The Hell-and-Back Optic: Nightforce ATACR 1-8X

By Clay Martin
Posted in #Gear
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The Hell-and-Back Optic: Nightforce ATACR 1-8X

September 24th, 2019

4:18 runtime

When it comes to an all-purpose optic for your SAINT 5.56 or .308, in my opinion the “short dot” scope is king. If you’ve not heard this term before, short dot means basically the scope acts like a red dot at low power but has enough magnification to really reach out when needed. And that can be a harder feature set to combine than you might think.

The ATACR 1-8X from Nightforce gives you red dot-like performance at close range, yet also the ability to reach out when needed.

Where’s the Leader?

The short dot class of scopes has been around for some time now, part of an ongoing arms race that has seen incredible new products come to market. For many years, 1X to 4X was the standard. Nightforce had a nice NXS scope in this class that was well-loved and popular. Then many of the challengers released 1-6X or 1-6.5X, while Nightforce was strangely silent.

It was kind of a peculiar spot for Nightforce, generally being a lead innovator in the optics space for years. It seemed more and more like Nightforce had abandoned the category; that is, until about a year ago when they released what I think is a dream crusher.

The ATACR features all the quality you would expect from a Nightforce optic, with top-notch manufacturing and precise adjustments.

Back Out Front

Nightforce skipped right over the 1-6X category and gave us a 1-8X. They aren’t the first to do this, but in my opinion they are the first to do it really well. Cramming 8X into a very small scope takes some engineering, especially if you still want true 1X performance.

Clay wrung out the ATACR with his SAINT 5.56 and some excellent Black Hills ammo.

The ATACR 1-8X is an entirely new animal. It has a very forgiving ocular lens, which allows the scope to still act like a red dot — even with less-than-perfect head placement. It’s the most forgiving I have seen, actually. It’s beyond daylight bright with the illumination turned on, with settings to spare.

The Horus-derived reticle in the ATACR is excellent and really allows you to reach out at range.

And most important to me, it has the first-ever truly useful reticle in a short dot. The true mil grid pattern is a Horus derivative, and absolutely shines at range. The grid allows precise holdovers to 10 mils of elevation, and 5 mils of wind. Just a little range time, and you can see why SOCOM issued a contract last year.

The ATACR 1-8X isn’t cheap, but innovation rarely is. If you need a true do-everything, hell-and-back optic, this is the one to buy.

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Clay Martin

Clay Martin

Clay Martin is a former USMC Infantryman, Reconnaissance Marine, and Scout/Sniper. Cross decking to the US Army in 2003, he retired as a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant from 3rd SFG (A). Clay has been a competitive shooter in USPSA, 3 Gun, and PRS disciplines, as well as a contract instructor for marksmanship and Close Quarters Battle. Aside from being a gunslinger, Clay is the author of Last Son of the War God, and the soon to be published Sword of the Caliphate series. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, sons, and pack of feral dogs.

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