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The Vortex 6-36x56mm Razor HD GenIII Long-Range Scope: Full Review

Executive Editor David M. Fortier spends a full year behind Vortex's long-range beast to find out everything it can do. Spoiler alert: the 6-36x56mm Razor HD Gen III can do a lot!

The Vortex 6-36x56mm Razor HD GenIII Long-Range Scope: Full Review
Vortex Optics’ 6-36x56mm Razor HD Gen III is a very impressive flagship scope packed with features and performance.

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The information age we live in has led to a more informed buyer when it comes to riflescopes. Today’s marksman and hunter demands more from a scope intended for long range use than his father and grandfather did. He reads niche magazines, pours over blogs and websites, and is constantly watching videos to become informed on what features he needs. He also stays up on the latest trends. Due to this, marksmen today have very specific demands when it comes to riflescopes. They look for certain features, and if a scope doesn’t have them it’s passed by. This is especially true when it comes to reticles. Marksmen of today demand more from a reticle than they did decades ago. They want the reticle broken down with finer delineations to allow easier ranging and more consistent holds. They also desire variable power scopes with ever increasing magnification increase ratios. Basically, buyers today just demand more from a riflescope. One impressive optic developed specifically to fulfill the desires of today’s demanding long-range shooter is the Vortex 6-36x56mm Razor HD Gen III.

vortex-6-36x-razor-hd-gen-3-02
The locking turrets are big, have tactile and audible .1 Mil adjustments, Zero Stop, a rotation indicator and are very easy to zero.

Vortex Optics seemingly came out of nowhere, and in a shockingly short amount of time they carved out a large portion of the riflescope market. Their economical scopes have made them popular with the working man. Whatever you can afford, Vortex likely has a scope in that price range. However, make no mistake they made their name with their high-end Razor line. Their 6-36x56mm Razor HD Gen III scope seen here is neither economical nor affordable. It’s a flagship scope intended to impress and to show off both the design and manufacturing capabilities of Vortex. Frankly, it’s an impressive optical instrument with an equally impressive price tag. In days of my youth, a 6x scope was considered good for general purpose use while 36x was used for benchrest competition. This Razor’s magnification starts at 6x and zooms all the way to 36x on the top end. Egad! Built on a 34mm tube, it measures 15.3 inches long and weighs in at a hefty 45.1 ounces. Glancing at the front of this optic and you’ll notice a big 56mm objective lens. The optical system features HD optically indexed lenses which are fully multi-coated using Vortex’s Plasma Tech coating process and XR Plus coatings. ArmorTek ultra-hard scratch resistant coatings are also incorporated to protect the exterior lenses. The result is an extremely impressive optical image with excellent light transmission, color rendition and resolution. Plus, the optical design is fairly forgiving to eye placement.    

The locking turrets are very big, easy to manipulate and feature .1 Mil adjustments with 10 Mils per full turret rotation. Vortex does incorporate a Zero Stop into their system, so you can quickly and easily return to zero. Pull straight out on the turret to unlock it to allow making adjustments, push straight in to lock it into place. The adjustments are precise with distinct audible and tactile clicks. Total adjustment range is 36.1 MRAD for elevation and 15.5 MRAD for windage. An external rotation indicator provides both visual and tactile reference of which rotation the turret is on. This pops out of the left side just below the elevation turret. You can easily feel this or spot it from behind the scope. The turrets are also very easy to zero thanks to their L-Tec Zero System. You simply loosen one set screw in the upper portion of the turret. Then, you can adjust your zero using a dial on top of the turret. This system has all captive parts, the turrets do not pop off and you do not need three hands. It’s a very easy to use system. The mechanism block mounted parallax knob adjusts smoothly and is marked from 10 yards out to Infinity. A rheostat for the illuminated reticle is also incorporated into this turret. To adjust, pull the outer knurled portion out away from the body. This will reveal 10 illumination settings with an OFF position between each one. The reticle is illuminated for use in low light scenarios.

vortex-6-36x-razor-hd-gen-3-03
Optical performance proved surprisingly good at 36x, back it off a bit and this optic really shines with excellent lowlight performance.

My review scope was fitted with the EBR-7D reticle design delineated in mils. Located in the first focal plane, this design sports a very fine center dot and hold points for elevation and windage/lead. The 3 and 9 o’clock center stadia each feature 10 mils which are broken down with .2 mil marks on top of the stadia and .5 mil marks on the bottom. The bottom portion of the reticle features a windage tree with 10 mils for elevation holds. This section features dots instead of hash marks for windage holds. Smaller dots indicate .2 mils while the larger dots 1 mil. The lower portion of the reticle facilitates elevation and windage/lead holds along with fast corrections. One downside to first focal plane reticles is they tend to be very fine, and hard to see on lower magnification settings. Vortex’s cross-plex illumination is intended to make the reticle easier to see at lower magnification settings by illuminating the main stadia. Testing of this optic took place over a period of one year with the scope mounted on a number of rifles. It was used with a variety of calibers ranging from .22 LR up to .300 Winchester Magnum. Testing temperatures ranged from 0 to 116 degrees F. It was used for engaging targets out to 580 yards and for observing out to 1,500 yards in a wide variety of lighting conditions. Mounting the scope on a number of different rifles in different calibers gave me the opportunity to see just how user-friendly this optic is when it comes to zeroing.

A .22 LR allowed me to fire a large number of groups and check the scope’s adjustments and tracking. Zero issues were encountered, the big Vortex tracks properly. I did quite a bit of shooting as the sun set and the light faded away to darkness. Here the Vortex impressed me with its light transmission. I was able to shoot some very good groups at distance in very low light by dialing the magnification back. Submerging the scope underwater for 1 hour had no negative effect, and the Vortex shrugged off a steam bath as well. Temperatures of 0 degrees F were no issue mechanically. At the higher temps, especially with a hot barrel magnification needs to be dialed back due to mirage. It has been a while since I have shot groups from the bench using 36x magnification. Even cranked all the way up the image quality of the Vortex was surprisingly good. Frankly that is a whole lot of magnification to be stuffing through a 56mm objective, but the Vortex performs well. Back it off a bit and it really shines. From a user’s standpoint, it’s a big and heavy optic. However, it also brings a whole lot of magnification to the table, with 36x on tap. It’s a user friendly design with its big turrets, easy to read markings, and it zooms smoothly. All in all, it looks, feels and functions like a flagship optic. With an MSRP of $3,999 it should. The Vortex 6-36x56mm Razor HD Gen III is a workhorse of a scope which has become my favorite for accuracy testing. Marksman will always argue Chevy vs. Ford when it comes to high end optics, and prefer certain reticles and features but the Vortex 6-36x56mm Razor HD Gen III is definitely one to consider.

Vortex Razor HD Gen III Specs

  • Magnification: 6-36X
  • Focal Plane: First focal plane
  • Reticle: EBR-7D (MRAD) (tested)
  • Maintube Diameter: 34mm
  • Overall Length: 15.3 in. 
  • Weight: 45.1 oz. 
  • Click Value: .1 MRAD
  • Adjustment Range: E: 36.1 MRAD; W: 15.5 MRAD
  • Eye Relief: 3.5 in. 
  • FOV @ 100 yds.: 6X, 20.5 ft., 36X, 3.5 ft. 
  • MSRP: $3,999.99
  • Contact: Vortex Optics



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