Vortex Ranging Monoculars

Warning! These Vortex ranging monoculars will end up on your “stuff I need” list. Let me sum this up quickly. The Vortex Recon R/T and Solo R/T Tactical deliver the shooter a compact, quick, and robust observation, scouting, and ranging solution that starts at only $169. It is a “damn it, I wish I would have thought of it” idea that combines an offset MRAD/MilDot ranging reticle with a simple-to-use high quality monocular. Vortex offers these monocular models in 8x, 10x, and 15x magnifications. All R/T (ranging and tactical) models feature the mil-dot reticle and pre-ranged 300, 400, 500 and 600-meter standard man-sized silhouettes. Look, range, adjust turrets, and shoot. The mil-based reticle also allows ranging via a standard mil-dot grid system.

Vortex Solo R/T

Vortex Solo R/T

Line up the silhouette with a human-sized silhouette for immediate ranging or use the Mil-Dots for measurement and you can quickly calculate the range all without batteries. This method also prevents rangefinder errors because grass was waving in front of you while you were snuggled into a prone position. Ahh, good old-fashioned manual ranging technology paired with enough magnification power to actually see details that an electronic 4x rangefinder would fail to deliver. In my opinion, this is a top optic product and after testing, I believe it should be in everyone’s kit.

Recon R/T and Solo R/T Tactical Ranging Monoculars

A great pair of binoculars are handy, however, there are a lot of times that they seem a bit too cumbersome or heavy and this is where a quality monocular makes perfect sense. Monoculars can be tucked into a jacket pocket or in the case of the Vortex Recon and Solo R/T they can be clipped to the belt. Technically you are getting better optics in a monocular for the money than you would with binoculars simply because you are paying for just one eye-full of optics and not two. The clarity of these Vortex monoculars is truly outstanding considering the price. The only shortcoming in the lineup is a focus-free model, but all current models do feature easy-to-use focusing and ocular adjustment.

If you are using a mil-dot ranging system, regular scouting optics require you to find what you are seeking. Then you get behind your rifle, relocate the target, and use the rifle optics’ reticle to measure objects in order to calculate the distance for the shooting solution. With both the Vortex Recon R/T and Vortex Solo R/T  you or a shooting partner can find and range a target. You only need the rifle to deliver the shooting solution. Some people would say, “why do I care?” The main reason is that the Vortex monoculars get the measurement tool off a potentially loaded gun so that you can range all sorts of stuff—football games, golfing, keeping an eye on that car down the street—all without waving a gun muzzle around. The other valid reason is that it gives you a ranging and scouting tool that will never require batteries. Once you start burning into your brain the mil-dot sizes of typical animals, human, and environmental objects, ranging can be really fast without any math involved.

Vortex has thought each of these monoculars out very well. Both have belt clips making it easy and simple to clip to your belt or pack. Other accessories include lens covers, lanyards, and neoprene covers that are compact and protective. The larger Recon R/T also includes a hand strap, picatinny rail, tripod adapter, and mini tripod.

Vortex Recon R/T

Vortex Recon R/T

Vortex Recon R/T

Vortex’s Recon R/T is basically a compact spotting scope with 40 mils of positive and negative ranging ability from center. The 10x magnification does require some type of stabilization or the image starts to jump around. Vortex includes a small flexi-leg tripod that mounts quickly with the multi-mount. The tripod is just barely strong enough to hold up the Recon’s weight, but it does work if you get the legs bent the right way. Also, the Recon R/T can be mounted to any screw-on type tripod on either side which would be a preferable mounting if used on a bench. At $689 the assumption is correct that the Vortex Recon R/T is a significantly better optic than its little brother. Notably, the Recon is a significantly higher tier optic with greatly improved all-around clarity and brightness. It feels more rugged and is a feature-rich packed kit compared to the slimmed down Solo. Where I see the primary use of the Recon R/T 10x and 15x models is in taking the place of compact spotting scopes in the field while also reducing the weight burden of carrying binoculars and ranging devices.

Vortex Recon On Tripod

Vortex Recon on the included tripod

Vortex Solo R/T Tactical

The Vortex Solo R/T Tactical is the little brother of the Recon R/T but with 60 mils of positive and negative of ranging front center due to the broader field of view 8x magnification. The Solo R/T does not have the extra lens covers, the tripod, or hand strap. However, it is the perfect compromise of small compact usefulness that would make you carry it everywhere. It does not look tactical. I think that’s important as a multi-tool optics for residential, urban, and even public sporting environments. It does not scream “hey I am ranging you!” The Solo R/T still packs in the ranging reticle, silhouette ranging, and pocket clip all protected by a simple slip into the neoprene case. The 8x magnification is more forgiving and easily used unsupported single-handed while still delivering a stable image picture. I can say that I use the Solo R/T so much I will likely buy at least one more. It gets used a lot at the range to see… “Now where exactly did I hit that steel?” or to check targets.

Final Thoughts

It is easy to whip out your laser rangefinder. However, there are many situations where I have found these tools to deliver false or unreliable readings. Mil-based ranging may not give you the perfect accuracy of a laser range finder, but the Recon and Solo R/Ts do provide a tool that can validate a range and double as a scouting tool. A brilliant idea by Vortex of offering this concept in an affordable package to consumer markets.


Vortex Recon R/T

Magnification | 10 x
Objective Lens Diameter | 50 mm
Eye Relief | 19.5 mm
Exit Pupil | 5 mm
Linear Field of View | 280 feet/1000 yards
Angular Field of View | 5.3 degrees
Close Focus | 12 feet
Length | 7 inches
Width | 3 inches
Hand Grip Width | 2.4 inches
Weight | 15.2 ounces
MSRP | $689


Magnification | 8 x
Objective Lens Diameter | 36 mm
Eye Relief | 18 mm
Exit Pupil | 4.5 mm
Linear Field of View | 393 feet/1000 yards
Angular Field of View | 7.5 degrees
Close Focus | 16.4 feet
Length | 5.3 inches
Width | 2.3 inches
Hand Grip Width | 2 inches
Weight | 10.2 ounces
MSRP | $160

Do you have one of these monoculars? Tell us what you think in the comment section.