Both the Vortex Viper and Venom are very capable red dot sights. They have slightly different targets though as the Viper is a great match for pistols and some rifles. The Venom is right at home on pretty much any kind of rifle.
Folks in the firearm community are always very passionate about the gear they like – and even more passionate when it comes to the equipment they hate – and there’s usually no such thing as a general consensus about almost ANYTHING firearm-related.
Just ask a group of buddies whether 9 mm or .45 is the way to go if you’re ever feeling bored.
When there is an almost unanimous opinion about something in the community, it’s a real unicorn kind of event, forcing people to stand up and recognize just how unique that situation is.
Well, Vortex Optics (a relative newcomer to the world of firearm optics) enjoys an almost universally beloved status in the firearms community. It is not just because of the quality while keeping their prices affordable, but also because of the durability and no BS warranty they provide.
The only tricky thing about picking a Vortex optics out for your firearm is which one to go with!
This is especially true when you’re staring at both the Vortex Viper and the Venom, two of the very best red dot sight (RDS) options money can buy.
But that’s why we have put together this detailed guide.
By the time you’re done with the inside information below, you’ll have a good idea of which of these RDS choices from Vortex are suitable for your specific situation and the firearm you want to attach them to.
Just know going into things that you really can’t go wrong with either one.
Let’s get right into it!
Vortex Viper Overview
Super compact, the Viper is a 6 MOA RDS that is almost foolishly lightweight but still strong and solid enough to stand up to most centerfire rifle and pistol calibers without any trouble at all.
The low profile of the Vortex Viper allows it to be used on either pistols or rifles, though if you’re going to run it on a gun, you’re probably going to want to get your hands on an RDS riser that works with Weaver or Picatinny rails.
Straight out of the box, it can be installed on any pistol slide that has cutouts for an RDS, though you’ll want to double-check that your slide cuts have screw mounting holes that line up with the profile of the Viper.
Battery life on this unit is absolutely fantastic, with 150 hours of use on the very brightest setting and up to 30,000 hours of usage at the lowest setting. Most folks are going to want to dial things in somewhere in the middle, and you should be able to expect at least 10,000 hours or more from the Viper before you have to swap batteries around.
We will say that the Viper requires you to remove the optic from your firearm (or your mounting bracket) to swap out the battery. That’s a little bit annoying, especially since there are other options available that allow you to change batteries without having to mess with your zero, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a dealbreaker by any stretch of the imagination.
In the glass department, the Viper has the same high-quality glass you’d expect from any other Vortex optic, as well as the proprietary multiple anti-reflective coatings that have been applied to not only protect the optic from scratches but also to increase overall light transmission.
There’s zero parallax with this RDS, either. That allows you to mount it pretty much anywhere on your firearm without having to worry about eye relief issues, too.
The 6 MOA dot isn’t going to be super helpful when you are shooting at targets beyond 100 yards or so. Still, up close and personal (like mounted on a pistol, for example), it’s going to give you pretty solid target acquisition and stellar accuracy.
Vortex Venom Overview
The Vortex Optics Venom is easily confused with the Viper for a couple of different reasons, not the least of which is that they have very similar form factors and profiles – even if the Venom is a little bit on the chunkier side of things.
Available in two different varieties (3 MOA and 6 MOA), this is a stellar RDS for folks that are looking to put a reflex style optic on their primary rifle, pistol caliber carbine, or rifle caliber pistol.
Made out of machined aluminum that allows it to have strength and integrity, many other multi-piece RDS options do not. You’re looking at a rock-solid and stable reflex sight that helps you to get on target quickly without having to worry about your optic failing.
The battery’s top-loading system on this unit allows you to swap dead or dying batteries out without having to pop your optic off of your firearm. That’s a huge benefit for folks who don’t want to re-zero their firearm every time they have a battery that needs to be changed.
Battery life on the Venom is identical to the Viper, too. We are talking about 150 hours on high, 30,000 hours on low, and anywhere between 10,000 hours and 20,000 hours somewhere in the middle.
10 different brightness settings (manual or automatic adjustment modes) let you tinker with the sight picture of your RDS. The wide field lens and anti-reflective glass coating help to bring in more light and improve your sight picture, too.
It mounts similarly to the Viper, allowing you to “drop-in” to any pistol that has had an optic slide cut for this format (or any of the Modular Optic System slides from manufacturers like Glock, for example) or use a Weaver or Picatinny style mount for your use on rifles, pistol caliber carvings, and rifle caliber pistols.
Commonalities Between the Vortex Viper and Venom
As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of similarities between both the Viper and the Venom.
For starters, let’s talk about the quality of the glass used with these optics.
Vortex has a legendary reputation for using only the highest quality glass available, not only carefully manufacturing glass that provides a crystal clear sight picture but also applying anti-reflective coatings and securing all air to glass surfaces to bring in as much light as possible – regardless of the lighting conditions.
Both of these optics take advantage of proprietary Vortex parcel waterproofing approaches, too.
These optics are going to run really well in the rain and can even be submerged in a little bit of water for short durations of time without completely coming apart.
You wouldn’t necessarily want to go swimming with these optics on your primary firearm for any extended amount of time. But quick pops between the raindrops won’t compromise the main targeting component of your firearm.
ArmorTrek lens covers are included and ensure that your optics are protected even when you aren’t running them.
Both of these units use the same battery and have identical battery lives. Both of them have mounting hardware included in the box, and both of them can be run on pistols, rifle caliber pistols, pistol carbines, and traditional rifles.
Oh, and they both (obviously) enjoy the legendary Vortex no BS lifetime warranty that protects your optics and your bank account better than anything else in the business today.
Differences Between the Vortex Viper and Venom
There are a couple of (minor) differences between the Viper and the Venom you’ll want to know about, too.
For starters, the Viper is (slightly) more compact than the Venom.
The Viper measures 46 mm x 27 mm x 26 mm, which is almost foolishly compact compared to the relatively small 48 mm x 20 mm x 26 mm Venom. These aren’t big and chunky red dot sights, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Secondly, the Venom has 10 different illumination levels for the red dot itself, both automatic and manually adjusting levels, too. The Viper allows you to dial in the brightness of the red dot as well but doesn’t have as many different levels of illumination or the auto mode.
The location of the battery is the other significant difference between these two RDS options from Vortex.
The Viper has a battery compartment on the bottom of the unit, requiring it to be popped off its rail or mounting system for the battery to be changed. This is going to throw your zero off, forcing you to sight your firearm in again after your battery has been swapped.
On the other hand, the Venom has a top-loading battery system that allows you to change batteries quickly and easily (without any extra tools) – and without having to throw off your zero, either.
At the end of the day, these red dot optics’ flexibility is a big piece of the puzzle behind their success.
That being said, the Viper is definitely better suited to use on pistols compared to the Venom – if only because it is just a little bit smaller, just a little bit lighter, and just a little bit thinner.
Accessing the battery compartment can be an annoyance for sure, but for something that’s going to “live” on the slide of your pistol, that really shouldn’t be a huge issue 99.99% of the time.
The slightly beefier Venom is probably better suited to pistol caliber carbines, rifle caliber pistols, and traditional rifles.
It has a little more weight, a bit of heft, and a little more of a sight picture than the Viper – and it also happens to have a 3 MOA version that’s better suited to longer-range shooting than the 6 MOA options of the Viper and the Venom.
When you really boil things down, though, there’s a lot to fall in love with between both the Vortex Viper and Venom red dot sights.
These are outstanding optics that will help improve your accuracy in a big way, but they also aren’t going to break your bank account the way that quality optics from some of the other companies in the business might.
Made using only the highest-end quality construction materials featuring designs cooked up by real-world shooters here in the USA and backed by a legendary, no BS, no strings attached lifetime warranty, you really want to consider grabbing a Viper or a Venom for your firearm today.
Better yet, grab one of each.
You won’t regret it!