Where are Nightforce Scopes Made or Manufactured?

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Founded in 1992, Nightforce Optics is a well-known US based manufacturer of top tier sporting optical products including rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and optical accessories. Although relatively young in the sports optics industry (compared to some scope brands), Nightforce quickly established itself as a high-end brand of rifle scopes, even winning a military contract to provide various branches of the U.S. military with combat optics.

In my day job, hardly a week goes by without someone asking this question: Where are Nightforce scopes made or manufactured? So let’s delve a little deeper into that topic.

Where are Nightforce Scopes Made?

It’s a fair question and I understand why it’s asked:

  • U.S. based consumers place substantial value on buying American made products that support American jobs.
  •  Where something is made or manufactured can directly or indirectly play a role in its perceived quality and value.

However, when it comes to sporting optics, the location where something is made or manufactured (commonly called the Country of Origin) isn’t as black and white as it appears and can be much more complicated than it sounds on the surface.

The Federal Trade Commission (commonly called the FTC) along with a few other government agencies are tasked with making sure that goods that are both manufactured within the US, and those that are imported into the USA are correctly and accurately labeled as to their Country of Origin (which is also commonly called the COO).

Sounds pretty straightforward right? Well, here’s where it can get a little sticky in terms of Country of Origin when it comes to rifle scopes (and other sporting optics as well). Those items (scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, etc.) are built from components that may be manufactured in a country outside the United States. So, when a certain percentage of those components are manufactured in a country outside the United States, the Country of Origin is required to be the country where the majority of the components are sourced from.

Nightforce SHV Scope

This is why you may see products that you absolutely know to be assembled in the United States but are marked as “Made in China” as the official Country of Origin. That Country of Origin designation comes from the fact that the majority of the components used in the manufacturing process do make the product come from China.

This is all great info, but how does it relate to answer the question about where Nightforce scopes are manufactured? Well, bear with me a second as I’m getting to that. So, let’s get back to answering the specific question: Where are Nightforce scopes made or manufactured?

First, it’s important to be clear that all Nightforce scope models are assembled, inspected, tested, and packaged at the Nightforce facility in Orofino Idaho or Lavonia, Georgia. Again, its important to understand that being assembled, tested, etc. in the United States isn’t officially the same as being “made in the United States”.

Where are Nightforce SHV Scopes Made?

Nightforce Optics, like most rifle scope brands in the U.S., does not manufacture or produce its own glass (for the lenses). Nightforce has a relationship with a company in Japan that produces all the lenses in each Nightforce scope line.

So, let’s go over each one of the Nightforce models and where it’s made:

Nightforce SHV Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce SHV Rifle Scope

The SHV series is really Nightforce’s entry level series that is designed for multiple uses. The SHV acronym stands for Shooter Hunter Varminter and this series is available in 4 power ranges with each power range being offered in at least 4 different Nightforce reticle options.

The SHV series is made in Japan and marked as being made in Japan.

Nightforce NX8 Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce NX8 Rifle Scope

New for 2020, the NX8 line is really geared towards mid-range shooting with an emphasis on features and functionality. A slight step up from the SHV line in terms of glass and features. Nightforce is marketing it towards hunters who need a lightweight scope with good power and excellent glass without breaking the bank. The NX8 series is available in 3 power configurations with each configuration offering at least 4 different reticle choices.

The NX8 is made in Japan and marked as being made in Japan.

Nightforce NXS Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce NXS Rifle Scope

The NXS series was series that was original built for military and law enforcement use, and for entry into military trials. A variation of the NXS series did win a military contract and is still in use across a number of military branches and across a number of law enforcement agencies. The NXS series is marketed towards long range shooters with an edge towards military and tactical applications.

While the NXS models are assembled, tested, and packaged in the U.S, they are marked as being made in Japan.

Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. Rifle Scope

The B.E.A.S.T. series of scopes actually only consists of one model, a 5-25X56 monster that was explicitly designed from long range shooting in the civilian, military, and law enforcement worlds. In case you were wondering, the B.E.A.S.T acronym stands for Best Example of Advanced Scope Technology.

Although the glass on the BEAST is sourced from Japan, the scope is marked as being “developed, assembled & verified in the United States”.

Nightforce ATACR Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce ATACR Rifle Scope

The ATACR scope series is Nightforce’s current top of the line offering and is considered part of their “Professional” scope line. ATACR is a fancy acronym for Advanced TACtical Riflescope, and Nightforce spared no expense on this line. The ATACR features the best glass that Nightforce currently offers and comes in 8 power ranges with each range having at least 4 (if not more) reticle options.

Like the Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. series, the glass is sourced from Japan, and the ATACR series is marked as “developed, assembled & verified in the United States”.

Nightforce Competition Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce Competition Rifle Scope

The Competition series is offered as a secondary option to the Nightforce Benchrest series of scopes for competitive shooters who need a crystal clear, high powered scope for competition settings but may by restricted by class weight, scope weight, and/or ocular bell size. The Competition series currently has two models, a 15-55X52 or a fixed 4.5X24.

The Competition series is made in Japan and marked as being made in Japan.

Nightforce Benchrest Rifle Scope Series

Nightforce Benchrest Rifle Scope

The Benchrest series of scopes are designed for precision based benchrest shooting. Currently, the Benchrest series is made of two models, a 12-42X56 and an 8-32X56.

The glass on the Benchrest series is sourced from Japan, and the scopes are marked as being made in Japan.

Now if you’re an absolute purist about buying only American made rifle scopes, the fact that the glass on the Nightforce line being sourced from Japan may be enough to turn you off. Obviously, it’s your money and you get to spend it any way you want. However, I’d also like to make the following points:

  • Very few, and I do mean very few, U.S. based rifle scope brands manufacture their own glass. Many outsource it from other locations so what Nightforce does is nothing new.
  •  Japan has a reputation for producing some of the better glass on the market that can contend with high end glass that is sourced from Europe. Think Schmidt & Bender, Swarovski, and Kahles.
  • If you decide to pass on Nightforce based on the glass being sourced in Japan, you’ll be missing out on one of the most American based scope brands on the market as each one of these scope models is put together, inspected, tested, and boxed up by American workers in an U.S. based facility.
Nightforce SHV Scope with Throw Lever

Here are some of the more commonly asked questions that I’ve seen regarding where Nightforce scopes are sourced:

Who makes Nightforce scopes?

Nightforce Optics is a U.S. based company that is owned and operated by an Australian company called Lightforce Performance Lighting. Nightforce was originally founded by an Australian. As mentioned above, some of the Nightforce models are labeled as being made in Japan, while others are labeled as being made in the United States.

Where are Nightforce SHV scopes made?

As I discussed above, the Nightforce SHV scopes feature glass from Japan and are marked as being made in Japan. However, they are assembled, inspected, tested, etc. at the Nightforce facility in Idaho.

Which Nightforce scope models are made in Japan?

The following Nightforce scope models are marked as being made in Japan:

  • SHV series
  • NX8 series
  • NXS series
  • Competition series
  • Benchrest series

Which Nightforce scopes are made in China?

None. Not a single authentic Nightforce scope is made in China, or the Philippines. Now there may be some Nightforce knock-off models that come out of China, but no authentic Nightforce scope models.

Where are Nightforce ATACR scopes made?

The glass on the Nightforce ATACR scope models comes from Japan, but the scope is made in the USA.

Which Nightforce scopes are made in the USA?

Currently, the Nightforce ATACR and the Nightforce B.E.A.S.T. scope series are both made in the USA.

I have an older Nightforce NXS scope that says it was made in the USA? Why does mine say that but you’re saying they are marked as made in Japan?

The rules and regulations around the Country of Origin requirements have changed quite a bit over the years (and may have even changed by the time you read this article). It’s very possible that you do have a Nightforce NSX scope that is marked as being “made in the USA” as the Country of Origin requirements may have been different at the time your scope was produced. Your scope could legitimately be marked as being made in the USA.

I use to have an older Nightforce scope model called a Varminter (which has been discontinued now) and I recall it having interesting markings on it that said “Made in Japan & Assembled in USA” or something along those lines indicating that it was sourced from those two countries.