Vortex spotting scopes are among some of the best in the industry, but which is right for you? We’ll dive into that topic in this Vortex spotting scope review.
Spotting scopes give you the chance to get up close and personal with the subject of your study. They’re used by photographers, by bird-watchers, by hunters, and more. Spotting scopes are used in surveillance and security, naturalist pursuits, and numerous other areas. Of course, not all spotting scopes are created equal. Some are high-quality, durable, and capable of offering excellent image quality, while others fall far short. Buying from a reputable brand is the first step in ensuring that you’re getting a good scope. While there are many different brands on the market, Vortex stands out for many different reasons. In this Vortex spotting scope review, we’ll touch on four of the company’s top scopes and help you understand which is right for your needs. From the Razor HD to the Viper HD, Diamondback, and more, each of these scopes brings something different to the table.
A Vortex Spotting Scope Review: Finding the Right Option for Your Needs
Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope
The first model on our list is the Razor HD 16-48×65 – Angled Spotting Scope. It sports an angled design that provides you with a comfortable, 45-degree viewing angle. The objective lens is large enough to provide ample light gathering and a decently wide viewing range, as well. It also features premium lens coatings to reduce fogging and to repel moisture.
All lenses are made from extra-low dispersion glass for outstanding true colors and image clarity, and the APO system is designed to ensure unmated color sharpness. The Porro prism inside the scope helps improve image quality and overall performance, as well.
For mounting, you’ll find a tripod mount attached to the bottom with a screw hole that fits standard tripods. It can also be mounted to a rifle for better accuracy in target shooting. Note that this Razor scope comes with a carrying case and lens/eyepiece covers, too.
- Includes carrying case and caps/covers
- High-quality Porro prism
- APO system designed for the true color representation
- Extra-low dispersion glass for excellent resolution
- Some buyers find the eye relief is too short
- Some users with glasses have had difficulties
- Some users have reported poor build quality
Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope
The Vortex Optics 20-60×85-Angled HD Spotting Scope offers similar construction, design, and performance to the one we previously reviewed, but with a larger objective lens and higher magnification capabilities. The exterior surfaces feature an XR anti-reflective coating to help improve light amplification in dim settings. You can also use the smooth helical focus ring to easily adjust your focus and magnification.
If you’re struggling with glare while using the scope, simply use the built-in sunshade. For eye-relief, you will find a multi-position eyecup. Simply rotate it to the position that is most comfortable for you. The locking collar ensures that you can easily move the eyepiece without worrying about stability.
The body of the scope is sealed with an O-ring and is argon purged to ensure that you never have to worry about fogging or moisture. The lenses have also been coated with Amortek to protect from dirt, dust, scratching, and even oil. The body is comfortable to hold thanks to the enhanced rubber armor. It also protects from bumping and jostling.
Note that this scope is designed for mounting to a tripod or a car window mount with 1/4” x 20 screw threads.
- Powerful magnification
- Argon purged, waterproofed body
- Adjustable viewing angle
- Focus dial makes it easy to adjust
- Extendable sunshade built into the body
- Some users have reported poor magnification
- Some users have reported difficultly fine-tuning the view
Vortex Optics Diamondback
The Vortex Optics Diamondback 20-60×80 – Angled Spotting Scope provides a large objective lens, an angled body, and two manual knobs to control the magnification and focus. It provides plenty of magnification but does so in a relatively compact form factor that’s easier to carry with you wherever you go.
This Vortex spotting scope features XR fully multi-coated lenses for outstanding performance, as well as a built-in sunshade that can be extended or retracted depending on your needs. To adjust the scope for various viewing angles and glasses positions, you just need to twist the locking collar. The eyecup moves up and down to suit your needs, as well.
The body of this spotting scope is sealed with an O-ring and is nitrogen purged. That helps eliminate moisture and ensure that the scope is fog-proof. The body also features rubberized armor in strategic locations to help provide a degree of protection against jostling and bumping. Finally, the scope comes with an included soft case, but no tripod.
- Easily adjustable for different viewing angles and needs
- The focus knob is easy to adjust while using
- Waterproof and fog-proof
- Built-in sunshade
- Lifetime warranty from the manufacturer
- Does not include a padded case (soft case only)
- Does not include a tripod
- Some users have reported difficulty getting a clear view at maximum magnification
Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope
The Vortex Razor 27-60×85- Angled HD Spotting Scope is similar to the first Razor HD model we reviewed above, but it has a larger objective lens and higher performance. This also makes it a higher-priced model overall.
You will find aircraft-grade aluminum employed for body construction with the Razor HD, with precision engineering throughout. The scope also features eye relief of 0.67 to 0.66 inches. The scope also provides triplet apochromatic lenses with high density, extra-low dispersion glass for improved color fidelity and image resolution.
Adjusting the magnification on this scope is simple. Unlike other models that have a focus knob, this one uses a helical focus ring on the body. Simply twist it to zoom. Twist the eyepiece to focus. That’s all there is to it. The eyecup also twists left and right so you can find the perfect viewing position, which comes in very handy for those who wear glasses.
- Easy magnification adjustment
- Mountable to tripods or car window mounts
- Eyepiece moves left and right and swivels
- Built-in sunshade
- High-quality construction
- Some users have reported the focus knob gets stiff in the cold
- Does not come with a padded case
- Some users reported low build quality
What Is the Best Vortex Spotting Scope?
In this Vortex spotting scope review, we’ve covered four different models. The manufacturer also offers many others that we haven’t reviewed. Which is the best Vortex spotting scope? Actually, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. What works great for one person may be the wrong choice for another.
The better question to ask is what is the best Vortex spotting scope for me? In order to answer that question, you’ll need to have a few pieces of information in hand. For instance, you will need to know:
- What type of viewing do you intend to do? A bird-watcher will have very different preferences than a landscape photographer, for instance. Know what you intend to do with the scope and then you can begin determining which one is the best fit.
- What’s your budget? Spotting scopes can easily run you upward of $1,500 or more for a decent model. How much money do you have to spend? Your budget will certainly dictate which one you ultimately purchase.
- How do you plan to mount it? Different spotting scopes offer various mounting options. Do you plan to mount yours to a rifle? If so, you’ll need a specific mounting solution. Many spotting scopes are designed to mount to tripods and monopods, and even to car window mounts, though.
- What type of focusing mechanism do you prefer? You’ll find two different focus systems in the Vortex reviews above – ring-style and knob-style. Do you have a preference? Each can do the job, but using them is very different.
What Is the Best Spotting Scope for the Money?
Wondering what is the best spotting scope for the money? Again, a lot of that will hinge on how you intend to use it and other factors. However, this one is a bit easier to quantify. The Vortex Optics Razor HD is one of the best spotting scopes for the money. We’ve included two Razor HD models in our reviews, but there are several others that might fit your needs better. In addition to Vortex Razor HD, you’ll also find other brands are well worth your investment, including:
Is an Angled or Straight Spotting Scope Better?
If you have spent any time at all searching for the best spotting scopes, you have noticed that some units have a straight body, while others are angled. For instance, all of the Vortex spotting scopes in our review are angled. Is there one body style that is better than another? Not really. It comes down to your intended use and your personal preferences.
Straight Spotting Scopes
- Easier to spot objects and faster target acquisition
- Easier to glass severe downhill angles
- Easier to use from car window mounts
- Easy to switch out for binoculars on a tripod
- Easier to carry in a backpack
- Easier to learn on for the first time
- Can be difficult to use uphill
- Can lead to neck discomfort
- Requires a taller tripod
- Can lead to increased instability, particularly on a tall tripod
Angled Spotting Scopes
- Requires a shorter tripod
- Shorter tripods are at less risk for instability
- Better suited for digiscoping
- Does not lead to neck discomfort
- Easier to switch between users of different heights when using a tripod
- Better for uphill use than straight scopes
- Can be more difficult to pack in a backpack
- Is less easy to use in downhill viewing
- The upright position of eyepiece makes it easier for water to collect there when not in active use
- Requires collar adjustments when used from a vehicle
As you can see from the information above, there’s really no clear-cut winner between straight scopes and angled scopes. Each has something different to offer and will be better suited to specific situations and users.
Where Are Vortex Spotting Scopes Made?
All of the Vortex spotting scopes we have reviewed are made in China. However, other models are made in Japan or the Philippines. They also include the country of origin stamped on the mount underneath the scope. In some cases, it is not stamped, but it is noted with a sticker placed in the same position. However, Vortex is actually based in Wisconsin and all the company’s products are designed there. Only the manufacturing process takes place overseas.
As you can see from the reviews and information above, Vortex offers a scope for almost any need. Whether you’re interested in a larger objective lens, a lower price point, or something else, there’s an option for you out there. However, before you decide on any particular model, ask yourself the questions we listed in the buying guide above.
What do you intend to use the scope for? Do you prefer angled or straight? Will you be using it with a tripod? With a car window mount? By hand? The answer to each of these questions will affect your overall experience and determine how much you enjoy the scope. Remember that physical specifications and magnification capabilities are only two parts of the equation.