Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40mm review

Crossfire II in the background cropped

Well, well, well, where to start?  What we have here is a hunting scope that can topple Leupold from its high seat, and that is not said lightly.

Made by Vortex, the optics world usurpers, the Diamondback comes in multiple offerings, the one we shot today was the Diamondback HP (High Performance) 3-12x with a 42mm objective lens.

Before We Get Into It, a Little Background On Vortex

Vortex started making optics in 2002, so they are relatively new to the sporting optic world, and it shows, they are not mired down like other manufacturers and currently located in Barneveld, WI.

Vortex does not use distributors.  They network directly with approved retailers around the world.  They also built an indoor 50 and 100 yeard range to test fire new and repaired optics before they walk out the door.  Vortex also invites Wisoconson and Northern Illinois police agencies to train and qualify at their facility as a way to give back to the community.

Vortex has an open invite to everyone to walk into their HQ showroom and have a look at and touch every offering.

Now, On To The Diamondback HP

Diamondback 3-12x32 cropped

The Diamondback HP does come with a tactical application reticle, but this scope was made for a hunter, and then became a tactical optic.  I am not saying the Diamondback can not handle the tactical world; it was just made for hunting first.

The Diamondback HP is very comfortable and capable of taking big game up to 500 meters and handling the recoil from that much rifle without a hitch.  Just be sure to buy and install high-quality rings and mounts.

Now a (tiny) bit of comparison with the Leupold scope of the same caliber.  When you run down the list of one vs. the other, little stands out, so it comes down to price and brand loyalty.  The Vortex will beat the Leupold on price, in this range by about 50 bucks or so, when the scopes get bigger and badder, the price difference is nearly house payment big, in favor of Vortex.  The Leupold takes the prize for brand loyalty as it is made in the USA, and parts of the Vortex are made in 4 other countries.  If you dig deep enough, most of the glass used by everyone is made in China.  It’s the QA held to the product that makes the difference in quality when using glass from China (don’t just believe me, check for yourself).

So, now that we have said Vortex is the more affordable option, what is the price tag?  It will be under 300 bucks, closer to 250, nearly everywhere you look.  Making a fine addition to affordable hunting rifles, slug guns, and even muzzleloaders, and still have money for gas, how can you beat that?

The Technical Stuff

Construction

The main tube is 1” diameter, made from Aircraft Grade Aluminium, and hard anodized, along with the rest of the scope.  It is O-Ring sealed and filled with Argon gas.  Having the o-rings and argon purge keeps this scope dry and fog proof.  Along with high-quality construction, it can handle slug gun levels of recoil all day.

The Diamondback HP is 12.5 inches long and weighs in at 18oz.

Diamondback HP cropped

Optics

The eye relief is a very comfortable 4.0 inches, making it very smooth and easy to mount to the shoulder and get on target, no fidgeting around on the stock and cheek weld, just smooth and easy.

The Diamondback HP has a field of view of 28.8 – 8.2 feet at 100 yards.

The reticle is in the second focal plane, and it a thin duplex style.  The scope we shot and reviewed has the BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) as well.  Other Diamondback models will have the V-plex type.  It is your choice when picking out your scope.

I like the SFP reticle.  It just seems to be the better choice for me as a hunting scope choice.  When I cranked this scope to a higher magnification, the crosshairs staying the same just made it feel better and seems like it is the way it is supposed to be, on a deer shaped (well papers stapled like a deer) target, it just works better in my opinion.

The reticle is NOT glass etched and also NOT illuminated, old school just the way I grew up with scope builds.  The BDC reticle is a dead hold and has graduation hash marks and drop points for windage and drop compensation. It is built like a proper hunting scope.

The magnification is 3x – 12x on this unit, and it has a 42mm objective lens.  The lenses are Vortex XD the glass that sports extra-low dispersion and fully multi-coated with their XR coatings, reducing glare on each of the lenses.

With the Vortex HD glass, in the Diamondback HP, the view was crystal clear until we got closer to the higher magnification levels, then it gets a little fuzzy.  That is not unique to this scope.  Most of the affordable by regular folks scopes are the same performance at the highest magnification.

The Diamondback HP has a 4x zoom capability, keeping the picture very crisp at high magnification.  We did notice when you turn this scope to 12x, it did get a little fuzzy, like most optics when maxed out, but it’s a review, and that is what we do here.

Parallax is adjusted on a low setting knob on the left side of the scope and is adjustable from 30 yards to infinity.  The eyepiece and reticle have a quick focus ring; all the adjustments are precision machined metal-to-metal surfaces and are the smoothest feel, nothing jerking or hanging up.  When we looked through the scope and operated the parallax, eyepieces, etc., the magnification increased as smooth a Hollywood movie and resulted in little if any rifle movement.  An excellent feature on the Diamondback HP and dials in quickly, and shooting with my brother, I wear glasses, and he does not, both of us can get this cleared up quickly, very nice.  We expected no less from Vortex, and as usual, they proved us correct.

Turrets

Since we are talking about twisting stuff, let us chat about the windage and elevation stuff.

With the reticle in MOA, the turrets match in MOA.  There is 90 MOA adjustment for elevation and 90 MOA movement for windage as well.  The turrets are capped, finger adjustable, and adjust smoothly and have an audible click when moving.  Each click is ¼ MOA.  The Diamondback HP does not have a hard zero stop.  The rings can be set to match “dot to dot” for a resuming zero.

Crossfire II in the background cropped

We saw a scope reviewer on YouTube perform a tracking test, or “box test” as he calls it, so we did the same thing, and it is a great test.  We included some twisting like a nut job testing (sorry for the high tech-speak), and the Diamondback HP always cam back to within ½ MOA of exact perfection.

Vortex offers a ballistic calculator on its website (www.vortexoptics.com) for long-range shooting that is easy as input your rounds, distance, and all the other environmental values.  It can then be printed out and applied to the rifle stock, laminated, and kept inside your coat, whatever helps you make that excellent shot.

Conclusion By The Numbers

Usability (5 out of 5)

Perfect hunting scope, easy to use, no need to twist turrets, use the holdovers on the reticle.  Easy to adjust for moving prey and low light or shadows.  Capped turrets ensure the reticle is right where it is supposed to be every time you look through the glass.

Glass Quality (4.3 out of 5)

In nearly every environment we could find or create, the glass was clear until it was getting dark, then it suffers a little.  When the sun is setting, it will seem to be a bit hazy.  Probably needed a sunvisor, but we used this on a hunting rifle, which is just crazy talk.

Durability and Construction (5 out of 5)

Built like a hammer, there is no other way to describe everything created by Vortex.  Aircraft Aluminum and the hard anodizing makes it nearly indestructible.

Tracking and Repeatability (4 out of 5)

There were some times the crosshairs did not return exactly to the same holding point, downrange at 50 meters.  Most of the time, the Diamondback HP was right on the money, and now and then it was off, not by much, but enough to notice.  Could have been operator error on the turrets?  Maybe I did not get them turned entirely – I don’t know how that could happen.  The clicks are sharp and right on the money.

Warranty and Support (5 out of 5)

Vortex has one of the best warranties on the market, contact them, send in the wounded optic, and they will fix it or replace it, no questions asked, and they don’t care if you are the first or fifth owner.  They stand behind their product.

Value (5 out of 5)

All of this for under 300 bucks, and it is built to last forever, and warrantied to last that long, how can it not rank the highest points available.  Get one or two for the current or next project; you can not go wrong.

Over All Rating (4.7 out of 5)

I wish I could buy a car that performs as well as this scope.  I included as much online feedback in this score as I could find that seemed credible.  Everyone agrees these scopes are just one of the best.

Vortex Optics Diamondback

Vortex Diamondback Riflescope

The price of Vortex Optics Diamondback Riflescope varies, so check the latest price at

Parting Shots

Who buys this optic

The serious hunter, on all levels, this Diamondback is even offered in a rimfire configuration, it can do everything in the field, and keep on giving forever.  Very durable, not afraid of field time, harsh weather, and all the fun that comes with hiking in scrub oak and snowfields.  It will bounce along on the handlebar rack on the ATV, sit in the gun rack (if anyone actually remembers what these are), and even fall over when someone forgets that leaning a rifle against the trailer is not a good solid stand.

I will not hesitate to put another one on a deer rifle, probably give one to my son on his rifle, and if no one catches me, build the grow into it 22lr bolt action squirrel killing machine for my grandkids, and put one on that as well.

What do you think of the Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40mm review? Have you used one for yourself? Let us hear from you in the comments! And if you are interested in some other scopes by vortex optics, then check out our guide on Vortex Crossfire II riflescope review and Vortex Viper PST Gen II Review

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