Vortex Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm Review
Over the years I have owned a variety of riflescopes varying significantly in cost and quality. Some of my value-minded purchases ended up being pretty good (for that period of my life) while others ended up being junk. On the other hand, some of my higher end optics have ended up on my nicer rifles and have become dedicated to a specific role (hunting or long-range shooting) and tend to get less use since they are not my general purpose go-to range guns that I share with my friends and family. I would love to put high end optics for every rifle I own, but unless I hit the lottery, that's just not going to happen. This has led me to the search for those "sweet spot" riflescopes which won't break the bank but still represent a good value considering costs, quality and features. As I have been considering these "sweet spot" riflescopes, one thing that is really coming into focus is the manufacturer's warranty. Over the past two years it seems like my ownership of optics is trending towards those where the manufacturers are willing to stand behind their products by offering unlimited lifetime warranties. One of these companies is Vortex Optics and they offer something called their VIP (Very Important Promise) Unlimited Lifetime Warranty that is fully transferable, doesn't require you to fill out a warranty card and doesn't require you to keep a receipt. Wow... that means that a Vortex optic is good to go for life and this incudes optics with electronics (red dots or illuminated reticles). Vortex Optics isn't the only manufacturer doing this, but I selected them for the purposes of this review because they are a company that offers lifetime warranty scopes at reasonable prices.
Having said all that, at the end of last year I was looking for a good "sweet spot" riflescope for another rimfire rifle and after studying the specifications for the Vortex Diamondback HP (High Performance) 2-8x32mm riflescope, I had to get one to review. The key criteria I was looking for was a low end power with some higher end magnification and the 2-8x range matched up nicely. Next I wanted something that was fairly compact and light weight and the 1" tube, 32mm objective lens and modest length seemed to meet my needs. The third was the ability to adjust the parallax to a shorter distance than standard rimfire riflescopes (50 yards) and this scope has a parallax adjustment range from 20 yards to infinity (more on this later in the review). The last should be a no-brainier... I wanted a good value riflescope with an unlimited lifetime warranty. I actually purchased the riflescope on a Black Friday sale in 2015 for $170 from MidwayUSA.com and got free shipping. At the time of this review (November 2016) they are running about $225 from Amazon.com and $250 from MidwayUSA.com with both having free shipping. My key point is to shop around for the best deal and you might save a few bucks.
Since my purchase, I have been using the riflescope on my Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Sport and I think the riflescope makes a great matchup with any rimfire rifle. Although my intent was always to put the Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm riflescope on a rimfire platform, it is not advertised as a rimfire riflescope and I feel it is also suitable for centerfire rifles so keep this in mind as you look at the details of the riflescope in this review.
For those of you whose budgets might not afford a riflescope at the price point of the Vortex Diamondback HP, you should checkout the similar featured Bushnell AR Optics 2-7x32mm AR/22 Rimfire Riflescope which comes in at about 1/2 the price but doesn't include the same level of glass, smooth power ring adjustment or unlimited lifetime warranty. Yet, the Bushnell has become one of my favorite value rimfire riflescopes and at the end of this review I give my opinion on how the Vortex stands up against the Bushnell riflescope.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Vortex Optics website on 10/24/16 and gives and Overview, Features and Specifications for the Vortex Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm Riflescope. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.
The Vortex Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm Riflescope came boxed as shown below.
The side of the box shows their features listed above in the Features section.
The end of the box shows the SKU: DBK-10013, zoom range and objective lens diameter and V-PLEX (MOA) recital type.
The contents were packed as shown below (nothing fancy but good enough).
Inside the box were the riflescope, lens caps, cleaning cloth, Riflescope Manual and card recommending using an inch-lbs torque screwdriver when installing your riflescope. Since no rings or mounts come with this riflescope, you should torque your mounting screws to the torque recommended by the ring/mount manufacturer. I typically torque the ring cap screws to somewhere between 15-20 in-lbs.
The Diamondback HP uses a one-piece tube construction machined from a solid block of "aircraft grade" aluminum alloy. I believe the grade of aluminum they are referring to is 6061-T6 and is fairly standard for many optics manufacturers. I wouldn't really consider it "aircraft grade" in terms of today's aircraft, but it is fine for this application. The scope is coated with a hard anodized finish with a fairly dull matte finish and has a really nice look.
The riflescope comes with a 1" tube diameter which I feel is perfect for the style of scope which is intended as a light weight slim profiled riflescope that would be nice on any rimfire, AR or other rifle where size and weight are a consideration.
The figure below gives the basic dimensions of the riflescope and was taken from the Vortex Optics website. The overall length of 11.6" is with the fast focus eyepiece adjusted to some nominal position. I checked the other dimensions and they seem to be correct.
The markings on the riflescope are in white lettering with the Vortex branding in several locations.
On the bottom of the scope you see that the scope was "MADE IN PHILIPPINES".
The objective end (left) and eyepiece end (right) are very similar in diameter. The objective lens is 32mm which when paired with the optical zoom range of 2-8x, you get an exit pupil diameter of 16mm at 2x and 4mm at 8x. In the darkest viewing situations and at 2x, the riflescope seems very bright because your pupil (about 7-8mm in diameter) is allowing a full transmission of light. At the low power magnification you also get a larger range of head placement (larger sides of you eye box). At 8x, your exit pupil is 4mm and you will have a much tighter eye box and in low light you see that it is darker looking through the riflescope. Everything I have described is common for all scopes that fall in this 2-8x32mm category. A key point is that if you are looking for a low light hunting scope where you might need higher power magnification, you might want to consider something with a larger objective lens diameter.
The riflescope weighed in at 15.9 ounces and I feel overall when compared to other riflescopes with similar features the Vortex is coming in at a fair weight toward the middle of the pack. If you compare it to something like the Bushnell AR/22, the Bushnell comes in at 19.6 ounces. On the other hand if you compare it to the Burris 2-7x32 models (they have several), the Burris models come in at 12 ounces.
The eyepiece includes a fast focus feature with 1.5 turns of travel to quickly adjust the diopter setting for different shooters eyesight. I'm not sure of the actual diopter range, but I found my corrected vision well within the adjustment range. The difference from adjusted all the way in to all the way out was about 0.42" in length. The top of the eyepiece is also marked with the direction to rotate for a positive (+) or negative (-) diopter adjustment. I'm not sure this is needed, but they give it to you anyway. The top is also marked with the model name "DIAMONDBACK HP" where the HP stands for High Performance.
The power adjustment is grooved to improve the gripping surface and just like the fast focus eyepiece it has a moderate level of resistance when making an adjustment. The ring is marked 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 which represents the full range of adjustment in whole power increments. Adjusting the ring had a smooth feel without too much resistance and it is possible to adjust the ring with the rifle shouldered and still maintain your target in view. Vortex says the scope has a "Precision-Glide Erector System: Uses premium components in the zoom lens mechanism to ensure smooth magnification changes under the harshest conditions" and I believe them.
Both sides of the eyepiece include the Vortex logo, name and the power range and objective diameter of this riflescope. The eyepiece housing is about 43mm in diameter.
The riflescope comes with a 32mm objective lens and has a 39.2mm outside diameter of the objective bell. Vortex states, "XD extra-low dispersion glass increases resolution and color fidelity while XR fully multi-coated lenses maximize every minute of shooting light." The overall brightness, optical clarity and crispness of the image was good and in line with the cost of this riflescope. When I initially compared it against my Bushnell AR/22 2-7x32mm riflescope, they were extremely close with no significant visible difference. After comparing them for about 15 minutes in bright light, I came to the conclusion that the Vortex produced a slightly more crisp image. I left the riflescopes setup and checked brightness at dusk and again after dark. It wasn't until the low light situations that you could see a difference between these two scopes with the Vortex being slightly brighter and again more crisp.
These next two photos give you an idea on the difference in exit pupil diameter when at 2x and 8x powers. The exit pupil is 16mm in diameter at 2x and 4mm at 8x. The 16mm diameter gives you forgiveness when aligning your eye and also provides more light to your eye.
The Vortex comes with a very simple V-Plex reticle. The photo on the left is looking through the riflescope and the photo on the right is a depiction of the subtensions for the features in this reticle. I feel the most significant subtension is the 2.5 MOA reference. These subtensions are valid when the scope is at its highest magnification (8x).
The turret housing has two covered turrets and a parallax adjustment knob.
After removing the covers, you see that there are low profile target style turret caps. The elevation turret cap is marked from 0 to 14 with 1/4 MOA clicks and has a total of 15 MOA per revolution. The windage turret cap is marked 0 to 7 and 0 to -7 depending on a Right or Left adjustment and also has a total of 15 MOA per revolution. Total travel is listed as 110 MOA for both turrets which is +/- 55 MOA. There are no reference marks on the turret housing indicating where you are in terms of total revolutions. If you think you will be making elevation adjustments greater than 15 MOA then I recommend you add your own reference mark on the housing indicating the Zero position. One thing I like about target turrets on a rimfire rifles is the ability shift your zero between different velocities of ammunition (subsonic, standard, high, or hyper velocities). I suggest that when you zero your rifle, set your turrets to be zero with your most used or most accurate ammunition and then zero your turrets. Next zero your rifle with other velocity ammunition and write down your adjustment needed for the different velocity ammunition.
The caps turn easily, but there is enough of a clicking detent to ensure they will not get easily bumped off zero. The clicks are distinct and audible, but they seem a little soft (not crisp).
The tops of the turret caps are marked with the direction to rotate the cap to produce either an Up, Down, Left or Right shift in bullet impact. You can also see that the caps are marked "1 Click = 1/4 MOA".
The turret covers are made from aluminum and have a nice textured surface. The windage cover has the Vortex logo on the top and the elevation cover is plain.
The turret caps can have the zeros reset set by removing the center screw with a coin and then removing and rotating the cap to the correct position and then retightening the center screw.
The turret caps are small and simple and contain what seems to be the same number of internal teeth as 1/4 MOA clicks in one turn. This allows you to precisely set the zero mark on the cap to align with the reference mark on the turret housing.
The cap center screw is low profile and contains an O-ring which contacts the turret to ensure waterproofness of the riflescope. Now is also a good time to mention that the riflescope is Argon filled to prevent fogging and is also shockproof. Since you have their VIP warrantee, if you ever have an issue, it will be corrected.
The parallax adjustment knob has the same texturing as the turret covers and is marked with increments of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and infinity yards. The knob has a firm resistance to rotation, but you can easily do it with one hand while the rifle is shouldered.
I installed the riflescope on my Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Sport rifle and used it during my range testing of the rifle and have been using it on this rifle since. Most likely this scope and rifle will remain a pair for a long time because I really like the combination.
This scope and rifle platform was able to shoot the following groups at 50 yards during my range testing of the rifle.
I mounted the riflescope using a set of Nikon P-Series mounts that I had on hand. These mounts run about $40-ish and are good enough (my opinion) for a rimfire platform. If I were to install this riflescope on a rifle that had more recoil I might consider something with more than two screws per ring cap.
These next two photos show the riflescope installed on the rifle.
The eye relief is advertised as 4.6". I measured the mid range eye relief to be about 4.7" at 2x power and 3.6" at 8x power on this riflescope. Personally I don't feel the scope has a fixed eye relief range. At 2x power, I also found the range of head positions to be about 1" (4.6" +/- 0.5") allowing you to still get your full field of view. At 8x the range of head position was shorter. I have recently repositioned the riflescope further back about 0.5" on the rifle than in the photos above to a better eye relief position.
The Vortex Diamondback HP 2-8x32mm Riflescope is a quality light weight riflescope that would be good on many rifles. Personally I think it makes a great matchup with any rimfire rifle and I would also consider it for centerfire AR styled or hunting rifles. The 2x to 8x range is perfect for many applications, but if you feel your needs may be hunting in low light situations where you need 8x magnification, you might want to consider one of Vortex's other Diamondback HP riflescopes with a larger objective lens (42mm) to gather more light. In this review I have compared this riflescope against the Bushnell AR/22 2-7x32mm riflescope several times. My general thoughts are the Vortex has a smoother power ring adjustment, is brighter in low light situation and has an unlimited lifetime warranty, but as of today you pay double the price for the Vortex based on Amazon pricing. My general feeling is that at a price of about $225, the Vortex is worth this extra cost if you can afford it.