Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Product Review: Vortex Diamondback Riflescope

It's another beautiful day in paradise! 
Escalante, Utah
This was the view that greeted me from high up a hill where I set up my target for this product review. 

As I talk with fellow hunters and shooters, I am amazed at how many of them have not heard of Vortex Optics yet!  Vortex was first introduced to me in 2008, and the brand has quickly grown on me, to the point where I will say it plainly...I am a huge fan!  A little background for you before I get into the review, a friend first introduced Vortex to me by way of showing me a riflescope he had purchased for his predator gun/setup.  I briefly glanced through it in the parking lot at work, and was impressed with the clarity and power of the scope!  My first real experience with Vortex Optics came a few months later as we purchased 3 pair of Viper HD 10x42 binoculars.  After using these binoculars for over 3 years I just can't say enough good about them!  I have to believe that if they can survive a wildland fire engine or pickup truck, or a firefighter's pack, they can survive almost anything!  These things have bounced around in the back seat, flew off of the dash, survived some heavy crashes and bangs in fire packs, and they still view as good as the day they came out of the box!  Crystal clear, a fast focus, and great magnification!  I knew I would be in the market for my own Vortex products soon!

My first purchase came in the form of this "Diamondback" series 4-12 x 40 scope, with the adjustable objective option.  I also chose the "Dead Hold BDC" cross hairs (see image below), which is one of the features that makes this scope so great.  I selected this scope based on the reviews of several of my crew members, who also have it and love it.  I ordered the scope, and promptly went to mounting it on my Browning X-Bolt .300 Win Mag, which had never been shot either!  Yeah, I was pretty excited, then suffered a set back.  I didn't do my homework well enough and my medium scope rings/bases were not quite enough to mount it up!  Long story short, the high rings/bases arrived the next week and I was able to complete the installation!  You can follow this link to a review I did on the Browning X-Bolt:

Almost immediately, I loved everything about the scope...easy to adjust, low-capped turrets, a very nice satin finish, the tab on the power selector makes it easier to switch magnification than other scopes I have, and a very speedy, clear focus.  I will get into some of the other specs as we go on.

300 yards back to the truck!
I don't know if I have ever had such an easy time sighting in a new scope!  Three shots and I had adjustments made to center!  My first outing at 100 yards produced one of my best shot groupings ever!  The 5 shots were grouped in an area that could almost be covered by a bottle cap (I pulled one shot a little left!)  Not bad for me, I have never claimed to be a marksman!  If I can hit a paper plate at 300 yards I can kill big game in the country I hunt, and I feel good with shots up to 500 yards.  So now the next test: long distance.  

This is where the Dead Hold BDC reticle, and the adjustable objective (AO) come into play.  I cranked the AO up to 300 yards, and held the first dot below the main cross hair on a rock that we ranged at 310 yards.  I touched off the shot, and there was no doubt.  You could easily hear the solid thud of the 180 grain slug from the .300 as it found it's mark.  I pulled the glasses up, and the rock, about the size of a dinner plate was scattered all over the place, the lower edge remained in place to mark the site where it had rested in whole.  Sweet!  My grandpa now found a rock just a little shy of 400 yards.  I moved down to the next dot, cranked the AO up to the last setting (the "infinity" setting) and thumped this one as well.  Now, the next rock at 500 yards wasn't so easy.  I used the top of the post of the lower cross hair for this one and my shot fell about an inch or two low.  Well now I know where the bullet will fall anyway!  I really like how the AO took parallax out of the scope as my distance increased, and how well the dots on the cross hairs worked in compensating for distance and wind.

I took her out again to do some shooting yesterday, mainly to get photos for this post.  I shot 300 yards uphill (about a 200 foot rise from the bench) and in fairly breezy conditions.  I was impressed again with the Dead Hold BDC!  Not the tightest group, but pretty good for a non-professional shooting from a snowy shooting bench, gusty winds, and shooting off of a couple of jackets laid out on the table!  My elevation was good for the most part, but you can see a couple of muffed shots that drifted as gusts came up!  I also wish we had a flat range at 300 yards.  Our city shooting range just isn't up to much at all!

I hunted mule deer with this setup this past season and although I didn't find a buck big enough that I wanted to pull the trigger on, I feel I gave the scope a great test.  I often found myself looking through the scope to glass across canyons and down draws over my 10x50 Nikon binoculars!  The scope was bumped around through the trees on some tough hikes and after a quick check a few days after the hunt, it was still as dead on as the first time I went to the range.  The finish is amazing as well!  I often cringed with the thought that I had scratched it, then upon inspection found that the finish never scratched once.  Above all the feature I like best would have to be the 12 power capability of the scope.  Up until now I have never used a scope that went above 10 power, and yes, there is a big difference and I love the extra zoom!  Fog proof...definitely!  Waterproof?  You bet!  The scope has been proven in a couple of rain/snow storms with no problems fogging or with water at all.  The 1" diameter, single-piece tube is a big plus to waterproofing! 

I know a lot of guys use scopes with turrets to make adjustments with distance and wind when hunting.  I never really have.  A lot of it is the fact that in the thick vegetation I hunt there's usually not time to make those adjustments, and I find myself making the hold over adjustments for wind and distance.  I know most of the guys I hunt with out here feel the same way.  You've got to give the Dead Hold BDC reticle a try, as it will take a lot of guesswork out of your shooting.

I really haven't found anything I haven't liked about this scope, or Vortex Optics for that matter.  This scope's MSRP is $359.00, but shop around, I have seen them priced much less than this.  Most major sporting goods stores are now carrying Vortex Optics.  You can also check out their website at  Vortex offers an amazing warranty plan, like most other popular optics brands out there.  Don't worry about a lost receipt!  When you have a problem, fill out the product repair form on their website and send it back in.  The service is quick and very efficient.  My grandpa had trouble with a Vortex red dot, sent it in, and had it back a week later in perfect condition.  I have heard a couple of similar stories.  I would rate Vortex quality between Leupold and Swarovski...real close to Swarovski and at a much better price!  Be sure to check out their website for a great selection of riflescopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, rangefinders, and accessories!  Hunting, tactical shooting, bird watching...whatever your outdoor optics needs, Vortex offers great products for you!  It's a great website, full of information, videos, and great products.  Check it out!  I have hopes of getting another scope for my varmint gun.  I have heard great reviews from friends on the Viper series scope!  I am also really impressed with what I have heard on the Viper and Viper HD models of spotting scopes!  I'm wanting to get one to rig up with the Tine's Up camera adapter kit.

Just a note on the adjustable objective...a lot of people think that setting the AO compensates for bullet drop at different ranges, so you can hold the cross hair right on.  That is false!  The AO simply takes parallax out of your field of view, giving a more focused, clear view of your target.  This is a good understanding to have before you buy any kind of scope.