Gear Review: Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope
The Diamondback promises big performance in a small package, but did Vortex deliver on this economical spotting scope?
Testing Hunting the spacious prairie of South Dakota often means the game your after can be miles away. Because of that, good glass is a necessity to see if the pursuit is worth the effort of closing the distance. In these situations, a spotting scope shines when your binoculars have reached the end of their rope.
I used the Vortex Diamondback 20x60x60 for a season’s worth of tags in the Rushmore State, chasing whitetails in the southeast, waterfowl in the northeast, mulies in the northwest, and elk in the southwest. It quickly became a favorite piece of gear that made an appearance on every hunt.
Specs Price | $500
Magnification | 20-60x Objective Lens Diameter | 60 mm Linear Field of View | 114-51 feet/1000 yards Angular Field of View | 2.2-1 degrees Close Focus | 20 feet Eye Relief | 17-14 mm Exit Pupil | 3-1 mm Length | 14 inches Weight | 33.8 ounces
What to Like
The Diamondback series is one of Vortex’s most popular, with the spotting scope having brethren in the rifle scope and binocular family as well. As with the entire Diamondback series, Vortex has aimed to create economical optic that brags of performance and durability.
On the durability note, this is often an overlooked part of having quality optics. Most envision that they’ll treat their new binoculars or scope with utmost care, thinking that it’ll never feel a bump or bruise. However, that’s not the case in real world hunting scenarios.
My Diamondback Spotting Scope spent about a month riding in the backseat of my pickup in case I needed to quickly access it to glass up a buck. From October to January, with repeated use and plenty of bumps and bruises, the scope performed the same all season just as it did out of the box. If you do mess up, though, Vortex offers lifetime warranties that are hassle free to deal with, no matter whose fault it is, how it happened, or where you purchased it.
As for the performance itself, the scope was top notch. It does its best work in the magnification range of 20-40x, providing sharp images that allowed me to do things like count the exact points on a buck, identify the different species of duck from across a lake, and scan for collars on a large herd of distant elk. It did well in low-light, which is when you’ll be counting on it most, and never fogged up, even when temps dipped below freezing.
What might be most likeable about the Diamondback is it’s size, though. While 14 inches is very impressive for a spotting scope of this magnification, the weight of just 33.8 ounces is outstanding. Some scopes that go to 60x literally weigh twice as much, with most of them falling in the 40-60 ounce range. This is a big deal when you’re considering the burden of hauling a spotting scope around in your backpack on a hunt, but Vortex makes it an easy decision with the efficient design.
The dials on the scope performed as expected, and were hardly noticeable on any hunts (which is a good thing). The focus and magnification were always responsive, yet smooth. This is something you typically don’t appreciate until it doesn’t work like it should.
What to Dislike
The list of dislikes for the Diamondback is short. One gripe is that it often struggled at long distances when the sun was high, showing heat waves across the landscape that created a mirage effect. It should be noted that this is problematic for nearly all spotting scopes, and will give users fits even as you pay twice as much.
Also, at the higher powers, the scope didn’t offer the greatest imagery. Things would have the tendency to be blurrier or over-exposed, but it was never enough to be an inconvenience. For example, I could easily pick up on the frame size of deer at great distances to know if they were shooters or not, but couldn’t always get the finer details like brow size.
For $500, this is one of the most feature rich spotting scopes on the market at that price point. It easily punches above its weight class with glass quality and durability, and it can’t be stressed enough how remarkable its size is. This is ideal for those who love firearms, whether you’re looking use it for a day at the range, a weekend on the mountain, or just to keep it under your pickup’s passenger seat.