Vortex Optics continues to be one of the major innovators and leading scope makers for tactical rifles. Their lineup covers a huge assortment of tactical scopes with a scope that fits just about every budget and need. They also source those scopes from various different factories from different countries around the world, which is not uncommon for modern scope manufacturers today. We recently reviewed one of their lower end scopes, the Diamondback FFP, but this time around we are going to review one of their upper end scopes, the Gen 2 Razor FFP 4.5-27x56mm scope which has become a very popular scope for both tactical rifles and competition use. Of course during our review, we will be focusing on its use as a tactical scope on a Sniper Weapon System.
The Gen2 Razor arrives in a very nice box that includes the scope, a nice 4″ sunshade and various other accessories, documentation and promotional items such as a sticker and pin. The immediate impression from the scope is of high quality and cost. The inclusion of the sunshade is very nice and appreciated as the price of this scope should dictate that it comes ready for duty right out of the box. Though the lack of included flip up scope caps counters this impression. As is our custom when we review a scope, we immediately flip it over and determined the country of origin. In this case, it is Japan, a reassuring sign as Japan is one of the sources for high quality scopes. The other thing you quickly notice when looking at the scope is the color, which is a bronze/brown color and not unlike the anodizing that is found on the Leupold scopes on the M110 series of sniper rifles.
The eyepiece housing itself is large and long and makes up a considerable amount of the size of the scope. The quick focus ocular lens has a ring around it with serrations to help grab the adjustment. It covers the entire diopter range in two rotations, which is actually more adjustment than most fast focus eye pieces use these days. This does allow for a more granular adjustment to get the reticle sharp. The adjustment is nice and smooth with a moderate amount of force required to rotate it. This can be good to insure it stays in place once set. There is no indicator mark to be able to record where to set it for individual shooters.
At the front end of the large eyepiece housing is the power ring that is used to set the zoom power of the scope. This ring also has serrations on it to help provide gripping friction. There are some white markings at various intervals in the zoom scale, but with 6x of zoom range, the range of magnification is large and there is a significant amount of zoom between each marking. The area on the ring where the markings are located is tilted back toward the shooter making it easier to see from behind the scope. All of those 4.5-27x of zoom range is covered in just about half of a rotation and again, the adjustment is firm and smooth. A throw lever could be helpful, but one is not included.
In front of zoom ring the 34mm single piece aircraft grade aluminum tube extends a relatively short 2.2″ for which to mount the rear scope ring. The large 34mm diameter tube does provide added durability and more importantly, added internal adjustment range. The single piece tube design also adds strength and durability. Vortex also uses argon purging to prevent fogging on any internal lenses.
Because of the large 34mm tube diameter, everything else on the scope also is large, including the shoulder area where the large control knobs are located. The large diameter of the elevation knob gives the illusion that the knob is not very tall, where in reality, the knob is actually both wide and tall. There is only a single level of markings on the knob with individual hash marks at each .1 MIL click. There is a taller hash at the .5 mark and then the same taller hash with a numeric marking at each whole number.
The knob features what Vortex calls the their L-Tek design that locks the turret in place by pushing it down, preventing accidental unwanted adjustments. You then have to pull the turret up to be able to dial in your clicks. Similar designs are used on other scopes and its not a bad feature to have, though also not one we would consider mandatory. Of course, as would be expected on a high end scope, it also features a zero stop function. The Vortex zero stop is a bit more complex to set as you use small screw drivers to make the scope adjustments when performing your initial zero instead of dialing in your normal clicks. But it does provides the ultimate in precision when doing that zero.
There is a black ring at the base of the knob that has a very obvious and clear to see indicator mark on it. There is a full 10 MIL of adjustment per revolution which allows a 175gr .308 Win load to go from 100 yards to about 940 yards in standard atmospheric conditions in that single rotation. Once you go beyond that first revolution there is a small knob that protrudes from the black ring around the base indicating you are on the second rotation. The knob protrudes a bit further when you pass the zero again to indicate when the next revolution is hit. At first we did not notice that little protrusion, but once you realize it is there, it is a nice visual indicator.
The factory indicates there is a full 28.5 MILs, about 100 MOA, of elevation adjustment with this scope. That is a good amount for a scope that has a high 27x magnification on the top end. Due to the nature of the zero stop mechanism and how it is set, it is not easy to measure the full amount of adjustment, so we did not do so on this scope and trust the factory that it should be around the specified amount. Now we would like to mention the clicks. While they are certainly “sharp” and tactile in nature and feel precise, they are very noisy and they actually feel sharp. We hate mushy clicks, and these clicks are not mushy and actually seem to be the complete opposite. They feel sharp and they are better than mushy, but they don’t feel exactly great either. The noise is actually a concern as well. If you were dialing in large amounts of adjustments in a clandestine position, we would actually be concerned the noise is too loud and may compromise your position. We typically do not run into this issue with scopes and it is not a critical issue, but is worth noting.
The windage knob is located on the right side of the shoulder and is the same sizes and shape as the elevation knob. It too features the same locking mechanism and needs to be pulled up to make your adjustments. The markings are clear and count up in both directions with a L or R in front of the number to clearly indicate which way the knob has been adjusted. The overlap obviously happens at 5 MIL which is enough adjustment to shoot that 175gr .308 in a 10 MPH direct crosswind at over 1600 yards before the overlap confuses things. The clicks on the windage are the same sharp and loud clicks that are found on the elevation knob.
Opposite of the windage knob on the left hand side of the scope is the side focus and illuminated reticle control knob. The knob is the same diameter as the elevation and windage knobs and is roughly the same height as well. There is the same ring of knurling along the top for gripping. The main portion of the knob is the focus which has markings from 32 yards (an odd starting number) and counts up to 500 and then one final marking at infinity. The good part about the knob is that it takes nearly the entire knob to cover that span. This gives more precision when adjusting for clarity and parallax removal. Additionally the knob is very smooth feels excellent through its entire range.
The illumination control is also nice. On top of the side focus knob, there is another serration knob that can be pulled out to reveal the illuminate reticle brightness markings. There are 11 levels of brightness for the reticle and there is an off position between each. Those markings are evenly spaced around the entire knob and one thing we really like is that it rotates all the way around without stops. So you can go both directions and even go from 1 “down to” 11 and keep going around. This can be handy. It is also nice to be able to push the control back into the knob and conceal the control until needed. At the very top of the illumination knob is a slotted cap that can be removed to reveal the battery housing.
In front of the shoulder there is another relatively shot 1.9″ of tube length to mount the forward scope ring. The tube then tapers up into a short bell housing that houses the 56mm objective lens. As mentioned, the bell is threaded to accept a sunshade, which is included with the scope. The scope is hefty, weighing in at 48.5 ounces, a full three pounds. This weight does give the feeling of durability and quality, but it is significant as well. Unfortunately, heavy and large has been a trend with high end scopes for a while now and if you just drive to the range and shoot, its no big deal. But if you have to lug a 16 pound tactical rifle fifteen miles through the mountains, you will notice the heft.
The overall quality of the Gen 2 Razor is very high and the hard anodized “stealth shadow” finish looks good and provides an actual improvement for concealment over a standard black scope. The reticle on this test scope is the EBR-7C which is Vortex’s own Christmas tree style reticle and while it is busy, it is not as busy as some of the others. Of course, the units of the reticle and knobs match each other whether you get the MOA or MIL version. The scope is also available with the Horus H59 reticle as well. The lenses are index matched and HD quality with full coatings and we have no complaints with the optical quality, the picture is bright, clear and sharp from edge to edge. The reticle is also located in the front focal plane (FFP) and grows and shrinks with the magnification of the scope.
Beyond our issues with the clicks and some of the markings, and maybe the weight, we were quite happy with the quality and design of the scope. For our practical tests we mounted the scope to our Remington 700P test rifle using a set of Nightforce XTreme Duty Ultralite 34mm rings. The rifle has a 20 MOA canted rail on it and the single piece rail made it easy to mount the scope. The limited length tube with the short and sharply slanted bell may give some mounting issues on a long action rifle, especially if it has a two piece base. But for our short action .308 rifle with one piece rail, it was a non-issue.
If you are not familiar with how we test scopes for our reviews, please read the article how we test rifles and scopes. The shooting tests were conducted on a cloudy spring morning with the temps at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Using Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr ammo, the rifle was shooting well and we ran the scope through the box test, which revealed good repeatability and tracking. This test is one that seems to be less and less important as even the low end scopes perform well, at least initially. So we moved on to the click measuring test.
We fired our first group, which measured under .5 MOA, and then dialed in 6 MIL of left and fired our second group. Finally we dialed 6 MIL of right back into the scope and fired another round to insure the reticle was back on the original aiming point. That last round was right back in center of the first group, again showing good repeatability. The distance between the center of both groups measured 21.56″. At 100 yards, 6 MILs equates to 21.6″, which means there was only 0.2% of observed error, which is an exceptional result. We consider 5% to be passing and anything under 3% to be very good. For this scope, we cannot ask for anything more in terms of click size accuracy during our firing tests.
While using the rifle in the field, the noise of the clicks continued to annoy us a bit, but the sharpness of the clicks actually was not as bad as when we initially were examining the scope, though that was probably because we were wearing gloves during our field testing. With bare hands they still had that sharp feeling. As mentioned, the zero stop is still a bit of a pain to set, but once you figure it out, it does work pretty well, its just a bit different. The glass also continued to be impressive and clear.
Our last set of tests involve checking for retical drift with focus and zoom adjustments as well as drift during windage and elevation adjustments. To do this, we mount our bore sighting grid to the rifle and observe the reticle while we make those adjustments. First up was the zoom power. 6x is a lot of zoom range, but we could not detect any movement that we could verify or confirm. If there was any reticle drift, it was very slight and should not be any concern. With the focus adjustment we were able to see a repeated slight up-down movement at focus ranges between 40 and 80 yards on the dial, so at the lower end of the adjustment range. This is actually fairly common, especially on scopes that have focus knobs that go real low, like 15 yards. On this Razor, the movement is only slight and does not seem to be there at the upper end of the knob where it is most important on a tactical rifle.
Finally, we wanted to test the up-down and left-right tracking to be sure the reticle did not drift off line over large adjustment ranges. Using the same bore-sight grid, we set our zero point and then first tested the up-down axis covering at least a full rotation of the knob. Because of what we were seeing during our shooting tests, we were not surprised to see the reticle track perfectly down the line. The same was the case for the right-left adjustment as well. With these tests finished, it concluded our testing of the scope, which left just our final thoughts and opinions.
Without a doubt, the scope is a high quality scope that is well made and could be expected to serve well for many years. But we did find our faults with it as well. The loud and sharp clicks and the heft of the scope being the major ones that could use some attention. Where as the precision of the clicks, the well executed focus and reticle brightness controls and good optics were all things we liked. Looking at the scope as a whole, we would be comfortable going into duty with this scope, and as such we give it our Sniper Central Endorsement, but the shortcoming keep us from giving it a full five star score.