Seeing the Power of the Nightforce NX8 4-32×50 F1

After reviewing the Nightforce NX8 1-8x scope and being very impressed, I have been not so patiently waiting to get my hands on one of the higher-powered versions, either a 2.5-20x or the 4-32x. Important things like fulfilling government contracts and surviving COVID slowdowns took priority but these situations have finally eased up enough so I could get one for review as we roll into hunting season.

The NX8 4-32×50 F1 may be a bit over the top for me as a hunting scope, but for those like me that have been bitten by the long-range precision shooting bug or have vast amounts of wide-open big sky spaces, it is certainly a great option. All through the testing, I found myself becoming a power hog and using every bit of the magnification that the mirage would allow.

NX8 4-32 looks like a mini-me next to the 34mm tubed 7-35 ATACR

I’ve used one of the Nightforce ATACR 7-35x scopes for precision rifle matches before so I certainly can appreciate the option of having a greater magnification for smaller or more distant targets. A side by side comparison of the two illustrates the size and weight savings of the NX8 line compared to the bigger ATACR, obviously somewhat different markets.

I mounted the 4-32 on three different rifles during the testing. Its size didn’t totally overwhelm the 18” AR-15 I mounted it on, so I think it would make an impressive combination for precision gas gun matches, but it did fit more naturally atop both the bolt guns.

4-32x is light enough it didn’t make the AR seem top heavy or upset the balance

Specifications

Magnification-            4-32 power

Length-                        13.4 inches

Tube Diameter-          30mm                         

Weight-                       28.6 ounces

Adjustments-              .1 MRAD

Elevation Range-        26MRAD

Windage Range-         20 MRAD         

Illumination-               Yes,Redor Green selectable

Battery Type-              CR2032

Price-                           $2150

The NX8 4-32x weighs 28.6 oz., with a set of NF rings it tipped my scales at 32.25 ounces, and was 13.4 inches long. The clarity was excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Nightforce, and it was easy to zoom in and pick up small targets.

NX8 actually looks just a bit small on a full-sized precision chassis gun

As always, when power increases light transmission decreases, this was not a problem at all during daylight shooting sessions; there was more than adequate light transmission. As the light faded in the afternoons, it was easy to compensate by decreasing magnification power to get a bit more light on the targets. It’s different having the capability to change your magnification by a factor of 28, 4-32x gives a wide range of viewing options. Definitely a whole new world from the olden days of 3-9x hunting scopes. 

As with the other NX8 models, the 4-32 has an exposed elevation turret that is well marked and has positive clicks for making range adjustments. The model I tested was in Mils, with 10 mils per revolution of the turret in .1 Mil increments.

Dual set screws hold turret in place and allow resetting for zero, NF provided wrench.

The elevation turret has two set screws to allow resetting the turret to “0” once your gun is zeroed. Under the elevation turret is the zero stop that allows setting the bottom of turret movement to ensure the shooter is able to determine which rotation of the turret he began from.

The windage turret is capped to prevent inadvertent adjustments. This turret is in .1 Mil increments as well. The scope body and tops of both turrets are marked to indicate the direction of rotation to move impacts up or to the right. Each Mil unit on the windage turret is also marked with an “R” or “L” to assist in keeping shooters on target during adjustments; under pressure, I’ll take all the help (reminders) I can get.

Everything is marked so even I can see it without my glasses.

The parallax adjustment is on the left side of the scope and this knob also has a button in the center that controls the reticle illumination. The NX8 has Nightforce’s DigIllum which illuminates the reticle at several intensities in either a red or green color.

Battery compartment is mounted in illumination switch on parallax adjustment knob.

Pushing the button once turns the illumination on and it comes on back to the last setting you were using which is convenient. Pressing the button changes the intensity level until it reaches the end of the direction it is moving (brighter or dimmer), then the reticle flashes and changes to the other direction.

Holding the button in for about 5 seconds changes the color between green or red. The background and lighting determine which color or just plain black is most optimal. Pressing and holding the center of the parallax cap for about 3 seconds and releasing turns off the illumination. The battery is located under the parallax cap.

Red illumination makes reticle come alive in shadows.

Every model of the NX8 line comes standard with Nightforce’s Power Throw Lever (PTL). This is a small stud that can be attached to the magnification control ring to allow faster, easier changes in scope magnification. They also come with a great set of scope caps that flip to the side to protect the lenses and keep them free of rain and dust.

Range Time

As I said before, I became a little bit of a power hog when I took the 4-32x down to the range. I can’t say you need 32x when shooting 100 yards or even 300 yards, but it makes it a whole lot easier to see your bullet holes. 

Upper power reticle is clean and all business.

The Mil-XT reticle is as expected Mil based. It is easy to understand and without any extraneous information or clutter. At the medium to higher end of the magnification scale, it was easy to see, read, and make both elevation hold overs and windage holds using the reticle. 

At the lower end of the range, in the 4-6x area, the reticle left me a bit wanting. The primary horizontal stadia has 10 Mils of small incremental markings to both sides of center before it becomes a thicker easier to see line. 

At low-power reticle can be hard to find, but illumination helped on difficult backgrounds

The vertical has no thicker line at all, above or below center; the 42 Mils of .2 Mil increments below the center line for hold overs is very fine and while readable does not make for a fast aiming reticle at lower power.

I understand the dilemma, the reticle has to be sized properly as to not be too thick at higher power, and changes size with the power so this is the compromise of having magnification increase 28 power from 4-32x.

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel I could hunt or shoot targets at 100 yards on 4x. I think I would have felt better about the reticle if it had thicker stadia coming in a bit closer to center for faster low power shots, but we all know you can’t make everyone happy and I certainly don’t know all the reticle patents and issues that have to be dodged in these current times.

Zero wasn’t perfect but tracking remained steady and true.

I ran the 4-32 F1 through several tracking drills and it performed better than the groups of the gun I was shooting. I tracked it vertically up and down 8 Mils several times, and did box drills taking it up, left, down, and right 3 Mils each direction back around to the starting point and it came back to where we started every time.

I mounted the NX8 in both a one-piece AR style high mount and a set of regular rings for the bolt guns and had no issues with zeroing, tracking, or parallax adjustments.

NX8 4-32×50 F1, Hornady 155’s, and Tikka CTR easily managed several sub-moa groups

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a scope for precision competition or the hunt of a lifetime you owe it to yourself to give the NX8 offerings a serious look. I think the NX8 F1 line of scopes with the wide range of magnification choices, focal plane options, Mil or MOA adjustment options, reticle options, and illumination choices leaves little else to be desired. 

Nightforce is offering so much magnification in such small packages, the only thing you could wish for is a bit lower price tag, but performance like this will never be inexpensive, you pay for what you get, and would you really want to trust a trophy hunt or major tournament to anything less?

For more information visit Nightforce Optics website.

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About the author: Jeff Cramblit is a world-class competitive shooter having won medals at both the 2012 IPSC World Shotgun Championship in Hungary and more recently the 2017 IPSC World Rifle Championship in Russia. He is passionate about shooting sports and the outdoors. He has followed that passion for over 30 years, hunting and competing in practical pistol, 3gun, precision rifle and sporting clays matches. Jeff is intimately familiar with the shooting industry – competitor, instructor, RO, range master, match director. Among his training credits include NRA Instructor, AR-15 armorer, FBI Rifle Instructor, and Officer Low Light Survival Instructor. As a sponsored shooter, Jeff has represented notable industry names such as: Benelli, 5.11 Tactical, Bushnell, Blackhawk, DoubleStar, and Hornady. He has been featured on several of Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery episodes and on a Downrange TV series. Jeff’s current endeavors cover a broad spectrum and he can be found anywhere from local matches helping and encouraging new shooters as they develop their own love of the sport, to the dove field with his friends, a charity sporting clays shoot, backpack hunting public land in Montana, or the winners podium of a major championship.

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