Dark Lord of Optics
Location: United States
Vortex Razor HD Gen2 4.5-27x56
Ultimately, this scope should have been included in the most recent of my High End Tactical articles, where I was looking at exactly this type of a scope: 56mm objective lens, high magnification and top notch quality. However, it simply wasn’t available then and even the scope that I got my hands on for this article is a pretty early pre-production sample. Before I got into some serious mechanical testing I checked with Vortex to see how it is different from future production scopes and they said that some of the optical systems are not as well fixed in place as they will be (they rushed to make these for SHOT) once the production line is fully up and running. Now, something like that can potentially affect both optical and mechanical performance and I was a little surprised that they still risked sending it to me. I suppose that speaks to their confidence in the basic design. In deference to the pre-production status of this scope I did not test it with 338Lapua, but aside from that I did not baby it in any way shape or form. It went through the same basic turret tracking tests as I usually do, so the scope has a bit over 100 rounds of 6.5x47 behind it. If something was screwy with the mechanics I would find it. Moreover, I took a pretty nasty spill together with the scope and while there is some rather noticeable cosmetic damage on the outside, the functionality is unchanged.
When production copies are available, I might get my hands on one and test it with 338Lapua as well, but frankly, based on my previous experience with the Razor HD product line, durability is unlikely to be an issue.
As is my custom, here is the short version:
This scope is absolutely a competitor for the alpha makers and, while not cheap, is a comparative bargain at $2500 street price. Vortex will most likely do well with this design. It is heavier than I would like and in terms of pure image quality it is not quite as good as the best (Premier 5-25x56), but it is close enough to compete. I have looked at quite a few high end tactical scopes over the last few years and optically this scope would not be at the bottom of the pack. The overall design is superb and this scope is remarkably easy to get behind. I did not have Hensoldt and Kahles on hand to compare, but it is up there. All of the other scopes in this category I have seen to date are not quite as forgiving of eye position.
Now, onto the long version.
I compared the Gen 2 Razor to Premier 5-25x56 and March 5-40x56 that I happen to still have here. Both are excellent scopes and their strengths are somewhat different from each other. The Premier is the best optimized 56mm scope I have seen to date; it is “the generalist” design, so to speak. It has been supercede by Tangent Theta scopes which will use the same optical system with re-designed mechanicals, but for my purposes it is a good scope to compare to. The March, on the other hand, is “the specialist” that is virtually in a class of its own in terms of centerfield resolution and magnification range, albeit at the expense of the FOV and edge performance. Comparing the new Razor to these two gave me a very good idea how it stacks up.
Before I get into the specifics, perhaps a few words about the whole Razor product line are a good idea. The original Razor HD scopes were the 1-4x24 and 5-20x50 front focal plane designs. Both were pretty successful, best I can tell, with the higher magnification version of the scope easily garnering the most publicity of the two. There were some early stumbling blocks that Vortex quickly resolved and the resulting scopes were very good. I have seen a few different versions of them, and I was always impressed with what these scopes offered for the money. The lower magnification 1-4x24 scope was eventually superseded by the first of the Gen 2 scopes the 1-6x24. This one is a second focal plane design aimed squarely at 3-gun shooters: it features ultra wide field of view and a very bright illuminated reticle. Fast forward a bit over a year and, in 2014, Vortex introduced two more Gen 2 Razor HD scopes: 3-18x50 and 4.5-27x50, both with front focal plane reticles. The original 5-20x50 Razor HD will remain in production for the time being as well.
Here is the spec table that I used for the last High End Tactical article with the Razor’s specifications added in.
Those who are merciful to the cruel, are cruel to the merciful. Talmud