Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars Review

4 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy

BBR YouTube Version of this Article on the Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars Review

In this article and in the video above, I’m discuss four really important things that you need to consider before deciding whether or not to buy the new Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars or if like me and you already own the older Razor HD, should you upgrade to the new UHD version? 


Note: Since writing this article, I have now had the chance to test out a pair of these binoculars. So you may also wish to check out my full Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 Binoculars Review

I make no secret of the fact that the Vortex Razor series and in particular the HD is one of my favorite binoculars of all time.

Vortex Razor HD 8x42 Binoculars – Winner Binocular of the Year 2012

Indeed the 8x42 Vortex Razor HD won the BBR binocular of the year award way back in 2012 and I have now had one as my own personal pair for almost a decade and still feel that it is one of the best binoculars that I have ever used. 

As well as this, I use this Vortex Razor as a high-end benchmark in many of my tests and it is one of the pairs that all others must aspire towards and it still remains one of my go-to instruments that I use on a daily basis.

Vortex Razor UHD 12x50 Binoculars
Vortex Razor UHD 12x50 Binoculars


So I have to admit that it brought a slight lump in my throat when I discovered that Vortex Optics was introducing the new Razor UHD series that would replace the trusty Razor HD as their flagship range. 

I guess just by the fact of how long this binocular has remained at the top of the pile at Vortex, which has grown to become one of the most respected binocular manufacturers in the world is a testament to just how good it is. 

So having said all this, it stands to reason that the successor is going to have to be pretty special and has a lot to live up to. 

My next thought and one which I think I may share with many other Vortex Razor owners or indeed many other potential owners was should I upgrade and get the new Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars or should I stick with these for just a bit longer?

So I have done all the research and studied all their specifications and features very closely and in this article I want to highlight what I believe are the most important things that you need to know before deciding if the new Vortex Razor UHDs are the right binoculars for you, how much better are they than the Razor HD, is the extra money worth it and if they are, which model is best suited to your needs:

Note: I have already covered the main features, specifications and components on the new Vortex Razor UHD binoculars on my main Vortex Optics page, so I won’t go over all of them again here.


The first thing to know is that despite all the marketing hype surrounding the new Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars, they are in many ways very similar to the older Razor HD that now sits just below them in the companies hierarchy and so this is most certainly a case of an incremental evolution of the series rather than a drastic change. 

Vortex Razor UHD 12x50 Binoculars versus the Vortex Razor HD 12x50 Binoculars
Vortex Razor UHD 12x50 Binoculars versus the Vortex Razor HD 12x50 Binoculars

High Definition (HD) -> Ultra High Definition (UHD)

Describing your binoculars as having HD, or even UHD optics for that matter is for the most part just marketing jargon as it can mean a number of different things depending on which manufacturer you are talking about.

But in general, it implies that on top of the “standard” high-end features like a fully multi-coated optical system and phase-corrected prisms, they usually also have ED (extra low-dispersion) glass lens elements within the lenses as well as a dielectric, rather than silver mirror coatings on the prisms.  

Vortex Razor UHD 8x42 Binoculars
Vortex Razor UHD 8x42 Binoculars

The Razor HDs have all these as well as a bunch of other very impressive optical features that includes hardened scratch-resistant, oil and water phobic outer lens coatings as well as an Apochromatic (APO) objective lens design that incorporates at least three elements rather than the more commonly used two and thus can better direct the individual wavelengths of light and therefore decrease aberrations even further, producing a better, “higher definition” image.

This is all extremely impressive and is a match for just about any other alpha level binocular on the market. Therefore improving on this high definition system on the Razor HD and going to an ultra-high-definition system (UHD) is going to be tough, but as the name is different, I assume Vortex Optics have made some sort of improvement to the optics.

And They Have…

If you notice, the UHD models are a little longer and heavier than the equivalent HD’s. The reason for this is they have Abbe Koenig Roof Prisms inside of them to rectify the image rather than the more commonly used Schmidt-Pechan design that you find in the HD models and most other roof prism instruments.

So whilst this type of roof prism is not as compact as the more commonly used Schmidt-Pechan design of roof prism, the big advantage of this design is that all surfaces on the Abbe-Koenig prisms reflect 100% of the light that hits them and thus they do not require highly reflective coatings to be used.

Abbe-Koenig prisms also have a longer focal length which I believe results in lower color & spherical aberrations than an equivalent level Schmidt-Pechan prism.

The Body
In terms of the main body, the materials used are generally the same with both the HD and Razor UHD using a magnesium alloy chassis under the rubber armor coating.

The design and shape have been updated a little, but this is mostly cosmetic as both sport the same single top hinge design which Vortex Optics like to call a True Open Hinge design. Whatever name you give it, this design frees up more of the barrels giving you more area to grab onto as well as decreasing overall weight.

As you would expect these binoculars are all fully waterproof as well as Argon purged which will prevent internal lens fogging. 


Vortex Razor UHD BinoHarness with Ammo Pouch

Bino Harness Included
The biggest and most noticeable difference between the new Vortex Razor UHD and the older HD is in the provided accessories that you now receive an even bigger and better accessories package.

As you would expect at this price range, as well as the instrument itself, the box contains lens covers, a rain-guard, a cleaning cloth, and an excellent quality, well-padded neck strap.

However, on top of these typical accessories, you also get a binocular Harness that can then connect to the carry case. The result is that you now have fully covered bino harness that is especially popular with hunters. 

On top of this, you also get a small ammo/accessory pouch that you can either carry independently or it will attach to the front of the case if you prefer which is another really nice feature. 

THREE – Which Model?

So you have decided that the Razor UHD is for you. The next step before buying is to choose which configuration to get:

Wide Views
Whilst all models within this new series sport nice wide views within their respective magnification categories, the Vortex Razor UHD 8x42 binocular really stands out for me as it has an extremely wide field of view.

Measuring 420 feet wide at a distance of 1000 yards, it translates to a viewing angle of 8 degrees, placing them amongst the best wide-angle binoculars on the market which is great for most general wildlife uses, closer range hunting in places like forests and especially birding.  

High Power, Long Distance
For the hunter or wildlife observer operating in wide-open spaces and over longer distances, there is most certainly a Razor perfectly suited to your needs:

The Vortex Razor UHD 12x50 binoculars will get you closer to the action with more detailed images and at the same time be still be easy enough to maintain a reasonably steady view from the hands. On top of this, with their reasonably large 4.2mm exit pupil will perform at the same level in low light the 10x42 version. 

For those wanting even more power and greater image detail at very long ranges, then the Vortex Razor UHD 18x56 binoculars will certainly also have you covered.  

Just keep in mind, at this very high magnification even the smallest hand movements will be greatly magnified and thus it is recommended that this model be used from a secure base like a tripod. 

It is for this reason that this model is best used from a static point like a hide or at the shooting range. 

FOUR – Price

Vortex Razor UHD binoculars have an MSRP price that ranges from $2099 for the 8x42, right up to $2449 for the 18x56 model.

Current retail prices are much less than this, ranging from $1499 for the 8x42 to $1699 for the 18x56 Razor UHD. When I checked, the 12x50 Razor UHD cost $1599 – be sure to check the link below to get the latest price in your country:

Buy & Compare Prices for Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars

Vortex Razor HD binoculars on the other hand currently range in price from $979 for the 8x42 up to $1099 for the 12x50:

Buy & Compare Prices for Vortex Razor HD Binoculars

Save Money & Stick with the HD?
So we have seen just how closely matched the older HD and the new UHD models are and I believe that there will only be a negligible noticeable difference in optical performance.

Therefore, if you are interested in either the 8x42, 10x42 or 12x50 binocular configuration, you could make a substantial saving by opting for the HD instead of the new UHD, but should you?

Conclusion – New or Old?

Well, that depends!
The HD Razors are more lightweight than the UHD’s and the 42mm versions are a little more compact.

However, the new 8x42 Razor UHD has a much wider field of view than the equivalent HD model.

Whilst the width of views are similar, the minimum close focus distance and eye-relief on the new 12x50 UHD are excellent and far better than on the 12x50 HD, which if you wear glasses is definitely an important consideration.

I have no doubt that the new Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars are going to be a worthy successor to the HD series.

As to if you should upgrade or stick with the HD, for me, it depends on your specific needs, budget and which model you are interested in:

8x42 = Upgrade to UHD
The new Vortex Razor UHD 8x42 Binoculars, with their much wider field of view, look incredible. This is important to me and thus I personally will be looking to upgrade.

High Power, Long Range = Upgrade
If you want a super high power, long-range binocular, the Vortex Razor UHD 18x56 Binoculars is a no brainer., I also think that for most users, the new 12x50 UHD is generally better.

10x42 = Stick with the HD version.. maybe?
For me, the 10x42 configuration, on the other hand, is a different story. The HD version has a wider view, similar eye-relief and only looses out on close focus distance, which for most users won’t be an issue.

So if you consider the size and weight difference as well, if I was looking to buy a top-end 10x42, I would be very tempted to save myself a little money and opt for the HD instead of the UHD. However, if the extra cost is not an issue and you value the highest possible optical performance over a wider view, then once again the Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 Binoculars will be the way to go.

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