Minox ZA-5 2-10x40mm Riflescope

By Randy Wakeman

Minox ZA-5 and ZA-3 Riflescopes.
Minox ZA-5 and ZA-3 Riflescopes. Image courtesy of Minox, Inc.

Minox is making a big splash with American assembled, German-designed scopes featuring Schott Glass and generous eye relief. The ZA-3 series has a 3:1 ratio erector, while the ZA-5 is a 5:1 power range line. Tested is a ZA-5 example.

Minox has an interesting history, as the Minox was the 8x11mm format sub-miniature "spy" camera invented back in 1936 by Walter Zapp (German-Latvian) and produced in Latvia until 1943. Latvia was occupied by Germany during the Second World War and then by the Soviet Union. After the war, in 1948, production was moved to Germany. Minox still manufactures sub-miniature cameras and Guns and Shooting Online Owner/Managing Editor owns both a classic Minox IIIs 8x11mm camera and a Minox projector for Minox slides. Minox was purchased by Leica in 1996. A management buy out in 2001 again made Minox an independent company.

My first experience was with a set of Minox binoculars during an informal optics comparison some years ago. The test set of Minox binoculars was and is outstandingly good. Now, Minox has launched a riflescope line. These scopes are designed in Germany for the American market, meaning the inclusion of one inch main tubes. They are the ZA-3 and ZA-5 riflescopes, with 3x and 5x erector ratios respectively. Minox scopes feature Schott glass and are assembled in the United States, in Oregon. The scopes are all feature four inch plus eye relief, argon purging, quick-focus ocular portions and offer three basic reticle choices. They are a plex, the #4 German and the BDC holdover reticle. I opted for the #4 German reticle in the ZA-5 test scope, a terrific hunting reticle as far as I'm concerned, and not as widely available as it should be. This is about a 14 ounce scope, which is lighter than most with 5x or greater power ranges.

There is a little ongoing discussion over the usability of extended zoom range scopes, from those who prefer fixed power scopes to those who want as wide a power range as possible. It really is up to the individual to decide for themselves. Personally, I do see the value in a 5x zoom scope like this. Leave it on two power for a deep woods bear hunt and enjoy the extra field of view. Ten power is more than you'll ever need for big game hunting. Ten power also limits a scope design in other ways. With a reasonable 40mm objective, ten power allows a 4mm exit pupil. Ten power is a practical limit before a scope might need an adjustable objective. If you feel you need a 50mm objective in this platform, Minox offers a ZA-5 2-10x50.

These are medium priced scopes, with the Minox ZA-3 clearly taking a shot at the Zeiss Conquest line. The ZA-3 costs about a hundred dollars less (discount retail price) than the Czech (Meopta) glass equipped Zeiss with a #4 reticle. With a standard plex reticle, the two scopes are about the same price, about five hundred dollars. In fact, right now the street price for this ZA-5 2-10 with the #4 reticle is about the same as a Zeiss 3-9x40mm with a #4 reticle. The Minox is about an ounce lighter, despite the extra zoom range. At about $480, this Minox is priced to sell. The ZA-3 3-9x40 with a German #4 reticle runs just under $400 discount retail price.

The tested Minox ZA-5 2-10x40mm scope has my favorite big game hunting reticle, the #4 German. It is a 14.1 oz. scope with very generous eye relief and is 12.4 inches long. The specifications for the relevant portion of the Minox line follow.

Minox ZA-5 and ZA-3 Riflescope Specifications.
Courtesy of Minox, Inc.

The rubber enhanced power ring is a dream to grip and turn effortlessly. The generously rubber-covered ocular quick-focus ring is easily appreciated and the scope has a very balanced, aesthetically pleasing look. My only minor grievance is the overly prominent, silver, bumper stickerish "MINOX" on both sides of the objective that could be more subdued and tasteful. A little more restraint in this area would be easier on the eyes from a cosmetic standpoint.

Minox is presenting their line as "uncompromising value" and that's not far off the mark. I'd say they have met their goal, on the basis of light weight, 5:1 zoom ratio, no excessive surcharge for a #4 reticle, very good eye relief, argon gas purging, good windage and elevation adjustment range and excellent image quality. The extended rubber power ring is also an upgrade. That's quite a substantial battery of features in this ZA-5 2-10x40mm Minox, for actually a few less dollars current street price than the popular 3-9x40 Zeiss Conquest with a #4 reticle. For all of these reasons, this is an easy scope to recommend.

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Copyright 2011, 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.