The Vortex Viper HD 2-10×42 Rifle Scope: Simple and Effective

Vortex has just released a new high-definition scope line, the Viper HD. The new scope comes in five different configurations, and we were fortunate to get an early look at the 2-10×42 model. Our Viper HD is headed for the Appalachian deer woods this fall, so we ran it on a Rossi R95 Trapper rifle chambered in .30-30 Winchester.

Vortex Viper HD scope on a Rossi R95 rifle
The Vortex Viper HD 2-10×42 is perfect for this Rossi R95 .30-30. (Author’s Photo)

We also ran it on an IWI Zion-15, just because. The scope performed great, but I only had low mounting rings, and I was up against a short turnaround time. Not ideal for an AR-15, but we made do in the time we had. The scope performed well, but we’d get higher rings if we ran it on an AR full-time. I just wanted to get a different feel on a different rifle platform since people do hunt with ARs.

My son is my co-tester, and we both love this little scope and are looking forward to taking it afield for real come November. So, let’s review the Vortex Viper HD 2-10×42 and discuss why we like it so much. But first, some specifications.

Vortex Viper HD scope
The Viper HD scope is sleek and simple but feature-rich. (Author’s Photo)

Vortex Viper HD 2-10×42 Specifications

  • Magnification: 2-10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • Second Focal Plane
  • Reticle: Vortex Dead-Hold BDC (MOA)
  • Capped Turrets
  • Tube Size: 30mm
  • Adjustment Graduation: ¼ MOA
  • Parallax Setting: 100 yards
  • Max Windage Adjustment: 135 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment: 135 MOA
  • Travel Per Rotation: 25 MOA
  • Field of View: 61.6 feet – 11.9 feet
  • Eye Relief: 3.4 inches
  • Length: 12.1 inches
  • Weight: 19.9 ounces
Vortex Viper HD scope on a Rossi R95 rifle
The Viper HD 2-10 hits the sweet spot for many whitetail hunters. (Author’s Photo)

Viper HD 2-10×42 Features and Performance

The new Viper HD 2-10x has a clean look, but it’s a feature-rich scope that delivers the performance I want. Let’s start with the controls.

Controls

Elevation and windage adjustments are made with capped turrets. No surprise there. The dials are finger-turned and very tactile, including being quite audible. The dials are easily returned to zero once you have them set. Each click equals ¼ MOA. The Viper HD 2-10x does not have a parallax adjustment dial and is factory-set at 100 yards. The illuminated reticle is controlled by a push button on the scope’s left side. The button quickly and smoothly cycles through the reticle’s 10 different brightness settings.

The fast-focus eyepiece works well, as we discovered when handing rifles back and forth. This eyepiece is normally used once, or maybe sparingly, but we adjusted it a lot since my vision is pretty bad and my son’s is nearly perfect. It was a good reason to test the focus dial.

Elevation and windage adjustment turrets
The turrets’ dials are tactile and easily manipulated. (Author’s Photo)

Clarity and Precision

The high-definition optical system is optimized with high-quality glass elements for exceptional resolution. Vortex says these glass elements “cut chromatic aberration and provide outstanding color fidelity, edge-to-edge sharpness, and light transmission.”  That sounds great. I can’t say whether the chromatic aberration was cut when we used the Viper HD, but I can say that we immediately noticed the scope’s clarity compared to many of our other optics, thanks to the anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces. This is a nice piece of glass.

The Dead-Hold BDC etched reticle is simple but effective. The crosshair features hash marks for bullet drop and windage holds for a variety of rifles. The scope comes with a reticle manual detailing the sub-tensions for five different classes of rifles, from magnum centerfires to .22 rimfires. This is a second focal plane reticle, so the holds are only accurate at maximum magnification.

Dead-Hold BDC Reticle sub tensions
(vortexoptics.com)

We shot in sunlight, overcast, and rain. The rain came upon us so quickly one day that it seemed like dusk. We illuminated the reticle and kept shooting, even though we really didn’t need the illumination. The Viper HD gathered what light there was very effectively. We were glad for the covered shooting area, but we had to wait for other days to take photos because I didn’t want to expose my new camera to the elements. The argon and nitrogen gas purged, O-ring sealed housing made sure we had no problems with fogged lenses. We have no qualms about hunting with this scope in the early morning, late evening, or the rain.

The illuminated reticle is a simple red dot on the crosshair. We both felt it was perfect since many illuminated scopes can get a little busy at times. The Viper HD 2-10x gives us what we need and nothing else. We also like its operation. Our other illuminated scopes have a turret dial to adjust the brightness. But this scope uses a fast and easy push button mechanism to cycle through the 10 brightness settings. We both like it better than the dial.

Vortex Viper HD scope
The fast-focus eyepiece makes fine-tuning a breeze. (Author’s Photo)

Durability

The Viper HD line is built from a single solid block of aircraft aluminum for strength and durability. Vortex enhances that durability with their ultra-hard, scratch-resistant Armor-Tek coating and corrosion-resistant anodizing. The anodizing also gives the scope a low-glare matte finish for a lower profile while hunting. Vortex says the Viper HD is shockproof and waterproof, though they don’t provide an IP rating.

Versatility

The 2-10x Viper scope hits the sweet spot for many hunters. I hunt the Appalachian Mountains, where I rarely set my scope higher than 3 or 4x. But I occasionally hunt the fields lower down, where I might shoot at a couple hundred yards. This scope is perfect for both. It’s compact and light for the mountains, but I can reach out a bit if I want without a heavier scope. Now, if I were to head out west, things would change. But I wouldn’t be carrying a 16-inch barreled .30-30 out there anyway.

Vortex Viper HD scope on an IWI AR-15 rifle
The Viper HD ran well on our Zion-15, but it would have been much better with higher rings. (Author’s Photo)

I mentioned earlier that I ran the Viper HD on an AR-15 just to see how it did. It did just fine, thank you, and would have done better with the correct mounts. But I wanted to do that because I know many folks hunt pigs with ARs, and this little scope could be ideal, depending on the terrain. We dialed it in easily with both 55-grain .223 Remington and 150-grain .30-30 Winchester.

Target acquisition was easy, though we didn’t take it past 100 yards with either rifle because of our home range’s distance limitations. We zeroed the scope at 50 yards for the .223 and moved out to a 100-yard zero for the .30-30. We only had to adjust the .30-30’s elevation, and the zero held true for both.

Final Thoughts on the Viper HD 2-10×42 Rifle Scope

I think it’s clear that we both like the Viper HD. We’ve decided to keep it as the Rossi R95’s dedicated optic going forward, and it will hit the deer woods this fall. Simplicity and effectiveness make a powerful combination, and we see that in this scope. We like the easy controls, the useful but not cluttered reticle, and the quality construction. And we love the clarity of the glass and the low-light capability. We fully expect this scope to have a long and productive life chasing whitetails and other critters.

Vortex Viper HD scope on a Rossi R95 rifle
The Viper HD’s permanent home. (Author’s Photo)

We own several Vortex scopes, and we’ve always liked their performance. But this one is probably the clearest one we’ve had yet. Vortex seems to have stepped up their game, and we see that as good news for hunters and shooters across the board. Maybe pick one up and see if you agree.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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