Vortex 10×42 Fury HD AB
Over the last few years, the backcountry hunting market has grown to embrace rangefinding binoculars. Multi-function gear is welcome in a backpack hunting camp where space and weight is a top priority. Yet, as technology progresses, a binocular that simply provides an accurate range isn’t really enough for many hunters. They have spent time and money putting together accurate, lightweight rifles that can precisely put rounds downrange much farther than Maximum Point Blank Range. They have put in the hours and burned pounds of hard-to-find powder in practicing their fundamental shooting skills. Next, they need a sufficiently accurate trajectory and wind call to make their corrections and get a good hit within their abilities.
Vortex Optics understands this and prioritized good pre-shot information when they updated their popular Fury Rangefinding HD Binocular with Applied Ballistics’ industry-leading ballistic solving software. They backed it up by partnering with an industry leader in Kestrel Instruments, to provide the shooter with the best call available.
Since I transitioned to a ballistic-solving range finding binocular, I have a hard time moving back to a separate rangefinder / binocular setup. Having all of those functions in one piece of gear is too convenient, and now seems too entrenched in my hunting “workflow.”
The problem with really good range finding binoculars is the price. The top shelf offerings are well above $3000. Many DIY hunts in the Western US can be done for a cost lower than that price point.
The rub is that rangefinding binoculars at lower price points tend to be a crowd of compromises: lower optical performance, mediocre ranging, limited ballistic features, etc. Vortex tried to buck that trend with their new Fury HD with Applied Ballistics. With a list price of $1999 and an eye-opening street price of $1499, Vortex undercuts the top-shelf competition at less than half the entry price. More info here.
Fury HD AB
So what kind of instrument do we get for that money? The Fury HD is a solid-feeling, fully rubber armored binocular. There are two focus adjustments on the barrels. The left barrel is the classic diopter adjustment, while the right focuses the display screen. There are five buttons on the housing including a menu button, measure button, right hand wind direction, left hand wind direction, and wind bearing capture button. The CR2 battery is housed in the underside of the right barrel, thankfully allowing a normal 1/4-20 tripod exit at the hinge. A Bluetooth antennae pokes out slightly from the right barrel near the tripod exit. Two large bumps protrude from underneath the barrel. While kind of chunky-feeling, the ergonomics were acceptable for me.
Vortex Fury HD AB Optics
Once I had the diopter set, I found the Fury HD AB image to be … OK. Certainly good enough for serious hunting, and competitive with other entry-level rangefinding binoculars, but a step below several non-rangefinding binocular options in the $700 to $1200 class. The Fury HD AB was suitably sharp under most conditions and brightness was good enough for early morning glassing. Chromatic Aberration was visible in high contrast objects. It was readily apparent at the edge and still present even in the center of the image, despite its “HD” nomenclature. The image is notably softer at the edge than at the center. There is a small amount of pincushion distortion. The viewing experience was straining after long sessions.
For me, I think this was due to the distractedly different color transmission from each barrel of the optic. The left barrel was biased towards warm yellow/magenta while the right barrel was biased towards a cool blue/green. Together, they kind of cancel each other into a neutral-ish tone, but it isn’t the easiest viewing experience.
Build quality was good. The rubber armor was thick, textured, and comfortable. The eyecups were nicely sized and comfortable against the skin. The center hinge was tight and held sufficiently when adjusted. My test unit shipped with a Vortex Glasspack harness case, which provided useful protection. They weighed in at 31.5 ounces on my kitchen scale, with a battery, but without other accessories.
The Fury HD AB’s rangefinder is pretty impressive. I could regularly get ranges on animals out to 1400 yards, even in sunny conditions. In low light I could stretch that even a few hundred yards more. I could get trees out to around 2000 yards with a steady rest. Even more impressive, I was able to get ranges down to the advertised five yards! The ballistic display mode is pretty clean, and the automatic brightness setting worked great for me. The display provides the yardage followed a couple seconds later by the correction. After a few repetitions of range, read, dial, shoot; the process starts to get pretty seamless. I think competitive shooters will really like the functionality.
Fury HD AB Ballistic Solving
The real time to shine for the Fury HD is in solving ballistic solutions. The Fury HD uses Applied Ballistics’ Elite engine and provides accurate ballistic information. The internal environmental sensors are pretty accurate, but take some time to settle into accurate readings when changing from two different environmental areas (like the warm car to cold shooting area).
Vortex teams up their instrument with their Fury App. (Andriod, Apple) This App provides an easy way to push data to the Fury for ballistic solutions. You can add three custom gun profiles (A,B, and C) in the app and push them to the Fury. You can toggle between them in the Fury, once loaded. When entering gun data you can use G1, G7, or even Applied Ballistics Custom Curves. I found Bluetooth connection to be easy to set up and reliable. When using the App, you can display the shooting solution on your device and in the Fury display.
Pairing With Kestrel
My favorite feature of the Fury HD AB is the ability to pair with AB-enabled Kestrel devices. The Fury HD AB worked like a charm when paired with my Kestrel Sportsman. I liked being able to use the accurate environmental data from the Kestrel. I just left them linked up and with the kestrel sitting nearby, I was able to just range targets, dial, and fire. A key step to take when using the Fury with a Kestrel is to make sure to change the Kestrel’s Data Logging rate to two seconds, so the Fury is getting good data.
Wind calls can come from manually entering them into the Fury with the left and right wind buttons, or pushing wind from the Kestrel. When shooting alone, I had good luck using the buttons and just keeping the default full value L/R wind. You can just hit the buttons for 1 -mph changes in each direction. You can also take a wind bearing with the Wind Bearing Capture Button and the internal compass of the Fury will remember it and calculate an adjusted wind call based on the bearing of your line of fire. The other method is to use the wind value captured by the Kestrel and push it to Fury.
There are other basic rangefinding modes available like horizontal distance ranging, but if you are only going to use those, you might as well save some money and get the non-AB Fury HD 5000.
My overall experience using the ballistic functions of the Fury HD was positive. The AB app in my phone, the Kestrel, and the Fury HD AB were all within .75 MOA in drop solutions. I really liked the wind solutions, and they definitely got me close. The manual inputs were surprisingly effective, but the best calls came when paired with the Kestrel.
Check out what Travis Bertrand thought when he tested the Vortex Fury HD AB here.
Vortex did a great job in providing easy-to-understand video tutorials on their website to get shooters up and running with the full-featured instrument.
Warranty for the Fury HD is Vortex’ famous VIP warranty for the lifetime, including electronics. You don’t see that very often.
The Vortex 10X42 Fury HD 5000 with AB is easily the most full-featured ballistic solving rangefinding binocular in its price range. The App is good, and support materials from Vortex get shooters running in a relatively short period of time. Ballistic functionality was reliable and effective. It was a great decision to team up with Kestrel and Applied Ballistics to get good data to the shooter. The Fury HD AB provides a lot of high performance technology at a very competitive price and backed by an amazing warranty. The downside is the optical performance, while adequate for serious hunting, has unbalanced color transmission and mediocre aberration control. The price is great, especially for those that already have a compatible Kestrel device, but buyers that don’t will need to budget for a Kestrel to maximize the performance.
Ask Matt or Travis questions or comment on this review here.
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