Power Variability: Variable
Objective Diameter: 56 mm
Length/Weight/Tube Diameter: 15.2 inches/30.5 ounces/30 mm
Field of View: 17.9 - 5.0 feet/100 yards
Eye Relief/Exit Pupil: 3.15 - 3.54 inches/8.7 - 2.5 mm
Reticle: MOAR-20 MOA Center Illumination
Adjustment Info: 1/4 MOA/Click
Optics Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
Finish: Black Matte
Parallax Setting: 25+ yards
Airgun rated: No
Illuminated Reticle: Yes
Mounting Rings Included: No
Best Uses: Big Game Hunting, Varmint Hunting, Target Shooting, Tactical Use
NightForce SHV Rifle Scope Review
This NightForce SHV 5-20X56 rifle scope with the MOAR reticle is loved by many hunters. Great glass, illuminated control, and durable build is all a low light hunting shooter can ask for. Online reviewers agree that this scope is an excellent optic for hunters in the big game, predator, and varmint business. They gave this NF SHV scope a big double thumbs up.
When you're looking at one of the best sporting optic companies in America, it's hard to choose only a couple of NightForce's line to review. If we hunters had it our way, we'd buy them all and spend every spare second playing at the range. But, to narrow down the options for those of you who are in the market for a NightForce, I focused on choosing the most popular, highest quality and high-performing scopes for the hunter. This one made the list on its own right.
But, before you go pulling out the credit card to pay for whatever NightForce you can get your hands on, maybe you should know a thing or two more about the exciting long range, low light hunting scope.
While I'm flattered you'd take my word for it that NightForce is a brand worth buying from, how will you know for yourself if you don't read the Q&A? Come on now...
- SHV package
- Illuminated reticle
- Parallax side focus
- Extremely durable
- 30mm tube body
SHV 5-20X56 Rifle Scope Q&A:
Is this a hunting or tactical scope?
NightForce is world-renowned for their tactical and competition rifle scopes, but if you didn't know that they also have rifle scopes outfitted for the hunter, then you're in for a nice surprise.
The SHV rifle scope is specifically made for the hunter in mind. Fun fact: SHV stands for Shooter, Hunter, Varminter. The magnification ranges for this scope give it closer range shooting with 5X power and long distance sniping with 20X power.
Having the reticle in the second focal plane will help you take down varmints at long distances as well as big game predators. The SHV series of rifle scopes will do everything you want for big game and varmint hunting to target shooting.
What low light features does this SHV have?
The specs of this NF rifle scope automatically tell you it's going to be a champ once the night sky rolls in. The 56mm objective lens provides a whole lotta opportunity for maximum light collection. On top of that, this model comes with the MOAR center illuminated reticle that lights up your image for exact and precise aiming, no matter what time of day it is.
What is the MOAR reticle?
The MOAR ballistic reticle on this NF SHV model has .140 MOA increment lines which are very much needed for ranging in on those small varmints at longer distances.
This particular reticle is center illuminated only, which means the windage and elevation cross hairs won't light up when the center "t" or cross does.
Other reticles available for this model is the IHR illuminated and non-illuminated reticle.
The IHR stands for International Hunting Reticle. It features only 3, 6, and 9 o'clock cross hairs with medium posts that abruptly change to fine lines just over half way to the center.
What is image quality like at 20X?
If you want to buy a NightForce scope for the image quality, then you're definitely looking in the right place. Most rifle scopes seem to have edge blurring, color aberrations, and image distortion as you increase the power range. But, what should you expect with such an extreme 20X power range on a NightForce? Crispness, clarity, and brightness - and you do.
Image quality at maximum magnification is one of the recurring positive themes of NF fans. With the quality and cost of this scope, you might never spend a penny more on other contending world-class rifle scope brands.
Is there a parallax adjustment feature?
Yes, the NightForce SHV 5-20X56 model does have the side focus to adjust for parallax. The closest distance you can correct for parallax is 25 yards. Interesting to note is that if you choose the illuminated model, the side focus is combined with the illumination control. Although it might sound a bit tricky to use, it's a breeze. Now that's a way to simplify things!
See the NightForce NXS scope Q&A section found here to get full details on how to use the third turret for illumination control.
Are there other models of the SHV 5-20X56?
There are other rifle scopes available of this exact model. The only differences between the lot is the type of reticle that you choose. They all come with the ZeroSet elevation feature with .25 MOA clicks. They are the IHR Non-Illuminated, MOAR Non-Illuminated, IHR Illuminated, and the MOAR Illuminated models.
Is this scope waterproof and fog-proof?
This rifle scope, and all NightForce scopes, have been built to withstand the harshest, most rugged, and severe conditions possible - yes, they're waterproof, fog-proof, and recoil proof. Before any rifle scope leaves the facility, it undergoes vigorous and mean processes to ensure quality and durability.
For water-tightness, the rifle scopes are placed in a pressure tank that's designed to replicate the same conditions of being in 100 feet of water for one full day - 24 hours.
To ensure that it's going to fully perform in the harshest weather conditions, from ice-freezing temperatures to heat hotter than the Arizona desert, the scopes get even more abuse. They're frozen in -80 degree Fahrenheit temperatures then heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and are tested for functionality at these extreme temperatures - all within an hour. Now that's brutal.
- 56 mm objective lens for ultimate low light performance
- 30 mm main tube body for maximum internal range adjustments
- Fully waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof
- ZeroSet for fast return to original zero
- Triple duty optic for Shooting, Hunting, and Varmint
- Various reticles available with illumination
- Glass-etched reticle in the second focal plane
- Positive-click, finger-adjustable turrets
- Built in the USA
Our Verdict on the SHV 5-20x56 Scope
According to the bull's-eye, the circular-lined paper is just a toy target for all the potential the NightForce SHV 5-20X56 rifle scope has. This scope is for the big boys that crave the challenges of mastering extreme long distance shots. With the additional, premium features of having a glass-etched reticle, 56mm objective lens size, and being made in the USA, you're getting a heck of a deal.
While we did list the high price as a drawback, it's not a reflection of scope quality itself. It's more so because hunters are less likely to spend over a grand on a rifle scope. But, if you are willing to put down the big bucks it will take to own this scope, we should let you know that this NightForce earned a place on our list of the best premium rifle scopes.
If it still seems too expensive, take heart in the fact that the NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56 rifle scope costs even more. It's worth it though. I mean, you've got over 2,000 yards of ranging distance, the Hi-Speed Turret System, glass-etched reticles, and a wide internal adjustment range. There's nothing that this scope is missing. Trust us, we tried to look for a loop hole! Check it out for yourself!
However, for these kinds of prices, you could be looking at a Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 P BT rifle scope. It's a scope from a world-class brand that definitely deserves more than its 15 minutes of fame when shopping the optics market. We'd be unfair if we didn't throw this option out as an alternative.
While there are quite a few brands that can compete with this SHV scope, it just speaks to the quality and high performance excellence it carries. NightForce is a brand worth reckoning with because they can hold their own. Seriously though, they could legitimately be the last scope standing in a bullet-ridden field - no joke, they're that good.
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. When not glassing the local wildlife, you can find him in the garden with his German Shepherd.