NightForce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm Rifle Scope Review

The NightForce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm riflescope is a long-range tactical scope suitable for both target and hunting applications. It is available with either a MOAR or MOAR-T ballistic reticle, depending on your preference.

This scope sits at the higher end of the market and isn’t going to be affordable to everyone. However, if you’re a professional or dedicated enthusiast, you’ll be sure to appreciate the attention to detail and performance NightForce has served up.

So, let’s find out everything this premium yet great value scope has to offer in my in-depth NightForce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm Rifle Scope review…

nightforce optics nxs 5 5-22x56mm rifle scope review

About NightForce

NightForce Optics Inc. is a manufacturer of high-end rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and mounting accessories. The head office is located in Lavonia, Georgia, USA, with the factory headquarters is in Orofino, Idaho, USA.

The company was first established in 1992 by an Australian named Ray Dennis, who was a dentist in South Australia. He had a passion for hunting from an early age when he would hunt rabbits and foxes with his Grandfather.

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That lightbulb moment…

LightForce Optics is a subsidiary of Lightforce Performance Lighting based in Hindmarsh S.A, Australia. Due to many animals in Australia being nocturnal, the most popular style of hunting is spotlighting. Ray Dennis felt current spotlight products were inadequate.

It was on his journey to create a suitable spotlight that Ray also started to consider current scope light transmission capabilities. After all, hunting at night required both aspects to be optimized for the best result.

Target acquired…

The Australian firearms market loved his new spotlight design and the scopes built to his specifications by a Japanese manufacturer. After this success, Ray set his sights on also capturing the American market.

Initially, through a business set up in Seattle with only two employees, the focus was on lighting products. However, due to spotlighting being outlawed across many states across the USA, customers weren’t interested in lighting but fell in love with his scopes.

Straight to the top…

In 1998 NightForce released its now-famous NXS series of scopes aimed directly towards top-tier groups. This was met with great success as by 2000, NightForce began to be awarded contracts from the American armed forces.

The success has continued to grow, and in 2010, NightForce was awarded a new contract to manufacture scopes for special forces and snipers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Construction and Design

Being designed for long-distance and night shooting, this is a larger-sized scope. It isn’t the largest out there by any means, but don’t expect anything compact. And to remain resilient enough to withstand use from law enforcement and the military, some heft is actually needed.

Starting with the tube, it is a standard 30-millimeter diameter, but NightForce claims the metal is two to three times thicker than its competitors. The NXS is constructed from the highest quality aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum.

A nice finish…

The entire scope is coated in a nice matte-black hard-anodized finish. This has been generously applied to every area with a thick coating adding to the solid look and feel. This gives it all the characteristics of a high-end scope on first impressions.

After taking in the overall appearance of this beautiful scope, attention will no doubt be directed towards the eyepiece. Once again, you will instantly recognize that this isn’t any old entry-level scope and that you have something very special in your grasp.

Something to focus on…

The eyepiece on the NXS functions just like any traditional scope but is crafted with precision and attention to detail. Rotating the eyepiece adjusts the dioptre, which can then be locked into place once your preferred setting is achieved.

Carefully sculpted into the locking ring are some serrations for added grip whilst tightening or loosening. These serrations can also be found surrounding the magnification power selector in front of the focus locking ring.

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A solid indication…

In between the focus locking ring and the magnification power selector are some clear white indicator markings. However, because they lay flat against the surface of the scope, they can’t be seen easily when looking through the eyepiece. Some slight head movement is required.

Having a wide magnification range of 5.5-22x means that a large amount of rotation is possible. As part of the design, when you adjust the zoom, the eyepiece rotates along with it. But this makes adding flip-up caps awkward as they will also rotate when fitted.

When you’re on a good thing…

Keeping the design flow going, the same serrations can be found on each of the tactical turret knobs. There are three knobs in total with elevation on top, windage on the right-hand side, and a focus knob on the left.

Making adjustments provides satisfying feedback with each precise movement. So much so that each click can easily be felt even while wearing gloves. Every click has a large gap in between with less focus on an audible indication and more by feel.

Right on the mark…

Markings on the elevation knob are clear using large, easily identifiable numbers. There are also some indicators underneath to keep track of where you are in the rotation. The windage knob has all the same characteristics, with both offering a zero stop function.

The focus knob has the same design but is a little bit longer and sticks out a little further than the windage knob. It, too, has nice clear marking indicators but without any numerals. Instead, there are fewer hashes in a bolder print.

Standout Features

Being a high-end scope, you would expect some impressive features, and the NightForce NXS does not disappoint. That slightly larger focus knob actually contains the switching mechanism for the illuminated glass etched reticle.

Simply pull on the knob to turn it on, and push it back in to turn it off. The brightness of the red LED illumination can be adjusted but can be tricky. This involves removing the cap off the focus knob, followed by the battery, then making the adjustment using a small screwdriver.

Ready for any environment…

The NXS is one of the toughest and most durable scopes currently available. Not only through the choice of premium materials but also using the latest engineering practices. This scope is waterproof, fog-proof, and of course, shockproof.

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With materials, design, and engineering combined, the NightForce NXS can withstand up to 1,250 Gs of both positive and negative impact effects. There’s even a report of an NXS scope receiving a direct hit from a 7.62x39mm caliber bullet to the main tube. It disabled the magnification ring but still held zero afterward.


The objective lens diameter is 56-millimeters providing superior light transmission performance. There is a huge magnification range of between 5.5 and 22x for both hunting and long-range shooting applications.

A linear field of view is offered at 4.7-17.5-feet at 100-yards for fast and clear target acquisition. There is also a generous 3.9-inches (9.9-centimeters) of eye relief for use with even the highest caliber rifles.

From another dimension…

Being a solid and durable scope with high magnification power, it’s not the lightest, weighing 32-ounces (907-grams). The NXS has a length of 15.2-inches (38.61-centimeters), giving it a dominant presence.

Adjustment type is MOA with 0.25 MOA per click on both elevation and windage. With those large gaps between clicks, this only allows for 10 MOA per revolution with an adjustment range of 100 MOA. Reticle choices include either MOAR or MOAR-T, with other custom options also available.

NightForce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm Rifle Scope Pros & Cons


  • One of the toughest and most durable scopes currently available.
  • Glass etched ballistics reticle with red LED illumination.
  • Superior high-grade materials with precision design and engineering.
  • As used by U.S. military special forces and snipers.
  • Wide magnification range suitable for both hunting and long-range target shooting.
  • Incredibly accurate and tactile turret adjustments can be felt while wearing gloves.


  • High-end products come with a high-end price tag.
  • Heavy, due to its tough and rugged design.
  • Difficult to adjust the illumination brightness.
  • Trade-off for accurate MOA adjustment is only 10 MOA per revolution.

Looking for More Scope Options?

Then check out our reviews of the Best Deer Hunting Scopes, the Best 308 Rifles Scopes, the Best Mil Dot Scopes, the Best Scopes for AR15 under 100 Dollars, or the Best Scout Scopes you can buy in 2023.

Or, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Rimfire Scopes, the Best Air Rifle Scopes, the Best 300 Win Mag Scopes, the Best Mini 14 Ranch Rifles, or the Best Scopes for M&P 15-22 currently on the market.


The NightForce NXS scope will, unfortunately, be out of reach to most shooters due to its premium price tag. However, it more than justifies its cost because of the highest quality materials used in its construction along with the finest workmanship available.

Being the scope of choice for special forces and snipers is a testament to the performance and ability offered by Nightforce. If your budget can stretch to a piece of kit like this, then you simply can’t go wrong. It is easily one of the most desirable scopes on the market for any avid hunter or target shooter requiring absolute accuracy.

Happy and safe shooting.

4.8/5 - (76 votes)
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About Gary McCloud

Gary is a U.S. ARMY OIF veteran who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. He followed in the honored family tradition with his father serving in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam, his brother serving in Afghanistan, and his Grandfather was in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Due to his service, Gary received a VA disability rating of 80%. But he still enjoys writing which allows him a creative outlet where he can express his passion for firearms.

He is currently single, but is "on the lookout!' So watch out all you eligible females; he may have his eye on you...

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