There are a few things every year that comes along which really catch my interest. I’ve talked with members of Vortex’s team through projects I’ve worked on with social media. One thing led to another and they invited me out to their headquarters for the day. Vortex Optics is located just west of Madison, Wisconsin which is only about 4-5 hours away depending on traffic through Chicago. I jumped in my truck and after $28 in tolls one way through Chicago and 5 hours I was at Vortex.
The actual building that serves as Vortex’s HQ is a brand new building that is set up to be a sterile building. The headquarters is split up into three separate buildings with each having a different purpose. The first and largest building holds all manufacturing and offices for the company. The second building is in charge of shipping and orders. The last and arguably the best one is their underground range complex.
We started the day in the main office and manufacturing building. With a brand new building, the company wanted their new building as high tech as possible. There are multiple lounges and workspaces for employees to sit down and work on projects next to a fireplace or look out the windows at the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Employees are allowed to their dogs as working companions as long as they don’t bark too much. It was amazing to see an office building with 60-70 dogs roaming around in various office spaces. Vortex also took a card system similar to one that is found around college campuses around the country. There are 3-4 cafes and areas to purchase drinks and meals whenever the staff wants them.
The staff has a fully equipped 24-hour gym in the east section of the main building with an in house chiropractor and therapist to help with employee morale and mental health. Something that really was how company projects were managed by a large whiteboard with post it notes covering one wall. It is a technique typically used by tech companies to track progress and keep track of a project’s progression. It’s an easy way to keep employees motivated and engaged without having burnout.
The AMG series of rifle scopes from Vortex are manufactured and assembled in their HQ space with a clean room that rivals NASA. Here they manufacture the scope bodies and assemble the scopes in a massive cleanroom. I sadly couldn’t take pictures of the area but it was a very large space with scopes in different stages of production. Vortex has spared no expense to make sure they put out the best product they can.
The Range Complex
One of the most impressive things at Vortex for me was their range complex and armory. They have a static underground 100-yard range as well as a 50-yard dynamic range. The 50-yard range is equipped with moving targets created by Action Targets. Vortex also has a full armory with an impressive list of caliber on hand to check function on customer scopes and do R&D with on new scopes. After the tour, we decided to do a condensed Night Vision course in the underground complex. We shot various drills in total darkness using our dual illumination tubes. That day, we used several models of red dots mounted on handguns and rifles. These were to test out the IR features on Razor UH-1 as well as the Vipers and Venom.
After finishing up Drills in the 50-yard range, we headed over to the 100-yard range to shoot a Barrett MRAD chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor with a Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 with a PVS 30 as well. We did several scenarios and drills under total darkness again using the MRAD. After the courses, I definitely thought it was a learning experience since it was my first time using night vision. At the same time, it was a chance for the Vortex guys to show off the versatility of their optics. I was impressed with the abilities of their Viper or Venom red dots.
Vortex Optics have been growing in popularity in the last decade. Generally, people like their lifetime warranty and quality products. I thought it was interesting seeing a company take practices out of tech companies playbook and make it their own in the firearms industry. Eventually, I plan on going back and look deeper into the day to day operations. If that’s something you’d want to see, let me know in the comments below. If you have a question about my trip to Vortex or anything else feel free to message me on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!
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