I’ve typically been sort of basic in my approach to rifle scopes. Everything I use has maxed out around 9 or 10x of zoom and I usually shoot with the holdover approach. Honestly, in Michigan, I rarely have a shot over 150 yards anyways. I usually just put the bullseye on the deer and send it. I have a very well-used and kind of beat-up Leupold VX3 that has been my go-to for a while. I zero it every year before the season and don’t mess with it much otherwise. This year I’m starting to plan some western hunts and want the option to shoot out to 500 yards if needed. I also want to be able to dial the distance into a turret on top of the scope and aim from the center of the reticle instead of using the hash marks and holding over. With all this in mind, I have been doing some pretty extensive research on scopes and have tested out a bunch of different ones through the process. My budget was around $1000, which is close to the cost of my Browning 300 win mag rifle. If this sounds like too much to spend on a scope, consider this: It’s better to have a cheap rifle and a great scope than the other way around. Spending the same on your rifle and scope is a pretty good rule to go by.
I spent quite a bit of time with the Swarovski Z5, the Nightforce SHV series, the Leupold V5HD, and the Vortex Razor HD LHT. They are all great scopes with different pros and cons. The Swarovski has by far the best-looking glass. The Nightforce was the most durable feeling and had the best turrets, but was also the heaviest scope by a good 10 ounces. Leupold’s V5 also had beautiful glass and nice controls, but I have read some reports of tracking issues. Tracking is the ability to return to a consistent zero after adjusting the elevation turret. Finally, the Vortex Razor LHT had a good mix of features. I’ll save you from further details of my decision-making process, but suffice it to say the Vortex had the best combination of features. The glass is very clear, it has a nice locking turret for elevation, it only weighs 19.5 ounces, and comes in right at the $1000 price. I’ll go out on a limb and say that for the money, I think the LHT Razor is one of the best scopes you can buy right now.
The LHT Razor comes in a few different configurations. You can get a 50mm or 42mm objective lens. A larger objective lens lets in more light in theory, but likely plays a smaller role than the quality of the glass itself does. I opted for the 3-15x 42mm option. With a 5:1 zoom ratio, you have a ton of control over your sight picture. At the top end of 15x, you can reach way out there with this scope, though you’ll need a steady rest or bipod to take advantage of this. The scope features an illuminated reticle, which is a nice feature, but not necessarily a deal-breaker. I anticipate this being more useful in those low-light situations like dawn and dusk when it’s harder to see a black center dot. With the illuminated red dot center turned off, the dot is still visible, albeit black. Like most hunting scopes, the LHT is a second focal plane scope. In a nutshell, this means that your reticle will always look the same regardless of the zoom setting. The downside to a second focal plane scope is that parallax can be an issue. However, the LHT Razor does feature a parallax adjustment knob on the left side of the tube.
Zeroing the rifle in at the range was a breeze with the easy-to-use turrets. To unlock the elevation turret you just lift up on the ring, turn it, and then push it back down to lock it again. The windage turret is capped and does not feature a push lock. Looking through the scope I could instantly see how much more clear the sight picture is than my previous Leupold VX3. The Razor LHT gives a stunning picture of your target. The one drawback I’ve noticed to this scope so far is that the zoom ring is pretty stiff. This is nice in the sense that you definitely don’t have to worry about bumping it by mistake, but it lacks the smoothness of other comparable scopes. This is a small gripe in an otherwise solid scope.
If you’re looking to step up your optic game and pick up some of the features found on higher-end scopes, the Vortex Razor LHT is a solid buy. The lightweight body makes it a great choice for a mountain rifle. Among other comparable scopes, it performs well and holds its own. At the $1000 plus price point, you can’t go wrong with any of the offerings from reputable optic companies and the decision is going to come down to what features you want and how the glass looks to you. The LHT checked all of the boxes for me and I have been very happy with the other Vortex optics I use. Additionally, the Vortex lifetime warranty is always a bonus. No matter what happens to the scope, they will replace it if it breaks. So that’s the bottom line. If you are looking for a great long-range scope that you will have as long as you’re still hunting, I highly recommend taking a look at the Vortex Razor HD LHT. I am looking forward to hunting big game with it this spring and fall.