With an unmatchable brand recognition for a USA-based company in the competitive market of civilian sports optics, Vortex hopes to conquer the last frontier. Namely, to produce top-of-the-line classic binoculars to lasting commercial success. The company certainly has the ambition and technical know-how but that’s not a guarantee of a grand slam. In truth, the optical industry often resembles an old boy network where the upper echelon of luxury is reserved for time-honored European manufacturers like Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski.
There have been other challengers for the throne, of course. Established market players like Nikon, Meopta, Blaser, and Kowa all made the expensive business venture of producing crème de la crème classic binoculars; just to name a few honorable examples. But try as they might, no company could go head-to-head with the Big Three and conquer. Nikon EDG had to find its audience in the less traditional markets of North America and Asia. Even the European manufacturer Blaser, a brand so deep-rooted in hunting tradition and backed by German engineering, enjoyed limited success with Primus binoculars.
Vortex began the manufacture of sport optics in 2004. They say the future belongs to the youth, let’s see if that could also be true for the future of classic optics.
Bigger Build & Finer Features
Razor UHD line of binoculars replaced Razor HD series as the most high-end Vortex binoculars.
The first thing you’ll notice about Vortex Razor UHD 10×50 binoculars is that they are considerably heavier and longer than the Razor HD model. Indeed, we’re talking about a whopping 1034 grams (36.5 oz.) here, compared to 797 grams (28.1 oz) of the antecedent HD model. The reason for the added bulk is in the superior Abbe–Koenig prism system that offers the best and brightest image possible. But more on that later.
To partially make up for the front-heavy prism system, Vortex built Razor UHD binos around magnesium chassis in an open hinge design. The housing is encased in a protective rubber coat, pleasant to the touch.
The attention to detail is impressive – the 10×50 UHD model has thumb rests to alleviate hand fatigue on longer observations. The front is embellished with two Vortex logos, neatly recessed into soft, non-slip rubber. There is a strap attachment loop on each side of the binos, where the neck strap or harness can be secured. Both carrying options are included in the box with the product, which is always a plus.
The binos are also tripod-adaptable for a completely fatigue-free observation, which is only right for an optic of this size and with a 10×50 configuration to boot. The ¼”-20 thread gives you plenty of options when choosing extra gear, be it a tripod or a car mount.
The firm and slow central focusing is super-accurate and perfect for hunters. Hikers will also learn to appreciate the smooth mechanism when traversing through mountain slopes at the crack of dawn, with a precarious grip on their 10×50 binos.
Physical Properties of Vortex Razor 10×50 UHD
- light-weight magnesium chassis
- heavier and longer than HD
- open-hinge design
- smooth central focus
- twist-up eyecups
- lockable right-eye diopter setting
- argon gas purged
High-quality twist-up eyecups made of rubberized metal make this model a great choice for glasses-wearers. The multiple, click-stop positions let the user adjust the distance to their eyes to the correct level, which allows them to achieve the full field of view. For 10×50 binoculars, the 18 millimeters of eye relief are very comfortable.
The diopter setting on the right eyepiece is lockable, so there will be no inconvenient changes of settings mid-use.
There’s definitely room for improvement where the lens covers are concerned, though. Non-integrated lens caps are a pretty basic solution for such a nicely designed model in all other aspects. The chest harness too could be redesigned so the binos wouldn’t rest against the torso at an awkward angle. Still, all these extras get the job done so we won’t complain too much.
Thanks to internal purging with dry Argon gas and o-ring seals, Vortex Razor UHD 10×50 is impervious to water damage and moisture of the lenses. The protection of the exterior glass surfaces is then enforced with multiple coats of hydrophobic XR™ Plus varnish that repels oil, dirt, and dust particles.
See the Light! – Bright Image & Brilliant Resolution
About the 10×50 configuration … Though admittedly less versatile than 10×42 Razor UHD, this model was made for hunters in the dark and serious birders. Bigger 50-millimeter lenses let through more light than the standard 42mm ones. The 10x magnification is powerful enough for easy trophy assessment on longer ranges but not as challenging as 12x, where the slightest shake of hand will ruin your viewing experience.
Vortex invested in phase-corrected Abbe–Koenig prisms, which remain a rarity even among premium brands as they are more difficult and expensive to manufacture than other prisms.
The inclusion of Abbe–Koenig prisms is a first for the Wisconsin-based manufacturer, yet it’s a sure sign that the company is ready to throw a hat in the ring and compete with the best of the best in the optical business. Other market examples include big names like Zeiss Victory HT/RF models, Swarovski SLC series, GPO Passion, and Nikon VX.
The longer optical path of Abbe–Koenig prisms gives true-to-life colors in sharp detail. For birders, this can be the difference between looking past a tree and noticing a Eurasian scops owl against its bark. Phase correction varnish on the prisms enhances contrast and resolution. It’s also worth noting that this type of Roof prism is also best-suited for low-light binoculars. In fact – as of the year 2021, Swarovski and Zeiss only use A-K prisms on binos with objective lenses of 50-56mm but utilize the cheaper S-P system on smaller models.
Optical Properties of Vortex Razor 10×50 UHD
- exceptional optical quality
- Abbe–Koenig prisms
- better light transmission
- UHD optical system
- multi-coated apochromatic lens
- eliminated chromatic aberration
- amazing color fidelity
- wide field-of-view
- edge-to-edge sharpness
- fast target acquisition
Let’s explain why Abbe–Koenig prisms are able to provide such an incredibly bright image compared to other Roof prism systems and in adverse lighting conditions. The way the surfaces are built, the light never has to bounce back on its travel through the prism system. For birdwatchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and hunters who wait on game in the twilight, the high transmission rate of Vortex Razor UHD 10×50 is well-worth the splurge. For others, the more compact and less expensive HD model will do just fine.
Similarly, Vortex Razor UHD 10×50 has a slight edge over its older brother when it comes to the generous field of view, which is 113m/1000m (341 feet at 1000 yards). Wide enough to scan large swaths of land in order to locate and follow fast-moving targets at any range.
While the binos were clearly designed with long-distance observation in mind, the respectable minimal focus distance of 2 meters might come in handy as well. Nothing too impressive but good enough to occasionally take a closer look at attention-catching plants and crawlies along your path.
Technical Data Sheet
|Model:||Vortex Razor UHD 10×50 Binoculars|
|Linear Field of View:||113m/1000m (341’/1000yd)|
|Angular Field of View:||6.5°|
|Interpupillary Distance:||56mm-76mm (2.2-3″)|
|Close Focus:||2m (6.6′)|
|Height x Width x Weight:||19.3cm x 15cm x 1034 grams (7.6″ x 5.9″ x 36.5 oz.)|
In the Box
With the purchase of Vortex Razor UHD 10×50, the user receives a full set of premium accessories.
- Soft Bino Case
- Chest Harness
- Comfort Neck Strap
- Accessory / Ammo Pouch
- Objective Lens Covers
- Eyepiece Lens Covers
- Lens Cleaning Cloth
- User Manual
- Inspection Card
On top of that, Vortex offers many extra products in their sales catalog like car mounts, tripods, magnification doublers, cleaning and care sets, etc.
All in all, we believe that Razor 10×50 UHD is a solid choice for anyone who’s looking for a 10x magnification but still needs a decent low-light performance. You get everything the 10×42 UHD model has to offer but punched up a notch. This Abbe–Koenig model can go toe-to-toe with Leica Trinovid, Swarovski SLC, and Zeiss Conquest. That’s major for an American company that only entered the market in 2004.
It’s important to look at choosing the right binos in this price range as a lifetime investment. The choice in such a tough competition will come down to personal preference but factors like warranty period, customer perks, repair service availability, etc. still have to be taken into consideration.
Vortex is the only brand that offers an unlimited and transferrable product guarantee. Should anything happen to your Vortex Razor 10×50 UHD, the manufacturer made a promise to replace it with a new device, no questions asked.