The Vortex Diamondback series of rifle scopes has been very popular for a number of years now, and for good reason. The line offers great value by providing very good optical quality and quality construction that most anyone can afford. However, as the market continues to trend more towards the long-range niche more and more shooters were asking Vortex to offer something similar with exposed tactical-style turrets. Vortex has answered that call with their new Diamondback Tactical line of scopes.
The new Diamondback Tactical series currently consists of two models, the 3-9x40mm which is being featured here, and a 4-12x40mm. Both models are based around a 1-inch aircraft-grade aluminum main tube and feature Vortex’s XD lens elements which have been coated with their proprietary XR multi-coating process. The construction features strong o-ring seals and dry nitrogen purging to ensure the scope is 100% waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. Both models also feature a Fast-Focus eye-piece to allow the user to adjust the focal length for a crisp reticle.
The turrets on this new series are of the exposed tactical style with a tool-less lift-and-turn zero reset. Vortex claims 80 minutes of total adjustment for both windage and elevation which is quite a bit for a 1-inch main tube. The turret caps offer 12 minutes per rotation and provide a very positive detent and an audible click for each click of adjustment.
The VMR-1 second focal-plane reticle is currently the only option in the new Diamondback Tactical line of scopes. It features a simple duplex-style crosshair design with hash marks spaced 2 minutes-of-angle apart on all four inner posts. It’s a rather simple and effective design that will allow you to use it for ranging, holdover, windage and leading moving targets as needed without being overly cluttered or cumbersome.
Exit pupil for the 3-9×40 model being reviewed here today ranges from 13.3mm to 4.4mm, and Vortex’s website lists the eye relief as being 3.9 inches. Overall length of the scope is 12.5 inches and the weight is just under a pound at 15.9 ounces. MSRP is listed at 379.99 for the 3-9×40 model, with online retailers currently listing them around $280 or so.
For testing I mounted the Diamondback Tactical atop my Savage Model 14 in .22-250 Remington with a picatinney rail from TPS Products and a set of Burris Signature Zee 1” medium height rings. A set of low rings would have been a better option to keep the scope closer to the bore axis, but I used what I had on hand.
My first order of business was to run the scope through a series of tracking tests using my collimater-style Bushnell bore-sighter to ensure the mechanics were operating properly. These tests consist of multiple box tests and large vertical adjustments at 3, 6 and 9x magnification to ensure the reticle returns to the same zero and tracks straight. In each case the Diamondback Tactical was spot on.
Heading out to the range I hung my Vortex resolution chart at 100 yards. I typically do this test at 50 yards due to the size of the chart, but with the parallax being fixed at 100 yards on this scope I had to do it at that distance. The resolution was very good and what I would consider to be on par with other scopes in this price range.
The image through the Diamondback Tactical 3-9x40mm is what I have come to expect with Vortex optics – a clear, crisp, bright image that makes shooting a pleasure. Low-light performance wasn’t quite as good as I’m used to with some of my more expensive scopes, but that is to be expected given we’re talking about a price difference of $600 or more. Even so, I had no problem acquiring and identifying objects during what would have been the last minutes of legal shooting light with this scope.
From what I’ve experienced in my short time with the new Diamondback Tactical from Vortex Optic I would say they have done a very good job. While it’s not packed to the gills with features like some of their higher end lines, it’s a very capable scope that comes in at a much friendlier price. The range of internal adjustment is very good for a 1-inch tube and the turrets have proven to be very accurate and reliable. The optical quality is extremely good for the price as well. For a scope that you can currently purchase for less than $300 that’s a lot of bang for the buck. And let’s not forget that it comes with Vortex’s excellent VIP Warranty.
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