By David Draper
The long-range craze has bled into the hunting world, and with it comes all the accoutrements long-range shooters love to add to their rifles and kit. That’s great for the marketplace, but much of those gadgets don’t really have a home in the field. Still, some of that new tech is great and can help hunters — especially those who take their game at ethical ranges but still like to stretch things out on the range.
Vortex, which already makes great riflescope options for both hunters and long-range shooters, recognized there was space in the market for a hunting scope that carried a few modern features—like a locking, adjustable elevation turret; illuminated reticle; and side-parallax adjustment — but still managed to be relatively lightweight and easy to use. By eliminating the exposed windage turret and swapping out the illumination dial for a slim push-button housing, Vortex shaved a few ounces from an otherwise feature-heavy riflescope.
While I still wouldn’t call the Vortex Razor HD LHT svelte, it is likely the lightest weight scope in its class. I tested the 3-15x42 model, which Vortex lists as 19.1 ounces bare. On my digital scale it came in at 19 ounces even. The included sunshade adds another 1.25 ounces, while the optional flip-up caps round the overall weight to 22.25 ounces. Pretty impressive for a quote-unquote long-range riflescope built on a 30mm tube. Like most modern riflescopes, the HD LHT is above average in length, measuring 13.3 inches without the sunshade.
The objective bell and taper measure 3.7 inches. I bring this up only because it illustrates a trend in riflescope construction. These longer tapers, along with wider adjustment rings, have caused scope-mounting dimensions to decrease. I realize many shooters today, particularly those carrying chassis rifles, opt for Picatinny rails that span the length of the action. Slim mounting dimensions cause no issues here. But for hunters using traditional base configurations, mounting options are more limited. Something for manufacturers to think about. There are still a lot of guys who use—and prefer—two-piece bases. To be fair, the Razor HD LHT manages to get six inches of tube between the bell and zoom ring, so mounting shouldn’t be an issue on most actions.
As mentioned, the LHT is fitted with a 3-15X zoom. The lowest setting is great for quick target acquisition in deep woods, yet it zooms in to 15X to really reach out in open country. The adjustment on my test model was smooth and easy to turn out of the box, with no new-scope stiffness. As a guy who hunts out West and wants to carry the same rifle for prairie pronghorn and timbered elk, I’d call the Razor the perfect hunting companion. The same could be said for the whitetail hunter who may encounter deer at the base of his stand or clear across the beanfield. It features a second-focal-plane design, meaning the drop reticle only comes into play at the highest zoom setting, but the design does provide a clear, detailed view of the reticle with no changes in subtension size throughout the zoom range. The scope is available with either a 42mm or a 50mm objective.
Another trend in long-range scopes are Christmas-tree reticles. Again, great for the range, but many of the most advanced are distracting, confusing, and limiting in real-world hunting scenarios. Because the Razor HD LHT caters to the hunter, Vortex opted for their HSR-5i reticle, which combines a fine crosshair and illuminated dot with thin, easy-to-read ballistic drop and windage hashmarks that are laser-etched on the glass for the most precise tolerances possible. The simple design really opens up the field of view while still providing accurate aiming points for shooting at extended ranges.
To trim ounces, Vortex did away with the bulky dial to operate the illuminated reticle. Instead, a soft-touch (though annoyingly squeaky) button cycles through ten levels of brightness, flashing at the lowest and highest settings, before reversing the up/down cycle. It turns on with a single push, returning to the previously set illumination, and requires a four-second hold to turn off. For the forgetful among us (myself included), the illumination shuts down after six hours of inactivity, saving the life of the included CR2032 battery. In my low-light tests, there was little to no bleed-off of the dot, but in full sunlight I wouldn’t mind a little more brightness at the top end.
The elevation turret is robust, and the clicks are solid and tactile. No mushiness or sloppy dialing here, but the clicks aren’t so tight to require slip-joint pliers (kidding) to dial for elevation, either. The dial locks with the cap in the down position. Simply lifting the cap frees the dial, though there is some play in the up/down movement of the cap. I could see it lifting slightly in the field with the chance of causing unintentional dial movement. The clicks are well marked and easy to read on the cap, and second-revolution measurements are designated with numbers in parentheses.
When you purchase the Razor HD LHT from Vortex, the company includes a coupon for a free custom ballistic solution from Kenton Industries that applies to the elevation ring. Once sighted in, a separate, included zero-stop ring is easily installed for quick, tactile return-to-zero repeatability. The windage adjustment is capped, and that dial is a bit mushy (with smaller numbers), so pay attention when adjusting at the range.
The Razor HD LHT is available with either MOA or MRAD adjustment. I opted for the former, which comes with ¼-MOA adjustment that’s pretty much standard on all hunting scopes today. One full crank of the elevation dial delivers 15 MOA of travel, and maximum adjustment for both elevation and windage is 80 MOA, though installation of the zero-stop ring drops that to 29 MOA.
While I wasn’t able to take the Vortex Razor HD LHT hunting this past spring, I do have a range in my backyard, making a day on the bench a good excuse to socially distance from my significant other. I set up a standard tracking test for the Vortex Razor HD LHT by shooting zero, then cranking both dials 20 MOA, moving the reticle approximately up and to the right. After that group, I returned the reticle to the original zero, then repeated up and left, down and right and down and left. My test scope presented no tracking issues, effectively “shooting the box” before returning back to zero.
You would think a riflescope review would mention optical clarity closer to the opening paragraph, but honestly, when you’re paying an MSRP of $1,400, you should automatically expect good glass. Vortex fits these with optically indexed HD lenses that are fully multicoated and featuring anti-reflective coatings on exposed lenses. Every eye sees things differently, but in my low-light tests, I was able to make out my target (a deer hide draped over a sawhorse in an open field) at 200 yards well past legal shooting light. A very subjective test, of course, but I’m not sure what more you need in a hunting scope.
Vortex Razor HD LHT Specs
Reticle: HSR 5i
Objective Lens: 42mm
Eye Relief: 3.8 in.
Field of View: 35.3–7.0 ft./100 yds.
Tube Size: 30 mm
Length: 13.3 in.
Weight: 19.1 oz.
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