Home / Gear / HARDCORE Field Test: VORTEX Razor HD Binocular/Spotter

HARDCORE Field Test: VORTEX Razor HD Binocular/Spotter

If you’ve been reading Eastmans’ for the past couple of years, odds are you’re familiar with Vortex optics. They’ve blasted onto the optics scene seemingly out of nowhere and have quietly been building a large following. Not only does their product justify the buzz, but their attention to the western hunter’s needs and wants has won many hunters over.

I reviewed the original Razor HD binoculars in EHJ 125 (July 2011) when Vortex was first starting to make big strides. Now, almost exactly two years to the issue later, I have in front of me a brand new pair of Razor HD binoculars and spotting scope. Don’t go thinking that these are the same models from two years ago, though. The Razor HD line underwent a serious overhaul and the new and improved models are sure to be head turners when you get to look through a pair.

Let’s start off with the binoculars. The last time we looked at these binoculars they received a pretty good review. The one sticking point we had with them was that the diopter adjustment needed some attention. As soon as I got this new pair out of the box I looked to see if this was addressed and it was. Well done, Vortex. Evidently we weren’t the only ones who didn’t like this feature on their first design and they completely moved the diopter adjustment below the right side eyepiece. Even better, it locks! That’s an improvement that makes sense. There’s nothing worse than pulling up your binos and seeing a blurred mess because your diopter adjustment moved while hiking from Point A to Point B.

The next noticeable difference in the new Razor is that the whole chassis has been beefed up a bit. From top to bottom these things feel like they could take a beating and still function flawlessly.

Probably one of the more backcountry aspects built into these binos is their size…or should we say lack thereof. When Guy visited the Vortex booth at the SHOT Show this past winter, he picked up the new Razors thinking they were an 8×30 model. Turns out, they were the 10×42. Packing that much binocular in such a little frame is pretty awesome, and when backcountry guys scrimp on weight (24.8 oz.), we know this feature is sure to be a hit.

If the 10×42 isn’t quite your style and you want something with a little bit more power or light gathering ability, the Razor HD comes in a 10×50 (28.1 oz) and 12×50 (28.7 oz.) as well. The nice thing about these models is that they’re not much bigger. Actually, it’s hardly noticeable other than the little bit bigger barrel, and they don’t weigh much more. So no matter what style of binocular you prefer, there’s one in the Razor line for you.

Alright – on to the spotting scope. Any serious backcountry hunter knows the importance of good optics. Likewise, they know the importance of weight savings and being able to comfortably pack several days worth of gear on their back. However, it’s a tradeoff when it comes to optics. We all want high quality, but don’t want the weight and size that’s usually associated with it. For those ounce-counting backcountry hunters, Vortex has built the perfect spotting scope.

The new Razor HD 11-33×50 (1 lb. 8 oz.) is arguably one of the best compact backcountry spotting scopes we’ve seen. It has all the glassing potential you’ll ever need and it’s packaged into a size that’s convenient in any backpack. Offered in both straight and angled, this scope is sure to change the way you look at spotting scopes.

Molded after its big brother, the original 20-60×85 Razor HD, this new model is much smaller. So much smaller, in fact, that it’s really hard to even call it a comparison. The original had clean lines and fit pretty well in a variety of packs. However, it was by no means marketed and made for the backcountry guy. The new Razor HD spotter, however, is just what the backcountry hunter is looking for.

With a magnification of 11-33 power, this little scope is more than capable of picking apart high-country basins. Also, with an objective lens of 50mm, gathering light during that last few minutes of the day won’t be a problem.

All in all, this spotting scope is one that’s worth a serious second and perhaps third look. It’s got all the makings to be your go-to piece of glass when you’re perched up high in a rockslide at 10,000 ft. looking down at a high-country buck.


Both of these pieces of glass performed flawlessly in our testing. Both received great nods across the board from everyone in the office. They feature top-tier quality glass and construction that won’t have you saving for years to afford them.

The Razor HD line of binoculars and spotting scopes have come a long way over the past couple of years. With the Vortex attention to detail and customer loyalty, their products are truly worth investing in. If this review hasn’t sold you yet, Vortex’s “Unlimited Unconditional” Warranty sure will. They will replace or repair defective or damaged products…absolutely free, no matter what the cause. That in itself is all of the reassurance that a guy who’s hard on gear, like myself, would need.


About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. How does the new Razor 50mm spotter compare to the Nikon ED50? Thanks.

  2. No comparison, in my opinion, its super clear, super light, and super compact,I checked them all out and bought the Vortex, use it almost every day. one of the best purchases I have made when it comes to glass.I have several friends that have purchased the spotting scope recently after viewing mine, it’s impressive.

  3. From all accounts I’ve read, the Vortex 11-33×50 is unmatched in the compact realm. Even rivals high end larger scopes! Very impressive! Nikon ED50 would be my second choice… I’m saving for a Vortex as I write this…

    • Thanks. I have the ED50 and have been happy with it but with the reviews I have read on the vortex I might upgrade.

  4. I have owned both and my nod goes to the vortex. The fine focus wheel plus the larger eyepiece gives it the edge versus the Nikon. The only improvement would be a twist-up eyepiece like it’s big brother for adjusting eye relief. All in all, a great spotter!

  5. I am planning to buy Steiner Ranger Xtreme 8×42 Binocular
    42 mm
    8 x
    780 g
    Width 125 mm
    Height 147 mm
    Depth 63 mm
    5.25 mm
    Field of View at 1000 m 125 m
    1.9 m
    -20°C to +80 °C
    twist-up eyecups
    Objective Cover Yes
    Rain Protection Cap Yes
    Bag Yes
    Warranty 10 years
    Binoculars in Dubai.

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