The Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56 is the first entry of the Strike Eagle line into long range optics, and it seems as though it was purpose-built for the precision rimfire market. Vortex managed to stuff many of the desirable features of their more expensive Razor line, ubiquitous in Precision Rifle Series (PRS) matches, into a more affordable package for the everyday shooter.
I’ve had this optic in my hands since May of 2020. It’s the scope I selected for my own precision rimfire project, the Noisy Cricket, and it’s been getting a lot of use there. So what do I think? Let’s get on to it.
Before I give you my thoughts, I always think it’s important to discuss any arrangements or relationships. This optic was not provided to me and I purchased it with my own funds. However, I did receive a discount via a third party website due to my military veteran status. I have no personal relationship with Vortex.
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)
As with all reviews, I like to lead with a summary and then get into the details. The Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56 is a great precision rifle optic for burgeoning competition shooters. It hits just about all of the needs for rimfire shooters in particular, including focusing down to 15 yards. The reticle is intelligently designed, illumination works well, and the turrets are quite serviceable for my needs.
However, the optical performance does begin to suffer with chromatic aberration as you crank the magnification up to the maximum. When placed side by side with my Steiner P4Xi 4-16×56, the difference in resolution is very apparent.
I’m being sincere when I say that while this is noticeable, I don’t think you should consider it a deal-breaker if you’re looking for an optic in this price group. I think you’ll be hard-pressed to do better.
A Word About Vortex
Vortex Optics probably needs no introduction. The company has its roots in 1986 when Dan and Margie Hamilton opened a Wild Birds Unlimited store in Madison Wisconsin. They started Eagle Optics at the time, with the intent to market binoculars and other optics for birdwatching.
In 2005, they added a Vortex line of hunting binoculars and then expanded to hunting rifle scopes in 2007. From there they kept iterating designs across a spectrum of price points.
When it comes to rifle optics, Vortex sources manufacturing from China, the Philippines, Japan, and even some in-house work. The country of origin tracks along each of Vortex’s lines.
At the highest end, the Vortex AMG is nearly entirely made in the USA. The Razor line comes from Japan, while the PST optics come from the Philippines. The remainder, including the Strike Eagle, all come from China. You shouldn’t take that to mean all Chinese glass is poor and budget-oriented. As my review of the Athlon Ares ETR showed me, there are some quite good options made in China.
In the end, Vortex has a well-earned reputation for customer service and paying attention to what their users want. Their optics are extremely common in both competition and tactical realms, and I think it’s great to see that for an American company.
Vortex Stike Eagle 5-25×56
With the background out of the way, let’s talk about the Strike Eagle 5-25×56. I’ve been running this optic on my competition 22LR rifle for a while, and have been quite happy with its performance overall. My particular model is has the EBR 7C MRAD reticle. At an MSRP of $799 and street price of $699, this optic falls in low-middle price bracket relative to other options on the market.
Had I tested this scope two years ago, I would have probably raved a lot more about it. But now that I’ve had more experience with precision optics in the $1k+ category like Athlon ARES ETR and my Steiner P4xi 4-16×56, I can definitely tell a difference in capability and quality. However, the question is not really whether the $1k+ optics are better rifle scopes, I think the answer to that is obvious.
The real question is whether or not the Strike Eagle 5-25×56 delivers enough capability at its price point to warrant a look. To that, I think it does great. Vortex managed to pack a lot of desirable features into an affordable package.
Let’s look at the datasheet.
|Objective Lens Diameter||56mm|
|Eye Relief||3.7 inches|
|Field of View||24.0 - 5.6 ft at 100 yards|
|Focal Plane||First Focal Plane|
|Elevation Turret||.1 MRAD / .25 MOA, locking, with zero stop|
|Windage Turret||.1 MRAD / .25 MOA, locking|
|Travel per rotation||10 MRAD / 25 MOA|
|Max Elevation Adjustment||31 MRAD / 110 MOA|
|Max Windage Adjustment||23 MRAD / 78 MOA|
|Parallax Setting||15 yards to infinity|
The Nitty Gritty
I get it, anyone can look up the spec sheet from the manufacturer. So let’s dig into the real impressions. I categorize my optic reviews into a few key areas:
- Fit & Finish
- Optical Performance
- Using it
But first, let’s talk about what’s in the box.
What’s in the Box?
Credit where it’s due here, Vortex takes care of its customers. The Strike Eagle 5-25×56 came in a nice cardboard box along with a sunshade, lens cloth, CR2032 battery, handy tool for removing turret covers, 2mm hex wrench, throw lever, and rubber bikini-style lens covers. All of that is beside the manual and warranty card.
No other optic I’ve looked at this year has come with all of the goodies, especially the sunshade. My Steiner, for example, came with lens covers and a battery. It has threads for a sunshade, but it doesn’t seem like they make one. Luckily, though, I discovered that the Vortex sunshade for the Strike Eagle fits just fine on the Steiner. I’ll call that a win.
Vortex’s packaging itself is attractive if not a little flashy. The scope itself came protected wedged between two foam pieces inside small cardboard housings built into the box.
Fit & Finish
Out of the box, the Strike Eagle 5-25×56 feels nice. The matte black finish is even and attractive. Turret adjustment marks line up correctly and all of the knobs provide a nice feel of resistance without being too much. Except for the parallax knob, that is. I think it’s just a tad stiff for my tastes, but it’s a minor complaint and very much a personal preference.
Both the elevation and windage turrets are locking. This means that you must pop them out before turning them. Unlocking the turret is simple, with enough resistance that I don’t think it would happen on its own without some significant impact.
The turret adjustments themselves are kinda “meh.” I think they are a little mushy, but still distinct enough to count as I turn them.
The illumination knob rather entertainingly “goes to 11” and does not have an off position in between each setting, so you’re either all the way on “off” or you’re illuminated across the entire reticle.
Vortex includes a small polymer scope cap tool for easy removal of the turret caps, though you can use any common coin as well. Once open, you are able to drop in the included zero stop. I’m a fan of Vortex’s zero stop design as it is simple and easy to use. There is a small pin at the rear of the turret and a corresponding groove inside the zero stop. All you have to do is drop the stop mechanism over the uncapped turret and twist it until it stops. Screw the cap back on with the “zero” notch lined up and you’re in business.
I found that this still offers a little bit of play to go past the zero, which I think is a good thing. However, I also noticed that the turret locking/unlocking is a bit more difficult with the zero stop installed.
From my use, tracking of the turrets seems quite good and accurate.
Strike Eagle 5-25×56 Optical Performance
I don’t have any good “through the scope” pictures to show you. Sorry.
That said, to my eye the Strike Eagle 5-25×56 exhibits good, but not fantastic optical performance. It seems happier in the middle zoom ranges where it the resolution and contrast seem more than good enough for my purposes. I do notice purple fringing/chromatic aberration as I get closer to the maximum power of 25x.
As ILya once told me, all rifle scopes will have chromatic aberration, so it’s just a matter of whether it’s enough to bother you or how much you’re willing to pay in order to minimize it. In this case, while present I don’t find it to be problematic enough to worry about given its price point.
I find the eye relief on this scope to be somewhat confusing. In getting behind the optic for dry fire as well as static competition use, I felt like I had to hunt around a lot to find the “sweet spot” to rest my head and settle in. I’m sure this gets better with time and practice, but it’s something that stood out to me.
To substitute for my lack of pictures, I want to share a video that ILya did showing the “through the scope” view on video while talking about the reticle. He has a much more stable setup for getting photos and videos like this.
The Reticle and Illumination
If you watch the whole video above, ILya provides a fantastic breakdown of the reticle design here. Remember that reticle design is very much a personal preference item for folks, and everyone wants something different.
The EBR-7C reticle in the Strike Eagle 5-25×56 is a tree-style made primarily up of dots placed at .2 MRAD intervals. The horizontal and vertical stadia lines are solid with hash marks placed at .5 and .2 (horizontal only) on different sides. The primary center aiming point is a floating dot, and I think it’s just a hair smaller than I would prefer.
When illuminated, the entire reticle lights up. Illumination seems well controlled without a lot of flare or spillover even at the higher settings. I don’t think the reticle is “daylight bright,” but it’s not really supposed to be in a scope like this anyway.
Putting the Strike Eagle to Use
This is where the rubber meets the road. Frankly, I can’t find a whole lot wrong with this optic when it came time to putting rounds through the gun. yes, the turrets aren’t “perfect” and the head positioning took a little time to figure out, but in the end, it performed very well.
To date, It’s been through several trips to the range (all indoor) and I used it to shoot the Q32020 postal match. The large 56mm objective certainly helps keep the image brighter in those indoor environments, and I look forward to the days where I can wring it out in the daylight at an NRL22 style competition.
The Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56 is a good scope. If you’re ready to jump into the “middle tier” of optics pricing, then I think it’s a really solid option to go with as it offers just about everything you need for a competition optic while controlling costs. It’s not as bright or clear as something coming in closer to $1000, nor do the turrets give me as good a feel- but I sincerely think it’s good enough.
If you’re looking for some comparisons, I suggest checking out the Burris RT 5-25×56 with the SCR2 reticle. It comes in at around the same price point and should be comparable. Personally, I prefer the SCR2 reticle.
If you’re willing to step up slightly, then either the Meopta Optika6 5-30 that I reviewed or the Brownells MPO 5-25×56 represent good options. Keep your use case in mind though, neither will focus down to the 15 yards of the Strike Eagle, which is really useful for rimfire competition.
So, over to you, is there a particular optic you like to use for rimfire matches? Where would the Strike Eagle fit into your plans?