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Zeiss Duralyt 3-12x50

With a range of three new scopes; the most expensive being just £665, Zeiss seems to have hit the ground running with their new Duralyt series. The concept mirrors Kahles Optik, which I looked at last month, with a respected name in the optical industry offering what is an entry-level product. The principle is to hopefully impress you with a well-priced design then as you appreciate what you have got; stay loyal to the brand and continue buying their wares.

Truth is the top end European optics are prized for the advantages they offer and I for one subscribe to that principle. However, not all of us can or want to afford such expensive, glass so building down to a price, albeit with some economies, puts the respected name of Zeiss on offer to a far wider section of our community.

Diverse choice

The Duralyt range is distinctive as all are bronze coloured with a 30mm body tube and externally show perhaps a few areas where savings have been made. The turret caps are plastic, the magnification ring smooth rubber with a raised blade to aid dialling and Zeiss do not offer the option of an illumination or reticule choice. What you get is a #4-type (RETICLE 6) set in the 2nd focal plane, which is more than adequate! There are three models available 1.2-5x36, 2-8x47 and 3-12x50, the last being what I was sent.

First impressions are excellent, as despite the Duralyt’s budget/entry level tag this is a good looking design that feels right. At the rear is a fast-focus (European) eyepiece bell, the magnification ring being smooth rubber is not so clever in the wet as fingers slide all too easily rather than grip, here the raised blade is a definite asset as you can get your thumb behind it. The marking are easy to see in white and are sub-divided into x1/2 powers.

Limited drums

Though some might complain about the material in terms of cosmetics; the synthetic turret caps do their job and being hunter-style will doubtless never be taken off once zeroed. Turrets are familiar, again plastic they offer 1cm @ 100m (1/3 MOA @ 100 yard) increments. They are sprung and can be pulled up to disengage so you can set to a zero position indicated by a white triangle, again a bit academic for a hunting scope of this nature.

What did surprise me a little was the low amount of overall correction with 62-clicks per turn (24”) at 100m, not too bad, but only 1 ½ rotations available (36”) in either plane. If you’ve ever run out of adjustment on a scope; you know how frustrating that can be! The turrets stack up as they dial with the effort required getting steadily heavier. The Duralyt was put on two rifles, a Blaser R8 Professional and a Ruger M77/17 All-Weather and both zeroed easily, but equally you might not be so lucky!

Impressive optics

However, once the scope is zeroed the true test is how it works in the field and in this area the Duralyt did not disappoint. The view is crisp right up to the periphery of the lens and the centre cross fine enough for precise shot placement yet easily seen in normal lighting conditions. In terms of optical quality; I’m not sure where Zeiss have cut corners as general and low light performance was excellent. Taking the Duralyt out into the early autumn evening and comparing it to my Swarovski Z6i 2-12x50 showed that there was not a lot of difference in colour balance, clarity and image quality.

OK readers will know I rate and use Swarovski products, but I am also objective. Out at 450-yards I was spotting cock pheasants and their shiny copper plumage along with the reds and other colours really came across. The Z6i had the edge but not by a lot! As it got darker this became more apparent but by then I was approaching the limit on both scopes in terms of seeing a target and being able to aim and shoot accurately. Optically the Duralyt is an impressive product no doubt.

Wider choice

Comparisons to Kahle’s Kx range is unavoidable, perhaps most interesting are the specifications. Khales have a basic 3-9x42 and two 3-10x50s one illuminated. In effect you have just two choices, which for me really goes to one, as I would always pick a 3-10x50 over the 3-9x42 for a general use optic. Zeiss offers three distinct types – not all of which might be well suited to the UK, but none the less useful. The 1.5-5x36 is firmly in the driven/dangerous game bracket, though here illumination would be a bonus. The 2-8x47 is unusual, but also shows an excellent specification that would make a great all-rounder for the more experienced shot. Doubtless the 3-12x50 is going to be the most popular over here; given there’s only an £85 difference between the three models. Would I buy one? No question!

How Zeiss have managed to build an apparently top end scope down to a price more in keeping with quality US and far Eastern mid-range optics remains to be seen. Paradoxically; this high level of ability at acceptable money highlights how much we are paying for quality European glass. So it might just be - a Duralyt is the first and last Zeiss you will ever buy!

Technical Specifications
Name Duralyt 3-12x50
Body tube 30mm
Click values 1cm@ 100m/ 1/3 MOA @ 100y
Clicks per turn 62 (24”)
Full turns 1.5 (36”)
Twilights factor 8.5-24.5
FOV 11-3.2 metres
Exit pupil 12 – 3mm
Prices 3-12x50 RRP £665.00, 2-8x47. RRP £625.00, 1.2-5x36 RRP £580.00
For Great quality/ability and good choices at excellent prices
Against Lower overall adjustment range
Verdict Overall an excellent product that might not do precisely what the manufacturer envisaged in terms of growing the brand in general

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

User Comments
  • Great review! I wonder how the duralyt 3-12x50 compares to the conquest 3-12x56. What is the difference between the US economy conquest brand and new duralyt series? Is the glass different? It seems Zeiss emphasizes the new look, color, affordable illuminated reticle, and other features to detract potential buyers from focusing on the glass.

    Comment by: Eric Newton     Posted on: 20 Sep 2012 at 04:26 AM

  • I suppose Conquest-like is theme. On a vist to the Zeiss factory they were at great pains to point out the Duralyt was made in Germany. I know Zeiss uses various makes of glass and says that each is suited to the job in hand. So if you are making a more 'cost-effective' model it makes sense to make economies where you can...

    However, I cannot fault the Duralyt at the money and I now have a 1.2-5x36 on my boar rifle and it has proved excellent. One thing I do diagree on is Zeiss's view that if you buy a Duralyt then it will encourage you into the fold, hoping to wean new owners into the Victory area... I reckon the Duralyt is good and well priced for the brand and even an illuminated version is half the cost of a comparable top end model. So I doubt this principle will work.

    PM

    Comment by: PC moore     Posted on: 25 Sep 2012 at 10:02 AM

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Zeiss Duralyt 3-12x50
Zeiss Duralyt 3-12x50
Zeiss Duralyt 3-12x50
Zeiss Duralyt 3-12x50
Zeiss Duralyt 3-12x50
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