Zeiss Conquest MC 3-9x40mm Riflescope
By Ed Turner
At the time I purchased this riflescope it was in preparation for a wilderness mule deer hunt in Idaho, on horseback. Another product that caught my eye at the time was a new T3 Tikka and I decided on a SS/Laminated (no longer available) in .300WSM as the scope's companion. The scope and rifle arrived about the same time so were only tested and tuned together in preparation for the October 2005 hunt. The rifle, for those not familiar with it, was a new version from Tikka, lightweight and produced in long action form only. Had I known this at the time I ordered it, I likely would have gone with the more well know and ballistically identical .300 Win. Mag. in the Tikka. Live and learn.
With its full four inches of eye relief, the Conquest turned out to be an excellent choice for this rifle. A 6.5 pound rifle in .300 anything magnum, will kick with the best of them; the additional eye relief was certainly welcomed. Being as my Tikka had SS finish I opted for the silver finish on the Zeiss as well and be sure you want it, as it is about $100 extra. Following are the vital statistics of the Zeiss 3-9x40mm Conquest.
Chuck Hawks has already commented about the fine appearance of Zeiss multi-coatings and I will simply second his description: "The Zeiss multi-coatings reflect amber, green, purple and magenta in a most attractive manner as you peer deep into the scope." I have certainly not encountered a better-looking set of lenses.
I was quite satisfied that the more costly silver tone matched the Tikka's finish and silver supplied rings. My Tikka had the standard grey or as sometimes called "pepper" laminate stock. The black trim on the scope looked quite nice with the SS and pepper laminate. The four inches of eye relief had the good-sized ocular lens right up against the rear ring, giving as much relief as possible.
The blue Zeiss logo and almost endless lettering (black) did bring the total package all but over the top. For those who own several scopes, you may have wondered, as I have, why scope manufacturers cannot agree on whether the magnification on variable power scopes should increase by turning clockwise or counter-clockwise. Most of my good scopes (Leupold, Nikon, Burris and Bushnell Elite) all INCREASE magnification by turning clockwise. The Zeiss Conquest, on the other hand, works opposite. I always try to take note of that fact and keep it in mind when I hunt with this "oddball."
Other than the backward zoom ring and over the top advertising graphics, this is one very fine scope, period! At the time of its purchase it was, easily, the finest scope I had ever used. The Conquest has a fine fast focus eyepiece with near perfect resistance that does not allow it to wander, once set for your eyesight. Pretty much the same deal with the power adjustment ring. Tactile and significant pressure required, nearly a perfect job by Zeiss.
Range work consisted of 50 yard initial sighting and then a good bit of 100 yard work, getting the 1.5" or so needed above line of sight at 100 yards set and then the final 200 yard work was done from shooting sticks. Both rifle and scope performed very well, with groups as small as 2" at 200 yards. An oddity was finding that the 180 grain Nosler Partition bullet, which I tested along with the 165 grain bullet, actually printed about 2" higher at 200 yards.
Windage and elevation adjustments took effect immediately (as expected) and I had no worry about "scope eyebrow," even with the inescapable recoil of the powerful .300WSM. As long as I'm not being bumped in the face, I have a reasonable amount of tolerance to recoil. The Conquest's fine eye relief, along with proper mounting, ensured shooting to be at least safe, if not downright fun.
Since then I have purchased several more high quality scopes made by Nikon, Burris and Leupold and only two of the dozens of scopes I own come anywhere close to equaling or exceeding the Conquest's overall quality and performance. The Zeiss 3-9x40 gives exceptional low light performance, better than any scope I've ever tested except, perhaps, the fine Leupold 30mm European 2-7x33mm.
The Zeiss has a semi-heavy duplex type reticle (Z-plex) as standard and it is to my eye much better in low light conditions than any other standard duplex reticle. My 30mm European wears a German #4 type reticle and it is the king of low-light conditions (other than illuminated reticles).
Again, as far as a standard duplex, the Zeiss Z-plex is a tad heavier than most others and I would love to see what a German #4 in a 4x Zeiss Conquest would look like for an all-around deer or elk rifle. Perhaps someday I will. Of course, there is more to any scope than low-light performance and simple sighting in, so a bit about the meat and potatoes of this fine glass.
I'm normally not a huge fan of scopes with objectives as large as 40mm, but the Conquest 2.5-8x32mm is only slightly shorter and an ounce or so lighter and a good bit more expensive, so Ed became a member of the masses and made the 3-9x40 his scope of choice. I have not regretted it for a moment. It is not a small scope, at about 13-1/2" long and 15 ounces, but it did fit the Tikka very well and looks very nice atop its new home, a Remington 700 Titanium in .270 Win.
Very light and agile, the Titanium is a great place for the added few ounces of the Zeiss and it actually gave me another chance to examine, mount and sight-in the Conquest a second time. Every bit of that was a pleasure. The scope has a large amount of mounting latitude and the large ocular bell mentioned earlier is offset by a sizeable objective, so to my eye, while not a svelte Leupold design, it certainly has a handsome Germanic flair.
I had another scope already installed on the 700 and by using my old Bushnell boresighter with grid made short work of the "scope exchange" and the new combo was ready for final tuning. The fast focus eyepiece works very well and the sight picture is crisp and clear from edge to edge. The bold reticle is close to as good as it gets for game shooting and I would never shy away from another Zeiss purchase.
Possibly the best review for this scope was my hunt and the tough conditions the scope endured and how it managed to perform flawlessly after about 100 miles of horseback riding and on the last afternoon of a tough seven day wilderness hunt. In addition, the finish, after much abuse, still looks as new. That performance, along with the impressed look on my guide's face as he looked through it one evening, well after sunset told me it was indeed worth every cent. To say he was impressed is a huge understatement.
To say I was also impressed, while sitting on a mountain side after sunset and looking through my Steiner binoculars and then my Zeiss, to find the Zeiss scope significantly brighter than my very nice Steiners is maybe the most important part of this review. As I said before, low light performance is not the only way a scope should be measured. However, if it is a crystal clear, well made scope that also impresses where very few others can; just before dark, it's a darn good scope to me!
Copyright 2008 by Ed Turner. All rights reserved.