Nightforce SHV 4-14 x 56 Riflescope
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Nightforce SHV 4-14 x 56 Riflescope
Courtesy Nightforce

“Francois says a 3-12 variable scope and 250-300 yard shots.” – Zani

The above message was the catalyst for the eventual purchase of the Nightforce SHV 4-14 x 56 Riflescope that is currently mounted on my pet rifle – a plain-Jane, synthetic-stocked, Remington Model 700 chambered to 7mm Remington Magnum.

The question was directed to Zani Dixie of Blaauwkrantz Safaris, the outfitters for a South African hunt taken in May 2018. The answer came from her brother, Francois Rudman – a professional hunter and son of the founder of Blaauwkrantz, Arthur Rudman.

My specific question regarded my ignorance of what riflescope would be the best choice to hunt my primary animal of interest, the diminutive Vaal Rhebok. A.K.A. the ‘vaalie.’ This species can’t be game-ranched and is thus found in un-fenced mountain regions.

Like most mountain game, the vallie is likely to be taken at fairly long distances. Compounding the difficulty from the distances of shots, the mature males I would be hunting would be lucky to possess a heart-lung area the size of a large cantaloupe. I knew the optic I had perched atop my Model 700 then wouldn’t get it done.

After a great deal of internet research, I settled on Nightforce. That was based on their optics’ reputation for optical quality and toughness. However, I wasn’t heading into combat, and don’t have an unlimited budget.

And that, along with some help from my local gun store, was how I settled on the Nightforce SHV series. (SHV stands for Shooter, Hunter, Varminter). The next quandary was what specific magnification, objective size, etc. would be best. To make this decision, I returned to my long-suffering gunshop staff and tried several of the SHV riflescopes on my Model 700.

Far and away the brightest and best fit was the 4-14×56.

I admit to being surprised, given the information I had gleaned stating that such a large objective would most often cause the scope to be mounted too high for our North American habit of pressing our cheeks firmly into the comb of stocks.

Regardless of my expectation, with tall 30mm rings, this particular Nightforce riflescope wedded perfectly with my rifle. And my face.

With its fine reticles and large 56mm objective, you might be wondering how the Nightforce SHV 4-14 x 56 Riflescope performed in low-light conditions (including hunts for nocturnal species), and for shots at long distances for various South African species.

The following photographs, and captions, will hopefully demonstrate how well the SHV performed in the wild.

Vaal Rhebok taken at 325 yards


Impala taken at 250 yards
Klipspringer – taken from 120 yards
Kudu – taken at 125 yards
Hartebeest taken at 120 yards


Grysbok, a nocturnal species taken while ‘lamping’ at 60 yards

The ease of adjustment of the magnification required to take the longer shots, and at the widely varying sized animals, was key to the successful harvest of these trophies. As important, was the incredible clarity of the Nightforce optics, including the ease of seeing the SHV’s reticles even in low-light situations, including night hunting.

The scope’s turrets are nicely knurled for a positive grip when making .25 MOA click adjustments. I went with the MOAR non-illuminated model, which is slightly lighter in weight than the illuminated version.

Needless to say, my Safari in South Africa and subsequent hunts in North America convinced me of the quality and dependability of the Nightforce SHV. But just to be thorough, I put the scope through a proper box test once I got home to confirm that it tracks as it should.

Federal Premium® 175-grain Vital Shock® ammunition was used for the analysis, as were the Armageddon™ Gear, Waxed Canvas Optimized Game Changer™ Support Bag for supporting the butt of the rifle and sandbags for the forearm.

I need to add an explanation for the number of holes in my target (shown below). I am a research scientist who knows better than to think he can produce non-variable results from an analysis. This is true for all of my research projects in the laboratory or in nature, and it is just as true for my analyses of firearms, shooting products etc.

So, to demonstrate the variation I contributed to the scope’s true-ness, or lack thereof, of the resulting ‘Box’, I fired one extra shot at the end of the session; that last shot was to show the ‘experimental error’ caused by yours truly – the variation caused by differences in hold, trigger-squeeze, caffeine-induced tremors, etc.

The adjustments from A to E were 15 inches each, whether in elevation or windage. ‘F’, the last shot fired was not after any adjustment except some minor change from me.

In short, despite the variability added by me, the Nightforce SHV performed as it should.

Besides, for me, the proof of the fantastic quality and reproducibility of the Nightforce SHV 4-14 x 56 Riflescope resides in the results I got while using it. The various trophies – of many different sizes, taken in different conditions, and at varying distances – harvested using the optic.

Specifications: Nightforce SHV 4-14 x 56

Overall length: 14.8
Objective outer diameter: 2.56
Diameter of the objective: 2.2
Tube diameter: 1.18
Eyepiece outer diameter: 1.69
Eye relief (minimum): 3.15
Field of view @100-yards: 4x = 24.9 ft, 14x = 7.3 ft
Parallax adjustments: 25-yards – ∞
Click value: .250 MOA
Weight: 26.9 ounces / 763 grams
Price: about $1000 retail

Ratings (out of five stars):

Glass Quality * * * * *
With its large 56mm objective, light gathering ability and transmission are excellent, as is the scope’s sharpness and clarity. It performed extremely well in all light conditions.

Durability * * * * *
I’ve hauled this scope around the world and used it in all kinds of conditions. It’s held up extremely well and I don’t doubt it will continue to do so for years to come.

Precision * * * * *
With the scope’s positively detented .25 MOA click adjustment turrets, the Nightforce SHV tracks exactly as it should throughout the full range. The magnification ring adjusts smoothly as well.

Utility: * * * * *
I have used this riflescope  in low-light, full-light, at night, and in fog. I have used it for reviewing ammunition, field-rests, and for taking numerous game species. It has worked wonderfully for all of these applications.

Overall * * * * *
All I can do is repeat myself. The Nightforce SHV 4-14×56 mounted on my trusty Model 700 has proven itself very well under all the conditions and applications I could throw at it. It has never let me down in terms of ease of adjustment or clarity for the kinds of 50-400 yard hunting shots I bought it for.

Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.


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    • If your budget is $1,600 that’s probably the sweet spot, really. You’ll gain a lot going from a $600 scope to a $1,000 one, but not so much going from a $600 rifle to a $1,000 one (or spending $400 on accurizing.) A $2,000 scope would exceed the abilities of the rifle for sure, but I’d still take a top end scope on a Soviet Garbage Rod (in good condition of course) over a crappy scope on the best rifle money can buy.

      That said, considering what the total cost of the trip must have been, I feel like some gunsmithing on the rifle would have been appropriate too.

      • It’s just overkill for medium game hunting at ethical distances IMO. I much prefer a fixed 3x or 4x for hunting, although my very old Weatherby 2×7 on my West German MkV works far better than it should. You could easily get by with any 3×9 1″er from any of the reputable makers. Just bring a spare. Learning to shoot from sticks will help you more than any high end scope on game.

    • This line of reasoning is kind of funny… because puting excellent glass on a decent but affordable rifle is exactly what most people should do.

      A $600 Remington is a more than capable rifle, where people go wrong is when they spend all their money on a cool looking rifle and then put a $200 bargain basement optic on it with a pair of $10 rings… the result is going to be predictably mediocre.

      Dont get me wrong, there are decent scopes to be had in the $500 range, but people get caught up on having turrets and other features from more expensive scopes in that price range and predictably the glass and quality of internal mechanicals suffers to meet the price point (its a zero sum game folks). So what you get is a scope that looks cool with turrets that dont track or return to zero properly, and glass quality that cant resolve targets out past 300yds or is completely useless in the first and last hour of every day.

  1. My that’s a big hunk of glass. It has an exit pupil of 3.6mm at 14X which is relatively large. I think that what you are getting for your big objective.

    For example, a 7×50 “marine” binocular is usually not brighter than a 7×35 binocular, but it has a larger exit pupil. So when the boat bobs around and the binocs wobble relative to your eye, you don’t lose the image.

    It’s also true that if you shoot in very low light, the pupil of your eye will get bigger and you want the scope exit pupil to be bigger than whatever your eye has.

  2. I seldom praise much of what is made today but some of my friends use Night Force high magnification target scopes in our bench rest shooting and the optics are out of this world and like nothing you ever looked through before but my Dear Reader it comes at a huge price which for a lot of retired folks is way beyond their budget. Some of the folks paid $1,200 and up for the high end models.

  3. Thank you for not mounting this in a cantilever mount on top of a rail 6in above the bore. Every review I see like that really bugs me.

    • Those tall mounts add to the number of Mils that can be adjusted for long range shooting. I plan to do some this summer. My 7mm-08 load drops almost 60 inches at 600 yards. Being able to adjust the elevation an extra 30 mils is a good thing.

  4. Very helpful artical, thanks Mike All you other yahoos ( except for Dan W and Tom K) opinions are like aholes, everybody has one!!

  5. I came very close to pulling the trigger on a SHV F1 4-14×50 when I was looking for something to put on my 18″ PredatAR. I just couldn’t work up the guts to spend $1,250 on a scope. I eventually “settled” on a Sig Sauer Tango 4 6-24×50 FFP for $869, shipped.

  6. Dammit Man, I am impressed. It must take real man to kill those pictured animals and a truly brave one to walk around those sharp pointy antlers, if a person tripped nd fell, it could be life threatening. Too damn bad you didn’t.

    • And yet safe money says he and his hunting fees have done more to advance wildlife conservation than a lifetime of your impotent condescension and a bucket of your liberal tears. Now take off that frumpy dress and start dating again.

    • I agree fully Sam. I think it’s much more impressive and really demonstrates to everyone the adequate size of my genitals to pay some other guy in a filthy warehouse to herd a factory-farmed cow into a chute and do the dirty work for me with a captive bolt gun to the head. The way God intended. The danger I face going to the grocery store to decide which styrofoam tray of cellophane-wrapped meat to bring home really impresses the missus. It’s a real contest of wills between me and the cow that way, truly sporting.

      • I ought to tell you I’m a vegetarian just to piss you off even more, but, I’ll be honest I love my steak. Now in return I’ll ask you to be honest. How many of those kills were necessary to feed people, and how much of the animals were used, besides the antlers for trophies… Horns are on bovines , those pictures didn’t really look like cows or bulls, more like antelopes.

        • Sam, antlers are shed every year. Witness the various species of deer. Horns are not shed. Regardless of species. Bovine, goat, sheep, antelope, etc. Ignorance really should be preceded by silence. I dated a woman for 3+ years. She was an avowed vegetarian since she was an adolescent. She loved sitting in a deer stand with me. You know, deer. The animal that has antlers they shed every year. Jesus, what can you do with morons?

        • Us morons was here before you geniuses, we’ll be long after you are gone, simply because we are just smart enough to not argue with someone dumber than we are, especially over some really stupid shit that don’t affect the price of eggs in China or a donut in Alburquerque Good night .

        • Oh, and they were in the antelope family. At least you got one thing right. Probably accidentally though.

    • Sam, they’re horns, not antlers. If you don’t know the difference then your expertise in wildlife conversation is in serious question.

    • Mr. Hill, though I rarely reply to comments on my articles, I feel that I should address some of your concerns.

      I realize that, as a passionate hunter, I often forget to communicate how ‘Conservation Through Utilization’ works. In the case of the species shown in my photos, each had been reduced to 0 or very few animals in South Africa by over-hunting for food by humans. This is exactly the same as, for example, wild turkeys, whitetail deer, ducks, geese, etc in North America.

      Because the animals I killed now have great worth from hunter’s dollars (or S.A. Rand!), the resident human population protects them from over-hunting. The numbers of each species have increased exponentially. Though only a small percentage are taken by hunters, all of the animals are now protected and the species thrive.

      One other misconception that occurs through hunters like myself not communicating well to our non-hunting friends, is your concern that only the skins/horns are utilized.

      In protein-challenged regions, every portion of the animal – regardless of size – is a protein source. One anecdote from my hunt is enlightening. When I killed the Kudu, a local resident came across to help us field dress the animal. He collected the heart, liver and stomach of the animal to take back to his family.

      Again, I do feel that I need to communicate better to those who do not hunt, how hunting has brought back animals (and habitats) from the brink of extinction. This is true in my home country, and it is true in Africa.

      All the best, Mike Arnold

      • Mr. Arnold,
        I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I grew up a long time ago as a farm boy hunted squirrels, rabbits, deer, pheasants, quail and other animals to supplement our protein intake. Everyone around our county did the same. At no time that I recall was game of any kind scarce, let alone almost extinct. We also raised hogs, chickens, cows, some of the bigger farmers raised beef cattle and goats. I worked on the slaughter floor of a 500 ducks a day duck farm. Shin deep in ducks blood one long hot summer. Serve my country from ’61 to ’65. Hauled bomb casings from Elyria, Oh. ’65 to ’71 to Borg Warner in Chicago. Chased ambulances, fire trucks and cops for news services, Spent three years in Central America playing war correspondent. What I am trying to say is the death of anything is no stranger to me. Two things I find abhorrent are, anyone taking pleasure in the killing of anything even when necessary to kill. And someone pissing on my shoe, trying to convince me it’s a monsoon.

        • Mr. Hill, or if you will allow me, Sam.

          I think we will need to agree to disagree on the point of conservation through utilization and hunting for enjoyment.

          But, your life sounds rich to a person like me who loves hearing other’s stories.

          If you would ever want to write more about this for my enjoyment. Send it to: [email protected]

          And, most importantly, thank you for serving our country in the armed services. My Dad and Father-in-Law also served and I have the greatest respect for those who have given so much to defend my freedom to live where I do.

          Best again, Mike

  7. Given what a big game tag costs anymore , and the hunt to go with it , this scope is probably a good investment . The value in it is the light gathering that lets you use all the legal shooting hours with enough clarity to do it ethically. heck , with preference point systems , a lot of tags are a once in a lifetime affair. you will not live long enough to draw a second tag .
    the accuracy you can get from plain jane rifles these days is amazing . I think it is a result of SPC practices applied to ammo manufacturing. my decades old marlin will shoot outrageously good groups at 100 yds with a vintage scope in good light . so the ammo must be a big part of the great accuracy . but the kind of light gathering and clearity this scope brings requires some state of the art optic manufacturing . that’s not cheap.

  8. Have been looking at buying a scope for a new rifle and had narrowed it down to a trijicon or a nightforce scope, and it was really a toss-up. But after reading this article and I have decided to go with the nightforce which I think will give me everything I need, and for a few dollars less.


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