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Best Vortex Rifle Scope for Hunting Elk

Elk season is just around the corner, and it can be a daunting but exciting task trying to decide what gear is best for you. Let’s be careful not to overlook one of the most important pieces of equipment: the rifle scope.

Vortex Optics manufactures scopes that have led countless hunters to success. Let’s take a look at their lineup and decide on the best option for your hunt.

So What is the best Vortex Rifle Scope for Elk Hunting? Among the seeming countless quality products offered by Vortex Optics, the following 3 scopes make the most sense:

  1. Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10×44,
  2. Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50
  3. Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50

Let me explain the choices in more detail below.

1. Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10×44, $499

Image Credit : Kevin G, Boise, Idaho

Our number one choice from Vortex Optics for hunting elk is the Viper HS 2.5-10×44. This optic offers a great magnification range for every hunting scenario.

It can be dialed in for a close shot achieved by a long stalk, or it can offer you reliable precision across open country. While Vortex Optics offers great options at a slightly lower price, the features that you are paying for with the Viper HS are simply worth it.

The Viper HS offers extra-low dispersion glass on this optic which will provide a sharp, clear picture when you’re on target. There will be no guesswork while looking down the sight. You will be able to make out a prize bull elk in the densest bush.

Unfortunately I do not have any photos on hand to show you guys the difference between the ED glass and standard glass. This image I shamelessly copied from is so far the best explanation

When coupled with the XR fully multi-coated finish that Vortex offers, the sight picture will be second-to-none. The net result is that the Viper HS 2.5-10×44 will be a dream to sight-in at the range, and reliable out in the field. It is both durable and relatively light-weight, coming in at 16.5 oz.

A hallmark of a good scope is that you can set it and forget it. You will not have to worry about tinkering with your scope when you are out in the field and need to make the shot. The Viper HS 2.5-10×44 with 1/4 MOA adjustments and a responsive turret system will give you peace of mind.

While the Viper HS 2.5x10x44 is an excellent choice, it may be considered an expensive option for beginner hunters. Luckily, Vortex Optics has a range of scopes that are suited to hunters at any experience level.

Let’s look at a couple of options that are suited to hunters that are looking for a stellar performance on a budget.

2. Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50, $169

Image Credit :

For people who find the Viper HS 2.5-10×44 a bit on the expensive side, the Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50 will do just fine for a fraction of the cost.

This scope was almost our choice for the top spot. It is a relatively inexpensive scope that offers a myriad of features that are useful to any hunter. It is a generous offering for such a low price point.

Straight away, the objective lens size diameter catches the eye: 50 mm.

This is going to provide plenty of light during long hunting sessions and a clear sight picture even in low-light situations.

The 3-9x magnification is plenty enough for any elk hunting situations and is generally considered as the standard magnification for elk and deer hunting.

The Crossfire II offers the same 1/4 MOA adjustments for an easy zeroing experience.

What is the difference between the Crossfire II and the Viper HS?

Two words : GLASS QUALITY.

The Viper HS is going to edge out the Crossfire II in sight picture quality. This is by no means a dismissal of the Crossfire II, but the picture down the Viper HS will appear sharper when compared to the Crossfire II.

However, due to the Crossfire II’s larger objective lens (50 mm vs 44 mm) the picture will be plenty bright enough in both scopes. And chances are, you might not be able to tell the difference if I didn’t tell you about this.

3. Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50, $249

Seeing through a Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 Credit Optics

Here’s a scope that offers a compromise between the Crossfire II and the Viper HS scopes. It bridges the gap between the two in terms of price and quality.

It offers the same durability as the Crossfire II and performs similarly in terms of shooting ability, but weighs in at only 16.2 oz. It is the lightest of the three scopes discussed here.

The glass quality is comparable to the Crossfire II and is still more than any hunter could ask for, but the scope comes equipped with a Precision-Glide Erector System which facilitates a smoother dial-in of the magnification, allowing you to keep on target as you zoom-in for the shot.

The Diamondback offers all the features that make Viper Optics such a trusted brand of optics. It is durable, precise, and simply reliable.

How to Decide on Magnification for Elk Hunting

Let’s be honest here: shooting while hunting is not the same as target shooting.

You are faced with a myriad of challenges out in the field from weather to fatigue. You are not going to shoot as well as you will at the range. It is that simple. Why is this relevant? You need to choose a magnification with an honest assessment of your ability in the field.

Would it be rewarding to make a shot that requires maximum magnification? Of course. Is it practical or even ethical? That depends.

The general standard for elk and deer hunting is 3-9x magnification. This is going to cover the vast majority of shots you would feel comfortable taking. There are plenty of options that are near or encompass this range of magnification that are available as well: 2.5-10, 3.5-10, etc.

You generally won’t want to stray too far from these magnification ranges because simply put, most hunters wouldn’t feel comfortable pushing much further than this range.

The other aspect that dictates magnification choice is elk behavior. An elk is generally going to spend the winter in low elevation browsing through the woods and sagebrush. They will migrate up higher in the spring, spend the summer up high, and migrate back down to cover the largest amount of ground during the rut.

This means that they will likely be found in wooded areas or high country, brush-covered areas where long shots will not be possible or necessary.

How to Clean the Inside of a Rifle Scope

Inside Of A Rifle Scope

All things get dirty. Your rifle scope is no exception. Most people keep their scopes clean and shiny on the outside, but if one grabs a flashlight and starts peeking down the inner tube of the scope, chances are you will see some “dirt” on the side of the inner tube. In some extreme cases, these “dirt” can even be found on the reticle glass and make it visible during regular use of the scope.

How do you clean the inside of a rifle scope? It depends on where the “dirt” is found. If “dirt” is located on any of the glass elements (including on the reticle), you can simply grab your scope like a baton, and gently knock it a couple of times. Make sure you maintain a consistent force and hit only one direction. Repeat a few times if the “dirt” is still visible. If the “dirt” is found on the metal inner tube, there is no need to clean them because the oil applied to the inner tube will trap the dirt and prevent them from falling on to the glass elements.

Some of you might be concerned about knocking the rifle scope. Rest assured that your scope is built to withstand recoil, and a few gentle knocks should not bring any real damage. However, do pay attention to any sharp edges as it could scratch the body of the scope and leave undesirable marks.

Why there is “dirt” inside your scope

These “dirt” like particles are not dirt. If the riflescope is appropriately sealed, it is unlikely for dirt to get into the body of the rifle scope. Most of the time, these dirt like particles are tiny metal particles produced right inside the scope by wearing and tearing.

There are several moving parts inside your rifle scope. When you adjust your scope, these moving parts will get in contact with each other. Over time the metal on metal contact produces small particles. Most rifle scopes should have an oil-based lube on the inside of the scope tube, and this lube will attract the metal particles and keep them away from getting on to the lens elements or the reticle. But from time to time, the lube loses its stickiness, and some metal particles will get onto the lens or reticle.

Ways to Reduce Particles and Dust

Since these metal particles are usually produced when metal parts touch each other, the best way would be to limit the need to adjust the rifle scope once it is properly zeroed. This includes adjusting windage and elevation turret and parallax knob. However, the regular use of the rifle scope should not produce too much metal dust, and if they do, the inner tube lube should catch the metal dust with no problem.

If you find more and more dust accumulating under normal usage, it is recommended to begin your warranty claim as soon as possible. Most brands will honor their warranty for issues like this.

When Your Vortex Scope Won’t Focus, Having Blurry Image, Try This First

Vortex Optics is a reputable sports optics company that is known for its unparalleled customer service and a wide selection of scopes and red dots. But often enough people find their vortex rifle scopes won’t focus on the target or loses focus.

The cause of the out of focus problem can be multifold, but the most common one is due to incorrect eye focus and/or parallax settings. You can easily fix the issue by resetting both the eye focus and parallax on your scope.

Considering all scopes of all the brands functions mostly the same, yes, I will say this article will apply to Bushnell, Leupold, SigSauer, PrimaryArms, NightForce, Swarovski and 100s of other brands out there.

Try Resetting Scope Eye Focus and Parallax

A reticle is the line patterns you see in the middle of your scope. Sight picture is the sight you can see through your scope. If either of these is blurry, you will need to set the scope to your eyesight.

  • Step 1: Turn Scope Magnification to Highest Power
  • Step 2: Adjust scope parallax to infinity. Note, a scope can have a side parallax or ocular lens parallax adjustment knob. If your scope has fixed parallax, skip this step.
  • Step 3: Use a blank wall if indoor ( or the sky if outdoors ) as background, look through the scope as you normally will, focus on the sight picture instead of the reticle, adjust the front eyepiece back and forth until the reticle lines are sharp and clear. Make sure your eyes are relaxed during this process.
  • Step 4: Pick an object that you can estimate the distance from you, then look at the object through your scope, adjust the parallax knob according to your estimated yardage, until the sight picture is clear

When this is done, your vortex rifle scope should be in focus. If the problem persists, proceed to read on and find out if the cause of the blurriness is one of the following reasons.

Other Common Causes For Scopes to Appear – “Out of Focus”

  1. Overheated Barrel
    An overheated barrel can cause the air to have a “Mirage Effect” that may make your sight picture blurry. When this happens let your barrel cool off a bit, it’s good for both your scope and your gun
  2. Target Too Close
    Some riflescopes have a limited range of how close the parallax can be set to. If your target is closer than the lower limit of your scope parallax range, the target will appear to be out of focus
  3. Mirage
    Nature has it, the mirage will happen at times of the day and your sight picture will appear to be blurry. If you understand how mirage work it will actually help you. We will write an article to cover this topic at a later date.
  4. Dirty Glass – Duh?
    Surprisingly this is one of the more common issues, make sure you check your scope’s lens on both ends before deciding to send them in for warranty claim.

What to do When The Parallax Adjusting Knob Stops Working

Some times you will notice no matter how much you adjust the parallax knob, the blurriness of your sight picture just doesn’t change. This may indicate that your parallax adjusts knob has stopped working.

Make sure your scope is not clamped too tight by your scope mount, a general rule of thumb is that apply only 15-18 lb of torque when tightening.

When you have tried everything else and it still doesn’t work, hey, this is why we buy vortex, they have one of the best customer service and if you contact them they will send you a replacement unit

Get Vortex’s VIP Warranty Claim

It sucks when you have to send in your scope and wait for a replacement unit to come in and at the same time having nothing on your scope. The good news is that Vortex Optics’ customer service is top notch. Their customer staff members are just happy to help you in anyway they can.

If you are in a hurry or on a tight timeline to go for a hunt or something, simply let them know when you are claiming your warranty. Nine out of ten times their super friendly staff members will accommodate your needs and figure out a way to make your life easier.

For the quickest possible turn around and the easiest way to initiate a warranty claim. Please visit for more information.

Not a Vortex Scope? Not A Problem, here is a list of all the major brand’s warrant claim links

BrandWarranty TypePhoneLink
Vortex OpticsVIP Warranty1-800-426-0048Click
LeupoldLifetime Guarantee1-800-538-7653Click
BushnellIRONCLAD Warranty
30/20/10 Year Lifetime Warranty Depending on product production date