Reviewing Nightforce ATACR scopes have been a treat as these scopes have amazing features and specs. In this Nightforce ATACR review, we will have first impression coupled with bench testing. This review is particularly important as Nightforce ATACR price is well above $2,000 and you don’t want to repent after buying a scope by shelling out so much of money.
The first thing that caught our attention is the nice and firm detents of the turrets for elevation and windage adjustment. Another thing that we noticed is that the newer 20 MOA high speed turret are closer, in terms of spacing, but importantly, they are distinct and to read. ATACR scopes are heavier than their NXS counterparts and weigh 38oz. One of the reasons of the weight is the presence of higher quality ED glass coupled with a large- tube.
During the test, we set the zerostop by removing the scope’s elevation turret. This enabled us to count the total internal elevation. We found it pretty generous for Nightforce Optics to advertise ATACR having 120 MOA when actually we found out 133.5 MOA inside. While checking the turret, we didn’t find any hard spot. In fact, we found the turret to be significantly smooth, while running the turret up and down. Be it the middle of turret or at the extreme ends, running of the turrets were quite smooth and impressive. When testing the magnification ring, we found it to be smooth as well as firm.
Readying the Scope for Bench Testing
After the first impression of ATACR Nightforce scope is done, we get it ready for the field test. So, the first step involves mounting of the scope on a rifle. For this, we used 1.125 Nightforce rings. It worked out well and also allowed installation of the bikini covers. Rail mounted anti-cant level has also been installed and we checked the same to be true. Then we went straight to the plumb line board for getting the reticle right. While checking clarity of image through Nightforce ATACR scope at 60 yards, we found it to be excellent. Then the reticle is placed on a piece of chalk line string and the image was not only clear but also crisp, without confronting any kind of distortion.
Then sight-in is done on 100 yards and it was pretty easy on 25x magnification. At 100 the reticle subtensions are closer to 1 inch, which help in easy measuring of corrections. To find the zero, we required to make just a few shots. The parallax adjustment worked great and the parallax seemed to run closely with crisp focus. When we compared the parallax with that of Nightforce NXS, we found that at ATACR it is geared higher. This means the adjustment is done faster at the latter than the former. If you are using NXS scope, this feature might surprise you. It will take you time to get used to the faster corrections, especially when you are on the field.
After zeroing in was done, it was time for checking elevation tracking up the board. That’s why 4×8 sheet of OSB with a paper running vertical was set up. Before giving the results found during the bench testing, it is important to share the procedure followed during bench testing. At bottom for each shot, bullet is fired at point of aim, followed by cranking up the elevation 20 MOA for every additional shot. Now, the measurement is done from the first bullet hole to check whether the scope is indeed tracking in true 20 MOA (equivalent to 1.047 inches for every MOA dialed in).
Bench Testing Result
1. When we measured the first 20 MOA distance from the very first hole at 0 MOA, we found the measurement to be 21.125 inches, which is surely more than the true 20.9 inches. Though the actual measurement was not true it was well within the accuracy range of the rifle-ammo-shooter skill combination. Therefore, it can be adjudged as good.
2. In case of the 0 MOA to 40 MOA point of impact, the result was 42.25 inches. This was again close to the true 41.88 inches and therefore here too we call it good again.
3. In case of 0 MOA to 60 MOA, the resultant point of impact was 63.375 inches, which should have been 62.82 inches. Here, the the point of impact is around ½ MOA off the point of aim. However, it can again be adjudged as good because on an average 1/2 MOA accuracy can be taken as ideal . This is considered good because only one shot was taken at every 20 MOA intervals instead of ideally taking multiple shots for achieving accuracy at each level.
Testing Reticle Subtensions and ED Glass Quality
We, next, wanted to test the accuracy of the reticle subtensions at 25x. For checking this crucial aspect, a board was created with subtensions at 300 yards placed exactly at 1 MOA distance apart from one another. Then the reticle was aligned with the marks from exactly 300 yards range and they lined up on 25x perfectly. At 1/2 power setting, aligning with the indicator mark was great. In fact, the placing of subtension lines at 2 MOA spacing was also good.
Then comes image clarity and quality of the new ED glass. We found vividness and clarity through the glass at Nightforce ATACR to be extremely good and can be counted among the devices having best image clarity. When the image quality is compared with that of Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×56 scope at highest magnification range, the output is better at ATACR. Though it will be wrong to describe the optical clarity of ATACR to be far better than that in NXS, enhanced vividness as well as clarity at the former during mid-day light is definitely noticeable. In fact, we found the resolution to be higher at ATACR than NXS.
This is when we decided to check the ED glass’ quality after sunset to check how it fares. ED Glass quality of both NXS and ATACR were checked with just 15 minutes left of legal shooting time in Montana, the latter did fare better this time too. Visibility is better at ATACR and the optical clarity is definitely brighter as well as clearer. Though at the time of taking the shots the optical clarity difference was marginal, the visibility through Nightforce ATACR scope is much better.
This will be beneficial for the long range hunters, say shooting at a range of 1,250 yards immediately after sundown.
Drawing The Conclusion
There is hardly anything for our Scopelist review team to complain about with Nightforce ATACR riflescope. In fact, post review, we think NightForce ATACR scopes will be great for platforms like LRKM in 338 Terminator. ELR shooters will find it perfect for 1000 yard hunting expeditions. So look out for your own Nightforce ATACR for sale and get going to enjoy your hunting season!