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Vortex Razor HD 85mm Scope

New in 2009

Review by Michael and Diane Porter, 2009

Vortex Razor HD Scope
Copyright 2009 Michael and Diane Porter

Best buy in a high-end scope

What if you could get a scope whose optics and ergonomics were in league with the top scopes, and whose price was about half of the ones you were comparing it to? You'd think it was a great value. And you would be probably be thinking about the new Vortex Razor HD 85mm scope, released in late 2009. It shares the best qualities of all the top scopes.

Optically, it is among the top few scopes in the world for brightness and sharpness. It employs extra-low dispersion glass (the "HD" in the scope's name), which reduces chromatic aberration. Many high-end scopes report that they use HD glass, but there is usually still a noticeable amount of chromatic aberration. However, when we tested the Vortex Razor, we detected none at all. Images were crisp. The Razor holds its own optically against scopes costing $2300 to $4000.

The 85mm objective lens helps the scope achieve its excellent resolution, and yet the manufacturer has held the weight down to a moderate 65.5 ounces.

The generous field of view at maximum magnification matches that of the Zeiss Diascope's (60 feet at 1000 yards). We know of no other scope that exceeds or even matches the field of view of these two scopes at 60 power.

In body shape, the Razor closely resembles the Kowa Prominar. It has similar dual focus knobs, of outstanding smoothness and precision. The Razor's fine focus has virtually no slack. The gross focus has a slight degree of slack (as do nearly all scopes) but is easy to turn and smoother than some that cost far more.

The Vortex actually outdoes the Kowa in that the Vortex is rubberized in the central areas, where the human hand is most likely to contact the scope, unlike the Kowa's all-metallic surface.

Vortex Razor SightThe external design of the eyepiece looks like that of the Swarovski scopes, with a similar lock at the back of the scope, similar twist-up eyecups, and the same kind of useful, removable peep sight at the right base of the eyepiece (as in Razor photo at right).

The screw-out eyecup has no detents, but one does not feel the need, as the motion is finely tuned. It twists out smoothly to exactly the desired degree. It is easy to turn, to an infinitely variable degree, and yet it holds its position due to friction. This is very well done.

Mechanically it's the equal of the best-made scopes, with impeccable engineering in the zoom mechanism and other moving parts. The Razor is built for heavy field use — well made, sturdy and with good build quality. It looks as if it would withstand a lot of knocks.

At present the Vortex Razor is available only in the angled 85mm version. It is sold with the 20-60x zoom eyepiece included.


Magnification: 20-60x
Objective lens diameter: 85mm
Design: angled eyepiece only
Material: magnesium alloy body housing
Close focus: 16.4 feet
Included eyepiece: 20-60 power zoom
Eye relief at 20x: 20mm
Eye relief at 60x: 18mm
Field of view at 20x: 117 ft. at 1000 yards
Field of view at 60x: 60 ft. at 1000 yards
Length: 15.25 inches
Weight: 65.7 oz.


The Vortex Razor is waterproof, with tight O-ring seals. Argon purging prevents condensation on internal lenses, so you get to enjoy clear views even when the termperature changes suddenly.

Included with the scope

Variable eyepiece that zooms from 20 power to 60 power
Eyepiece cap
Objective lens cap
View-through carry case
Vortex VIP Unconditional Lifetime Warranty
Free shipping to Lower-48 States from Birdwatching Dot Com

Price info



Birdwatching Dot Com

Please call us toll free 800-779-7256 for advice on choosing scopes or other birding products.
FAX 641-472-7256
Birdwatching Dot Com Store
2197 236th Blvd.
Fairfield, IA 52556

Images and text are copyright 2009 Michael and Diane Porter.