Vortex Diamondback 4-12x-40mm Review [Field Tested]

VORTEX DIAMONDBACK 4-12X40MM REVIEW

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 in today this review was the Diamondback HP (High Performance) 4-12x with a 40mm objective lens.

Before we get into it, a little background on Vortex scopes.

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

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

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

Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40MM

Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40MM

The price of Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40MM varies, so check the latest price at

Now, On To The Diamondback HP

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.

vortex diamondback 4-12x40 review

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?

Technical Stuff

Construction

vortex diamondback reviews

The main tube is 1” diameter single-piece tube, made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and hard anodized, along with the rest of the scope. Internally, it boasts o-ring seals and argon gas purging. Having the o-rings and argon purge keeps this scope dry and prevents fogging. Along with high-quality construction, it can handle slug shotgun levels of recoil all day.

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

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, which is great for taking the guesswork out of those long-range shots. Other Diamondback models will have the V-plex type. It is your choice when picking out your scope.

vortex diamondback scope reviews

I like second focal plane riflescopes, though it does come down to personal preference. It just seems to be the better choice for me as a hunting scope compared to the FFP optics I've tried. 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 Dead-hold BDC reticle has graduation hash marks and drop points for windage and drop compensation. It is built like a proper hunting scope.

The magnification is 4x–12x on this unit, and it has a 40mm objective lens. The lenses are Vortex XD the glass that sports extra-low dispersion and fully multi-coated with their anti-reflective XR coatings, reducing glare on each of the lenses. The fast focus eyepiece lets you move through the entire magnification range with one quick, smooth motion, which is a must-have feature for hunting in my opinion. 

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.

vortex diamondback scope review

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.

vortex diamondback tactical 4-12x40 review

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 Vortex optics 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. It's shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof to boot. 

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 at this price point.

Overall 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 available in this price range.

Alternative Options 

Instead of leaving you with just one scope review, we've decided to do a quick rundown on some other high quality scopes in the same magnification range to choose from. Here are our top picks:

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

ALTERNATIVE

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescope

Vortex Optics Crossfire II (2)

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescope

  • Magnification:4 - 12 x
  • Eye Relief:3.9 - 4.4 in
  • Weight:19.2 oz
ALTERNATIVE

Leupold VX-Freedom Riflescope

Leupold VX-Freedom

Leupold VX-Freedom Riflescope

  • Magnification:4 - 12 x
  • Eye Relief:3.8 in
  • Weight:16.1 oz
ALTERNATIVE

Nikon M-TACTICAL 4-16X42SF Riflescope

Nikon M-TACTICAL

Nikon M-TACTICAL 4-16X42SF Riflescope

  • Magnification:4 - 16 x
  • Eye Relief: 3.9 - 3.6
  • Weight:2 Pounds

1. Vortex Crossfire II 4-12x40mm Riflescope

vortex diamondback review

Another excellent option from Vortex that shares the same magnification range and many of the same features that make the Diamondback such a great pick. 

The main differences are going to be performance in low light conditions and optical clarity at high magnification level - the Diamondback 4-12x40 is going to give you slightly better light transmission through the scope in those dawn and dusk hours, while the Crossfire II boasts better edge-to-edge sharpness at higher magnification. 

The Crossfire II is also a bit cheaper, so if you're on a tighter budget, it may be the way to go. 

Vortex Optics Crossfire II (2)

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescope

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

2. Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12x40mm Side Focus Riflescope

vortex diamondback 4 12x40 review

Leupold is known for their sharp, clear glass, and the VX-Freedom delivers on that promise. I would give the VX-Freedom a slight edge over the Diamondback in terms of clarity and brightness, but I personally prefer the Diamondback's reticle over Leupold's duplex reticle, which is a little trickier to use at longer ranges. Both scopes are tough as nails, though the Diamondback also gets a point for Vortex's excellent no-BS lifetime warranty. 

Leupold VX-Freedom

Leupold VX-Freedom Riflescope

The price of Leupold VX-Freedom Riflescope varies, so check the latest price at

3. Nikon M-Tactical .223 4-16x42mm Matte Riflescope

Nikon M-TACTICAL

If you find yourself wanting just a little bit more reach from your scope, the Nikon M-Tactical is a great alternative. The bullet drop compensator markings make quick holdover adjustments a cinch at longer distances, so if you tend to do more long-range shooting and plan on spending most of your time at the upper end of the scope's magnification range, it's definitely worth considering the Nikon. 

Performance-wise, both scopes are pretty close in terms of clarity, contrast, and brightness, so it really comes down to whether you are willing to pay a bit extra for more zoom and a more long-range tailored reticle.

Nikon M-TACTICAL

Nikon M-TACTICAL 4-16X42SF Riflescope

The price of Nikon M-TACTICAL 4-16X42SF Riflescope varies, so check the latest price at

Parting Shots

Who buys this optic?

The serious hunter, whether you're bagging bucks or varmints - 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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