February 20th, 2013
New Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition Scope — Field Report by Darrell Buell
A few weeks ago at SHOT Show, Nightforce Optics introduced a new Competition Scope. When Nightforce heard about the upcoming U.S. Team practice session in Phoenix, the optics-maker overnighted us two prototype Comp Scopes to wring out under match conditions.
From the start, we were impressed by these new 15-55X Competition Scopes. Darrell mounted one on his personal competition rifle, and the other on a mocked-up action, so people could hold it up safely in a steady fashion behind the firing line. The new scopes acted like magnets, drawing people from all over the Berger SW Long Range Nationals to check them out.
The new Competition Scope is a 15-55x52mm. The new scope’s ED (extra-low dispersion) glass yields outstanding resolution. Remarkably, the resolution in the Competition scopes is even slightly better than the Nightforce 12-42x56mm NXS, with its larger 56mm objective lens. The color is definitely ‘crisper’ as well. Not surprisingly, the image quality is what most people noted first (see through-the-lens photo at right). The glass is great, and Nightforce included other thoughtful features as well. First is the side parallax adjustment that competitors have been wanting for years (this is one of the draws for the NXS scope in competition). The higher zoom range (with 55X power on tap), and the 60 MOA of vertical travel is also a much-asked-for (and useful) feature.
In competition, the high-quality glass in the new Comp Scopes proved very beneficial. The Berger SW LR Nationals took place in Phoenix, in February, so conditions ranged from cold and windy, to warmer with moderate mirage. In some of the heavier mirage conditions (not massive mirage, by any means, but enough that the magnification on a 12-42X NXS would probably have been turned down to 32-35 power), the Competition Nightforce stayed at 45 power and above. The turrets were the usual Nightforce precision, good defined, tactile adjustment clicks (5 MOA per revolution). The only improvement there would be to have the windage turrets adjust in ¼ MOA clicks (yielding 10 MOA per revolution), which Nightforce assures us that will be done for the Team scopes. [Current production 15-55X Competition Scopes have 1/8 MOA windage clicks.]
The Team’s response to the prototype scopes was overwhelmingly positive. Nightforce has generously agreed to provide 10 new Competition scopes for the USA F-Class Team competing in South Africa next month. The Bloemfontein Range will be an excellent test of the new 15-55X scope’s capabilities!
Visit to Nightforce Production Center in Idaho
The prototype scopes had to be returned to Nightforce, and as it wasn’t much of a detour, Team Captain Darrell Buell paid a visit to Nightforce’s Orofino, Idaho production facility. Nightforce rolled out the welcome mat, providing not only a highly detailed tour of the location, but also the opportunity to say a few words in front of a meeting of all of the day shift and evening shift staff. It was good fun for everyone, the staff seemed genuinely fascinated by what the Team was doing with their scopes all over the world, and Darrell was equally interested in the attention and quality that was invested by the staff there in each scope produced.
During the tour Nightforce provided a convincing demonstration of the rugged durability of NF optics. Each assembly station had a steel pillar fixture near the bench; the pillars were covered in a thin layer of rubber padding. As a scope was completed, the technician would grasp it by the ocular end, and strike the objective end (quite sharply) on the rubber-coated pillar three times. The scope would then be placed back on a optical test stand, and the image checked for shifting. This ‘strike test’ was then repeated three additional times (with associated checks), so that the top, bottom, left side, and right side were all tested and checked.
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