Issue 27 American. Made. Blade. Peter Palma Join the Conversation The Vortex Razor HD AMG 6-24×50 is made out of apple pies and wrapped in a copy of Francis Scott Key's manuscript Vortex has quickly earned a reputation for filling gaps in the optics market with quality glass available at prices that will let you remain married. Which may not be a good thing, depending on your particular situation. Now you can brag to your friends about what you paid for your high-quality optic without sounding like the assh*le we all know you are. This humble scribe proved in RECOIL Issue 19 that even Vortex's lowest priced, imported optic can take beatings from even the most inept humans and still remain functional. But if you think Vortex is just a company that just puts its name on foreign made products, you'd be more wrong than Bill Cosby. We took a trip to Vortex Optics' Wisconsin factory to check out one of the few optics made in the U.S. of friggin' A. Now, there are plenty of companies making all sorts of products that say “Made in the USA” status, and technically they are, but in the same way that you can make a toaster strudel. Sure, you can buy some strudels in the freezer section of the grocery store, open the box, place the strudel in the toaster, push down the button, and then squirt your delicious creamy white juice atop the warm, steaming, flaky crust of your pastry. But if we put you in the middle of the woods and tasked you with producing the same heavenly treat before going back home, you would eventually die cold, lonely, and hungry. The guys at Vortex Optics, however, would not only give us a better-tasting strudel for less money, but they would invent an improved toaster and a freezer section with their strudels sandwiched between cold beer and American-made 6-24×50 precision optics. OK, that last bit is a stretch, but, as you can probably tell, we're fans. Every single bolt, nut, cap, and O-ring on its new AMG scope is born and manufactured right here in America by a company so American that you may mistakenly think the rest of this article is quoted directly from The Onion or The Weekly World News. Vortex's founder, Daniel Hamilton, came from a modest background and served as a helicopter mechanic in the Vietnam War. After returning home he used the G.I. Bill to go to college so that he could improve his standard of living way above the immense shittiness that was Vietnam. Dan opened up Eagle Optics in 1987, which specialized in binoculars and quickly grew into a large distributor of glass-containing goodies. Dissatisfied with binoculars offered at the time, Dan started getting optics manufactured to his own specifications. In the meantime, Dan's son, Sam, was off going through the process of becoming the most horrible, and horribly useful, thing a person can become, namely an engineer. These awful creatures are an unfortunate necessary evil when it comes to making complicated cool things. Dave, one of Dan's other sons, was off to war being an awesome as [email protected] JTAC and F-15 Strike Eagle pilot. This has none of the drawbacks of being an engineer but instead is great for coming up with cool names for stuff, like “Spitfire,” “Strike Eagle,” and “Tiger Shark.” In 2002 Dan, his sons, and staff created the Vortex brand of optics, and the rest is history. The family owned business is located in a sprawling and somewhat confusing industrial complex not unlike the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory, complete with conveyor belts, hermetically sealed chambers, and a David Bowie-worthy labyrinth of rooms filled with strange, one-off machines performing complicated and specialized operations. In lieu of orange midgets, there are veterans and all ranges of shooters (pun intended) from three-gun, to F class, to Precision Rifle Series (PRS). Like biting into a chocolate chip cookie and not getting a chocolate chip, it's impossible to fart anywhere in the Vortex facility without having the effluvium that was once in your butt waft into the nose of a veteran or serious shooter. Not that we farted while visiting Vortex, because we're professionals. The 150-plus employees are diligently tending to machines, patiently answering your stupid-ass questions over the phone, and fixing the scopes you dropped off a cliff or that caught fire whilst you were moonshining. Maybe we're projecting there. It's a hive of excited and purposeful activity. A multitude of compartmentalized areas are full of specialized inventions created to make employees more efficient and to engineer out margins of error, all in an effort to increase the quality of their optics and save you money. This meandering narrative brings us to the AMG. Many are familiar with the tried-and-true Razor HD Gen II, which is used by nearly half of the top 100 PRS shooters. But what many may not be familiar with is that these Japanese-made optics arrive at Vortex and are subsequently disassembled, whereupon a number of critical parts are scrapped, then replaced with components made in-house. They're then reassembled and re-purged with nitrogen, using their super-secret-squirrel method that we promised not to write about. All that sounds problematic and less than efficient, right? Well, the AMG is the food baby birthed from that pain in the ass. By far the most notable aspect of the AMG is the dramatic reduction in weight. At 28.8 ounces it's much, much lighter than the venerable Razor HD Gen II, which at a hefty 49 ounces is heavy for a scope, but light for an anvil. All the standard features found on top-quality, long-range glass are present — first focal plane, illuminated reticle, locking diopter adjustment, zero stops, 30mm tube, and exceptional glass clarity. The scope comes standard with locking turrets with adjustments in either MOA or Mils, for use by people who are from countries that have been to the moon, and those that have not, respectively. The zero stops are interesting (as far as zero stops can be), in that they can be set in one of two ways. The user can either use the tried-and-true method of adjusting the turret, then removing Allen screws on the side of the turret in order to spin it to zero without changing the internal adjustments. Or you can remove a cap atop the turret and make adjustments to a dial-style adjustment that doesn't have any “clicks” so the zero can be adjusted infinitely. Once set, subsequent turret adjustments are tactile and easy to turn, with just the right amount of resistance to prevent accidentally spinning past your intended DOPE. We twisted the turrets as if we were trying to start a fire with a hand drill and there was no change in impact when returned to zero. The adjustments, even at their extreme limits, tracked like Jesse Owens in 1936 Nazi Germany. However, the Germans have not suffered a complete defeat. We compared the clarity and brightness of the AMG's glass with comparable offerings from Nightforce, Kahles, U.S. Optics, and Schmidt & Bender, and found that the AMG was equal to or surpassed all but the mighty — and mighty expensive — Schmidt & Bender. So the AMG fits nicely into Vortex Optics' philosophy of quality optics at affordable prices. In fact, the only fly in the ointment we discovered was that the indicated parallax adjustment ranges seemed to differ from the markings on the dial. Once we messed with the adjustments and removed parallax, we discovered that though the parallax indications may be misleading, the parallax itself is very forgiving, especially in the common working ranges between 300 and 800 yards. Even with parallax cranked way out of adjustment, any apparent movement of the reticle across the target is slight, where in some other scopes that mistake would be rather more dramatic. This wiggle room is appreciated for situations where the shooter may not have an accurate way of judging distance, or must switch rapidly between targets at various ranges. Both the MOA and Mil reticles are well thought out and useful, without being too busy or cluttered and looking like someone just etched a piece of graph paper where a reticle should be. There are many minute details in the reticle that are as useful and welcome, as well as being too boring to rattle on about. But what isn't boring is using the thing. Our range tests mated the AMG on a variety of custom bolt guns and ultimately ended with groups so tight and so consistently placed that our ragtag group of shooters, ranging from former sniper to “camera guy” decided to up the ante. After a few rounds, someone noticed that the manufacturer of the NRA steel ram silhouettes we were using had made them anatomically correct. An urgent desire euphorically washed over our group of five shooters and a round robin was hastily established with the sole intent of striking the ram's joy prong, approximately 2 by 1 inches in size, at 540 yards. Ultimately, our van driver performed a perfect circumcision on his second shot — a true testament to American quality. The AMG is proof that America is good at producing things other than cheeseburgers, cookie-cutter neighborhoods, and reality shows about horrible people. The AMG can sit atop the most accurate rifles and bang it out with its rivals, while doing it cheaper and lighter. Vortex Razor HD Amg 6-24×50 Length: 15.2 in. Weight: 28.8 oz. Eye Relief: 3.6 in. F.O.V.: 20.4 feet at 100 yards Tube: 30mm Price: $2,499 URL: www.vortexoptics.com Explore RECOILweb:PDW's New Merino A.G. 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