By Trampas Swanson

Perhaps the fastest growing name in the optics industry within recent years has got to be that of Vortex Optics. Everywhere you look in magazines and on TV, top names in shooting sports and tactical training are running products from this relative new comer to the upper ranks of the optics world. A key to Vortex’s success has been the wide range of high quality products geared towards everyone from the beginner to the expert shooter, all at very affordable pricing compared to their direct competition. Hunters, plinkers and tactical shooters alike have been migrating to Vortex Optics due to their new and innovative red dots, scopes and equipment.

Nowhere does Vortex shine more than in its long range scopes. When clarity, optimized image sharpness and brightness from edge to edge as well as high level of light transmission are an absolute must, Vortex delivers time and time again. This month, we take a look at the top tier of the Vortex Optics line up, the monster sized Razor HD Gen II scope configured in 4.5-27×56 FFP variable power scope.

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First Look

After much anticipation after receiving the “green light” from Shamus Terry at Vortex Optics in regards to our test sample being in route, the Razor HD Gen II arrived at my front door along with a second box containing a set of Vortex branded scope rings. As I opened the boxes up for initial inspection, both scope and rings were finished in the Razor series signature Stealth Shadow anodizing which is a dark bronze hue. Along with the scope, the box also included a screw on scope shade, owner’s manual, 123CR battery for the illuminated reticle and small Allen wrench for loosening windage and elevation knobs and adjusting zero.

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When removing the Razor HD scope from its box, its sheer size and weight are the first things I noticed. With its massive 56mm objective lens and total overall one piece 34mm tube length measuring 14.4 inches, the Razor weighed in at 48.5 ounces. While this may not immediately register to most people as “heavy” when reading this, it does however, weigh considerably more than your average Walmart scope. The Razor HD Gen II scope was purposely built like a tank to withstand much more than its competition. With that being said, the Razor is by no means too heavy to be functional. When taken into account the category of scope in which the Razor series scopes fit into, this is roughly the average weight of any of its competitors in the upper spectrum.

Featuring a 6x zoom, the Razor offers a range starting from 4.5 power magnification up to a very up close and personal 27 power. The scope also features a glass etched EBR-2C MOA reticle on the First Focal Plane (FFP) which allows hold over consistency throughout magnification spectrum. The low profile L-TEC turrets were specifically built for long range, precision shooting with integrated locking mechanisms for preventing accidental elevation adjustments. This particular model offered 1/4 MOA adjustments with each click. An easily noticeable rotation indicator extends from the left side as the turret completes each full rotation. Removing the center cap on the elevation and windage turrets allow for a fast and easy way to set your turrets to zero.

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The left side knob offers a dual role in being split into an inner knob and outer knob in one. The inner knob allows for traditional parallax adjustment from 32 yards to infinity while the outer knob on the turret is for adjusting the brightness level of the crystal clear reticle and locking it into place. An early “plus” for me when inspecting the scope was the parallax focus turret being the same size as the elevation and windage turrets. This serves three main purposes; first it is easier to adjust parallax wearing gloves. Secondly, the large size offers enough space for the illumination knob to feature an off position between each brightness setting. Lastly but just as important, the same size turrets for all three sides offer symmetry to ease my semi-OCD brain.

SPECS

  • Magnification: 4.5-27
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
  • Eye Relief: 3.7 inches
  • Field of View: 25.3-4.4 feet/100 yards
  • Tube Size: 34 mm
  • Turret Style: L-Tec
  • Adjustment Graduation: 1/4 MOA
  • Travel per Rotation: 25 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment: 113.5 MOA
  • Max Windage Adjustment: 48 MOA
  • Parallax Setting: 32 yards to infinity
  • Length: 14.4 inches
  • Weight: 48.5 ounces

Razor Range Time

To start things off with a “Bang,” I decided to mount the Razor onto my Armalite bolt action AR-50 chambered in the ground shaking 660 grain .50 BMG round. Using the 1.45 inch “High” Vortex rings sent along with the scope, mounting the scope was fairly quick and offered a rock solid platform. After quickly bore sighting the Razor with a laser bore tool, it only took 4 shots to zero the rifle. Once this was accomplished, my next objective was to see how the scope would hold up under the extreme vibration of the .50 caliber recoil. I fired three test shots to establish my group at the predetermined distance of 200 yards. I then moved to the next target and started what is called a “Box Drill.” This drill consisted of shooting 1 shot on target, then dialing up 4 clicks, firing another round, dialing right 4 clicks and firing a third round, down 4 clicks, firing a fourth time, and finally, 4 clicks to the left and firing my last shot. After this brief “Box Drill,” I had the result I was looking for, a next, clean square consisting of four very large holes roughly 2 inches apart. While this wasn’t my ideal rifle for precision shooting, it did give me a great deal of confidence in the scopes ability to hold together on smaller caliber rifles such as .300 Mag and .308 Win.

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After shooting enough to be convinced the Vortex Razor would hold up and reliably track under extreme circumstances, I removed it from the AR50 and mounted it on my custom built Devil Dog Arms SR25 pattern AR-10 chambered in .308 Win. Having had a wide range of data on hand from the DDA rifle using other Vortex scopes such as the Viper 6-24×50, this would be the perfect rifle to test the new Razor. Again using the “High” mount Vortex scope rings, bore sighting took about 20 minutes to dial in before it was time to pack for the next day’s range time.

Upon arrival at the closed testing range affectionately known as The Swamp, I set up the first test target at 100 yards along with the range camera system from Target Vision. This long range system transmits real time views of the target to cell phone, computer or tablet and tracks each shot. I have found this invaluable tool has saved over 50% of my range down time and brought even more organization to recording data. No longer does the shooter have to rely on field sketches of targets or keep up with photographs kept in a file. With the Target Vision system, every shot can be logged, compared, printed off or storage in digital DOPE log.

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Once set up, I fired 3 shots to establish an initial group on target using Federal Match 168 grain BTHP ammunition. According to the information displayed on screen, my half inch grouping was approximately 2 inches high and 1.5 inches to the right. A quick adjustment to my turrets and my next three shots found their way into the center of the bullseye within a half inch MOA. Once I had my zero established, I locked my turrets down and removed the center cap on the elevation and windage turrets. Using the provided Allen wrench and a small flat head screw driver, I loosened the three screws securing each turret and rotated the hold overs to zero before tightening everything back down. After doing this, I was able to adjust to which ever distance I wished and turn back to zero for my 100 yard setting.

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After a quick pull through of the barrel using a .308 sized Bore Snake cleaning rope, my next objective was to test my new zero via another “box drill.” The results of this test with the DDA rifle resulted in a beautiful four shot square. I then moved out to 200 years to work on multiple target engagements using 3 inch targets. Moving left to right, the scope was extremely clear from edge to edge without any “tunneling” when moving through the lower magnifications. The fast focus eye piece offered easy adjustment to dial in to my eye relief. If I could find a negative comment about a great scope, it would be about how stiff the zoom ring was to adjust. As with most stiff rings, the zoom ring did loosen up a bit after multiple trips to the range for further testing, but definitely not a concern in regards to being inadvertently knocked out of place.

Live fire testing maxed out at 300 yards without turret adjustments but instead the classic hold over method. The hash marks on the EBR-2C MOA reticle were easy to see and thin enough not to block the view of smaller targets at long range. Holding two hash marks under the crosshairs, I took aim at a six inch steel target down range and pressed the trigger. As the recoil pushed back into my shoulder, the ringing of the steel made its way up range as I saw the target rock back through the scope when the round made impact. Switching to an identical target located to the range of the first, I transitioned to the next and fired again with another solid hit. Both hits on target clearly struck center mass. The crispness of the scope’s view of the target while shooting in high heat and humidity allowed me to have a good look at the vapor trails of each shot.

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While I maxed out at a relatively short distance in the overall scheme of things, I did glass “no shoot” targets at 700, 800 and 950 yards very clearly. Watching moving objects, the scope tracked well without any noticeable distortion. As time goes on, further testing is already planned using the Razor HD Gen II scope and DDA .308 combination. Over a rigorous two month testing period in extreme heat, the Razor proved itself to be one of the best values in the optics market today.

Final Thoughts

As a former Law Enforcement SWAT sniper and current Firearms Instructor for the private sector, I have been shooting high end, long range scopes for over 20 years including Vortex products. In my opinion, Vortex Optics has hit a home run with the new Gen II Razor HD 4.5-27×50 scope. Shooting with the Razor was one of the most impressive testing periods I have done in a long time. The key what makes this scope so great is in how simple and effective it is. The turrets were large and easy to use, the objective was large and allowed more than enough light for very low light shooting and the bullet proof construction help up to all the abuse and heavy recoil subjected to it. Throughout the two month testing period through heavy humidity, rain and hot weather, the scope proved itself to be fog and water proof just as advertised.

Retailing at $3300.00 MSRP, the Razor can be found realistically in most gun shops for around $2500.00. Having a scope of this quality break the under $3000.00 barrier is a major accomplishment and great value to the consumer. I do however wish Vortex included flip open scope caps in high end packages such as the Razor series instead of having to match up to an odd size objective bell. At the end of the day, the Razor covers the three “must haves” in a long range scope, accuracy, durability and repeatability. Combined with the best price of any scope in its class and the unlimited, unconditional warranty, the Gen II HD series scopes from Vortex are worth checking out for yourself on a range near you.