Everyone who has looked in to buying optics probably already know the name Vortex. Vortex Optics makes a vast selection of optics for the shooter, hunter, or plinker. Their range in scopes basically goes from beginner to professional. The Viper PST Gen II that they sent me for review is more toward the expert level of user, but still applicable for certain beginners.
The 5-25x50 Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane scope has a bunch of features. XD glass and XR coatings are first up. To put it easily into words, these help to make images clearer, sharper, have better color, increase light transmission, and give it some anti-reflectives properties. Since I have no way of checking this, besides my vision, you just get my input. The view through the glass is sharp, at least when it’s sunny, I’ll get to that later. It doesn’t seem to distort any colors. And it has better light transmission than other scopes I have used. The 50mm objective lens and 30mm main tube probably help aid in these qualities also.
This particular scope uses a FFP (first focal plane) MRAD EBR-2C illuminated reticle. Yep, that’s a mouthful. With a FFP reticle, the size of the reticle stays constant, no matter what the magnification is set at. What this does for the shooter is make it possible to measure a target and then figure out the range to the target, if the target size is known, at any magnification. Also with a FFP, if you see that your shot is off, you can adjust accordingly without scaling issues. I really like the MRAD reticle that Vortex uses in this scope. It has nice size markings, but isn’t too busy. It also has a Christmas tree style, for windage and moving target hold offs. I will leave it to Vortex to explain their reticle, here’s a link: MRAD reticle instructions. The MRAD reticle is also illuminated red. The dial for the on/off illumination is on the outside of the adjustable objective knob. It has off positions between every brightness setting. The CR2032 battery is also housed in the turret unit. It is not a daylight visible reticle, more for low light and bad weather. If you are not into MRAD, they have a MOA version also.
As a lot of the scopes in this class do, the Viper PST gen II has tactical style turrets. These turrets are nice. They have good quality “clicks” to them. The size is not overly large or small. I really liked the style of knurling they machined into them. The knurling made it easy to adjust them with gloved hands and wet hands, so dry hands were even better. The height of them seemed about right also. Since this is an MRAD scope, the adjustments are 0.1 mil/click. There are also 0.1 mil lines on the knobs. Every number on the knob (1,2,3, etc) is 1 full mil of adjustment. On the windage knob, right and left are also marked with a “R” and “L” so you won’t get confused. On the elevation turret, you also have 0.1 mil clicks with numbers for 1 full mil also. A nice feature of the elevation turret is the fiber optic rod at the zero location. Vortex calls this the “Radius Bar”. It gives a visual reference to where the turret is located. To go along with the radius bar, is an updated zero stop adjustment. Vortex went from a shim style to their Razor style zero stop. To adjust the zero stop. First rotate the turret all the way clockwise until a hard stop is felt. Loosen the 3 set screws that hold the zero stop on, pull the knob up and off. Now loosen more set screws on the turret lock. Now shoot and adjust elevation until you are happy with the zero. Now tighten the lock screws, slide the zero stop back on and align the zero/radius bar with the zero mark on the scope body, tighten those set screws, and now the zero stop is adjusted. It is a little confusing on how to adjust the zero stop. I tried to do it after adjusting for a shooting zero. Then I had to go back and do it the way I explained. Even though it isn’t self explanatory to adjust. The zero stop is a huge plus. You never have to worry about where it is adjusted, just turn the knob and it stops at your initial zero.
The Viper PST can handle the elements. It has the standard waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof that any quality scope should have. I even used this scope in the snow and rain without any problems. As far as scope tracking goes, I only checked it by adjusting the windage and elevation knobs 1 full turn left/ right and up. Shot a round, and then turned them back to their respective zero’s. And shot another round, all the shots after returning to zero, hit where I was aiming. So it returned to zero for me. If you demand more precision than I do, Vortex uses a precision spring and erector systems to help maintain repeatability, so you should be good to go.
I shot the viper PST in a variety of conditions. From sunny days to snowing days. I thought the clarity was really nice, until the snow came. When the snow rolled in, a rarity here in Oregon, I purposely took the PST out to see how it performed. At lower magnifications, say 5-10, the clarity was decent. But bump it up to 20-25x and it just didn’t impress me at all (see pictures). I talked with the Vortex guys about this. Them and I concluded that the main reason for the degradation was do to the magnification picking up the rain and snow. Thus magnifying it. I was told it is kind of like looking at a tree. When its on low magnification, the tree looks small. When on a high magnification, the tree is big. Relate this to snow flakes and rain drops, and they get larger also, thus making it harder to see through them and making the image appear not as clear. When in fact it is the clarity that causes one to see the rain and snow. The light transmission was pretty good in the bad weather, so that’s a plus. If you are using the PST for hunting in bad weather, I would say it is good for about 300-400 yds. Anything past that, and I don’t think you could positively ID your target. Another noteworthy drawback is the weight, especially for hunting. The Viper PST weighs in at almost 2 lbs. If using it on a varmint rifle, the weight might not matter to you. Now, if the sun is shining and it is a great day, I think you could see just about anything out to 1000 yds. But alas, this is a target scope, and not really a hunting one.
The Viper PST Gen II is a nice optic. It does have Vortex’s no questions ask warranty, so it breaks, or you break it, they fix it free. I have heard it is the best entry level long range scope. Is it? Maybe, but I would look and see if the features are what you need compared to what you want. Vortex has such a wide variety of scopes, I am sure they make something for just about everyone.
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame:
Quality long range scope
Tactical and PRS shooters, Long range Hunters and shooters
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
50mm objective lens
First Focal Plane reticle
MRAD EBR-2C illuminated etched reticle
30mm one piece tube
RZR Zero stop
Waterproof, Shockproof, & fogproof
Fiber Optic Radius bar
3.4” eye relief
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?
What others are saying?:
The optics are better although slightly behind the razor still 5/5 star on Amazon
I was one of the first ones to get this scope. It is definitely a step up from the first gen. The optics are better although slightly behind the razor still. I find it hard to justify spending nearly double for a slightly better image. Where the razor does stand out is anything passed ~20x magnification, but the viper still is more than clear enough for my needs. The gen 2 finally got rid of the shims for adjusting your zero stop and replaced it with one similar to the razor. It stops right on zero and no more mushiness like with the shims.Illumination is nice and bright and adjustable.
Now I will say that I did have a problem with my first one. I have it mounted on a 338 lapua magnum. After about 200 rounds my parallax adjustment crapped out. The yardage didn't match up anymore and every so often it would shift focus after firing.Sent it back into Vortex, they said there was an internal issue and sent me a brand new one to replace it. Great customer service and quick turnaround! Haven't had any issues since with the replacement!
Link to other reviews:
MSRP = $1399.99
Retail = $1099.00 on Amazon
I need it now! Availability:
First Focal Plane
Nice adjustment clicks
Zero stop adjustment
Score: 7.50 Good
Favorite Link: Axelson Tactical