“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.
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.