Vortex Venom vs Viper Sights: Head to Head Comparison

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By Dennis Howard •  16 min read

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a Vortex Optics fan. When people ask my opinion on a rifle or pistol scope, the answer is almost always a member of the Vortex Optics Family.  I think that for the money, Vortex Optical builds some of the best rifle and pistol optics available.

Vortex Venom vs Vortex Viper

When it comes to pistol (and, in some cases) rifle scopes, the overall choices begin to narrow.  There are only four or five small red dot pistol sights that I would ever consider.  The Vortex Venom and Viper sights are usually right at the top of that shortlist.  The question is there, which of the two sights would I chose? 

To make that choice, let’s look at the Vortex Optical Venom and Viper scopes side by side.  While they are remarkably similar in many ways, each has some strengths and weaknesses that can influence a shooter’s choice.

  • Multi-Coating on all air-to-glass surfaces to increase light transmission
  • Wide field-of-view lens
  • Fully adjustable brightness settings featuring ten different settings
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  • Lenses coated with multiple anti-reflective coatings
  • Parallax free design
  • Single piece frame design for durability
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The Big Picture – Vortex Venom vs Viper

A cursory glance at these two red dot sights might cause a little confusion.  The Viper and Venom red dot sights from Vortex Optical look similar.  They share many characteristics.

Of course, you also get the Vortex lifetime warranty on either sight.  These features are all standard Vortex stuff.  The difference is in the details and that is why we are going to give you a detailed item by item comparison of these two sights and then our recommendations.

Vortex Venom vs Viper: Head to Head Review

Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight – Small Package, Big Features

Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight

If it wasn’t hard enough to choose between the Venom and the Viper sights, Vortex Optical adds to the challenge by offering the Venom sight in two versions, one with a 3 MOA dot and one with a 6 MOA dot.  Since we are comparing the Venom and the Viper, we will try and compare apples to apples by using both models in the 6 MOA dot option.

The first thing that you realize when you open the packaging and take the Venom sight out of the protective foam is the size and weight of the Venom sight.  The first thought that came to my mind was whether something this small and this lightweight could withstand the rigors of being mounted on a pistol slide, let alone on top of an AR pistol.

Vortex Meets the Challenge – Quality Construction

The Vortex Optical machines the Venom scope housing from aircraft-grade aluminum.  The one-piece housing design eliminates any weak spots or joints in the frame.  This one-piece design provides a rigid and durable platform on which Vortex Optical adds multi-coated lenses.

The Vortex Optical Venom red dot sight provides one of the widest fields of view of any small red dot sight meant for pistols.  The multi-coated treatment of the lenses includes an anti-glare coating. 

Venom Controls and Designs – Efficient and Simple

Venom Optics recognized one of the significant drawbacks to many other red dot sights meant for mounting on pistols.  Unlike many other brands and some other Vortex sights, there is no need to remove the sight from the pistol to change the battery.  Vortex created the Venom sight with a top-loading battery compartment.

The controls on the Venom sight are ergonomic. By placing the windage and elevation controls on the left side of the sight, most of us who shoot right-handed can access the controls with our off-hand.  The controls offer 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustments with enough internal adjustment to cover many distances.



What Users are Saying

In general, users who shoot the Vortex Venom red dot sight give it above average reviews.  The vast majority are impressed with the quality of the construction and the performance of the Vortex Optics Venom red dot sight. 



  • Multi-Coating on all air-to-glass surfaces to increase light transmission
  • Wide field-of-view lens
  • Fully adjustable brightness settings featuring ten different settings
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Here are some more reviews of the Venom:

Vortex Viper Red Dot Sight – What You Can’t See Can Make a Difference

Vortex Optics Viper Red Dot Sight

The Vortex Optics Venom and Viper sights are, at first glance, similar in size and shape.  When you start digging into the features, options, and design, you begin to understand the differences.  Digging into the details reveals a lot about the Vortex Optics Viper red dot sight.

Of course, the Vortex Viper red dot sight comes with all the standard Vortex Optics offerings.  One of the first things you notice when the Viper red dot sight comes out of the box is the sleek shape.  There are fewer sharp corners than the Venom sight. The overall impression is that the Viper is a more robust and durable design.

Meeting the Design Needs of Shooters

The controls seem more durable as well.  The location of the up and down power switch on the left side of the Viper body is convenient for right-handed shooters.   The rubber housing on the switch allows easy feel for adjustments to the illumination intensity. 

The design of the Vortex Optical Viper is a bit smaller and lower in profile than the Venom.  The field of view on the Viper red dot sight is also slightly smaller than the Venom red dot sight.  For most pistol shooters, this is not a significant consideration.

The Trade-offs for a Smaller Size

The smaller footprint of the Vortex Optics Viper red dot sight requires removing the sight from the gun to change the battery.  The bottom battery compartment is a minor inconvenience, but if size and profile are an issue, it is a small price to pay for some shooters.



The Pros and Cons – Users Tell the Tale

Like most other Vortex Optics products, the Viper red dot sight gets high marks with customers who use the Viper red dot sight.   Very few negative comments show up in searches across the internet.



  • Lenses coated with multiple anti-reflective coatings
  • Parallax free design
  • Single piece frame design for durability
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Vortex Viper vs Venom Sights: Comparison Chart

These two sights are so similar in many ways that the best method of seeing the differences and the similarities is to compare them side by side.  I found the following when I put these two sights to the comparison test.

Vortex VenomVortex Viper
Reticle (as reviewed)6 MOA6 MOA
Reticle ColorRedRed
Power SourceCR 1632CR 2032
MountingPicatinny WeaverPicatinny Weaver
Max Windage Adj.130 MOA120 MOA
Max Elevation Adj.100 MOA120 MOA
Adjustment/Click1 MOA1 MOA
Water ResistanceWaterproofWaterproof
Length1.9 Inches1.8 inches
Width1.1 inches1.0 inches
Height1.0 inches1.0 inches
Weight1.6 ounces2 ounces

My Impressions and Take-aways

To be honest, I like both sights.  The choice depends as much on the shooter as on the specifications and the features.  The comparisons are so close that, under most circumstances, either of these sights should work well for the average shooter.  With that said, there are some other considerations.

The Concealed Carry Conundrum

If you carry a compact or sub-compact pistol, you probably aren’t going to be mounting a red dot sight.  The size of these concealed carry pistols doesn’t allow easy mounting.   On the other hand, if you, like many of us, see the need to carry a full-frame pistol as your choice of a concealed carry gun, mounting a red dot sight is certainly a possibility.

The other problem with the concealed carry of a pistol with a red dot sight mounted is the holster situation.  It can be hard to find a holster that will accommodate a red dot sight.  Problems with finding a holster are especially true if you want to carry a class 2 or class 3 secure holster.

Read more tips on carrying concealed

The Advantages of a Red Dot Sight

Once you shoot a pistol with a mounted red dot sight, you will immediately understand the attraction.  Sight acquisition and return to the aim point become much easier with a red dot sight.  A red dot sight mounted on a pistol equipped with good night sights that will co-witness with the red dot can enhance your abilities even more. 

The Non-Traditional Mount – AR Pistols

Many shooters are now mounting red dot sights on their AR pistols.  There has been some concern the small red dot sights like the Venom and the Viper could not withstand the recoil of the larger caliber rounds. 

My personal experience is that there is no problem at all.  I have a Vortex Optics Viper mounted on an AR pistol chambered for the traditional .223/5.56 round and after thousands of rounds going downrange, the Viper sight continued to perform flawlessly. 

Common Questions about Vortex Viper and Venom Sights

Do the Vortex Viper and Venom have the same footprint?

No, the Vortex Viper and the Vortex Venom do not have the same footprint, they do have the same bolt pattern for the mounting bolts through the optic that can go either directly into the custom cut pistol or onto a mount as well.

The bodies and size of the two are completely different so having the same footprint is not possible. The Venom is larger than the Viper and also possesses the auto-brightness feature and is more waterproof than the Viper model.

Despite being smaller, the Viper is heavier than the Venom, but the difference when you hold the two in each hand is barely noticeable.

Does Vortex Venom have Shake Awake?

No, the Vortex Venom does not have a shake awake feature or an instant on feature. The only way to turn the sight on is by pressing the tiny button on the side.

When comparing the Venom with other red dots out there, it doesn’t rate as highly because of the absence of this feature.

There is an auto-brightness feature on the sight though or you can adjust it manually. The Venom will also automatically shut off after 14 hours of being continuously on.

Is Vortex Venom waterproof?

The sight claims to be waterproof within the product description but to what extent is not disclosed by the brand. From product reviews, it seems the sight can withstand light rainfall but torrential rain will alter the sight and a starburst or a halo will appear on the optic.

However, the sight is incorporated with O-ring seals to prevent as much moisture, dust, and debris from penetrating as possible for more reliable performances in various environments. Despite this, it’s probably not recommended to submerge the sight or any gun for that matter in water.

Does Vortex Venom have auto shut off?

Yes, when the Vortex Venom is in auto mode, the sight will automatically shut off after 14 hours of being continuously on to save the battery life.

Unfortunately, sight does not have a low battery indicator but you shouldn’t have to worry about the battery dying until you’ve owned the Vortex Venom for around 4 years.

Unlike other models from different brands, the Vortex Venom does not possess the shake awake feature which automatically turns on the sight when you want to use it.

Where is Vortex Venom made?

The Vortex company is based out of Wisconsin but products from the Venom line are manufactured in the Philippines, however, all other red dots and prism scopes are made in China. Products from the Razor line from Vortex are made in Japan, but any mounts or accessories that Vortex sells are made in the USA.

What battery does the Vortex Venom use?

The Vortex Venom uses a CR 1632 battery and is easily accessible on the top of the sight so can be changed with no problems. The battery comes included with the Venom but you will have to buy replacements for it in store or online.

How long does a Vortex Venom battery last?

The battery on the Vortex Venom should last for up to 150 hours on the lowest setting and up to 30,000 on the lowest setting, which is around 4 years with regular usage. However, even after prolonged usage, there is not a noticeable change in brightness.

What battery does the Vortex Viper use?

The Vortex Viper Red Dot uses a 3-volt CR 2032 battery. You must remove the optic to change the battery so then you should have to sight it back in.

How long does a Vortex Viper battery last?

The batter for the Vortex Viper should last around the same time as the Vortex Venom – around 150 hours on the highest setting and around 30,000 on the lowest setting.

Does Vortex have a lifetime warranty?

Yes, Vortex does have a lifetime warranty. The Vortex Worldwide VIP Lifetime warranty covers consumer’s purchases through the distributor or the dealer wherever you are in the US.

Products that are shipped out of the USA to other countries may not be covered by this warranty so you’ll need to check on the product description to see if this VIP warranty covers you.

The warranty covers you for any damages or defects that may need repairing by Vortex and they will do it free of charge. If the product is beyond repair then Vortex will replace it with a perfectly working replacement or anything matching the same quality of the product.

You will also not need a receipt to prove proof of purchase to claim on this warranty.

What’s better 3 MOA or 6 MOA?

The 3 MOA will give you more precision but the 6 MOA is easier to pick up and get on target more quickly. However, it’s more about personal preference.

Those who have astigmatism in their eyes prefer to use the 3 MOA as the larger the dot on the MOA, the more it will look like a plasma smear rather than a dot, so the smaller the better.

Before deciding on which one you’d like, you should go to a store and ask to try them out so you can see which one you prefer best.

Are Vortex red dot sights any good?

Yes, the Vortex red dot sights are a reliable and fairly inexpensive choice to go for. They’re compact which is useful if you’ve got a lot of gear to carry around with you at once.

Which is better, Vortex or Leupold?

When it comes to better quality build and optics, Leupold is a lot better but in terms of affordability, Vortex is one of the most favored options.

Both of the brands have good reputations, however, the choice between the two will come down to personal preference and if you’re willing to spend more money to guarantee higher quality.

What choice you make will depend considerably on your shooting style as well and also the different features that separate the two like motion sensor technology and parallax functioning.

Are Vortex binoculars any good?

Yes, Vortex has some high-quality binoculars that will suit a variety of customers. The Vortex Viper HD offers both great imagery and affordability and can compare to some high-end binoculars that cost thousands of dollars.

The Verdict or Verdicts as the Case May Be

Both the Vortex Optics Venom and Viper sights are excellent choices in my book. Check them out below:

  • Multi-Coating on all air-to-glass surfaces to increase light transmission
  • Wide field-of-view lens
  • Fully adjustable brightness settings featuring ten different settings
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  • Lenses coated with multiple anti-reflective coatings
  • Parallax free design
  • Single piece frame design for durability
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Each has its own set of benefits and a few downsides.  For me, the Viper fits my needs for a low profile, small, and touch red dot sight to mount on an AR pistol that rides in a secure mount in my pickup truck all the time. 

Even in the rough and tumble conditions in my truck, the Viper holds zero and continues to operate whenever the pistol comes out of the mount at the range. That is the highest recommendation I think a red dot scope could receive.

I hope that this comparison of the Vortex Venom vs Viper red dot scopes has helped you decide.  Selecting a small red dot scope is a choice that needs more consideration than just features and specifications.  The scope needs to fill your needs and fit your methods. 

If you found this article helpful and you want to comment, please use the space below.  Your experiences are invaluable to others when they are making decisions.  We appreciate you sharing your time and your knowledge.

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.