When it comes to optical packages for the broadest array of hunting and shooting applications, it’s hard to beat the variety, features and dollar value Vortex brings to the market. I was looking for a cost-effective rifle and scope combination for long-range culling shots in western Queensland and settled on a Howa with GRS Berserk stock in one of my favourite chamberings, the 6.5 Creedmoor.
As luck would have it, at about the same time Australian Shooter asked me to review a first focal plane target/tactical scope from Vortex. Shortly after that I had the good fortune to meet Goran Pehar of ExtraVision Australia, importer and distributor of the Vortex Optics brand.
I shared with Goran my challenge which was predominantly undisturbed, long-range feral pests including foxes, pigs, goats and wild dogs. The scope had to be tough as I transport my rifles in racks on a Polaris four-wheeler, extreme dust and jarring the norm, not the exception. Goran was a wealth of knowledge, himself a keen long-range hunter at home and abroad and his choice of Vortex optic was the Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50, a first focal plane (FFP) scope aimed squarely at the target and tactical shooting markets.
With FFP, the reticle increases and decreases in size as magnification is varied. The advantage with this characteristic for long-range shots is the reticle subtensions used to counter wind drift and elevation remain the same at any magnification.
Now we had the model of scope sorted, it was time to choose the reticle as the Vortex Viper PST Gen II series of tactical/target scopes can be had in either MRAD or MOA. I opted for the MRAD in the EBR-2C reticle, a hash-marked reticle that uses MRAD subtension lines for ranging, holdover and windage correction.
MRAD is an acronym for milliradian, a unit of angular measurement defined as a thousandth of a radian (0.001 radian). If this sounds complicated it’s not, it’s very simple. Think of MRAD this way ‑ it’s metric and if one click of turret adjustment equals 1cm on the target at 100m it will be 10cm at 1000m.
The reticle is glass-etched and illuminated, hash-marks well defined and easy to see in all conditions and the range of illumination suited brilliant sunlight through to night shooting under moonlight. There are 10 illumination settings with off positions between each setting to extend battery life.
What first stands out about the scope is the clarity of vision. Vortex uses extra-low dispersion (XD) glass in the Viper PST II series to give resolution and colour fidelity that provides crisp and sharp vision downrange. In addition, Vortex has its own proprietary coatings called XR which fully multi-coat the lenses to increase light transmission.
This combined with their multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces results in clarity that exceeds the scope’s price-point. What’s noticeable about this scope is the sharpness of the image around the edge of the lens. This is not a budget optic nor is it a premium priced one, but the edge clarity and overall image quality is more than you’d expect from scopes priced about $2000.
In addition, eye relief is generous across the power range. The ample eye relief enables the recoil of more powerful, flat-shooting calibres to be handled comfortably and minimises image loss during recoil. Laser, glass-etched reticle lines are fine cut to lessen obstruction of the target view.
Hash-marks are cut in even finer lines and the main reticle structure is stronger to provide contrast, fast targeting stability and natural focus for shot placement in lowlight conditions.
I found the zero stop process simple and reliable. Parallax adjustment, the important tool to maximise image quality at any distance, was fine and sensitive regardless of magnification.
Turrets on an FFP scope used for long-range work generally cop a beating as they’re exposed and used more frequently than they might be on a rifle employed predominantly for snap shooting. I couldn’t fault the tactical-style turrets on the scope, they were click positive, easy to read and gave just the right amount of resistance when adjusting to ensure helpful changes to windage and elevation.
The turrets have a zero stop mechanism to prevent them from dialling below the sight-in range. Vortex calls its turret springs a ‘Precision Force’ and use premium components in the erector spring system to ensure maximum repeatability and ease of adjustment. Turret graduations are .1 MRAD which match to the reticle.
The scope is a one-piece, 30mm tube made from aircraft-grade aluminium which maximises lens alignment for optimal accuracy and visual performance and contributes to its overall strength and waterproofing. It’s also Argon purged to prevent internal fogging.
Vortex claims the scope is rugged, shockproof and can stand the rigours of military applications. I can attest to this as it bounced around on my Polaris for several months of culling duties in western Queensland and not once did the zero alter nor did I experience any malfunction or evidence of wear and tear. External tube, lens housings and turret surfaces are hard-anodized in an attractive matte black. External lens surfaces are Armortek coated to resist scratching, oils, solvents and the inevitable dirt that hard work in dusty conditions attracts to scopes like a magnet. All Vortex products come with a lifetime warranty.
The scope market for hunters and target shooters is rich with options and it can sometimes be difficult to know which way to go. After all, what really does make one scope better than another? Points to consider are warranty, value for money, features that match your requirements, lowlight performance, clarity, a ranging reticle that’s easy to use and positive turret adjustments that can stand the test of time. In this respect the Vortex Viper PST Gen II series of tactical/target scopes ticks all the boxes and more.
It has excellent eye relief, broad dioptre adjustment and a generous viewing box for bringing the reticle to the target quickly from prone and seated positions. Another aspect is the toughness of this scope. I used it under varying conditions over several months and couldn’t fault it. For hunters and target shooters looking for a great FFP scope, I don’t think you’ll go far wrong with the Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50.
Specifications (model as reviewed)
Model: Viper PST Generation II
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Eye relief: 3.4^
Field of view: 24.1’-4.8’/100 yards
Tube diameter: 30mm
Turret style: Tactical
Return to zero stop: Yes
Adjustment graduations: .1 MRAD
Travel per rotation: 10 MRAD
Max elevation adjustment: 20 MRAD
Max windage adjustment: 10 MRAD
Parallax range: 25 yards to infinity
Weight: 884.5 grams