Normally I review scopes I own or get loaned to me by the manufacturer for the purpose of reviewing. I don’t like to write about those that I don’t have long term access to. I find that the proper way to do things is to get an initial impression and then refine that through longer term use. This is especially true, and largely because of the fact that I end up buying all these optics and that stuff is occasionally heart thumpingly expensive.
Some background on this particular scope review: My coach is an old school shooter and likes his scopes second focal plane with a small dot and fine crosshair reticles with insane magnification levels and 1/8 MOA clicks. These are fantastic for target work at known distances and where you’re not spinning a lot of DOPE each time. His total used adjustment range on the old Nikon was 14MOA and distances were maxed out at 500m. Well, PRS type work gets out a lot further and the targets are scattered randomly in their distances everywhere from 200m to 1000m so you’re constantly dialing up and down and holding off and he needed turrets that were meant to take a little more constant use.
Well finally, after a year of shooting with me and seeing the things I’m able to do with a scaled reticle in FFP and fixed power scopes and how easy it looks and how good the glass I use is and how well the turrets track (particularly for the price I pay) he decided to make the jump and get a high quality FFP MIL/MIL optic. Part of the reason for the jump was that in prepping for a long range precision match a couple months ago we found out his Nikon target scope was busted and wouldn’t dial any windage and he was way out of elevation for hitting the 900m target. Fast forward to last week and he’d ordered a new Vortex Viper PST FFP 6-24x with EBR-1 reticle.
Now this new Vortex optic is mounted on a 6.5mm BR single shot bolt action Rem 700 based metallic silhouette race gun. The thing is meant exactly for doing 5-10 shots rapid fire at long range… the hard way. Standing up. Using it for PRS style work was actually really successful the first time out despite it being unable to dial wind since it’s nasty accurate, wind bucking and low recoiling. Still, the busted fine hair and small dot Nikon scope was only helping drop his score. This new scope is sure to help his scores in PRS type matches. How it’ll do long term in metallic silhouette has a lot to do with how long it takes him to become friends with his new scope. His skills are wicked sharp anyway so if he takes to it rapidly it could be dramatic. If it isn’t so quick for him to pick up his scores will still rise but not quite as fast.
Anyway, I digress a bit. As soon as the new Vortex Viper arrived he ran over to my place and I popped a set of my 30mm Burris Signature Series rings on the scope with 20MOA of cant dialed with the eccentric inserts. We got it mounted and took to bore sighting at yesterdays match. The scope was within 2MRAD of dead nuts right there. Looks like they’re definitely set up from the factory for a 20MOA mount.
There’s a lot of stuff going on in the EBR-1 reticle compared to his old target dot (but nothing near as much as in the EBR-2 tree style) and in silhouette there’s a saying that every change in weapon/scope/spotter takes a year to overcome. Busy reticles can be hard to deal with when trying to hold 2MOA offhand. Apart from the newness and differentness for my coach, we just slapped a tactical oriented scope on a custom made race gun built specifically for metallic silhouette and not so much for tactical. Just how will this look? Just fine as it turns out. Quite a number of shooters in the silhouette game have gone to SWFA and Vortex optics with scaled reticles. Partly because of price and partly because these sorts of tactical scopes have a reputation for accurate click values so shooters can use computed shooting solutions instead of having to establish actual data on previous engagements (DOPE) in a little notebook. That means less ammo spent verifying data before a match and all the benefits that burning less ammo brings along with some extra time in our pre-match schedules to make sure we’re fed, warm, hydrated, head in the game, etc…
So far it looks like this change didn’t take very long at all for him to deal with. He picked up 3 targets more than he has in the past 4 matches with that rifle with the new scope and we’d only just zero’d it right before the match started. First time behind the new combo and he was making 1″ 3-shot offhand groups at 200m during our pre-match practicing.
In the set-up and zero and practice time I had some time behind his rifle with the newest Viper PST and I gotta say that while there are several design/feature elements that I really don’t dig on, the overall quality and especially the glass was extremely nice. Bright and clear as hell all the way to the edges even on 24x and while there is a bit of a preference for greens and browns in the color rendition it’s everything I’d expect from about 800 bucks.
Yeah, yeah. I can hear you grumbling. Asking yourself, “What the hell is it that he doesn’t like if it’s so great?”
Ok, here’s a list:
5MRAD per turn turrets.
Pinch screw turret cap attachment system.
Visible gap between objective bell and sunshade when so equipped.
Illumination rheostat location.
Non-intuitive direction of rotation for side parallax and small numbering there.
Side parallax knob is too low profile and not knurled.
Turret labeling and the little window thing on the elevation turret is really busy and can be hard to read quickly.
As you can see. Not a single one of my complaints has anything to do with the ability of the scope to perform reliably or accurately or even exactly as you’d expect. They’re as close to first world problems as you can get but they do affect the speed and ease of use which are important criteria to me.
The thing they got really right: The tactile feel of the clicks. There’s no mistaking that your turning it but they’re not too clakkity that they force the rifle to move when you make an adjustment.
All in all it’s a fantastic scope. I’d hope for 800 bucks they could do a 10mil per rotation turret but beggars can’t be choosers and if that’s the biggest gripe I have for 800 bucks, that’s pretty damned good.
Vortex’s warranty is as bullet proof as any in the industry and they go to great lengths to prove it. Given the quality and performance I could only recommend this if it’s in your budget window and the feature set is appropriate to your game.