Vortex LPVO Comparison: Strike Eagle vs Razor

Sometimes I get a little redundant. If you ask anyone who knows me, I’ll hyper-focus on topics and ingest everything imaginable about them. As of late, two things have occupied my mind: Vortex and low-powered variable optics (LPVOs). When you combine the two, you get my latest topic of obsession: any Vortex LPVO. While there’s a great multitude of LPVO manufacturers making some fantastic products, Vortex has garnered a reputation for exceptional clarity at a reasonable price. As such, it’s drawn my undivided attention.

I’ve covered LPVOs extensively on The Mag Life Blog and will probably continue to do so. They fit an interesting niche that has served me well professionally. I switched to my first Vortex LPVO last year and used a Strike Eagle professionally for several months. It performed exceptionally well, and despite some unwarranted abuse, it held up great. Recently, I’ve stepped up my investment with a new Vortex LPVO, one that’s arguably the gold standard — the Razor HD Gen II-E. After getting some exposure and trigger time on both, it’s worth noting some observations and comparing the two to help you, the end user, determine what works best for your needs.

Vortex LPVO Comparison: A Tale of two LPVOs

First, let me make this clear — the Strike Eagle and Razor are both great optics. They’re adequate for competition, personal defense, or law enforcement applications. However, budgets and upgrades often conflict with each other, and it’s good to know what your hard-earned money goes towards. Is it really worth it to step up to a Razor, or will the Strike Eagle fulfill your needs and wants? Let’s start with a quick rundown of each optic.

Vortex Strike Eagle

The Vortex Strike Eagle sits in the middle of the road amongst available Vortex LPVOs. Currently, the Crossfire II, Venom, Strike Eagle, Viper PST Gen II, and Razor HD Gen II-E are available as a Vortex LPVO. MSRP on these models ranges from $289.99 up to $2,399.99. That’s quite a difference in price point.

Strike Eagle
The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x24mm optic served the author well for nearly a year on his duty rifle for patrol and tactical applications.

The Strike Eagle is a middle-of-the-road Vortex LPVO that performs exceptionally well. The one used for comparison in this article is their 1-8x24mm in second focal plane. The glass is clear, and adjustments are positive and retain zero. The scope just works.

Vortex Razor

The Razor is Vortex’s crown jewel. At a hefty MSRP of $2,399.99, that’s expected. While some may argue you’re paying for a name or appearance, there are some subtle — and a few significant — differences in going with the best-of-the-best offered by a brand.

Razor
The Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E is a beautifully constructed optic. The aesthetics scream rugged and reliable.

The Vortex used for this comparison is the 1-6x24mm in second focal plane. The Razor’s glass is simply phenomenal. The clarity is so crisp that I’ve been unable to capture it with a photograph suitable for this article. Furthermore, the ruggedly upgraded Razor features better performance and resiliency to harsh conditions and use. When buying top-tier with a brand, not all upgrades are readily apparent at first glance. Often, they’re only noticeable under adverse conditions.

Vortex LPVO Comparison

While I’ve given you the 30,000-foot view of these two optics, it’s time to focus on the specifications and features unique to each scope and maybe determine what best fits your needs. Let’s start with their construction.

Construction, Size, and Durability

Aircraft-grade aluminum housings comprise both the Strike Eagle and Razor. The lenses are coated with Vortex’s ArmorTek lens coating, which protects exterior lenses from outside contaminants such as dust and dirt. That’s where the similarities cease and the differences start.

The Strike Eagle weighs noticeably less than the Razor, 17.6 against 21.5 ounces. While additional weight may seem a detriment, the additional ounces are from the material comprising the Razor. These materials allow it to endure harsher conditions while providing better reliability; I’ll expand on this topic a little later.

Vortex LPVO comparison
The Razor (top) compared to the Strike Eagle (bottom). The Razor’s ocular lens and turrets are noticeably beefier next to the Strike Eagle.

When compared next to each other, the turret section of the optic tube is noticeably larger on the Razor. Furthermore, the Razor is a hair longer than the 10-inch-long Strike Eagle. If the slightly larger size and greater weight concern you, let’s compare these scopes to cars. You’re not squeezing a Ferrari engine into a Smart Car. Small is convenient, but does it translate to increased performance with scopes?

Clarity and Reticles

The Razor has a slightly larger field of view than the Strike Eagle, a difference of six feet at 100 yards at 1x magnification. While the Strike Eagle has slightly higher magnification, let’s maintain perspective on the intent of these optics. While more magnification is nice, most 5.56/.223 carbines aren’t making shots beyond 400 yards, and 6x magnification is definitely adequate for hits on target at those distances — especially with the Razor’s lens clarity. The Strike Eagle’s nitrogen-purged tube includes fully multi-coated lenses. Meanwhile, the Razor’s upgraded lenses feature Vortex’s XR® Plus coating. The Razor also includes HD lens elements with optically indexed lenses. Effectively, optically indexed lenses are thinner, which tends to produce significantly less lens distortion. This all translates to improved image clarity and brightness.

Vortex LPVO reticle comparison
While photographs are hard to do justice, the Razor’s image (left) is slightly brighter than the Strike Eagle (right). Beyond illustrating light transmission qualities, the reticles are vastly different.

The Strike Eagle’s reticle is quite pleasing and something I enjoyed. Featuring Vortex’s AR-BDC3 reticle, the illuminated dot and half circle were great for rapid short-range engagements on targets. The reticle also included yardage and windage adjustments for ranging holdovers. If any complaints, the AR-BDC3 reticle is a bit crowded and busy. In an environment requiring rapid target acquisition and engagement, it’s easy to lose the target in the bustle of the reticle. The Razor’s reticle is significantly more conservative and operates much like a red dot. The JM-1 BDC reticle, designed with Jerry Miculek’s input, is a simple crosshair with 300 to 600-yard holdover markers. Why no 200-yard holdover? When used with 5.56/.223 firearms, the holdover from approximately 25 to 200 yards is only a few inches and doesn’t require a holdover hash mark for most applications.

Function and Operation

Both scopes operate similarly; the Strike Eagle includes a threaded magnification ring throw lever. Over time, the throw lever worked loose, and while Vortex may cringe at this, a drop of Loctite kept it from backing out. While it held up great, inadvertently snapping off the throw lever always lingered in the back of my mind. Luckily, I never ran into that issue. The Razor doesn’t include a throw lever, and while it may seem absurd to buy upgrades for an optic at that price point, you can purchase a Vortex Switchview lever. The Switchview’s design secures it to the entire magnification ring, which seems more secure. While I don’t like buying accessories that could be included with the optic, it’s a small expenditure in the grand scheme.

Vortex LPVO throw levers
The well-worn Strike Eagle throw lever (left) is included with the optic. The Razor’s throw lever (right) definitely gives the user more confidence, but it is an aftermarket purchase offered by Vortex.

While a small feature, the Razor includes settings between each brightness level that turn off the illumination. This allows the user to pre-stage the illumination ring for a pre-set brightness level. The Strike Eagle doesn’t have this feature. To achieve the desired brightness level, you must adjust through each brightness level. Furthermore, the Razor’s brightness dial also includes a push-pull lock, which prevents unintentional brightness adjustment or activation.

brightness dials
The Razor’s brightness dial (left) has intervals to turn it off between settings, whereas the Strike Eagle’s brightness dial (right) requires adjustment through each setting until achieving the desired brightness.

Earlier, I mentioned the Razor’s additional weight contributed to its durability. The Strike Eagle maintained zero perfectly despite bouncing around in a patrol car for nearly a year. Meanwhile, the optic endured regular training (and maybe some abuse). The Strike Eagle remained exceptionally reliable given the encountered conditions. However, the Razor withstands even worse environmental conditions and trauma. One glance at the exposed turrets of the two scopes should clue you into which is more durable. The Razor’s internal erector system (what moves the crosshairs and also keeps them fixed) is entirely stainless steel with steel-on-steel contact points and coil springs to prevent damage to the aluminum tube while maintaining shock resistance. Without recounting Vortex’s description verbatim, the Strike Eagle is well-built, but the Razor is a tank.

Vortex LPVO turrets
The Strike Eagle’s turrets (right) are positive but not nearly as rugged as the Razor’s (left).

Which Vortex LPVO do I ultimately choose?

That’s the million-dollar question. Ultimately, you have to assess your needs (possibly even your wants) in relation to your budget. The Strike Eagle currently sells on GunMagWarehouse for $499.99. For the quality, it’s suitably priced for nearly every application. Conversely, the Razor is pricier (available on GMW for $1,499.99 at the moment) but built around withstanding the harshest environments. If the budget allows, I never shy away from getting the best possible equipment. However, some gear works and has proven itself in the field. Can you go wrong with either one? The broad answer to that question is not really. Overall, both optics provide excellent performance and durability, with one offering top-tier reliability and durability. The final decision ultimately rests with you.

Tom Stilson began his firearms career in 2012 working a gun store counter. He progressed to conducting appraisals for fine and collectible firearms before working as the firearms compliance merchant for a major outdoor retailer. In 2015, he entered public service and began his law enforcement career. Tom has a range of experience working for big and small as well as urban and rural agencies. Among his qualifications, Tom is certified as a firearms instructor, field trainer, and in special weapons and tactics. If not on his backyard range, he spends his time with family or spreading his passion for firearms and law enforcement.

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