Vortex 16-48x 65mm Spotter Review
by Jordan Kauer, Rokslide Member
Up until the fall of 2012, I never really grasped the importance of good optics. Up to that time, my main focus was archery elk hunting. I didn’t hunt areas where I could glass very far and also didn’t want to pack anything unneeded, so I never even considered owning a spotting scope. That was until my friend Brandon and I decided to head to Utah to try archery hunting mule deer. We didn’t even make it to our backcountry camp before I realized I was lacking big time in the optics department.
I had spotted some deer in the distance and pulled up my binos to see what they were; all I could tell was they were deer and one might be a buck. At the same time, my buddy looks through his binos and said there is a really nice buck in the group then pulls out his Vortex Razor 20-60×85 spotter to tell me he has an extra inline on his right side! I didn’t even believe he could see that buck that good through his binos so he handed them to me. Sheepishly for the next 12 days, I would use either Brandon’s binos or spotter, whichever he wasn’t using because I couldn’t pick out anything in the vast terrain we were hunting with the low quality binos I had.
As soon as I got home from that trip, I bought some new binos and started researching spotters. I made a chart with weight, power, length and price of every spotter I could find. I really liked Brandon’s Razor 20-60×85. It seemed like a great piece of equipment for the price but wasn’t sure I wanted to pack the weight and bulk of that around backpacking. Well that spring I saw that Vortex were releasing both the Razor 11-33×50 and the 16-48×65 spotters. I made a phone call that same day to get more specs and within a few minutes had a Razor 16-48×65 on order.
Weighing in at 48.4 oz and 14.1 inches long (for the angled eyepiece,) the 16-48x is 17 oz lighter and 1.2 inches shorter than Brandon’s Razor 20-60×85 spotter. That weight/size savings sounded nicer to me for backpacking and is one reason I chose the lighter scope.
Upon receiving my new 16-48x spotter, I was very pleased with the fit, finish and ergonomics of it. The ArmorTek textured coating and rubber protects the spotter in high contact points. It also features a dual-focus knob and twist eye cups that adjust easily. There is also a rotating tripod ring to provide comfortable viewing from all angles and a built in slide-out sun shade.
The Vortex 16-48×65 Spotting Scope
- APO System Triplet Apochromatic lens combines with HD glass to provide unmatched color sharpness.
- HD Lens Elements Premium HD (High Density) extra-low dispersion glass delivers the ultimate in resolution and color fidelity, resulting in High Definition image.
- XRPlus Fully Multi-Coated Premium proprietary coatings deliver the highest level of light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces for maximum brightness.
- Dielectric Prism Coatings Multi-layer prism coatings provide bright, clear, color-accurate images.
- Plasma Tech Cutting edge application process provides unparalleled coating durability and performance.
I’ve now owned the scope three years. Besides performing well, I’ve been able to do a lot of side-by-side comparisons in the field against other leading spotters. Many of those comparisons have been next to my partner’s formerly mentioned the Razor 20-60×85, so I’ll start there first.
My 16-48x65mm Vortex Razor went head-to-head with it’s bigger cousin, the Vortex Razor 20-60x85mm. Both scopes performed will but for backpacking, I prefered the lighter/smaller 16-48x65mm Razor
On the same power settings, the 85mm seemed pretty equal to it’s smaller cousin, other than the field-of-view in the 85mm was greater. However, the eye relief on the 85mm was reduced when you got above 50x. I had to sit perfectly behind it to get a full picture and even then my beanie was bumping the eye piece. With the smaller 65mm, I had plenty of eye relief on max power of 48x and could get a full sight picture even when viewing from awkward angles. The 60x is nice on the 85mm but there wasn’t anything I could see through the 85mm on 60x that I couldn’t pick up with the 65mm on 48x, like seeing if a buck has eye guards or a cheater 1500+ yards away.
Edge-to-edge clarity of both scopes were very good but with the 85mm on 60x, I noticed it wasn’t as crisp on the edge. However, the center image was still very good. During fading light, both spotters are usable to pretty much the same time on their max power settings. Turning the 85mm down to 48x, though, and I gained a few more minutes of glassing in the fading light over it’s smaller cousin.
Comparing my 16-48x next to a Swarovski ATM 20-60×65 HD, I found critters seemed to be a little easier and quicker to pick up at extended range in the Swarovski and the image brighter, but at $1,000 more than my Razor, it was easy to let those differences slide.
As far as detail, there wasn’t anything I could pick out with the Swarovski that I couldn’t see just fine with the Razor 65mm. The eye relief on max power with the Swarovski was slightly more forgiving than the 16-48x. During fading light, I could use the Swarovski on 48x for a few more minutes than the 16-48x on 48x. I also compared my 16-48x to several Leupold Golden Ring spotters and the Razor outshined the Leuopolds in every aspect, except the Golden Ring was about 12oz lighter.
I take care of all my gear, but I also use it alot so it does get abused some too. When I ordered the spotter, I also ordered the optional neoprene cover for it. Over the years, I’ve dropped it out of my truck, slipped and fell on it, and had my tripod blow over smashing the 16-48x to the ground, yet the only issue I’ve had was the eye piece coming loose. I called Vortex and found that this was a simple fix with a screw driver and a little blue Loc-Tite. I’ve never had that issue again. But if for some reason you do break your scope (or any Vortex product,) Vortex’s No Fault For Life Warranty is the best in the industry. They will stand behind their products.
The Vortex Razor 16-48×65 performs well in every aspect. For someone in the market for a 65mm Spotting scope, this Vortex brings a lot of value to the table.
As of publish time, Rokslide sponsor BlackOvis has the 16-48×65 in stock (and is very competitively priced) here.
You can ask the author questions or discuss this article here
You can also read Jordan’s review on the Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 rifle scope here
Jordan Kauer lives in Rigby, Idaho. His passion is backpack hunting elk and mule deer and is an opportunist hunter hunting with bow, rifle, or muzzleloader. He enjoys long-range shooting, bear hunting (spot & stalk or bait) and predator hunting. He is working on tagging his first wolf. Jordan’s Rokslide screen name is spdrman