About a year ago or so, I picked up a Ruger American rifle, chambered in .308 Winchester, with plans to use it as a platform to build a long-range tactical and hunting rifle. It’s not for everyone, but regardless, I’m a guy on a budget and wanted the best of both worlds in a single rifle. Capitalizing on the inherent versatility of this low-cost, yet reliable rifle platform, I’ve already made several modifications, but needed to round out the build with a mid-to-long-range rifle scope. I wanted something that wasn’t overly expensive, but that still offered plenty of user-friendly features, a wide magnification range, and exceptional clarity and reliability in any shooting application.
Enter the Vortex Diamondback Tactical 4-16x44mm MOA Rifle Scope: a feature-rich, yet affordable rifle scope, aimed at delivering top-tier performance at an intermediate price point. Let’s take a look. But, before we do, it’s probably a good idea to briefly discuss some scope basics, as we’re not all professionals here.
A telescopic sight, commonly called a rifle scope, is an optical sighting device based on a refracting telescope. Telescopic scopes contain lenses that focus light rays from distant objects onto an eyepiece where they appear bigger than they really are to aid in delivering safe and accurate shots on target.
The larger lens is called the objective lens and is the lens furthest from the shooter’s eye. The objective lens transmits light back to the ocular lens, which is the lens closest to your eye. In general, rifle scopes work like telescopes. Light passes through the objective lens and is focused and magnified by the ocular lens to deliver a clear image at a variety of ranges.
Turrets allow you to adjust your elevation (up and down) and windage (left and right). Many modern long-range rifle scopes also come equipped with parallax adjustment turrets, which adjust to correct any displacement between the target and the reticle to eliminate eye strain and improve accuracy.
The tube, or main tube, is the portion of the scope between the eyepiece and the objective bell. The most common tube measurements are 1″, 30mm, and 34mm.
There are two typical classifications for reticles: first focal plane (FFP) reticles and second focal plane (SFP) reticles.
A first focal plane rifle scope has a variable-sized reticle that adjusts with the magnification changes, while a second focal plane rifle scope will have a static reticle at all magnifications.
First focal plane rifle scopes are commonly preferred by long-range competitive target shooters. This is because an adjustment in magnification on a first focal plane (FFP) rifle scope will allow you to see a change in reticle size. It will become increasingly larger as magnification increases for optimal clarity and precise shot placement. First focal plane reticles take a bit longer to acquire your target, though, as the changes in reticle sizing may be too large or too small at certain distances. This can make shot placement trickier and harder to acquire.
Second focal plane (SFP) scope designs, on the other hand, are favored by hunters as the reticle stays the same size at all magnification levels. This makes it easier to see at all ranges, though it does sometimes make it harder to deliver precision accuracy on distant targets.
The Vortex Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scope
Capable of engaging targets at ranges out to 1,000 yards, the Diamondback Tactical rifle is a 4-16x44mm first focal plane rifle scope with a 30mm aluminum tube. Rings are plentiful and affordable. The same is true with lens caps and scope mounts. I chose to go with the Vortex Hunter 30mm Rings for their low-profile design and optimal clearance with bolt guns.
Coming in at just over 23 ounces and 14.06” in overall length, the one-piece aircraft aluminum tube is incredibly lightweight. However, it’s also durable enough to withstand heavy use and abuse in darn near any hunting, target shooting, or tactical shooting application. Further, the tube is purged of all gasses and is sealed with O-rings to provide a waterproof and fogproof seal, which held true during a snowy and relatively muddy training session.
The XD extra-low dispersion glass lenses feature ultra-hard, scratch-resistant coatings to protect from scratches, oil, and dirt, maximizing light transmission and clarity. Even on a cloudy winter evening with the sun fading away rather quickly, I was able to strike targets without squinting or searching for the reticle against the target.
This particular model of the Diamondback Tactical comes equipped with a precision laser-etched and non-illuminated first focal plane (FFP) EBR-2C MOA reticle, designed to maximize long-distance shooting and ranging abilities. I’ll admit, I’m not too crazy about first focal plane reticles, as I’m more attuned to the ease (and dare I say, comfort?) of second focal plane systems. I’m just a bit slower with FFP systems and I need to let my eye adjust a bit longer. But, I digress.
The EBR-2C MOA reticle features a fine center crosshair with windage and drop line correction marks to allow shooters to effectively determine ranges, accommodate for holdover and windage corrections, and establish leads on moving targets. In my opinion, this makes the EBR-2C MOA reticle the ideal “If I could only have one” reticle design for tactical and hunting applications alike. It’s easy to pick up and even easier to make on-the-fly corrections. I’m still a second focal plane V-Plex MOA fanboy, but the EBR-2C MOA has proven to be effective on moving and stationary targets.
It’s important to note that the Diamondback line is also available with an EBR-2C MRAD reticle as well, though I have yet to venture away from MOA measurements.
The Diamondback Tactical features high, tactical-style elevation, windage, and parallax turrets, adjusting in 1/4 MOA increments with audible and tactical clicks. The parallax turret is adjustable from 20 yards to infinity, and the windage and elevation turrets offer an 85 MOA adjustment range, which is more than enough to punch out to distances well beyond 500 yards. The turrets are incredibly smooth and reliable, and the knurled surface has proved beneficial when wearing winter gloves.
Plus, this sucker comes equipped with Vortex’s proprietary zero-reset feature for simple re-indexing and a reliable return to zero. Repeatable zero with smooth adjustments; It honestly doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
Coming in at more than 14” in length (without the removable sun shade installed), the Vortex Diamondback Tactical isn’t exactly a small scope. However, it’s not overly large or heavy, either. It’s built like a brick and handles just about everything you can throw at it. It’s worth noting that this scope is backed by Vortex’s lifetime VIP warranty, and as other writers have commented, Vortex is an extremely responsive company, so you know your money’s been well-spent.
In all honesty, the Vortex Diamondback Tactical has worked well on my Ruger build. I’ve been able to ring stationary targets at distances of up to 450 yards (so far), and I look forward to trying it out later this year during deer season. With a price tag of below $500, I couldn’t be happier with the results I’ve garnered thus far. The glass is clear and bright, with overall very good quality. The power ring is smooth and quick to adjust through the entire magnification range. The eye relief is incredibly forgiving, and the wide magnification range has been exceptional in dropping targets at distances between 150 and 450 yards. I haven’t yet tried punching out to those ranges beyond 500 yards, but I’m sure I’ll give it a whirl now that the weather is warming up a bit.