First Gear | Vortex Optics "Razor" Red Dot

posted on July 23, 2017
Darren Parker

If you’re dejected that our 9 mm Pistol Caliber Carbine build is not continuing, we cart out the old “good news/bad news” ploy: It is continuing, sort of, just not in the way you expected. Our “First Gear” item for today may be of considerable utility in the PCC space, and certainly we have found it so.

Vortex Razor Red Dot

It’s a good time to be a red dot sight technology adopter. Quality is astonishing, and prices are falling. There are $80 units out there that thump what cost $400-500 in comparatively recent memory.

The flipside of that is that you generally still get what you pay for, and we can’t think of a better example than the 1.4-ounce (2.5 with the Picatinny mount), 6 MOA Vortex Razor we’ve been hammering on lately. It’s been hammering back, by the way, and winning.

You may have had a squint at this already. Back in April print A1F, the Razor topped a CZ Scorpion PCC carbine to near-perfection. On that carbine, the rail height and body dimensions of the sight were a snap-on, instant hit that positioned the dot perfectly for our shooting.

Now, the Razor is getting a trial on an MSR/AR platform. Here, we’ve got a few more challenges than the Scorpion. Look at our photographs, and one jumps right out: The need for a riser to get to the proper eye height/head position.

It’s no big deal, as you see, but be prepared to test several for your own configuration: We like a more erect head position, so a 3/4-inch riser is the ticket for us. If you like being lower on the rifle, better give the 1/2-inch elevation variety a serious check. (If our test sample looks a little, well, wonky, that’s because it is a “combo” style with a 45-degree offset rail too—just ignore it. No need to add the very slight weight or bulk to yours, but it’s what we had in the height class.)

The second issue is also a ramification of the platform swap bore offset. Our 3/4-inch height embeds a little more than we’d like, but short of getting a couple of vertebrae removed, it’s hard to see how head height can change much. Even if we substituted a 1/2-inch one, the resulting parallax reduction would be small, and the semi-sabotage of a quick “mount” that comes from about 30 years of shooting MSR/AR pattern rifles seems a bad trade.

The Razor has a very broad “window” and optical glass from edge to edge, plus that nifty battery tray. What else is there to wish for? Photo by A1F Staff

But the offset ”cat,” however you choose to skin it, does get us to one of the things we like best about the Razor—adjustability.

First, it’s got plenty—170 MOA vertically, and 114 MOA horizontally. Second is the “tool” for said adjustment: A supplied hex key that is easily (and cheaply) replicated in your gun case, shooting bag, glove box, grip or stock compartment—you get the idea. If you’re ever without, the only available excuses are truly pathetic. Third is the tactilely-supplemented nature of adjustments: Because the key fits as it does and has decisive 1-MOA clicks, you don’t need light—or your reading glasses—to fit the tool into place and get any necessary changes set. (Are you listening, jeweler’s screwdriver crowd? When did those tiny adjustment dials become a good idea?) Do remember to “unlock” the adjustments prior to tweaks, and relock after. The hex for this is the same size as the adjustments themselves.

At present, our test has the Razor on a pistol caliber carbine, and performance is entirely worthy of the marque. With this set-up, we want a 15-yard zero, and got to it easily without being at the very edge of adjustment. And don’t fret over precision either—1 MOA sounds coarse, but isn’t if you do the math (about .15 inch at our chosen distance). We’re big-dot guys in this application, but the six is more than adequate. (We’d recommend this dot size for any pistol or PCC application, and a three for a rifle.) At 500 rounds, give or take, we’ve demounted/remounted with no loss of zero, even with a deliberate move to another T-slot.

The coupe de grace on Razor selection in our view, however, is the battery swap. Wisely using the very common coin cell CR 2032, the housing’s small “extra” depth accommodates a tray for the battery that can be completely removed. Don’t confuse that with “insecure,” however. Fingernails wouldn’t do for us, but a dime or penny from below was perfect. Nor does the tray come flying out—it releases to an open position, but is then retained for easy extraction. Sublime.

Hunting deliberately, we do have one gripe. Pressing either intensity adjustment—clearly labeled up and down arrows—will light the dot. At normal intensities, endurance runs to thousands of hours, but jacked up for Southern Colorado summer sun angles, we’re expecting only hundreds per the manual. Fair enough—as we observed, CR 2032s are widely available and very affordable. The supplied cover will cause a shutdown of the system in six hours, but we’re not fans of spending battery power this way, and opt for manual “off” when the primer-dentin’ is done.

And that’s our gripe: The down arrow must be depressed for an entire five seconds to turn off a Vortex Razor.


Visit Vortex Optics at; MSRP on the Razor is $499.

Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.


Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr.
Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr.

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