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Nightforce’s New Mil-XT Reticle

This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 40

Some reticles are too simple, some are too complex, but Nightforce’s new Mil-XT is just right. The new Mil-XT is a sweet spot blend between the other reticles used in Nightforce’s ATACR series of scopes. Previously, you could only order the higher power ATACRs with reticles that either seemed like a gridded science problem or an all-too-simple option that didn’t allow for wind and elevation holdovers simultaneously.

The Mil-XT was birthed from the need of long-range precision shooters; several Nightforce employees regularly compete in long-range competitions. At first glance, the Mil-XT looks like a Horus reticle, thanks to the Christmas tree design. But it’s cleaner and easier to use for the intended application of precision long-range shooting.

At most matches, competitors are allowed to shoot at a target twice until they have to move on to the next. Being able to visualize and correct off of that first shot is imperative. The grid system spread of the Mil-XT gives a quick point of reference from a missed shot. For example, if you were holding center, but missed 2 mils low and 1 mil right, according to the grid, that point of reference now becomes your new hold for your next shot.

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Compared to the Horus H59 or Tremor 3, the Mil-XT has more open space to see any misses and adjust from them. Compared to the nearly naked Nightforce Mil-C reticle that’s the go-to by many precision rifle competitors, the Mil-XT gives the option to holdover and account for wind instead of having to dial for each shot. This feature helps save time when seconds matter.

SIMPLE BY DESIGN
Long-range scopes that don’t show numbers at each whole mil mark can be confusing when trying to count which mil you’re on. Each horizontal and vertical whole mil marks have the coordinating number above or next to the line. Down in the grid area, lines are replaced by rows of dots, which makes the reticle less busy. The numbers for each whole mil alternate in size as you look down the grid, this helps pull your eye to the correct number without getting lost in a pile of lines and numbers. The open space in the top of the reticle helps you see trace, observe, and find targets.

When looking at the main lines, you’ll see smaller subtension lines, which are measurements for 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 of a mil. Other reticles have these subtensions coming off of the main line in an equal way, but the Mil-XT has more of an alternating pattern that helps identify which subtension you’re looking at without putting too much thought into it.

All of the center dots, from zero and down are 0.05 mil with space around them. Having a small dot for aiming helps refine your shot instead of dealing with thick stadia lines blocking part of your target.

Left: On a low magnification setting, the Mil-XT reticle has open space and a large field of view. Right: On higher magnification levels, the Mil-XT gives multiple points of reference for precise aiming.

Left: On a low magnification setting, the Mil-XT reticle has open space and a large field of view.
Right: On higher magnification levels, the Mil-XT gives multiple points of reference for precise aiming.

The half-mil holdovers are small dots measuring 0.05 mil, like the center dots. These dots lend to easier bracketing for shots when you’re not 100-percent sure about the wind hold. Rarely is a target in a hunting or tactical situation small enough that 0.1 mil matters and almost no field position is good enough to allow shooters to break shots within 0.1 mils of each other, so bracketing between the half and whole mil lines is good enough for 99 percent of the shots you would take in the field.

Above the center dot, the vertical stadia extends up to 5 mils, with 0.2 mil subtension lines between each whole mil. Most people are familiar with holdovers, but not so much with hold-unders. The vertical stadia gives the opportunity for hold-unders if you want to set up your scope for a specific stage where, instead of dialing for each target, you can dial for a middle distance target and hold under or over for the rest. Doing this conserves time if you expect building positions for each shot to be time-consuming.

WHAT’D THEY MISS
If you’re acquainted with the Horus reticle, you might miss the mover holds because that feature isn’t in the Mil-XT. Mover holds of the Horus lets the shooter rapidly engage moving targets without having to do math on the fly. Horus reticles give 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 mph for moving targets. Considering most long-range matches rarely have moving targets at varying speeds, not having mover holds isn’t a big deal. Furthermore, most ballistic engines can tell you what your hold should be for a moving target that doesn’t change speed — like the ones you may encounter at matches.

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The ATACR line of scopes features DigIllum illumination. You can illuminate the reticle to green or red with varying levels of brightness. This feature is wonderful if you’re shooting, for example, at black painted targets during the day. But, if the light is low and you illuminate the reticle, only the main lines glow; the numbers are difficult to see when lighting conditions aren’t optimal.

HOMERUN FOR MOST
The Nightforce Mil-XT is ideal for most shooters who want a reliable, first focal plane scope. Its design had us finding steel and reengaging targets faster than reticles marketed as having all the “bells and whistles.” We expect the guys who need mover holds and fast-milling capabilities won’t fall in love with this reticle, but that’s a very small part of a different market. This reticle is a homerun for most people who want to stretch out to distance and not be forced to dial for each shot.

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