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Vortex Viper HST vs. Leupold VX-3HD Rifle Scope Comparison

Are you trying to choose between the Vortex Viper HST and the Leupold VX-3HD rifle scopes? Here is what you should know to make the right choice.

Comparing the Vortex Viper HST vs. Leupold VX-3HD

Vortex Viper HST Overview

The Vortex Viper HST is a premium rifle scope designed for hunters but suitable for tactical applications and precision shooting at long ranges. While it comes in various configurations, the 4-16X44 model is the most versatile.

The 16X magnification can help marksmen hit ranges of 800 yards or further – Choosing the Best 1000 Yard Rifle Scope – Editor’s Picks. With 4X magnification and a 44mm lens, you can still track targets at closer ranges.


The Vortex Viper HS-T weighs 20.8 ounces, which makes it one of the heavier scopes. It measures 13.33 inches long and has a total mounting area of 5.61 inches. It is made with a 30mm tube featuring single-piece construction and coated with a matte black finish – What Do the Numbers Mean on a Rifle Scope? – Guide to Scope Numbers

The Vortex Viper HS-T has an objective lens diameter of 44mm and has a 4X zoom range. The FOV ranges from 27.4 feet to 7.4 feet at 100 yards with 4X to 16X magnification. The parallax setting is fixed at 50 yards to infinity. It also includes a fast-focus eyepiece and a forgiving eye box for faster target acquisition – Best Rifle Scope Magnification and Power Range

Build Quality

The durability and reliability in harsh conditions are the main benefits of the Viper HS-T. It is O-ring sealed to lock moisture out. The scope is manufactured using Argon gas purging to prevent internal fogging at extreme temperatures. It is also shockproof and constructed from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum.

Adjustment Ranges

The exposed tactical-style turrets are accurate and easily adjusted. They feature 1/4 MOA clicks with a maximum of 75 MOA, along with a customizable rotational stop (CRS). The CRS helps the turrets return to zero after a temporary elevation adjustment.

A precision-force spring system also supports the internal components. The spring system provides maximum repeatability for continued ease of adjustment for many years. The same system also ensures that the zoom lens mechanism glides smoothly and cleanly across all magnification levels.

Optical Performance

The Vortex Viper HS-T has fully multi-coated lenses with extra-low dispersion (XD) glass. The XD lenses are a proprietary technology created by Vortex. It helps increase resolution in low-light settings to deliver crisp, sharp images – Best Scope for Low Light Conditions – Reviews and Buying Advice

The scope also comes with a proprietary VMR-1 reticle. The reticle has hash marks for accurate holds at longer ranges. It is a second focal plane (SFP) reticle, which means that the reticle’s scale stays the same as you adjust the magnification. The reticle sub-tensions used for estimating range and wind drift stay accurate at the highest magnification level.

Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24x50 SFP Riflescope
Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24×50 SFP Riflescope

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Leupold VX-3HD Overview

The VX-3HD 4.5-14X40 scope is part of Leupold’s VX 3 HD line of rifle scopes. It is the successor to the Leupold VX-3i, which retailed for slightly more than the VX-3HD. However, the newer model brings several enhancements, including Leupold’s Elite Optical System.

The Elite Optical System is a type of lens coating that improves transmission in low-light settings. It is essentially an enhanced version of the Extended Twilight Lens System used on other Leupold scopes. It offers increased clarity compared to other scopes in the same price range and rivals the sharpness of much more expensive scopes.

As with the Vortex Viper HS-T, the VX-3 HD is available in different configurations. The 4.5-14X40 model closely matches the Viper HST 4-16X44. It is suited for everything from hunting to precision shooting. The 4.5-14X offers 3X zoom for quickly adjusting your sights from long distances to medium distances.

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The VX-3HD weighs 13.4 ounces and has a total length of 12.67 inches. The total mounting space is 5.96 inches long. It works well on lighter rifles due to its lightweight design yet has the shockproof characteristics needed for withstanding heavy recoil.

Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40
Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14×40

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Build Quality

The scope is light due to the lightweight aluminum housing that eliminates any unnecessary weight. It is also waterproof and fog-proof. Leupold uses the latest waterproofing and fog-proofing technology, including a special blend of argon and krypton gases. The gas blend is used for purging the tube during sealing, which protects against fogging in humid environments.

The VX-3HD includes tactical turrets with a low profile and Leupold’s ZeroLock system. The ZeroLock system locks the dials in place to keep you from accidentally changing your windage and elevation adjustments. The dials are easy to adjust, thanks to a cryogenically treated dual-spring system.

Optical Performance

The lenses are also fully multi-coated with a coating that hardens the surface of the lens to provide greater scratch resistance. The lenses are shields to meet military standards and protect against debris.

The VX-3HD uses a second focal plane (SFP) duplex reticle which was also available in the Leupold VX-3i. As with the Vortex Viper HS-T, the reticle on the VX-3HD riflescope stays the same size as you adjust the magnification.

Overall, the Leupold VX-3HD is a top recommendation for those that want a lightweight scope. It also provides the quality optics needed for tracking targets at a variety of distances, from 100 yards up to 800 yards.

Commonalities Between the Vortex Viper HST and Leupold VX-3HD

The Viper HS-T and the VX-3 HD have many comparable features, starting with the construction and overall design. Both scopes are made with aircraft-grade aluminum and 30mm tubes. They feature tactical-style turrets with 1/4 MOA clicks for windage and elevation adjustments with maximum adjustments up to 75 MOA.

As expected in this price range, both models are waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. While the methods vary, both scopes are gas purged to prevent internal fogging. They also feature matte black finishes and high-quality optics for reliable light transmission.

Is anything different between the scopes?

You might be wondering whether there are any differences when you compare the Viper HS-T vs Leupold VX-3HD. Yes, there are! They use different optical technologies and lens coatings.

Glass and Coatings

Vortex uses extra-low dispersion (XD) lens elements to increase resolution and color fidelity. The lenses are also fully multi-coated on all air-to-glass surfaces. These features help prevent reflections and capture more light.

Leupold uses a technology called “DiamondCoat 2.” The coating helps protect the lenses against abrasions due to harsh weather and debris. While the processes are slightly different, both manufacturers ensure that the lenses deliver optimal performance in most light settings.

Magnification Ranges

The magnification range is also comparable. The Viper HS-T 4-16X and the VX-3HD 4.5-14X are both well suited for mid-range to long-range shooting. On the lower magnification settings, objects at 100 yards appear about 22.5 to 25 yards away through the VX-3HD or Viper HST scope. The highest power magnification on either scope should help you hit targets at 800 yards or further, depending on your accuracy and rifle. However, the Viper HS-T may be a little more effective at ranges closer to 1000 yards due to its 16X maximum magnification.

Field of View

The field of view (FOV) is also relatively even between models when using the highest magnification. At 16X magnification, the Vortex Viper HST has a FOV of 7.4 feet at 100 yards. At 14X magnification, the VX-3HD also offers a FOV of 7.4 feet.

Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 4-16X44 VMR-1 MOA
Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 4-16X44 VMR-1 MOA

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Differences Between the Vortex Viper HST and Leupold VX-3HD

The Leupold VX-3 HD is the more affordable option of the two scopes. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of the Vortex Viper HS-T is about $200 more than the Leupold VX-3HD. However, both models are high-end scopes with special features that help set them apart.

Eye Relief

The Viper HST provides better eye relief at higher magnification levels. The eye relief for the Viper HST is listed as 4 inches, while the VX-3HD has an eye relief range between 3.6 inches and 4.4 inches.

On the lowest magnification level, the VX-3 HD scope offers slightly more eye relief but increases to 4.4 inches at the highest magnification level. The eye relief on the Viper HST does not change as much as you adjust the magnification, as it stays close to four inches at any level.

Field of View

The Viper also provides a wider field of view (FOV), as it uses a 44mm objective lens compared to the 40mm lens found in the Leupold optic. The Viper HST has a FOV of 27.4 feet at 100 yards with 4X magnification. The VX-3HD has a FOV of 19.9 feet at 100 yards with 4.5X magnification.

Leupold Custom Dial System

The Leupold VX-3HD stands out for its Custom Dial System (CDS). You can provide details related to your ballistics and environmental conditions, and they will send you a customized turret.

The custom elevation dial allows for quick adjustments such as bullet drop compensation. It is set to match the exact cartridge caliber, bullet weight, bullet type, average temperature, and other conditions for greater precision.

Leupold also uses low-profile turrets on the VX-3HD. Some hunters prefer the low-profile turrets, as they are less likely to get bumped or accidentally adjusted.

Light Transmission

The Leupold VX 3 HD includes several features that help improve light transmission compared to the Vortex Viper HST, including lenses with blackened edges. The blackened edges limit light diffusion under sunny skies.

The scope also includes Leupold’s Elite Optical System for enhanced dawn-to-dusk light transmission. The light management system helps extend visibility at dawn and dusk.

Weight Considerations

The VX-3HD is the lighter of the two scopes, weighing about 13.4 ounces. It measures 12.67 inches long. The Viper HST weighs 20.8 ounces and measures 13.33 inches long.

A lighter scope is more convenient in most situations, as it does not impact the weight of the rifle. However, you may feel more comfortable with the heavier Vortex Viper HST when using a powerful rifle with heavier recoil, such as an AR-15.


The scopes come with different reticles. The Leupold VX 3 HD includes a duplex reticle, while the Vortex Viper HST is equipped with a VMR-1 reticle. The VMR-1 reticle resembles a duplex reticle with hash marks in the center for determining range, windage corrections, holdovers, and moving target leads.

Overall, the Vortex Viper HST might be a little better suited for rugged environments and has more consistent eye relief at different magnification levels. The Leupold VX-3HD is lighter, has low-profile turrets, better light transmission at dawn and dusk, and an optional custom elevation dial.

Leupold VX-3HD 6.5-20x50mm Riflescope
Leupold VX-3HD 6.5-20x50mm Riflescope


As the VX-3HD offers slightly better light transmission in darker environments, it may be better suited for hunting at dusk or dawn. Despite a slightly lower price tag, it delivers superior clarity in low-lighting settings, especially when using a high magnification level. It’s a worthy successor of the VX-3i scopes.

The advanced argon/krypton gas purging method also helps reduce the risk of fogging. Fogging is more likely to be a concern when hunting in the early morning.

The Viper HST is a relatively heavy scope and built to withstand the recoil of a heavy-caliber rifle. It pairs well with the AR-15 for long-range tactical applications. On the highest magnification levels, you get slightly more eye relief, which is also useful when using a high-caliber cartridge.

The Viper HST rifle scope is also recommended for tracking fast-moving targets. It has a wider FOV at low magnification levels and greater eye relief at high magnification settings, helping you keep your eye on the target at various distances.

Some people may find that the Viper is a little easier to adjust when wearing gloves or hunting in colder temperatures. The caps ensure that you get a secure grip while the clicks are clearly audible.


The Vortex Viper HST and Leupold VX-3HD are both great scopes for mid-range to long-range targeting. They work well on a wide range of rifles, from a .30-30 Winchester (Best Scope for 30-30 Lever Action Rifle) to an AR-15.

You can use either option for hunting or tactical applications. They are designed for use in rugged environments and feature all necessary protections, including waterproof and fog-proof construction. The Leupold VX-3HD has a slight advantage thanks to its argon/krypton purging.

The Leupold scope also offers improved clarity in low-light settings and the Custom Dial System (CDS). If you plan on using the scope with a specific rifle and cartridge, the custom elevation dial becomes incredibly useful. You can adjust the turret on the fly with greater precision. However, the turrets on the Vortex Viper HST are easy to adjust in the cold or when wearing gloves.

In the end, you cannot go wrong with either option, but the Viper HST may appeal to those with heavier caliber rifles or who need a scope for extreme conditions, while the Leupold VX-3HD is great for those who want a lightweight scope and better clarity in low-light settings.

Comparing the Vortex Viper HST vs. Leupold VX-3HD
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Kevin Collins