Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12x56 rifle scope review

Review: Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12×56 rifle scope


The most impressive feature of any Zeiss Conquest scope is its value — the relationship between cost, quality and utility, and the V4 3-12×56 stands out as particularly good. 

The V4 series is Zeiss’s entry into the four-times zoom market, while the Conquest range is the company’s midpoint in terms of price. Manufactured in Japan, the Conquest V4 is, overall, an optic with all the basic controls the average hunter wants or needs. 

Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12x56 rifle scope review
The large 56mm objective affords excellent optical characteristics without making the Zeiss too bulking for a hunting rifle

The V4 range includes 1-4×24, 3-12×56, 4-16×44, 4-16×50 and 6-24×50. The sample I received is the 3-12×56 model. It was paired with a new Sauer 100 Stainless Classic in .223 and was a good match for the gun.

Zeiss cut costs of the V4 by working directly with a manufacturer in Japan where labour costs are lower than in its traditional German base. Examining the V4, I wondered if the lower retail price might have resulted from cutting corners and maybe the scope was a Zeiss in name only, but the V4 3-12×56 delivers in spades, exhibiting workmanship and performance on a par with scopes costing double and more.

Built on a 30mm main tube and finished in Zeiss’s signature matte black, the V4 is sealed and purged with Argon gas, rendering it waterproof and fog-proof. 

Its profile is trim and streamlined as one would expect from a hunting-style optic, but a large eyepiece, 56mm objective, and three-turret system all indicate that the V4 may be as functional on the range as it is in the field.

Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12x56 rifle scope review
Fast-focus diopter adjustment is convenient. Magnification changes are smooth

The eyepiece houses a sizeable magnification ring, neatly labelled from 3 to 12, which is knurled to improve purchase. Movement through the power range is smooth and a removable, raised thumb fin facilitates fast changes. 

A rubber-buffered fast-focus eyepiece caps the ocular end of the scope and can be used to sharpen the image or the scope’s reticle to suit individual eye sight.

The V4’s left turret controls the 10 levels of brightness of the reticle; the top turret adjusts elevation and the right one is for windage. 

There is no adjustment for parallax, which would be nice in a 12x glass. High-range variable hunting scopes with fixed parallax are usually set for 100 (91.4m) or 150yd; this Zeiss is at the former.

Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12x56 rifle scope review
Adjustments are graduated in 1/4 MOA intervals. Turrets can be re-set to zero

Adjustments per click have a value of ¼ MOA, with 70 MOA available, and the turrets can be reset to zero without any tools.

Range testing left me impressed with the V4. For a big scope it has a decent amount of mountable scope length — 14cm out of its 37cm total length — and though it’s on the large side for a typical hunting scope, weight is a reasonable 610 grams.

Zeiss scopes are famous for superior light transmission, the quality of their glass and high-tech coatings. Most scopes these days, even economy-class ones, feature fully multi-coated lenses. It means every lens surface, inside and out, has been treated with rare earths to enhance light transmission across a range of wavelengths. An uncoated lens can lose four percent of light to reflection and refraction. Multiply this and you can understand the dim images hunters endured before Zeiss used magnesium fluoride to increase light transmission back in the 1930s.

Zeiss’s lens glass, produced at Schott Glaswerke (part of the Zeiss family), is generally considered the finest optical glass in the world. Zeiss riflescopes have an enviable reputation for superb resolution and contrast, excellent light transmission and reliable adjustments.

Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12x56 rifle scope review
The Conquest V4 3-12×56 is a nicely proportioned rifle scope

The coatings include Zeiss’s legendary T*, an antireflective coating that transmits the highest possible amount of light through the lenses. The result is maximum contrast, true colours and, what is most important to hunters, the ability to see the target clearly in low-light conditions.

The Conquest V4 sports a large 56mm objective lens. This lens diameter, mated to fully multicoated lenses, provides a bright, sharp image. 

The V4 also features Zeiss’s LotuTec, a hydrophobic exterior lens coating that repels water as well as dirt and grease. Essentially, it causes moisture to form round droplets instead of flat ones, and these spheres of water slide right off the lens.

The etched reticle is located in the second focal plane and does not change size as the magnification is varied up and down. When this review was uploaded, two reticles were offered in Australia: the #20 Z-Plex and #60 illuminated. Additionally, the V4 features a constant eye relief of 90mm.

Zeiss rifle scope reticles
Two reticles offered are the #20 Z-Plex (left) and illuminated #60

Magnification runs from 3x up to 12x. This provides either a wide field of view (a whopping 12.7m at 100m or 38ft at 100yd) on 3x, or a close-up look at a distant game animal (3.2m/9.5ft field) when you crank the power up to 12x.

The first thing I did was to check how accurate the Conquest’s tracking was. With the Sauer printing sub-MOA five-shot groups, any faults would soon become obvious. After zeroing the scope on the centre of the target, I walked it around the outside boxes, firing two shots at each one, while adjusting windage and elevation. before finally bringing it back to centre. The Conquest came through with flying colours.

Next I pinned up a resolution test pattern chart at 50yd and proceeded to examine the V4’s optical qualities at various distances, starting at 50yd and moving farther away in increments of 50yd out to 200yd. Given the resolving power of the eye is about 1 arc minute or so in daylight, the eye can resolve fine details on a chart with black lines and white spacers and subtends about 2 arc minutes. On a cloudy day or in low-light conditions (dawn or dusk) the resolving power of the eye decreases to about 4 or 5 arc minutes.

The first thing I noticed was that resolution (the ability to see fine detail) was excellent from the centre of the image out to the edges. I was able to cleanly resolve down to the number 6 on the 0 block on the chart at 12x. During this part of testing I detected no curvature of field or spherical aberration.

Zeiss Conquest V4 3-12x56 rifle scope review
The affordable Zeiss impressed in resolution testing

Contrast was very good and no astigmatism was noted. No barrel distortion and no rolling distortion was present. 

Other things I noted was how the V4’s image was bright and colour transmission dead on perfect. With some scopes you’ll notice colour fringing which detracts from the colour of the image, but the V4 showed true colour rendition, a flat field and sharp focus.

I also noted that the field of view, whatever the magnification, was large. This is a valuable feature; in my book, the larger the field of view the better.

As the sun went down I checked the Conquest’s low-light performance. After cranking the power to 8x to gain a 7mm exit-pupil diameter, the Zeiss impressed me with its capability to detect and successfully engage targets that were invisible to the naked eye.

Properly used, the top magnification of 12x allows you to take more precise aim at small animals, or at big game that is partially hidden by brush or foliage. Finding a path for the bullet through cover becomes easier as you increase power. So does antler judging. You don’t always have time to size up a buck with your binoculars, so you drop them and lift your rifle.

While the V4 3-12×56 may not be the top-of-the-line Zeiss riflescope, optically there’s not much to find fault with — it is a lotta glass for a moderate amount of cash.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Magnification: 3-12x
  • Objective lens: 56mm
  • Light transmission: 90%
  • Overall length: 368mm
  • Eye relief: 90mm
  • Weight: 610g
  • Adjustments: ¼ MOA
  • Elevation adjustment: 200cm at 100m
  • Field of view: 12.7-3.2m at 100m
  • Exit pupil diameter: 9.2mm at 3x, 4.7mm at 12x
  • Parallax: Fixed at 91.4m (100yd)
  • RRP: From $2129
  • Distributor: Outdoor Sporting Agencies

 

 

 


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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.

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