Vortex Optics is actually a "Doing Business As (DBA)" of Sheltered Wings which has been around since 1989 with Vortex
Optics being established in 2004. They are based in Middleton Wisconsin and are relatively new when it comes to optics
manufacturers. Vortex, like most optics companies, has their scopes produced for them by an OEM scope manufacturer.
The different lines of Vortex scopes are manufactured by different companies and in different countries. The high end
Razor line comes from Japan while the Viper line is manufactured in the Philippines by one of the higher end manufacturers
there. They also have a low end line, the Crossfire, which is made in China and is not recommended by us for use on high
end tactical rifles.
The Viper arrived to us in its original box, though with some Leupold PRW rings mounted on it. The scope comes with a
Vortex labeled cloth, bikini style scope caps, a Vortex lapel style "pin", some instructions and a card describing the Vortex
warranty. The warranty is a lifetime, no questions asked, fully transferable warranty which is about as good as you can
ask from a scope manufacturer. The instruction manual provides some basic information on the use, mounting and maintenance
of the Viper and other Vortex scopes.
The size of this particular scope is more in lines with a hunting style scope, which it essentially is, and smaller than
the popular large size tactical scopes. With this smaller size comes lighter weight, weighing in at just over a pound.
The length is fairly compact as well being just over 13", making the scope a good fit for a LE sharpshooter's rifle or
even a patrol bolt rifle to be carried in a patrol cruiser. The tube is a one piece tube made from aircraft grade aluminum
for durability. The finish on the tube is a matte black anodizing that is evenly applied and appears heavy enough to be
durable and has a good uniform appearance over the entire scope. There are not a lot of markings on the exterior of the
scope which helps the scope maintain a tactical appearance and the Vortex logo on the cap is semi-matte and not overly
bright, as is the Vortex name on the left side of the scope.
The eyepiece is a fast focus eyepiece that adjusts through the entire dioptre range in just under one full rotation,
about 340 degrees. The eyepiece, or dioptre, adjustment is used to focus the reticle to an individual's eye, much like
corrective lenses do. The dioptre range of this Viper worked well with my glasses on (yes, I'm getting old and wear glasses)
but could not quite focus the reticle all the way without my glasses. This is not critical as I shoot with contacts or while
wearing glasses, but just another test to see how much adjustment there is. The eyepiece itself does have a rubber ring to
help prevent bodily injury in the unfortunate instance when the shooter might get a bit too close to the scope during recoil.
That rubber also provides a good gripping surface for adjusting the eye piece as well.
In front of the eyepiece is the magnification ring that is rotated to change the magnification setting of the scope. We have
often commented about various scopes how the user is required to lift their head from behind the scope in order to see what
magnification the scope is set at. This is important for second focal plane scopes with mil style reticles in order for the
operator to know if they have the scope on the right power to do their range estimation. Well, the Viper line of scopes
certainly solves this problem with a rim style protrusion that sticks up from the eyepiece with the magnification numbers on
it and then a red mark on a protrusion from the power ring itself to act as an indicator for what power the scope is set on.
This makes it absolutely visible and clear from behind the scope as to what magnification the scope is set on. While this is
not critical for a duplex style reticle like this scope has, but with the available BDC reticle and mildot reticle available
on other models in the Viper lineup, it would be more important. While the rim may look a bit odd, the setup is certainly effective.
The protrusion from the power ring with the red indicator mark on it also acts a good gripping point when adjusting the power ring,
which happens to be very smooth through its entire range and offers just about the right amount of resistance, not too stiff
and not too loose. The rest of the power ring also has rough texturing to provide a good gripping surface.
The elevation and windage knobs are a low profile turret style knob that are finger adjustable and have dust covers. Typically
for long range tactical work, tall tactical style turrets, either exposed or with dust covers, is preferred; but as we
indicated at the start of this review we were reviewing this scope as a potential Law Enforcement scope where engagement
ranges are typically less than 100 yards. For those purposes this style of knob is perfectly suitable. The top of the knobs
have a fine knurling type texture to help with gripping which seemed to work okay. The clicks are a nice muted click with a
nice tactile feel to them and are very positive. Each click is .25 MOA and there is total of 12 MOA per revolution which is
enough to take a 308 out to 500 yards in that single rotation, after that things would get tricky as there are no visual
indicators or markings to help keep track of how many revolutions you have made. If the operator needed to, or wanted to take
the rifle and scope to long ranges, the scope itself has plenty of adjustments with an advertised total adjustment range of 82
MOA, though this particular sample had 'only' 78 MOA.
The windage knob is the same size and shape as the elevation knob with the same nice clicks and the markings on the windage
knob do count up in both directions. The overlap would start at 6 MOA and at the shorter ranges this scope would be used for
in a LE environment this amount of windage adjustment would compensate for anything up to gale force winds.
Recently there have been more and more scopes coming out with easy resetable turrets for zeroing the knobs on the scope.
While this feature I do not consider being overly important, in some cases it may be handy. This Viper had such a feature
where all you needed to do to reset and zero the knobs after zeroing the scope, is to lift up on the knob until it detached
from the internal mechanism, which happened with a click, and then while holding the knob up, rotate it around until it is
on the zero mark and then push it back down onto the mechanism. The knob has a spring resistance to keep it locked down unless
specifically pulling it up. The spring felt like enough force to keep it from unintentionally getting moved, provided the
spring does not wear down over time.
Vortex also offers custom marked BDC dials for this scope, as well as their other higher end scopes with turrets. This would
be a good addition to this scope and I could see a dial marked up to 500 yards making a nice combination on a LE rifle.
Vortex, Leupold, and others are making this an easy to order setup and one I personally prefer over a "one size fits all"
BDC reticle. The Vortex custom dials can be ordered from the Vortex Optics web site.
This particular model Viper does not have an adjustable objective (AO), or parallax adjustment, and it is setup to be parallax
free at 100 yards. This is a bit shorter than most non-AO scopes which are normally set at 150 yards, though the shorter
parallax free range does suit the scope nicely for LE work where again, engagements are mostly sub 100 yards.
Vortex uses what they call proprietary XR fully multi-coated lens coatings to increase light transmission and image brightness.
They also utilize Extra-low Dispersion (XD) glass to increase resolution and keep a sharp crisp image. When looking through the
scope the glass is good as is the brightness. The 50mm objective does help gather light in low light scenarios such as dawn and
dusk and the scope shows good performance in those situations. At longer ranges, the shorter parallax adjustment range of 100
yards hurts it as the image was not as sharp and crisp when we were engaging medium to long range targets (400+ yards) with the
For the shooting tests we mounted the scope on our Remington 700P test mule rifle which is chambered in 308 Win., using the set
of Leupold PRW rings that were mounted on the scope and then mounted the scope to the 20 MOA tapered steel rail. With everything
mounted up we headed to the range for the shooting tests. While it was not snowing during our shooting sessions, the ground was
snow covered which is always a good test for contrast when trying to see into shadowy areas.
We shot the scope through a small box, a group at each corner separated by 6" and the tracking was good with the final group being
on top of the first and a nice square box on our target. As is now one of our standard tests we also fired one group and then adjusted
the scope 10 MOA to the left and fired another group to measure how accurate the MOA clicks were on the scope. In a perfect world
the groups will measure 10.47" (10 true MOA) apart. The groups with the Viper were 10.2" apart which puts it very close and probably
within the margin of error from the group sizes themselves as both groups measured about .75". Shooting the scope at 100 yards and
then adjusting up to 400 yards and then back down to 100 yards proved to be repeatable indicating good tracking and repeatability.
The duplex style reticle performed as you would expect, offering the standard point of aim and would work fine in a shorter range
To conclude, the Viper is a good scope in the sub $500 class of scopes and we feel it would prove to be a satisfactory scope on a
Law Enforcement precision rifle. The magnification range is just about right to cover the shorter ranges yet still provide good magnification
for precision shot placement which is very critical for hostage and other LE situations. The good light gathering from the larger
objective and good glass will help in low light scenarios, though an illuminated reticle would be helpful here as many call outs happen
during the late hours. The mechanicals of the scope seem to be solid and as a whole the scope performed well. The lack of an AO and
good target style knobs hinders its ability as a long range scope, but for shorter range work it should work well. We look forward to the
Vortex Viper PST and Razor reviews to see how their long range sniper focused offerings perform.