Ins and Outs of The Best Vortex Scopes: Cost Considerations, What To Look Out For

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By Dennis Howard •  12 min read

I make no bones about it. I am a Vortex Optics fan. When I get a chance to pick the best Vortex Optics Scopes, I jump on the opportunity. The biggest problem I have is choosing which scopes to include on a list like this. In the end, I fall back to selecting the best Vortex scope in each category of shooting.

As far a criterion goes, I use much the same set of characteristics by which I judge every optic that I consider. There are certain things a scope must do and must do well to make a best-of list. The basic list of characteristics I look for in a top-quality scope include:

The Question of Cost

Buying quality optics can be a budget-busting experience. The challenge is always finding the best compromise of features, quality, and price. Any compromise means you are giving up something to gain something else. Life is filled with compromises and selecting the best rifle scope for any given situation is no different.

In this article, while the cost is always a factor, I have intentionally not considered cost in my choices. If you are choosing the best of anything, price is not a fair limitation. The best of anything usually costs more than the competition. Rifle optics are no different.

First Focal Plane or Second Focal Plane?

I have listened to many arguments about which is better, a first focal plane or a second focal plane reticle. My take after many years of experience is that the biggest factor is a personal preference. Understanding the major difference between the first focal plane and second focal plane reticles helps explain my opinion.

The Difference in a Nutshell

The easy explanation is how the reticle changes as magnification changes in a variable zoom scope. A first focal plane reticle changes size as magnification increases and decreases. The change in size keeps the markings on the reticle proportional to the distance and the magnification. 

A second focal plane reticle’s placement keeps the reticle the same size no matter what magnification you choose. There is no proportional change that keeps the markings on the reticle tuned to the magnification.

Some long-distance shooters prefer one and some the other. In my mind, the choice is more personal preference than a difference in the optics of the scope. My advice is to choose a focal-plane for your rifle scope that you are comfortable using and understand in practice. Either style of reticle placement will perform well in the right hands and with the right training.

The Givens with Vortex Optics Scopes

When comparing Vortex Optics scopes, certain things are common across the spectrum of the Vortex Optics lines. Rather than include these things in a features list with each scope, you should understand that if you choose a Vortex Optics scope, you will be getting these features with any Vortex Optics scope you buy. 

On to the Scopes: My List of the Best Vortex Optics Scopes

The following list represents my choices for the best Vortex Optics riflescopes in each of my selected categories. You must realize that what I consider to be the best rifle scope for a particular situation may not be the best for you. Fitting a rifle scope to you, your gun, and your shooting style is a very personal thing. 

I hope you consider my opinions and rationales, but I insist that you do your research and make your own decision based on your experiences, needs, and shooting style. What is best for me may not be the best for you. 

Vortex Optics offers a wide variety of rifle scopes. Each of their popular lines has multiple variations of the same scope. This wide variety of features and options should allow you to fit your scope precisely to your shooting needs and styles. 

Best Overall Vortex Optics Rifle Scope – Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold...

If you are looking for a versatile riflescope at home in the field or on the range and is reasonably priced, you should consider the Vortex Optics Diamondback 4012x 40 riflescopes. For the average hunter or target shooter, the Diamondback 4-12×40 scope an almost perfect fit.

The rugged constructions of the Diamondback scope can withstand the recoil of even the largest caliber rifles. In the field, the one-piece tube and argon gas filling ensure reliable and trouble-free operation that is waterproof and Fogproof.

The Diamondback scope is a second focal plane design that maintains its size independent of the magnification you choose. The holdover and wind drift corrections remain true and accurate throughout the range of magnification on your Vortex Optics Diamondback scope


Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold...
  • The Diamondback 4-12x40 riflescope is one of multiple configurations in the Diamondback lineup and...
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating...

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 04:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 riflescope is a great all-around scope. You can easily go from the deer blind to the target range and expect above-average performance with this riflescope. For the average shooter who needs a versatile scope that transitions easily from one task to another, the Vortex Optics Diamondback rifle scope is a perfect choice.

Best Tactical Vortex Optics Rifle Scope –  Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Tactical shooting is a different ballgame and requires a different approach to rifle optics. When you may need to engage targets from every situation, including close quarters to long-range precision shots, a scope designed for versatility and functionality is essential.

The Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II scope incorporates all the standard Vortex Optics features. This scope also offers an illuminated reticle for low-light shooting situations. You needn’t worry about battery failures either. The reticle is glass etched so that it remains useable even if the illumination fails.

The Viper PST is available with several different reticle styles to shoot each shooter’s individual tastes and needs. The Viper line of Vortex Scopes offers several different combinations of magnification and optics, allowing shooters the best possible match with their shooting needs.


Last update on 2022-01-17 at 02:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tactical shooting requires a different approach to optics design. Vortex has met the challenge with the Viper PST Gen II scope. Rugged, reliable, and versatile, the Viper PST scopes deliver functionality when the situation is critical. The combination of design, features, and the Vortex Optics reputation make the Viper PST Gen II my pick for the best Vortex Optics Tactical riflescope.

Best CQB AR-15 Vortex Rifle Scope – Vortex Optics Ranger 1-4×24 TMCQ Reticle

Ar-15’s are unique rifle platforms with a set of characteristics that require a different approach to optics. The mechanics and ballistics of the AR-15 and the intended uses of this rifle demand an optical system that fits the challenges this rifle platform presents. 

Overall, the AR-15 platform is a medium-range rifle chambered for the NATO 5.56x 45 cartridge. There is no need for extreme long-range scopes. However, since the shooter may engage close targets as well as the need to take the rifle to the limits of the cartridges range, the optic needs to meet those challenges. 

Add in the need to withstand the stresses and conditions of combat-style shooting and you have a list of special needs that only a few rifle optics can fill. Vortex Optics Ranger scopes meet these requirements and then some. 


The Vortex Optics Ranger riflescope is a favorite among three gun shooters. The TCQS reticle allows fast and accurate sight acquisition. The illuminated reticle gives an advantage during low light conditions. The combination of standard features with the Ranger riflescope’s special design features make it my overall pick for the best AR-15 Vortex Optics Riflescope.

Best Long Range Vortex Optics Riflescope –  Vortex Optics Razor HD 5-20×50 FFP

Vortex Optics Razor HD 5-20x50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Long-range precision shooters have completely different needs than your typical hunter or target shooters. Going out past the 1000 yard mark demands a special kind of optical system on your rifle. Many great rifle scopes are available that meet these special circumstances. Certainly, the Vortex Optics Razor HD is among the best.

The complexities of shooting precisely at long-range depend on the rifle scope’s ability to deliver precise windage and elevation adjustments over a wide range. The Vortex Optics Razor HD meets this challenge with its fine adjustments and its extremely large range of adjustments. The first focal plane reticle adds to this ease of precision adjustments. 

Dependability and ruggedness are part of the Razor HD package. Quick returns to zero and a glass-etched reticle equate to repeatable and dependable operation day in and day out. Range estimation and corrections are easy to manage, precise, and accurate.


Last update on 2022-01-17 at 02:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Precision shooting requires precision optics. Vortex Optics delivers this kind of precision to long-distance shooters with the Razor HD riflescope. The optical system on which the Razor HD riflescope is based is one of the most impressive in the industry and will deliver years of accurate shooting.

Best Rimfire Vortex Optics Riflescope – Vortex Optics Crossfire II 207×32 Rimfire

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube...

The venerable 22 long rifle cartridge is undeniably the most popular plinking and target shooting round in the U.S. Relative cheap to shoot and easy on the recoil make the .22 caliber the choice for beginning shooters as well as an experienced enthusiast who just want to punch holes in targets.

Adding a scope to a rimfire rifle is an option that most rimfire shooters will consider at some point. Vortex Optics understands that rimfire rifles require rimfire optics. To fill this niche, Vortex Optics offers the Crossfire II 207×32 Rimfire model.

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire fills all the needs of most rimfire shooters for target shooting, plinking, or even hunting small game and varmints. This scope is rugged and reliable with all the Vortex Optics line features and tailored to the characteristics of the .22 caliber cartridge.


Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube...
  • The 2-7x32 Crossfire II Rim fire riflescope is one of many configurations in the Crossfire II line....
  • With long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight picture...

Last update on 2022-01-16 at 23:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pair the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 Rimfire riflescope with your favorite 22 rifles and you will have a winning combination. This scope can take the .22 caliber round to its best accuracy performance on the range or smoothly transition to the field for hunting small game or varmints. The addition of the Crossfire !! Rimfire scope will bring a whole new dimension to your rimfire shooting experiences.

Getting the Most from your Rifle – Add the Right Scope

The addition of the right scope to your rifle maximizes the capabilities of both you and the gun. Finding the right fit of scope, rifle, and shooter is the challenge. Consider carefully what you expect from your riflescope and rifle and then decide on the scope to give the best returns.

I hope that this article’s information helps you make those critical decisions that will find the best scope to fit you and your needs. As always, if you have thoughts, ideas, experiences, or suggestions, please use the comments section below to share. Your knowledge and wisdom are essential to helping our other readers grow and learn. Shoot straight and stay safe.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.