We’ve been using a Vortex Razor HD GEN III on our personal go-to rifle for the past month or so, and have been very impressed with the optic’s clarity and overall usefulness. To learn more about the optic, we recently spoke with Jimmy Hamilton at Vortex.
Also be sure to check out our interview with Steve “Yeti” Fisher for his experiences with the Vortex Razor HD GEN III.
Q: Jimmy, prior to this year’s SHOT, the idea of a 1-10 optic from Vortex didn’t seem like it was in the immediate cards…Can you talk about what let up to its creation?
Jimmy Hamilton – Vortex – When you have a scope like the 1-6, that I feel was ahead of its time when it launched in around 2012 but is still relevant today, it gave us a lot of time to go back to the drawing board and create something that was truly unique.
I don’t think a lot of people realize how much is possible with optics today. It’s just a matter of how much you want to spend, how complicated you want to get, and what things are you willing to give up to achieve other things. 1-10 isn’t unobtanium or a unicorn horn, or whatever you want to call it. It is a bit more difficult to create and difficult to do well. Obviously, we wanted to have something that was better than the Razor 1-6 in every way, and with the amount of time we had to spend on it, we had the opportunity to go through a number of different designs. Our optical engineers could do a lot of trial and error in order to come up with something in the Vortex Razor HD GEN III that is truly great.
Vortex Razor HD Gen III 1-10×24
To do a 1-8, which a lot of people were asking for, it wouldn’t have been enough of a change for us here at Vortex. I think that would have been change just for change’s sake, and that’s not what we’re about. With a 1-8…sure you could do first focal plane, but it’s still not quite taking full advantage of it. It also simply was just not that much different from what we already offer in 1-6. To me, the Vortex Razor HD GEN III almost serves different roles, which is why the 1-6 still remains in our lineup. It’s a full on true DMR-type of scope.
Q: Why choose the Vortex Razor HD GEN III over the 1-6, and what are the advantages?
Jimmy Hamilton – Vortex – The characteristics of the DMR, or designated marksman rifle, and the scopes that go on that type of rifle are changing. You have platforms in 5.56 that are easily capable of reaching out to extended ranges, and so prior to now, you had to make a choice – was it going to be 1-6 for someone who is primarily going to be doing close-up work, but may have to stretch out to mid-range distances accurately, or were you going to go with a full-on DMR-style scope which was something like a 2-10. A 2-10 is still viable in shorter range scenarios, but it’s not something you’re going to be “running and gunning” with unless you have an offset optic like a red dot.
Now, with the Vortex Razor HD GEN III, for anybody who otherwise would have been looking at that 2-10 optic, you are really getting the opportunity to have a scope with basically zero compromise…So, if you were in that role where you were looking at a 2-10, this scope is perfect. It can do everything. You have a daylight bright reticle that is amazing on 1x, but then you can crank it up to 10x and you have a really nice reticle to work with at longer distances.
It’s way more streamlined. You don’t have stuff hanging off the side rifle that can get hit when you are moving around. It’s also shorter than something like a 2-10, so it fits better, especially if you are running other equipment on your rifles. It also is relatively lightweight.
With the 1-6, it has a much simpler second focal plane reticle…it still has that daylight bright dot that gives you the same incredible 1x experience. If you primarily are just doing close up stuff but you occasionally want the flexibility to go out to mid-range distances, you can save yourself 600 dollars and still get a very reputable optic with the Razor 1-6 Gen II.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the build quality?
Jimmy Hamilton – Vortex – We’d be off our rocker to release a Vortex Razor HD GEN III that was compromised in any way compared to the Gen II. We knew what we were making was an optic that would see professional use with law enforcement and the military and it had to be up to the task. I have a Razor 1-6 here at my desk that was hit by an RPG. The person who sent it to me is fine, and is still fighting, but the optic looks pretty normal aside from a blown-out lens. I can still see through the scope and the reticle is still intact.
In terms of how the Vortex Razor HD GEN III is built, there have been absolutely no compromises. We have gotten some questions about the weight and how that relates to durability, but the correlation isn’t exactly true. To keep the weight the same, we did change some materials over from something like brass to something more lightweight, but just as durable, if not stronger.
In the case of this optic being first focal plane, we use a glass-etched reticle, whereas in the Gen II, it was a rather unique wire reticle. While the Gen II, was built like a tank, I guess you’d think that if an area in the optic could break, it potentially could be there, but that is not the case with the new glass-etched reticle.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share about the Vortex Razor HD GEN III?
Jimmy Hamilton – Vortex – Sitting here in a Vortex chair here at the Vortex office, it’s easy to say that I am a little biased, and it is difficult to do an apples to apples comparison with other optics out there. Every company has their own unique price structures and values that they place on certain things. Certainly you can spend more on an optic, but I cannot speak on if that will actually get you a better optic or not. I will say that I don’t think that there is anything out there that can match the Vortex Razor HD GEN III.
I’ve seen first-hand the development of the optic, I use it myself. I know that it is truly a no-compromise optic. I think when you are spending around two grand for an optic, you don’t want there to be any compromises with what you are purchasing. We made very sure that the type of customers who demand the features that the Gen III offers would not see any need for improvement. We want them to get the optic and say “this is as good as it gets.”
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