Love for a Wisconsin scope company: Vortex Optics

Three things generally describe Wisconsin: the Green Bay Packers, beer and fresh cheese curds. Well, add one more to that list: Vortex Optics. Good guns deserve good optics. Period. End of story. But if you want to feel better about dropping big dollars on a riflescope, take comfort in knowing when you buy Vortex, you get way more scope than what it costs.

“The Force of Optics” is the company’s catchphrase. Want to know how strong the “force” really is? I’m not paid by Vortex and they don’t give me free stuff. In fact, they’re too small a company to even lend me these scopes for testing. I bought all of my Vortex optics — that’s as good a testament as I can give any product. This is not a glamorous, high paying job, so my money is carefully spent. I’m proud of my home state of Wisconsin and even more proud to have Vortex optics here as well.

Vortex Viper

The Vortex Viper during a prairie dog hunt. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Vortex Viper riflescopes

My Viper model is the HS LR 4-16×50 with the Dead Hold BDC reticle. This is built with a one-piece 30mm machined aluminum tube, weighs 21 ounces and has an exposed target-style elevation turret, side focus, capped windage and zero stop. All the bells, whistles, coatings and features you expect from a quality scope and then some.

Vortex Viper

The Vortex Viper line has six different variants. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

Viper HS LR’s are available with either a first or second focal plane reticle. The field of view is 27.4-7.4 feet/100 yards, but what makes Vortex’s Dead Hold BDC reticle even sweeter is the Long Range Ballistics Calculator available on the company’s website.

The LRBC allows you to input all sorts of information including caliber, bullet weights and weather conditions to provide the best use of the BDC for bullet drop, wind drift and ranging.

Technical mumbo jumbo aside, this scope is a pure performer in the field. It absolutely excelled out west, shooting prairie dogs and antelope at ranges of 200 to 650 yards.

My Viper has also been on my higher-powered deer rifles with stellar results even in the most challenging weather conditions. For those diehard, tactical-minded higher-rollers, Vortex’s Razor HD line of riflescopes is as good as it gets, albeit out of my price range and more scope than I’d ever need.

Although there are many variations of the Viper, this particular configuration retails for $649. However, online retailers price it less than $500.

Vortex Crossfire II

While the Internet is ablaze with mixed messages about the quality of the original Vortex Crossfire, do not confuse it with the Crossfire II. This is its own animal and although it’s at the lower end of the Vortex line pricing, its quality would easily put it at the mid-range of many other major manufacturers. The Crossfire II is the bread-and-butter scope of Midwestern whitetail hunters who don’t care to spend a fortune on either their optics or guns.

Vortex Crossfire II

The Vortex Crossfire II. (Photo: Kristin Alberts)

This utilitarian scope has the same aircraft-grade aluminum one-piece tube, second focal plane reticle, capped turrets and several models are available with an adjustable objective. Field of view is 24.7-8.4 feet/100 yards and eye relief is an excellent 3.9 inches.

The Crossfire II line is available with all three of Vortex’s reticles, including my fave DeadHold BDC.  I’ve hunted whitetails with mine and these scopes are very capable at the best times of day — dusk and dawn. They’ve gone from a heated blind to a bitter cold field with no ill effects. They’ve been bumped around, busted brush, and always excelled.

If you’re looking for slightly more scope, with additional elements like side focus, the Diamondback HP line of riflescopes are an ideal compromise between the Crossfire II and the Viper, in terms of both features and price.

Scopes in both 3-9×40 and 4-12x50AO are priced well under $200.

The warranty

No questions, no dates, no quizzes on what stupid thing you did with your optic or whether you’re the original owner or the third because Vortex honors its warranty. Pretty amazing. Read the forums online, check reviews, talk to friends, or dial the company directly and this is what you will find: Vortex is a class act.

Some ran over their optics with a truck or dropped the rifle, or did any other number of terrible things. Sometimes buyers unhappy with a Vortex scope are even allowed to trade up for another for the difference in price. This is the kind of warranty that manufacturers offered 35 years ago, but seldom do now.