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Vortex Razor HD 27-60x85mm Spotter

By Simon Gillice

Vortex offers an impressive range of optics including scopes, red dot sights, rangefinders, binoculars, monoculars, and spotting scopes. Their top of the line range is the Razor HD series, which includes three spotters: the smaller 11-33x50mm model, the medium 22-48x65mm, and the large 27-60x85mm. All three are offered in either a straight or angled eyepiece configuration.

 

While I was preparing for a winter tahr mission last year Nik mentioned he had a Vortex Razor HD 27-60x85mm spotter to review and asked if I wanted to take it along. Absolutely, I’ll take it! I was involved in a couple of long range shooting competitions during this review as well, so I used the Razor HD in those also.

 

My first impression of the Razor HD 27-60x85mm was its large size – the 85mm objective lens is pretty serious – but with this comes premium performance. The Razor HD is aimed at people needing excellent optical clarity at higher magnification (bird watchers, trophy hunters, etc.) and also those who want to film or take photos through their spotting scope. 

 

85mm of pure vision!

 

The scope comes in a sturdy cardboard box that includes the body, a separate eye piece, a couple of lens covers and a protective scope cover. Vortex advertises the Razor HD as fogproof and designed for extreme conditions with its argon gas purged design. We put this to the test with temperatures on our winter tahr trip dipping below – 10°C! The Razor HD took this all in its stride without a problem, the glass was clear and the adjustments smooth.

 

The rubber armour on the outside of the unit was great as my fingers didn’t freeze to it! I am reasonably careful with my kit though, so I can’t say we tested the durability of the armour.

 

OPTICS

Simply put, the Razor HD’s optics are brilliant – the clarity was good enough to spot bullet holes in a target out to 400 yards in good conditions. Colour rendition is also good, which was particularly appreciated when we tried to spot tahr in amongst the West Coast’s low scrub.

 

The Razor 27-60x85mm proved useful for long range shooting, showing up bullet holes in the target well beyond the range of even a powerful scope sight.

 

The Vortex HD glass and their proprietary lens coatings and treatment come into their own here, combining well to produce a clear, flat, colour accurate image with a minimum loss of sharpness or image quality around the edges.

 

Lower light performance was great on the lower power settings and is really helped out by the large objective lens along with Vortex’s XR Plus lens coatings. These enhance light transmission by reducing reflection off the lens elements.

 

Low light performance might seem like an odd thing to look for in a spotter but when you’re searching for tahr in the scrub under the shadow of a big rock you soon appreciate the difference good glass makes.

 

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“...the Razor HD’s optics are brilliant – the clarity was good enough to spot bullet holes in a target out to 400 yards..."

 

So how does the Vortex Razor HD stack up against the competition? I have compared it to several brands including Kowa, Bushnell, Leupold, Meopta, Nightforce, Leica, and Swarovski – though not all at the same time. These comparisons pretty much confirm that with optics you typically get what you pay for.

 

Like many things though, there are often diminishing returns the more you pay. There was not much difference in performance between the Vortex and the top European brands like Leica or Swarovski, although there is a significant difference in price!

 

ERGONOMICS

Yep, the Razor HD 27-60x85mm is big and at over 1.8kg it isn’t a light-weight either – but set up on a good tripod so it didn’t jostle all over the place I found it solid and easy to use. A decent tripod is an advantage when you are trying to take photos or video through your spotter, even more so when your subject is moving!

 

I really liked the lens size of the eyepiece and the ~17mm eye relief. It was easy to get behind and obtain a full view through. I have found that I often need to press my glasses up against a spotter to get a full field of view – which adds another jostle to the movement of the image.

 

The magnification and focus rings adjusted smoothly with the right amount of resistance. Note that the same ring is used on both the 48x and 60x models.

 

The magnification ring was smooth and easy to adjust, with enough tension to hold it where I left it even after I’d moved the scope around or put it in and out of its case. The large focus ring turns smoothly too, and most importantly, adjusts precisely. The tripod mount collar is a good fit on the scope body – it can be rotated to cant the spotter and has an easy grub-screw lock.

 

PHONE ADAPTOR

I spent some time with the “Universal Cell Phone Adapter” Nik sent along, trying to get some images and video.
I was impressed with the adapter – I’ve tried a couple of similar types for spotting scopes and they always seem a bit flimsy and don’t necessarily line the phone camera up well with the lens. This adapter worked well with the Vortex Razor HD and also with some of my other optics, including another spotter and my binos.

 

The Vortex’s excellent clarity and colour rendition made it easy to identify tahr against the similarly coloured tussock.

 

The adapter uses a simple helical screw attachment system. It is easy to set up, but I found I really needed some practice to get good images and/or video. With the spotter on a solid tripod and using the timer on my phone I eventually got some reasonable results.

 

My phone was the main limitation because I couldn’t set the focus on it and it doesn’t have the best image quality anyway, particularly in low light.

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WOULD I BUY THIS MODEL?

For my own use I do not need the high 60x magnification, and as I have previously written, I really don’t use any more than about 30x. To me the Razor HD 27-60x85 spotter is disadvantaged by its high 27x minimum magnification. This makes locating targets more difficult and also limits its usefullness for watching the bullet trace during long range shooting.

 

Vortex has addressed this by bringing out a fixed 22x magnification eyepiece – a very smart addition, that coupled with the 85mm objective lens, should produce an excellent image.

 

This model though is representative of the build and optical quality of the other Razor HD models (the 11-30x50mm and 22-48x65mm). Personally I think either of these would suit me better.

 

SUMMARY

On our winter tahr trip dad and I used the spotter for checking out groups of tahr and evaluating the bulls. We were in a good spot and there were six or seven groups within a couple of kilometres that could be seen from the hut. We aren’t serious enough trophy hunters to warrant taking the spotter with us on stalks – we both have quality binoculars and my rifle scope is good for a closer look at something if need be.

 

The Razor HD is quite 'at home' in this alpine environment.

 

We found the spotter great for getting a much closer long range look at the animals – we spent quite a bit of time watching one group of tahr across the river from the hut. They were not in an area we were confident in getting to, but they did provide plenty of entertainment!

 

The precise focus, the clear image, the ability to look into shadows, and the excellent colour rendition made using the Razor HD a pleasure – ideal for identifying the brown coats of the tahr in amongst the brown scrub.

 

Simon

 

Vortex Razor HD 27-60x85 Spotting Scope
Angled viewing
27-60x zoom eyepiece
85mm objective lens
Length 15.5” / 39.4 cm 
Weight 4.1 lb / 
1.83 kg approx
Dielectric coated 
porro prism
High-Density, extra-low dispersion glass
XRPlus and ArmorTek multi-coated lenses
“O” ring sealed, argon filled, water & fogproof
Durable magnesium body
Rotating tripod collar, 1/4”-20 mount
Helical focusing collar
RRP: $2995 (some stores may offer discounts)

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