Scott Shreve

Nightforce ATACR 4-16x42 F1 Review

Interested in a great, mid sized front focal plane scope ? Scott reviews the NF 4-16x42 F1, read about his real world experience with this optic.

Scott Shreve

I’d like to start out with saying that Nightforce Optics has done it again.  The new ATACR 4-16x42 F1 front focal plane scope is an incredibly functional, well-designed, low-profile, compact scope, and the optical performance is outstanding.  The quality and clarity of the scope on 16x magnification is amazing.  It truly delivers!

From the moment I unpacked this scope, I was impressed.  The overall compact size, low profile turrets, easy-to-read etched markings on the side parallax and elevation turrets, the capped windage turret, and how incredibly clear the ED glass was combine to form what’s arguably the best scope being manufactured today.

Scott Shreve

The ATACR 4-16x42 F1 front focal plane scope has a 34mm main tube, is 12.6 inches in overall length, and weighs 30oz.  MOA models have: 89 MOA elevation, 60 MOA windage while Mil models have 26 Mils of elevation adjustment and 18 Mils on the windage side. Both scopes feature Zero-Hold  and Digillum reticle illumination.  The scope model I received to T&E has the .1 Mil-Radian Mil-R reticle in it.  It is also available with the MOAR, Horus H59, and TReMoR3 reticles. The Mil-R reticle allows precise ranging and accurate hold offs for effective first-shot placement and quick follow-up shots.  The floating center crosshair is 1.0 Mil across, and supported with whole, half, .2 and .1 Mil-Radian graduations across the reticle.

Scott Shreve

For this review, I mounted the scope on a GA Precision, custom-built 6.5 SAUM, with an integral 20 MOA base, and secured it with a set of Nightforce 34mm Ultralite, medium-height rings.  The scope was easy to zero at the range after a quick bore sighting at 25 yards.  

Scott Shreve

With 12 Mils per revolution of the elevation turret, driving a 140 JLK bullet at 3206 fps, I was on steel to 1500 yards with less than one full turn of the elevation turret. Both elevation and windage turrets have precise, audible movements and the scope’s power selector ring is smooth and easy to turn.  Both turrets and parallax  knobs have bold, white markings with easy-to-read numbers. The optical performance on this scope is top notch.  I am very impressed at the clarity and the sharpness through the entire magnification range out to 16x power.

Scott Shreve

The ZeroHold option is a feature on this scope that can be seen in the above picture.  It is a button you see coming out of the elevation turret on the top right of scope.  It locks the turret in the zero position.  To release or turn the turret, you merely press the ZeroHold button in while turning the turret.  It only locks back in when you return to your zero, still allowing adjustment while not engaged.   Also, it allows 2 Mils of travel below your set zero after you set it according to the Owner’s Manual. This zero stop helps prevent accidental shift in your vertical point of impact, while the capped windage turret ensures no inadvertent shift left or right.

I’ve included pictures taken through my scope of the reticle with targets behind. The quality of sight picture is much better than shown in these two images. It is nearly impossible to show with an image just how clear and sharp the glass truly is.

The scope tracks as it should and passed the standard box test easily with great reliability and repeatability.  I engaged steel targets from 350 yards to 1760 yards in this test.  I could follow my drop chart out, back in, engage random targets and then return back to zero and be spot-on as long as I did my part reading the wind. The fully multi-coated ED glass is exceptional, and I feel it is truly second to none.  Edge-to-edge clarity, bright color rendition, and easy target identification at extreme ranges was a breeze.

Scott Shreve

Scott Shreve

Both the target and steel are at 200 yards in these pictures.

The elevation, windage, and parallax turrets’ features are solid on this scope.  The low profile elevation turret has the ZeroHold option with easily-read, etched-white numbers.  The windage turret comes with a removable protective cap and a trim ring is provided to protect the threads if you like to run it with cap removed and dial for wind.  The parallax knob is marked from 45 yards to infinity and has a center push button DigIllum illumination including both red and green options with adjustable intensity.  The battery is located underneath and is easily replaceable.

Scott Shreve

So, now time for some long range shooting/testing of the ATACR 4-16x42 F1. My son and I grabbed the steel, portable stands, Vector IV range finder, rifle and other gear and headed to our favorite long range shooting spot east of town.  We setup steel from 850 yards to 1500 yards with one lone target at 1780 yards.  It is just the way it worked out with terrain and the ridges on the land we shoot at. 

My main objective here was to test the 16 power magnification at longer ranges.  First up was the closest target at 850 yards before I moved out to the longer stuff.  My data said to dial 4 mils up and the wind was left to right at about 4-6 mph, so I held .5 mils for wind.  First shot was a solid hit on the right edge of plate.  I added a hair more wind and sent two more rounds that hit closer to center of the plate.  The next plate was at 1320 yards, so I added another 4.2 mils for a total of 8.2 mils of elevation and held .9 mils of wind for the first shot.  The bullet missed just right.  The next three shots were fired while holding 1.2 mils for wind and all hit the 24” plate.  With the scope on 16x and the Badger FTE brake, I could watch my own trace into the steel and clearly see the hits on the white spray painted steel.  I had similar results at the 1500 yard target, drilling it 3 out of 5 times. At this point, I was even more impressed with the optical quality and performance of the scope!

The real test for me was the 1780 yard plate.  I dialed in the 14.2 mils of elevation that my ballistic app, Shooter, told me would hit the target.  Wind was a good 5-7 mph left to right now, so I decided on a 2 mil wind hold and loaded a round.  My son was spotting too and told me to send it.   I fired the shot and could watch the trace run into the target, a 36” chunk of steel.  Elevation was good, but my round carried just right.  I added .3 more for wind and fired a second time.  I was rewarded with a hit on the right edge of the plate at about 4 o’clock.  The wind was doing tricky things shooting across a few ridges, but I wound up with 8 hits out of 12 shots.  I couldn’t see the actual impacts with the 16x scope at 1780 yards, but could watch the trace into the target and confirmed the hits when we were done and loaded up the steel. 

I have used this scope at the local 200 yard range, in the field shooting steel out to in excess of one mile, while hunting coyotes, and long-range hunting of various varmints.   Overall, this scope does it all.  The optical quality and performance in a 16-power scope is unparalleled in my opinion.  To be able to engage and hit targets out to one mile in changing wind and weather conditions has made a believer out of me!  I truly believe that running the front focal plane scope has improved my game.  Well done, Nightforce!Well done.

Complete specs on this scope and more information can be found online at Nightforceoptics.comhttp://nightforceoptics.com/atacr/4-16x42-f1

Scott Shreve

Scott Shreve is a life-long hunter and avid predator caller. He enjoys taking his family and friends out calling predators. Scott lives in Buffalo, Wyoming working as a general residential contractor and spends his free time hunting, shooting long range and reloading.

Sniper's Hide using the 4-16x42 

See a video with me using the Nightforce ATACR 4-16x42 

This is part of an online training lesson available with a Premium Account - check them out ! 


Sniper's Hide Top Stories