Zeiss Conquest V6 2-12x50
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- Last updated: 01/07/2019
Here’s a question: You are at one end of a field, 270m away at the other end is a Roe. It’s buck season and you want to take a young one for your cull plan. Looking through your binoculars you cannot quite see if there are little spikes on the animal. Getting closer is certainly possible but will take a long time without being seen. It’s getting towards dusk and, if not a cull animal, that time would be better spent stalking elsewhere. What do you do?
This brings me around to the subjects of this review, a pair of Zeiss Conquest V6s in 2-12 x 50 and 3-18 x 50. It seems the former range is becoming the new norm for stalking, over the fixed 6x42, 8x56 and 3-9 favoured by older hunters. Maybe they can offer a ‘closer’ look at the Roe, enough to sex and age it. Maybe?
This 2-12x50 is well finished in matte black, with a fast focus eyepiece, there’s a rheostat on the left of the saddle, on top, the ASV (bullet drop compensation) turret, on the right windage under a plastic cap. The zoom ring is clearly marked with a good grip, even while wearing gloves.
This model is a little shorter than my Swarovski Z6 2.5-15x44, meaning the fore and aft adjustment around the saddle is not great. Saying that, I had some 2cm either way after I set it up; perhaps a taller stalker with a longer neck may need a Picatinny rail to get a good sight picture for their own stock weld.
The reticle is Zeiss’ no. 60, their version of a German no.4, with the familiar three thicker posts at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock narrowing towards the centre with a thinner one at 12. The outer posts are thick enough for use in dense woodland, but not too much in the centre to obscure the target, being .55cm across at 100m. I rate it as an excellent hunting reticle, uncluttered and business like.
Click adjustments were precise and the bullet drop zero stop easily set. Being their midrange Conquest ASV, there is no option for a custom turret specifically for your own load, as on the Zeiss V8 range. I set zero for 2cm high at 100m. I know that 4-clicks up (1click = 1 cm) gives a perfect 200m shot, another four for 250m, five more for 300m and lastly six for 350m. So, 4,4,5,6 clicks; easy to remember! Pull up the relatively low turret and dial in, a push down locks; simple, elegant and waterproof.
In the field, I took a two-year-old Fallow buck at around 110m, and later that morning shot two Muntjac. These little deer were more testing for the scope, being under the dense early autumn canopy on the wood floor. Spotted with a thermal imager, the first was unmoving about 90m inside the wood. I could just make it out through my binoculars, and more easily when seen through the scope, no illumination needed. With a few careful steps to the right to clear some branches the shot was on, 12x dialed in, and the little buck was down. I knew it was a nice mature male, but couldn’t’t see just how good, it made 27lbs larder weight.
So far so good, but would a longer zoom range be a better all-rounder? I spoke to Zeiss UK who provided me with the bigger Conquest V6 3-18x50 ZBR-2. However, as it’s set up for the target shooter with parallax focusing instead of illumination and finger-adjustable, nonlocking turrets; is it suitable for hunting?
I’ve never missed not having an illuminated reticle to aim with. I’ve had several scopes on test that had this feature, but only ever used them to pass comment. In fading light, ascertaining the age or sex of a deer is not helped with illumination. I’ve found all systems do as promised, with a fine, adjustable aiming point that does not obscure the target. But if it’s too dark to shoot with a no. 4 reticule, for me it’s either too early in the morning or too late at night and illumination won’t change that!
I set up the 3-18x50 firstly at 100m. Out at 200m, the target at 18x was a decent size and I equaled some of the best groups I’ve ever shot! A little over 1.5” off a bipod with rear bag, prone, with a cross breeze; food for thought? With a lesser zoom or my 6x42 scope on board, am I really making the most of my rifle and home loads?
The 1/4 MOA clicks were precise, both for windage and elevation. Zero stop was by small T8 screws in the body of the turret; a bit fiddly but, was meant for use on a target bench where it presents little inconvenience. The reticule was the ZBR-2 with a Christmas tree arrangement for windage and range marked in 2 MOA stages, applicable at 18x only. In practice, 8 clicks up on the turret (2 MOA) at 200m gave a spot-on shot, or set at the 100m zero, the first horizontal stadia below the crosshairs gave the same point of aim. I can’t help wondering if both systems are necessary at the same time.
The reticule is a little fine for deer work; the thick posts stop too far from the centre crosshairs, so do not help aiming in darker conditions. The windage and distance marks I find distracting, however a no. 6 is available which has the same dimensions as the illuminated no. 60 reticle.
I really liked the 18x maximum zoom, which helped me confirm what I think I saw through my binoculars. I do not scan far off fields through a loaded, scoped rifle, as it’s potentially dangerous, instead use binoculars to first locate deer. The image was bright, clear and undistorted out to the edges, as you might expect of a Zeiss. But in fading light the 50mm lens and 18x zoom meant inevitable loss of useable image detail. Against anything other than a strongly contrasting background, deer become difficult to distinguish.
So, with a Roe at 270m, would either scope have been beneficial? I say this, as I managed to capture a youngster through the 3-18x with my camera, which made me think a comparison would be interesting. This setting will bring the deer closer, easily giving enough detail for correct identification, but it’s not that clear cut. They often appear in the open as dusk approaches and the 3-18x50 gives a 2.77mm exit pupil at maximum mag, hence the dim image around that time of day.
The 2-12x50 has a 4.16mm exit pupil at 12x (50% larger), and much more useable near dusk, but maybe not quite enough zoom to spot the antlers far off. Now consider light transmission. All Conquest scopes promise 92%, so well up there with the best available, to ensure the greatest use of the circle of light reaching your eye. In reality, most deer are taken around 100m, so perhaps this exercise is not so relevant for some stalkers. And of course, with the zoom of either model set to 10x, a 5mm exit pupil will result, the image obtained is then noticeably brighter and more useful at dawn or dusk.
But if that is the case, then why is there a big demand for high magnification scopes, some around 25x, giving a tiny 2mm exit pupil? Stick to your maximum reliable shot distance. The risk with a relatively high mag is shooting out past your known maximum distances, which could be tempting given a large target image through the eyepiece. This could lead to wounded deer if the shot was low. My maximum is about 250m on Fallow, perhaps slightly further under perfect conditions off a bipod.
These two scopes were made for different purposes. The 2-12 with illumination would appeal to the all-round stalker, who may also have the chance to shoot wild boar. At 2x with the illumination on this would be a great tool close up, as the field of view is vast. The 3-18 is a desirable piece of glass in the field with the right reticule, and at the range. But those particular turrets make me nervous with the rifle on my shoulder. It’s a great day time scope if maximum zoom is needed.
Sitting between is the 2.5 - 15 x 56, which would be a good compromise, although not reviewed here. It offers a comfortable maximum zoom, the 56mm objective gives an exit pupil diameter of 3.73mm at maximum magnification. That’s enough zoom, with perhaps just enough light transmission, to spot small antlers in the approaching dusk at distance.
Zeiss make exactly this with a Reticle 60, illumination and a locking ASV turret at just 70g more than the 2-12 x50 (690g). All these excellent scopes are available around the £1400 mark, coming in at some £500 to £600 below comparable models from their opposition.