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Vortex Viper PST 4-16X50 FFP Initial Impressions

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/27/2010 at 19:52
Jon A View Drop Down
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OK, I know everybody is anxious to here about these, so here are my initial thoughts.  Both good and bad.

First the good:


Size/weight: 
Very nice, especially for a hunting rig or any other rifle where the 30+ oz tactical scopes are not desirable. 







Reticle:  Outstanding reticle, it should do pretty much anything you'd want to do with such a scope.





Illumination:  The knob is nice and stiff, unlikely to get turned on accidentally.  The brightness is very good for this type of scope.  What you worry about with a scope in this price range where so much of the reticle illuminates is that even on its lowest setting the illumination will be too bright and wash out your view of the target in low light.

Not a problem with this illumination.  The lower settings are so low you won't likely ever use them unless you're using NV.  You can crank it up just until you can see the reticle without any problems washing out the target.

It isn't daytime visible, but I generally don't expect or want that in a scope of this power range.  It is bright enough on 10 that it can be seen in gloomy-to dusk conditions even on 4X, which really helps reticle visibility in those conditions so it should work fine for brush hunting as the light fades (it'd be a bit too thin for that without the illumination in my opinion). 



Turrets:  Very nice looking, have a quality feel and sound.  The zero stop works well to keep you from getting lost on the dial.





Tracking Repeatability:
  The tracking has been very repeatable in testing, always going back to the same spot.  The reticle moves smoothly with no hesitations or hangups or other evidence of sticking.

The Bad:

Turrets:  While they do have a quality feel, it's much the same quality feel of my 6.5-20 Viper or you'd expect on a BR scope with covered turrets.  The PST's turrets are too easy to turn for uncovered turrets.  To hunt with these I'd at least tape up the windage and would feel better taping up the elevation--which sort of goes against the whole reason to have them in the first place.  It's a good thing it has a zero stop, because you'll be checking it often.

I may try finding fatter O-rings or something in the future to stiffen them up.  Hopefully something workable can be figured out.

Glass:  Yes, I was a bit disappointed with the glass.  Maybe my expectations were not realistic knowing the price range of the scope, but I was hoping for better.  It's not bad, there are no big flaws, it's just not as clear and sharp as I had hoped on the higher powers.  I'd say it's roughly the same as the 6.5-20X50 Viper, which I think is quite good for a $400 scope, but I was hoping for a bit better with this one. 

Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly usable and looks quite good on the lower powers, but if you've been spoiled by top level glass, this is a noticeable downgrade. 

Of course, in a scope like this, especially at this price range, there are more important things than glass quality, which brings me to:

Tracking Accuracy:  While the tracking is repeatable, my particular scope has a couple problems with its accuracy.  Hopefully I got a bum one and other units are not like this, I know Vortex can do better because my 6.5-20 does not suffer from these problems.  Nevertheless, this scope has them--which is why I meticulously measure every scope I buy.

Problem #1:  The reticle is canted by roughly 1.2 degrees with respect to erector movement.  It's not enough to be obvious to the eye, but it's enough to cause problems.  This means for every 10 mils you click up, you need to click to the right two clicks in order to keep from dialing windage you didn't want.  This may not be an issue for some who don't shoot long range or who will primarily use the reticle for holdover but it's not acceptable to me on a tactical scope.  I know it's well within specs of some manufacturers (such as Leupold) but I expect more from Vortex.  My cheaper 6.5-20 Viper has no measurable cant to the reticle.  Hopefully this particular scope is an aberration and not representative of the other PST's out there.

Problem #2:  The click value is about 3% off.  97 clicks moves 10 Mils, even by measure of its own reticle--which seems to be sized accurately (within 1%)--as well as the collimator.  I know historically many scopes have perpetually been even farther off than that, and I know that even some pretty expensive tactical scopes still have a +/- 2% tolerance, but it's hard for me to be happy with a scope that is that far off.  With the good ballistic programs we have these days it's easy to compensate for, but having to do so by such a large amount does not make me happy with a scope.  Again, the cheaper 6.5-20 Viper measures within 1% so a PST with this large an error just isn't right.

I plan to return the scope for the last two problems as they're not acceptable to me, especially both problems combined.  Hopefully I got a bad apple and others aren't like this.  There's nothing intrinsic to the design that should make them all the same as mine in these aspects, so hopefully they aren't. 

The glass and turret stiffness may be disappointments, but they don't keep the scope from being functional which is what's most important.  Obviously, especially in this price range, one can't expect the perfection and stunning glass one does on a $2000 or $3000 scope so functioning correctly and getting the job done is what's most important.  I do think these scopes can do that if the last two problems with my particular unit are not present.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/27/2010 at 20:15
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Thanks for a great review Jon. I know there have been tons of people anxiously waiting for these to get shipped out.

Obviously we'll see more reviews regarding those issues you listed and it will be interesting to see who has the same problems. I have to admit i am starting to worry that there may have been kinks being worked out and that is affecting output from Vortex. Maybe just being pessimistic, but hopefully yours is just an early model lemon. Don't like hearing the click values being off like that. Seems like a pretty big slip up.

I was impressed with the regular Viper line and Vortex has some damn fine reps and CS. I'm sure we'll get some better reviews from shooters.

Thanks again Jon, hopefully your replacement is improved.



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/27/2010 at 20:41
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Good review, Jon.  You cleared up some questions I had on that model.  Much appreciated...
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/28/2010 at 12:17
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Thanks for the review Jon
.
If you will keep us informed as to what Vortex does for you and say about your problems you experienced.


Edited by SVT_Tactical - June/28/2010 at 13:28
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/28/2010 at 13:27
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Nice review, Jon.  Thanks for sharing!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/28/2010 at 18:50
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Nice write-up, Jon!

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: June/29/2010 at 08:58
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Thanks for a nice review Jon.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2010 at 23:10
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I figured it would be instructive to add these posts here:

For others asking, I'll try and give a little primer. 

First of all, check out Lindy's http://www.arcanamavens.com/LBSFiles/Shooting/Downloads/ScopeChecking/ for some excellent information some of which I'll duplicate below. 

It's not rocket science guys, you don't need to be an Engineer or even be particularly smart.  You just need to be smart enough to realize it's an important thing to do if you shoot long range much. 

About the easiest method in "the real world" is with a yardstick because everybody has one and they work out nicely being exactly 10 Mils at 100 yds:



Naturally it's easier to be more accurate with a higher powered scope:



Easy way to verify the calibration of your reticle.  10 mils, 36".  Bam, done.

Next you want to verify click value and/or reticle perpendicularity with respect to the turret movement.  For this you need to hold the rifle very steady.  It's very difficult to do by yourself by hand; if you do it a bunch of times and sort of take an average you can get an idea if there's a big error but you won't be exact.  Having buddies hold the rifle and click the scope while you look increases accuracy somewhat.  But by far the best is having a gunsmith vice of some type so you can solidly lock down the rifle.

I've seen people mention using calibrated paper.  That's fine too as long as it's big enough (measuring 10" or so at 100 yds just isn't enough accuracy; I feel 10 mils or more is the minimum), it's far enough (the closer the paper or object is the smaller the errors will be that you're trying to measure) and it needs to be far enough you can eliminate parallax completely. 

You don't even need any measuring device to get some good data.  With a good tactical reticle, you can get a relative measurement between the reticle and the turrets by pointing at anything.  Typical Mil reticles are very easy as the top and bottom posts are usually 10 Mils apart.  Simply line the top of the bottom post on an aiming point in the distance exactly and crank in 10 mils.  If the top post's edge is now exactly where the bottom post's edge was, your reticle matches your clicks. 

Relatively speaking they're dead on with one another.  You should still check them with a yardstick, barber pole, etc, to make sure they're absolutely correct, but in my experience reticles are more consistent than click values so your odds look good.

The same goes for reticle cant with respect to the turrets.  All you need is a straight edge at which to aim.  It can be a yardstick, post, corner of a building, etc.  But it needs to be perfectly straight.

Lock down the rifle with the reticle on the edge--exactly lined up on the edge and crank in 10 mils or so.  If the reticle stays on the edge, you're good.  If it moves laterally with your vertical turret input, you have a reticle that's not square with the turrets.  Clicking windage to see how many clicks it takes to put the reticle back on the edge will allow you to calculate the angle.

Another tool one can use to check these things is a collimator.  Some quality boresighters with a good grid qualify so we aren't talking about some super expensive lab equipment here.  If you do things correctly, you will get exactly the same answers using one of these and doing stuff "in the real world."  I've done it enough times both ways to feel very confident accurate results can be had using one of these--actually I feel this method provides better accuracy since rifle movement is taken out of the equation, mirage is taken out of the equation, parallax is taken out of the equation, etc. 

Here's a visual on how that works:



First, line stuff up and check the reticle against the grid.  This grid is in IPHY.  As you can see, the 2 mil mark above the horizontal stadia and the 8 mil mark show 10 mils equal 36" on the grid--within a fraction of a line width or so which I figure is "close enough."



Then you line stuff up; I used a line to the right of the main one as it made the pics look less cluttered.  For checking reticle cant you must line up the vertical line with the reticle as well as humanly possible. 



Crank in 10 Mils.  Here are your results.  As you can see with this scope, the first thing you've noticed is the reticle is no longer on the line.  It has not just shifted a tiny fraction laterally but you can actually see daylight between the line and reticle.  This shows the reticle cant with respect to the turrets (the tool and the reticle are lined up making the turrets canted with respect to them). 

Measure it numerous times, line the thing up over and over and you get an average of roughly 1.5-2 clicks required to put it back on the line.  That translates into a degree or a bit more.  Just enough I can't say "good enough."

Next notice the reticle has moved a bit more than 37" where it should have only moved 36".  We checked the grid against the reticle so even if the grid was off, that would mean the reticle was also off as the reticle and the turrets don't agree.  Either way, you have a problem.

Now while you don't need to calibrate a yardstick, you should calibrate (or at least check the calibration of) your grid in the collimator.  The easiest way of doing this is checking it against scopes with known good reticles--that you've carefully checked in the real world and verified.  I've done that with this one with numerous high end scopes (including the IORs pictured above but didn't happen to take a pic of them) so I know it's within a fraction of 1% true.

But for peace of mind it's always good to have a control, a standard, a sanity check.  For this I threw on a Premier 3-15X50:



10 Mils on the reticle measures 36" within a fraction of a line width ("good enough").



Line things up the same way.



Crank in 10 mils.  As you can see, the reticle is still on the line.  It may have shifted a small fraction of the line's width amounting to a small fraction of 1 degree, but it's such a tiny amount likely challenging my ability to line them up correctly--definitely falling in the "good enough" category.

Also notice it moved 36", within a fraction of a line width.  Notice the 10 Mil mark on the upper vertical stadia is exactly on the zero line indicating the reticle and turrets match exactly.

In other words, it passes as the deviations are so tiny the accuracy of the tool and my methods may be responsible for some or all of the deviations.

Hopefully if anything good comes of this thread it'll be people get educated a bit and measure their optics.  I didn't start doing this when I bought the PST and it certainly isn't the first scope to have less than perfect results.  The nasty truth is most people who are thinking t
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2010 at 23:14
Jon A View Drop Down
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Originally posted by CSTactical CSTactical wrote:

But let’s say the reticle is SO canted it looks like an X as long as you use the turrets that are level the reticle will move on the X & Y access of the turrets and the impact of the round will be in the center of the reticle. You will not have to use the wind-age knob to correct for an error. 

While that is technically correct, I don't agree it's a desirable condition.  To me, a fundamental part of marksmenship is trying not to cant the rifle--especially when shooting at long range.  The reticle is your first tool with which to do so.  Yes, there are environments where this is difficult and one should resort to referring to an external bubble level of some sort.

But it's not difficult in many environments.  From targets to target frames to window frames to door frames to buildings to pine trees to animals the world is full of vertical references.  Having to hold your scope crooked with the world in order to make it track correctly is not the optimum setup in my opinion.

I do realize at least one manufacturer says reticles canted up to 3 degrees are just fine.  I disagree.  Here is a reticle canted 3 degrees with the world:



(Props to jonMT for that)

If people don't mind holding their scope that crooked and using an external bubble level in situations where it shouldn't be needed in order to get the scope to operate correctly, it's their money.  That's fine with me.

However, I will choose to spend my money on scopes with straight reticles.  

Again, this scope wasn't nearly that bad as I stated above at only around 1 degree--it was just barely out enough to bother me.  If that isn't enough to bother some people, that's fine.  People were wanting to know the accuracy of the adjustments so that's what I reported.

Quote I know you always want a scope to be spot on but to be honest I do not feel 3% is that big of a deal. 

You're right, it's really not.  For Ballistic Geeks like me I can compensate pretty easily.  The thing is as this thread demonstrates very few people measure their clicks.  If it says .1 Mil they expect it to be and so when they can't make first round hits even after doing everything else correctly because of an error in the scope, that makes the scope a poorer tool than a scope that is dead on.  

And while there is much software out there now that allows you to compensate, this was not always the case.  Some of the most popular software for a very long time was unable to compensate for out of spec clicks.  

And when you're swapping a Mil scope for another Mil scope on a rifle having to use different dope for the same rifle, same load, etc, is rather annoying.

So while I agree more sophisticated users can compensate, that doesn't make it right.  When $400 scopes can have accurate clicks, in my opinion there really isn't an excuse for more expensive tactical scopes to be very far out of spec.  

Again, some manufacturers may disagree, but Vortex isn't one of them.  They agree the scopes should be in spec and are working hard to make sure that they will be.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/02/2010 at 23:15
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Folks, I had a great conversation with Scott from Vortex.  He was very nice and is obviously an enthusiastic shooter just like the rest of us.  

As expected, they're going to make things right the best way they possibly can.  They really are handling this the way you'd expect a top notch company to handle it.

For right now they're putting a hold on sending out the PST's until they get these issues figured out all the way back to the factory.  They are very concerned and are going to get to the bottom of it before shipping any more so no more out of spec scopes go out.

So while they want to hold off on sending me a new one until they're darn sure they are perfect, they offered a full refund on the spot while allowing me to keep this one for the time being.  It's hard to ask for more than that.  

So I'll use this one until the new and improved units are ready.  While the issues above wouldn't make me happy long term, the scope is perfectly usable.  I just need to do a bit of extra math for a while, that's all.

Now we can move to phase II of testing--seeing how it holds up to the recoil of my light 300 RUM.    
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/03/2010 at 09:01
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Jon A: Thanks for the detailed write up and explanations. I guess I will wait a bit longer before placing my order for the PST.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/03/2010 at 15:05
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Outstanding write up. Thank you.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/03/2010 at 18:00
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Nice write-up.  nice rifle.  I like the pretty gold trigger, is that a My Pretty Pony special order?


Good to hear an unbiased assessment of the PST.
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Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:

Nice write-up.  nice rifle.  I like the pretty gold trigger, is that a My Pretty Pony special order?


Good to hear an unbiased assessment of the PST.

you must not be up on brownings much if your asking that, pretty much any browning abolt with a wooden stock has a gold colored trigger standard. the stainless synthetics have a silver trigger.
http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/firearms/detail.asp?value=001B&cat_id=035&type_id=032&content=a-bolt-stainless-m-1000-eclipse-firearms
http://www.browning.com/products/catalog/firearms/detail.asp?value=001B&cat_id=035&type_id=017&content=a-bolt-hunter-fld-firearms
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/06/2010 at 20:31
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Not a browning guy.  Or Winchester.


Still, a pretty trigger.

If I buy my wife a rifle or shotgun, she'll be getting a Browning, she loves gold stuff.  In the field, me, not so much.
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Yes, that's the only way they came.  But as a matter of fact, that trigger is an aftermarket Moyer's trigger (about the only available).  He made them gold so they would look the same as factory.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2010 at 09:49
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Didn't mean to hijack, nice write-up on the PST.  Has Vortex addressed your concerns yet?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/18/2010 at 15:41
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How would you say the glass compares to a standard SS and the SS10HD?

Thanks
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/19/2010 at 05:34
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Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:

Has Vortex addressed your concerns yet?

Yes, as well as they can.  They offered a full refund while allowing me to continue using this until they have a replacement available.
Originally posted by Lennyo3034 Lennyo3034 wrote:

How would you say the glass compares to a standard SS and the SS10HD?

I didn't have a SS10HD to compare it to but I did have a SS3-9.  The glass looks pretty good on the lower powers; powered down to 9X it looks pretty close to the SS glass.  When powered up to 16X it doesn't look as good but that's not a fair comparison.

I figured I should give an update.  I've been using it quite a bit over the last couple of weeks and it has been performing very well. 

It has withstood about 100 rounds on my light weight 300 RUM (8 lbs without optics, 240 SMK @ 3040 fps sitting on top of 100 grains of powder) with no ill effects which is a good sign for its durability.

No additional issues have surfaced beyond what was mentioned above.  Everything has worked exactly as it should.  The windage turret has moved on me a few times, but it spent much time riding in a gun rack which really rubbed on it.

A couple more pics:





Reticle at 100:



At 1000:




I busted out my new HD video camera to chronicle the first rounds at extended ranges with it.  As you can see, it gets the job done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB_Sxgp5Ook
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The video is a good example of the effects of mirage.

Good review and follow-up comments (by others as well). I still think this is one of the most interesting and promising offerings on the market and wish Vortex success in ironing out the kinks. I do think that for the features they are putting into this scope, if it took raising the price a $100 to get the reticles more true and the turret issues resolved it would still be more enticing than anything else in the sub-$2000 tactical scope market.

After reviewing the SS 3-9X and having been spoiled by owning a Premier FFP, it will be either the 4-16X PST or the rumored SS 2.5-10X that will replace my NF 2.5-10X32. While my NF is a great scope in many ways, it lacks three things I badly want in a scope:

1) FFP

2) matching turrets

3 Zero-stop (and I'm not paying $250 to have it retrofitted)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2010 at 14:47
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Yeah, I think the upcoming models in the SS HD line are going to displace quite a few NF's, as well as Leupolds, IORs, Vortex's, etc, off of rifles.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2010 at 14:50
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Originally posted by Jon A Jon A wrote:

Yeah, I think the upcoming models in the SS HD line are going to displace quite a few NF's, as well as Leupolds, IORs, Vortex's, etc, off of rifles.  


What do you think the SS HD's will cost there Jon? Competitive pricing, i'd think SWFA will beat them all. Im itching to see the newest addition to the SS line!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2010 at 16:34
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Any set date on SS 2.5-10 or 5-20 & will the glass be the same as the 10x HD ?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2010 at 21:39
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I can only speculate what the prices will be.  But if you note the 10X SS HD is $800 and it's a fixed power, without sidefocus or illumination and with a standard mildot reticle, it's reasonable to expect the 2.5-10 and 5-20 will be a bit more. 

I assume they'll have glass on par with the 10X but haven't heard anything specific.  In short, they should be fantastic scopes but I would expect them to be a notch up the price scale from the PST's.  Bang for the buck factor should be big though.  I have no idea on dates.

That's just my speculation at this point, but hopefully it's not too far off and will give you guys some idea what to expect.

This is quickly becoming the golden age of scopes with so many good choices across the price spectrum.


Edited by Jon A - July/23/2010 at 21:40
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/24/2010 at 12:06
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Thanks Jon........
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