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Review: Vortex Fury HD 5000 Rangefinding Binocular

Review: Vortex Fury HD 5000 Rangefinding Binocular

This won’t be the first time I’ve written about binoculars with built-in rangefinding capability.  Why?

Because I love them.  But my purpose here isn’t to persuade you that you need a pair.  Whether you use conventional binoculars and a handheld rangefinder, or rangefinding binoculars is entirely up to you.  There are upsides and downfalls to either setup (which we’ll cover later).  Which one works best for you depends on a variety of factors and personal preference.

Instead, I want to take an in-depth look at the Vortex Fury HD 5000 10x42 laser rangefinding bino.  So far, I have limited experience with my new Fury HD 5000.  But I’ve logged a lot of backcountry miles with its predecessor (the Fury HD).  Because the only difference between the Fury HD and the Fury HD 5000 is a vastly increased rangfinding capability and a new reticle, I can approach this with good background.

The Fury HD 5000 (left) and the Fury HD

The Fury HD 5000 (left) and the Fury HD

The Fury HD 5000 reticle (top) vs the Fury HD reticle (below). Note: These photos were taken by hand-holding a camera above the optic, so the images of the reticles are somewhat incomplete or unclear.

The Fury HD 5000 reticle (top) vs the Fury HD reticle (below). Note: These photos were taken by hand-holding a camera above the optic, so the images of the reticles are somewhat incomplete or unclear.

Both of these binoculars are an HD product, meaning that the quality of glass they contain falls between the Vortex Viper and Razor product lines.  So the glass is excellent.  They’ve joined me on an Alaskan sheep and grizzly bear hunt, a British Columbia mountain goat hunt, a Wyoming pronghorn hunt, several excursions in Montana, and plenty of other general hacking around. 

A client borrows my Fury HD while elk hunting in Montana

A client borrows my Fury HD while elk hunting in Montana

But don’t take my word for it:  Here are customer reviews of the Fury across some of the biggest retail websites on the market.

Cabelas.com – 4.6 stars

Opticsplanet.com – 4.9 stars

EuroOptic.com – 5 stars

VortexOptics.com – 4.9 stars

Rangefinding capability and specs

I’ll dive into the optical performance of the Fury in a bit, but the breaking story here is the new, ridiculously powerful rangefinding technology in Fury HD 5000.

As previously mentioned, the new Fury is an upgraded version of the existing Fury HD optical system.  The binos are the same, but the rangefinder is substantially beefed up. 

With this upgrade, the Fury’s reflective surface rating went from about 1,700 yards (Fury HD) to 5,000 yards (Fury HD 5000).  A friend of mine ranged a flock of flying geese at 1,000 yards with the new Fury, while another caught a moving semi-truck at 3,000 yards.  I took these binos out on a sunny day and hit the side of a barn at 3,260 yards, freehand.  They no doubt would have ranged farther, but I couldn’t find a more distant target.

Photo of a small bull taken at 1,500 yards with the Fury HD and hand-held iPhone 6 through a LifeProof case.

Photo of a small bull taken at 1,500 yards with the Fury HD and hand-held iPhone 6 through a LifeProof case.

It’s worth mentioning that most – if not all – optic manufacturers promote their rangefinders based on the reflective surface rating.  Think: barns, rock, snow, etc.

The new model’s non-reflective surface capability is about 1,600-1700 yards.  Non-reflective performance includes materials like animals and soil.

Laser rangefinders work by emitting an infrared laser and detecting its refection with a sensor.  As such, “reflective” and “non-reflective” are not hard and fast designations for any given material.  In reality, a mirror may be the most reflective object you’ll encounter, and everything else will fall somewhere below that. 

With a fresh CR123A battery, the Fury HD 5000 will shoot about 4,000 range readings before battery replacement is required.  This is for single firings of the unit, not scans.  Ranging performance remains the same throughout the life of the battery – that is, the rangefinder does not become less “powerful” as the battery relinquishes charge. 

Users can point at an object, click the range button once, and read the range.  Alternatively, the range button can be held down while the binoculars are in motion, activating the “scan” function and leaving the laser on until the button is released.  The range reading will continuously change as the laser beam passes over different objects. 

By scanning, you have a better chance of “painting” the target that you want to range.  This is especially helpful for distant, small targets or moving objects.  If you’re not having luck hitting a target, scan it. 

Ballistic compensation

In 2018, I harvested a mountain goat in British Columbia with Finlay River Outfitters.  We were hiking just yards below treeline, looking at the sheer cliffs above us.  My partner hissed, “Big billy!  Big billy!”  The goat was not that far away, but it was way above out heads.

We scrambled to get into position.  Our guide’s rangefinder, which did not compensate for angle, read 240 yards.  My Fury HD, which does, indicated a 150 yard shot.  The angle was steep.  After two well-placed shots (holding for 150 yards), the hunt turned into a caping and de-boning mission. 

My billy unofficially scored 53.5”, enough for  Boone and Crockett  all-time records.

My billy unofficially scored 53.5”, enough for Boone and Crockett all-time records.

The Fury comes out of the box in HCD (Horizontal Component Distance) mode.  This is the angle-compensated distance.  The maximum range recommended by Vortex for internal HCD calculations is 800 yards, though it does work out to 5,000 yards (Vortex recommends using a ballistics program for 800+ yards, in LOS mode for the most accurate solution beyond 800).

For bow hunters, the minimum range of both the Fury HD and HD 5000 is five yards, and HCD mode begins compensating immediately.  Some other brands don’t start compensating for angle until 30 yards or more.

Also, the max angle function is 89°.  But if you’re shooting at a target 89° above you, I don’t want to be anywhere nearby!

One last note on laser rangefinders in general, across all brands:  conditions make a difference.  Optimal conditions would be cool weather, overcast skies and a slight breeze (to combat mirage distortion of the laser beam, though this is almost a moot point).  Rain, snow, wildfire smoke, fog, etc. can and will severely impact performance of all laser rangefinding devices.   

Keep in mind that stabilizing a rangefinder will make the unit easier to control and more precise.  Anything helps: a branch, a rock, a tripod, etc.  The Fury is tripod compatible via a threaded receptacle between the two barrels of the binocular, on the objective-side of the hinge.  Here you can attach the Vortex Uni-Dapter. I leave the adapter on year-around.

The Fury HD with Uni-Daptor and tripod plate attached.

The Fury HD with Uni-Daptor and tripod plate attached.

Optical performance

The Fury HD 5000 is a 10x42 optic.  As previously mentioned, I’ve been very surprised by the performance of these binos.  Before I began using the Fury, I’d grown accustomed to the amazing clarity and low light performance of the Vortex Razor 10x50.  I knew that by switching to the Fury, I’d be giving some of that up, if for no other reason than having smaller objective lenses.  This was the case, but not nearly to the extent I’d expected.

One instance stands out in my mind.  It was the last night of my mountain goat hunt.  My partner and I had both tagged out on our goats, and we heard the first elk bugle of our trip.  We cow called back, but it was too late to make any kind of moves on the bull.  So we spent the remaining 15 minutes before dark using glass to pick the woods apart.

Even when it was too dark to make out any details with the naked eye, I could still see clearly through the woods with my binoculars.  Sticks, weeds and branches retained most of their detail.  If a bull had stepped out, I’d have no trouble counting tines.

Build quality and warranty

When you pick up the Fury, you know immediately that you’re holding a substantial, solid optic.  They’re tough and waterproof.

The components of the binos are beautifully machined, like the aluminum threaded plug that retains the battery.  The buttons, on the top right side, are well placed and perfectly sealed, blending nicely with the rugged rubber armor that covers the binos. 

The range and menu buttons are located on the right side of the optic.

The range and menu buttons are located on the right side of the optic.

I’ve dropped these a few times, once from the back of a quad going down a gravel road.  It didn’t faze them one bit.  These days, my binoculars remain strapped to my chest, inside the GlasPak bino harness that comes in the box with the Fury.

I have more expensive bino harnesses, but the light weight and functionality of the Vortex  GlassPak  is really tough to beat (and they come free with the Fury!)

I have more expensive bino harnesses, but the light weight and functionality of the Vortex GlassPak is really tough to beat (and they come free with the Fury!)

As with all the optics that Vortex produces, the VIP warranty covers any and all atrocious you may commit.  If you break them, send them back , no questions asked.  But the Fury is unique in the industry (to my knowledge) in that even the electronics are covered by the warranty.  If the rangefinder was to give up the ghost, it’s covered by the warranty.  That’s not the case with most optic manufacturers. 

Rangefinding binoculars vs. Rangefinder

Maybe you’re mentally weighing the pros and cons of using a rangefinding binocular against that of a dedicated rangefinder and a pair of conventional binos.  Tough call, but only you know what’s best for you and the way you hunt.

I’m forgetful, and I usually carry a weapon and camera gear while hunting.  So minimizing my gear roster by combining two tools in one was a no-brainer.  While hunting out of a treestand, there are also advantages to having one less piece of kit to juggle.

Maybe forgetting your rangefinder and keeping it in a handy location isn’t an issue for you.  In that case, you may want to capitalize on the very best optical performance, like the Razor line of binoculars, while leaving the rangefinding duty to a small handheld unit. 

Other folks are very mindful of weight.  I’ve kicked that around, too.  The following scenario made my decision to use the Fury that much easier:

The Razor 10x50s weigh 28.1 ounces.  The Vortex Ranger 1800 weighs 7.7 ounces.  If I carry both of those, my payload is 35.8 ounces.  The Fury HD weighs 32.3.  That’s splitting hairs.  So I looked at one final difference to make up my mind.

Most of my rifle hunting is spot-and-stalk, and more often than not, I’m ranging targets between 100 and 1,000 yards.  Compared to the Ranger 1800, the Fury HD has 4x more magnification.  Combined with the fact that the binoculars are easier to control based on their size, accurately ranging distant targets becomes much easier. 

Vortex doesn’t make the only rangefinding binocular are the market.  There are other nice models out there, and I’ve owned a few.  For one reason or another, I’ve sold all the others.  Some have been too big and heavy, while others have simply been eclipsed by the performance and capability of the Fury.  With the addition of a 5000 yard rangefinder, I think the Fury becomes an extremely tough package to beat, at any price point. 

If you’d like, you can watch my video review of the Fury HD here.  Keep in mind this is the Fury HD, not the Fury HD 5000. 

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If you want to read about the most challenging hunt I’ve encountered in regard to spotting game, check this out!

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Proper Riflescope Mounting

Proper Riflescope Mounting