Drawing on input from military and civilian shooters alike, Nightforce Optics has introduced two new First Focal Plane (FFP) riflescopes to their Advanced Tactical Riflescope (ATACR) lineup. With the ATACR 5-25×56 F1, Nightforce may very well have created the ideal long-range tactical riflescope. A first focal plane optical system, optimized reticle designs, and an enhanced feature-set, make this scope a tactical powerhouse.
The ATACR 5-25×56 F1 is available with four reticle options: MOAR, MIL-R, TReMoR3, and H59. For this review, the F1 was equipped with the versatile Minute of Angle (MOA)-based MOAR reticle. With a subtension of .140”, the MOAR reticle provides ample precision at extreme distances, while also allowing accurate hold-offs at lower magnifications. During the course of this review, we used the ATACR 5-25×56 F1 to compete in several tactical matches. The MOAR reticle’s stadia remained sharp and visible well into the scope’s mid-magnification range, allowing fast and accurate windage holdoffs, as well as instant corrections for follow-up shots. The MOAR reticle features a floating crosshair, hash marks in one MOA intervals along the horizontal and vertical stadia, 20 MOA of available correction below center, and 20 MOA left or right wind correction. For a detailed look at the ATACR 5-25×56 F1’s FFP MOAR reticle at different magnifications, check out this video.
The ATACR 5-25×56 F1 retains several features of the already successful first-generation ATACR; fully multi-coated ED glass, a 34MM main tube, and 120 MOA of total elevation travel are a few of them. For the F1, Nightforce has introduced a set of features that are designed to enhance performance. The first one that stood out for me was the elevation turret.
Having spun the dials on Nightforce 10 MOA and 20 MOA turrets for thousands of shots, I found the new 30 MOA-per-revolution elevation turret on the ATACR 5-25×56 F1 to be a great improvement. Approximately 1/4 inch shorter than the first-generation ATACR, the elevation turret is also slightly larger in diameter, providing a low-profile cap that is easier to grip for dialing corrections. The feel of the clicks is smoother, yet just as positive, with no hanging up between the .25 MOA clicks. The laser-engraving on the turret cap and housing is precise and clear, with large, easy to read numbers. A quick tall target test during this review showed why Nightforce has a well-deserved reputation for repeatable, accurate tracking. The ATACR 5-25×56 F1 retains the time-proven ZeroStop system for a flawless return to zero every time. Sitting in medium-height Nightforce Ultralight rings, on a 40 MOA Nightforce rail, I was able to dial 82 MOA up from zero. That would allow a direct-dial shot to 2200 yards with my 338Edge +P, and close to 1900 yards with my 260 Rem.
The next item on the enhanced feature list is the windage turret. Like the elevation turret, the ATACR 5-25×56 F1 features 30 MOA per revolution of the dial. Total available windage travel is 80 MOA. To help keep us out of trouble, Nightforce has engineered a windage stop that prevents the turret from traveling more than 14.5 MOA in either direction after zero is set. This seems like the next best thing to a dedicated zero stop on the windage side. You simply can’t get lost with this turret; if you hit the stop, you know you’re at the limit in one direction or the other. No more lost revolutions of the dial, or sticky notes on your scope tube. For shooters who wish to hold all wind corrections with the reticle, and don’t want to worry about accidental windage turret movement, the ATACR F1 comes with a cap that covers the turret. If you want to leave the cap off, there is a beauty ring provided that protects the threads. The scope remains waterproof with the cap off. For the review, we shot with the cap on during matches, holding all wind corrections, and dialed the turret for long range hunting practice. Both proved equally effective. The windage turret shares the same positive clicks as the elevation turret but suffers from smaller indicator marks, making it difficult to see the correction under certain conditions.
The other side of the turret housing contains Nightforce’s new illumination system, Digillum, as well as a distance-marked parallax knob. With the push of a button, the entire MOAR reticle illuminates in either green or red, and can be controlled for brightness. I found the green illumination, at maximum brightness, to be very effective at providing contrast between the reticle and target at dusk and dawn. For a video demonstration of the Digillum system, click here. The parallax knob, with approximate yardage numbers laser-engraved on it, helped save valuable time during matches.
For rapid transitions through the ATACR 5-25×56 F1’s magnification range, Nightforce added an integrated Power Throw Lever (PTL). As well as allowing fast magnification changes to find targets, the lever is placed in the middle of the scope’s power range, acting as a visual indicator for instant feedback on magnification amount. When seconds count during a match stage, this can be a handy feature. The scope ships with a flush insert installed, allowing the user the option of a smooth power ring. We left the PTL in place for the duration of the review.
The scope ships with a 3-inch sunshade and a bikini-style rubber lens cover. Nightforce also includes a set of flip-up lens covers manufactured by Tenebraex. These covers are a welcome addition, proving to be durable and useful. The front cover screws into the objective lens or sunshade, while the rear cover clamps onto the eyepiece of the scope. Once the assemblies are secured, the flip-up portion of the covers can be rotated to wherever you want them. I really like these covers; with the rear cover closed to protect the lens, I could cycle the bolt to open the cover and chamber a round in one smooth motion. The covers rotate smoothly around the mount assembly, and have detents to help keep them where you want them. If they get in your way, a firm tug will separate the cover from the mount without breaking it. The cover can then be easily snapped back into place.
Before ending with a summary, I would like to thank Nick Gadarzi for his help with this review. Nick is a pro-level shooter in the Northwest PRS League and provided valuable insight into what constitutes an effective, tactical-style riflescope. Concurrent with this review, I also evaluated the new ATACR 4-16×42 F1, published here. We took turns shooting with both scopes, but Nick competed in matches exclusively with the ATACR 5-25×56 F1, while I competed with the ATACR 4-16×42 F1. Here are some of our thoughts:
- The glass in this scope is spectacular. Bright and clear, it rivals any top-tier optic we’ve seen. Colors are accurate, and low-light performance is excellent.
- The eyebox is generous, making target acquisition fast and easy. While this is a nice feature in a long-range hunting scope, it becomes necessary on a tactical scope. Being able to get an accurate sight picture from an awkward position means faster hits.
- The heart of a long range scope is its adjustment mechanism. It has to be precise, robust, and repeatable. Nightforce has a well-deserved reputation for meeting those requirements, and the F1 didn’t disappoint.
- A 30 MOA per-revolution elevation turret, and easy-to-read value markers, means faster target engagements, and less chances for making mistakes.
- With the MOAR reticle placed in the first focal plane, we could hold any correction necessary, at any magnification, without thought to correction value. Most of the match shooting was done in the 9x to 12x range. I used the reticle at 25x to shoot ground squirrels in the 800-1200 yard range. I wouldn’t hesitate to use the F1 on a long range hunting rifle, and would consider it necessary on a rifle used for tactical match shooting.
To check out the full specs on the ATACR 5-25×56 F1, please visit Nightforce Optics.
To discuss this review, please visit the forum at Long Range Only. Thanks!