Vortex Razor HD Gen II Review [2020]: Ultimate Precision Rifle Scope?

The Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 line of scopes are popular in the precision long range or tactical shooting communities. Each of the Razor HD Gen II scopes by Vortex offer a lot of professional-grade features but they also come at a professional-grade cost.

In this review, we’re going to cover the specs and features of the long-range Razor HD Gen II scopes (3-18×50 and 4.5-27×56) and help you decide whether these Vortex scopes are right for your rifle.

Stay tuned for our thoughts on the Razor HD AMG scopes and the lower powered Razor HD Gen II 1-6x and Gen III 1-10x scopes.

Before we begin, I want to let you know that some of the links below are affiliate links that can help us keep our ammo budget going but they will NOT affect your price nor do they affect our advice.

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Vortex Razor HD Gen II Long Range Scopes

The Vortex Razor HD Gen II scopes are premium precision long range rifle scopes that come in either 3-18×50 or 4.5-27×56.

VORTEX RAZOR SCOPES BACKGROUND

Vortex Optics is an American, veteran, and family owned company that started out as Eagle Optics in the late 80s making binoculars for bird-watching. They added a Vortex line of binoculars in 2005 for hunters, which quickly expanded into hunting scopes. Due to their popularity, this became their main line of business.

Vortex makes a wide variety of scopes. They released their first “premium grade” rifle scope, the Razor HD in late 2009. At the time, it was well received but the long range precision scope market was dominated by Leupold and Nightforce.

It wasn’t until the the Razor HD Gen II were released that Vortex started to quickly dominate the long range precision rifle space. The features of the first generation Razor HD riflescopes were nice, but these Gen II Razors are a big step up!

How much did it dominate? According to the awesome series on the Precision Rifle Blog wherein the top 100 precision rifle competitors are surveyed, Vortex had “twice as many scopes represented than any other brand” in 2015, the first full year it was released.

Vortex Razor HD Scope RankingThe year prior, in 2014, Schmidt and Bender had 33% of the field. By 2015 Schmidt and Bender fell to just 8% and Vortex had 40% of the field. The following year, Vortex still held 36% of the shooters. I’d call that taking the marketplace by storm.

As a note, Vortex just released their first Gen III Razor HD scope in 1-10x that we’ll be reviewing soon….but we’ll give you a hint, we’re still more excited about the Gen II.

Vortex Razor Gen II Scope Specs

SpecRAZOR HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 MILRAZOR HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 MOARAZOR HD Gen II 3-18x50 MILRAZOR HD Gen II 3-18x50 MOA
Tube Size34 mm34 mm34 mm34 mm
Objective Lens Diameter56 mm56 mm50 mm50 mm
Field of View25.3-4.4 ft/100 yds25.3-4.4 ft/100 yds37.8-6.25 ft/100 yds37.8-6.25 ft/100 yds
Turret StyleL-TecL-TecL-TecL-Tec
Adjustment Graduation.1 MRAD1/4 MOA.1 MRAD1/4 MOA
Travel Per Rotation10 MRAD25 MOA10 MRAD25 MOA
Max Elevation Adjustment28.5 MRAD71 MOA28.5 MRAD71 MOA
Max Windage Adjustment10 MRAD34 MOA10 MRAD34 MOA
Parallax Setting32 yds to Infinity32 yds to Infinity25 yds to Infinity25 yds to Infinity
Length14.4"14.4"14.4"14.4"
Weight48.5 oz48.5 oz46.5 oz46.5 oz
Eye Relief3.7"3.7"3.7"3.7"

VORTEX RAZOR HD GEN II SCOPE FEATURES

razor-hd-gen-ii-scope-features
1 Matching turret and reticles

Whether you prefer MOA or Mils, having matching turrets like these are a must!

2 Excellent Glass/Clarity

The Gen II HD Razor scopes really set a new standard for clarity and view.

3 Heavy Duty

This is not a fragile scope (nor is it lightweight)

4 Ballistic Reticles

These scopes make use of excellent reticles that allow for holds for drop and wind drift.

VORTEX RAZOR HD GEN II MODELS

Although there are many rifles scopes in the Razor HD family, we’re reviewing the 2nd generation of Razor HDs meant for long range shooting – this includes both the Razor HD Gen II 3-18×50 and the Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56.

RAZOR HD GEN II 4.5-27x56 FFP
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RAZOR HD GEN II 3-18x50 FFP
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RAZOR HD GEN II SCOPES - OUR TAKE

Because of my background and being known as a long range guy, I’m often asked my opinion on what’s the best long range rifle or scope. By far, the most common brand of scope I’m asked about for long range shooting is Vortex.

Q: Are Vortex scopes good for precision long range shooting?

A: Well, yes and no. Depending on which model Vortex scope you get, it can be unsuitable, good enough if you’re on a budget, or the best available (in my opinion).

Vortex offers a very wide range of optics in price and quality. This is good because they can offer something for every budget and need. However, it can make it difficult to offer a generic opinion about the brand without knowing which model is being considered.

Simply, some Vortex scopes are too entry-level/budget and are not suitable for precision long range shooting while other Vortex scopes are my absolute favorite scopes for long range shooting.

Therefore, it is important to start this review off right: we are specifically talking about the Razor HD Gen II scopes and not about the other offerings by Vortex. As you can see by my answer above, there’s a ton of variability in Vortex scopes for quality, function, and price.

What I Love About Vortex Razor HD Gen II Scopes:

VIEW. They’re just beautiful to look through. vortex razor hd review scope view

Seriously, I know that might sound crazy, but there’s something about a quality optic that makes my eye(s) relax and make a soothing, “ahhhhhhh.”

The image is clear, sure, but I actually think that too much can be made about clarity alone. Once you’re in the top tier of clear scopes, the differences are negligible and there’s definitely a point where the gains in clarity don’t justify the higher cost.

What’s so nice about the Vortex Razor Gen II scopes is….well… there’s just something magical about how the image looks to my eye. There are plenty of people that disagree with me but they’re not writing this review… I am.

It sounds weird (even to me) but it’s almost as if the image leaving the eyepiece of the scope expands and the scope almost can’t be seen around the image. On the 1-6x Razor HD, which this review is not about, the image is so large, that the otherwise fairly bulky scope almost disappears when you look through it.

RETICLE. Vortex has the best reticles.

I’m finding it hard not to sound like a shill for Vortex here. I guess you’ll just have to trust me that they’ve never paid me a cent (they have loaned me some scopes for review – many I’ve returned and some I still have).

Vortex has mastered making the “Christmas tree” reticle, wherein subtensions (lines at particular distances) extend lower and wider below the center of the reticle so that the shooter can quickly hold for elevation and windage adjustments. Others seem to make the lines too thick or too thin and their reticles are too busy or are missing info. I’m not sure how they did it, but I think that their reticles are just right.

razor-hd-gen-ii-reticlesTheir reticle options come in either Mil or MOA and they match their turrets! This is now normal, but it wasn’t when they did it. Not sure about what Mils or MOA are? Start with our article on Understanding Minutes of Angle.

TURRETS. The turrets on the Razor Gen II scopes are large, aggressively textured, exposed turrets that are easy to adjust. Typically, exposed turrets are faster to adjust but they are easy to accidentally move whereas capped turrets are more protected but they are slower to adjust because a cap needs to be removed… and, if you’re like me, sometimes are lost.

Most scopes use reference marks under the turret to see what revolution you’re on. Problem is, most people don’t take my advice in the Long Range Shooting Handbook and draw a picture of the reference marks in their notebook so they forget what their normal setting is.

Vortex fixed this by making a tactile button (for lack of a better word) stick out the side of the scope for each extra revolution. It’s very obvious when it’s present and it is a super slick way to handle the problem.

REPEATABILITY. Ok, at this point, I’m essentially writing a love letter to these scopes.

I have more faith in the durability and repeatability in my Vortex Razor HD Gen II 3-18×50 than I do for any other scope.

My Razor HD tracks exactly as it should and when I make a certain adjustment, that is exactly the adjustment that is made.

What more can you want?

What I Don’t Like about the Razor Gen II HD scopes:

What!?!??! There’s something I don’t like about these scopes?

Yes… there’s two things, actually:

  • The Razor Gen II scopes are HEAVY. I mean really heavy. I’ve used one for hunting before and wish I had a much lighter scope with me.
  • These scopes are also a weird brown-ish color. It’s actually grown on me a bit but my personal preference would be something a little more generic like a grey. Brown is cool, unless the rest of your rifle isn’t brown.

As a distant third, they’re fairly pricey. This isn’t really something I don’t like about these scopes, though, because I think they are still a great value for everything you get for the money and there are other high end scopes that cost much more and don’t deliver any better value.

Scope Review Conclusion

My current favorite scope for long range precision rifle shooting is the Vortex Razor HD Gen II in 3-18×50.  I think it is the perfect blend of features, magnification, and use-ability.

If you watch any of my Youtube videos on shooting lately, there’s a good chance you’ll see me with a second generation Razor HD on the rifle. For example, here’s a video I did for the National Shooting Sports Foundation on how to zero a rifle. I made the video on how to zero a rifle generally and used generic scope instructions. This scope actually has a unique method to zero that we explain below.

This is one of my favorite videos I did because it is all done in one camera shot/take (that’s not easy) and I make a mistake in the video and use it to show you how to recover.

 

If you’re looking for a rugged and reliable scope for long range that’s a joy to shoot, you really should check out these Razor HDs by Vortex Optics.

 

Razor HD Gen II 3-18×50 Review

For the lower powered version of the two scopes in this review, I absolutely love the 3-18x 50 version of this scope.

This is me “Go To” scope because the lower 3-18x is easier for me to shoot and the 18 power Is enough magnification for me to see targets even out to 1 mile. (of course, I spent years learning on a 10 power scope out to 1000).

If you’re torn between which Gen II razor to get for long range, seriously consider the 3-18×50.

 

Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 Review

The higher power version of these two scopes is a bit too big for me,

Without a doubt, if I’m only shooting past 1000 yards, it is nice to have some extra magnification available (remember, you don’t have to use these scopes on full power because they’re First Focal Plane (FFP) (more on this below)).

However, the size and weight of this scope make it very specialized for me and I I’m more likely to opt for the 3-18×50 scope instead of this 4.5-27×56 scope.

VORTEX RAZOR HD GEN II SCOPES PROS AND CONS

  • Clear
  • Precise
  • Professional Grade
  • Ultra Reliable
  • Tactile Adjustments
  • Heavy
  • Pricey
  • Brownish Color

REPORT CARD

CLARITY

The glass is top notch and very easy on the eyes.

A+
REPEATABILITY

This thing is super reliable and repeatable. I put my full faith in it.

A+
SHOOTABILITY

Where some scopes are difficult to find an image or are difficult to adjust, this thing is a breeze to use and shoot with.

A+
FEATURES

“Christmas tree” reticles, user-friendly turrets, illuminated reticle, and revolution indicators make these feature-packed scopes.

A+
VALUE

It’s expensive, but I honestly believe you’re getting more for your money than other options and no other scope near this price is as good.

A+
final-grade-razor-hd-gen-ii-scopes (1)

FINAL GRADE : A+

How to Mount a Razor HD Scope to Your Rifle

So, you’ve decided to get a Razor HD Gen II from Vortex Optics for your long range precision rifle… great choice. But now you’ve got some work to do.

It’s time to mount that Razor HD scope on your rifle.

First, you’re going to need some parts and tools: scope rings, scope base, and scope mounting tools. I’m going to make a simple list here of my favorites of each and I’ll include more information on them below for you to make a better decision for yourself if you like.

Here’s a quick list to get you started mounting your scope:

1. Vortex 34mm Rings

It only makes sense that if you’re going to mount a Vortex scope, you use the rings designed for it. Luckily, all variations of the Razor HD Gen II scope utilize the 34mm rings.

2. Scope Base

You need to get the right one for your rifle – with this scope, you should be spending around $100 or more for a quality base. Also, having a base with some elevation built in is handy for long range shooting. I like 20 MOA bases myself. But, if you have a flat base already, you can use a ring/mount with base built in that I recommend below.

3. Wheeler Firearm Torque Wrench

If you’re planning on mounting by-the-book, you’ll find that there are certain values that your mount should be torqued to. And the only way to ensure that you’re actually hitting those values is to use a torque wrench.

4. Dewalt Torx 7-Piece Set

Having a torque wrench is all fine and dandy. But what good is it without the proper socket attachments? It’s not. I like this trusted set from Dewalt. They’re a solid company that produces high-quality tools that I’m sure you’ll find many more uses for.

5. Scope Leveling Set

Mounting your scope without leveling it totally defeats having a scope in the first place. If you want your scope to be as accurate and precise as possible, invest in a quality scope leveling kit like this one.

6. Tipton Gun Vise

Now this piece of gear isn’t necessarily must-have. It’s optional but… it comes in super handy when mounting your scope. Plus, you can use this over and over again. Might as well pick one up and save yourself some hassle.

Let me be clear… you may need NONE of the things above. You’ll need rings and a base for sure, but you may already have them. Also, if you get the rings I recommend above, they come with a Torx wrench so you could get away with skipping the Torque Wrench and the Torx bits for it above.

I’ll admit something here… there’s the “right” way to do it with the proper torque settings and then there’s the way I do it. I’m a little ashamed that I don’t do it 100% the “right” way but it works for me. If you’re interested in my bare-bones and just what works method for mounting a scope, here’s a video that I did for the National Shooting Sports Foundation on how to mount your scope. It’s been a few years (pre-beard) but it has a couple million views so maybe you’ll learn something.

As you’ll notice, a LOT of mounting your scope properly is getting your rifle and scope set up to fit you properly!

When I made the video, they scope leveling kit I recommend above didn’t exist. Maybe enough people liked the idea of using a physical leveling method instead of bubble levels that these were made. Regardless, I love the concept of the systems above and I would have used one in the video if they were around then.

Bubble levels, in my opinion area fool’s errand for mounting scopes and they give a false sense of confidence. Far too many scopes that are mounted crooked were mounted with bubble levels by someone who swears it is perfect.

 

Stay tuned for a full article on how to mount your scope.

How to Sight in / Zero a Vortex Razor HD Gen II Scope

Alright, you followed the instructions above to make sure that your scope is properly mounted, now it’s time to zero your scope to your rifle.  This is the good news: you finally get to go to the range to sight-in your rifle!

If you haven’t yet, please scroll up to the full Razor HD scope review above to see my video on how to sight-in/zero your rifle.

As I mention above, although this scope is used in that video, I gave instructions on how to sight in most scopes but didn’t cover the specific instructions for a Razor HD Gen II (they’re different) for when it comes to zeroing the turrets. The video will get you hitting where you’re aiming, but this section will get your turrets to actually read “0” when you’re at your baseline zero.

Instead of adjusting the turret to move the impact of the bullet, this particular riflescope should have the turret adjust to “0” and then have the internal mechanism adjusted. You should still follow the instructions in me video for boresighting and adjusting the scope, however, adjust the internal mechanism as per below instead of the entire turret.

Here are the steps to zeroing a Razor HD Gen II:

(these can also be found on page 12 of the Razor HD Gen II manual)

  1. Adjust and lock turrets (both elevation and windage) to the “0” setting.
  2. Remove center caps on top of each turret (use included tool or a coin)
  3. Loosen the three set screws around the outer edge of each turret a few turns (do NOT completely remove these)
  4. As adjustments to the reticle are needed, use the tool (or a flat head screwdriver), to adjust the internal mechanism.
  5. Once the scope is adjusted for your zero, tighten the set screws around the outside of the turrets. Adjust each equally and don’t overtighten them.
  6. Replace the top cap on top of each turret
  7. CONFIRM your zero and, if necessary, readjust.

Best and Extra Accessories for Your Razor HD Gen II Scopes

If you’re still unsure on how you’d like to actually go about putting together your scope setup, here’s some extra options you might want to check out.

Rings:

Scope Caps:

DO NOT get this nice of a scope and fail to protect your lenses. The easiest way to clean a premium lens without damaging it is to not let it get dirty in the first place! Just be sure that you get the proper size.

Shooting Extras:

There are some other things out there to enhance your long-range shooting experience. Here’s a few of the things I like to use on occasion.

These riflescopes are easily some of the best you’ll find on the market today. But if  you still don’t think that these are right for you, there are other options.

Here are my top three picks:

Fact of the matter is this… Top notch scopes aren’t cheap. And that includes the Vortex Razor HD Gen II series. But the Vortexes aren’t as hard on your wallet and still perform in the upper echelon of scopes.

If you’re looking for some extra information and conversation on the Razor HD Gen II’s, here’s a few links to dig into.

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Average rating 4.9 / 5. Vote count: 12

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    4 Comments

    • James S
      Posted April 11, 2020 3:13 am

      Well I’m happy to read such a positive review of these rifle scopes since I just bought 2 of the 4.5-27×56. As always great written review by the awesome Ryan Cleckner.

      • Ryan Cleckner
        Posted April 11, 2020 10:49 am

        Happy to help! I appreciate the support.

    • francisco bali
      Posted April 11, 2020 6:46 pm

      Hi Ryan! What shooting mat are you using in the video (zeroing the vortex)? The one you have attached to the backpack.
      Thanks a lot for your reviews! I bought your book, very helpfull since I’m a begginer.
      Also have a very similar gear, a TAC A1, in .308, with a Razor HD II, the bigger one, 4,5-27X56.
      Cheers from Argentina!

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