Written by ILya Koshkin 7/12/2016
A little while back, a gentleman named Matt contacted me with questions regarding the Razor HD LH. While my full review is not out yet, I have spent a fair amount of time with these scopes and like them a lot. They are about to land on my list of recommendations and from what I’ve seen so far, I can’t recommend them enough. They are simply excellent.
Needless to say, I suggested that Matt give it a shot, which he did. He bought a Razor HD LH 3-15×42 and proceeded to put it side by side with a few other scopes he and his friend have.
We communicate via Facebook messenger and here is a copy of that conversation. The only real edits I made when I copied it here pertain to formatting. I also took out my side of the conversation, since it was mostly me asking for permission to post Matt’s resutls here and agreeing that I like the VX-R as well. The rest is an exact copy with occasional punctuation corrections:
Here is my very unscientific take on the new Razor HD LH. I have owned 5 Vortex scopes over the last 5 or 6 years, and have collectively owned them a total of maybe 2 months, including 2 PSTs. Although build quality and mechanics have always seemed above average for the price, I have never been able to get past how poor the glass is, or the overly sensitive eye boxes. I just always felt it was lacking, and was left slightly disappointed. I am, afterall, a hunter more than a precision shooter, and glass has always been top on my list when shopping. The Razor HD LS, I can safely say, has a permanent home on one of my hunting rigs. I compared a Conquest 3-9×40, Conquest HD5 3-15×42, Leupold VXR 4-12×40, Sightron SII Big Sky 6×42 and 3-9×42, and a Monarch 4-16×42. I set all scopes to 100 yards, and placed them on a table. I can look down to the end of my driveway, 100 yards away. I have a resolution chart and various things to look at, like the detail in a cedar fence and the various hardware attached to it. To make it short and sweet, Ill sum it up in 3 categories: resolution, low light brightness, and ease of use. Resolution: The Vortex and Big Sky were very close, both having superb clarity edge to edge in the entire magnification range. The Leupy is a step behind, but not by much surprisingly. The HD5 has better edge to edge resolution then the VXR, but center resolution on the VXR was a noticeable amount better in the center of the image, with about 20% of the edges being slightly blurry. The good old Conquest 3-9 falls behind that, and then the Monarch a good bit back. So…
2. Big Sky
Low-light brightness: The VXR, HD5, and Razor appeared ever so slightly brighter than the Big Sky, followed by the Conquest, and Monarch. The Top 3 were so close, I would have to spend more time with them to tell a difference. I will say that the G4 BDC reticle and the Leupy LR Firedot (not illuminated) are both much easier to pick up than the BDC 600 in the HD5, with the slight edge going to the Razor.
Ease of use:
1. Razor – by a long shot. THIS is where it shines. Even at 15X, the Razor is VERY forgiving and very easy to get behind. This is a complete 180* spin from my previous experiences with other Vortex. There is very little “tunneling”, even down to 3X. Eye relief is great, and the eye box is very forgiving (especially for a 15X). It’s the type of optic you look for in a field rifle, something you can throw up in a split second and get a shot off.
2. VXR and Big Sky, tie. Both I feel are excellent, and are usually my personal favorites in this category.
4. Conquest – Borderline Horrible compared to the others above.
5. Monarch – Horrible!!!
I don’t, however, like the textured satin finish on the Razor. It looks and feels cheap. The clicks aren’t as positive as I expected, and there was a hint of flare at dusk that some of the others didn’t exhibit, but nothing to be upset about. The ease of use of the Razor combined with the awesome glass, EXCELLENT G4 BDC reticle, and tracking ability make is a darn near ideal mountain rifle optic. It weighed 16.6 OZ on my scale, which is the icing on the cake. I also want to point out that the performance of the VXR was surprising, and 2 OZ lighter with an illuminated reticle, 30mm tube, and a couple hundred bucks cheaper. It would be my 2nd overall choice here. The Razor will go with me to Colorado this year on an Ultralight .280AI, and I am stoked.
The HD5 is a Buddy’s scope, and is mounted on a rifle, and therefore not pictured.
Also, the VX3i 4.5-14×50 and Super Slam 4-20×50 are both unimpressive. I like the VXR a good but better than both, and the Razor leads and bounds more. Very disappointed with the VX3i. Maybe I got a lemon, it’s only 2 weeks old.
I might add that the 2nd category should be “Low-light Performance”. Brightness wasn’t the only factor, contrast and color rendition obviously matter aswell. I should have worded that differently. I was in a hurry.
I just finished comparing the LH to the VXR. Both scopes set to 12X. Took a couple pics with a cell phone, tell me what you think. It appears to me the LH has a touch better resolution, and is doing a better job at suppressing chromatic aberrations. Overall, I am both surprised at the resolution of the VXR and LH, and to 95% of guys… I don’t think they could tell a difference. If I could 100% trust the tracking in the VXR with an animals life, it would be very hard in my opinion to opt for the heavier and more expensive Razor. Distance to fence is 80 yards, 150 to the mailboxes. Couldn’t get a great pic out of the Razor at the mailboxes.
The VXR also appears brighter, but that may be some of the CA that my eye is perceiving as brighter.
I must have a really good example of the VXR. It, and this may sound weird, absolutely looks better than my VX3s and VX3i in terms of resolution. I don’t own a VX6 to compare to. The Razor definitely has an edge in resolution and edge to edge performance. I am young, and have only been an optics nut for a short time, but I realized I had a problem when I had a safe full of scopes and no rifles to put them on. I bought a pair of Zen-ray Prime HD binos, and I have been hooked on glassing since. The tracking of the Razor and generous eye box is what I am so stoked about. My McMillan Edge should be here any day for my 280 build, and ill run it through its paces. Thanks for your help.
Can I ask what model of Monarch was used in the comparison? Was it a 3 or 5 or an older version?
I think this was a 4-16×42, which makes it a Monarch 3. If memory serves me right, for the Monarch 5 Nikon went to a 3-15×42 configuration.
Thank you ILya. I have a Monarch 5 that i recently purchased and am really on the fence about sending it back and getting the Razor. It has really good glass and resolution and contrast look great to me with the ED lenses. I looked at a Razor at my local gun store and am impressed overall with it and really like the weight and reticle options compared to most others in this category. Very difficult to judge anything however at an indoor, well lit gun store.
Thanks for all your work on providing recommendations and reviews of optics. I have a Sightron SIII 8-32 on order for my long range 6.5 creedmoor based on your recommendations. I can’t wait to get it. It is certainly a daunting exercise in trying to decide the “perfect” scope with all of the options out there and one i hate to make a mistake with.