NightForce SHV 4-14x50mm F1 Rifle Scope Review
The NightForce brand of optics has been a well-regarded premium brand for quite some time now with their Competition and NSX lines. In recent years they have added new lines that were designed to be use specific such as the ATAR (tactical) and Benchrest lines.
In 2015 NightForce added another new line specifically aimed towards long-range hunters called the SHV (shooting, hunting, varmint). Their goal for this line of rifle scopes was to provide a more cost-friendly optic that still maintains the level of quality and craftsmanship customers expect from the NightForce brand. One of the ways they achieved this objective with the SHV line was to limit the number of features and options available with them compared to their other lines. This isn’t to say they are short on features – far from it, but rather that unlike Burger King and the NSX line you can’t have it your way.
For this review we are looking at the new for 2016 4-14x50mm F1 model in MOA (sku#C556). What sets this model apart from the rest of the SHV line is that its reticle is on the first focal plane rather than the second. This simply means that the size of the reticle will change with the magnification allowing the spacing of the sub tensions within the reticle to stay constant no matter what the magnification is set to. In other words, the 1 MOA hash mark spacing will always be 1 MOA regardless of what the magnification ring is set at. This lets the user more easily and accurately use the reticle for ranging.
The SHV series of scopes feature precision machined 6061 T6 aircraft grade aluminum body tubes that offer superior strength and resistance to POI shifts. The objective size has been optimized on each model for the best low-light performance and resolution, while a European-style fast focus eye piece allows for fast and easy diopter adjustment. Reticle choices for the new F1 model are the MIL-R and the MOAR depending on which unit of measure you prefer to use. Both options come standard with illumination.
Speaking of illumination, Nightforce has integrated the illumination dial into the side focus knob in a rather ingenious way. The outboard ring on the turret controls the illumination, and the inboard ring adjusts the parallax. The illumination dial offers eleven levels of brightness, and there is an off position between each individual brightness setting so you don’t have to crank the dial back around to a single off position.
As far as specifications go, the 4-14x50mm F1 has an overall length of 14.8-inches with a 30mm main tube diameter. Weight is listed as being 30-ounces. The turrets offer 90 MOA (26.2 MIL) of elevation adjustment and 70 MOA (20.4 MIL) of windage adjustment, while the side focus adjustment range is 25 yards to infinity. Click values are ¼ MOA or 0.1 MIL. Eye relief is 2.8-3.1 inches and the exit pupil is 10.8mm to 3.3mm. Field of View (FOV) is 25.1 feet @ 4x and 7.4 feet @ 14x respectively. MSRP for both F1 models is $1290.
Last but not least, this new F1 model gets NightForces’ excellent ZeroStop feature for the elevation turret. After sighting in your rifle, simply set the ZeroStop and you create a positive mechanical stop point at your chosen zero. Then, no matter how many elevation adjustments you make, turning the elevation knob down to the ZeroStop setting returns you to your original zero, completely by feel—even in total darkness or while wearing gloves. No counting clicks, no need for visual reference, no wasted effort.
For field testing I mounted the NightForce SHV atop my 18-inch heavy barreled AR-15 using an American Defense Manufacturing Recon 30 STD quick release cantilever-type mount. Ammunition used during all testing was Hornady’s Steel Match 55gr HP.
The first order of business was a box test to verify the accuracy of the tracking system. This test was conducted at 100 yards using Score Keeper #45716 sight-in target at 14x magnification. Given the low-grade ammunition being used for testing I allowed for a ½ minute window for this test as the ammo or the shooter could easily account for that amount of deviation from shot to shot. In the end the SHV’s tracking proved to be spot on (as expected) with the first and last shots just touching in the center bullseye.
My next test was to verify the click value on the elevation adjustment using an eight-foot 2x6 board at 200 yards with a marked plumb line and aiming point. Zeroed at 200 yards I could then dial in 10, 20 and 30 MOA of elevation, firing a round at my fixed aiming point and then measuring the actual distance between the aiming point and the point of impact on the board. Again, the SHV’s adjustments proved to be very accurate, and the very minute amount of variation I had likely has more to do with the ammunition or the shooter rather than the scope itself.
Optically I found the SHV to have great resolution and clarity, but given such things are extremely subjective from user to user I’m not going to go into great detail on my own findings. I will however say that the quality of the glass in the SHV is slightly better than several comparable models from major manufacturers in the same price range based on my own experience with them. Your mileage may vary of course.