Vortex Razor HD Gen II Review : 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.
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.
The 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
|Spec||RAZOR HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 MIL||RAZOR HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 MOA||RAZOR HD Gen II 3-18x50 MIL||RAZOR HD Gen II 3-18x50 MOA|
|Tube Size||34 mm||34 mm||34 mm||34 mm|
|Objective Lens Diameter||56 mm||56 mm||50 mm||50 mm|
|Field of View||25.3-4.4 ft/100 yds||25.3-4.4 ft/100 yds||37.8-6.25 ft/100 yds||37.8-6.25 ft/100 yds|
|Adjustment Graduation||.1 MRAD||1/4 MOA||.1 MRAD||1/4 MOA|
|Travel Per Rotation||10 MRAD||25 MOA||10 MRAD||25 MOA|
|Max Elevation Adjustment||28.5 MRAD||71 MOA||28.5 MRAD||71 MOA|
|Max Windage Adjustment||10 MRAD||34 MOA||10 MRAD||34 MOA|
|Parallax Setting||32 yds to Infinity||32 yds to Infinity||25 yds to Infinity||25 yds to Infinity|
|Weight||48.5 oz||48.5 oz||46.5 oz||46.5 oz|
Vortex Razor Hd Gen II Scope Features
1 Matching Turrets 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 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.
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.
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.
Their 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 brownish 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
- Professional Grade
- Ultra Reliable
- Tactile Adjustments
- Brownish Color
The glass is top notch and very easy on the eyes.
This thing is super reliable and repeatable. I put my full faith in it.
Where some scopes are difficult to find an image or are difficult to adjust, this thing is a breeze to use and shoot with.
“Christmas tree” reticles, user-friendly turrets, illuminated reticle, and revolution indicators make these feature-packed scopes.
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.
Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner
Based on 6 Reviews
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
- Adjust and lock turrets (both elevation and windage) to the “0” setting.
- Remove center caps on top of each turret (use included tool or a coin)
- Loosen the three set screws around the outer edge of each turret a few turns (do NOT completely remove these)
- As adjustments to the reticle are needed, use the tool (or a flat head screwdriver), to adjust the internal mechanism.
- 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.
- Replace the top cap on top of each turret
- 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.
- Vortex 34mm Cantilever Mount (both regular and quick detach),
- Nightforce 20 MOA UniMount (the 20 MOA elevation in the base/mount allows a shooter to shoot further with more elevation – typically elevation is build into the base – this is good if they want the elevation but have a flat base)
- Badger Ordnance 34mm Alloy rings
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.
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.
- Otis Technologies Lens Cleaning Kit
- Leupold Lens Pen
- Voodoo Tactical Roll-up Shooter’s Mat (or any of our BEST SHOOTING MATS)
- Storm Tactical Pocket Coil Bound Data Book
Other Options for the Razor Hd Gen II Scopes
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:
- Schmidt Bender PMII 3-27×56 L/P LT H59 FFP .1 MRAD CW 34 Mil Pantone: If you’re looking for a luxury scope, you’ll find it here. But be warned, it also comes with a luxury price tag.
- NightForce ATACR 7-35x56mm F1 ZeroStop .1mrad DigIllum PTL Mil-XT C613: Again, this is another pricey scope.
- KAHLES K525i 5-25×56 CCW .25 MOA MOAK RSW 10646
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.
Important Links and Manuals for Your Razor Hd Gen II Scope
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.
- Vortex Razor HD Gen II Riflescopes
- Vortex Razor HD Gen II Manual
- Sniper’s Hide Riflescope Forum on the Vortex Razor HD Gen II
May 26, 2023
May 26, 2023
Good content and guidance. Thank you. As it relates to rifle scopes, I repeatedly hear the best glass comes from Germany. Another review on scopes specific to 1,000 yard shooting by your peer this month reiterrated said that as well. Since that’ seems to be the opinion of many qualified individuals, I’m wondering why the Zeiss LRP didn’t make your review or that of your peer? In fact, I searched your site and I can’t find any mention of it in the past at all. I’m not being critical, just wondering since Zeiss’s LRP caught my attention. I appreciate this website and all the great content you put out. Thank you.
Awesome glass. Return to zero is not as nice to slip as Leupold MK4, but Tremor 3 rocks.. Positive and accurate clicks.. Aadmount covers are the best
Thanks a lot. Awesome video as I am about to purchase a new scope mostly for long range shooting. Options are S&B 5-25 PM2, Kahles 5-25, NightForce 7-35 or Vortex Razor 4,5-27. Many here in Europe believe in European optics. So do I, but NF and Razor are appealing to me.. Actually might be most tempted by the Razor..
Your presentation certainly didnt subtract from that feeling …
Ulrik Hentzer / Denmark
This is the best information related to Vortex Razor HD Gen II SCOPE! After so many searches, I got an authentic site where all information is present related to Vortex Razor HD Gen II SCOPE. Thank you for sharing so much information.
Vortex Scopes are the best!
We’re so happy that this scope review could help you, Shawn! If there’s any other scope’s you’d like reviewed, especially other long range/precision rifle scopes like this one, please let us know.
Ryan, the strike eagle has been revamped with several additional features. It is now priced $100 under the viper pst gen II. Do you think the glass quality (phillipines) gen II is worth the sacrifice to get to these additional features on the strike eagle (china glass)?
Fantastic Review. Thank you for the video as well, very well done. I have been debating between the two models on which to get. So if price was not a factor you would still go with the 3-18x over the e 4.5-27x as the better all around magnification range?
Tough question. Even when Vortex has sent me a scope to borrow for an event (price didn’t matter) I asked for the 3-18x. But, I do see the benefit of more magnification sometimes even when you don’t have to use it all every time. 🙂
Amazing review. I got lucky a few weeks ago and found one of these scopes for “cheap”. Well, about half price of what they are going for now. Guy was changing from moa to mil and needed to get rid of it. Planned on getting the 3-18×50 (I watch a lot of your videos and you made a great point about not needing the super high powered scopes) but the price and condition was too good on the tank (4.5-27×56). Thanks for everything you do for the shooting community. Book is awesome, videos are awesome, keep being awesome.
Wow, that you for your kind words (and support).
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!
Thanks for your support! I’m using a mat designed by a Ranger buddy called the Minimalist Shooting Mat
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.
Happy to help! I appreciate the support.