Whilst shooting is not a new hobby to me the practical side of it is still in its early stages. What has this got to do with the new LPVO (Low Power variable Optic) Viper PST Gen II from Vortex? well I will explain.
Practical minirifle brings a whole new perspective on what is required from your optics. Gone are the days where you turn up to a course of fire and relatively speaking you know what to expect from each stage. Fixed distances, fixed targets and the timings remain the same. Now these can vary from 2m to 100m and be placed in numerous positions that require varying range of body movements in as quick a time as possible.
So, the brief is a tough one. My chosen rifle is an AR15 platform .22, popular with nearly all competitors on the circuit. My requirements are the following attributes:
· Close target acquisition
· Long target acquisition
· Wide field of view
· Dot or quick acquisition reticule
· Low weight
Straight out of the box you notice two things with the baby Viper. The first is that its not light. It weighs in at a healthy 1.41lbs which when you compare it to the popular Strike Eagle 1-8x24 at 1.03lbs that’s quite a difference sitting on top of your rifle. The second is the build quality. It really is a nice solid well-built rifle scope. The machining is very nice, and the finish is up there with the best of them.
The extra weight is most likely accounted for in the optics themselves which brings me nicely onto the glass quality. I spent a good day at the recent British shooting show hunting down as many LPVO as I could from the different manufacturers. With an hour left of the show I had tried everything from Primary arms to top end sights such as Trijicon and Schmidt and Bender. There is obviously a huge difference in quality from the entry level to the “Mil Spec” brands. The issue with trying the high end glass is once you have looked through these tubes there’s no going back. You can’t un see the clarity they offer. I eventually made it to the Vortex stand and requested to see the Strike Eagle and the Viper PST. Having already handled the Strike Eagle at a previous show I knew what to expect. Raising the Viper to my eye for the first time left me with my jaw dropped.
My first impressions of the clarity were ones of pure shock. To my eyes the glass was offering just as good a picture as the high-end scopes. Coupled with the simple reticule I couldn’t put it down.
In a way I had expected the Viper glass to be good. It falls into the middle class of cost. At £680 RRP its not cheap. Infact its more expensive than the most popular selling M&P 15/22 rifles you would expect this kind of optic to be found on. However, I wasn’t expecting it to be this good.
The biggest draw for me was in fact the reticule. I had set in my mind that I wanted a Red dot for close work and a fine reticule for long distance work. Previously this would have meant running a red dot separately to a magnified optic something you will see a lot of on the competition circuit. Now if you read Vortex’s website it states that it has an illuminated reticule. The pictures they show do not show what is illuminated. It is only when you go into the reticule substensions PDF you can see the illuminated reticule is a centralised red dot. Perfect. The combination of the two I had been looking for! The eye relief and glass quality allow you to raise the scope and shoot it almost as a red dot sight for close quarter work. Whilst not perfect as you must present the scope to the eye in such a way that the picture is clear every time, it’s pretty good. That coupled with the ability to crank up the magnification to acquire targets at 100m it’s a great combination.
In summary a lot of your decision to purchase will be based on your own budget. If money was no object, then you may consider the Razor or another high-end brand. If your budget is lower the Strike Eagles are hard to beat and have two choices of magnification and reticules. However, for me the simplistic reticule of the VIPER PST II combined with the quality of the glass was an easy choice to spend the extra money on. Its also nice to have a product that feels worthy of your hard earned money. Vortex also has one distinct advantage over many other manufacturers. The VIP Warranty. The promise to repair or replace your scope should it become defective or damaged. Worth considering on its own.
I look forward to running this particular scope on the competition circuit this year and pushing it and me to its limits.