Mark Ripley is in for a shock when he tests out the new kid on the block, the Element Optics Nexus, against his tried and trusted Nightforce scope
I’ve always been a die-hard Nightforce fan, and they are indeed high-quality scopes with a price tag to match. Having used one exclusively on my 260 as a long-range dayscope, I had no plans to use anything else.
This all changed when out of the blue I received an email from Matt Dubber, a fellow YouTuber with the channel AirArmsHuntingSA.
Matt’s email basically said he was working with a new company producing top end scopes that was as good as my Nightforce – or better – as well as considerably less money and asking whether I would like to test it. Better than my Nightforce? Really? Bet it’s not! Yeah, I’ll test it!
I was quite confident that there would be aspects of this scope that didn’t cut it, but what did intrigue me was that Matt is no fool, and has been working in the optics business and shooting long enough to know quality products.
The newly launched brand is called Element Optics, and has been created by top shooters wanting to design top-quality optics, and to give the shooter as many features as possible for their money.
The company has the backing of the well-known PCP airgun manufacturer, FX Airguns. Don’t be confused here though, as these scopes are designed for centrefire use, with three models catering for all budgets and distributed in the UK by Sportsman Gun Centre.
The first model is the Helix, which is a 6-24×50 with tool-free target style turrets, zerostop and 15 MOA of elevation per rotation, 30mm tube and all the usual fog and waterproof guarantees and a lifetime warranty for £334.
The next model up from the Helix is the Titan 5-25×56, which boasts an awful lot of scope for the money, including all the above, but with a 34mm tube, 25 MOA per turret revolution, 56mm objective lens, illuminated reticle, stainless steel internal workings to protect from wear during continuous dialling of the scope turrets, and retails at an excellent £667.99.
The Helix is a second focal plane scope, and the Titan uses a first focal plane, with both models available in MOA or MIL configurations. Parallax on all models goes down to between 10 and 15 yards, which makes them ideal for airgun and rimfire use despite being built around
The model that I received was Element’s flagship model, the Nexus. The Nexus 5-20×50 has 20 MOA or 109 MIL per revolution, and a 30mm tube with a choice of reticle and MOA or MIL format in a first focal plane, but is otherwise much like the Titan.
On paper the Titan boasts better specifications than the Nexus, but where the latter differs from the other two models is that it is built with a superior quality glass, which is where the extra cost goes, with the Nexus costing £1,324.
When the scope arrived, I have to say I was impressed. Within the box alongside the scope was a supplied sunshade, lens cloth, Allen keys and a neat neoprene scope cover with the Element logo. Handling the scope, the first thing I noticed was a smooth zoom ring that comes with a removable throw lever.
This scope’s zoom ring moves independently of the eyepiece, which is a bonus compared to my Nightforce as it means you can fit rear night vision add-ons and still use the variable magnification without rotating the night vision add on itself.
The turrets also run very smoothly and effortlessly, giving a clear soft click for each quarter MOA dialled and a positive solid stop to the zero stop feature on the elevation.
So the scope certainly looked very well made and nicely finished and the glass looked very crisp and clear, with a nice MOA marked reticle, but how would it stack up against my trusty Nightforce?
Well, I decided to do a direct head to head comparison on each aspect of the scope, and as the evening was drawing in I decided to start with the light gathering. Using a figure of eight clamp, I attached the Nexus directly to my Nightforce on my rifle, as if this scope didn’t cut it in the early stages I didn’t want to be swapping scopes and re-zeroing for nothing.
My test was simple: I was simply looking at a target at the other end of my garden, and seeing which scope I would still be able to use to shoot it at last light. In a nutshell, the Nexus glass was equally as good as my Nightforce, or possibly slightly better!
The next thing to check was the tracking. Setting up a target at 50 yards, I measured the exact spacing of four dots forming a square on paper to correspond to a set amount of MOA dialled on the scope and levelled the target. I then screwed a set of mounts to a block of wood and clamped it in a vice before levelling the scope in them.
Checking the tracking of the scope, I found it matched the centre of each dot perfectly in all four directions just as I would expect my Nightforce to do. For a top-end scope this was to be expected, but needed to be checked. It’s surprising how many scopes are far from perfect for tracking, and sometimes it’s by a lot!
So the glass is excellent and the tracking is perfect – I now had no
excuse not to swap scopes and try it in the field. In no time I had levelled and zeroed it perfectly, as well as set the zerostop, which was surprisingly simple using the supplied instructions and Allen keys.
Happy with the zero, I took it out the next day to do some filming for YouTube. To cut a long story short, the scope proved faultless, and I was able to make first round hits of rabbits from over 500 yards to over 600 yards, with any missed shots due to minimal changes to wind strength and error on my part.
So here’s a scope performing as well or better than my Nightforce, yet costing well over £500 less. I was desperate to find something to defend my old faithful scope, but try as I might I couldn’t find anything that my Nightforce had which this scope didn’t – except an extra 2x maximum magnification and slightly more clunky clicks on the turrets, which I quite like.
So stacking it all up, the Nexus has 20 MOA of adjustment per turret
rotation to the Nightforce’s 10 MOA. It has a variable brightness settings for
the reticle, with an off setting between each, and starts off with a faint glow
to the very centre cross of the reticle with more of the reticle being illuminated through the settings for any hunting situation compared to the Nightforce which has one setting and can only be adjusted using a screwdriver within the battery compartment for brightness.
The Element scope has the independent zoom ring with optional throw lever where the Nightforce rotates the entire eyepiece. The glass quality is equal, if not favouring the Nexus. Weight is almost the same, with the Nexus weighing a mere 4oz more than the Nightforce yet being around 3/4 of an inch shorter. Both have a lifetime warranty.
The Nexus is a first focal plane scope (the reticle size increases with the magnification of the image meaning hold offs maintain the same values regardless of the magnification).
Nightforce NXS is second focal plane, meaning hold-off values will change with magnification setting. Both scopes are, as you would expect, shock, fog and waterproof. Put simply, the Nexus offers an excellent top-quality scope option, yet maintains the price of a mid range brand.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with the Element Nexus, so much so, in fact, that I have retired my well used yet faithful Nightforce in favour of the Element scope, and have proudly joined the Element Pro staff team!
If you’re looking for a top-class optic from a company destined to be among the market leaders, but at a sensible price, I strongly suggest looking at the Element optics range. With a number of dealers spread all over the UK, you’re bound to spot one on the shelves sooner or later!
Hunt it down
Helix 6-24×50 RRP £334
Titan 5-25×56 RRP £667.99
Nexus 5-20×50 RRP £1,324
Sportsman Gun Centre, 01392 354854