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Old November 11, 2010, 06:37 AM   #1
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Vortex Recon 15x50 R/T - Not Impressed (Pics)


Ok so I've been playing with it around the neighborhood and took it to the range and here are my impressions:

The plastic body feels durable. It is either a very tough rubber or a slightly soft plastic. The metal clip can be positioned at 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. The 3 and 9 o'clock positions share the mounting piece for the hand strap that is included. The 3 and 9 o'clock positions are also also shared by a tripod/picatinny mount. So you have 3 accessories that want to fit into two spaces, with the exception that the clip is the only one that can fit in the 6 o'clock, so that is where I left it. In this position the clip gets in the way of focusing with your index finger and thumb on the main focus wheel.

The two outer screws on the mounting base are for the supplied picatinny rail, and the center screw is a standard tripod screw, and it comes with an adapter that allows it to sit vertically instead of sideways on a tripod. There is also a sleeve adapter included which allows you to pull your monocular out of the tripod without any un-threading business, but you still have a 3 inch adapter piece dangling from it, so kind of a pointless accessory.

The reticle focus feels similar to a scope turret, with audible clicks as you adjust it. You can feel it as well, but it is somewhat mushy. The rubber eyecup is nice. It can be folded down and rotated to allow for left and right handed use, with or without glasses. A nylon scope case is included which seems to be of above average quality, but not great. It has a wide loop for attaching to vests, belts, whatever else comes to mind.

The scope also has a neoprene eyecup cover. It doesn't really stay put, I only use it for storage. The front end of the monocular came out of the box with a flip up scope cap made by Bushwacker. The rubber securing ring is extremely tacky (like a hogue grip) and it hasnt budged a millimeter in all of my handling it. The hinge appears to be better quality than the standard butler creek caps you are all so fond of.

And now comes the bad news:
The reticle itself is never fully in focus. You can either focus the little silhouettes, or the milling stadia, but not both. Even if both were in focus, the eye relief and exit pupil size work against you when you try to use it. It is not like a rifle scope where you can see from edge to edge inside the field of view. If you look to the left or right the image goes black. This is presumably because your pupils are sufficiently close (short eye relief) that looking left/right/up/down actually moves your pupil out of the line of sight of the image. So basically this means you cannot actually use the silhouttes past the 400m figure. Looking at the 500 and half the image goes black and by the time you look towards the 600 the whole image goes black. Now this can be circumvented by shifting your head left as you look right, and vice versa, but then it defeats the use of the eyecup. Now the reason you can see the whole reticle in the camera image is because we have the luxury of looking in the peripherals of the cameras field of view. If you are looking straight through the center, you can see everything, but you won't be able to line up a silhouette with a human figure using your peripheral vision, you are going to have to look at it directly.

In addition to this, the reticle on my monocular was canted. The reticle only image is somewhat exaggerated, but it is still fairly pronounced. You if you look at the through the scope pic you can see the misalignment. I've drawn in a red horizontal red line for reference and another following the angle of the tripod adapter, which lies perpendicular to the scope body.

I was also disappointed to find that the large protrusions on the focus ring are very soft rubber. The focus ring itself is very stiff, and the force applied on the soft rubber protrusions flexes them very heavily. You can see in the photo the rubber is actually lifting off of the focus ring.

The optical performance of the monocular is a mixed bag. I pulled out my Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 and set it to 12 power and compared the two directly. At this magnification both optics had the same exit pupil size (3.33mm) to try and keep the playing field level. I pulled out my Sightron II Big Sky and adjusted it accordingly, and also had a pair of Nikon Monarch ATB 12x42's to compare with (non adjustable). Each optic seemed to have its own strengths and weaknesses and it all depended on the lighting (the color that is) of where you look. Brightness comparisons are subjective of course, but the overall impression was that it was no better, no worse.

During the day, the image seemed to have a green tinge on white backgrounds. I found some things appeared to be more in focus, I could pick out natural items in vegetation better, but it seemed to lack when focusing on the concentric lines of a bullseye paper target.

The scope comes with a clip as previously mentioned, which is handy, and a carrying case, which is also a nice option, but the magnification on this scope alone make it very difficult to use as a hand held tool. Yes it is possible to look through and simply observe, but focusing is difficult because of a combination of a wobbling image, a stiff focus wheel, and high magnification. This scope really is suited as a mini-spotting scope, and is advertised as such. In that regard it works well.

I don't know if I am going to send in my scope and see if they will replace it, or just sell it as a loss, but I would warn any of you out there that are eyeballing this to think twice. I would be much more comfortable paying 200 dollars less for this product. It is made in Japan, but it doesn't seem to be up to the quality of most Japanese optics that I've handled..

If anyone has any other requests for pics let me know, otherwise just for now:

Norrick is offline  
Old November 11, 2010, 12:16 PM   #2
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Wow. I was considering a Vortex scope for one of my bolt guns. Your post causes me to seriously reconsider. I hope you can get a refund.
chiefr is offline  
Old November 12, 2010, 06:42 AM   #3
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Wow. I was considering a Vortex scope for one of my bolt guns. Your post causes me to seriously reconsider. I hope you can get a refund.
To vortex's credit, I have a Diamondback that I am very pleased with. I had my first one's magnification ring lock up unexplainably, but it was promptly replaced via warranty. It was less than two weeks total turnaround for me. The second model has been working great since and I have no complaints. The glass is good and the price is right.

My buddy has a vortex viper (non-pst model) and after handling it, I feel like it was overpriced, the same way I feel about the monocular I just did a writeup on.

I think their products are hit and miss. They are tiered, and different model lines are manufactured in China, Philippines, and Japan. Nevertheless, my experience so far and all the things I've read about them say their warranty/customer service is one of the best in the biz.

As I have used the product I can't really get a refund, but I am going to see if it is something they would be willing to at least fix if not replace (the manufacturer, that is).

I will update after.
Norrick is offline  
Old November 19, 2010, 12:03 PM   #4
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You're correct, Vortex has great customer service. Looking forward to their response after you contact them with your issues. I also have the Diamondbacks and couldn't be happier.
goodoldgus is offline  
Old December 21, 2010, 05:39 PM   #5
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I sent out my monocular for warranty service about two weeks ago. On the third day after the tracking status had said "delivered" I received an email from FedEx with a new tracking number from Vortex optics. It arrived today. The work order had a brief description of my complaints (peeling rubber, canted reticle) and said below:

Rubber would have been fixed but reticle is not something that can be adjusted. Replaced unit. Meets factory specs.

I opened to inspect and everything appears new, and the reticle is centered. It is also easier to see both the silhouttes and reticle in focus together now. One thing I did notice is the mounting hardware came in a tube this time instead of the plastic little box the first time. Because this scope still doesn't suit my needs I will be selling it on the classifieds section (at a loss) for what I think is a more appropriate price.
Norrick is offline  
Old April 2, 2013, 02:25 PM   #6
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That's to bad, I have had a great experience with Vortex products. I was almost a strictly Leupold guy. Until I started trying out there products and you can't beat their warranty.
Hookedhorn is offline  

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