Optics for HFT w/ Thomas Bristow

Thomas Bristow’s on the hunt for a new HFT scope, and finds himself being seriously impressed by the Vortex Diamondback Tactical FFP.

Thomas was lucky enough to have the opportunity to test plenty of optics before finally settling on the Diamondback

Buying a new scope for an airgun can be overwhelming. With so many quality optics to choose from there are a plethora of things to consider, and we can be reluctant to part with our hard-earned cash because we’re frightened of making the wrong decision. How much magnification will I need? How big an objective lens? First focal plane or second focal plane? The list goes on…

When buying a new optic, I believe that it’s important to decide exactly what you are looking to get from a new scope – specifically some of the features that you may need. Scopes are a very individual piece of equipment.

Much like air rifles, most of the time personal choice is the leading factor which decides what make and model you end up with. Back in August of 2020 I was in this position, and whilst searching for the ideal HFT scope for my setup I began by taking a look on the internet for suitable scopes that would fulfil all my requirements.

Despite all the information I could find online, I discovered that in reality what really matters is how well your eye receives the image at the distance you intend to shoot at, and ultimately the best way to do this is by looking through as many scopes as you can. After trying out several scopes in shops, at shooting ranges and by testing my friends’ equipment, I stumbled upon the Vortex Diamondback Tactical FFP 4-16×44.

Choosing a telescopic sight can be a daunting experience, but understanding the features on offer will make the process a lot easier

Vortex are renowned for producing some of the most robust and reliable scopes around. Boasting superior build quality, their rugged design has proven to be popular amongst police and military personnel around the world. In addition to this, Vortex are so confident in their products that each optic is backed with an unconditional, lifetime warranty.

The British weather has sustained its erratic reputation for the most part of this year, which means that I’ve had the opportunity to test the Diamondback Tactical in sun, snow, fog, rain and at the most recent shoot I attended, hail. But despite the harsh conditions I was presented with, the Vortex has continued to exceed all my expectations.

Starting from the outside, making use of a solid piece of aircraft-grade aluminium, the Vortex Diamondback Tactical is of sturdy build whilst retaining the practicality of a moderately weighted scope (23.1 oz). 

As expected, the scope is waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. A series of O-rings effectively prevent any moisture or debris from entering the scope’s internals, whilst nitrogen gas purging stops any internal fogging. It’s rugged construction easily withstands the recoil of rimfires, PCP and springer air rifles. A hard anodised finish is both durable and visually pleasing.

The exposed tactical turrets are well mounted and tight when twisted, and their low profile easily withstands accidentally bumping into things or moving around in a gun bag or case. 

The addition of zero reset markings makes adjustments back to zero simple and quick. As pictured, the raised nib on the magnification ring ensures smooth and fast adjustments – allowing smooth adjustments even whilst wearing gloves.

Internally the Vortex Diamondback Tactical excels. Premium components in the lens mechanism ensure smooth magnification changes under even the harshest conditions. 

A series of low light dispersion and multi-coated lenses increases resolution, light transmission and clarity, delivering a sharp image. Making use of a 30mm main tube maximizes internal adjustments to a respectable 85 MOA or 25 MRAD.

The Vortex Diamondback Tactical is a first focal plane scope, meaning the scale of the reticle remains in proportion to the zoomed image as you change magnification. This becomes rather handy in shooting scenarios where extra magnification may be needed, as your aim points will remain the same.

One of my favourite attributes is the reticle. Protected between two layers of glass, the EBR-2C reticle is crisp and well defined, and is available in both MOA and MRAD. Despite being fairly busy I find this design to be extremely useful whilst shooting HFT – perfect for bracketing and ranging targets.

Vortex optics are exceptional value for money when you consider the quality. This has been my first encounter with the Vortex brand and I can confidently say that my experience so far has been faultless. If you are searching for a high-quality optic that doesn’t break the bank, then this could very well be it. In my opinion the Diamondback Tactical is one of those scopes that leave you genuinely surprised when you first look through it – I can assure you will not be disappointed.

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