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Review: Vortex Razor HD Gen III 1-10×24 FFP

TEN TIMES CLOSER: Vortex Razor HD Gen III 1-10×24 FFP

If you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket, you’re probably fighting the urge to ditch the red-dot on your AR in favor of a low-power, variable optic. There are plenty to choose from, but the hottest new release of 2020 is the Vortex Razor HD Gen III 1-10×24 FFP.

That alone isn’t enough to tempt guys to shell out $2K, though. It’s got to have good glass, not weigh a ton, hold zero after rough handling, have plenty of adjustment, and have a well-thought-out reticle. Fortunately, the Gen III checks all those boxes.

Vortex’s head of product development Rob Morell tells us the Gen III was designed to perform out to 600 yards, but we racked up reliable hits at 750, and undoubtedly could push it further.

Morell says some compromises had to be made in order for the Gen III to be lightweight, capable, and affordable. They didn’t scrimp on glass, nor feel, and the rotation of the erector tube is silky smooth for a fast throw from 1x to 10x. The 34mm tube gives 37 mils of total elevation travel, after zeroing for 55-grain ball at 100 that left 20.8 mils to play with. That’s enough elevation for 1,100 yards.

10x is a place where an argument can be made for a parallax adjustment, but Vortex chose a fixed parallax design to keep weight, complexity, and cost down. The same goes for locking turrets, you can live without them since the EBR-9 reticle gives you 10 mils of elevation with a Christmas tree for precise holds.


The Gen III is sensitive to head position, as many LPVO’s are. At 1x, the eye box feels large, but it shrinks considerably as the magnification rises. With the optic mounted in the ideal position for 1x-3x viewing, you’ll likely need to close your adjustable stock one notch to get rid of the scope shadow and see the full field of view at 10x.

Vortex Razor HD Gen III RETICLE

By design, a scope that rides the 10x magnification rails needs a flexible reticle. Any reticle with stadia fine enough to be useful at 10x is barely visible at 1x. Conversely, a central aiming point that’s useful at 1x will be humongous when zoomed up to 8x or 10x and obscure your target, unless you’re shooting minute-of-building at 300 yards.
Vortex Razor HD Gen III reticle
The folks at Vortex put on their thinking caps and came up with two new reticles for the Gen III, the EBR-9 BDC, a MOA-based, bullet-drop compensated reticle based on a .223 load for gamers, and the EBR-9 MIL, a straightforward, MRAD version with a Christmas tree-style layout with aiming dots down to 11 mills. Both reticles feature a range-finding tool based on a silhouette/torso, thicker stadia at the edges for use below 8x, and a segmented aiming point with a central dot that shows plenty of target, even at distance.


The trick to making the Vortex Razor HD Gen III work at both ends is illumination. At 1x, the illuminated reticle turns the Razor HD Gen III into a red-dot sight.

Morrell says, “We were really banging our heads on the wall figuring out how to make the illumination bright enough while conceding the fewest compromises in the scope’s design.”

The Vortex Razor HD Gen III’s reticle illumination works on the principle of constructive interference. This means more of the light is focused on the shooter’s eye instead of getting bounced around and diffused before it gets to the eye. The result is bright and fully daylight bright.

The tradeoff for the brightness means any deviation of the eye position from the center of the eyebox results in the dot dimming. At lower magnification, where it’s meant to be used, there’s plenty of room to move before the dot dims. At 10x, the illumination is so narrowly focused that it can be used as a way to judge and defeat parallax when reaching out.


My range buddy Rudy Gonzor from Ridgeline Training and I swapped the optic back and forth over a daylong, hot, and dusty evaluation. We ran everything from the USMC’s MEUSOC 50- to 3-yard rifleman qualification to known distance and unknown distance drills from 100 to over 750 yards.

On glass and in the dirt, the scope worked well; contrast was sharp, edges of all targets were well-defined, and colors were accurate, even into the shadows. The dot was plenty bright in the noon sun. There was a bit of pin-cushioning at the edges, but nothing distracting. We did have an issue pop up on the range: parallax error.

Which takes us to the second thing we evaluated: parallax. Without a parallax adjustment, the scope is parallax free only at 150 yards. At 100 yards, we shot from the center of the scope, then from the edge to see how induced parallax affected our zeroing groups. Our 3.2-inch group opened up to 4.7 inches when shooting from the very edge of the glass. We’d never do that IRL, but knowing there’s up to a 47-percent accuracy error waiting to bite you in the ass is important. (See Everything Wrong with LPVOs)


ARs are more capable than ever. With the right sighting system, there’s no more versatile platform to work from CQB to overwatch and beyond. While a 1-8x will get the job done, the Vortex Razor HD Gen III 1-10x offers just a little more in an impressively compact package and reasonable price.
Vortex Razor HD Gen III stat sheet

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in RECOIL #51]

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  • Frank Winspur says:

    $2k? I’ll take two! Please tell me where this is as it’s hard to find under $3k!

  • Archangel says:

    $2K?? Are you kidding??

    Don’t see anything in this scope that makes if worth FOUR times as much as a Primary Arms 1-8x FFP with BDC reticle or one of the Sig scopes that cost less than $2K

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  • $2K?? Are you kidding??

    Don't see anything in this scope that makes if worth FOUR times as much as a Primary Arms 1-8x FFP with BDC reticle or one of the Sig scopes that cost less than $2K

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