By Johnny Mack
There is an abundance of optics companies these day all competing for your dollar and loyalty. Vortex Optics is one of those companies and they have developed quite the cult following in recent years. That following was built upon their “VIP” warranty. It states that no matter what happens, your Vortex product will either be fixed or replaced. In the world of hunting, if your optics fail, you are going to have a slim chance of success. Hopefully you will never have to test their warranty, but it is nice to know it is there.
While on our backcountry bear hunt this last August, we thought we were going to have to test that warranty. The scope we used on our Seekins Precision SP-10 (link to review) was the Vortex Viper PST Gen II. It is hard to be gentle on your gear when you are breaking trail through steep mountainous terrain. I found out first hand just how tough and well made their products are when on that hunt.
Vortex Optics originated in 2002 and is based out of Barneveld Wisconsin. They believe that the customer is king and act according with that belief. Whether you are looking for binoculars, spotting scopes, or range finders, if Vortex makes it, they warranty it. Heck, even Washington Backcountry’s own team member Wes challenged their warranty by messaging them on Instagram and asking if they would warranty his Vortex hat. Sure enough, he received a brand new one in the mail.
ABOUT THE SCOPE
Not all scopes are created equal. In the world of optics, you generally get what you pay for. One thing that sets Vortex apart from other companies, besides their VIP warranty, is their dedication to create quality products for every price level. There is a common saying in the shooting community: your glass (optics) should match your gun. This means that whatever you spent on your rifle, the cost of your scope should not be far behind it. You can decide if you believe that to be true, but one thing is for certain, you get what you pay for when it comes to Vortex.
The scope that we demoed to go with the Seekins Precision SP-10 rifle (MSRP $2550) was the Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44 FFP (EBR-2C MOA reticle). This scope is Vortex’s second highest tier in regards to price point and optical clarity. It has a MSRP value of $1299.99 but can be found for around $999.99 (link to Cabelas). The Viper’s features shadow the ones of the Vortex Razor Gen II, which is their highest tier optic.
Vortex offers two different reticles on the Viper. A MOA version and a MRAD version. Both reticles illuminate in red, and were very impressive with the sharpness of the lit reticle. One thing to note is the difference between the Gen I and Gen II versions. In the Gen I version, the battery location was located near the shooters eye on the rear of the scope (Gen I Link), while the Gen II put the battery on the left side of the scope near the parallax adjustment.
Being that the scope is FFP (first focal plane), the scale of the reticle remains in proportion to the zoomed image. Meaning, as you increase the magnification of the scope, the object and your reticle will both enlarge. On second focal plane scopes only the object you are looking at will enlarge as you increase the magnification. The beauty of FFP scopes is that your drop chart for bullet trajectory stays the same no matter what magnification your scope is set at. The same does not hold true for second plane optics. There are two downsides of a FFP scope. The first being that the reticle is hard to see on low magnification. Creating difficulty in close range hunting or shooting applications. The second being that the reticle on high magnification can be thick causing your reticle to cover your target at long distances.
One of the beautiful features of the scope is the RZR Zero Stop. A zero stop is a way to set the turret so it can not be dialed lower than your sight in distance. This comes in handy when you are using the elevation dial to adjust for longer shots. Whether you dial by the number of “clicks” or off of MOA, being able to quickly return your scopes elevation back to its original sight in mark is an extremely useful feature.
The one debatable side of this scope is the price tag. First focal plane scopes are more expensive. If you compare a second focal plane scope to a first focal plane scope, the glass quality and clarity will typically be better for the same price point on second focal plane scopes. This is not a knock on Vortex or their optics. It is a standard feature across all optics companies.
Field of View @ 100 yds – 41.2′ – 8.6′ (dependent upon magnification)
Eye Relief – 3.4″
Tube Diameter – 30mm
Length – 14.3″
Weight – 28.1 ounces
Adjustment Graduation – 1/4 MOA
Travel per Rotation – 25 MOA
Max Elevation Adjustment – 75 MOA
Max Windage Adjustment – 40 MOA
Parralax Adjustment – 20 yards to Infinity
The Vortex Viper PST Gen II is made in the Philippines.
YOUR NEXT SCOPE
If you are interested in getting your hands on a Vortex Viper PST Gen II, I highly recommend them. The features and quality of the scope are well done. The ability to trust your optic’s durability and it’s ability to track properly while dialing for distance and windage is something that should not be forgotten while in search of your next scope.
Thanks for reading this gear review. If you want to know more about the Vortex Viper PST Gen II and our experience with it, feel free to ask. We will be releasing our bear hunt video that featured the scope soon. In the meantime make sure to go subscribe to the Washington Backcountry YouTube channel as well as follow us on Instagram @Washington_Backcountry. I hope you enjoyed it.