The first thing we notice with this scope is that we are dealing with quality; everything has a feel
of precision and quality on the scope. The finish is a low reflective matte but with a little bit of
luster to it, so not as matte and dull as other tactical scopes, but certainly still matte and
serviceable for field work. The finish is very even and universal everywhere on the scope and appears
to be quite durable.
The tube is a single piece 30mm tube that has a good heft to it and a nice shape. There is an
interesting step up to the shoulder area which is a bit different but by no means is there anything
wrong with it. The shoulder area itself has a fairly rounded shape to it that sets the knobs up
fairly high which I like, as it allows you to see the knobs and the marking indicators easier from
behind the scope. The scope is fairly large with the 56mm objective and 30mm tube, but not overly
large like some other higher end tactical scopes.
The scope is a variable power with 6x on the low end and a full four times higher on the high end with
24x. The power ring is on the leading edge of the eye piece and has serrations on it as well as a raised
finger knob to aide in gripping the power change ring. The power ring itself takes a decent
amount of force to change so
you know it should stay in place and the required amount of force is even throughout the range. The
dial is also very smooth. There is also an adjustable diopter in order to focus the eyepiece to your
eyes. This adjustment is also smooth and covers the entire range in about 1.3 turns. When adjusted fully
out there is no slop or movement and the adjustment cover a wide range of eye focus. The entire eye piece
with zoom adjustment and diopter adjustment is well designed and very well built.
The tactical knob design on the Zeiss scopes is one of my favorite as I like the higher profile and
the flat top knurled ends. They are easy to read, have plenty of area for markings and are easy to
operate in all conditions. The clicks are very tactile and you can feel them through gloves, though
strangely, the elevation knob has no real audible clicks but the windage knob does. I'm not sure if that
is intentional or not. They are solid and precise clicks though. Another interesting thing about the
knobs on this scope is the markings. Each click is .5 cm (at 100 m) but on the elevation knob the
markings are whole numbers every 10 clicks (5 cm's). So on the knob, the number 1 equals 5 cm. Normally
on metric knobs each whole number means a decimeter (10 cm's) or 1 MIL if you want to think of it that
way, and that makes tracking your adjustments easy like you would expect. But with these knobs you will
need to remember to cut the number in half. 4 on the knob means 2 MILS or 20 centimeters.
Zeiss does offer
bullet drop compensator knobs on this scope and those would help make the odd markings a non issue.
Well, to top the elevation knobs, the windage knobs have no numeric markings at all besides the one
lone "zero" (0) marking to give a reference point. But if you come right or left 1.5 mils, that
reference is completely rotated out of view and you are on your own in terms of remembering where you
had your windage knob set at. In my mind this is not a very good thing and I would probably have some
custom knobs from Kenton made up for the scope.
One last thing on the knobs, there is no visual indicator from behind the scope as to which way is up
in terms of the elevation knob, or right in terms of the windage knobs. There are markings on top of
the knob, but nothing visible when the operator is behind the scope. The elevation isn't that big
of a deal because the knobs obviously count up in one direction, but on the unmarked windage knob, you'll
need to remember. Of course, if this is your primary duty optic that you always use, you'll have it
burned in your brain in no time. There are nice horizontal hash marks under the elevation knob that do
give you a visual indicator of how many rotations up you have gone.
On the elevation knob each rotation is 8 full markings or 40 cm's (4 MILS) and there is a total of 4 full
rotations, making 160cm's (16 MILS). That is 56 MOA from the factory, and if you are shooting a 308 and
would like to zero from 100 to 1000 meters, you will probably need a 15 or 20 MOA base
which we used on our test rifle and
we were able to zero at 100 yards, though your situation may be different
depending upon your rings, bases, and rifle.
Now, I have absolutely no complaints about the side focus knob. It is very smooth to operate, has some
mild serrations to help grip, it is fairly low friction to allow of easy adjusting, but there is
enough force required to keep it from easily moving on its own during use. It is also very rare to
see a focus knob that is evenly marked from 200-1000 meters at each 100 meter increment. It is broken
down to smaller increments under 200 meters, but the wide adjustment range allows for very precise
focusing at each range which was remarkable when in use. It really allows you to maximize the
excellent optics on the scope.
Speaking of optical quality, it is excellent on this scope. It is certainly in the very
high end category with other scopes such as the Schmidt & Bender glass. The glass is one of the things
that Zeiss is known for and this scope backs it up very well. It was exceptionally bright and clear
in all conditions we tested it in. There were no problems focusing at any range and the contrast was
very good as well as the light gathering in low light conditions.
The reticule is a standard Mildot reticule of what appears to be US Army dimensions (.22 mil diameter
dots). It is always refreshing to me to see the traditional mildot reticule as that is what I was
trained on and there is a comfort level there, but also, it is very clean and business like and not
over cluttered like some of the new generation reticules can be. The one thing that actually caught
me by surprise was that it is a 2nd focal plane reticule, meaning it does not grow and/or shrink
when zooming in or out. It also means you must be at one specific magnification power for the mildots
to be accurate. The reason this surprised me was because most European optics are 1st (or front)
focal plane reticules, especially on the higher end optics. There are pros and cons for both
methods, but FFP is usually a more sought after feature on high end tactical scopes. There is also
an Illuminated Reticule available, but this test scope did not have that feature.
Mounted on our Remington 700P mule rifle with a 20 MOA tapered one piece base, the scope functioned as
you would expect, precise in all ways. To check repeatability on the adjustments we shot it
through the box (one group, move right another group, move down, etc until a box is shot with the
5th group back on top of the 1st) and everything checked out fine. We tested it in about 35F degree
weather with no fogging problems or other cold weather issues, though 35 really isn't that cold.
Functionally everything was great, which we had no reason to expect otherwise.
So, how does this scope stack up as a tactical scope? Not bad, but not great either. The optics are
fantastic and will rival any scope on the market and there is nothing bad I can say about the optical
performance of the scope. Unfortunately, the whole knob situation turned us off a bit. If it was
a scope I was putting on a duty rifle, I would probably have some custom knobs made for the scope,
which you wouldn't think you would need to do on a $1800 scope. It could probably stand to use another
10-20 MOA of adjustment if you were using it on a rifle for extreme long range work beyond about
1200 meters, which optically this scope would be ideally suited for. The reticule not being in the
FFP is not much of an issue and some operators prefer it in the 2nd for some creative range estimation
techniques. So, overall, the scope is fantastic functionally, but could use some work on the details
in terms of making it a great tactical scope.