Nightforce vs Vortex Scopes – Which Are Better? (ANSWERED)

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Photo by mr.smashy / CC BY

Nightforce and Vortez—when you start shopping for scopes, you’re bound to run into one or both of these names among many others. If you’re a beginner, you might even be intimidated. The scope and range of scopes (pun thoroughly intended) is massive.

Let’s isolate it to premium-grade scopes, which is still a broad market. You’ll start to see brands popping up over and over in forums, websites, and anywhere gun owners collaborate. Here too, the names Nightforce and Vortex will pop up. Both companies produce some outstanding optics, but are they exactly even?

That’s a hard call, and we’d have to explore both companies to see what they offer. The real question are your needs when it comes to a rifle scope. This is where the biggest difference will lie. Once you answer that question, you’ll have a good idea who’ll win in the battle of Nightforce vs Vortex.

Nightforce vs Vortex Round 1: Hunting Scopes

Are you a hunter? Do you need a Nightforce BEAST 5-15x rifle scope? Probably not. You’d be extremely well served by the Vortex Viper HS in 2.5-10×44. This scope is part of Vortex’s dedicated hunting line. What does a hunter need? Well, they likely want a scope sealed from the environment and both optics offer that.

The Vortex Viper HS model (see full specs) is a light and relatively affordable option for a hunter. Most hunters will be taking their shots at less than 300 yards, and the Viper is filled with a ton of features.

This includes ultra hard lens coatings to resist abrasions and scratches, as well as the awesome Dead-Hold BDC that’s compatible with most rifle rounds. The Viper HS has capped turrets that are quick reset so you’ll have your true zero dialed to zero. You can then make adjustments for compensation and dial it back to zero when those adjustments are no longer needed. The glass is also outstanding and extremely clear. All of these feature combine to make an excellent hunting optic at a fraction of the price.

Viper HS vs. HS LR vs. HS-T

Nightforce vs Vortex Round 2: Long Range Precision Shooting

Long range is relative to the shooter and the gun, and out to 1,000 yards optics like the Razor HD Gen 2 first focal plane riflescopes will get you there no questions. When we go beyond a thousand yards, however, we start seeing the difference that NightForce offers, especially on big bore guns.

If you are topping out at a mile with a 50 BMG, or a 416 Cheytac, scopes like the NightForce NXS is 5.5-22X are going to get you over that hump. This scope is an amazingly powerful tool that will offer you a massive amount of adjustment to get on target. A 100 MOA of internal adjustment to be specific. This massive amount of adjustment allows compensating for winds and distance when shooting at extreme ranges.

The MOAR reticle the scope (see full specs) comes with is another major factor for long range shooting. You can adjust and make calls within a fraction of an inch with the MOAR reticle. A fraction of inch at the bore can become feet at the target, so this reticle will get you there.

The optic is also insanely well-made and will easily withstand the recoil from such big bore, long-range rifles. These things are ridiculously overbuilt and designed to be heirlooms should you ever choose to pass it down.

Nightforce Optics MOAR Reticle Overview

Nightforce vs Vortex Round 3: Tactical Use

That’s a solid question and a tough one to answer to be honest. Both companies make awesome choices for different tactical applications. These applications include the DMR and sniper roles.

If you were going with a designated marksman, or DMR, then Vortex has you covered with the 1-6X24 Razor HD. This moderately powered scope makes the Designated Markman’s job easy. A DM is on the ground with a squad or team and is tasked with taking precise shots at medium ranges and giving the squad a longer effective reach. The 1-6 power of the scope makes it easy for the DM to take precise shots and to clear buildings with hardly a transition.

The Razor HD is a lightweight, low profile optic that has a BDC reticle that reaches out to 600 yards. The class is crystal clear and gives an excellent performance during the day and as the sun sets.

Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 Review

For a dedicated sniper, the Nightforce ATACR in 5-25×5 is an awesome option. SOCOM recently adopted variants of the ATACR for use with numerous special operation forces. The ATACR is one of the clearest scopes on the market and provides you with unmatched low-light capability. On top of that, you have 89 MOA of adjustment for elevation and 60 MOA for windage. That’s quite impressive and perfect for snipers. The scope is also a tank and can withstand recoil and abuse like no other.

It’s perfect for taking precise shots on small targets or taking fast shots on big moving targets. Whatever you need the ATACR to do, it can do it. This is a scope for hunters of gunmen.

Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56 F1/MOAR: Reticle/Magnification Test

Nightforce vs Vortex: A Bit of Background


You probably know Vortex from their ultra-affordable and high-quality red dot sights. Vortex was a brand that introduced the idea of affordable but quality red dots. They also produce just about everything optics related, from binoculars to spotting scopes. Above, we focused on their variable rifle scopes. As you’ve seen, these optics range greatly in cost from a few hundred bucks to a few grand. Quality also comes with a cost and as the prices rise so does the quality of the optic.


Nightforce is the premium rifle scope brand. Mega-premium. The vast majority of their business is done with variable rifle scopes, but they also produce some very nice spotting scopes. Nightforce is a brand that has a reputation for the highest levels of quality. Their optics are used by the best of the best. This includes precision bench rest shooters, as well as the United States Navy SEAL snipers. Nightforce optics come in one flavor—expensive. The cheapest I’ve ever seen in their variable optics is a grand for a bare-bones model.

Nightforce vs Vortex Conclusion

Both Vortex and Nightforce make outstanding optics. Easily some of the best on the market in their respective price ranges. Their designs are rock solid and they are quality optics. They both serve their distinct purpose and a certain budget. The best way to decide is too weigh both your needs and wants and choose the scope that fits your needs. Good luck!

  • 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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