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Nightforce BEAST vs. ATACR: What's the Difference?

Nightforce is one of the best manufacturers of firearm optics in the world. Specifically, two of their product lines rise above all others — Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR.

Both of these riflescope product lines are distinguished for a wide variety of reasons. Nightforce also offers a ton of information that talks about the nitty-gritty details of what makes these (and other Nightforce scopes) different from one another.

That's all well and good — but what if you want the answers quickly?

On this page, you're going to find a side-by-side comparison of Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR based on the information that's actually useful to know before making a purchase.

This breaks down to six criteria:

  1. Purpose
  2. Range
  3. Clarity
  4. Durability
  5. Variety
  6. Affordability

Here's what you need to know to choose between a Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR riflescope.

1. Purpose

The purpose of a riflescope refers to the intended use case. Is this scope going to be used for hunting, sport shooting, tactical military operations, or something else?

The purpose of the riflescope can inform whether you want to buy it. Generally speaking, you don't always want a sport scope for hunting because they tend to be more frail. You also don't want a hunting scope for competitive shooting because it's not as precise.

Here's how the Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR compare based on their purpose.

Nightforce BEAST: Military & Para-Military

The Nightforce BEAST is a unique riflescope that was made to be the absolute best in firearm optics available to citizens and the military.

As a result, its ultra-high quality creation makes it ideal for military field operations.

For citizen use, this is overkill. You don't need a military-grade riflescope for anything in regular life, like hunting or target shooting.

However, the BEAST isn't about need — it's about being the best. In fact, the reason its name is in all caps is that the name BEAST stands for "Best Example of Advanced Scope Technology."

So if you want to use the riflescope that snipers use in live military operations, the BEAST is your best option.

Nightforce ATACR: Professional & Competition

Nightforce ATACR riflescopes are made for professional, competition, and para-military use.

These are the kinds of scopes that you'll find in law enforcement like SWAT snipers. They're not quite military-grade, but they're high-quality and versatile enough to work in a number of different scenarios.

In other words, ATACR riflescopes will help you shoot like a professional, whether that's like a seasoned law enforcement sniper or an award-winning competitor.

2. Range

The range of a Nightforce scope refers to its magnification and accurate distance. It's important to note that different scopes have different zoom levels and magnification, and different scopes in a single product line can offer different ranges.

With that in mind, we'll be talking about the average range that you can find among all of these scopes. This will give you an overview of the distance you can be between you and your target.

We'll also mention any outliers in each product line that are worth mentioning.

Here's how these riflescopes compare based on range, with each product line rated on a scale of 1-5.

Nightforce BEAST: 4/5

The Nightforce BEAST has a magnification range of 5-25x56, which is good — but not the best on the market.

This is because the BEAST is an attempt at collecting all of the best qualities of firearm optics and getting them into one, single product.

This kind of creation process requires a concession or two, and one of those concessions was range.

Still, the magnification, range, and accurate distance on the BEAST is outstanding compared to your regular consumer-model scopes. It's just not as good as it could be.

Nightforce ATACR: 5/5

The Nightforce ATACR product line has a wider variety of scopes that have different magnifications. Their magnification ranges include 4-8x32 up to 7-35x56.

This means most of the ATACR riflescopes have a similar range to the BEAST, though a bit longer. The highest-end ATACR scopes will actually have a longer magnification range than the BEAST.

Even compared to other professional-grade optics, 7-35x56 is a wildly good range for a scope.

In other words, the ATACR wins out in this category.

3. Clarity

Clarity in a riflescope refers to the optical quality of the scope itself. Clarity comes from the quality, chemical composition, and coatings that are included in a riflescope's lenses.

Clarity may also be affected by visual refinement mechanisms, like turrets, and how easy they are to use.

Again, we'll rate the Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR riflescopes on a scale of 1-5.

Here's how they stack up in terms of clarity.

Nightforce BEAST: 5/5

Part of the ambitious development of the Nightforce BEAST was the inclusion of ultra-crisp optics that give an incredibly clear image of your target.

There's really no other way to describe the clarity of the BEAST aside from "razor sharp." The light proliferation, contrast, and color vibrancy are all so good that you feel like you're inches from your target.

The goal of the BEAST is to offer resolution and clarity that surpasses all other riflescopes on the market, according to Nightforce's website.

For this reason, the BEAST is your choice if you want the clearest possible image of your target.

Nightforce ATACR: 3/5

Nightforce ATACR riflescopes offer good clarity, when compared to most of the scopes on the market today. Generally speaking, you can find the same level of clarity in many other riflescopes, though the ATACR may be better in some specific areas like color or contrast.

Still, this isn't a bad thing. ATACR riflescopes have reliable clarity that shows you exactly what you're targeting. But when you compare ATACR to BEAST, then ATACR starts to lose its luster a little bit.

So Nightforce ATACR scopes have fine clarity and resolution. It's just that the BEAST does clarity better.

4. Durability

Durability is the amount of physical punishment that a riflescope can take without catastrophic failure. Examples of catastrophic failure include (but are not limited to) the lenses cracking, the turrets breaking off, and the scope snapping in half.

Durability could be affected by a number of details, including the overall weight, the coating on the lenses, and the material used to create the scope itself.

We'll rate both the Nightforce BEAST and the Nightforce ATACR riflescopes on a scale of 1-5.

Here's how they compare in terms of durability.

Nightforce BEAST: 3/5

The Nightforce BEAST is, as the name says, a huge riflescope with a lot of precisely-calibrated settings and options.

It's a little heavier than you'll find in other riflescopes, but the optical technology is intended to offset the annoyance of the weight.

However, "heavy" does not mean "strong" for riflescopes. The BEAST isn't meant to be taken through the woods, and it's not intended to be mounted on a rifle that falls over.

It's intended to be safely used and maintained so that it can have the longest possible life.

In that context, think about a BEAST riflescope as about as fragile as a pair of binoculars. Binoculars probably break more easily, but that's the same level of care that you want to use for your BEAST.

Nightforce ATACR: 5/5

The Nightforce ATACR riflescopes are significantly more durable than the BEAST. Part of this is because the ATACR scopes aren't trying to be the best at everything in one single scope.

Instead, they excel at keeping things simple.

The essentials-only vision of ATACR riflescopes means that they're easier to use and maintain. It also means there are fewer things that could go wrong or break with an ATACR.

In other words, they're stronger and more durable than the BEAST.

This doesn't mean that you can use an ATACR riflescope as a hammer. It'll still break from drops and mechanical shock.

But it does mean that you don't have to be quite as cautious or delicate with the ATACR product line.

5. Variety

Variety denotes the number of different riflescopes available in a product line.

For variety, our comparison is straightforward — we're going to talk about how many riflescopes are available in the Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR product lines.

Here's how many riflescopes are available in each product line.

Nightforce BEAST: 1 Riflescope Available

The Nightforce BEAST product line is exclusive to a single scope. It's a really, really good scope, but there's still only one scope.

If this scope doesn't look like it's a good fit for you, then check out some of the ATACR options.

Nightforce ATACR: 9 Riflescopes Available

The Nightforce ATACR product line contains nine riflescopes that offer different magnifications and features.

These range in type from the most "basic" kind of scopes all the way up to more advanced and precise models.

ATACR gives you more options, though there's no single option that does everything perfectly. This is different from the BEAST, which tries to be the best in every single way.

So if you're okay with having a scope that does well with different features — as opposed to being the best — then the ATACR line is probably more appropriate for you.

6. Affordability

Finally, affordability refers to how much money the Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR riflescopes require to purchase.

We'll refer to these in one of two terms. Affordable means that the riflescope will probably fall in someone's typical monthly or annual budget without disrupting your day-to-day life. Expensive means that the average person will have to save up or finance their purchase, if it's affordable at all.

Here's how the Nightforce BEAST and Nightforce ATACR stack up in terms of affordability.

Nightforce BEAST: Expensive

The Nightforce BEAST riflescope is notoriously expensive.

Most people will probably have to finance this riflescope or opt for a more affordable scope from a different product line.

There's not much else to say — the BEAST is a beast, especially when it comes to your budget.

Nightforce ATACR: Affordable

The Nightforce ATACR riflescope product line is much more affordable than the BEAST.

Here, you can find a variety of different scopes with different features.

This makes it easier for you to find one that works for the purpose you have in mind instead of one that tries to do everything the best.

Which Nightforce Riflescope Is Right for You?

Which Nightforce riflescope should you buy: BEAST or ATACR?

BEAST is an outstanding overall riflescope with all of the essentials, bells, and whistles that you'd need for just about any purpose in just about any conditions.

ATACR is more oriented toward sport shooting and hunting, and it has a greater variety of different scopes so that you can find one that's perfect for what you need.

Are you ready to buy your next scope?

Click below to jump to Amazon and get your Nightforce scope!