Nightforce Atacr 4-20 x 50 F1 Zerostop
- By Chris Parkin
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 25/08/2022
The Nightforce ATACR is a premium optic for long range precision use that the company themselves describe as their APEX product. Available in multiple magnification formats, this is the 4-20x magnification unit with ZeroStop and 1/4 MOA clicks, plus matching MOA reticle in the first focal plane.
The 5x magnification erector tube seeks to maintain a realistic weight and reasonably compact proportions for such a mechanically versatile scope. This optic has a 34mm main body tube, so can offer 130 MOA (or 38 MRAD) of elevation travel for long range shooting. It weighs 1000-grams to avoid making smaller rifles too top-heavy.
The 50mm objective lens is shrouded with a Tenebraex flip-up cover and a similar one is fitted to the ocular lens at the back of the scope, too. To accommodate scope mounts, there are 41mm of matte-black, hardanodised tube in front and 64mm to the rear of the saddle. Nightforce has done an excellent job of combining a lot of mechanical capability within the overall 553mm length. The upper turret is segmented into 120 tactile clicks, which on this MOA variant, equals 30 minutes per turn.
As well as a whole bag full of stickers, lens cloth and a 76mm sunshade, Nightforce supplies a neat, triangular Allen/Torx key tool to make all adjustments on the scope. There are detailed instructions to explain zero features and the ZeroStop mechanism. This uses a clutch system under the turret’s cap, with four screws to allow click-free movement when first setting the scope up.
You can add negative travel as a backup safety margin for the future and once set up on the AT-X in 6.5 Creedmoor (which incorporates a 20 MOA Picatinny rail), I retained 87 Minutes of further adjustment to stretch it out. The outer screw on the turret cap allows you to position the markings and the turret rotates anti-clockwise to add elevation. All the clicks are tactile and the turret is easily gripped because of the significant knurling.
The windage dial is capped and adjusts with markings left/right of centre - 15 MOA in either direction. If you want to leave the cap off, something called a ‘Beauty Ring’ is supplied that covers the external threads that would otherwise remain in view with the cap removed.
Parallax is altered on the left side and again, there is plentiful knurling for grip, plus the movement is smooth, with no discernible internal motion. It adjusts from 11 yards (10m) to infinity and at 40mm in diameter, it’s easy to adjust accurately for a crisp image.
A CR2032 battery is fitted under this dial’s cap for illumination control and the Digillum system is controlled with a soft press button in the centre of the parallax dial. A short press turns it on and subsequent presses alter the intensity. A longer, 3-second hold and release turns it off. Long holds will change the colour from red to green if desired and the unit returns to previously chosen settings each time it’s illuminated. There is no auto-off function though, so don’t forget to switch it off yourself.
The magnification setting is indicated at the front of the ocular body, the whole of which turns clockwise through 180º from minimum to maximum. This has both positives and negatives. It is easy to grasp the whole body and turn it, rather than just a specific magnification ring, but that’s about it for pros. Although, there are some suggestions it is more durable. The rear of the ocular body twists separately to correct reticle focus/dioptre and there is a lockring to set it, but you need to make sure this is very tight because whenever I changed magnification, I seemed to unlock it.
Nightforce supplies a PTL (Power Throw Lever), which is a good accessory and quite common for many scopes now. It fits into the scope after you remove the grub screw. The rear Tenebraex cap can be rotated and locked in position, but this also rotates when zooming in/out.
Once set up, the scope held no surprises. The optical quality, focal control and reticle were excellent but accidental unlocking of the ocular body meant a continued risk of slipping out of adjustment. Reticle illumination was pin-sharp, with no colour bleed at high intensity, and I liked the two-colour options to give better contrast in current conditions.
Being FFP, the reticle grows as the magnification increases to remain in perfect proportion to the image viewed. It shows major 20 MOA hash marks out beyond 120 MOA in all directions from the centre. As magnification goes below 6x, the image size is cropped in and ‘tunnels’to a slightly smaller field of view.
The turret adjustments were accurate for dialled corrections and the image was bright, given the objective size and magnification range. However, in my opinion, this is a scope for larger, well-defined targets. It’s not specifically a paper puncher but ideal for steel shooting at long range in daylight with masses of correction. Yet, I personally felt it restrained by the additional alterations regularly required on the fully rotating ocular body, which seems outdated and restrictive. As well as accidental changes, you can’t add night vision or scope cameras if you will want adjustable magnification.
The colour balance was relaxed with no stark brightness in full sun. There was no lens flare either and the sunshade was helpful in bright conditions. The reticle isn’t too busy, so you can see bullet impacts reasonably well if you are on paper. However, I enjoyed the scope most when dialling corrections and retaining 15x magnification to pick up bullet trace in flight. I left the magnification alone. I personally feel this was an optically desirable scope for accurate dialling at long range but felt its operation restricted fast access to magnification control without complications.