Vortex Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm Riflescope
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Vortex Optics (www.vortexoptics.com), headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin USA, is increasingly becoming a force in riflescopes. Vortex optics are designed and engineered in house in Middleton. Quality control is also done in house. Depending on the piece, optics are manufactured in Japan the Philippines or China.
An entry level Vortex Crossfire II riflescope was supplied with a Mossberg Patriot rifle recently reviewed by Guns and Shooting Online (see Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm for the riflescope review) and it made a sufficiently favorable impression on the staff to warrant reviewing a mid-line Vortex scope. Thus, we requested the Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm that is the subject of this article. We have long regarded a 2x or 2.5x to 8x zoom riflescope ideal for almost all big game hunting.
We mounted the test scope on a .30-30 Winchester Model 94AE Sporter Rifle using Weaver bases and Leupold QRW rings. With its medium magnification, 32mm objective lens and one inch (25mm) main tube to avoid unnecessary weight and bulk, the Diamondback HP 2-8x32 is a good choice for this slender and elegant rifle. (Most Vortex scopes in the upscale Vortex Viper and Razor lines come with 30mm main tubes and objectives larger than we wanted.)
The Diamondback HP proved an excellent fit for our purposes. Its great field of view at 2x magnification is great for woods and brush country hunting, while its maximum magnification of 8x is more than required for the .30-30's maximum point blank range (+/- 3 inches) of 232 yards with the Hornady LeverEvolution 160 grain load this rifle prefers. Actually, 8x is all you need for shooting big game at 300 yards or more.
Diamondback HP scopes are available with either a V-Plex (Duplex type) reticle or a Dead-Hold BDC reticle. Preferring simplicity, we chose the Vortex V-Plex reticle, which is very similar to the original Leupold Duplex. Since it is our habit to zero all hunting rifles for the maximum point blank range (MPBR) of the cartridge/load we use and never to shoot beyond the MPBR, we have no need for any sort of BDC reticle.
Here is what the Vortex people say about their Diamondback HP riflescopes:
The Diamondback HP (High Performance) riflescopes offer a full-on array of high-performance features that discerning hunters are sure to appreciate - game animals, not so much. Optically, these scopes hit the proverbial mark: XD extra-low dispersion glass increases resolution and color fidelity while XR fully multi-coated lenses maximize every minute of shooting light. The side focus/parallax adjustment is easily accessible while keeping a trim profile and allowing optimal mounting height. With a 4x zoom range, the Diamondback HP's offer highly versatile magnification configurations to suit a wide variety of firearms and shooting applications. Okay, it seems the buck does stop here.
Certainly ED glass, fully multi-coated optics, one-piece main tube and a hard anodized finish are desirable features. The one-piece main tube is machined from a billet of aircraft grade aluminum and the matte black finish looks nice. Water proof and fog proof performance is ensured by argon gas purging and O-ring seals. The fast focus eyepiece is especially handy on a scope that will be used by more than one shooter, as are all of our test scopes.
The extreme windage and elevation adjustment range of 110 MOA means that your scope mounts would have to be pretty darn far out of alignment before you would run out of adjustment range. The adjustment dials can be reset to zero after sighting-in the rifle and the adjustment turret caps are aluminum.
We don't see any point to parallax adjustment on a 2-8x big game hunting riflescope (just set it at 100 yards and leave it alone). However, it can be handy on the 3-12x42mm and 4-16x42mm varmint scopes that constitute the balance of the Diamondback HP line.
The reticle is crisp and clear, receiving praise from the staff. It is mounted in the second focal plane, as we prefer, so it does not change apparent size as the magnification is changed.
One complaint we had about the windage and elevation adjustments on the previously reviewed Vortex Crossfire II was the clicks were too soft. This has been largely rectified on the Diamondback HP, as the 1/4 MOA clicks are more positive.
Vortex uses what they call a "precision glide" erector system for smooth magnification changes with the large, heavily knurled zoom ring. We agree that zooming the scope is unusually smooth, yet there is sufficient resistance to prevent inadvertent magnification changes.
The large zoom ring is easily turned when wearing gloves. Ditto the side parallax adjustment knob.
Optically, the Diamondback HP is competitive with other big game riflescopes in its price class. Unlike many zoom scopes, the optical performance is consistent from 2x to 8x with little apparent change.
Sharpness and contrast are good in the central area of the field of view (the part most shooters notice), decreasing toward the edge of the field of view. Distortion is not noticeable except at the edge of the field of view.
Color fidelity is good. Flare and internal reflections are very well controlled. There is no visible color fringing. Coma is not an issue.
While sighting-in our .30-30 test rifle, we found some interaction between the windage and elevation adjustments. This is common in medium priced riflescopes and shows why we recommend making changes in one plane at a time. It required one box of Hornady LeverEvolution ammo (20 rounds) before we were satisfied that the rifle was correctly zeroed to hit three inches high at 100 yards in order to take full advantage of the .30-30's MPBR. This is about average performance for riflescopes in this price range.
Perhaps our biggest complaint about the Diamondback HP is its restricted mounting latitude. With a large ocular bell, wide zoom ring and the big adjustment turret assembly necessary to accommodate the side focus knob, the space for scope mounting rings is barely sufficient for the Model 94AE's short (.30-30 length) action. We tried mounting this scope on a standard long action (.30-06 length) Nosler M48 bolt action rifle and it simply was not possible without using offset rings, which we dislike.
During our time at the range nothing broke or malfunctioned in our test scope. Guns and Shooting Online staff members Chuck Hawks, Rocky Hays and Bob Fleck participated in this review of the Vortex Diamondback HP and we agreed that it appears to be an entirely adequate big game hunting scope. It has found a home on our beautiful and highly regarded Model 94 Sporter rifle. Next, we will request one of the upscale Vortex scopes for review.
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