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Old 02-19-2010, 09:41 PM
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Default Vortex Viper 6.5-20x44SF Mildot scope test results.

Here are the preliminary impressions and the first range test of the Vortex Viper 6.5-20x44 mildot riflescope I've been promising. I still have some 300 yard testing to do and will post that up as soon as I can get back to the range and get the testing done.

Bear with me...this is 12 pages with photos so it'll takle me some time to get it all in.....
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Last edited by germag; 02-19-2010 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:42 PM
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Field Test
Vortex Viper 6.5-20x44 Mildot Tactical Rifle Scope



Background

When I purchased my new Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical rifle, I really had no idea what scope I wanted to put on it. I suppose I just assumed it would be a Nikon or a Leupold, since that’s pretty much all I’ve used for several years now. But…something in me kept nagging at me to shop around and see what’s available now….so I succumbed to the little voice and started looking around. I got on the internet forums and poked around trying to see what the more popular choices were in tactical optics. Several lower priced brands kept appearing and most were pretty quickly eliminated when I started reading reviews from people who had actually bought and used them. I’ve known for a long time that optics is one area where you pretty much get what you pay for..or, at least you don’t get what you don’t pay for. Right? OK, we all know that some portion of the high-end scope makers’ price tags is paying for the name on the scope….but how much, really? How much do you really have to pay for a truly high quality piece of tactical glass?

One brand name kept coming up with very high marks. I really couldn’t find any negative comments or reviews. I tried. That doesn’t mean that none exist, but if they are out there I couldn’t find them. That name was Vortex. In particular, the Vortex Viper line seemed to be gaining popularity. I went to the Vortex Optics website http://www.vortexoptics.com/ and read their warranty. It’s as good as anybody’s in the business. Basically, if anything at all happens to the scope, no matter whose fault it is, pack it up and send it back and they will fix or replace it. Simple as that. No warranty cards to fill out, it doesn’t matter if you are the original owner or not. Of course things like abuse, theft and loss are excluded, but that’s about all. You have to have some confidence in your product to offer that up.

I was still leery, to say the least, of ordering a scope over the internet sight unseen. Especially when I’ve never seen an example of that maker’s scopes in person….never touched one or looked through one. Nobody wants to end up stuck with a scope that you don’t like, having to sell it for a loss, and then buying what you should have bought in the first place. The Vortex dealers within reasonable driving distance of me don’t stock the particular model that I was considering. So, I emailed Vortex and asked “What if I mount this scope up and it just doesn’t perform as I expect? Am I just stuck with it?” They did not reply to my email. Nope. Instead, Tim at Vortex CALLED me first thing the next morning. He said, “Mount it up take it to the range and put it through its paces. If it doesn’t measure up to your expectations, we’ll take it back.” Folks, you really have to have confidence in your product to offer that up. To say that I was impressed would be to make an understatement.

I placed my order that same afternoon.
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Last edited by germag; 02-19-2010 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:43 PM
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Initial Impressions

The order was placed on Wednesday afternoon through Camera Land. The following Saturday morning, Federal Express delivered a package containing my new Vortex Viper and a can of Café Bustello….wow. Nice touch. Coincidentally, the USPS also delivered a package from Brownell’s containing my 30mm rings on the same day. Great! I’m in business!

My initial impression of the scope is very favorable. The optics appears to be very high quality. I know the glass is Japanese….I got that in my conversation with Tim. Japanese glass, in my experience, tends to be high quality glass. It’s not German glass, but it can be very high quality glass….and it doesn’t carry the stratospheric prices of German glass. Well…we’ll see when I get to the range. It’s one thing to be crisp and clear at 6.5x @ 100 yards….quite another to be crisp and clear at 20x @ 600 yards.

The fit and finish is excellent. This is not a cheaply made scope by any means. The adjustments are positive and well-damped. The magnification power adjustment ring is just right…a little stiff, so it’s not going to accidentally move if you bump it and it’s not going to drift on its own, but it’s also not “Where’s my Channellocks?” stiff like some Leupolds I’ve seen.

The magnification adjustment features a pointer bar, called the Magview Lever with a little red indicator arrow that, combined with the rear-facing power markings, shows you what power you are set on without having to unmount the rifle and look at the power ring. You can see it from your shooting position. Neat….VERY neat. Without moving from the shooting position, you can see the magnification setting, the parallax wheel and your anti-cant device (if you put one on). The power adjustment ring is oversized and well knurled and has the Magview Lever on it, so it’s easy to operate with gloved hands. I think that on any tactical glass, all controls should be usable and visible from the shooting position. Once in the shooting position, the less the marksman has to move, the better. Any unnecessary movement, such as that associated with unmounting the weapon from the shooting position to look at power settings, etc, causes you to take your eyes off the target…a bad thing…and could even have the potential of compromising your position…a really bad thing.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:45 PM
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Notice the oversized, well knurled magnification ring and the Magview Adjustment lever which serves as an indicator pointer, and the rear-facing numbers, which can be seen from the shooting position. The pointer bar serves as an aid in adjusting the magnification as well.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:50 PM
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Here’s the view from the shooter’s position. Magnification setting, parallax adjustment and an ACD can be seen without dismounting the rifle from the shooting position. (Note: The ACD is not included with the scope.)



The focus ring is easy to operate and getting the reticle in sharp focus was quick and easy. The one thing that I noticed was that in order to adjust focus to my eyes, I had to pretty much use all the adjustment in one direction that was available. My eyes are bad, but they aren’t THAT bad….I’ve not run into that situation with any other scope. All of my other scopes dialed in the reticle focus a little on the + side, but still with plenty of adjustment left. If I adjust it with my prescription glasses on, it uses less of the adjustment, but I usually don’t shoot with my glasses on. I am able to get it dialed in, so it’s not a big issue at this point, but if my eyes get much worse I will be forced to wear my glasses while using this scope.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:51 PM
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OK…so the scope is mounted, the eye relief set, the reticle leveled, ACD installed and leveled, all mounting screws torqued to specs and secured with blue Loctite where appropriate, and the bolt handle clears the ocular bell with room to spare, the scope is bore-sighted….ready to go to the range. Just need to go get some Federal Premium Gold Medal Match 168gr Sierra MK BTHP factory loads or load some Sierra 168 gr. MK BTHP over some Varget or IMR4064 and head to the range. First chance I get when the weather is decent….


When I ordered the scope, I also ordered the optional 4” sun shade for it. This is the part that, so far, has brought the only real disappointment…oddly enough…and it’s not really a major thing. The finish is thin in some spots (fairly large spots) giving the sun shade a sort of mottled appearance. This is really sort of surprising to me, given the excellent fit and finish of the scope. The shade threads on easily and the fit is good, but the finish is lacking.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:54 PM
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At the range

Weather conditions:

Well, the first halfway decent weather to go to the range was in the high 30’s and low 40’s in the morning, warming up to about 48 in the afternoon. I took a day off from work, called a buddy to be spotter for me, and headed to the range. The wind was a full value right-to-left wind that was 5 mph gusting to about 12 mph and fairly constant throughout the day with a few very brief calm periods. I did all of my work today at the 100 yard range at Pickens County Sportsman’s Club in Jasper, Georgia.

All shooting was done at 100 yards using Federal Gold Medal Match .308 Win., 168 gr. Sierra BTHP MatchKing ammo from a Shooter’s Ridge Zero Kick rest. Rifle is a Remington Model 700 SPS with a 20” heavy contour barrel, 1:12 twist.

The first thing to do was to zero. I rechecked bore sighting at 25 yards, fired a couple of confirmation shots at 25 yards, then moved out to 100 yards to zero. I was zeroed at 100 yards within 6 shots (counting the 2 shots at 25 yards).

Next thing to test is accuracy and repeatability of the windage and elevation adjustment and the operation, ease of use, and function of the turrets. For the target below, the black diamond is the zero starting point. Each orange spot represents a distance of 1” from its adjacent spot. The black diamond is the aiming point. Each adjustment of 4 clicks should move the point of impact 1” in the direction of the adjustment. I started out by making an adjustment of 4 clicks up and firing one shot while aiming at the black diamond. Then I made another adjustment of 4 clicks up and fired another shot, still aiming at the black diamond. After making 6 such adjustments up, I returned the adjustment to zero and fired an additional shot at the black diamond. I then repeated this procedure left, then right.




The shot in the black diamond and the two shots just left of it are the “zero” shots. If we take into account that average spread of the groups (approx .65”) and the potential wind deflection, as well as shooter error, I think we can safely say that the windage and elevation adjustments as well as return to zero are accurate and repeatable. Most of the shots I missed, I called this misses and my spotter verified them. It was easy enough because most of them were due to either a gust of wind appearing as I touched the shot off, or I was adjusting for wind that suddenly died as I fired. But, if we look at the overall picture, my total adjustments in each direction moved the shots the proper amount and then returned accurately to zero.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:54 PM
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i know there is more coming...but it sounds great so far. should we actually shoot a match together, i definitely want to take a peek through it!

-matt
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:55 PM
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Below are four 3-shot groups and one 4-shot group fired very carefully at a rate of about 3 shots per minute (where possible accounting for wind gusts):

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Old 02-19-2010, 09:57 PM
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:58 PM
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:01 PM
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:03 PM
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:04 PM
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The Mildot reticle is perfectly subtended at 14x (the stated milling power), 1 mil graduation equals exactly 3.6” @100 yards.

At 100 yards, I compared the glass side-by-side with a Nikon Monarch 4-16SF Mildot scope. This was admittedly not a very scientific test, but rather a very subjective one. I did, however, visually check both scopes with a lens test chart. I found both scopes to be very nearly equal in clarity, brightness, and definition…if there is an edge to be had in this comparison; it’s a very slight one in favor of the Nikon glass. However, the Vortex glass is very impressive.

I actually prefer the turrets of the Vortex over the Nikon turrets because they are of the “lift to disengage and turn to zero” type for setting zero reference after zeroing the scope. The Nikon turrets require you to unscrew the turrets, turn them to zero and put the screw back in. I dislike disassembling small parts in the field where there is a possibility of dropping a tiny screw and losing it in the grass.

Well, the next phase of the test will be on the 300 yard range…..waiting for the next weather opportunity.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:20 PM
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Great review. I'll be looking forward to the 300 yd test and overall evaluation. I thinkl I just might be ready to order the 4-16 PST myself.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:29 PM
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Good review, I'm itching to take mine out something fierce. Once I get a good 100 yard zero, I'm going to Gunsite Hills in Lexington, let me know if you ever get this way. We can compare side by side with a Bushnell Elite 4200 and a Nightforce 5.5-22x56.
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:26 AM
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What caliber?
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:02 AM
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I have tried and tried to find a bad review on the net for this scope but just cannot find one!! After all the good reviews and this review as well I decided to go ahead and ordered one for my Rem700P in .223.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burdy View Post
What caliber?
Well, that's on page 6, but the test was done with a Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical chambered in .308 Win.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skeeter123 View Post
I have tried and tried to find a bad review on the net for this scope but just cannot find one!! After all the good reviews and this review as well I decided to go ahead and ordered one for my Rem700P in .223.
Well, from my experiences thus far, I do not think you'll be disappointed. I'm still waiting to find out what the "catch" is....
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:23 PM
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I have the same in a 30mm x 50 obj. It is a great scope for the coin... and as stated the warranty is second to none.
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germag View Post
Well, from my experiences thus far, I do not think you'll be disappointed. I'm still waiting to find out what the "catch" is....
You may end up selling all your other scopes?
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:51 PM
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I have been wondering what kind of scope I am going to put on my .358 Win Mauser build. I am partial to Sightron, but I just may go ahead and get a Vortex to try out. I obviously don't need a 6.5-20x, so I guess I will see how their lower magnification models work.
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:06 PM
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Where are these manufactured at?
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Old 02-27-2010, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
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Where are these manufactured at?
I'm not sure, but I believe Korea.
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:12 AM
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Good review.

I really like the rear facing numbers !
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bullgator View Post
I'm not sure, but I believe Korea.
They are assembled in the Phillipines. The glass is made in Japan.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:18 AM
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I own some Vortex optics and haven't been able to find the catch either. Good thread!
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Old 02-27-2010, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germag View Post
They are assembled in the Phillipines. The glass is made in Japan.
Well Korea is kinda in the middle.....right?
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:08 PM
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Would a 300 WM be too much gun for this scope?
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:41 PM
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I would think it would hold up just fine....I would not be afraid to use one on a .338 LM. It's a tough scope.
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Old 04-26-2010, 03:48 PM
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Imagine the results you coulda gotten if you had mounted it on a Savage!
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bighonkinjeep View Post
Imagine the results you coulda gotten if you had mounted it on a Savage!
Yeah, you're right...it could have been a lot worse....
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:44 PM
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the guys on AR15.com always post VERY positive about vortex, i want to say the owners name is Sam and he is always on there answering questions. seems to be a stand up company, thanks for the range report. glad you got a great scope
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Old 05-14-2010, 08:48 AM
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OK...I finally got to wring this thing out at longer ranges. It performed just fine. I was able to dial in whatever elevation and windage I needed and return to zero without issues. I did not shoot beyond 1,000 yards but that was not due to a problem with the scope. I pinged the target several times at 1k and then returned the scope to zero and just about cut the center out of the 100 yard bull. Then I dialed in dope at 300, 400, and 500 and got 1st shot hits on the 300 and 400, missed the 500 with the first shot due to a loose nut behind the trigger. The wind changed just before the trigger broke and I didn't get off the shot and wait for my dope conditions.I got a hit on the 500 with the second shot without changing the turrets.

The following day, I just made a compensation in my shooting solution for the changes in the wind and got right on the 1k.

The only problem I had was when I was having trouble at the 300 yard mark, moved in to 100 yards again and still had trouble....before I had moved to downrange targets, I had shot bug holes at 100 yards. I couldn't figure out why I was now shooting a 3" group at 100. Something loose in the scope? Bad batch of handloads? Action screws loose? Then I found that my rail had loosened up at the back and was wandering around a little. I took the scope off and re-tightened the rail, remounted the scope, dialed in at 100 again and I was good to go again.

I also thought I had lost track of zero once, but that was my fault....you shouldn't go twisting knobs if you don't have a plan.....no big deal, I just adjusted down to the limit and counted up to my zero again...it was right where I thought it was, but I had put that little doubt in my own mind. However, that's one thing this scope could definitely use....a zero stop. I'm looking in to the possibility of adding one. I'm not sure if it's going to be possible or not, but it would be a great addition.

At longer ranges, the glass is good....not Nightforce or S&B good, but certainly acceptable. It compared about equally with the Nikon Monarch glass.
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