Vortex Scope

Best Vortex Scopes (2021 Review): The Best Bang For Your Buck?

There are lots of brands of scopes out there, like Leupold, Trijicon, Steiner, and more. 

Our Best Vortex Scopes

  1. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40 (Our Top Pick)
  2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-18X44 AO (Best Budget)
  3. Vortex Razor HD Gen II 3-18X50 FFP (Best High End)
  4. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6X24
  5. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50

So how do you know what manufacturers produce quality optics and which ones don’t?

And how do you know which scopes made by a given manufacturer are good for what?

Well, to help you out, this guide is going to give you a run down on one of our favorite scope manufacturers, Vortex Optics.

We’re going to start by giving some background on Vortex and explaining why we love their scopes so much.

Then we’ll talk about the different types of scopes Vortex makes and how to choose the right scope for your needs.

Finally, we’ll finish up with a few of our favorite Vortex Scopes to help you get started on your search.

Let’s get to it.

What Are Vortex Scopes?

While Vortex Optics officially started in 2002, their roots actually date back to 1986. That’s when the owners first moved to Middleton, Wisconsin and opened an outdoor store.

Over time, the focus of the business changed, leading to the specialization in optics in ‘02. 

According to Vortex, something that hasn’t changed is the company’s commitment to quality products and excellent customer service. In our experience, that’s absolutely true. 

We’re mainly focusing on riflescopes here. However, Vortex also makes other optics including red dot sights and red dot magnifiers, spotting scopes, and rangefinders.

But why do we like Vortex rifle scopes so much? 

Well, Vortex makes dozens of different models of scopes, but they’re all more or less unified by a few common features. 

For example, all Vortex scopes feature fully multicoated lenses.

This means they have multiple layers of anti-reflective lens coatings. That helps with good light transmission, even in low light conditions.

With that said, some scopes feature different coatings than others.  

Virtually all Vortex Optics scope turrets feature zero reset. Almost all Vortex rifle scopes also feature a fast focus eyepiece.

This style of eyepiece has a dial for simple, fast reticle focusing.

Vortex scopes all feature a one piece tube for durability and accuracy. They’re well constructed and made from a single piece of solid aircraft-grade aluminum.

The scopes all feature o-ring seals and either argon or nitrogen purging. These features combine to make Vortex scopes shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. 

They’re also protected by Vortex’s unlimited lifetime warranty, so you’re covered if something does happen.

Vortex scopes also have a low-glare matte black hard-coat anodized finish that disguises the shooter’s position.

What Are The Different Types Of Vortex Scopes?

There are three main categories of scopes: hunting scopes, tactical scopes, and target scopes. Basically all scopes fit into at least one of these categories.

However, the distinctions between these categories are a bit fuzzy, so scopes can definitely fall into more than one.

Vortex Optics offers scopes in each of those three categories.

Hunting Scopes

Hunting scopes are generally low magnification scopes with a simple, clean reticle like a crosshair or duplex reticle.

The reticle is typically in the second focal plane.

Hunting scopes tend to feature capped turrets, often low profile ones.

Tactical Scopes

Tactical scopes tend to have higher magnification than hunting scopes. They often have first focal plane reticles in a more advanced style.

However, tactical scopes for close quarters may have simpler reticles in the second focal plane. Either way, tactical scopes frequently have illuminated reticles. 

Tactical scopes generally have uncapped turrets for easy windage and elevation adjustments.

In addition to actual tactical situations, tactical scopes may also be used in tactical style competition. Which brings us to the last category…

Target Scopes

Target scopes generally have the highest magnification and are intended for high precision shooting. Target scopes tend to have tall, uncapped turrets. 

Reticles may be in the first or second focal plane depending on the type of target shooting the scope is intended for. Similarly, reticles may be simple or complex depending on the range and type of target shooting.

How Do Vortex Scopes Work?

There’s no “special sauce” in how Vortex scopes work. While Vortex definitely provides plenty of great features, Vortex scopes still work using the same basic principles as other scopes.

Light enters the scope through the objective lens, where it’s filtered and focused. Then it enters the scope tube to travel through the erector system.

The erector system contains the magnification lenses and the reticle. The positioning of the reticle relative to the magnification lens determines whether it’s a first or second focal plane reticle.

First focal plane (FFP) reticles are positioned in front of the magnification lens. This means that like the rest of the objects seen through the scope, the reticle appears to grow and shrink as magnification is adjusted. 

Second focal plane (SFP) reticles are behind the magnification lens, so they aren’t affected by it. Second focal plane reticles always appear as the same size, regardless of magnification setting.

Once the light has passed through the erector system, it enters the eyepiece. Finally, it exits the scope through the optical lens, giving you your picture.

What Do You Look For In The Best Vortex Scopes?

Now that you know a bit more about Vortex and scopes in general, let’s talk about how to choose a scope.

All of Vortex Optics’ scopes are high quality, but there are still a few things that you need to consider to make sure you’re choosing the right one for you.

Reticle Style

Choosing the right reticle style is essential for accurate sighting that works for you.

A simple crosshair or duplex reticle is great for fast target acquisition and precision when you don’t need to make a lot of ballistic corrections using the reticle itself.

Duplex reticles are the most common reticle because they’re good for such a wide variety of purposes.

For extended ranges, a bullet drop compensation (BDC) reticle or other ballistic type reticle might be a better choice.

These reticles have hash marks below the center of the reticle to help the shooter make holdover corrections. 

Universal reticles typically have marks for up to a few hundred yards. There are also reticles specifically calibrated for particular rounds, which can be marked for mid range or long range shooting.

Magnification Strength

We mentioned above how what the scope will be used for impacts the magnification you need.

3-9x is a good general purpose magnification for mid to long range. You might want less for short range shooting or more for long range shooting, especially long range target shooting.

The size of the target also matters. You’ll generally want higher magnification for short range varmint hunting than, for example, deer hunting.

In addition, it can be tempting to think higher magnification is better, but that’s not the case. Higher magnification limits your field of view and amplifies the effect of every tiny move you make.

This makes it easy to lose your target, especially if it’s moving, makes it harder to tell where you’re aiming on an animal, and limits your situational awareness since you can’t see what’s around your target.

These things are all especially problematic for hunting, which is why hunting scopes tend to be lower magnification than target scopes.

Turret Style

Like magnification strength, we already talked about windage and elevation turret styles a little bit, but let’s go into a bit more detail.

Capped turrets, obviously, have caps. These caps help avoid accidental adjustments or catching on things, but makes it more difficult to purposefully make adjustments in the field.

Capped turrets are popular for hunting scopes because hunting scopes are typically zeroed and then left alone, so it’s more important to preserve that zero than be able to make adjustments.

Low profile turrets provide additional protection from snagging, so capped turrets tend to be low profile.

Exposed, or uncapped, turrets allow for easy adjustment. They’re often fingertip adjustable, but some feature a locking system to prevent accidental adjustments. Exposed turrets are often tall to make adjustment even easier.

Best Vortex Scopes Reviewed

Now that you know why you can trust Vortex Optics and how to choose the right Vortex scope for you, let’s get to the rifle scope reviews.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40 (Our Top Pick)

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40

Our first pick, the Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40, is a versatile scope that’s great for hunting or target shooting.

It has a MOA-based Dead-Hold BDC reticle that makes holdover and windage corrections easy. The capped reset turrets allow for tooless indexing while the precision glide erector system allows for smooth transition between magnification settings.

The 3-9×40 model is also great if you need a bit lower magnification.


  • Capped reset turrets
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable


  •  Eye relief is a little short

Buy The Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40 Here

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-18X44 AO (Best Budget)

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-18X44 AO

The Crossfire II is a great general purpose scope platform at an affordable price. The high magnification of the 6-18X44 model makes it especially well suited for target and long range shooting.

It’s available in either an MOA-based Dead-Hold BDC reticle, a V-Plex duplex reticle, or a V-Brite illuminated reticle. 

The 3-9X40 model is perhaps more popular and versatile, but it’s hard to beat the quality for the price for the 6-18X44 when it comes to a long range scope.


  • Adjustable objective for parallax correction
  • 3.7” long eye relief
  • Tons of other models on the same platform


  • Image can blur at higher magnifications

Buy The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-18X44 AO  Here

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 3-18X50 FFP (Best High End)

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 3-18X50 FFP

If you’re not too concerned about the price tag, the Vortex Razor HD Gen II 3-18X50 is a great high end model. This competition quality scope is great for long range shooting.

It has an illuminated reticle in Vortex’s EBR-7C reticle pattern, which is a Christmas tree style reticle. It’s a first focal plane reticle and is available in both MOA and MRAD based patterns.

The Vortex Razor HD Gen II has the best optics on this list with index matched lenses, extra-low dispersion glass, and XR Plus Full multi coating.

It also has L-Tec Zero Stop turrets and a side focus knob for parallax adjustment.


  • Incredible sight picture
  • Glass-etched reticle
  • 3.7” long eye relief


  • Costly
  • Heavy

Buy The Vortex Razor HD Gen II 3-18X50 FFP Here

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6X24

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6X24

The Vortex Strike Eagle is another competition grade scope and is perfect for long to mid range shots from your AR.

It has an illuminated MOA-based AR-BDC3 reticle. This reticle is specifically tuned for the ballistics of 5.56 loads fired from an AR-15. It provides references for up to 600 yards.

This scope features low capped turrets. 


  • ArmorTek lens coating
  • Comes with a throw lever
  • Glass-etched reticle


  • Turret clicks aren’t as fine as other scopes on the list

Buy The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6X24 Here

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50

Last up is the Vortex Viper PST Gen II.

This scope’s higher magnification and illuminated EBR-4 MOA reticle make it great for long-range target shooting. 

The Rapid Zero Return (RZR) Zero Stop Turrets makes it easy to return to your zero after making adjustments.

Though this version is in the second focal plane, it’s also available as a first focal plane riflescope. And for a similar, but slightly more affordable alternative, you can also check out the Vortex Viper HST.


  • Precision glide erector system
  • Side focus knob for parallax adjustment
  • 10 different reticle brightness levels with off positions between each


  • Heavy

Buy The Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 Here

Final Thoughts On Vortex Scopes

These are just a few of our favorite Vortex scopes, but with dozens of options available, they’re by no means the only good scopes that Vortex offers.

And that doesn’t even get into their other high-quality optics, like their red dot sights and spotting scopes.