NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm Riflescope Review

In this in-depth NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm Riflescope review, I will be featuring the companies most powerful SHV scope to date. SHV stands for “Shooter Hunter Varminter,” with Nightforce designing this range of scopes to be not just affordable but also versatile. This scope was created for both competitive target shooters and hunters, and boy does it show!

Featuring a massive objective lens (56mm), five to twenty times magnification, and top-tier build quality, the NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope has become a favorite among shooters and hunters alike.

So let’s get straight t it as I take an I find out why so many people are choosing this scope over other, more expensive optics!

nightforce shv 5 20x56mm riflescope review

Specifications and Unboxing

  • Reticle: MOAR-20 MOA Center Non-Illuminated or MOAR-20 MOA Center-Illuminated
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane (SFP)
  • Optics Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Magnification: 5x to 20x
  • Power Variability: Variable
  • Tube diameter: 1.18 in (30 mm)
  • Objective lens diameter: 56mm
  • Internal adjustment range: e: 80 MOA / w: 50 MOA
  • Click value: 0.25 MOA
  • Parallax adjustment: 25 yd – Infinity
  • Overall length: 15.2 in (386 mm)
  • Weight (ounces/grams): 29.1 oz (825g) Non-Illuminated/ 30.5 oz (865g) Illuminated
  • Eye relief: 3.15-3.54 in (80-90 mm)
  • Shockproof and Fogproof: Yes
  • Water Resistance Level: Waterproof to 10 feet
  • Tube Color: Black
  • Finish: Matte

In the box, you find the NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope. This comes snuggly packaged inside a foam insert to ensure safe shipping. Also inside the box are:

  • Rubber lens covers
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Owners manual
  • Adjustment tools

Magnification and Reticle Type

The NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope utilizes Nightforce’s proprietary MOAR™ (Minute Of Angle Reticle) reticle.

How does the MOAR™ reticle give an advantage to the shooter?

In a couple of ways, actually!

The heavier lines of the MOAR™ will help you pick up the reticle center, especially where the background is in shadow and minimal light situations. It also helps to effectively aim at targets in cluttered areas, such as in woods or forests, where target acquisition may be difficult.

Next up, the designers decided to do away with all line markings above the reticle’s midline. This gives the shooter a much clearer view, which in turn greatly helps again with rapid target acquisition and identification. Plus, the three, six, and nine o’clock markings at the border edges help shooters to “eye in” targets.

While the center of the MOAR™ reticle features 2 MOA floating center crosshairs as well as a 4 MOA center box.

These advancements have been praised by reviewers and customers alike since the MOAR™ was introduced, especially when it comes to long-range shooting (over 1000 yards) in low light conditions. All in all, I found this reticle easy to use, easy to set up, and very precise.

nightforce shv 5 20x56mm riflescope

Great, but how about magnification?

As the name suggests, this scope is capable of magnifying whatever is scoped between 5 to 20 times. But, as we are all too aware, many scopes don’t handle particularly well at the top of their magnification range. Blurring, color aberrations, and image distortion are commonplace as you increase the magnification to near maximum.

Not here, though!

NighForce have built a solid reputation over the past decade for fantastic clarity at the top of their scopes power ranges.

Thanks to the huge 56mm objective lens and precision glass with full multi-coating, the NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope produces pure, clear, and crisp vision all the way through the magnification range.

Elevation, Windage, and Parallax

The capped elevation and windage turrets are positioned at the center of the tube and come fully capped. These caps make sure you don’t lose your zero while trudging through the woods but are also easily and quickly removed in case you need to make an on-the-fly adjustment.

The elevation turret allows for 80 MOA (minute of angle) changes. The windage turret allows for 50 MOA changes. Each turret click equals a fine ¼ MOA, which makes finding true zero a breeze.

The parallax adjustment turret is also located at the center of the scope tube. The minimum distance you can correct for parallax is 25 yards, and that then stretches all the way out to infinity. This turret comes uncapped for ease of use.

Build Quality

As with every other NightForce scope I have reviewed, the build quality on the SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope is top-notch.

The tube has been constructed from a single piece of hard-anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum which has been left with a matte black finish that helps eliminate any glare issues. The single body design ensures full protection for the internal glass from knocks or bumps and makes the scope pretty much fully shockproof.

the nightforce shv 5 20x56mm riflescope review

Nitrogen purging has been used on each scope to ensure that fogging is kept to an absolute minimum. I used this scope in cold, damp conditions and never noticed any signs of fogging whatsoever.

How about waterproofing?

Part of NightForce’s comprehensive testing involves placing each scope in conditions that replicate it being in one hundred feet of water for a full 24 hours. So yeah, this one is waterproof for sure.

This testing also sees each scope subjected to more extreme temperatures than you should ever encounter while hunting. Within the space of 60 minutes, the scope is frozen to -80 F then heated up all the way to 160 F. They are tested at each temperature extreme to ensure functionality in all weather conditions.

Mounting Options

You can choose from either rail mounting or ring mounting the NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope. It’s totally up to you, but my preference is almost always rings, as they do not add too much weight.

Ok, but you don’t own a set of 30mm rings?

No problems. At a pinch, you can use slightly larger or smaller rings. However, I bought a new set when this scope arrived, which I highly recommend, so check out the Vortex Hunter Riflescope Rings.

NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm Riflescope Pros & Cons


  • 56 mm objective lens for unbelievable low light accuracy.
  • Fully shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof.
  • 30 mm main tube made from a single piece of hard-anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum.
  • Sourced and built right here in the USA!
  • SFP glass-etched MOAR reticle.
  • Available in center-illuminated or non-illuminated.
  • Crisp, easy-to-use, capped turrets.


  • Not the cheapest option.
  • Heavy.

Need a High-quality Scope?

Then check out our reviews of the Best Scopes for M&P 15-22, the Best Mil Dot Scopes, the Best Scout Scopes, the Best Air Rifle Scopes, or the Best 308 Rifles Scopes on the market in 2023.

Or, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Deer Hunting Scopes, the Best Rimfire Scopes, the Best Mini 14 Ranch Rifles, the Best Scopes for AR15 under 100 Dollars, as well as the Best 300 Win Mag Scopes you can buy.

The Wrap-Up

I think it is pretty safe to say that if you are looking for a long-range rifle scope, the NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm should be near the top of your list of contenders. This extremely well-made, robust, accurate, and precise rifle scope does everything I want and does it well.

Sure, there are other less expensive scopes on the market today. But, if you want a scope that will last for years to come and that you can count on time and again, then it’s time to find the best deal on the NightForce SHV 5-20 x 56mm riflescope right now!

Happy and safe shooting.

5/5 - (75 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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