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Vortex Viper PST Riflescope Review

Posted on: 02/12/12

Vortex optics offers a variety of optics for hunters and we have looked at some of their mid-level offerings in the past with the Diamondback series of riflescopes and binoculars. For this review we’ll be stepping it up a bit and will be taking a look at the Viper PST line of rifle scopes, specifically the 4-16x50mm with EBR-1 MOA reticle.

The Viper Precision Shooting Tactical (PST) line of scopes packs a lot of features that you would normally find in a tactical or long range shooting optic into a hunting scope. There are actually two versions of the 4-16x50mm, one with FFP (first focal plane) and our review model which is a SFP (second focal plane) scope.


The Vortex Viper PST 4-16x50mm Scope

The difference between first or second focal plane can be significant depending on how you use your scope. The Viper PST can be equipped with either an MRAD or MOA scope, both of which use equidistant hashes on the reticle to allow ranging distances to a target as well as quick, on-reticle bullet drop compensation. The big difference with an FFP scope is that the distance between hash marks does not change with power, while with a second focal plane scope the distance changes. For those that make a lot of magnification changes while using the reticle hashes for bullet drop compensation, will find the FFP easier to use. However many people will set the power and forget it, thus negating the main benefit of the FFP scope.


The power ring on the SFP model is marked with both magnification and
the multiplier for the reticle, making it easy to quickly figure out
how power changes effective the distance between the 2 MOA hashes.

Luckily Vortex has made it really easy to use their SFP scope and be able to quickly figure out how the subtension (the distance between hashes) is changing with magnification. For Vortex PST SFP scopes at the highest power (16x in the case of our review model) 1 MOA = 1 MOA, note that lower powers really isn’t that big of a deal since Vortex has designed the scope such that halving the power (8x setting) causes 1 MOA = 2 MOA. Decreasing to 4x setting causes 1 MOA = 4 MOA. Additionally the MOA multiplier is clearly marked on the power ring, so if you have to make a quick calculation it is easy to see what the current multiplier/power setting is directly on the ring.


The Viper PST EBR-1 MOA reticle.


The Viper PST uses external turrets for quick adjustments in 1/4 MOA clicks. The
knobs are aggressively knurled and are easy to grab and rotate. The red line on the
elevation turret is what Vortex calls a “radius bar” and marks the zero of the turret.

If your shooting style is such that you don’t change the magnification setting often, then go for the SFP which has a street price of $699 versus the $849 street price of the same scope in an FFP version.

The Viper PST line all come standard with an illuminated reticle which is bright and adjustable. Vortex has included a nice control knob that has “off” settings between light intensity levels, this allows a shooter to quickly turn off the illumination then turn it back on to the same level without going through the full range of the knob. The illumination is powered by a common 2032 size button cell battery.


The illumination knob alternates between light intensity changes and the “off” position denoted by a solid dot.


Side view of the parallax turret.


Another view of the turret system.

Ever have to do a lot of spinning up of your elevation knob to take a long shot, then, because of the number of rotations, forget your zero point? The Viper PSTs are equipped with a simple but effective solution for this common problem. Vortex’s CRS (Customizable Rotational Stop) is a simple system of shims that can be placed under the elevation turret and prevents spinning below a zero point. Simply zero the scope at a certain distance of your choice, then remove the elevation turret, and then install as many of the two piece shims as necessary below the turret to prevent spinning past the zero. Then line up the red “radius” bar with the zero when reinstalling the turret and you have a simple way of returning to zero after taking a long shot.


The two piece CRS shims go together around the base of turret once it has been removed to set a zero stop.

Vortex includes two manuals with the Viper PST, both of which are current and well written. One manual describes how to use the scope and the other is a primer on how to use MOA (minute of angle) or MRAD (milliradian) reticles. If you have ever purchased a scope with some variation of ballistic reticle then been puzzled over exactly how to use it, Vortex has stepped up and produced some good documentation so you’re not left hanging.


Vortex includes two manuals with the Viper PST to explain how to use the scope and the reticle it is equipped with.


The basic but functional included scope cover.

About the only thing that is sub-par on the Viper PST is the hard plastic scope cover. While it gets the job done, flip-up scope cap covers (such as those produced by Butler Creek) are preferable, but this is just being picky, and Vortex does throw in a sunshader with the scope which is a bonus. Overall the Viper PST series offers a high quality optic, with a variety of extra features for a reasonable $699, there are certainly other scopes that have a much higher price tag but don’t have quite the feature set of the PST. If you’re looking for a tactical style scope, with 30mm tube, you should consider the Viper PST line on your list of scopes to investigate.

For more information visit Vortex Optics.

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