This is probably not a surprise to any of my regular readers, but I am a bit of an optics snob. I played sniper professionally for most of my military career, and that left a distinct mark when it comes to glass. Not to say that everything military was always great, we had our share of bad products. In fact, I really miss the days when I could call a major scope company and yell at the vice president of sales, and he had to listen since I had the big boy checkbook.
My point — I have a pretty high bar, and if a new brand is going to break into my quiver of options, they had better come correct. I don’t own a pile of scopes, but I have exactly zero that are junk.
My first experience with Vortex was 10 years ago when they were relatively new, and we laughed the sales guy out of the room back at Fort Bragg. I have heard rumblings that Vortex has grown in quality and clarity. They are absolutely crushing it on the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) circuit. If you look at the winners, a large majority use Vortex. In a sheer talent discovery capacity, if you find a far enough outlier, he can win with anything. Dave Sevigny is still the only pistol shooter to ever win the USPSA Limited National Title with anything besides an 2011 (double-stack 1911) . Just because Dave can win with a Glock doesn’t mean it is a better race pistol than an 2011. It might be a better pistol at a lot of things, but a race isn’t one of them.
Also, there’s the sentiment that you can always buy a champion if your pockets are deep enough. What I see from the PRS circuit looks very different from that. According to the data, Vortex was the glass of choice for an astounding 73 percent of those in the top 15 slots in 2015, and 40 percent of those in the top 50. Those are really big numbers for a field so crowded as optics. It tells me that they are probably durable and certainly don’t suck. Counting travel and match fees, a weekend at a major event can set you back an easy $2,000. Competitors don’t stick with things that don’t work. So, I decided to check for myself.
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Vortex Razor HD Gen 2
- Magnification: 4.5X–27X
- Objective Lens: 56mm
- Eye Relief: 3.7 in.
- Tube Size: 34mm
- Adjustment Graduation: .1 MRAD
- Max Elevation: 28 MRAD
- Parallax Setting: 32 yds. to infinity
- Length: 14.4 in.
- Weight:48.5 oz.
- MSRP: $3,400
- Manufacturer: Vortex
And I am really glad I did. The Razor HD Gen 2 4.5-27X is so far from the early Vortex models that it might as well be from another planet. The glass is as clear as day, with no fuzzing around the edges. I might be able to tell the difference if I set it next to German lens, but then I might not. Clarity is an extremely hard thing to judge past a certain point of quality. I am happy to say the Razor is well past that point. That is also a way of saying that unless you are hyper sensitive to clarity issues, you probably aren’t going to notice any difference between this and glass that costs twice as much. It functioned very well in low light, something that does matter if you’re waiting on the buck of a lifetime at the end of the day, or the time before clipping on your night vision makes sense. The sun was setting as I finished my shooting test on the Razor, but I was still able to observe a MOUT complex 2,000 meters away with ease.
The clicks are positive in all adjustment directions and are .1 MRAD on this model. I like that for precision zeroing, or dialing if that is your flavor. The turrets are locking which is a nice bonus, and the lock is stiff enough not to worry about. There is a positive zero stop a half mil below zero, which is awesome for changing environments. Vortex was clearly looking to build a combat capable product here.
The biggest positive about this scope is its performance. I have run a tracking test on some very expensive scopes and watched them fail miserably. I don’t exactly have access to Sandia Labs, but I built the best test I could. Using a 4-foot level to ensure I had a straight line and that it was true to the earth, not the target stand, was step one. Then I drew lines every 10 centimeters, the distance of 1 milradian at 100 meters. The Razor Gen II tracked true through 12 mils, the height of my test board. For a 27X, this is very important. The number one reason people think ballistic software is wrong, and their “DOPE book” is right, stems from this failure. If you haven’t tested your tracking to the top of the erector tube, you should. I guarantee it is the culprit, provided your ballistic software is Applied Ballistics or Atrag.
The reticle in the Razor was also very much to my liking, they feature a “Christmas Tree” style, which means you can use holdovers to 10 mils. For elevation, there are ½ mil markings, with .2 mil markings for wind branching from those. I have been using reticles similar to this since 2006 when I have a choice, and it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you work in any kind of wind, you will see the immediate advantage. And for speed shooting, nothing beats the ability to use holdovers for elevation and windage. Zero your gun, and you’re done. Never touch a dial again. For anyone that thinks such a reticle is “ too busy for combat shooting”, there are graveyards in Iraq and Afghanistan full of men that disagree with you. The advantage is clear, which we will follow up with in a reticle discussion next month.
I walked into this review skeptical, but I am leaving impressed. The Vortex Razor HD Gen II is a lot of scope for the money. MSRP is $3399, but street price is a lot closer to $2500. The only thing I haven’t tested yet is durability. But that is coming. This little guy will get a lot of use over the next two months. Vortex is already known for having one of the best warranties in the business, but that is little consolation if you just missed the elk of a lifetime or the podium at a match. I am hoping we won’t need it, and from initial feel, I think we have a winner. If this scope holds up, it will cement its status as one of the best buys in scopes.
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