As a company vortex is devoted to the enthusiasm of the birdwatcher, hunter, and nature conservationist; with their 20-60x 85mm Razor HD spotting scope they are aiming high, and truly intending to compete with top end European brands such as, Swarovski, Leica, and Zeiss, at a fraction of the price. Vortex has been successful in their endeavorso in this comprehensive review we will examine why the Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope offers the apex of sport optic performance available today.
Design and Construction
The Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD is available in both an angled-body design or a straight-body design. Catering to prone and range shooters with the former, and those more in to straight glassing with the latter. The straight version of the scope is about a half-inch longer than the angled one but otherwise they are identical and weigh 7.8 pounds.
Furthermore, both designs are made from magnesium alloy and the body is partly covered in robust dark green armor, which gives it extra protection if the scope is used without a case.
When it comes to the average 85mm full size scopes, the compact and solid design of the Razor facilitates low-weight transportation in a photography backpack even with other optic gear including the Vortex Skyline tripod.
Additionally, the scope is coated with ArmorTek, a coating that is both water and oil repellant as well as ultra-hard and scratch resistant. This coating combined with an argon purging keeps it fully functional in all conditions for years to come.
The Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD also features a rotating tripod collar with detented click stops. This feature allows you to change the scope to a sideways position and offers multiple viewing angles. Plus, the bayonet-mount ensemble between the eyepiece and the body is properly strengthened by a lock that prohibits accidental disconnection.
Another great addition to the Razor HD’s build is its tripod mount foot designed to fit Manfrotto quick release tripod heads but will also fit almost any standard tripod mount on the market; a simple but incredibly practical improvement present in most new models of the leading brands.
Moreover, the Vortex Skyline quick-release plate (included with the Vortex Skyline Tripod) is a skillfully mechanized piece, featuring a cork surface and double screw to avoid loosening. Reviewers found this system to be remarkably efficient and said the plate stayed perfectly aligned with the Razor even after long hours of use.
What’s more, this model features a retractable sunshade that follows the same standards as all the leading field scopes available today and reviewers have mentioned this feature proved strong even with heavy use, capable of absorbing shocks from inevitable impacts without damage.
Overall, the Razor HD uses a very well constructed design that can withstand exposure to dust, sand, water and the necessary cleaning of the scope. Even after repeated use and subjection to these elements users found every swivel mechanism, including the twist-up eyecup, tripod-mount collar, magnification adjustment ring and double focus dial, continued to turn smoothly making for fast and easy fine-tuning.
The field of view of the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD is 117 feet at 1,000 yards with 20X magnification, and 60 feet at 1,000 yards zoomed out to 60X; more than enough for supreme spotting.
Plus, the most important aspect in a spotting scope is the clarity and crispness of the image and the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD hits the nail on the head in both these areas. It boasts a large 85mm objective lens, and offers magnification between 20X and 60X. Zoom is mastered by way of the eyepiece, and there is a dual focus knob for exceedingly precise focusing. Dual-ratio focusing permits especially refined fine tuning capacity and is a favorite on the best brands. In addition, the magnification knob on the eyepiece is simple to adjust, and the dual focus knob on this model offers fingertip-adjustable coarse and fine focus. Focus is exceptional, with the dual knobs turning easy enough to adjust with your fingertips while providing sufficient resistance to prohibit accidental adjustments.
What’s more, the spotting scope has edge-to-edge clarity that let’s you watch moving objects without having to adjust your alignment until they move out of the field of vision.
Moreover, this spotting scope employs a porro prism device that gives fantastic image quality and performance in a traditional design.Therefore, the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD provides the perfect balance between holding things in focus while still letting you refocus quickly and easily when you want to change the target you’re observing.
Lastly, the Razor HD holds a great digiscoping base and like it’s more expensive competitors this models digital camera adaptor is thread based. Adapters are sold separately but adapter rings can be purchased in 30mm, 37mm, 43mm, 52mm, 55mm and 58mm.
Overall, if you want to keep the price under $2000 then the Vortex Razor HD is the most attractive option at this price point, giving you optical performance that rivals top scopes, even for digiscoping.
Razor HD 20 60X85 Straight Spotting Scope Video Review
Glass and Coatings
To keep your image bright, clear, and color-accurate, the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD features prisms with multi-layer coatings, and all air-to-glass surfaces are treated with multiple layers of anti-reflective coating for maximum brightness. Furthermore, all the optics are fully multi-coated, giving you the most possible light transmission.
To get the ultimate in resolution and color fidelity, the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD uses premium high-density optics created from extra-low dispersion glass. By using extra-low dispersion glass within the objective, the apochromatic performance advantage is particularly significant when you're sighting darker subjects cast in front of washed-out, bright backgrounds, a common scenario when observing wildlife and bird watching. Thus, the apochromatic triplet refractor optical design with extra-low dispersion glass objective lens elements enhances edge resolution and alignment/fidelity of colors.
Moreover, Vortex's XR coatings enhance light transmission across the entire visible spectrum so you get crisp edges and well-controlled highlights.
Although the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD is heavy on features it is a bit light on accessories. There is no tripod included but as mentioned above the spotting scope does include a tripod mount.
In the box you will find the zoom eyepiece, eyepiece cap, objective lens cap and view-through carry case.
The padded view-through case is made of cordura and proves very reliable for protecting the scope when travelling. However, when a quick set up of gear was called for the case was less agile than desired. Luckily there are multiple accessories you can purchase separately. One such addition is the Vortex Black Fitted Spotting Scope Case, made of elastic neoprene. This case provides greater streamlined protection and is more efficient for a quick setup if a rare species is spotted.
Other accessories sold separately include the Vortex Optics RZR 65/85 Phoneskope cellphone attachment, the Vortex Universal Binocular Tripod Adapter, Vortex Optics Binocular Harness Strap (great for cameras and rangefinders) and the Vortex Lens Pen to keep your lens clean and free of dirt while reducing static charge build-up.
Pros and Cons
At this price point the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD has many pros; not only does it boast superior light transmission and excellent optics, along with coarse and fine focus controls and excellent image quality and color fidelity, but it is also backed by a direct, unconditional warranty. Therefore no matter how it breaks the company will fix it and even if you sell your scope secondhand the warranty extends to the new owner, with absolutely no time limit on this promise.
If that’s not enough, other pros include high-definition optical glass, advanced multicoating to protect lens surfaces and the fact that it is waterproof and fog-proof.
Of course nothing is perfect and the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD spotting scope has a few cons as well. Although it does include a custom carry case, as discussed above a neoprene carrying case would be better than the one included. Furthermore, this scopes porro prism does make the spotting scope rather large and there are lighter weight scopes on the market. Lastly, the bare part of the body is prone to scratches if a protection case is not used regularly.
In conclusion, the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD gives you a full-sized 85-mm, HD glass, angled (or straight) spotting scope that is reasonably compact, not too heavy and durable, with excellent optical performance overall and an all encompassing lifetime warranty. Mechanically it's on par with the best-made scopes with impeccable ergonomics and excellent engineering of the zoom mechanism and other moving parts for only a fraction of the price. The Razor is sturdy, well made and designed for heavy field use. So if you’re looking for a budget friendly scope that provides razor sharp images, the Vortex 20–60×85 Razor HD spotting scope is made for you.