Best Budget Optic? Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 Review

There is a popular saying that many gun enthusiasts know, “Buy once; cry once.” Basically, this means that it is generally worth the extra pain and expense to buy high quality, expensive product instead of many budget options. Vortex’s new optic, the Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 destroys this mantra with its quality construction, many features and high optical clarity all while maintaining an itty-bitty price tag. Specifically, what allows the Diamondback Tactical to compete with the high dollar options that are on the market are its first focal plane reticle, easy to use reticle design, precise tracking, robust tactical style turrets, wide power range, and truly surprising optical clarity. This is the kind of optic that I would recommend to anyone interested in it.

The Diamondback Tactical has tactical style exposed turrets, fast focus eyepiece, parallax adjustment and a ribbed magnification ring.

First Impressions

Upon inspection of the Diamondback Tactical, I was impressed with what I saw. The riflescope came with the typical microfiber cloth and sunshade that most optics come with. The turrets are aggressive, but not too much so as to be hard on the fingers. They also have positive detents and audible clicks that you would expect in a long range riflescope. The adjustment values on the turrets are easy to read which makes for quick dialing of DOPE. Finally, on the turrets, each had a cap which was slotted so that the zero could be changed easily in the field with a coin or the rim on a spent cartridge.

Slotted turret caps allow quick zero changes in the field with any kind of available tool.

 

The magnification ring is easy to grip and functioned smoothly with a minimum effort across the whole power range. Initial inspection left me with no complaints overall and I was excited to go out and test the internal components in a tracking test.

Tracking Test

Possibly the most important thing about an optic, especially those which are long range shooting oriented, is that it tracks with utmost precision. This means that when 10 MOA is dialed on the turret, the reticle is moved by the internal mechanics of the scope exactly 10 MOA and so on. With today’s advancements in technology and the heavy use of computerized machinery, this is becoming less and less of a problem but must be tested nonetheless. The test that I chose to use in this experiment is called the “tall target test.” In this test, a target which has been leveled with gravity, or by a bubble level, is placed 100 yards downrange. On this target, there is a point of aim at the bottom, and a vertical line which extends approximately 35 or so inches upward. First, a group is fired at the point of aim. Then the optic is adjusted 30 MOA up and another group is fired at the same point of aim. Results should yield a group at the point of aim as well as another approximately 31.5” up on the vertical line. This shows that the vertical adjustment on the scope adjusts purely for elevation. Then math can be used to determine with what accuracy it does so. A similar step can then be performed to check the windage as well.

Zeroing the gun before shooting a tall target test, the confirmed zero was then set taking advantage of the slotted turrets while in the field.

Because the precision of the rifle is of the highest importance for this test, I chose to use my most accurate rifle, a custom rifle built with a savage target action, criterion barrel chambered in 308 Winchester and a Duplin bipod to name a few of the most important parts. For the test, I used ammunition from my personal stash of factory ammo; Gorilla Ammunition’s 175 grain tipped MatchKing 308 Winchester cartridges. I chose these because they have proven themselves to shoot a consistent <1/4 MOA out of my gun. The distance was confirmed to be exactly 100 yards with a Leupold RX 2800 as well as a Leica 1600B rangefinder. The first 3 shots fired at my point of aim went through basically the same hole, just to the right of the bullseye. Then I dialed up 30 MOA and shot another group while maintaining my original point of aim. This yielded 3 shots in another one hole group just to the right of the vertical reference line. After measuring the distance between the groups, I took the 31.438” which the tape showed and used it in the following formula to find the expected distance between groups and extrapolate the accuracy which this scope tracked:

***Distance from target x MOA value dialed x MOA to inches conversion = expected point of impact in inches***

**100 yards x 30 MOA x 0.01047 inches/MOA = 31.41 inches**

Using the expected value of 31.41” and the actual value of 31.438”, it was determined that the Diamondback Tactical tracked with 99.91% accuracy. This means that if a person were to dial a hypothetical 100 MOA into this optic, it would only be 0.09 MOA off! Impressive to say the least for this vortex optic.

Final results of the tall target test. Point of aim is the location where the target lines cross, vertical adjustment landed on the Y axis above the point of aim and horizontal adjustment landed on the X axis to the right of the point of aim.

Next, the windage was tested in much the same way. After being returned to zero, the Diamondback Tactical was dialed to the right 15 MOA and a 3 shot group was fired at the same point of aim as in the elevation test. Again, using our formula, we can determine the expected distance between the zeroed group and the one just fired. Doing this, we see an expected distance of 15.705” which can be compared to the measured value which I found to be 15.1875”. Again, using these values, the windage turret tracking was found to be 96.7% accurate. I found this odd considering how precisely the elevation turret tracked, but when put into perspective, I found these results to be satisfactory.

***Distance from target x MOA value dialed x MOA to inches conversion = expected point of impact in inches***

**100 yards x 15 MOA x 0.01047 inches/MOA = 15.705 inches**

After the windage test group was fired, the optic was returned to zero and another 3 shots were fired in order to confirm an accurate return to zero. At this point, my group at the point of aim opened up to be 0.4” most likely due to the barrel heating up. The results confirm an accurate return to zero nonetheless. Also, upon final inspection of the target, I determined that the optic elevation and windage turrets did a great job adjusting purely for the Y and X axis respectively.

After having 90 MOA of adjustment dialed into the Diamondback Tactical, the return to zero was perfect and 3 additional shots landed in the bullseye.

Specifications and Features:

Even though the Diamondback Tactical is a budget optic, Vortex still packed it with as many features and quality components as possible. The use of XD (extra-low dispersion) glass and a variety of coatings make the image very crisp and clear. And of course, the glass etched first focal plane reticle further adds to the value. Being the first focal plane, any ranging using the reticle or holdover corrections are accurate despite the magnification due to the “growing and shrinking” nature of the reticle. MSRP for the 6-24×50 is $499, but it can be found in store for around $400.

A few construction features of the Diamondback tactical include the use of a 30mm tube which allows for maximum internal adjustment for long range shooters. Also, it is nitrogen purged which keeps this optic fog proof and waterproof. The finish on the optic is hard anodization which is sure to stand the test of time and abuse that most people will throw at it. The fast focus eyepiece is the final construction feature that I want to point out which is a must-have on any precision optic.

The feature set of the Diamondback Tactical makes it a welcome optic on any long range style rifle.

First Focal Plane Reticle

It is important to discuss what an FFP (first focal plane) reticle is and how it adds to the value of this scope because it is one of the biggest features that a purchaser will be getting with the Diamondback Tactical. For the purpose of this discussion, there are two types of optics; FFP and SFP (second focal plane). The SFP reticle is what most of your average hunting scopes with duplex reticles have. In this type, the reticle is placed in a position within the optic itself which causes it to appear to stay a constant size throughout the magnification range. This is useful in situations where a fine crosshair is needed despite the magnification that you choose to use. In an FFP rifle scope, the reticle seems to grow and shrink as the magnification is increased and decreased respectively. This is a very important feature to have in a dynamic situation such as hunting or competition because the reticle values remain constant across the magnification range. This means that the 2 MOA or 5 MRAD value in the reticle will always represent 2 MOA or 5 MRAD no matter the magnification that the scope is on. This aids in wind calls, elevation corrections, and ranging. Typically, this feature adds around $400 to the price of any optic but that is not the case for this one.

The first focal plane EBR-2C reticle adds to the functionality of this rifle scope. More can be read about this reticle here: http://vortexoptics.com/product/vortex-diamondback-tactical-6-24×50%20FFP-riflescope_with_ebr-2c_moa-reticle/reticle

Final Judgement:

After putting the Vortex Diamondback Tactical through its paces, I am very pleased with the results. The optical clarity rivals that of many higher end scopes, the reticle is useful for long-range applications, the turrets track well and the price tag is easy for anybody to swallow. There are many other budget type optics out there, but in its league, I would venture to say that this one is the best. Vortex has hit a home run with this product and I am glad to recommend it to anybody who is in the market for a tactical style long range optic and has a budget that they need to adhere to.

A riflescope that I thoroughly enjoyed using, the Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 is one that I would recommend to anyone looking for something of its nature.

To learn more, visit Vortex Optics by clicking HERE.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next long range rifle***

About the author: Riley Baxter is an avid and experienced hunter, shooter, outdoorsman, and he’s worked in the backcountry guiding for an outfitter. He also get’s a lot of enjoyment out of building or customizing his firearms and equipment. Check out Riley’s Instagram @Shooter300

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Francis A. Foskett January 8, 2019, 7:01 pm

    what make/model/part# of sunshade are you using?

  • Robert January 7, 2019, 5:32 pm

    So!! What is dam price?

    • James Troiano January 7, 2019, 7:52 pm

      $399

  • george January 7, 2019, 8:37 am

    is it tough enough to stand up to a rifle chambered in 50 BMG?

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