I wrote about Vortex binoculars once before, but the Diamondback model discussed in that article really isn’t the same as the one for sale these days. In fact, that’s how several Vortex binoculars models have changed over the years. Instead of creating new lines, Vortex just improves upon what they already have.
As of this writing, the latest edition of the Vortex website – at least, the binoculars section of it – is missing much of the information you might like know about a given model. When I discovered this, I reached out to their support staff and found them very helpful in providing the missing info.
As a result, I can tell you that, even though the site doesn’t say so (unless they’ve updated it by the time you read this), all Vortex binoculars have the following features.
- Phase coated prisms
- BaK4 glass
- Fully multi-coated lenses
- Nitrogen (or argon) purged tubes
All that in a sub-$100 binoculars? Apparently so.
Vortex binoculars come in a wide range of prices. There aren’t many (if any) other manufacturers who give you several options below $150 as well as several above $1000.
In this review I’ll walk you through them from low MSRP to high so you can easily see what features are being added along the way and at which price point you want to stop and make a purchase.
- 1 Vortex Vanquish Reverse Porro Binoculars – Looking Backwards
- 2 Vortex Raptor Binoculars – Normal Porro Prisms
- 3 Vortex Triumph and Crossfire HD Binoculars – Similarities Abound
- 4 Vortex Diamondback HD Binoculars – Very Popular
- 5 Vortex Viper Binoculars – An ED Upgrade
- 6 Vortex Razor HD Binoculars – Common Sizes, More Features
- 7 Vortex Kaibab HD 18×56 Binoculars
- 8 Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars – Better HD?
Vortex Vanquish Reverse Porro Binoculars – Looking Backwards
Remember the last time you looked through the “wrong” end of a pair of binoculars just for fun? Vortex binoculars in the Vanquish line are designed so that it looks like you’re doing this, even though you’re not.
The Vanquish line (8×26 and 10×26) is a rare breed of reverse Porro design. Instead of the tubes getting wider at the objective lens end (as is true for normal Porros), they get smaller. I’m not sure what the benefit is here, if any. Given that you don’t see many of these in the market, perhaps there isn’t much to their credit.
The main benefit I see in the Vanquish binos is that, being so small, at just 12.7 ounces, they are the lightest in weight of any of the Vortex binoculars.
Note: My contact at Vortex said that all Vortex binoculars, except Triumph and Crossfire, had dielectric coatings. I’m guessing he didn’t intend to include Vanquish or Raptor either as these are even less expensive.
The 8×26 model is available via the link below too.
Vortex Raptor Binoculars – Normal Porro Prisms
Vortex’s only line of regular Porro prism binoculars is the Raptor. The Vanquish come in unusual sizes and so do these Raptors – 8.5×32 and 10×32.
True, 10×32 isn’t all that unusual, but the 8.5x is. And that’s about all that makes these stand out in the crowd. The only reason to get a pair of these – and this may be plenty for you – is that you like the brand name, one of the sizes, and the green color.
The 8.5×32 model is available via the like below as well.
Vortex Triumph and Crossfire HD Binoculars – Similarities Abound
Though not mentioned in the name, the Triumph binoculars, which so far only come in 10×42 size, are also called HD binos, like the Crossfires (and all the other models from here on up).
According to my source at Vortex, HD doesn’t really mean much. “Today it’s more of a marketing term that can mean just about anything – the letters stand for High Definition or High Density.”
Comparing the Triumph (HD) and Crossfire HD (10×42 size), you won’t find much difference other than the overall styling.
Just look at these specs.
|Field of View (ft.)*||334||325|
|Eye relief (mm)||17||15|
|Close focus (ft.)||15.3||6|
|Dimensions (in.)||6.1 x 5.0||6.0 x 5.2|
|Interpupillary distance (mm)||55-75||58-75|
While it’s true there are some minor differences in the numbers (unless you call the close focus a major difference), it’s hard not to equate these models with each other. As far as I know, all the other features are the same.
The Crossfire line includes what I consider the four common sizes: 8×42, 10×42, 10×50, and 12×50. All are available via the link below.
Vortex Diamondback HD Binoculars – Very Popular
The Vortex binoculars Diamondback line is perhaps the most widely-known of any the company produces. You may already know about them even before reading this review.
The Diamondbacks come in a wide range of sizes: 8x and 10x power for 28, 32, and 42 millimeter objective lenses, 10×50 and 12×50, plus the large 15×56 model which includes a tripod adapter.
The advantage of having any of the Diamondbacks over anything mentioned earlier is that these have dielectric and ArmorTec (or ArmorTek, per a video I saw) coatings. Dielectric improves light transmission. ArmorTec is Vortex’s version of making lenses scratch-proof and oil and dirt resistant. These may also be the first of the Vortex lines to have argon purged tubes.
All 9 Diamondback HD models are available at the link below. All are very affordable. Even the largest currently costs less than $350.
Vortex Viper Binoculars – An ED Upgrade
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “ED” as it pertains to binoculars glass, here is the explanation. “ED” stands for “Extra low Dispersion”. Yes, it should probably be “ELD”, but that’s not what the industry has adopted.
Lenses tend to disperse or scatter or spread out the light that passes through them. By the time the light reaches your eyes then, it makes target images look a little fuzzy, especially around the edges. They can show what’s often called “chromatic aberration” which is a fancy way of saying the image isn’t perfect. ED glass used in lenses takes care of the vast majority of this problem, so it’s a major reason manufacturers use it and can bump up the prices of their better models.
The addition of ED glass to the Viper line – 8×42, 10×42, 10×50, and 12×50 models – is enough to justify the added cost and to let this line stand on its own.
As with several of the other Amazon links here, you can find all models by clicking the one button just below.
Vortex Razor HD Binoculars – Common Sizes, More Features
The Vortex Razor HD line has the same common sizes as the Vipers, plus a couple more features.
Those features are a locking diopter and APO lenses. The locking diopter is handy but hardly worth the increased price of the Razors on it own.
“APO” stands for “apochromatic” which is a system of lenses, usually three, that further reduces that chromatic aberration, or color fringing, that I mentioned above. Apparently Vortex considers this a big enough improvement to justify roughly doubling the cost compared to the Vipers. We are now in the $1000 per pair area.
Yet again one link handles all sizes.
Vortex Kaibab HD 18×56 Binoculars
Before we get to the final line, take a look at this interloper, the Kaibab HD 18×56 monster.
The Kaibab could really be considered an extension of the Razor HD line. It has all the same features (maybe) and continues the same price scheme. I say “maybe” about the features because I’m not 100% sure that it has a locking diopter. Since both the Razor HD and UHD (below) models do, I think it’s plausible that the Kaibab does too. (The Amazon description claims it does.)
As all large binoculars should, the Kaibab includes a tripod adapter.
Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars – Better HD?
If “HD” is really just a marketing term, does “UHD” mean more or better marketing?
Here’s the upgrade that UHD is all about. From Vortex support: “All of our binoculars have BaK4 Schmidt-Pechan prisms. Except! The Razor UHDs, which are Abbe-Koenig BaK4 + BaK7.”
Again Vortex considers this enough to double the MSRP over “plain” Razor HD models. At Amazon, we’re now in the $1300 to $1700 range.
Vortex binoculars wide range of choice should have given you something to check out in more detail, but if it didn’t, try looking at these Nikon lines instead.