Many people may see the union of an AR-15 and a rifle scope as an unlikely one. After all, rifle scopes are majorly used for long-distance shooting, and AR-15s shine most in close-quarters scenarios, right? Well, not exactly. While the two statements aren’t wrong in any way, the usage of both rifle scopes and AR-15 rifles is not restricted to one particular purpose. There are optics with low magnification range, perfectly suitable for close-to-mid shooting distances. There are also many models of AR-15 for sale, built specifically for long-distance shooting, with longer barrels and lighter triggers. No matter which way you look at it, the tandem, while not perfect, is quite feasible. In this article, we’ll marry a Nightforce scope to an AR-15 rifle to show you what a great team they make.
What are Nightforce Optics?
Nightforce Optics has been a part of the shooting optics industry for decades. Founded in Orofino, Idaho, in 1992, the company has become a household name among appreciators of high-end optics.
Over the years, Nightforce Optics has achieved several notable milestones. One such achievement was an NXS™ 3.5-15X50 scope, or, to be more precise, what happened to one such model. The scope that had been shot completely through, remained functional for three days, despite the damage received. That story now embellishes NightForce’s main page, spreading the word about the incredible durability and reliability of Nightforce products.
What are those products, exactly? Nightforce manufactures a wide array of products to cater to different shooting needs. Their product line ranges from compact scopes suitable for short-range shooting to full-size scopes designed for long-range applications. The NXS riflescopes, a Mil-Spec line of compact and full-size scopes, are one of their popular products. The brand also produces spotting scopes known for their quality, resolution, brilliance, and fidelity.
The Evolution of AR Rifles
Few are people who haven’t heard about one of the most popular rifle platforms in the world: the AR-15. If somebody asks you to picture a semi-automatic rifle, you’re more likely than not to envision this particular platform. The ArmaLite Rifle 15, is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle that has been in wide circulation for more than half a century. Despite common misconceptions, the “AR” in AR-15 doesn’t stand for “Assault Rifle” or “Automatic Rifle,” but refers to the original manufacturer, ArmaLite.
The evolution of the AR-15 started with the development of the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge, which led to the United States Army testing several rifles to replace the obsolete M1 Garand. The AR-15 was designed in the late 1950s primarily as a military rifle, a downscaled version of the ArmaLite AR-10. During the war in Vietnam, the military saw the need for a lighter, smaller-caliber rifle, and the AR-15 was rebranded as the M16.
The M16, the military version of the AR-15, became the longest-continuously serving rifle in American military history. It was equipped with a selective fire option, allowing it to be used as both a semi-automatic and fully automatic firearm.
The M4 Carbine, a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle, also shares its roots with the AR-15. It operates on the same gas-operated, rotating bolt combined with an integral piston (instead of the conventional direct impingement operation). Even though a fully automatic version is only available for the military, civilians can acquire an adopted version in semi-automatic action. Once a trademark of Colt, today M4 rifle is a generic name for a shortened AR-15.
Over time, the AR-15 has transitioned from military use to mainstream civilian use and is now often used for hunting, target shooting and home defense. It is known as the most customizable rifle on the market and owes much of its popularity to this fact.
How Nightforce Optics Enhance AR Rifles
Let’s say we’ve sold you the idea of equipping a rifle scope on an AR-15, if, of course, you were somewhat opposed to it. Why choose Nightforce in particular while there are dozens of other optics brands out there? There are a few reasons, actually, all quite practical.
One of the key reasons to opt for Nightforce optics is their exceptional build quality and durability. Every scope passes a stress test the likes of which none other company can boast. They are tested for pressure and temperature impact and for performance under heavy recoil – all to ensure they remain reliable even in the most challenging environments. Scopes are traditionally seen as fragile, but Nightforce are not familiar with this word. If you want a scope that won’t break easily, then Nightforce is your choice.
Another significant advantage of Nightforce scopes is not exclusive to the brand’s products, but it doesn’t make it less valuable. Skillful usage of a rifle scope results in more precise shooting. The ATACR™ range, for instance, is described as a series of “professional” riflescopes, designed for military, law enforcement, and other tactical applications. These scopes offer all the features one might need for hitting a bull’s eye. Apart from that, Nightforce optics greatly extend your effective range, allowing you to land precise shots from further away.
Now let’s take a look at two scenarios: Close-Quarter Shooting and Long-Range Shooting with an AR-15. Nightforce can be of great help in both. Here’s how.
If you intend to use an AR-15 conventionally, for close-to-mid shooting within 400 yards, you’ll need a scope with low magnification. For low- and mid-powered scopes (below 10x), Nightforce offers options like the NX8 1-8x24mm and SHV 3-10×42. The latter is the lightest and most compact model in the Shooter, Hunter, Varminter (SHV) lineup, making it an excellent choice for AR-15 users who value portability and convenience. Despite its lightweight design, this scope does not compromise on any of the things Nightforce is known for. Moreover, the SHV 3-10×42 can easily handle the recoil of the AR-15, maintaining steady footing and staying accurate even after repeated firing.
For high-power riflescopes, which are often paired with AR-15s built for long-range shooting, Nightforce offers the already familiar ATACR series. One standout model is the ATACR 5-25×56 SFP, which features enhanced engraving on the scope body as well as an integrated power throw lever. The magnification ring allows shooters to make minute adjustments for long-range shots. Furthermore, the ATACR series scopes are known for their low-light shooting prowess, so if you find yourself in dim-light conditions, rest assured this scope won’t leave you clueless about your surroundings.
And that’s the Nightforce-AR duo for you. A pretty versatile duet, one that can cater to a wide spectrum of needs. The durability and stellar performance of Nightforce optics paired with modularity and unprecedented versatility of an AR-15 platform creates a truly nonpareil set-up. However, no number of words can replace first-hand experience. If you don’t trust us, consider giving this tandem a try.