Choosing a Mid-Powered Optic For Competitive Shooting
As the competitive shooting sports grow, so do the style and complexity of matches competitors will face. In the past, and for the shorter range matches, the competitor was faced with the problem of needing a true 1x scope that also allows them to shoot targets out to four or five hundred yards. With the growth of more matches that make the shooter engage targets at mid to long range, with minimal targets under twenty or thirty yards, new optics are being considered as top choices for these matches. I recently had the chance to use a Nightforce NXS 2.5x10x32 and the versatility this optic offers is certainly advantage.
I mounted this scope on my Lancer Heavy Metal .308 and took it out to do some practice for next season. The scope was exceptionally clear and, although slightly larger than the 1-6x scopes on the market, I felt the extra magnification more than justified a larger optic. I chose the MIL-R reticule since I am familiar with using mils, and find it the best reticle to use when the possibility of using the scope with different calibers is probable. I also chose the 32mm scope over the 42mm because of the fixed parallax it offers. While shooting an adjustable parallax scope in sniper or long range type matches will offer an advantage, for DMR, Two Gun, and extended range 3 gun matches, this can be more of a hindrance since ensuring parallax is always adjusted out can take too much time while on the clock. Throughout the testing which involved shooting targets from 10-600 yards I did not feel this was a disadvantage in any way.
The first drill I performed was shooting close targets inside of twenty yards and then transitioning to targets from 100- 250 yards. I did this drill with the scope on 2.5 then switching it to a higher magnification for the further targets. Times were comparable to using a 1-4 or 1-6 scope although the true 1x scopes did prove slightly faster on targets under 15 yards. I then performed the same drill using roll to side 45 degree offsets sights and started with the scope turned up to the desired magnification for the longer targets to start. After a few warm ups to get used to the offset irons I ran the drill again and was very impressed. Times were much better, not only did I save time not having to turn the scope to a higher magnification but the 2.5-10 NXS allowed me more magnification for smaller targets at distance.
The next drill I performed was where this scope really shined. I placed a number of targets across the range from 100-600 yards. I then shot all the targets from a few different positions as fast as possible, and then again using the fewest number of shots possible not worrying about the time. In both scenarios it was no surprise that the NXS 2.5x10 allowed me to shoot the stages a considerable amount of time quicker than the 1-6 I was using on the other identical rifle. The extra magnification made it much easier to engage the longer range targets and the MIL-R reticle made it easy to make quick adjustments for targets at different ranges. Although some may think the extra magnification which does lesson the field of view could be a disadvantage in finding targets on the range I did not see this displayed on the timer. The other big advantaged to the 10x scope was being able to see misses at extended ranges and being able to quickly make adjustments. Out past 300 yards or so the 6x scope made it difficult to see impact when missing targets due to wind, but with the 10x NXS this was not a problem. I would have loved to have the 2.5x10 on my rifle for the Hyperfire rifle match last year, as the extra magnification would have been a big help, and the tough weather conditions made it difficult to see impact on misses.
The last two drills I performed were a standard box test and then targets at extended yardages while dialing up and down instead of using the reticle. For the box test I shot the box drill two times and it was no surprise that the Nightforce performed excellent.
All four corners of the box were five shot groups at 100 yards under 1”. This drill was shot under less than ideal conditions as the 30 degree windy weather did not help my groups, and am sure they could have easily been much smaller. I then shot targets from 200-600 yards using my known dope and dialing up and down, shooting each target a few times. (never shooting the same distant target more than once at a time) I had no problems hitting 8” plates at all the distances and was even able to easily hit clay birds at 600 yards. I then returned the scope to zero and shot a group at 200 yards. (my initial zero) This group was within a 1/4” of the spot as the initial group, which very easily could have been shooter error.
As the popularity of 3 gun matches that make the shooter shoot the rifle like it was intended (from 50 yards and out), and the rise of DMR matches grow, I feel the mid level variable scopes like the NXS 2.5x10x32 will become more and more popular. I expect to have the scope mounted on my rifle for a number of matches next year and am anxious to take advantage of what it has to offer.