Nightforce vs US Optics — Which Is Better? (ANSWERED)

nightforce vs us optics

Photo by Alex Avriette / CC BY

US Optics and NightForce are two highly respected brands of premium quality, long range optics. Given this, sooner or later, people will start comparing the two, which is far more logical than some of the other things people compare to each other, like different flavors of soy ice cream or which type of hybrid car is best to drive in Alaska during the winter.

Because we are all about logic and rational comparisons here, we decided to throw the fake ice cream away and try to settle that age-old debate of NightForce vs. US Optics. It was a long and arduous task that was briefly interrupted by the Good Humor truck driving through the neighborhood, but we think you’ll like what we came up with.

Nightforce vs. US Optics — Round 1

US Optics LR-17 vs NightForce NXS

Let’s take a quick look at the specs. The NXS is a 3.5-15 power scope with a 50mm objective lens, 30mm tube, and a proprietary bronze internal adjustment mechanism. The B17 also has an illuminated reticle, 3.2-17 power magnification, a 50mm objective lens, and a 34mm tube (see full specs).

On the surface, there are a lot of similarities between the two scopes, and while neither is identical, they are both comfortably in the same class. Each purports to be the perfection of their type, and each is marketed and very suitable for hard duty, even combat.

Both optics feature large 50mm objective lens for light gathering and a full field of view. But it’s also usually cheaper, which should matter to pretty much anyone who isn’t independently wealthy.

Nightforce NXS Scope - Full Review

Magnification wise, each scope is similar enough not really to matter, but the B17 sports the larger 34mm tube for better light gathering. Quite frankly, there is no easy answer. US Optics is renowned for handcrafted scopes that are insanely rugged, but then again so is NightForce. Bottom line, if you want a bigger objective lens and a lower price tag go for the NightForce. If money is less of a concern, do what I’d do if somebody gave me a choice and take the US Optics.

Nightforce vs. US Optics — Round 2

The Beast vs ER 25

Crack a cold one, this time we are looking at some pretty pricey optics. These creations of the scope maker’s art are both absolutely fantastic and practically religious relics in their own right. Perhaps some of the most excellent rifle scopes on the market–and by this, we mean EVER.

The NightForce Beast lives up to its name. An illuminated reticle 5-25 power scope with a 56mm reticle, it offers nearly identical specs to the less impressively named US Optics B25 Gen 3, which sports the same magnification range and a 52mm objective lens.

U.S. Optics, Inc. | An Inside Look

Now, the shocking thing here is the price (see full specs) and typically a somewhat cheaper B25 Gen 3 at “just” a bit (though make sure to check the current price). Each of these scopes is elite optics for elite users. Perhaps you’ll find one on a sniper rifle on a mission that officially never happened, or on the gun of a once in a lifetime big game hunt, but the reality is that neither scope is one to buy on a whim.

Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. 5-25x Front Focal Plane

I’d argue at this level it’s impossible to choose without sitting down and investing hours of research and perhaps even discussing your needs with the factory directly. I spent a lot of time going over the manufacturer literature on top of my other usual methods and have to say; each scope left me speechless.

Most folks are not worthy of shooting with one of these, and, in all honesty, you probably aren’t either. But if you have a few grand burning a hole in your pocket, get the Beast. It’s the kind of thing archaeologists will dig up in a thousand years and decide it was the central relic of a religion.

Nightforce vs. US Optics Revisited

US Optics specializes in building scopes that are off the shelf commercial products that can be readily adaptable to a military function. Basically, consider that pretty much everything they make is a combat ready sniper scope first, and a sporting optic second. But also consider that there is precious little difference between a fine hunting or target rifle or a sniper rifle. Therein lies the genius of US Optics: their military grade creations are supported by a thriving civilian market.

NightForce tends to do it the other way ’round, building amazing high-end sporting scopes that can also transition over to military use. What’s the difference? Oddly, US Optics tends to come in cheaper in price, but this could be because they have extensive government contracts that help keep research prices and ensuing cost down. It could also be an indication of higher or more efficient production volume or simply different marketing. Either way, US Optics are often the budget-friendly choice, although when looking at four-figure optics that sometimes doesn’t really matter.

What drives me nuts is that each company makes some of the best scopes in the world. Picking one is as brutally tough as the optics themselves. I mean you could flip a coin and probably be thrilled either way. My preference leans towards US Optics, simply because I like their aesthetic and more sterile military focus, which tends to lead to a simpler, yet highly refined scope.

NightForce is the only way to go if you want a purely sporting optic built for the sport shooter first, but again sometimes the line blurs so heavily between sport and military as to be largely meaningless. NightForce will be your likely best choice for bigger, more impressive optics that may be too much scope for tactical use, but crucial for target shooting or even exotic or dangerous big game hunting, or simply for something different. They build really big, really expensive and really nice scopes.

Final answer in the question of Nightforce vs. US Optics? This closely matched, follow your wallet, but no matter what, you can’t go wrong.

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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