April 14, 2021
For hunters who dream of owning a Zeiss, like I long have, the company has made things a bit easier on the budget by offering what some could consider an introductory line of riflescopes. The Zeiss Conquest V4 series of scopes hit the market a few years back, with much of the same famed European design and engineering the company has long been known for but in a package that can be found on the street right at the $1,000 mark. Now, whether that could be called an affordable optic, I’m not going to claim, but in my opinion, the Conquest V4 series does represent a great value at that price for the kind of performance the scopes deliver.
An Axis of Optics
It’s a long way from Oberkochen to Osaka (not exactly where Zeiss optics are made, but Suwa City, Japan’s optical-manufacturing hub, doesn’t have quite the same alliteration). The engineers at Zeiss know the flight well, as they worked closely with Japanese manufacturers when they were designing the Conquest V4 series. At the time, building an affordable optic to the company’s exacting standards just wasn’t possible in Germany. Japan, however, has long been known as the place to build high-quality optics at a friendlier cost to the consumer.
Since its introduction in 2018, the Conquest V4 series has proven to be a winner at Zeiss, but the line hasn’t gone stale in today’s world of ever-changing technology and tastes. Not content with the current offerings, and recognizing the quickly shifting market toward more long-range shooting and hunting, Zeiss has continually made tweaks to the Conquest V4 and added a few new models in mid-2020. Their ongoing goal was to provide hunters and shooters bright optics in a lightweight, compact design with components and features that deliver accurate and precise results, regardless of the conditions.
The upgraded models feature a new and improved second-focal plane reticle in both non-illuminated and illuminated configurations; cleaner, more useful ballistic solutions; enhanced engraving on the turrets for easier and quicker readability; side-parallax adjustments; and, for the extreme long-range aficionado, externally adjustable windage turrets that lock solidly in place.
In case you didn’t catch the hint, the numeral in the name stands for 4X, or four times magnification ratio. In my opinion, 4X is the most versatile zoom range. While 6X sounds splashy in marketing materials, the ability to quickly zoom from 4X to 16X offers a much more dynamic and usable range of magnification. This is particularly true for the hunter who may not want to shoot extreme long range but finds himself hunting in both thicker woods and open country. In addition to a 4-16x44 Conquest V4 that I tested, 3-12X and 6-24X riflescopes are also available in the line.
Best in Glass
The biggest pitfall for a premium manufacturer trying to court a more price-conscious consumer is watering down the product so far it doesn’t uphold the brand standards the company made its name on. The goal, after all, is to give that consumer a great experience with the hopes they’ll migrate their way up the model line until they’ve traded that Ford Ranger for a Raptor once their budget allows it. Zeiss recognized this and ensured any optic bearing their name met the company’s highest standards.
The very first thing I noticed when I lifted the Conquest V4 to my eye is how clear and clean the optical image was. The basement where my gun bench resides isn’t the brightest spot in the house, but even there, the sample target on the opposite wall really popped from the shadows. Once mounted to my test rifle, a Seekins Havak in .300 Win. Mag., and carried to the range, the Zeiss continued to impress. In low-light tests, I was able to pick out contrasting target points at middle distances throughout the zoom range. Zeiss claims a 90 percent to-the-eye light transmission, and without the scientific equipment to prove them wrong, I have no reason to doubt it. The high-definition lenses have a six-layer multi-coating, with proprietary exterior coating that sheds dust and water for clearer imaging in the kinds of conditions we hunters find ourselves in.
You’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but I’ll always prefer a standard plex-style reticle over most of the ballistic reticles that have become so popular in recent years. I’m not a sniper, and in almost every situation, I’d prefer to hone my hunting abilities rather than test my shooting skills. All that said, I do agree a ballistic reticle can help hunters make more ethical shots on game, particularly at distance.
And, of the ballistic reticles I’ve put to the test, Zeiss’s new ZMOAi-T30 is among the cleanest. With 30 MOA hashmarks in the lower half of the lens for elevation and 15 on the left and right side for windage, it provides precise aiming points at extended distances and does so without cluttering up or otherwise obstructing the hunter’s view. The lines are fine, offering even more view of the field, but not so small as to be indistinct. There are also windage dots all the way down the ballistic range, but I found them to be so tiny as to be invisible for my tired editor’s eyes.
My test model also featured an illuminated reticle, as designated by the lower-case “i” in the name. Rather than lighting up the entire reticle or a small dot, the illumination lights up the floating cross at the center of the reticle. The illumination is adjustable through 10 levels using a dial on the left, parallax turret. The illumination has “off” detents between each level, eliminating the need to completely turn the dial through the range to turn it on or off.
Dialing It In
For 2020, Zeiss increased the size of the numbers on the ballistic elevation dial, with even numbers getting a superscript treatment for faster, easier dialing to precise ranges. Each point features a solid detent that delivers a positive click, greatly reducing the chance of misdial. The user’s manual indicates 80 MOA of travel, at 20 MOA increments per rotation. I was able to dial 71 MOA after sighting-in my rifle to a 100-yard zero. To keep shooters on track, each full rotation exposes its own indicator below the dial. (The first rotation shows a solid line; the second two dashes and the third expose three dots.) The zero stop is solid and easily adjustable by removing the dial cap and an interior collar, though make sure you bring the provided hex wrench to the range with you.
While one of the big selling points of the new for 2020 models is the availability of an exposed, locking windage turret, my test scope came equipped with a standard, capped windage dial.
I ran the Conquest V4 4-16x44 scope through a number of tests on the range, from standard three- and five-shot groups at 100 yards and center-steel shots at 300 and 400 yards. The accuracy exhibited is as much attributed to the scope as the combination of the Seekins rifle and Hornady ammo.
I was more interested in how an “affordable” Zeiss riflescope tracked. I first performed a box test at 100 yards. After shooting for center, I dialed 24 clicks (or 8 MOA) up and shot again. The next shot came after 16 clicks right, the fourth after 24 clicks down, and the last at 16 clicks left. I shot this box three times with near exact same results. Elevation tracked nearly perfect, moving the up and down shots 8.6 inches (versus that 8.37 inches that would equal 8 MOA). A tall target test confirmed my findings for elevation, giving a 0.97-inch correction factor. When dialing for 20 MOA, the point of impact shifted 21.5 inches, barely 0.5 inch more than the expected 20.94 inches. There was zero drift off the center line. During the box test, the correction for windage was off a bit more. Left and right dialing moved the point of impact 3.5 inches, versus the 4.2 inches one would expect dialing 4 MOA.
MSRP $1000 | zeiss.com