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