June 28, 2017
By Tom Beckstrand
One of the most exciting scopes to come out this year is the new Vortex AMG. The "AMG" stands for Advanced Manufacturing Group and effectively describes what Vortex has built inside the company. AMG represents a serious investment of time and money so that Vortex isn't beholden to outside manufacturing companies, their interests or their timelines.
When they sat down to design the Razor HD AMG scope, Vortex wanted all the performance of a big 34mm scope in the smaller and lighter package of a 30mm scope. Cutting weight became a priority, but not at the expense of performance.
If two scopes are built identically, except for the maintube diameter, the smaller maintube will have less field of view and/or less elevation and windage adjustment. Field of view is directly correlated to the size of the lenses in the erector assembly. The adjustment range is mostly determined by the diameter of the erector assembly. The bigger the erector, the less travel it will have. A bigger maintube usually means more room for the erector assembly to move around.
That was true until the new Vortex AMG came along. The new scope is the first time a 34mm-sized erector assembly has been stuffed into a 30mm maintube. If you compare the field of view and erector travel of the AMG to 34mm 6-24X scopes, you'll see that the field of view is almost identical and the elevation and windage adjustment ranges are much larger.
While this might first appear to be impossible, Vortex took the time to explain this to us.
The secret to the huge 34mm-sized lenses in the AMG erector assembly is a new reticle mounting design that is more efficient than other models. Mounting a reticle in the erector normally requires cumbersome brackets and a gang of setscrews to get the reticle centered and held in place. Vortex designed and manufactured a reticle mounting system that doesn't need setscrews and instead uses a streamlined bracket. This new design freed up a bunch of space that Vortex promptly filled with nice, big lenses to give the customer a killer field of view. And they packed it all in a 30mm maintube.
The other big "ta-da!" that comes with the AMG scope is a sophisticated turret system. Vortex likes to use hardened steel for their Razor HD II turret systems so they don't wear out and they don't break. They're also heavy, or they used to be.
For the AMG scope turrets, Vortex wanted to use a hardened steel insert housed in aluminum. This would keep all of the breakable parts produced from the ideal material (hardened steel) and put them into an aluminum housing to shave a ton of weight off the older all-steel models.
See, the way this usually works is a bunch of engineers sit around in a room littered with Mountain Dew bottles and pizza boxes, generating a ton of skull sweat while designing scope stuff. That design then gets shopped around the big optics manufacturing facilities scattered around the world (the best ones are in Japan, Germany and private U.S. companies). Vortex determined the Razor AMG could only meet their performance and quality goals if they did everything in-house, controlling the entire process from start to finish. So, they decided to invest in their own super-pimp manufacturing facility and — voila! — AMG was born.
The first thing the AMG facility designed and built was a sweet new reticle mounting system and some Ã¼ber-robust lightweight turrets. Both of those cool new products got put into the AMG scope, which is how they made a scope that doesn't weigh much and has all the performance of larger 34mm scopes.
Another fun fact that came from our conference-room chat with Vortex: There are 17 lenses in the new AMG scope. That's significant because lenses are how scope manufacturers manage aberration, or all the bad shit that happens when people try to bend and magnify light.
Pick any cool-guy term like chromatic aberration, fringing, pin cushioning, etc., and the way to get rid of those is through the use of additional lenses. The more quality lenses and coatings a manufacturer uses, the more they can eliminate all types of aberration. More lenses equal more expense, so manufacturers use as many as they feel the market can support. Seventeen. That's a lot of lenses, and that's why the image quality of this AMG is spectacular.
Vortex has built a new hotrod with the AMG (scope and facility). It'll be interesting to see what follows this opening salvo in today's optics war.
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