I usually try to stay away from products made in China. However, every once in awhile you find a gem. The Vortex Diamondback Binoculars are one of those gems.
I usually review products within a couple months of receiving them. These Diamondback binos were never meant for a review. Several years ago I needed a new set of binoculars for police work. I usually keep a set on the front seat of my car for quick access on perimeters or just keeping an eye on a sketchy subject. I didn’t want to drop a pile of cash on a set of high end peepers. I am usually only observing through them for 20-30 minutes at a stretch and it may be weeks between when I need them. However when I need them, I need to be able to ID a subject. Blurry cheap optics just don’t cut it at 2300 hrs.
Instead of just buying a cheap set of Tasco’s from Walmart I did a little research. I came across a sweet deal on a set of “factory second” Diamondbacks. The retailer described the defect as discoloration in the rubber coating. First quality Diamondbacks are not expensive. The discount on these put them into the “no risk” category. I put an order in and had them at my door a short time later.
When I inspected the model, I found what I believed to be the “defect”. There was a slight hint of black in the tan rubber armor under the hinge of the binoculars. I laughed because it was something I would not have cared about if it was on a first quality retail set.
I was pleasantly surprised at the clarity of the binoculars. The 10x magnification allowed me to see details and the 42mm objective transmitted enough light to see those details at night under the glow of half shot-out street lights. The focus wheel turned quickly and smoothly and the eye relief was not picky. When using them on the range during matches I found them comfortable to observe with over longer periods.
Several years later these same binoculars still ride on the passenger seat of my police car. They have been dropped, kicked, slammed around in field packs, and rolled around the floor during several pursuits. They have endured extreme heat and direct sunlight as well as freezing cold without any sign of fogging or hazing. They are still as clear today as the day I purchased them.
They are not without fault. Time has taken a toll on the caps. They don’t stay as snug as they once did and often just fall off when opened. The rubber coating has picked up a considerable amount of grime. So much so that the once visible “defect” is now indistinguishable. The glue holding the rubber to the body at the hinge has started to release and the Vortex badge has fallen off at some point and is lost to wherever. However the optics are still trouble free. Although they may look like something kicked around an alley, they function perfectly.
Vortex has tweaked the design on the Diamondback since my original set was produced. The MSRP is $279.00 for the current model. Judging by the trouble free experience with my original set, I would consider this a good value. When you consider that even this mid-level model is covered by Vortex’s VIP Warranty (lifetime) they become a great value:
We will repair or replace your Vortex product in the event it becomes damaged or defective—at no charge to you. It doesn’t matter how it happened, whose fault it was, or where you purchased it.
If you need a set of binoculars for a harsh environment, it is hard to pass up a model that delivers the goods and is backed by a warranty that will cover your accidents.