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Finding the Best Vortex Spotting Scopes in the Market

The spotting scope market, at present, is brimming with products – going from cheap ones with tiny objectives that barely pass as spotters, to high end ones that promise the very best in terms of visual clarity and magnification. The catch is that brands that guarantee consistently high performance in every product line are hard to find.

Vortex is one exception that delivers on its promises by offering superb returns on your investment in terms of fundamental performance regardless of the price bracket you go for: making high quality spotting optics accessible to almost everyone through their solid, if somewhat limited, set of offerings which is backed by one of the most competitive warranty policies around.

Here’s my two cents on what this scope maker has to offer – and I’ve tried to illustrate my appraisals through select Vortex spotting scope reviews to help you decide if this brand is for you.

Vortex Spotting Scope Comparisons

Model

Special Features

EyeRelief

Warranty

Our Ratings

Vortex Diamondback

Dielectric prism coating

20-16.5mm

Unlimited lifetime

rifle scope review of the vortex viper

Vortex Viper HD

Dielectric prism coating, HD Lens Elements, ArmorTek

20-15mm

Unlimited lifetime

Top rifle scope

Vortex Razor HD

Dielectric prism coating, HD Lens Elements, ArmorTek, Triplet Apochromatic System

18mm

Unlimited lifetime

Features common to all Vortex spotting scopes

XR Fully Multi-coated Optics

All Vortex products – from the cheapest to the most expensive –use proprietary coatings on every air-to-glass surface. This ensures maximum light gathering potential for the product, which in turn means uncompromised performance at higher magnifications, even when the sun starts to go down.

Dielectric Prism Coatings

A problem with lower end roof prism based scopes is that they cannot achieve total internal reflection – what this means, in simple terms, is that you end up with an image with subdued brightness and contrast.

Vortex uses multiple layers of dielectric coatings to ensure that image fidelity is not compromised by the prisms present inside their scopes; this applies even to their least expensive products.

Weather resistance

Every Vortex product is O-ring sealed to keep moisture and other fluids/small debris from entering it. Furthermore, gas purging (nitrogen for lower end offerings and argon for higher end offerings) eliminates any chances of internal fogging over a range of temperatures. In other words, you can use your spotting scope in a variety of environments without being concerned about potential loss in performance.

VIP Warranty

The famous Vortex lifetime warranty policy applies to all their spotting scope: repairs/replacements are guaranteed throughout the product’s lifetime.

It’s a no questions asked policy so no matter how the defect/damage occurred, they’ll fix it at no charge to you. In my opinion, this shows a very high degree of confidence in their own craftsmanship.

Plus, the policy is completely transferable, and does not require a warranty card to be filled out: those who frequently resell their purchases after a few months of use should keep this in mind, as an open warranty policy means better resale value.

Exclusive high end features

Apochromatic lens system

Chromatic aberration causes loss of color fidelity of the projected image by diverging the focal lengths of the visible spectrum of light; in order to counter that, Vortex employs an apochromatic lens system that brings all light wavelengths back to a common focus.

The end result is that observers are able to enjoy color correct views of their subjects from afar – even to the point that you can identify individual species of birds in flight.

Extra low dispersion glass

High density glass is used in the triplet apochromatic lens system for the elimination of chromatic distortion.

ArmorTek

High end spotting scopes from Vortex feature a hard coating on their exterior lenses which keeps them safe from dirt, scratches and oil – making it that much easier for you to get up close and personal with nature.

XR Plus Fully Multi-coated optics

While the standard XR optics that come with mainstream and low-end Vortex products are fully functional in their own right, the high end products feature XR plus coatings that maximize light transmission to guarantee even brighter and crisper visuals.

In fact, they provide visual quality on par with the ultra-high end $2K plus offerings from globally renowned brands, if user feedback is anything to go by.

Excellent value for the money – at every price bracket

Whichever price segment you’re targeting for your spotting scope – Vortex does not compromise on the quality of the visuals or the strength of construction. As mentioned before, even the least expensive products have fully multi-coated optics and dielectric prism coatings, which ensure a thoroughly satisfactory visual output.

As you go up the price ladder, these get boosted by superior glass, and apochromatic lenses, that improve the color quality and resolution even further. But the bottom line is that unlike so many other brands in the market right now, you do not have to compromise on cripplingly inferior visuals if you don’t go for the higher end offering.

The selection is a bit limited though…

Diamondback

Viper HD

Razor HD

As opposed to the present industry trend of manufacturers offering over half a dozen different spotting scope lines, Vortex has chosen to go with only three – Diamondback, Viper HD, and Razor HD. While the quality of each of these offerings is undeniable, it does not leave a lot of options in terms of pricing, or extreme long range applications.

For instance, their cheapest products start around $500 – so those in need of a low-risk, throwaway spotting scope will have to look elsewhere. Similarly, their highest offerings are limited to a 60x zoom coupled with an 85mm objective lens diameter. Although this provides excellent visual output, it does prevent the scope’s use for extra-long distance tasks such as observing star clusters / natural satellites.

Top Rated Vortex Spotting Scope Reviews

Vortex Diamondback 20-60x80 Straight Spotting Scope

  • Zoom Range: 20-60
  • Objective Diameter: 80mm
  • Lens Coating: XR fully multi-coated

Being the least expensive option from Viper’s limited lineup does not mean you should pass over this one – indeed, it offers genuinely clear visual output at as affordable a price as it can get.

Sporting XR fully-multi coated lenses and dielectric prism coatings, the scope is able to get a lot out of its 80mm objective diameter, allowing you to enjoy detailed visuals even at the maximum zoom of 60x.

You get a 105 yard FOV at 20x and a 51 yard FOV at 60x, respectable numbers as far as industry averages go – but the eye relief range of 20-16.5mm is a bit scanty, and might make it awkward for you to acquire your subject on the fly.

O-ring sealing and nitrogen purging ensures protection against the elements, and the scope, while not as strong as some of the pricier offerings, is still backed by Vortex’s premium VIP warranty policy. It is also available in an angled form factor, which is more convenient for prone usage.

What We Liked

  • Excellent visual output for the price.
  • Decent FOV range.
  • Unlimited lifetime warranty.

What We Didn't

  • Slightly limited eye relief.

Vortex Viper HD 20-60x80 Straight Spotting Scope

  • Zoom Range: 20-60
  • Objective Diameter: 80mm
  • Lens Coating: XR fully multi-coated

The Viper HD is the middle tier offering from Vortex, and is geared towards individuals looking for a robust, clear long-range sighting solution that can withstand exposure to rough field conditions.

In addition to packing the same XR fully multi-coated optics and multi-layer prism coating as its cheaper sibling – this scope utilizes HD lens elements which ensure that color faithful renditions of your subjects are projected to your eye. All in all, there is a marked improvement over the Diamondback series in terms of visual fidelity, even at the high 60x magnification.

Furthermore, the Viper HD incorporates ArmorTek coating on exterior lens surfaces which protects them from dirt and scratches, making this scope suitable for use in thick bush. Overall too, the scope exudes an aura of toughness, ready to be carried around in the wild!

The scope utilizes ‘superior’ argon purging instead of cheaper nitrogen purging, but for all intents and purposes, this is nothing more than a marketing gimmick since the difference in fog proofing between the two gases is practically non-existent. Waterproofing is achieved through the use of O-ring seals as per the norm.

You can get this scope in an angled form factor if so required, and as expected, it ships with the Vortex VIP warranty. The only drawback with this otherwise highly balanced product is its limited 15mm eye relief at the highest zoom.

What We Liked

  • Noticeably better visual output over Diamondback series.
  • Armortek coating protects lens from damage outdoors.
  • Solidly built.
  • Unlimited lifetime warranty.

What We Didn't

  • Pricey.
  • Limited eye relief.

Vortex Razor HD 20-60x85 Angled Spotting Scope

  • Zoom Range: 20-60
  • Objective Diameter: 85m
  • Lens Coating: XR Plus fully multi-coated

This sturdy scope is Vortex’s flagship model: pairing extra high resolution visual output at long range with strong environmental protection, it is meant to be an AIO solution for outdoorsmen: bird watching, digiscoping, range shooting, hunting – even casual astronomy, this scope handles it all with aplomb.

High fidelity imagery is achieved through the combined use of XR Plus Fully multi-coated optics (better than both the Viper HD and the Diamondback), dielectric prism coating, HD glass and triple apochromatic lens system. On top of this, the objective diameter is upped from 80mm to 85mm – resulting in a significant boost in image brightness considering that light gathering ability varies directly with the square of the objective diameter.

As with the Viper HD series, ArmorTek coating on the exterior glass surfaces ensure that scratches, dirt and oil won’t pose a threat when you’re in rough environments. Argon gas purging and O-ring seals are incorporated to prevent moisture / fogging issues.

The production values on this scope speak for themselves when spotters report unhindered long-range viewing with it (e.g. spotting a 223 bullet mark 200+ yards out); indeed, the only problem (besides a slightly tight 18mm eye relief) is that it is too expensive to be called a true mainstream scope. That said, it is still one of the most affordable products that offer this kind of performance.

This scope is available in a straight variant as well – which should appeal more to hunters and wildlife observers who generally track fast moving subjects, and needless to say, it comes with the VIP warranty from Vortex.

What We Liked

  • Extremely detailed visual output at all magnification ranges.
  • Suitable for a diverse range of spotting scope applications.
  • ArmorTek coating for extending glass life.
  • Generous eye relief.
  • Unlimited lifetime warranty.

What We Didn't

  • Not a mainstream product like other Vortex spotting scope offerings.
  • Slightly restricted eye relief.

Conclusion

I hope you have deduced two things from my take on Vortex spotting scope products: one, they offer excellent core performance and almost unbeatable reliability at highly competitive prices; and two, their product line is, as of now, severely limited.


Fortunately, this makes it quite easy to pick the best Vortex spotting scope for the average user: the mid-tier Vortex Viper HD 20-60x80 Spotting Scope. Whether you go for the straight or angled version, you can expect superbly crisp and vibrant visual output (as confirmed by dozens upon dozens of satisfied users) at all zoom ranges and in a variety of lighting situations.

It may not pack the apochromatic lens system of the superior Razor HD, or have the economy of the Diamondback line, but you’ll be hard pushed to find a finer balance between performance and price than this.

Earnings Disclaimer: When you buy certain products from some of the sites which we link to, we receive a small commission at no cost to the buyer.

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