Updated: Jan 12
I am trying to embrace the "less is more" approach to glass on my Henry H009g (30-30 with the side gate). When I first got the gun I mounted a 4-16 x 44 thinking that I could use the higher magnification for spotting, even though I wouldn't ever need to shoot with it that high. There are a few things that changed my mind; we will discuss what changed my mind and discuss the possibility of using a tactical style LPVO and the merits of the Vortex.
First of all, the 4-14 just looked like too much (above); lever guns are meant to be agile and light and not only did the big glass not accomplish that, it detracted from those characteristics. It also looks a little silly. Secondly, you gain high end magnification at the expense of low power. When in the woods, or walking to a stand, if a pig or the buck of a lifetime jumped out, it would be very difficult to get on target when your lowest possible magnification is 4x.
So, I decided the scope had to go; but what to replace it with? Initially, I was thinking I would forego the glass all together and maybe just add a peep sight, but I do have an affinity for gadgets and going from one extreme (the old scope) to the other (no scope) might be too big of a jump. As with life, the sweet spot to find balance often lies in-between two extremes.
Three scopes entered the fray: an LPVO (the Vortex Viper we are discussing here), a 2-8ish, and the Leupold Mark 3HD 3-9. I would mention that I used Talley Low Rings to mount the 4-14 which are 30mm so started searching for scopes that would suit these rings. When it comes to change in industry or society the creation of new infrastructure that can work with what is already present is called path dependance, and that is what I am in the middle of. Path dependance is nasty business and prevents you from exploring all the available options. With that being said, if I don't like any of scopes presently under consideration I will buy new 1" rings which will greatly expand my possibilities.
I have looked at two scopes so far, the Vanguard Endeavor RS IV 2-8 x 32 and the Vortex. Initially, it just felt that the Vortex was brighter, but that might partly stem from the different magnification systems. I also decided to look at the Leupold VX-3HD 2.5-8, though it does have the 1" tube. It will only be evaluated if I don't like any of the alternatives.
So.... the Vortex Viper PST Gen 2. Pros: robust construction, crystal clear glass, and sports a true 1x. Cons: a little heavy, the turret caps are large. The cons are not terrible; lets quickly discuss. The large turret caps may be great in tactical applications, but the just look a little big on the gun. When I say "a little heavy" the scope is around 22-23 oz, which is almost as heavy as the 4-14 and this is compared to most Leupold scopes around 11-12 oz. Maybe this is a small consideration, but I am thinking about what it means to add an extra 3/4 of a pound to the top of a 7 pound rifle designed to be light. The pros are significant. Super stout construction (this thing feels like a tank) and the glass is really a pleasure to look through. Also the true 1x makes it possible to use this as a quasi red dot to basically replace the irons, which gives an incredible FOV and allows the operator to scan and shoot with both eyes open. If I mount it and shoot it I can not return it, but I set it on the rings to evaluate the "look" so you can check out the pictures below.
The Viper just feels a little beefy for the gun, so I will check out the Leupold 3-9 before making a decision. That rifle may also feel a little beefy as it is also a 30 mm tube. While the difference between a 1" tube and a 30mm is slight at around 4-5 mils, the 30 mm also requires slightly larger rings which can make the set-up feel large-ish as opposed to a 1" 1-5.
While for this gun the Viper may not be the final choice, it is so nice I am thinking of keeping it anyway for future mounting on a .223 or something similar. This is a REALLY nice scope and there is no doubt it can do what I want it to do, but there are still a couple contenders is has to beat to earn a lasting spot on my trusty 30-30. Click below to check one out for yourself!