Vortex Optics is no doubt one of the most recognizable optics companies within the firearm industry in current times. With products that range from small red dots to professional benchrest competition optics, Vortex hasn’t just dipped its toe into making optics, they’ve done a full cannonball into the industry. Its fast-paced rise to fame amongst optics companies gave Vortex a wide net of brand-loyal customers and many critics of the company and their products.
One of their latest products, the Vortex Venom 5-25×56 First Focal Plane Riflescope (not to be confused with the Vortex Venom Red Dot), has made its way into the hands of this gun enthusiast, so without further ado, let’s get into a full review of the Vortex Venom FFP rifle scope.
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About Vortex Optics
The Vortex Venom 5-25×56 is a new addition to the Vortex scope line, coming out in the past year or so. If you’re the kind of reader that is familiar with Vortex scopes, the Venom is placed in between the Viper line and the Strike Eagle line, with the Strike Eagle being the higher quality and the Viper being of lesser quality.
If you aren’t familiar with any of Vortex’s scope lines, the Venom is a pretty good place to start. Vortex has more information on their scopes on their website, but here’s some company information that’s valuable before getting into the scope review.
Vortex is an optics company out of Barneveld Wisconsin that supplies modern sporting optics for the general outdoors or shooting enthusiasts. Their claim to fame is their VIP Warranty that covers any sporting optic bought from Vortex. In modern times, the optics market is very inflated with more options for scopes than you can count.
At the forefront of that big wave of scopes are manufacturers like Vortex, Leupold, Arken, Bushnell, and many more. With such an inflated market, it’s easy to get discouraged when you’re shopping for the perfect scope to put on your rifle. They are, after all, big money decisions, so you need to know what you need and what you’re getting out of a scope before you buy one. If you’re interested in shooting long-distance, or if you need a high magnification, first focal plane optic, you’re in luck. Let’s dig into everything that has to do with the Vortex Venom 5-25×56 FFP rifle scope.
The Vortex Venom packs many functions of higher-tier scopes into a package that’s much more affordable to the ordinary consumer. This is a massive selling point as competition drives companies to put better prices on better optics. As someone who is fresh out of college with limited funds, these kinds of scopes really appeal to me. Here’s a list of some of the more important features that Vortex has put into this new optic:
- First Focal Plane
- Reticle Holdovers
- Quality Glass
- 5-25 Magnification Range
- Lifetime “VIP” Warranty
- 34mm Tube
- Throw Lever
- Zero Stop
Within that list of features are some really cool additions to a new scope line, but also some downfalls that you’re giving up by going to this optic. No, it’s not your $2,500 Nightforce scope, but it was never meant to be. Let’s dive deeper into some of these features.
Glass, Reticle, and Focal Planes
Glass clarity is a huge deal for serious scope users. Vortex makes most of its scopes in China, and this scope is no exception. Some people may balk at the thought of buying Chinese glass, but it’s actually been told that the gentlemen that operate Chinese optic factories are some of the same people with the same standards of operating in Japanese or Korean optics facilities. Even if it is made in China, the glass is exceptionally clear.
The 34mm tube has an unknown advantage to most shooters, but when you look through the optic, you have less black dead space around your viewable area. In fact, the image coming through the scope goes right to the edge of the eyepiece, whereas some 30mm scopes have a thick black border around the image. This is one of my favorite features of the scope because the 34mm tube gives you more clicks in your turret, more image to your eye, and less unused space in the eyepiece.
The reticle on the Vortex Venom is a great balance between a grid-dot holdover reticle and just a crosshair. It’s very similar to the classic Christmas Tree reticle, but it doesn’t have as many holdovers. A busy reticle is a big turnoff for some hunters or shooters, while some prefer to have that data in the reticle. The one used in this scope is easy to use and less crowded than other scopes would be, which brings a well-needed bridge to close the gap between shooters that want a crosshair and shooters that want a full grid.
Overall, the glass quality is exactly what should be expected from Vortex. It’s one of the clearer scopes in my safe and is very consistent across the image.
Magnification Range (5-25x)
This scope was purposely built to go the distance (literally). The traditional magnification range of some lower-cost scopes with high magnifications is usually 6-24×50. It doesn’t seem like much until you need it, but Vortex gives you an extra magnification point on either side of what’s known as traditional. And with a 56mm objective lens diameter, the field of view for this scope is 21.2 feet at 5 magnification, and 4.7 feet at 25 power. The 56mm objective lens also takes in more light than the traditional 50mm lens, making the image that goes through the Vortex Venom brighter and clearer.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to get into a high-magnification optic, this is a great entry-level option for a consumer with a little bit of cash. Not only would I recommend this for an entry-level optic, but I would also highly recommend it for an intermediate-level optic as well.
Having this wide of a mag range with an FFP optic is highly desirable for shooters that are both beginner or intermediate. Being first focal plane is something a lot of scope companies are still catching up with, so for the price point of $500 and a magnification range that large it would be a hard scope to not want to buy.
The Vortex VIP Warranty
Vortex is especially known for its VIP Warranty that covers every sporting optic they sell. Even if you buy a Vortex scope from a third party (a buddy), you can submit a damaged or defective scope to Vortex for them to fix or replace no questions asked. Part of their marketing campaign is simply telling stories about people who ran their spotting scope over with their truck or left their binoculars out for an extended period of time. They will fix or replace the optic and even pay for the shipping back to you. Some companies offer a limited warranty that’s limited either by the number of days of ownership, if they still make that optic, or if there’s not enough scope to send back for fixing.
With Vortex, if your scope was in a million pieces, but was still identifiable as a Vortex product, They will honor the VIP warranty and send you a new scope of the same model or value. It also doesn’t have to be a massive problem. I had to reach out to Vortex because the screw that came with the throw lever on this scope was stripped. They sent me two more throw levers and they even threw a t-shirt in the package! Great customer service and the VIP Warranty covers little and big problems with their scopes.
Some critics of Vortex like to throw around the saying that they have the VIP Warranty because their scopes break so often. I would challenge that, however, by saying that the VIP Warranty is worth a scope’s weight in gold just for the protection against life’s uncontrollable accidents. In the many people I’ve spoken to, there have been very few people (if any in the first place) who would describe their Vortex scope as “easily breakable”.
If you buy a pawn shop rifle with a Vortex Venom on the rail and it turns out the scope doesn’t track, you can send it back to Vortex at no cost. In that example, you wouldn’t know if the scope tracked or not until you got it to the range. Vortex gives you the ease of mind knowing that if the scope doesn’t work, it can be fixed and you don’t have to get your wallet back out for a brand-new scope.
If you’re looking into buying the Vortex Venom 5-25×56, or any Vortex rifle scope, keep the VIP Warranty in mind when you’re looking at other company’s scopes. You will easily find that even if there is competition with other scopes, there aren’t as many warranties that are at the same level as Vortex.
Zero Stop & Throw Lever
The zero stop on this scope is just weird, and this may be my first con on the scope. It’s a separate aluminum piece that you must place inside the elevation turret for your zero stop to function. It comes as a separate piece of kit in the box (at least it comes with the scope) and you must install it yourself.
While this isn’t a big deal, it’s not as convenient as other scopes that may have that function pre-built into the turret. The saving grace is that it’s, at least, an aluminum part and not some cheap plastic that could break much more easily. I don’t use mine very often, but many hunters may find the zero-stop in the Venom too spongy and inconvenient to install.
Also included in the box is a detachable throw lever. As a gun enthusiast of many colors, I’m actually very happy that the throw lever came as a separate piece. You can adjust the lever to be where it’s most comfortable for you, and you can decide to take it off with just one turn of a hex wrench. I take it off when I want to go hunting with it and leave it on when I’m using it on the bench.
Throw levers are one of my favorite functions of a scope, and many people find that weird, but when you’re prone and on a target, it’s nice to be able to raise your magnification without using too much force that could take your reticle off the target.
The mounting experience with this specific scope really counts towards the scope’s durability. Being a 34mm tube, it was actually somewhat of a struggle to find solid rings that fit everything I wanted. This scope is mounted on a Remington 700 SPS in 300 Win Mag so I knew there had to be good rings to keep the scope grounded to the rifle. After torquing everything down and shooting 50 rounds through the gun, it turns out that the scope rings that I bought were lemons
After taking the scope out, there was considerable damage in the rings from taking the recoil from that 300 Win Mag. My first worry is that some of that damage might have affected the scope’s operation and function. After buying a different set of rings for the scope, however, I was reassured that the scope was just fine, even after facing the brunt of 50 rounds of recoil from a high-power cartridge. The reassurance came from a one-half-inch group at 100 yards.
Some people like to drop their scopes on concrete to test their durability. And though I’ve had this scope in more than a few rough rides down dirt roads, I definitely have not dropped this scope intentionally onto concrete to test that side of its durability. This scope will 100% take any pain you can dish out while it’s in transport or on a hunting trip. In fact, the scope went with me on a Mulie hunt in Western Nebraska and it held its zero after we got back. Even if the durability is compromised from the scope being run over and lit on fire, at least the VIP Warranty is there to fully replace your scope.
When mounting the Vortex Venom 5-25×56 please make sure you don’t skimp on rings. There aren’t as many 34mm ring options on the market right now, so you’ll have to get picky with what you choose. If you do, however, get lemon rings and are worried about damage you may have done to the scope, be assured that this is a very tough scope. And it’s mentioned above, but if it is somehow damaged, you can send the scope back to Vortex with that handy VIP Warranty they have.
As it’s mentioned above, this scope is purposely made to reach out and touch targets that are a long way away. Weighing in at 35 ounces, it is quite heavy if you want to use it for hunting. Some people are more strict on their scope weights than others, but since I hunt and shoot from a bench, this scope meets a big need for me and my shooting habits.
With this scope being mounted on my 300 Win Mag, it shot targets from 700 yards and in. Going up and down on the vertical adjustment can sometimes cause the scope’s tracking to become inaccurate with the adjustment turrets, but this scope has kept true in the time I’ve had it. Tracking accuracy isn’t only extremely important when shooting long-range, but it’s also my biggest selling point when shopping for scopes. If a scope can’t track reliably throughout its life, it has no place on my rifles.
All of that being said, if you’re looking to start shooting long-distance, or if you have a rifle that needs glass for shooting long-distance, the Venom was quite literally purposely built for it.
Vortex advertises the Venom at $699.99 on their website, but the scope is going for $499.99 everywhere else I’ve seen them. For a $500 scope, the list of comparable optics at that price point is short. Yes, there are scopes out there at the same price point that may have one more feature or $50 less in the price, but it’s not outlandish for Vortex to pack this many features into a $500 scope.
Scopes are getting cheaper by the year, with better quality control coming with them. The good part about such an inflated market is that these prices can come down while the quality doesn’t have to suffer.
When shopping for scopes, the value behind the price is more important to me than whatever brand it’s from. The value behind the Venom is immense when you take into account that it’s a First Focal Plane optic with zero-stop capabilities and a very respectable magnification range. Not to mention the quality of the glass and the accuracy of the tracking system only add to the value of the glass.
Pros & Cons
There was a lot covered in this review, so let’s go back over the pros & cons that come with the Vortex Venom.
- Zero Stop
- First Focal Plane
- 34mm Tube & 56mm Objective Lens
- Reticle Holdovers
Zero-stops have revolutionized modern sporting optics. As new scope lines become available, zero-stops are becoming more of a standard within optics companies. It’s great that this scope has a function such as this, however, as more and more scopes come with this function available, it will be less of a pro and more of a standard.
The fact that this scope is a First Focal plane optic under $750 is impressive. The fact that it’s also maintained glass quality and accuracy is even better. Making this scope First Focal plane makes it twice as competitive as other scopes in the same price point that is Second Focal plane.
- The Requirement to Install Zero Stop
- Overall Size
- No Illumination
There’s no way around the fact that this is just a large scope. A 56mm objective lens is great for absorbing light, but that also means you need to mount your scope extra high off your gun. This could be a challenge when it comes to the usability of your rifle. Things like cheek weld are a big concern when dealing with a scope this big.
Of course, with the size comes the weight to go along with it. Some hunters very well could turn their noses up at a scope that won’t lighten their rifles. Personally, I haven’t found a big impact on the weight of the optic, but I could see it being a problem for someone who has to backpack for 10 miles to get to their hunting spot.
Many users were disappointed to hear that there is no illumination with this scope. Hunters, specifically, will find that the lack of illumination is a particular bummer when it comes to hunting in low-light situations. If you’re comparing scopes that do have illumination, just look at what you’re going to be using the scope for, and that will determine whether or not the lack of illumination in the Venom is actually a con or not. Having illumination would have made this heavy scope a lot more heavy out of the box.
Finally, The fact that the zero stop comes in a bag in the box instead of in the scope. It’s easy to install and use, but I also know most companies are building their scopes with the zero-stop built into the scope.
Ever since this scope was released, I knew the Vortex Venom Scope was going to end up on one of my rifles. In more than one way, this scope was the perfect solution to my problem that was trying to get into long-range shooting. At the end of the day, Vortex lovers will absolutely enjoy having this scope on one of their rifles; just like Vortex haters will find ways to complain about this new scope line.
As someone who doesn’t have any brand loyalty, I’m very impressed at what this scope offers at the price of $500. The other good news is that used models should be coming up fairly frequently in the coming years with shooters wanting to upgrade their optics after using the Venom to become a better shooter. If you could buy one off a buddy or find a used scope somewhere online, the VIP Warranty will still cover that scope, and you’ll end up getting a great deal on a great scope if you can bag it for $300-$400.
Even if you’re an intermediate shooter, the Vortex Venom is a fantastic option that will keep up with much more expensive optics. And if you’re a beginning shooter, or want to get familiar with an FFP scope, this optic will last you a lifetime with plenty to learn on the way.
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Growing up, Buck was taught about firearm history and appraisal. Getting to know so many different firearm platforms eventually lead to his long-distance shooting exploration. While his main hunting past time is coyotes, he still find just as much satisfaction punching steel at distance. Every shot taken is with the purpose to become a better shooter.