For a long time the Trijicon ACOG was my favorite scope. Transitioning from iron sights to 4x magnification was a massive force multiplier. From there I tried some various optics and the Nightforce 2.5-10X24 became my new favorite scope. (The Leupold MK6 eventually replaced this as my favorite). Still I love these so much I own two of them. Aside from the cost, I’d love to have a dozen. I feel it is a great light little general purpose scope and would love to throw on each .22 rifle I have.
As always, all good things must come to an end, so Nightforce discontinued this scope. But there was so much demand that they do little production runs of an updated model every so often. They still command a premium.
There are two big draws to the NF2.5-10X24. First is that it is quite small and feels right at home on smaller and lighter guns. There is even a picture floating around of a Navy SEAL armory where they have one of these mounted on a MP5. That leads right to the next reason for its popularity. The major durability and reliability of the Nightforce scopes got them used by groups like SOCOM. People seeing Navy SEALs running around with these scopes drove up the demand and price. I paid about $1300 for each of mine, I’ve seen people try to sell them for over $2000. At $1300 I think they are great, but I wouldn’t pay $2000 for one.
Adjustment were available in 1/4 MOA and in 1/10 MIL. Some were made with 1 MOA elevation adjustments. Most of these scopes have exposed turrets, but some have capped 1/4 MOA turrets. I prefer the milradian adjustments with the mildot reticle. Clicks are slightly spongy, but very clear and you are not going to accidentally miss one. The turrets are plenty stiff so they are very unlikely to get accidentally moved. Many of these scopes do not have any zero stops. Some do. I’ve read that the newer scopes have a different style(improved) zero stop. The stop on this scope requires removing the elevation knob and using an Allen wrench to turn a physical stop into place.
The scope also offers illumination with multiple brightness including a night vision setting. These settings are not daylight bright.
The small objective lens allowed this scope to be mounted over IR lasers such as the AN/PEQ-2 or a DBAL-A3 like in this picture. Unfortunately this small objective lens limits the incoming light and makes this scope less than ideal for low light. A 32mm objective lense was put on the 2.5-10X32 scope this model that replaced this one in production. Later a similar model with a 42mm objective and adjustable parallax was made. The 42mm model is still in production.
This scope, as great as it is, shows its age when you look at its features. It is second focal plane, having been designed before 1st focal plane scopes became very popular. It seems to have a mixed following in the gun community as people recognize that it is a very durable and reliable scope, but the combination of a unforgiving eye box and eye relief along with lower max magnification made it less popular. People snatched these up to put on MK12Mod1 clones then found when they were trying to shoot tight groups on paper that they would prefer to have something else.
I think I would best describe this as a major step up from the ACOG for farther distance shooting, but in a similar use. You use this to to hit targets that are smaller or at farther distances than an ACOG. But if you are dedicated to one hole groups on paper you would be better suited by a scope with a parallax adjustment, greater magnification, and a finer reticle.
Oh, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tons of adjustment this scope has. The 10.5 inch 5.56 rifle in the picture above was zeroed at 100 yards and I could reach a 1000 yards by dialing up and holding over with the reticle. 100MOA or 27.3 mils of adjustment on the respective models.
Here are a picture of the mil dot reticle. The dots are hollow which I really love. This scope was offered with a variety of reticles but the mildot seems to be the most common. A mildot reticle with 1/4 MOA turrets may have been the most common configuration.
They did offer a 1-4x version of this scope that was slightly shorter but it didn’t seem to be very popular. Of the various 1-4X power scopes the Nightforce version seemed to have none of the benefits and all of the downsides.
I hate to say it, but this is really like a more tactical 3-9x scope. Unless there is some particular feature of you scope you need, you could get very similar performance out of a much cheaper more available 3-9x scope. Much like the Unertls, these have become collectible. But technology has surpassed them, and for pure cost to capability there are much better options now. That said, I love mine and I won’t part with them. I do wish that Nightforce would consider making a cheaper version that is just a fixed 10x.
If you ever see a Nightforce labeled RECON, NAV-SPEC or ARMY-SPEC on the bottom it shows that it is a standard production scope that had a little more abusive testing than normal. Those really command a premium.