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Viper 3-9x40mm, initial impressions
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Location: Ontario Canada
Just got the 3-9x40mm Vortex Viper.
I didn't waste any time and went outside at night to compare it with a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm. Unfortunately there are street lights that make it a bit more challenging to compare in low light.
I decided to focus on trees at about 100 yards from me that didn't benefit from any neighboring lighting. With my eyes I could barely make out the trees and whether it was two trees or a single splitting tree.
The Viper did well during this test. The Viper surpassed the Crossfire in every way, but surprisingly to me, not by a whole lot. Here are the observations I have made;
1. At 3x both did almost identical in performance (very slight Viper edge), other than the Crossfire was more affected by surrounding street lights and the eyepiece needed to be blocked with my hand to prevent the reflection from overpowering the image (red and hazy). The Viper had a much better control of this, there was almost no reflection, but upon further inspection I found a SLIGHT green reflection. However in a practical sense the Viper did not have enough reflection to affect the picture. I will add that both scopes have great edge to edge clarity here. No visible veiling flare in both scopes, sharpness was a tossup at this magnification, under these conditions.
2. At 6x, the Viper was noticeably sharper, as the Crossfire's definition turned into hazed edges instead of defined tree trunks. The Viper kept its image quality, and had a slight clearer image. The only noticeable difference here, was the Viper provided a sharper differentiation/detail.
3. At 9x, the Crossfire was much more difficult to use. It became very hazy, kind of seemed out of focus and the contrast had turned to grey. The Viper started to show its weakness, 8-9x deteriorates in the contrast department as well, but not as much as the Crossfire. To put things into perspective; in low light I would say the Viper is very usable until about 6-7x and the Crossfire is usable up to 4-5x - with my eyes.
4. Eye relief; The crossfire provides about half an inch of extra eye relief at 3x. This changes dramatically as the magnification goes up, maybe 3/4" to 1" difference. The Viper gives a more constant eye relief, maybe 1/4 inch.. roughly. Also the Crossfire is more critical and hazes out much easier. The Viper has a more forgiving side-to-side / up and down eye positioning. It doesn't haze out like the crossfire, instead it blacks out but without blurring the rest of the picture.
5. Turrets; One of the biggest differences between the two scopes IMO are the turrets. The Viper's turrets have solid clicks with zero reset. As soon as I felt the clicks I noticed that they were of higher quality than the crossfire. Crossfire still works fine though, just not as fancy. A day at the range will give me more information when it comes to tracking and repeatability. So far the crossfire didn't provide accurate adjustments (1/4 moa adjustment doesn't translate into a 1/4 shift in POI). Also my crossfire takes a few shots to "settle in" which might be a defect, or my cheek weld/trigger work.
6. Build quality; The Viper has a thicker tube, but the outside coating seems to be the same hardcoat. They both feel similar and the Viper seems to be a bit lighter. (just checked 15 vs 14 oz). The erector feels much better on the Viper. The crossfire seems like it varies a bit in tension throughout the range, but the Viper is much smoother and has a more mechanical feel to it, almost like it sits on ball bearings or something.
Overall, (so far) I wasn't let down by the Viper, but was left impressed with the Crossfire as well. It is half the price and does exactly what a hunter needs. The Viper can do anything between hunting and decent range performance, but the crossfire is honestly not that far behind in terms of performance. I found that the low light performance was a very close call, as in both had very similar visibility, edge to the Viper - only to widen the gap as the magnification went up.
I need more testing and conditions, but I think both are great optics for their price points. It seems to me like the Viper is a better long term scope that would keep its zero after being dropped. That being said, the Crossfire II is a great bang/buck optics that will do exactly what a hunter needs.
Optics Jedi Master
The optimal exit pupil of a 42mm is 6 to 7 x. So that sounds about right with the viper. All my scopes in that price range perform similarly. Good observations thanks for sharing
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