Vortex is one of the most loved brands in hunting optics, and quite possibly the entire hunting community. And for good reason. Top shelf customer service and VIP no fault lifetime warranty, Vortex is known for great glass at a great price. Do you want the best binoculars for your dollar? Then you have to take a look at the Vortex Razor HD binos that have been around for years.In June of 2013 S&S owner Steve Speck wrote a review comparing the Vortex Razor HD to the Zeiss Conquest HD. He chose the Razor HD.Six years later we’re still happy to recommend the Vortex Razor HD. As good now as it was then, and still the best bang for your dollar for 10x42 binoculars.For hunters wanting to take that next step from mid grade glass to high end however, there hasn’t been anything available from Vortex.. Until now.
New for 2019 the Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars are Vortex’s entry into the elite glass arena. UHD stands for Ultra High Definition. Do they compete with our favorites for hunting, the Swarovski SLC binoculars? In terms of price, they are pretty close. The New Razor UHD 10x42’s come in with a street price of $1499. Thats $300 less than the SLC’s at $1799.
The key upgrade for the Vortex Razor UHD is the new Abbe Koenig prism system. What makes this prism system better? At the expense of size and a little weight, the resolution and clarity are much improved. Imagine having fewer parts for the light to reflect off and pass through than other roof prism designs. This allows for better light transmission and a larger field of view. Along with the new prism system, APO matched lenses keeps colors from fringing. Different colors have different wavelengths, so APO matched lenses make the different colors’ wavelengths focus at the same point. More so, the Vortex Razor UHD has 4 elements (lenses) to isolate wavelengths where most brands use only 2.How does this translate to the viewing experience? Here is what we saw:
Viewing an optics resolution chart 35 yards away, at dark, I was able to see 2 levels of resolution with the Razor HD binoculars, 3 levels with the UHDs and 4 with the SLCs. Low light testing is really tough because we all see things differently. While I feel like there was a difference in my eyes between the 3 different binos on the resolution chart, if I were judging a buck in the early morning light I don’t know that I would be able to see such a difference.
Another optics resolution chart, this time at 50 yards in the middle of the day, gave us different results. Comparing the UHD binoculars to the SLC’s was simply too close to call. Sometimes I felt like the SLCs were the better glass, and sometimes I felt like the winner was the Razor UHD. More times than not though, it was the Razors. That says a lot. I do feel like the colors on the UHDs had more contrast than the SLCs. This could be beneficial when glassing late season when the bucks are in the sagebrush and tough to pick out. Also the field of view was noticeably larger than the SLCs. Edge to edge is good the SLC, however i did see some chromatic aberration on the UHD about 3/4 of the way out from center.
Dimensions and Design
The UHD 10x42's are bigger when comparing to other popular binoculars. They are 7" x 5.5" and weigh 32.2oz. By comparison the SLC's are 5.7" x 4.7" and weigh 28 oz. But I do have to say that these binos look gorgeous! The design team made the UHD series look amazing. The locking diopter works well enough, but I did manage to unlock it when fumbling with the eye cups once or twice.
I have to talk about the bino harness that comes with the new Razors. For the last couple years Vortex has been shipping binos with a harness. I first saw this with the Viper HD’s and while it was nice to have them included, honestly I was not super impressed. A good harness, but that's it. The harness that comes with the UHD Razors is VERY nice. Its soft to the touch, but has a firm structure where you need it, and it comes with a pouch that is made to carry ammo, but could also be used to carry your rangefinder. Nice work Vortex. You got this part right!
So what's the verdict on the Vortex Razor UHD 10X42? If you are a loyal fan of Vortex, then i would say these are a strong buy. They are significantly better optically than the old Razor HD binoculars. But I will be holding on to my Swarovski SLCs because I value the low light performance and smaller/lighter package. Even though glassing in good light was admittedly better with the new UHD Razors. If you’re on the fence, that sweet bino harness just might be enough to push you over the edge!
Best in the Series?
I really don’t know that the 10x42 is going to be the highlight of the Razor UHD line. With the new Abbe Koenig prism design i think we’re going to see a huge leap in performance of the 12x50 and 18x56. We have the 18’s coming in the next couple weeks so stay tuned as we’ll be testing them while chasing early season muleys here in Idaho.