The cover -- with the headline "Against Trump" -- was tweeted by the magazine on Thursday night.
The issue features a blistering editorial that labels Trump a threat to conservatism, as well as essays by 22 prominent conservative thinkers from various ideological factions, in opposition to Trump's candidacy.
"Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot on behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as The Donald himself," the editorial states
Trump issued a blistering response, tweeting late Thursday night that the National Review is a "failing publication."
"National Review is a failing publication that has lost it's way. It's circulation is way down w its influence being at an all time low. Sad!" he said.
He then tweeted, "Very few people read the National Review because it only knows how to criticize, but not how to lead."
And then: "The late, great, William F. Buckley would be ashamed of what had happened to his prize, the dying National Review!"
The issue, first reported by Jonathan Martin of The New York Times
, comes as conservative pundits and GOP leaders debate which of the two leading Republican candidates -- Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz -- poses the greater threat to the party.
National Review editor Rich Lowry spent weeks reaching out to fellow conservatives, ranging from The Weekly Standard's William Kristol to RedState's Erick Erickson, to commission essays for the issue.
His effort reflects a frustration among conservative thought leaders over the GOP establishment's unwillingness to take a bold stand against Trump. While Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have signaled opposition to some of Trump's policy proposals, there has not been an aggressive effort by the GOP establishment to counter his rise.
It is also notable that the anti-Trump manifesto is coming from Buckley's magazine -- which was first published in the 1950s and has long been a leading voice on the American right, influencing countless conservatives, including former President Ronald Reagan -- given that Trump cited the conservative thinker during the most recent Republican debate on January 14.
When asked to defend himself against Cruz's accusation that his "New York values" were out of sync with American conservatism, Trump replied: "Conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand."
One of Trump's competitors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, quickly tweeted out
the cover Thursday night.
"Welcome to the fight, all. Trump is not a conservative," he said.