into sand. The bottom line is these scopes are built to last. This level of durability isn’t for free and the NightForce ATACR is far heavier than just about any sporting scope on the market.
So the three biggest problems with this scope are the fact that it’s heavy, it’s bulky, and it’s expensive. But, oh boy is it awesome. I don’t believe there is a more well thought out scope on the market. This scope is a third generation scope from NightForce that builds upon the latter models they made.
For a shooter looking for quality and the ability to reach out and tough a target from the next valley over, no matter what happens this is your scope. This scope is well thought out and optimized for the battlefield and the competition range and that’s all it does well.
The Advanced Tactical Rifle Scope from NightForce is the scope for a sniper, competition shooter or anyone looking for a serious use rifle scope. The NightForce ATACR reviews are critical in every category except tactical shooting. Not to beat a dead horse, but this scope isn’t the best choice for anything else besides military sniping. Even for competition shooting with long walks between firing positions this scope lacks because of its weight and bulk. Think long and hard about what you’ll be doing before you buy such an expensive and specialized tool.