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  1. #1
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    Ongoing NF 1-8 ATACR F1 thoughts

    Like my previous MK6 thread, this is not a one and done post. I'll post thoughts as I continue to use the scope if there continues to be interest. As I quickly approach a career change, I plan to have some extra free time over the next few weeks, so will hopefully be able to play with this setup more in the near term.

    The optic is attached to my M4 Block 2 upper, but the upper has also received a new V-Seven barrel. Probably more precision than necessary with this optic, but I was ready to have a sweet 14.5" shooter that I could compete with and know any misses weren't the gun. (Mission accomplished, by the way)



    I should first state my intended use for this type of optic. After seeing the reticle choices, I was a little disappointed that there was no simple cross-hair type reticle (like the NF MIL-C), but I also understand what they're doing on the 1x spectrum. So I planned to make this optic work on a carbine for drills/2-gun competition and not for a precision gun. Part of that is also the artificiality of the precision shooting I do sometimes, specifically at a local SPR match where the match director doesn't understand the true purpose of a SPR versus a PRS gun, but I digress...

    After doing some ammo testing this week to see what the barrel likes, here's some initial thoughts on the ATACR. I did some prone work and then some simple target acquisition drills up close. Round count is only at 93 currently.

    - It's definitely heavier than the NX8. I was fortunate to shoot and handle a NX8 last weekend at a competition, which was also on a 14.5" gun, and I can feel the heft of the ATACR.

    - Eye-box: I don't have enough time on either the ATACR or a Vortex HD 2, but what little I've messed with the Vortex, it seems like the ATACR is a close contender at 1x. Bringing the rifle up, it's very forgiving to find the dot and some view of the target. Whether the optic is where you want it is another story...

    - Optic height: Because I haven't found "the" LPV optic that's worked for me, I've run my LPVs in a more precision role and then used an off-set RDS for close work. With the ATACR, it appears it's capable of moving between both regimes pretty well, so having the optic at 1.5" (my preferred height for other optics) may not be a requirement. And for me, it might not be as compatible for regular use. I find that on a Larue 1.5" mount, I really have to cheekweld the stock to get a good scope picture at 1x. With a SOPMOD stock, that also pushes me left slightly, so I'm now skewed left in the eye-box. When I mount the ATACR rifle with the same basic "feel" that I would with my Aimpoint 1/3 uppers, I'm looking through about 1/2 the scope, with the other half of scope shadow. Because of that, I'm thinking a 1.93" mount may be the perfect spot. In the meantime, I'm going to throw a half-inch riser under the Larue mount just to see how I like the idea.

    - Optics: On a bright sunny day, I do notice some slight dimming of the image compared to reality. I was a little disappointed to see that, but then I also didn't notice it the next day when actually shooting. I did also see some barrel distortion (I forget the correct term for gun optics, but I think that's the term for camera lenses) at 1x. It was certainly and completely functional, but it was there. At 8x and 100y, I was able to see all my hits on a Shoot-n-See with almost no issues. Any issues I did have were due to grass in the way or aging eyes.

    - The dot: I've taken this out in the Florida sun several times now, both shooting up close and then playing with it in the back yard. I can get the dot Aimpoint bright if I turn it to 10 (max setting). It's not blooming in the bright sun at that setting, but will do that in darker settings. Pointing the dot at a white fence in the sun, the dot struggles, but is still visible. Pointing it at anything else that's less than white, and it's perfectly viewable. Like the MK6 controls, the ATACR lets you have "OFF" spots between each intensity setting, which I really like. One last thing about the dot for now...I have seen it "dim" if you come out of the perfect eye-box position, but it is NOT like the MK6 where the dot disappears, and the ATACR is still very usable. Also, the "dot" (which is really the donut and the center dot) is 8 MOA across, so it's not small. Certainly useful up close. The center dot is a 1.25 MOA dot. So at 300y, you have a ~3.75" black dot hovering over your target. Just something to be aware of.

    That's it for now, and certainly a low round count to make too many decisions on. That said, I was pretty impressed by the NX8 the other day and I kind of want to get one too. I think on a smaller rifle, the these two optics could compliment each other well, depending on usage.
    Last edited by gatordev; 12 July 2018 at 14:21.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the review! Looking foreword to hearing more...
    The best way to survive a violent encounter is to be the one inflicting the most violence.

  3. #3
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    Another day of some testing...

    Today was a combination of "sunny," but not full-on Florida sun, combined with some overcast. Objective today was to evaluate (with the riser) both up close work and some movement out at 25-30y @1x. For comparison, I was also running a 416 today, but with a Warcomp open-tine and Eotech, and then the 416 with a suppressor. The results were interesting.

    First up, due to some over-planning on my part, this rifle is heavier than I had originally planned, so the extra 29 oz of optic (with mount) makes an impact. But with the brake and gas system, it's still a pretty nice, flat shooter. Compared to the 416/Eotech, it was quicker (for me) when the 416 was unsuppressed and suppressed. When the 416 was suppressed, it got closer, but still lagged behind by about .5s (again, for me).

    Initially I started with a standard pistol "dot drill" target @~10y and worked 2 shots rifle then transition to pistol. Once hold-over was refined (after the first string), keeping rounds in the circle was no problem and it was akin to shooting a T1/T2 in the sense of "tube picture" (as opposed to the wider FOV of a 30mm RDS).

    I then moved onto a Move (diagonally)-shoot 2 @~20y-move (diagonally)-shoot 2 @~15y, all at an A-zone steel target. During this evolution, I would occasionally lose the full field of view in the scope (just because of movement), but the dot would still be visible. During this, the dot would dim slightly, but in the less than surface-of-the-sun (SotS) brightness today, no issues (this was on setting 10...max). Otherwise, between the rifle setup and the optic, clean shots, for the most part. And again, the rifle/ATACR combo ran the course faster than the 416. And again, I think brake/barrel design helped with that a bit.

    Takeaways: Elevating the scope up to ~2" was definitely the right choice. Eventually I'll get an all-in-one mount to put it at 1.93-ish height, but for now, the LT-104 with riser makes it work well enough. Also, this scope is VERY forgiving at 1x. I will be interested to see how the dot does when the sun is at SotS brightness, but I'm sensing it won't make that big of a deal. Lastly, eye-box is forgiving, but makes me wonder how much "worse" that will be for the NX8. But will tackle that in 60-90 days...on some upper....


  4. #4
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    Now I wish I had a 1.93" mount ready for this instead of a standard one.

    Thanks for the thoughts, very informative.

  5. #5
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    As an aside, I asked MI if they were thinking of making a 34mm High Mount. They said they were aware of the demand, but for now, no. So for now, it looks like it's time to start saving for a Larue or ADM. I'm sure you could make it work, but not sure how the Geissele MK6 mount fits this with proper eye-relief.

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    Since you looked through the NX8, how is the eyebox on 1x on that compared to other common optics? The atacr is just a bit porky for me.

  8. #8
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    I didn't have enough time on it to give you an answer. NF has a NX8 on the way to me, though, so hope to have a better answer for you "soon." I already have the MI mount waiting on the scope's arrival.

    I will say this, eyebox-wise (and not dot flicker-wise), it seemed at least as good as the MK6.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JGifford View Post
    Since you looked through the NX8, how is the eyebox on 1x on that compared to other common optics? The atacr is just a bit porky for me.
    I find the atacr to be closer to the razor or kahles 1-6 i.e. very easy to sit behind. The nx8 isn't nearly as generous. It's not bad, though.

    The illumination in both is nothing like the mk6 where it disappears as soon as you get off-center.
    Will - Owner of Arisaka LLC - http://www.arisakadefense.com

  10. #10
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    I'm thinking I'm going to need to change the thread title, as now I've been doing a little head-to-head shooting today. Behold...(apologize for the blurriness. I think my iPhone is suffering from a growing astigmatism)



    So some background on what I was doing today and then some very initial thoughts...

    For now, I've picked two very similar rifles. The N4 might have a slightly lighter barrel, but it should be negligible. Both rifles have the same rail, same handstop placement, same brake, same general ergonomics. The two primary differences are barrel length (again, not a big deal and helps with equaling weight) and gas system. The N4 has a mid-length system and I find that, while smooth, it causes this extra little recoil impulse that doesn't match what my carbines do. It's a small thing, and as you'll see, may not actually matter, but just something I'm adding for full disclosure.

    Setup:

    Today I was just trying to test target acquisition and then target transition. I've found in the past that the ATACR would sometimes lose some of the image, in part due to the shooter and an injury, so today was a good opportunity to compare the two next to one another using the same injured shooter (kidding....kind of). The simple setup I had was two targets, 7y apart from one another. Target 1 was 13y from shooter and target 2 was 15 yards from the shooter (think a right triangle-ish).

    First "drill" was a simple "UP" drill for two rounds. I shot the NX8 first, then went to the ATACR, then back to the NX8, to eliminate the bias of getting "warmed up." My thoughts? The NX8 has a bit more sensitive eyebox, for sure, but for this drill, it didn't seem to matter much, in feel. In fact, the NX8 seemed easier for no other reason than weight.

    What does the timer say? The "standard" of measure is that both rounds had to fall into the 8 ring of a B8 (basically an A-zone hit). The NX8 ranged from .89s to .93s (I'm sure many here are faster, so not meant to get into a dick measuring contest. I'm "new" to LPVOs in this environment, so I'm sure I'm slower). The ATACR was .87-.89. So, yeah...the ATACR was better, but how much of that was the <fill in the blank>?

    Next up was a simple drill from the low-ready, pointing the rifle in between both targets, then shooting two on the right, then two on the left. This would test moving to target acquisition, then moving to another target. My thoughts? I still would lose the ATACR's full image once or twice. The optic is sitting at about 2" (vs. the NX8 sitting at 1.93), but I don't think that was the issue. I can't really figure out why, but after the second time, I made sure to address the issue and the issue went away. I'm thinking the ATACR gives you more leeway/slop to begin with, so if you get more sloppy, the image starts to disappear. Again, this is probably shooter error. Otherwise, the NX8 worked very well.

    What does the timer say? NX8 would run 2.1s - 2.2s. The ATACR was 2.1s - 2.15s. Again, very close and both were extremely functional up close.

    Additional thoughts...It seems my NX8 is brighter than my ATACR on the same setting. The NX8 was running at 8 or 9 today with varying sun and then some clouds. The ATACR was at 10 all day, with some decent cloud cover through a lot of the shooting. Could certainly be the battery, but interesting to see. Also, at least up close (like 1-2 meters), the NX8 has noticeable magnification above 1x at 1x. Does this matter? I'd argue no. But it was a thing.

    Obviously more shooting needs to occur, but right now, I'm thinking of moving the NX8 to the M4 clone and moving the ATACR to a smaller carbine, if for no other reason than weight management. I'd like to do a little more intermediate distance shooting, so hopefully I can do that soon. But for now, they're both fantastic options.

  11. #11
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    Update after shooting both rifles yesterday, but first some corrections...

    - I misspoke and forgot my M4B2 now has a middy gas system, so nix that difference.
    - The C4 rail on the N4 is a bit lighter (~2oz). Probably negligible, but putting it out there for full disclosure.

    Now an update. Course of fire for both rifles was identical. Started at 200y and worked unconventional shooting positions. I figured this was a good test of eyebox. From distance, both rifles were run at 3x, which I find to be at the limit of steadiness vs mag to find my shot up B/C plate (on a gray/brown berm). I included movement on two different "barricades" (small table with no table top and on a tank-trap type object). Both optics worked exceptionally well and would hit (and miss) equally within similar times on the timer. I did notice that the NX8 picture is easier to lose in these positions, but I'd argue it's at least as good as a MK6, and probably better.

    Next up, I moved in to 25-15y for a shoot and move set of drills on a B/C steel target. A couple of things I noticed:

    - My NX8 is NOTICEABLY brighter than my ATACR. I'm curious if others (Slippers/UWone) that have both have seen the same thing. Under the same light, my NX8 on setting 8 was still very bright while the ATACR needed to be on 10 (max) and wasn't as bright. I'll ask NF about this, but was curious what others have seen.

    - Again, it seems that because the ATACR allows more "eyebox slop" to begin with, I tend to pull my head up more, which then causes me to lose the sight picture more than on the NX8. Obviously mechanically, the ATACR optic allows for more movement, and this is obviously shooter error that can be overcome with training, but I just didn't notice losing sight picture as much with the NX8, which has the tighter eyebox.

    Otherwise, times were competitive with each other. Both are just crazy solid optics. I also did a little research project and found that if I moved the ATACR to my 416, it would weigh pretty much exactly the same weight as my current ATACR/M4B2 setup. For those that have seen the picture, I mean really, total clone points, right? Not sure I'll do that, but kind of cool to see.

    Overall, it was a productive set of comparison tests. I like each optic for different reasons. Now I just need to figure out which rifles they will eventually migrate to, if at all.

  12. #12
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    I enjoy reading your thoughts as I've barely had a chance to play with mine, other than mount them on Bobro's. Maybe I'll eventually be able to chime in with a thought or two myself.

  13. #13
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    When you have a chance, please compare your dot brightness. I'm interested to see if what I'm seeing is normal.

  14. #14
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    Verified with my own samples and also after talking to NF:

    ATACR max brightness equals a setting of 8 on the NX8. Both scopes use the exact same illumination module, but the placement of the module is more efficient in the NX8. The ATACR has a larger than normal fixed erector lens, so the erector is also larger and takes up a lot of space. This prevents the illumination module from being in as good a spot as the NX8.
    Will - Owner of Arisaka LLC - http://www.arisakadefense.com

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slippers View Post
    Verified with my own samples and also after talking to NF:

    ATACR max brightness equals a setting of 8 on the NX8. Both scopes use the exact same illumination module, but the placement of the module is more efficient in the NX8. The ATACR has a larger than normal fixed erector lens, so the erector is also larger and takes up a lot of space. This prevents the illumination module from being in as good a spot as the NX8.
    I want a larger than normal erector.
    But I'm still set on the NX8.

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