Zeiss Conquest MC 2.5-8x32mm Riflescope
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online staff
Illustration courtesy of Carl Zeiss, Inc.
The famous Carl Zeiss optical company was founded in Germany in 1846. By 1852 they were already developing riflescopes. In 1922 they introduced the variable power riflescope to North America. So, as you can see, Zeiss knows riflescopes. The latest addition to the Carl Zeiss riflescope line is the (2007) Conquest MC 2.5-8x32mm scope reviewed here.
Zeiss Conquest riflescopes are assembled in the U.S.A. from arsenic/lead free glass elements made in Germany and one-piece aluminum alloy tubes with a durable anodized finish. The optics are fully multi-coated and the scope is nitrogen filled, watertight and pressure tested. It is guaranteed to be waterproof, even with the plastic windage and elevation screw caps removed.
The Zeiss multi-coatings reflect amber, green, magenta, and purple in a most attractive manner as you peer deep into the scope. If I had a crystal ball, I'd have Zeiss multi-coat it.
Other features of Conquest scopes include a self-centered 2nd image plain reticle, reset-able 1/4 MOA fingertip click adjustments, European fast eyepiece focusing, wide field of view and a wide adjustment range. Lens caps are included. For U.S. customers there is a limited lifetime, transferable warranty and the accompanying cards which should be returned to Zeiss after purchase of the scope.
The Conquest 2.5-8x32 riflescope is adjusted to be parallax free at 100 yards. Magnification is adjusted by turning the wide, knurled aluminum zoom ring at the front end of the large ocular bell. There is a large, tactile bump on the zoom ring located about in the middle of its adjustment range. In darkness you could set the tactile bump straight up (at the 12 o'clock position) and the scope would be set at about 4.5 power. Focus is adjusted using a very large, rubber covered ring at the rear of the eyepiece.
The ocular bell of this scope is larger than and objective bell for the very good reason that the ocular lens is larger in diameter than the objective lens. The outside diameter of the ocular bell is approximately 1.61" (41mm) and the outside diameter of the objective bell is 1.495" (38mm). The length of the ocular bell is 3.625", while the length of the objective bell is 2.74". This gives the scope an odd, tail heavy appearance.
Mounting latitude is good, as there is about 2.4" of standard 1" diameter main tube between the objective bell and the adjustment turrets and about 2.35" between the adjustment turrets and the ocular bell. This makes the scope over a foot long overall, but means that it can be mounted on most hunting rifles without resorting to extension bases or rings. Zeiss ad copy refers to this as a lightweight scope, but in reality it weighs a portly 13.75 ounces. Here are some catalog specifications for the Conquest MC 2.5-8x32mm scope.
The scope reviewed here was equipped with a Duplex type reticle. Finish is matte black with a blue Zeiss pennant logo on the adjustment turret and "Conquest" is printed in white letters on both sides of the ocular bell. In equally large white letters on the top surface of the ocular bell is written "Carl Zeiss 2.5-8x32 MC" and in smaller letters "Assembled in USA." There are also legible white numbers from 2.5 to 8 around the zoom ring and an index dot so that you can tell the approximate magnification for which the scope is set. Just in front of the knurled and rubberized eyepiece focus ring is a "+ 0 -" to indicate the direction of rotation to increase or decrease the diopter correction. If that sounds like a lot of white lettering on the ocular bell, that is exactly my impression, an impression echoed by Guns and Shooting Online gun maker and engraver Rocky Hays.
None of these markings appear to be engraved or stamped into the metal; the numbers and letters are just silk screened onto the ocular bell. How well they will hold up under rough usage is anyone's guess, but clearly not as well as engraved markings.
Zeiss recommends this scope for use on everything from .17 Mach 2 rifles to .375 Magnum rifles. They also suggest it for use on both varmint and mountain rifles. As much as I like the 2.5-8x magnification range (and it is just about my all-around favorite), that may be going a little too far. It is however, excellent for a wide variety of CXP2 and CXP3 big game hunting rifles, particularly those chambered for cartridges on the order of the .260, 6.5x55, 7x57, 7mm-08, .308 Marlin, .308 Winchester, .30-06, 8x57, .338 Federal, .338-06 and others with a similar trajectory and maximum point blank range.
We mounted the Conquest on a new CZ Model 550 American rifle in 6.5x55 that we had received for review. 2.5-8x is a very flexible magnification range, and 6.5x55 is a very versatile caliber, so the two are a good match.
As soon as we began to zero-in the rifle we encountered the rather unusual markings on the windage and elevation fingertip adjustment knobs. Both knobs are exactly identical, and both are marked with "U/R" and an arrow indicating clockwise rotation. We (correctly) guessed that "U" meant "up" and "R" meant "right," but it is unusual to see both on a both adjustment knobs. Considering the price of this scope, it seems like a funny way to save a penny.
The adjustment knobs can be lifted and then turned to re-center them after the rifle has been sighted-in. Unfortunately, however, the center or "zero" position is not marked on the knobs! There are just a large number of closely spaced white lines, each representing 1/4 MOA, that extend about 2/3 of the way around the knob and then stop. The remaining 1/3 of the adjustment knob's circumference is completely blank. These knobs are easy to grasp, tight, and click in precise fashion, so they work fine for their intended purpose. They have an excellent tactile "feel." They are just oddly marked.
The adjustments proved to be accurate in our test scope. When I dialed-in 2" (8 clicks) of windage at 100 yards, that is what I got. Moving the bullet impact up and down (elevation) proved to be equally precise. I would not quite call these "target quality" adjustments, but they are better than the adjustments in most hunting scopes and made sighting-in the rifle quick and easy.
The view through the Zeiss Conquest is sharp and clear with only a little distortion at the extreme edges. Flare suppression is excellent, even without a lens hood, which is not supplied. The zoom ring turns with just about the right amount of resistance, enough to prevent inadvertent change and yet easy to manipulate even with gloved hands. The eyepiece focus ring, on the other hand, is inordinately hard to turn. Presumably this is to prevent inadvertent focus changes.
The Duplex style reticle features fine crosshairs in the center and relatively heavy posts. I like the fine crosshairs, but the posts are too heavy for my taste. This is in the European fashion and perhaps an advantage for shooting in near darkness, but the heavy posts make it more difficult to follow running game. I prefer Leupold's original thin Duplex posts. Technical advisor Bob Fleck, on the other hand, really liked the Zeiss interpretation of the Duplex reticle.
The Zeiss Conquest line is not inexpensive, but they are not outrageous, either. Price and performance are roughly comparable to the Leupold VX-II and Weaver Grand Slam lines, both of which are also excellent scopes. These are all what we consider to be solid four-star (****) riflescopes, the type frequently chosen by experienced hunters and riflemen for their "go to" rifles. The Zeiss Conquest MC 2.5-8x32mm scope is a worthy entry in the class and definitely worth consideration.
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