Minox ZE 5.2 3-15x56
- By Chris Parkin
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 20/03/2019
The latest ZE5.2 range of hunting scopes from Minox adopt newly developed and innovative solutions with the credentials of manufacture in Germany. Four models with similar 5x zoom range cover most sporting requirements, a 1-5x24 for driven game, 2-10x50 for compact daylight hunting needs, the 3-15x56 (shown here) and a 5-25x56 for target and varmint shooters desiring high magnification.
Each scope is supplied with a neoprene cover that protects all the dials and external surfaces in transit. Unslipping this reveals matt black, hard anodised aluminium tube with a discreet tungsten coloured band around the 56mm objective lens body, highlighting Minox’s premium ZE 5.2 range’s ‘made in Germany’. Everything is impeccably finished, and resists skin dust scraped from your fingers. Water is easily shed, with surface debris like blood and mud, wiped off without residue. The objective lens is recessed 20mm within the aluminium body for less chance of unwanted reflections spooking game, as well as minimising damage to the glassware within. None of the visibly flashy green or red lens coatings are visible, just a deep black inside that indicates little wasted light being reflected in the doorway of the optic.
Capped windage and elevation dials on the saddle give fingertip alterations for zeroing, with [email protected] 100-metres clicks being simple and logical to work with. Each cap is machined aluminium with segmented knurling on the external profile for grip, with or without gloves, these match the zoom ring controls further to the rear. Each inner dial offers 60 firmly detented clicks per turn for fumble free control, and these can be loosened and spun back to indicate zero point once setup is complete. Clicks are broadly set into groups of ten and total adjustment gives 55cm of travel at 100-metres. Not the largest quantity on the market in a hunting optic but indicative of the internal erector tube’s size relative to the 30mm body of the external tube. This is the tube where cross sectional area of the lenses equates to light transmission through to your eyes and size does matter; so, the compromise between optics and mechanics is what I would call a positive element of the device’s functionality. Parallax and illumination are shown to the left side of the saddle, with the former operating down below 50-metres (showing suitability to a rimfire rifle), yet without compromise when it still goes all the way out to infinity, with no backlash for a sharp picture of the target or quarry.
Illumination is controlled by the outer dial to the saddle’s left side, with analogue power increase marked from 0-8 on its rim. This illuminates a very small fibre optic central dot on the German 4 reticle within and features automatic ‘off’ when the rifle is laid on its side, pointed vertically for after two hours. This is a great update to compete with optics at twice the price and makes life so much simpler in the modern electronic world, where CR2032 scope batteries are now a permanent accessory in most travelling toolkits. The Minox isn’t going to eat them up like non-automated unit and there is a space for a spare inside the fingertip accessible dial cap. The assembly is a little bulkier than some, projecting 30mm out from the tube but it’s certainly not ungainly.
The reticle is in the second focal plane, so remains constantly slender throughout the zoom range and at low mag, having a quickly controllable, extremely fine red dot available in the centre, with an intensity of your choice is the perfect accessory to broaden capability in any light or background condition. Etched reticles can be made so finely that at low mag in woodland, they easily vanish, but not with a dull red glow to draw your focus centrally and enjoy a spacious, uncluttered field of view at 3 or 4x magnification, without destroying your night vision. Regardless of intensity, there is no unwanted sparkling or dazzling shimmer of red light reflected from bleeding intensity elsewhere in the sight picture and Minox have done a great job here, with good ergonomics and usability on all external controls and internal electronics.
Moving to the optical performance, we are entering the price point where differentiation between capability is measured in singular minutes at dusk. Minox name their multi coating system ‘M*’, but like all the top optical houses, no secrets are revealed in a name, other than a specification of full multi coatings, argon inert gas tube fill and ‘Outstanding light transmission’. They don’t publish an exact figure and no, it’s not quite as bright as optics twice it’s price but, it is very, very nice to look and aim through, with sharp, edge to edge clarity and well-defined reticle, easily focussed with the rear eyepiece on the newly designed ‘FTA’ (Fast Target Acquisition) ocular body. Colours are bright and well-defined with good contrast through until darkness and, importantly, no eye strain for a relaxed viewing environment. FTA is the moniker for a system employing a slightly larger ocular body of 45mm diameter, shrouding the 38mm lens for a wider field of view. This broadens access to the eyebox without vignetting, to enable more fluid gun mount and point on target without ‘searching’ for a tiny exit pupil that is itself hidden within a minute focal point. During gun movement from recoil, this also makes it easier to keep your quarry in sight and quickly re-acquire aim for any follow up shots if the viewed reaction from the game is not what was desired. Losing sight picture on a deer that has been caught badly and bolted into cover, not able to see its immediate direction, is bad news. This relaxed, visual environment from the FTA eye box on a long day varminting seemingly reduces eye strain from the repetitive exercise of the ciliary muscles in the eye and overall strained neck muscles. No, the ZE5.2 gives that almost indefinable comfort in use from any shooting position with eye relief never really becoming noticeable when swapping from head forward prone shots, to more relaxed and intuitive, low magnification standing shots, especially on traversing or running targets. I can’t formally state data on this, but Minox have made the image easily accessibly with great mechanics to back it up.
I gave the scope’s dials a thorough test when tackling some distant steel targets and rabbits on my regular moorland testing ground, with shots as far as 650-metres. Mechanical adjustments were tactile and returned to zero each time with a reliable ‘box test’ performed cleanly. As before, it’s not a fast dialling scope but surety of its mechanical capability means that on those days you want to change ammunition or flip between a point zero at 50- or 100-metres, to the following months in Scotland for example, where a 200-metre point blank zero would be preferable, you can do this without fear of the internals failing and letting you down. Knowing I can alter a scope whenever I want to without time and ammunition consuming zeroing sessions is invaluable. Likewise, the magnification zoom ring at the front of the ocular body offers smooth movement with no internal noise form helical assemblies shifting the lens packages about, and none of the dreaded sponginess at either end of travel, just understated binary feel of a dead stop when travel limits are reached.
Most of my shooting is foxes at ambush points; so, I get to sit out, relax and wait as darkness approaches, whilst watching the colours fade together before gloom envelopes when silhouettes are all that is left. The time between these two stages is what really means the most to me; so, when optical performance exceeds expectations and mechanical usability is tallied alongside. Woodland deer stalking was equally rewarding, with excellent colour rendition and depth. I find it hard not to like this Minox, I cannot mark out a single fault or dislike I have for it and that is very rare, as I can usually find something I don’t like with any product.