Sniper's Hide Reviews the Nightforce SHV 4-14x F1 Scope

Sniper's Hide Reviews the new Nightforce SHV 4-14x 50mm Front Focal Plane F1 Scope

Nightforce SHV 4-14x 50mm F1 Scope 

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The majority of my reviews are on scopes that retail for $2000+. And while a lot of tactical shooters tend to focus on this $2k-$4k range of optics, there are more people out there who just can’t afford a scope this expensive. We see this trend with the popularity of the Ruger Precision Rifle. It’s a low cost option that gives the end user a lot of bang for their buck.

One of our goals here at Sniper’s Hide is to educate and to bring more people into the shooting sports. Outlining the options so they can make informed decisions. Let’s face it, precision rifles are not cheap like shooting a Handgun or AR15. It’s a considerable investment as well as a pretty big learning curve. Your basic set up is gonna cost a minimum of $2000 just to begin your journey versus $500 to $1000.

My thoughts when reviewing the Ruger Precision Rifle and the new Nightforce SHV F1 was the Precision Rifles Series. In 2016 you will have the Production Class for the entry level competitor. This division sets a limit on the money you spend as well as upgrades to your rifle. Basically it says, with rifle and scope combined you cannot exceed $3000, nor can you modify the rifle to any significant degree. Accuracy improvements are off the table.

Enter the new Nightforce SHV F1.

SHV stands for Shooter, Hunter, Varminter, and the Second Focal Plane line of this scope was totally geared towards that crowd. The new 4-14x F1 SHV puts a bit more focus on the Shooter, while still crossing over to the Hunter / Varminter crowd. This scope, in my opinion is the answer to the PRS Production Class shooter. This is a good thing.

MSRP for this scope is $1250

We have a lot of features here that will appeal to those who may hunt but also want to compete. It is lighter weight, coming in at 30 ounces. It has an exposed “Target Turret” for elevation adjustments while capping the windage, a very desirable feature for both the hunter and competitor. And it’s a Front Focal Plane when you want to use it in dynamic situations like a PRS Match.

Mil-R Reticle

Nightforce Optics

A new feature with the F1 SHV is the addition of the Mil Based Reticle and Turrets. Previously NF only offered the scope in MOA, now you can get a Mil-R reticle (my favorite) or MOAR reticle so you can pair the scope with your chosen unit of adjustment. 

The version we tested used the Mil-R reticle and MRAD Turrets.

Turrets

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I am a well known NF Fan, and one of the reasons is the durability of their optics. These scopes are known for taking a beating. While you may hear or read a complaint about NF Glass not having the same “POP” as other (usually higher priced brands) scopes, you very rarely hear stories of needing to use Nightforce Customer Service. Their reputation for quality control and producing a well built scope is every where on the internet.

When I review a product, I try to put a lot of rounds downrange. Even if that means being a bit late with a review. I would rather shoot it more and know, then come out with a video after only a weekend of “playing” with a scope. My goal is to shoot at least 500 to 1000 rounds under the scope before releasing my opinion. Another aspect of this, it’s better I break it, then you spend your money and have it fail.

Nightforce advertises 26 Mils or 90 MOA of adjustment for the F1 SHV. On the Ruger Precision Rifle with it’s built in 20MOA Base I was able to get 16 Mils of useable elevation out of it. To me that is more than enough elevation for a hunter or entry level tactical competitor.

Looking under the caps, there are very little frills. One addition I like is the horizontal markings under the elevation. This helps you know where you Zero is, and this scope features a Zero Set feature. Basically, you bring your cap down to the zero line and it gives you cap based zero stop.

Tracking

Tracking is the most important feature with any optic if you ask me. In 2015 I can careless about glass. Most of the scopes today have a very high glass quality, so the reality is, we need to be consistent and test our tracking.

To check tracking I employ two methods:

  1. Tall Target Testing with a 4ft Level
  2. Talk Target Testing with the Sniper’s Hide target while shooting it.

I put both up at 100 yards, and then do a series of tests. More than one in fact as I want to check repeatability. This is the more boring thing I do, every time I go out to the range with a scope, I repeat both tests. When you have a range full of steel out to a Mile, spending an hour shooting at a 100 yards, even when you know the scope is zeroed is boring.

The first time I tested the scope across the 4ft level I found it to measure 13.1 mils or 131 to reach 48 inches. This bring it a tick short at 47.16". In a way you can say it’s the reticle, it’s movement when I am raising the elevation, it’s any number of things. However it would not be uncharacteristic for an optic to be a .1 off at 13 mils. Most of us cannot hold .9 inches at 1000+ yards, but we need to know. Especially if you use a ballistic computer. 

The next time, and I did it twice in one day, I saw 130, and 129 clicks. Something was up, so I brought it over to the bench, and started checking things. Repeating all my tests over again. 

Sure enough the Warne Mount had come loose. It was properly torqued and the reticle was slightly canted the more I shot it. So I went back and fixed it. Unfortunately this was not the first issue I had with the mount.

When I shot the Ruger Precision Rifle Upgrade video I had the SHV on it. I was not allowed to show the scope, and removed it twice. This last time, I found the front cross bolt had spun and was not sitting in the pic rail correctly. I want to check zero and was off by feet. So I remove the scope, looking at everything tried to figure it out only to find the bolt was turned.  So it would not mount correctly. 

The Warne Mount has a notch to let it fit in the rail. The front was out of place. Very annoying, in fact looking down from the top you can see the scope was off.  Tiny movements and changes at the scope can be huge at 100+ yards. 

So fixing the scope mount, I went back and re-zeroed everything. Then immediately took it out to 500 yards and 1000 yards with my previous dope using the Prime 6.5CM 130gr ammo. Retested it again and was back at 131 Clicks on the level.  

Results were spot on, impacting on target as it should.

With the use of ballistic computers like TRASOL it’s super important you check the scope with a tall target. You want to see what it does across the entire elevation range. You need to know it is .1 mils off at 13 mils so you can properly account for it. Putting it in the software you would use .102 Mils for your scope adjustment value. Not a lot, but in in the big picture it matters.

Glass

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Because people ask, and I hate answering this, I do have to address the glass.

Glass is subjective, how and what you see is made up of many factors. I find this glass to be very good and I would compare it too the latest 3-15x F1 out there. I believe the 14x gives you a sight great picture without distorting the view. In fact I really like the parallax adjustment on this scope. It’s very responsive and I was able to see my hits at 1000+ on steel with no problem. The view downrange was better than one would expect. 

The parallax focuses down to 25 yards, and as I said, I found the parallax to be better than a few high end scopes out there. This was definitely a highlight, the look behind the scope. 

It had a forgiving eye box and was not difficult to use.

Nightforce does not add a lot of color contrast, but instead opts for resolution. There is a difference. Most people react to that color pop, but often don’t realize with the NF Line you can tend to see more without it. It’s a flat clear picture. This scope has a nice balance, and was not a strain on my eyes to shoot.

Cons of this Optic

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The F1 SHV is a lower cost, cross over scope. Now there are some out there that don’t consider $1250 “Low Cost” but in the Precision Rifle World, especially with Tactical Rifles, it’s very low cost. This scope is designed to compete with the likes of the Vortex PST, so you have to consider that when reading this. It’s not meant to replace your $1800+ scope. And there are compromises with a scope of this kind. It’s reacting to several things, and most of them revolve around the monthly hobbyist and not the weekly shooter. 

Reading the Sniper’s Hide Forums, and the end user reactions, many people were hoping for a scope with more magnification. Nightforce gets this and spoke to me about it. Guys were hoping to see a 5-20x F1. I too would have liked a bit more magnification. I am sort of surprised we didn’t see a 4-16x. It’s funny though, even though I use a 5-25x for competition I stay around 12x-16x when I shoot. This opens up my FOV, and gives me the flexibility to see the target area. So 14x is ok and plays into the “Hunter” side of SHV.

More adjustment per turn. The F1 SHV only has 5 Mils per turn in a world where 10 Mils is more popular. You get 10 MOA per turn on the MOA side, but still, a bit more turret would be nice. Not a deal breaker because 5 mils will still get you past 600 yards and how fast do you need to be ? Still it's common to hear this complaint. 

There is a lot to consider when buying a scope. Do I spend $1200 or $2200, and unfortunately I can’t answer that for you. What fits your budget, what is your intended use all plays into this decision.

If the reticle, feature set and magnification range works for you, this is a very good choice. I would trust the NF brand when it comes to durability and tracking. I use them all the time to great results. Does that mean I am not using a Vortex, or even a S&B, absolutely not, I use a variety of scopes for a variety of reasons. There is so much great competition out there.

Check it out for yourself, see what you think. It fits the model to get you into the sport, and it’s something I think you can use and abuse without any issues at all.

Specs

  • Focal Plane First
  • Objective diameter 50mm
  • Tube diameter 30mm
  • Internal adjustment e: 90 MOA; w: 70 MOA
  • e: 26 Mil; w: 20 Mil
  • Click value .25 MOA; .10 Mil
  • Parallax adjustment 25YD - 8
  • Exit pupil 4x: 10.8mm; 14x: 3.3mm
  • Eye relief 2.8 - 3.1 in
  • Field of view @ 100Y 4x: 25.1ft; 14x: 7.4ft
  • Overall length 14.8 in
  • Weight 30 oz
  • Mounting length 6.2 in
  • PTL Accessory
  • Available Reticles MOARTM, MIL-RTM
  • Illumination Externally adjustable
  • Zero Set Feature 

Special Thanks 

I want to give a shout to Rifles Only who sent me their Shooting Mat and Accessories to help me organize my workspace a bit better. I have a lot of things on my mat, from ammo, to data, to my kestrel, and Rifles Only has a new set of modular products that really help keep me organized. 

Visit the Rifles Only store online and give it a look to check out their new stuff. 

Another Thanks to Nightforce Optics for giving us an early look at this scope. It will not be available until 2016, but we were able to get an early look for all the Sniper's Hide readers because of their support.  Visit Nightforce Optics at their website or ask one of their many dealers about the new line of scopes.  You can also reach several Nightforce employees in the Sniper's Hide Forum.