Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope

About a month ago we welcomed Vortex Optics on board with Southern Utah Hunt and Fish as our latest sponsor!  As part of that sponsorship, I was trying my best to work out a deal with Vortex to get a discount on a Viper HD spotting scope in return for advertising.  Much to my surprise, the boys at Vortex opted to hook me up with a Razor HD spotter!  Needless to say I was like a 5 year old at Christmas again.  I got a couple of short scouting trips in with this gem before I disappeared for the summer on fire assignments, but you can bet I am now taking every opportunity I get to use it in the field!

Vortex is a fairly new player to the optics world, when compared to the likes of Swarovski, Nikon, Bushnell, and Leupold.  However, do not let this fool you or discourage you from thinking this is a lesser quality product.  Vortex prides itself with a fine product line that has been fine tuned and tested before they launched their company.  Drawing from a long line of military expertise, the finest materials, and packaging that all in a look and feel for not only hunters, but tactical shooters, competition shooters, emergency services, and just nature lovers in general will enjoy.  Wrap this all together with one of the finest warranty programs out there and Vortex becomes a must for any optics user.

In fact, lets talk warranty.  How about no product registration?  How about a warranty that covers everything except loss or theft.  Sounds to good to be true, right?  Check out www.vortexoptics.com and click on the "VIP Warranty and Service" tab.  There you will find these facts in print on their website.  Just days ago I was reading a testimonial of a guy that left a pair of Vortex binoculars on the bed rail of his pickup.  Once up to 65 mph on the freeway he looked up in the mirror to see them fly off of the bed and onto the pavement.  He stopped, picked them up, sent them in, and within days was back in the field with a great pair of binoculars once again (I can't remember if they were rebuilt or replaced, but either way the warranty was upheld).  What security for such a great investment.

Now, let's talk specifics on the Razor HD spotter.  What an amazing addition to my hunting gear!  This scope features selectable 20-60 X magnification, brought to your field of view by a 85mm objective lens.  The scope is available in either a straight or angled model (at the same cost to each), I went with the straight model which seems more comfortable to me.  The fog proof, waterproof design is supported by the ArmorTek coating for the lenses, that provides optimal resistance to scratches, as well as to oil and dirt.  The adjustable eye cup allows you to fit your eye to the field of view as you change power settings, and this scope also features a "coarse" focus adjustment, and a "fine" adjustment to really hone in on what you are trying to see.  Add with this the sunshade that slides out to provide you not only sun shading, but also protection from rain and snow, as well as an adjustable tripod ring, allowing you to rotate the scope while on the tripod, and there's just not a lot that this scope can't provide in the way of comfort and ease to your viewing.

Enough with the technical review, I imagine you want to know what I think after hitting the field.  I could go on for a long time about how much I love this scope!  I honestly think you are nearly getting a Swarovski quality product at over half the price of their products.  I have always been a Leupold fan, but (no disrespect to Leupold) I am sold on Vortex!  I think this is the best spotter out there as far as weighing out quality, price, and warranty together.  The scope is very compact for a spotter of this image quality and magnification, and lightweight as well.

Check out this short video clip of my first outing.  The elk on the backside of this lake were about 1/2 mile away!  This was taken through my video camera which was not at full zoom, and at about 40 X through the spotter (60 X was overkill!).  The video is a bit blurry due to heat waves rising, but it was easy to make out what was there.  I had trouble getting it on video, but upon turning the scope up to 60 X I was able to spot 3 very nice bucks just under the treeline...probably close to a mile out by this point!  Unbelievable!  I was also able to get a shot of this nice 3 point muley through the scope/camera combo at about 800 yards.  What a great shot, and I'm sure the clarity would have been enhanced if the kids would have held still in the car.  It was shot using a car window mount.

video

So, to put it simply, I am a huge fan, and this spotter will go where I go when it comes to hunting, scouting, and looking for sheds.  One very important note, with past scopes I have found my eyes getting very "tired" after staring through the scope for long periods.  Well, honestly, I would have to have a break after 10 minutes of glassing!  Not with the Razor HD!  I can glass for 30 minutes and have to worry more about my back cramping up than my eyes bothering me!  HD technology with spotters is amazing, and Vortex has sure made good use of that technology!

I usually break this down into pros and cons, but I haven't found a con yet.  I'm impressed, my friends are impressed, that's all there is to it.

So how am I rigging up the camera?  As a bonus for this post let me introduce you to the Tines Up Scope)Cam adapter.  I bought the adapter from their online store at www.tinesup.com.  The adapter for my camera was only $70.00.  Check out the site where you will find the adapter, provide the spotter model you wish to adapt it to, as well as the thread diameter of your camera, and bingo, you have your own custom "digiscoping" setup!  The adapter simply screws onto the threads around the lens, then slides onto the spotter just like the lens cap does.  A tight fit, no adjustments needed, this adapter centers the camera to the scope to give you a full field of view, no dark edges.  There is also a point and shoot camera setup available, which from what I hear is a better way to go than the camcorder anymore.  The reason being that camcorders almost have too much zoom when coupled with the scope!  Check out the point and shoot setup on their site as well, which runs about $270 to $340 depending on camera model (with the point and shoot the camera comes with the adapter).

As far as digital camcorders go, I use the Sony Handycam HDR-CX160, which is working great for me with or without this setup.  Check out my review:  http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/04/product-review-sony-hdr-cx160-handycam.html
I will say, if you plan on doing a lot of digiscoping, consider the angled scope.  The weight of my camcorder will often cause it to fall off of the scope when attached with the adapter.  The angled scope will allow gravity to do it's job, keeping the camera pulled down on the scope.


Where can you find Vortex products?  Well, check out their entire line of binoculars, spotters, scopes, red dots, rangefinders, tripods, monocular, and more at www.vortexoptics.com.  While you can't purchase from the site, check out the specs on what you want, and purchase at these locations:

Locally:
You can also now find Vortex at Cabelas (www.cabelas.com) and at Sportsman's Warehouse (http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com/ )

I also want to recognize and thank Vortex for their contribution to our community here in Escalante.  Back in June, I hit up the guys at Vortex about cutting us a deal on a riflescope to couple with a Savage .17 HMR that we wanted to have for a drawing, the proceeds of which would go towards new little league equipment and uniforms for our youth baseball programs.  To my surprise, Vortex donated a Viper 3 X 9 scope for free!  With this, ad the donation of the gun, the little league program brought in a profit of $1,250.00!  Thank you Vortex!

You can also check out my review of the Vortex Diamondback 4-12 X 40 riflescope: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/01/product-review-vortex-diamondback.html
and the Vortex Viper HD binoculars: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/03/product-review-vortex-viper-hd.html