Vortex Razor 85mm HD

  • Solid, and reassuringly well made
  • Nice eyepiece – lots of room for adjustment for all users
  • HD glass pays off with a bright, natural image
  • Little fall-off in quality of image, even at higher magnifications
  • Spot-on focussing to get the best out of that HD glass


Vortex have long been a reliably high-quality presence in the optics market, with a particularly fine binocular range, so it was always going to be very interesting to see how the new Razor HD scope stacked up against some of the big boys. It currently comes in one model – angled, 85mm objective lens, with a 20x/60x zoom eyepiece – and right from first sight it’s a heavyweight contender. There’s also a 30x wide angle eyepiece available, by the way. In terms of looks, it’s rather reminiscent of Kowa’s TSN scopes, no bad thing if you want to create a good first impression. That means it’s relatively compact, but solidly put together, with plenty of rubber armour.

So, how does it perform in the field? Well, at anything up to about 30x, it’s sharp and very bright, with a very natural colour. There’s very little loss of clarity at the edge of the image, which means that you get full value for the field of view. Plus point number one for the ultra-high definition glass. The real pleasure, though, is that as you bump the magnification up, there’s nothing like the fall-off in quality of image that you can sometimes see with zoom eyepieces. A milkiness at the edge of the image becomes a little more apparent, and inevitably the field of view is reduced, but you’re certainly not left straining to resolve your target. The HD glass scores again.

All well and good in bright sunlight, but what about more testing conditions? Well, the HD glass completes an impressive hat-trick here, ensuring that the brightness I talked about earlier is apparent even while peering down woodland rides at dusk, or scanning distant duck flocks on a grey, drizzly morning.

Which brings me on to focussing. There’s plenty of (relatively stiff) movement in the main wheel (1.5 fingers wide), which takes around 1.75 clockwise turns from close focus to infinity, and in practice that means that focussing is very precise indeed. There’s a hard-to-define feeling you get with the focus on some optics that there’s something missing, some extra bit of punch you’re always searching for, but that’s never the case here. Look for it, and you’ll find it every time.

There’s also a slightly smaller fine focus wheel, and one of my only gripes might be that the two could be separated slightly, to make things easier when using gloves.

I liked the eyepiece, too. It twists up and down, but the action is stiff enough that it can easily be left at any position between fully out and fully in. That gives you plenty of scope (sorry!) for adjustment, particularly important when you’re seeking to maximise that field of view, and it’s comfortable in extended use. As you’d expect with a quality scope these days, there’s a rotating collar, sun visor, and it’s waterproof and fogproof.

It did feel a little heavy at times, but I’m never sure how relevant that is – carried on a strap, or a harness, you certainly wouldn’t notice. Having decided to carry a full-size scope around, I certainly wouldn’t quibble about a few grams here and there. In fact, one of the real pleasures of this scope was how quickly I started taking it for granted – the optics are excellent, and the fine build quality means that you don’t really notice how the effect is being achieved, you just get on with enjoying the view. It isn’t, of course, cheap, but the many advantages of ED/HD glass never are. What’s more important is that it performs exactly as you’d expect a scope in this price bracket to, so if you’re in the market for a top-end scope, this is definitely worthy of an extended try-out.

REVIEWED BY MATT MERRITT.


FACTFILE

  • Dimensions: 389mm long
  • Weight 1,863g
  • Close focus: 5m
  • Field of view: 20x 20m@1,000m, 60x 39m@1,000m
  • website: www.vortexoptics.com