As I have mentioned in other articles and reviews, NO gun, optic or other shooting, martial arts, survival or other company has ever given me a free product IN EXCHANGE for a positive review. I have received some nice gifts as kudos for my efforts in establishing a luxury entertainment shooting experience sector in the firearms industry. Other companies donate gear that we use in our experiences, and when we write reviews, we are always honest. Sometimes the company has a horrible product, for example the Horus Vision Hunter scope, and we write about it.
Vortex Optics Problem?
I own a number of Vortex Viper scopes, and have found them to be an excellent scope for the money. I say “for the money” because honestly if I could have a $1k Vortex Viper scope or a $5k S&B as a gift, yes, I would be all over that Schmidt! In the real world though, practical considerations like money come into play. Using a car analogy, the S&B may be a Bugatti Chiron, and the Vortex Razor is “only” a Porsche Cayman GT4, while the modest Viper FFP 6-24 is a Corvette.
So, I often sing the praises of Vortex, but I recently had a problem. I realized that I was finishing long range precision matches lower than I should have, and thought it might have something to do with missing shots. Sure enough, that was the problem. I decided to dig EVEN deeper. Each year I personally train over a thousand UHNW individuals private lessons in rifle & pistol shooting as well as tactics. I have been asked more than once by new shooters when they arrive how to adjust their new pistol’s sights because the “sights are off” and are causing them to hit low and left. I mention this to say that in almost all cases, the reason for hisses is NOT the equipment. I assumed the same was true of me. No way it could be a Vortex Optics problem?
I was puzzled that my recent 1k (1,000 yards) dope was 32MOA in Jackson Hole and 39MOA in nearby Rexburg, Idaho where I frequently compete. My ballistics chart told me otherwise. Angle & DA exterior ballistics issues could explain a few of those minutes, but not all. As I prepped for a Tactical Precision Rifle match with my teammate, the legendary Brain Prax, we discovered that at 500 yards my dope was right on at 10.5MOA, but that at 600 yards my 13.5MOA dope was not working. Brian suggested that my scope was not reliably tracking beyond 10.5. Sure enough, I locked the gun in really tight and Brian turned the elevation knob, and it sputtered after 500. I was surprised because not to long before I had done a ladder test and all was well.
I took the scope off and put on another Vortex Viper XLR 6-24, and this time the hits were right on. So, it seems the old scope’s internals went South. I was surprised because of my years of experience with the trouble-free nature of Viper scopes, but then again; mechanical stuff breaks, even the Chiron will need repairs at some point. I was actually kind of happy to see the problem, because I had the chance to test Vortex’s famous return policy.
To summarize the Vortex warranty, “If you get drunk some night and use your Vortex scope as a pry-bar, microwave it for 10 minutes, then soak it in Bore Tec Eliminator for a couple hours, then take a wire brush to the glass, and as a result are not thrilled with how it performs; just contact us for a fast apology followed by a repair or replacement.” I am not sure that those are their exact words, but it is pretty close.
So, on December 23, 2015, I mailed the scope to Vortex, explaining what the problem was. OK, I know what you are thinking, Smith & Wesson would take 7 to 9 months to handle a repair, and would likely dump you rather than stand behind their product, Burris would take over a month, Taurus would be almost as long as Smith and Wesson, so surely Vortex would also take a long time? Isn’t that the sad but unavoidable industry standard?
On January 11, 2016 I found that a package had been delivered from Vortex. The packaging slip/repair notes said that they were not able to replicate my specific problem, but that they found a different internal error. Enclosed was a brand new scope. Friggin aye. THAT is excellent customer service and demonstrates REALLY standing behind a product!
Vortex Optics Problem? Yep, a tiny one, but resolved far better than one would expect! Good job Vortex Optics!