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Vortex Viper PST Riflescope

Vortex Viper PST Riflescope

Vortex are fast making a name for themselves as the go-to brand among more technically-minded riflemen, and this fully-metric, first-focal-plane scope shows why. Unlike some top-dollar tactical scopes (PST stands for Precision Shooting Tactical), there’s nothing extreme about its specification: a one-piece 30mm main tube supports a 50mm objective lens; a pair of tallish, finger-adjustable turrets with 0.1 mil (1cm @ 100m) clicks; a side parallax control; and an ocular bell featuring a rheostat with 10 brightness settings for the illuminated reticle, and a fast-focus adjuster under a protective rubber eye-ring. The whole affair has a matte-black finish, and all the dials and markings are neatly picked out in white.

I might add that the main tube is milled from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminium alloy, or that its Armortek coating really is impressively scratch resistant but features like this only matter if something bad happens… All the same, if the worst ever came to the worst you’d still have Vortex’s exceptional VIP Unconditional Lifetime Warranty to put the smile back on your face.

Anyway, at 15.5” / 39.4 cm long and weighing 23.4 oz / 665 g, the PST isn’t particularly big, small, heavy or light either, and although, possibly, the 2.2” of tube ahead of the saddle might limit eye-relief adjustment, I had no such problems.

So why do I like the PST so very much? Basically, because everything it does makes me more likely to hit what I’m aiming at, which is, after all, the point.  How does it do that? Three ways: clarity, consistency, control.


It’s not a Swarovski, but even shooting it alongside a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x50 I didn’t feel handicapped. The PST simply showed me the target and let me aim at it. Something to do with the optically indexed lenses, XD lens elements, and special multi-coatings throughout? Probably.

I didn’t assess low-light performance specifically, because I don’t think it’s critical on a scope like the PST. It’s a case of horses for courses, and the PST was not designed for woodland stalking. If I’m after deer out in the open, meanwhile, it’s the law that restricts my shooting time, not the PST. If it’s foxes or rabbits I’m after then I’ll be using a lamp, or NV, with which the PST works very nicely. What I care about more is how the optics perform when the sun is low and to my front – i.e. how well a scope eliminates internal reflections - and this is also something the PST does well - especially with the 4” sunshade fitted.


What do I mean by this? Most importantly, does the reticle move the same distance in each axis for each click every time? If it doesn’t I might as well use low-profile “hunter” turrets, zero them, put the caps back on and thereafter leave well alone, because trying to dial corrections in and out with creeping click adjustments is an exercise in futility. The PST, however, runs with the consistency of the proverbial Swiss watch. Something to do with its Precision Force Spring System? Probably.

Better yet, the adjustments are what they say they are: 0.1 mils. So a 20-click correction will move the MPI 20cm at 100m. Not 19cm or 21cm. 20cm.

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I know, because I checked, because it matters. What’s more, the reticle is also true to spec: lay it onto the point of aim and the appropriate hash-mark will be sitting right on top of that 2-mil offset group we just fired.


It’s very nice that the windage and elevation turrets are easy to grip and have clicks that both feel and sound crisp. It’s nice too that the dials are easy to read and that they have directional arrows on the sides as well as the turret tops and turn indicator lines. I like the simple-but-effective shim-based CRS (Customisable Rotational Stop) system too, as it provides a fast and foolproof way to return to your initial zero after each engagement. You can’t complain either about the zoom ring, with its grippy rubberised finish and firm but smooth travel (thanks, apparently, to a Precision-Glide Erector System). Both the elevation turret and the zoom ring also have Gucci red fibre-optic indicators (dubbed the Radius Bar and the MAG-View respectively). I’m not sure they really do much, but they look cool.

Nevertheless, a key element of control has less to do with moving parts and more with calibration, and in particular with the matching of adjustment and reticle values. I really don’t understand why manufacturers make “mongrel” scopes with mismatched minute-of-angle (MOA) adjustments and mil-dot reticles, or why shooters buy them. They necessitate complex conversion calculations in the field that I simply don’t want to do. A matched MOA system is better – and Vortex do indeed offer an MOA version of the PST - but going metric is even easier than juggling MOA, inches and yards, and easier = fewer mistakes = better control. After all, fluff your sums and you really have lost control of where your shot goes.

Easy sums are also why it’s neat to have exactly 5 mils of adjustment per turn, though the albeit ample total of 19 mils on each axis suggests the PST’s designers couldn’t quite squeeze the last mil in.

For similar reasons, I can’t love scopes that site reticles designed for rangefinding and drop/windage compensation in the second focal plane (SFP), where the values they represent downrange change radically with the slightest nudge of the zoom ring. This PST scores by having the reticle in the first focal plane (FFP), which means that 1 mil on the reticle will always subtend 1 mil on the target. A FFP scope controls this relationship so I don’t have to. The nice people at Vortex evidently think everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however, so the PST is also available in SFP format.

Some complain that a FFP reticle is never the right size: too fine to read at minimum magnification and to coarse at full zoom, and it is true that some FFP reticle designs err on one side or the other. Indeed, the dramatically-named Enhanced Battle Reticle (a.k.a. EBR-2) in my own Vortex Razor HD 5-25x50 scope is perhaps a tad chunky at the top end. But even Goldilocks couldn’t find fault with the proportions of the PST’s EBR-1 reticle as its thicker outer bars put the fine inner cross instinctively on target at low power and short range, while the hash marks and numbers come into view just as they come into play, i.e. as you extend the range and increase the magnification, facilitating measurements from 0.2 mils, and with numbering every 2 mils. Wound up to 24X you can measure a full 7 Mils from the centre in each direction, which is plenty, even if you’re aiming off rather than dialling in. Incidentally, the main difference between the EBR-1 & EBR-2 is that the latter offers a “Christmas tree” array of windage dots - something I do miss on the PST. Reticles are glass-etched for maximum definition and resilience.

The PST’s illumination lights up the central hash-marked section. Unsurprisingly, the illumination is good: it doesn’t flare, and there are intermediate “off” stops between settings so minimal movement is required to switch of or to return to your previous setting. The lowest setting is also compatible with a NV add-on, and the brightest aids closer-range work at minimum zoom. The rheostat is even offset to the left, making it easy to use when shooting off a rest if you’re right-handed, and good for left-handers the rest of the time.


Is there anything about the rest of the scope I would change? Actually, there is: like Oliver Twist, I’d like some more! One on each of my long-range rifles would do nicely… and at the price (a bargain if ever there was one) I might well do that! I’d put one on my Daystate PCP too, but the PST only parallaxes down to 50 yards - and no, this isn’t a typo, the parallax dial on this metric scope really is marked in yards!  Come on, Vortex, get your act together!

My thanks to Riflecraft for supplying the scope on test, and for giving me a full 6 months to put it through its paces. GM

  • Vortex Viper PST Riflescope - image {image:count}

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  • Vortex Viper PST Riflescope - image {image:count}

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  • Vortex Viper PST Riflescope - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Vortex Viper PST Riflescope - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge


  • Model: Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50
  • FFP: EBR riflescope
  • Magnification: 6-24 x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50mm
  • Eye Relief: 4.0”
  • Field of View : 17.8-5.1’ @ 100 yards
  • Tube Size: 30mm
  • Turret Style: Tall Uncapped - CRS Zero Stop
  • Adjustment Graduation: 0.1 mrads
  • Travel per Rotation : 5.0 mrads
  • Max Elevation Adjustment: 19 mrads
  • Max Windage Adjustment: 19 mrads
  • Parallax Setting: 50 yds to ∞
  • Length: 15.5”
  • Weight: 23.4 oz
  • Accessories: (Supplied) 4" sunshade clear elasticated lens covers