Coming up at the second place at my top 6 list is a scope by Vortex Optics. I wanted to include something slightly more expensive than a regular budget 308 scope. Still, there are plenty of other even more expensive models but this one feels like one of the best value for money models out there. In this Vortex Optics Viper HS-T review, I will go through some of its main features and show you why sometimes spending a little more on a scope is totally worth it.
The Vortex Optics Viper is a 6-24×50 scope suitable for all kinds of firearms but handles perfectly on its home turf – the .308 rifle. It features a solid construction, a 30mm tube, easily adjustable turrets, great scope clarity, and countless other little features that will take your shooting accuracy to the next level. One of the few disadvantages is that the scope is a little pricey and can feel bulky for people looking for something lightweight and practical.
Do you want to check out other top scopes for 308 rifles? Head over to my extensive Buyer’s Guide on some of the best 308 scopes on the market currently. Now, let’s dive into the features of the Viper HS-T now and see what makes it stand out.
Vortex Viper Features
The first thing you will feel and see when you get the HS-T out of its box is the sheer quality it brings to the table. The materials, the weight, and the feel of it are just on another level compared to other models in this price bracket. The appeal of this model is that it has many of the features that more expensive Vortex Optics scopes have but at almost half the price. For a sub thousand dollar scope, this is perhaps as good as it gets.
Being a 6-24x model it can be used in a variety of tasks ranging from short-distance shooting to medium-range and long-range shots. That magnification also makes it a good spotting scope as well. The 50mm lens provides an excellent field of view and great image clarity. That clarity isn’t exactly on par with the slightly more expensive rifle scopes such as the Trijicon ACOG Scope but there had to be price cuts made somewhere, and that is perhaps one of the few places. Don’t get me wrong, though, this scope is still very easy on your eyes thanks to a bunch of other details, such as:
- The 4-inch relief of the eye
- The fact that it never fogs up
- The great parallax adjustment settings
The eye relief here is leaps and bounds better than the ones on other rifle scopes even some more expensive models. It is 4 inches in length and is excellent for when shooting high-caliber rounds or rifles with heavy recoil. That 4-inch clearance your eye will have from the scope will provide the much-needed protection against the dreaded scope bite.
The body of this scope is made out of a solid 1-piece type 3 hard anodized coated aluminum. It is argon purged meaning it is fog- and waterproof from the inside.
Lastly, the parallax adjustment here allows for great optical performance and can be adjusted from 40 yards to infinity. Some rifle scopes can get it adjusted from as little as a few yards away but they usually can’t zoom up to 24 times, in other words – you win some, you lose some.
The reticle here is a VMR-1 model which is ideal for long-range holds. It is a hash mark-based reticle with a second focal plane which maintains the appearance of your reticle at longer ranges no matter the magnification. That is ideal since the reticle itself won’t get in your way if you, for example, crank the magnification from 6 all the way to 24 in an instant. This type of reticle is also great for windy conditions and moving targets, unlike the classic red dot reticle other scopes use.
There is a whole manual on the Vortex Optics site which is dedicated to this reticle and using it. Here is the link in case you want to check it out.
Note: There is a mil-dot reticle version available but it is harder to find in the US.
The VMR-1 reticle here isn’t illuminated which is a slight downside for people who regularly go out on night hunts.
Adjustability & Set Up
There are countless ways you can configure this scope and that is actually not ideal for beginners. Still, experienced hunters and shooters will love what the “Viper” offers them in terms of windage and elevation adjustability.
The parallax adjusting and MOA turrets feel very premium and are extremely sturdy.
The thing I absolutely love about the MOA adjustment is that you can grab and turn it and you will still be able to see the hash marks. Most rifle scopes make you to actually turn the knob and cover the digits with your fingers, making it harder to see what you are adjusting.
The zeroing can also be done very easily as there is a fiber optic piece on top of the turret that will click on your zeroing yards and will match the other fiber optic piece closer to your eye at the beginning of the scope. If you regularly have to zero in, this is a scope that will make your life easier.
These turrets are also capless which is another feature that most people who shoot on a daily basis will appreciate. There are 65 minutes of adjustment in both windage and elevation which can be adjusted at a 1/4 MOA-per-click rate.
In terms of setting it up on your rifle, it is a pretty straightforward process, apart from the fact that you will have to get an additional mount, as this scope doesn’t come with one.
In terms of its construction, this scope is nothing short of spectacular. As I pointed out, it has a 30mm machine aluminum tube which is type-3 hard ionized coated. This adds a lot to the overall durability of the scope but also makes it a bit heavy. It is around 16 inches long which, again, adds to the bulkiness of the whole thing.
The glass lenses are of proper quality as well. There is no distortion around the edges and it is clear enough. There is a proprietary armored coating on both lenses protecting them from scratches and also prevents fogging from the outside. These lenses are also fully multi-coated. The whole scope is waterproof and shockproof thanks to its unibody solid construction.
In terms of additional features, the Vortex Viper does an okay job for the money. There is a 4-inch sunshade that you get with your scope which is a great touch, as most companies charge you extra money for them. The one you get for free from Vortex is very nicely made, actually. You also get a leather cloth to clean your lenses with.
You also get CRM shims which allow you to customize the stop point of your turrets.
As standard, you also get lens caps but those, in my opinion, are pretty useless as most people immediately replace them with flip-caps.
As I mentioned earlier, there are no mounts included here which is good and bad. It’s good because you can use any mount you previously owned but its also bad if that is your first scope. The mounts and rings I suggest are the ones sold by Vortex, as they make them so that they perfectly fit their own rifle scopes.
Another thing you are getting is the VIP warranty from Vortex Viper. This VIP warranty is almost identical across all their rifle scopes and basically means that you can have your item fixed no matter what sort of defect it experiences in the future. Most of the time you won’t even need to present any sort of proof of ownership or receipt.
Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Vs. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Scope
One of the main competitors to the Viper HS-T is Diamondback Tactical series Scope again from the same company. The reason for that is that they bring a typical Vortex Optics quality but at an even cheaper price.
One of the places where the Diamondback scope falls short is the lens. They are still fully multi-coated but not quite on the level of the Viper. They are also smaller (44mm) meaning that they will allow less light into the tube, resulting in a slightly darker picture on a cloudy day. There is a 50mm option available, though, which is slightly more expensive and uses the same lens as the Viper.
The turrets are sturdy and feel premium on both scopes but the Viper ones are easier to adjust and have more minutes of adjustment to them. They also allow you to hold them without covering the numbers with your fingers, while the ones on the Diamondback scope don’t.
Another thing that I personally dislike about the Diamondback scopes is that they are first focal plane scopes, meaning that the more you zoom in your reticle will magnify along the way. If you have a small target far away and zoom in to it, the reticle might start getting in your way. The second focal plane of the Viper removes this issue entirely. In other words, get the Diamondback if you are on a tight budget but still want a premium-built scope and you are predominantly hunting in the closer ranges,.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Great value for experienced shooters
- 4 inches relief
- Wide magnification range
- Extremely durable
- Turrets are very sturdy and easy to control
- Great light transmission
- Vision clarity can be better
- Can seem expensive to beginners
- A bit on the weighty side
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are Vortex Scopes made?
The company Vortex is US-based and is operating from its headquarters in Wisconsin. The scope themselves, however, are manufactured in three separate locations – The Philippines, Japan, and China. There are still some scopes that are almost fully manufactured in the USA. The HD AMG is a good example of that, even though its lenses are made in Japan.
Are Vortex scopes as good as Leupold’s?
While Leupold’s scopes are slightly higher in terms of their scope quality, Vortex still has equally good lenses and far better prices. As a whole, the value winner is definitely Vortex.
Conclusion & Rating
It’s hard to find a scope that can do what this one does, along with all of its extra features for under a thousand dollars. This is why, objectively speaking the Vortex Optics Viper HS-T is in a league of its own. It is superior to the slightly cheaper models but worse in some aspects than the much more expensive ones. It is a craftsmanship display of sturdiness and quality. If you can ignore the slightly bigger dimensions and added extra weight, then this is one of the best middle to long-range rifle scopes you can get out there for the money. Just because it isn’t a great first investment for beginners I gave it a four and a half out of five stars rating.