You might be wondering what the differences between two scopes within a single family, namely the Vortex Viper, are. You might be surprised that there’s more than one letter (H vs P) that makes both of these scopes very different.
It might be a little unfortunate that Vortex named both scope series Viper. Yet, besides the name, there isn’t much that’s similar.
First, the ‘H’ in the HST indicates that it’s a scope for hunting. On the other hand, the ‘P’ indicates ‘Precision.’ This way, Vortex wants to emphasize that the PST scopes are for precision shooting.
That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t use a Viper PST for hunting. Aside from the slightly different names, you’ll quickly see that the PST models are more expensive compared to the Viper HST scopes.
The higher price is somewhat justified as the PST has not too long ago been upgraded to a Gen II with much better glass. This does give it a performance edge over the HST models, which are at this time still the first generation.
The Viper PST Gen II scopes all have a 5x zoom with the exception of the 1-6x model, which obviously has a 6x zoom. The Viper HST scopes have a 4x zoom.
Besides the increased zoom, you can also get most of the Viper PST Gen II models as FFP scopes (first focal plane), which are typically the better choice for precision target shooting. The Viper HST scopes are all SFP scopes (second focal plane). This is usually the preferred configuration for hunting.
To compare both series of scopes, we have a closer look at the Vortex Viper HST 4-16×44 and the Vortex Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44. Let’s first have a look at the HST, followed by the PST, and then our take on which scope is better in what situation.
Vortex Viper HST 4-16×44
The Vortex Viper HST is a scope series that is designed primarily for hunting and tactical uses. The HST acronym is short for Hunting Shooting Tactical.
Vortex designed the scope as a versatile optic to be used in a large variety of shooting situations and capable of being mounted on a vast number of rifles. When Vortex introduced the Viper HST series, they combined the best features of the Viper HS and the PST scopes.
The Viper HST is built around a rock-solid 30 mm aircraft-grade aluminum tube. It’s designed to handle shock and harsh conditions that you usually experience during a hunting trip or in tactical situations.
The scope is a second focal plane scope that is equipped with Vortex’s VMR-1 reticle. It allows for fast target acquisition and consistent performance across a wide range of distances and adjustments.
The lenses are made from extra-low dispersion (XD) glass for optimal performance in any light conditions. All air-exposed surfaces of the lenses are fully multi-coated to reduce glare. The optic delivers vibrant and clear scope images even in less-than-optimal light conditions.
The Viper HST comes with elevation and windage adjustments of 75 MOA each. The adjustment graduation is 1/4 MOA allowing for precision shots. The field of view at 100 yards measures between 27.4 and 7.4 feet. Parallax is adjustable from 50 yards to infinity.
The scope comes with a solid 4 inches of eye relief. It fits a variety of rifles, including working well in different AR applications.
The Vortex Viper HST receives overwhelmingly positive feedback, and shooters using the scope are thrilled with the performance.
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44
The Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44 has seen significant upgrades compared to the first-generation models. Originally, the HST models were slightly ahead of the PST scopes. That’s no longer the case. Vortex added some exciting improvements to the Viper PST Gen II scopes.
The PST Gen II family of scopes is available both in FFP and SFP configurations. They also come with a 5x zoom range which offers more versatility when you’re using the setup for different uses, e.g., long-range shooting and hunting.
The Viper PST Gen II 3-16×44 not only comes either as a first focal plane or second focal plane scope. The FFP scope is available with either the EBR-2C or EBR-7C reticle that you can either get as MOA or MRAD. The SFP scope comes with an EBR-4 MOA reticle.
The Viper PST Gen II has an illuminated reticle no matter which of the configurations you choose. The brightness intensity can be adjusted in 10 levels to dial in an illumination that works for your surrounding light conditions.
The lenses of the scopes are made from extra-low dispersion glass. All air-to-glass surfaces are coated with Vortex’s XR proprietary coatings. These improve both light transmission as well as increase anti-reflective properties.
The scope tube of the Vortex Viper PTS Gen II 3-16×44 measures 30 mm in diameter and is made from a single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum tube. The tube is Argon purged and sealed with O-rings to prevent any outside particles from entering the scope and preventing internal fogging.
The max elevation adjustment is 75 MOA for the MOA reticles or 22 MRAD for MRAD-based reticles. The windage adjustment range is 40 MOA or respectively 11 MRAD. The adjustment graduation is 0.25 MOA/.1 MRAD.
The eye relief is a constant 3.4 inches across all magnifications. That’s in line with many other modern scopes and is usually enough for rifles with heavy recoil.
The Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44 comes with a field of view ranging between 41.2 and 8.6 ft at 100 yds. The scopes allow parallax adjustment ranging from 20 yards to infinity.
The Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44 is a great scope for a variety of uses. The magnification range makes it a solid choice for many hunting scenarios and tactical uses. Its solid build allows it to be mounted on a large range of rifles without having to be concerned about heavy recoil damaging the scope.
Side-by-Side Comparison of the Vortex Viper HST and Viper PST Gen II
|Viper HST 4-16×44
|Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44
|VMR-1 (MOA or MRAD)
|SFP: EBR-4 (MOA)
FFP: EBR-2C or EBR-7C (MOA or MRAD)
|SFP or FFP
|Objective Lens Diameter
|Field of View @ 100 yards
|27.4 – 7.4 feet
|41.2 – 8.6 feet
|0.25 MOA/0.1 MRAD
|0.25 MOA/0.1 MRAD
|Max Elevation Adjustment
|75 MOA/21 MRAD
|75 MOA/22 MRAD
|Max Windage Adjustment
|75 MOA/21 MRAD
|40 MOA/11 MRAD
|50 yards to infinity
|20 yards to infinity
Final Thoughts – Vortex Viper PST Gen II 3-15×44 vs Vortex Viper HST 4-16×44
The differences between the original PST and HST weren’t that big. However, with the Viper PST Gen II introduction, there’s quite a difference between the two scopes.
The Viper HST is a solid scope that works great for hunting and tactical uses. The Viper PST Gen II with the second focal plane reticle works as well or even slightly better in those same situations. If you choose a PST with an FFP reticle, you get a great scope for target and competition shooting.
The Viper PST Gen II series of scopes come with several different magnifications ranging from 1-6×24 (mostly used on the AR platform), 2-10×32 FFP, 3-15×44 (FFP or SFP), and 5-25×50 (FFP or SFP). The heavy-duty construction and capabilities allow any shooter or hunter to find a scope that suits their needs.
The Viper HST comes in two versions: the Viper HST 4-16×44 and the Viper HST 6-24×50. They are solid choices for hunting and tactical shooting and cover a large range of shooting distances.
The prices are not that far apart, with the Viper HST being a little cheaper. However, for most uses, the Viper PST Gen II is, in our opinion, the better choice. You get a scope with an illuminated reticle, and a 5x zoom that is sturdy and won’t let you down. Additionally, you get the choice between a few different reticles and whether you want a first or second focal plane reticle.
The Viper PST Gen II riflescope series is the more versatile choice of the two scopes, and a 3-15x magnification covers pretty much all ranges you experience when you’re hunting. You can pick any of the other Viper PST Gen II scopes for many other uses. Out of the offered six scopes, there’s one that will fit whatever requirements you have.