VORTEX RAZOR HD 10x42
By James Morris
After trialling a pair of US-made Vortex Razor HD 10x42 binoculars for four months in the hills I had a good feel for just how good they really were. Vortex also produce them in 8x42, 10x50 and 12x50 configurations. Much like their rangefinders, I instantly liked these bino’s. They are Vortex’s top-of-the-range version and are certainly constructed to a very high standard.
These Vortex Razor HD bino’s are built with a magnesium chassis, which is strong and light; all up they weigh in at 703 grams. A rubber armour exterior provides durability and grip. The open hinge system between barrels makes them strong and easily adjustable to fit any person’s face, even if they have a big nose getting in the way (a problem for a few of us!). They fitted nicely in my hands – compact and light; I was a fan of them before I even took them outside.
The workings of the Razor HD’s are fairly standard for the type of bino’s they are. They have twist-out eye cups, with a large focus wheel between the barrels that’s smooth and easy to finely adjust. On the right side is a click-in dioptre so you can readily focus them to suit both eyes, after which it locks into place so as to keep that focus setting for future use. They come with a comfortable and adjustable neck strap, objective lens covers and a rain cover which fits over the twist-out eye cups whether they are out or in, and all packed in a padded carry case with a lens cloth.
Before I did any research into these bino’s, I took them out for an evening glassing session. I was with my mate Jonesy; between us we had two pairs of Swarovski EL binoculars as well as the Vortex Razor HD. We were both very surprised at how well they compared. Before it started to get dark the Razors were crystal clear, nearly as good as our own Swarovskis. As darkness approached, they compared perfectly with the Swaro’s right up until the last 5 minutes. This proved to us, right there and then, that they’re fantastic optics. We have used many other cheaper models of bino’s – and some more expensive ones too – but none have come close to comparing with our top shelf Swaro’s, which is why we own Swarovski.
Once I started to research the Razor HDs, I discovered that Vortex have gone out of their way to get their optics to be as clear and sharp as possible. The 10x42 configuration has a 6.3 degree field of view which is the same as Swarovski EL 10x42. The Razors are called HD bino’s because they use High Density glass in their lenses, and they use phase-corrected roof prisms. Phase correction coatings on the prisms correct the polarisation of light after it has passed through the prisms, which makes the image clearer and sharper. Interestingly, only roof prism bino’s have this problem, but theirs is also the more compact system which is why it’s used. There is no difference in quality, but there is more cost in producing roof prism binoculars.
The bino’s have multicoated lenses to maximise brightness, especially in low light environments. Also, they use an Armortek coating on the external lens faces which makes them durable, and oil- and scratch-resistant. They are O-ring sealed and filled with argon gas to stop fogging up of the internal optics, and to protect the workings from moisture and dust.
So, with all the research completed, I then needed to go out into the field and use them. I had them in my possession for four months, in which time I used them in the Canterbury high country, on the back of farms when I was out for an evening deer or pig. I used them while rabbiting and, of course, in South Westland on three separate trips. All in all, I think they’re fantastic. Hanging around my neck, they were comfortable and light. They are also a bit more compact than what I’m used to.
I did find a couple of niggly things I didn’t like so much though, one being that the eye cups twisted back in every time I put them down my shirt to walk a couple of hundred metres; also the nice fluid focus wheel would turn, too. I was forever refocusing and twisting the eye cups out every time I wanted to look at a clearing. This was however easily rectified when I started carrying them in a bino bivvy.
They didn’t fog up, even in the wet bush on the coast, nor do they have any sign of wear after being dragged around the countryside. All in all, I’ve had some very positive experiences with Vortex products. I liked the rangefinder (see Jan/Feb 2017 issue NZ Rod&Rifle) so much I’ve bought one myself since I did the review. It is certainly much easier to write about quality gear, which I believe Vortex is.
If you’re the type who only reads the conclusion of articles like these, my verdict is very simple for the Vortex Razor HD 10x42’s: they’re good binoculars. Personally, I like them and rate them highly.
Distributed by Extravision Australia
VORTEX RAZOR HD 10x42
OBJECTIVE LENS DIA: 42mm
SIZE: 150mm long, 130mm wide
WEIGHT: 703 grams