Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E: A Fighting Optic

Low powered variable optics (LPVOs) are a wildly popular choice for those looking to combine the speed of a red dot with the convenience and capability of a magnified scope. Just over a decade ago, there were only a handful of exceptionally pricey optics available that could achieve true 1x magnification while offering magnification up to 6x, 8x, or even 10x. With technological advancements, the options exploded, and a few companies built their reputation around the impressive performance of their LPVOs. Among those offerings, the Vortex Razor stands prominently above the rest.

Vortex Razor on rifle
The Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E is the latest iteration of Vortex’s Razor line of LPVOs. You hear good things about an optic, but when you pick one up, you actually see the good things firsthand.

I’m an unabashed fan of Vortex’s products. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other reliable quality scope manufacturers. However, Vortex’s warranty, customer service, and consistent quality are difficult to replicate within the optics industry. My first encounter with Vortex impressed me with their glass quality. Not long after that, I read a torture test review on the Vortex SPARC. The author concluded they couldn’t reasonably kill the optic despite their best efforts. This quality vs price balance was unheard of at the time. Vortex’s Razor LPVOs have unequivocally continued that tradition.

Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E

I recently acquired a used but well-maintained Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E in 1-6x30mm, complete with Badger Ordnance AR mount and Vortex Switchview throw lever. Amongst those I’ve encountered within the LPVO fanboy community, many touted Vortex Razor LPVOs as one of the best on the market. While not the cheapest, it’s far from the most expensive. Once mounted to my rifle, I quickly realized how it earned its reputation as a well-respected and trusted LPVO.

The Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E is a continuation of Vortex’s Razor lineup of LPVOs. The “E” is for “Enhanced” with the HD Gen II. As expected from any reputable company, Vortex continued to improve upon the original versions of their optics. For the “E” model, they shaved off nearly a quarter pound of weight. The original Razor LPVOs were undeniably heavy. While not as light or compact as a micro red dot, the current Gen II-E weighs a little over 21 ounces. This weight translates into a rugged and reliable optic with stunning optical clarity. Once you get behind the glass, it’s hard to deny your money was well-spent. The Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E offers a host of options built for durability.

Illuminated Reticle

The Razor 1-6x30mm Gen II-E includes the JM-1 BDC reticle. The reticle was designed with input from legendary competitive shooter Jerry Miculek. The reticle is a standard crosshair design with four hash marks below the crosshairs. The hash marks represent standard holdover for 300-600 yards with most 5.56 and .308 variant rifles. Since the Razor is a second focal plane optic, the holdover is designed for use at maximum magnification.

Vortex Razor Reticle
The Razor’s reticle is simple and clear. The optic’s window isn’t crowded with hashes, marks, or circles. On a footnote, this image doesn’t do justice to the stunning clarity of the Razor’s glass. Frankly, the best experience is in person.

In my experience with this reticle, it’s very clean and simple. The illuminated red dot is crisp and easily adjustable with the side brightness adjustment knob. While not directly advertised by Vortex, the battery life seems to be in the 150-200 hour range on max brightness, which is to be expected from most LPVOs. Depending on use, I normally swap out the old CR2032 battery for a new one about every 6-12 months.

Some time ago, I reviewed the Vortex Strike Eagle. While not so much a complaint as much a “wish”, the brightness adjustment knob on the Strike Eagle didn’t have adjustments to turn it off between each brightness setting. The Vortex Razor has dots placed between each brightness setting that allow the user to stage the optic for a specific brightness setting. This design offers faster deployment under stress by not clicking through eight settings to get to the desired brightness.

Lens Clarity

Since we’re on the topic of the reticle, I can’t ignore the Vortex Razor’s lens quality and clarity. Frankly, the pictures I took didn’t do it justice. Since acquiring the optic, I’ve handed the rifle and accompanying Razor to several coworkers. The reaction nearly every time is, “Wow, that glass!” If you get a chance to handle one, you’ll understand.

The Razor’s glass is enhanced with HD lens elements and protected by a proprietary ArmorTek coating to protect against scratches, oils, and dirt. I have no desire to scratch these lenses but it’s a confidence builder to know there’s additional protection on this optic’s lenses.


The Vortex Razor operates like any other scope. The rear magnification ring offers an adjustment range from 1x to 6x and is mounted to the rifle with 30mm scope rings. The magnification adjustment ring is positive and not easily bumped from its setting. While the Vortex Razor doesn’t include an adjustment lever, they offer this as an option with their Switchview throw lever. For those wanting to use the Razor for competition or tactical applications, the throw lever is definitely worth the expense.

Throw lever
The Razor’s magnification ring with optional Vortex Switchview throw lever attached. The lever is compact enough to not protrude absurdly nor does it have sharp edges to catch on clothing or gear.

While I touched on the brightness adjustment knob a little earlier, it’s worth revisiting to discuss another neat feature — the brightness adjustment lock. Pulling out the brightness adjustment knob unlocks it. To lock it, push it back in. This design is very similar to common locking windage and elevation turrets. While it’s not been a huge issue, I’ve fallen victim to a bumped switch or knob burning up the battery on my optic or light. With LPVOs, the reticle is still present if the battery is burned up, but it’s still inconvenient. At a minimum, Vortex included a lot of “I want” or “I wish” on this scope. If you don’t want to use the locking feature, the lock is positive enough to keep unlocked for rapid adjustment, but have some assurance it won’t move inadvertently.

Brightness turret
The brightness adjustment knob unlocked (left) and locked. The locked and unlocked positions are easily identifiable. The hash marks between the numbers are “off” settings between each brightness setting. This allows you to stage the optic at a pre-determined setting for rapid deployment.

The Vortex Razor offers a 150 MOA windage and elevation adjustment range in ½ MOA increments. The adjustments are positive and clean. For additional protection, the turret caps cover the elevation and windage adjustments. After sight-in, a provided Allen wrench allows you to re-zero the turrets for an easily recognizable marked index.

Windage turret
The windage adjustment knob with turret removed. The turret positions are clearly marked for the shooter. The provided Allen wrench easily re-zeroes the turrets after sight-in.

Final Points on the Vortex Razor

Without embellishing, the Vortex Razor LPVO has been a bit of a unicorn for me. I’ve always wanted one. Unfortunately, it seemed like they were always just out of reach for one reason or another. Since finally making that dream a reality, I can now testify to their quality, durability, and excellent reputation. While I was happy with my Strike Eagle, I have a profound level of confidence in the Razor’s abilities.

Despite my limited personal and professional use with this optic, it’s been a massive upgrade and definitely worth the funds spent. We all work hard for our money, but some things are just worth spending the extra cash. Occasionally, you need to spend extra and get one of the best, if not the best. The Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E fits the bill and was worth the expenditure.

Currently, the Vortex Razor HD Gen II-E is available at GunMagWarehouse for $1,499.99, which is a solid price considering the MSRP is $2,399.99. If you’re looking to get “the one” for your fighting rifle, I’d strongly recommend buying the Vortex Razor. I’ve been impressed, and I think you will be too.

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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