Spotting scopes are like rifles or packs; there is no perfect spotter for every scenario. If you are hunting low desert with lots of road access, a 95 or 115mm objective would be the choice of many hunters; in contrast, if you are packed in miles looking to save weight, a smaller and lighter spotter may be the way to go. To help fill that niche, Vortex released their new “Mini” Razor HD 13-39x56mm spotting scope.
I’m no stranger to Vortex, having tested and reviewed their original 11-33×50 Spotter back in 2015 here. This new spotter will phase that scope out (as inventory is depleted.) The new Razor, with a 56 mm Objective vs. the original 50mm, is 3 oz heavier, so I set out to see if the small penalty brought more performance. See all specifications and info here.
Vortex Razor HD 13-39x56mm
A small scope that packs an enormous punch is how I sum up my experience with this spotting scope. It is very light and takes up a small footprint in your pack. It measures roughly 11″ long and has a diameter of less than 3″. With its built-in Arca Swiss foot, you do not need to put an adapter plate on it if you run a modern tripod head with Arca Swiss.
If you plan on attaching this scope to a window, you might be disappointed as the foot does not rotate around the barrel of the body. Vortex is offering the Mini Razor in a straight version as well, which you may consider. The size is impressive, but the weight is what really is appealing, weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces, making it one of the lightest on the market. You can expect the straight version to weigh roughly one ounce more than its angled counterpart.
Razor HD 13-39x56mm Exterior
The body is covered in dark green Armortek, and the eyepiece is removable, which leads me to believe they are thinking of the future with another eyepiece. The lock ring could be better on the eyepiece, and I have tightened it multiple times. Speaking of the eyepiece, the magnification range is smooth but a little on the noisy side. The helical focus ring on the body is large and easy to maneuver to dial in and focus. At distances near and far, I found the focus window to be small, meaning there isn’t much wiggle room between being focused and not.
One of the neater features is the scope’s stay-on neoprene protective case. The case has buckles to remove the objective and eyepiece cover, or you can use the stretchy material to simply uncover the glass. The case fits really well, and I plan to keep it on as long as I run the Razor HD 13-39x56mm spotting scope. The 2-ounce case does slightly cover the focus wheel, making it harder to adjust the focus wheel by force as well as hindering your grip on the wheel.
Now, optics are only good if they perform. That was my biggest worry about this scope, but I became more impressed every time I looked through it. Most impressive is the clarity. I compared this scope with a Swarovski 65mm ATX in the morning, mid-afternoon, and dusk and with artificial light. Surprisingly, I could resolve 1-2 boxes more with the Vortex than with the 65mm at the same focal range on the 1951 Air Force Resolution chart. This result was consistent with all the test scenarios.
To keep apples to apples, I tested the Vortex at 25X, which is the lowest power of the Swarovski, and on the upper end, I tested both at 39X. I could resolve 1-2 boxes more with the Vortex in all lights and colors. At 27 yards, I was able to resolve 2.83 lines per millimeter in good light.
Now, there are a few caveats before you put words in my mouth and say the Vortex outperformed the Swarovski. First, the center of the image is where the Vortex shines. However, you start losing a lot of resolution as you get away from the center. The Swaro’ is crisp, nearly through the whole field of view. Secondly, the 65mm ATX has a more extensive magnification range than the Vortex. So, it more than makes up for its shortcomings at a distance.
With that said, I am very impressed with the performance of the Mini Razor. And for being less than 2 pounds, the scope is a no-brainer when trying to save weight.
I am so impressed. This new Razor solidly outperforms the Gen 1 11-33X Razor I reviewed in 2015. The 3-ounce trade-off is worth it (and even more so when you see the price below). I plan to run this scope on all my backpack hunts this year and keep the Swarovski at home. The weight/size to performance ratio is just too good not to.
I look forward to putting more time behind this glass, and if Vortex keeps making products like this, they will be a part of every hunter’s gear closet. To get your hands on one, you’ll see a $1299 MSRP, but expect to pay closer to $1,000 if you shop around the dealers. You can find out more here.
Discuss the Mini Razor here in the forums.