By Brad Fenson
Something obscure in my visual search pattern caught my attention, and it didn’t take long to identify it as the white throat patch of a mature white-tailed buck. The buck was just over 100 yards from where I sat, standing in the dense tree cover. He had slipped in undetected and was using a vantage point to overlook the narrow opening in the cover I was watching. The cagey old deer was watching carefully for danger, before committing to move forward. If I tried to lift my binoculars, the stalemate would be over.
I had my rifle on a bipod with the buttstock tucked under my arm. I slowly raised the back of the stock to my shoulder, giving me a picture-perfect view through the scope. The buck stayed in the cover for close to five minutes before making a move to slink through the edge of some thick willows. When the old buck turned broadside, I slowly squeezed the trigger.
I remember that hunt like it was yesterday and have never forgotten the difference a quality riflescope makes when on a challenging hunt. The mature buck was the first animal I had ever taken with a ZEISS scope. The illuminated reticle on the Victory HT 2.5-10 x 50 was more like a laser guidance system for my bullet. It was overcast and snowing, but I could see every detail of my target. Ensuring there wasn’t any doubt, I took two elk that season with the same scope and have used it as the benchmark to measure other optics since.
ZEISS has a legacy for outstanding quality in all aspects of optics production, with a clear advantage that is easy to see. One of the elk mentioned was shot with my trusty ZEISS in the fading light of late December. The temperature was a balmy -43°F, and I questioned my sanity being there. However, when two elk jumped the fence and trotted out 75 yards in front of me, I wasted no time putting one of them on the ground. The scope was clear from edge-to-edge and turned the hazy winter evening into a bright image.
With seasons getting underway this year, new optics were in the cards for some of my favorite rifles. To add to my shooting addictions, I’ve taken long-range shooting instruction and spent several weeks testing my abilities. A scope was needed to cover the best of both the hunting and long-range shooting worlds. The ZEISS Conquest V4 4-16x44 was an easy decision, with a reticle and a Minute of Angle (MOA) turret allowing me to take full advantage of the ballistics of my .270 WSM.
The construction of the scope looked similar to what ZEISS has produced for years — rugged, intuitive turrets, with a 4x zoom that would cover most hunting needs up close, and at medium and long range. Comparatively, it was the best in class for the price.
There were several reticle options for the model of V4 I wanted, but the ZMOA-T30 was a standout. Everything in the scope is crystal clear — including the thin lines used on the reticle — which cover the least amount of target when looking for down-range precision. Being a second focal plane scope, it would meet my needs for long-range hunting and target shooting.
The scope is intuitive, with hash marks on the reticle that represent one MOA spacing on the vertical and horizontal lines, which are marked numerically for quick acquisition. The small, floating center point of aim makes it easier to distinguish exact hold on a target and allows the shooter to validate windage calls and bullet impact right in the scope.
20- or 30- MOA Options
The MOA reference marks are accurate aiming points when the scope is at its highest magnification setting. The designation of “T20” and “T30” represents the MOA hash marks available below the horizontal centerline of the main reticle. I chose the Conquest V4 4-16x44 T30 model to maximize the long-range capability of my rifle but looked hard at the Conquest V4 6-24x50 model with the ZMOAi-T20 illuminated reticle after using the illumination feature in my Victory HT.
The turret on my V4 was designed for multiple rotations, leading to precision at extremely long range. The Ballistic Stop allows the shooter to quickly return to the original sight-in distance/zero without having to look. Using the specialized ZEISS Hunting App, it is easy to choose your ammunition, determine your ballistic coefficient, sight in your riflescope, and produce the exact distance for the MOA hash marks in the scope. Shooters have the option to use the MOA turret for exact ranges that are calculated in the app, or with specialized rangefinders. The reticle and turret are easy to understand and can be adapted for hunting or long-range shooting, giving you the option to make the shot when time is limited.
Mounting the scope, I was anxious to get to the range. I knew the rifle well, and it shot sub-MOA groups consistently. The rifle was bore-sighted, and the first shot was low eight inches and left an inch and a half. With .25 MOA adjustment, the vertical turret was rotated 32 clicks up, and the horizontal six clicks right. My next bullet was just off the bullseye. I shot two more rounds to confirm the point of impact, and all bullet holes were touching. One last adjustment to be dead on the “X” ensured the rifle was ready. To maximize the range, I moved the elevation turret up seven more clicks for a dead-on hold at 200 yards. With the Federal Premium Barnes TSX 180-grain bullet the scope was set at 1.8 inches high at 100 yards.
Four power zoom, or 6 to 24 power magnification, provides plenty of magnification for hunting, and the turrets offer a Ballistic Stop feature, and large elevation and windage travel. With a durable aluminum frame, the scope weighs in at 21.5 ounces and provides repeatable performance.
The scope proved its advantages on a deer hunt. My dad recently turned 80 and wanted to get out hunting. We ventured out on a day that wasn’t ideal, as it rained and snowed the entire time we were afield. We did manage to spot a white-tailed buck and worked within range. With dad set up with a good rest, he had no problem finding the deer in the scope and holding the reticle on the vitals. The dark and dreary day was turned around with one well-placed shot.
Conquest V6 Difference
Successful hunters and shooters are continually trying to duplicate results. With my experience with the Victory HT — and more recently the Conquest V4 — it was only natural to look at the Conquest V6 to expand options and capability. For those who grew up watching Tim the Toolman Taylor, you’ll hear him yelling “more power,” or “more zoom” in the case of the V6 when looking at the increased band of magnification.
The ZEISS Conquest line offers five models in the V6. The 6x zoom scopes offer versatility with up to 103 MOA elevation and 58 MOA windage adjustments built to excel at mid- to long-range shooting distances. With 80 clicks, or 20 MOA, per revolution on the turret, you can still shoot long range while using a heavier bullet. The 30 mm center tube allows for the 6x zoom and greater versatility. Doing most of my hunting in the west, the V6 3-18x50 was the perfect scope for mule deer, elk, antelope, or mountain sheep, but the other model for long-range shooting is the V6 5-30x50.
Hunters need to pay attention to the Ballistic Turret with Ballistic Stop, which makes it easy to find your zero without having to look or read numbers. The turrets were designed for long-range shooting and hunting, requiring more time to use but delivering the precision you demand.
When there isn’t time to dial the turrets, a quick look at the reticle will have you on target no matter what the range. The reticle is super quick for those hunting situations when you don’t have much time. Set the scope to maximum magnification, and the MOA hash marks line up to specific distances. If you hunt and shoot lots, you’ll know the distances related to the hash marks, but it is readily available in the ZEISS Hunting app and the Ballistic Profile you developed for the cartridge, sight-in distance, and the reticle in your scope. You can print the reticle overview from the app and tape it to the stock of your rifle for instant confirmation of range and hash mark.
The ZMOA-2 and ZBR-2 ballistic reticles, combined with MOA turrets, are two new ballistic turret and ballistic reticles for long-distance hunting or shooting. Even with a 30mm tube, the V6 riflescopes are compact and low profile. The scopes feature .25 MOA click adjustments, side parallax adjustment, and both can be had with the option of ballistic reticles with MOA subtensions. The reticle name includes a number at the end — like ZBR-1 — which indicates the distance in MOA between the hash marks. The hash marks on the horizontal and vertical crosshairs can be used for windage and elevation compensation, and for target ranging when used with the optimum magnification setting stated in the charts.
The ZBR-2 was my choice for hunting, offering direct holds at narrow intervals between hash marks. The ballistic turret is easy to use, but the reticle allows for quick decisions when time counts. The turret is easy to zero, with two set screws loosened or tightened with a Torx key. ZEISS also offers custom engraved turrets for the V6 scopes and can easily be changed out by the customer. Provide the specifics on your ammunition, and the custom turret will be sent directly to you.
The Conquest V6 offers the best of both worlds with the turret and reticle designs. The clarity is impressive and needs to be seen to appreciate the true color and light transmission. The repeatability on the range has me confident that deer season will be productive, and when an opportunity presents itself, I’ll be ready.