Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm Review – A 2022 Top Pick

Nightforce optics is very famous among firearm enthusiasts for producing some very admired and high-quality scopes for long range. Especially in the night vision and thermal scopes category. One such amazing member of their inventory is the SHV 5-20 x 56 mm riflescope. Here we’ll elaborate more on this scope and find out the features that make it a worthy long range scope, and those that act as cautious considerations.

  • Zeroset™ feature for rapid return to zero position
  • 5-20x magnification with large 56mm objective lens
  • Illuminated/non-illuminated MOAR reticle with marks
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NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope


  • 2 Excellent Reticle Options
  • Crisp Turrets 
  • Excellent Durability 
  • Large Objective Lens


  • SFP makes it taxing to switch ranges
  • Low Light Holdovers
  • On the heavy side

Eye Relief: 3.14 - 3.5 inches

Adjustment Options (Parallax, windage, elevation): ¼ MOA clicks. E - 80 MOA, W - 50 MOA, P 25 yards - infinity

Type of Reticle: Illuminated Forceplex / MOAR 

Magnification: 5 - 20 x

Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane

Objective Lens: 56 mm

Field of View:  17.9 - 5 feet @ 100 yards

Weight:  30.5 oz 


The Nightforce SHV has some very admirable features in its design and functional capabilities that make it a desirable long range scope. These are the areas where this scope excels and gives you some good reasons to buy. 

Large Objective Lens

The objective lens of the SHV 5-20x scope is larger than normal. You don't generally find a 56 mm objective lens with such magnifications, only with the highest magnification rifles scopes. The benefit of such a large ocular lens is the creation of ultra bright images. Especially under low light conditions like dusk and dawn. Brightness and clarity can mean the difference between a miss and a hit at such distances. 


The next amazing feature of this scope is the tactical finger adjustable turrets. The level of adjustment isn’t very extensive, but so isn’t the level of magnification to ask for. The turrets are very crisp and easy to dial. Plus, this scope also offers a parallax adjustment with the dial marked from 25 yards to 500 yards and then to infinity. 

The scope is available in illuminated and non-illuminated versions. The illumination dial is clubbed with the parallax dial and features ‘battery saver stops’ after each illumination setting to help conserve power. 

The SHV turrets also come with a zero-set feature to help you quickly dial back the reticle for quick changes. 


This nightforce SHV reticle is one of the best in its class. The scope is offered with either a Forceplex or MOAR reticle. You should opt for the MOAR reticle if you plan on using this scope for long range precision shooting. The MOAR reticle features a floating crosshair which is of the optimal size to maintain accuracy over a long range. The cross hair is the only part illuminated which is both good and bad. More on that in the next section. 


The SHV 5-20x scope features a 30 mm single piece tube made from 6061 T6 aluminum. The scope has been rigorously tested at the Nightforce facility for water, fog, and shock resistance. These durability tests for this scope is what ‘navy seal training’ is for humans. No matter what temperature or situation you put this scope into. You’re never gonna regret it. 


After reviewing all the good that this scope has to offer. Now let’s take a look at a few drawbacks that have to be kept in mind when using the scope or before buying it.


This SHV 5-20x is a second focal plane scope. Which in layman terms means that you’ll have to dial the turrets everytime you change the magnification at long range. Since the reticle marks won’t stay true to the zoom. That can be a considerable drawback for people who don’t like setting the turrets every now and then. Or when shooting targets at different ranges. 

Expensive and Heavy

The price you pay for this scope is close to what you’ll pay for a popular Aimpoint or Eotech red dot. That makes this scope makes it somewhat ‘unreachable’ for people on a tight budget. It’s the price is where rifle scopes stop getting called a purchase but an investment. Another minus factor is the heavy weight of this scope which is close to 30 oz or 2 pounds. That can be a problem when carrying it over long distances. 

Low Light Holdovers

One fancy factor about its reticle is that when illuminated, only the center crosshair bears light and not the hash marks. Which makes these hash marks almost unusable under low light conditions. That can be a serious con for low light hunters. 

Best Uses For the Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm

The term SHV stands for shooter, hunter, varminter. Which itself explains the possible and best uses of this scope. The high magnifying power of 5-20x makes it a suitable scope to hit targets as far as 1200 yards accurately. However, precision is a slight concern at that range under low light because of the reason mentioned above. 

With that said, this scope is not suitable for use with NVD’s and especially during the night. Since the windage and elevation marks are almost rendered ineffective in low light. However, on the contrary, this scope features a big objective lens that produces bright images under all lighting conditions. So if you don’t need quick power changes at medium range, this scope can be very effective for still or medium targets. This scope is best for daylight shooting. Whether it be hunting, bench shooting, or practice. 

Is the Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm Compatible With Any Rifle?

The Nightforce SHV 5-20x scope is best suited for medium and high caliber rifles. So you’re looking mostly at .308 and higher calibers. Or in other words, rifles that have the size, weight, and range to aptly accommodate and suit this scope. 

Mounting it on medium caliber rifles such as .223 and .243 is also suitable. And, the scope will work with AR-15 rifles, if that’s what you’re looking for. With the immensely shockproof design and turrets made from titanium, this scope will be a good fit for rifles chambered in calibers like the .450 bushmaster and .50 cal. 

What Do I Need to Know About Mounting the Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm?

The SHV scope comes with a detailed instruction manual to help you use, troubleshoot, and service it as and when needed. The scope doesn’t come with mounts, but the manual has specifications for torque regarding all suitable mounts and scope rings

The use of turn-in style rotary/dovetail type ring and base designs is strictly not recommended. Especially the ones equipped with windage adjustment. 

The SHV™ ZeroSet™ elevation adjustment is a remarkable feature of this riflescope which allows you to set the elevation to zero position once you have zeroed the riflescope. You can use the Allen key supplied in the package to loosen both screws on the elevation dial cap and press it down until the dial cap stops. Now reindex the dial to align the zero position. This is by far the most important and complex setting you need to know about this scope. 

The battery is located inside the illumination/parallax dial. You just have to unscrew the top cap slightly and it will drop open. The scope uses a CR2032 battery. Make sure you follow the cleaning and service instructions of this scope properly to ensure flawless and optimal operation. 

What Makes the Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm Stand Out From the Competition?

The one basic feature that makes this scope stand out from the competition is the large objective lens. A 56 mm objective lens isn’t common with this magnification and helps this scope generate an ultra bright sight picture. Additionally, the illuminated reticle and its design is a big plus. The MOAR reticle has been designed to help long range shooters once they have acquired the range and the target. The ZeroSet™ elevation adjustment feature also differentiates this scope from its counterparts. 

Apart from all this, the very amazing and outstanding feature of the scope is its durability. This scope has been built like a tank. It can be dipped under 100 feet of water, buried in sand or snow, and dropped continuously.

Nightforce SHV vs NXS - Comparison Overview

The Nightforce SHV and NXS scopes are closely comparable in terms of quality and clarity. Since both have been developed by the same manufacturer, the quality control and basic design features are mostly the same. 

Both SHV and NXS series feature second focal plane scopes with illuminated and non-illuminated reticles. The maximum magnification available in the SHV series is 5-20x, whereas in the NXS series it is 8-32x. The NXS models feature a zero stop function and the SHV models feature a zero set function.  The NXS model of scopes is more preferred by some military units and LEO, whereas the SHV is a more civilian scope.

Talking about turrets, the NXS series only has exposed turrets whereas the SHV series offers exposed as well as capped turrets. The NXS series is also more durable than the SHV series, but it comes at the cost of some extra weight. 

Talking about the price, NXS series scopes can cost as much as $1000 extra than the SHV. For a general overview, the SHV scopes are meant for more casual long range use, and especially effective under daylight conditions. Whereas the NXS scopes are more expensive and suited for more precise applications. 


The Nightforce SHV 5-20x56 is a long range scope with an illuminated or non-illuminated forceplex or MOAR reticle. This scope is perfect for hunting, varminting, and practice. The large objective facilitates bright images, and the scope has been rigorously tested to ensure it withstands the harshest of conditions. A great choice for casual use. 

People Also Ask

Before you invest your money into this 5-20x scope. Take a moment to check out this FAQ section and grab answers to some very common and important queries about this scope. 

Where Are Nightforce SHV Scopes Made?

The Nightforce SHV scopes are made in Japan. So you may rest assured about the quality. Whereas most other scopes from Nightforce are built in the U.S. 

Can You Use Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm in Low Light?

The answer to this question is somewhat mixed. Since the reticle on this scope only has the crosshair illuminated and not the hash marks. You can use it accurately in very low light only if you have zeroed the target. 

How Long Does the Battery Last on the Nightforce SHV 5-20X56mm?

As the manufacturer says, the battery on the Nightforce SHV 5-20x56 scope can last for about 720+ hours on continuous usage depending upon intensity settings. 

What Size Battery Does the Nightforce SHV Take?

The Nightforce SHV scopes use a single CR2032 battery. The battery is mounted inside the illumination/parallax knob.


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