Before this year’s firearm season, I was setting up my Ruger American rifle in 350 legend. I wanted to pick a scope that would have a clear sight picture out to about 300 yards, be less than $300, and hold a zero well. After looking at several different options from Leupold, Nikon, and Vortex, I settled on the Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40. I own several other Vortex products and have been very happy with the performance for the price. My Viper 10X42 binoculars are always with me while hunting and I have had really good luck with a Strike Eagle LPVO on my predator hunting setup.
At $200, the Diamondback scope was about the perfect price for this setup. My 350 legend is a rifle I only use a couple of weeks per year for deer hunting in the limited firearm zone of Southern Michigan. The rifle itself was about $500 and I was looking for a reliable scope that would compliment it. Due to the reduced range of the straight-walled 350 cartridge, 9 power zoom would be more than enough. Also, a 40mm objective lens would be plenty. While there is anecdotal evidence that a 50mm objective lens can provide improved performance in low light conditions, this generally only becomes apparent on very high-end optics. Even then, there are many who claim that any difference is on paper only. For most applications, the larger objective lens is not worth the added weight. The reticle on the Diamondback is BDC. I go back and forth between V plex and BDC. Honestly, on a rifle with a maximum range of 250 yards, BDC is not necessary, but it is not a hindrance. For every shot below 150 yards, I am using the center of the crosshair. Anything beyond that I would go down to the lower hashmark.
I mounted the scope using a set of Warne scope mounts. Using a scope leveling system I ensured that the scope was level to the rifle with the proper eye relief. I then torqued the rings using a Wheeler Fat wrench. After mounting the Diamondback I headed out to my sportsman’s club to bore sight and zero the rifle on the range. Using a Sitelite laser boresighter, I ran the specifics through a ballistic calculator and determined that for a 150 yard zero, the laser should match the center of the scope at 27.7 yards. I dialed it in, shot a group to check and adjusted about two clicks. After confirming the adjustment, I backed up to 150 yards and repeated the process on 3x power. I was able to get the gun sighted in to 2 MOA (3 inches of center) at 150 yards, which I am pretty happy with for the fairly inexpensive Ruger.
Overall, the scope holds a very consistent zero and provides a clear sight picture. While the glass is not quite as crystal clear as my Vortex Viper binoculars, it compares favorably to any other scope in the sub $350 range. Low light performance has been adequate and I have been able to shoot a variety of ranges without having to tweak the focus ring much. The Diamondback 3-9×40 is a single piece 1-inch aluminum tube. The scope is shock and fog proof. It has been argon gas sealed and a rubber O ring keeps water out. This means you can mount it, and use it. You don’t need to worry about using it in the rain or bumping it once in a while when crawling under trees.
For $200 the Diamondback is a great scope for the money. If you are looking at scopes in the plus $500 range, then you could do better. However, for the price, this one performs best in its class and will outperform many scopes in the $3-500 range as well. There is also the added piece of mind with Vortex that even if you were to put a bullet through the scope, they would replace it free of charge with their VIP warranty. For a budget rifle or a gun that sees minimal use, the Diamondback is a great option.