ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review

Review: ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16×44 IR rifle scope

Designed and developed in Australia, the ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16×44 IR rifle scope balances budget with long-range hunting performance.

You could call this the Goldilocks of rifle scopes. For size, magnification and optical quality, it sits in the middle and seems just right for a long-range hunting scope, all at a price that’s not too hot with quality that definitely won’t leave you cold.

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review
The Thrive HD is built to be practical. Its aluminium flip-up lens caps are strong and quick to use, and the turrets are capped for protection

The Thrive series of rifle scopes form the middle range of ZeroTech’s optics — with the HD models stepping a little higher in glass quality — and this model’s 4-16×44 spec puts it about in the centre for size and magnification.

It makes it a prime candidate if you’re looking for a scope to suit a rifle that will stretch out to targets hundreds of metres away yet can still feasibly be carried around in the field, at least over short to medium distances.

At 650 grams, with a length of about 37cm with its lens caps, this is not the kind of scope that will weigh you down unless you’re really chasing a lightweight mountain outfit.

It’s 4x low-end magnification will probably never hinder you at close range when you need fast target acquisition, yet its 16x top-end is ample for almost any target at ranges where most calibres and shooters are capable of humanely killing.

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review
Reticle and its adjustments are all in milliradians. Turrets, which are pictured with their caps removed, can be re-set to zero

It has capped turrets so they won’t be accidentally ‘adjusted’ if they’re rubbing against your back as you carry the rifle slung on your shoulder. There’s nothing worse than missing because your exposed turrets turned without you knowing it, throwing off your rifle’s zero.

I’d be quite happy to mount the ZeroTech on a suitably accurate sporter-weight rifle in, say, .270 or .300 Win Mag if I were ambitious enough to shoot it at deer or pigs 500m away, but for this review I mounted the scope on a rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor with a 26-inch heavy barrel. In my mind, this combination made an ideal match.

It proved excellent on a couple of blocks where I can get a vehicle in quietly to the edge of large, open paddocks and snipe pigs and goats from 300m or more; and also where I can do a short-ish walk through scrub to set up in similar fashion.

Sighting in at 100m was dead easy. At 16x magnification I could see my hits and adjust accordingly. 

The reticle adjustments in milliradians were accurate and, vitally, repeatable, because I knew I’d be adjusting the turrets to allow for longer shots. 

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review
The 4-16x magnification is about spot on for a long-range hunting scope. Note fast-focus diopter adjustment

I got the rifle shooting 8cm high at 100m so I’d have a point blank range to about 250m for mid-sized animals, then printed a cheat sheet telling me how many clicks up I’d need for longer ranges.

The clicks you feel when adjusting the aim are sharp and precise, so you can confidently count your way through them. Of course, the turrets are marked to show how far you’ve gone, too.

With its 30mm main tube there’s a generous range of adjustment — 26MRAD vertically and 20MRAD horizontally (90 and 69 MOA respectively).

Once satisfied, I re-set the turrets to zero with the help of the cute little special tool that’s supplied with the Thrive HD, then replaced the caps. There’s no zero stop but when do hunting situations ever call for one? (We’ll skip the details about checking that the cheat sheet matched the ballistic reality; that’s a story for a different article.)

The first focal plane reticle is well designed for a hunting rifle you’ll use over longer ranges. Appropriately, ZeroTech calls it the LR Hunter and you can tell plenty of thought went into it. 

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review
The LR Hunter reticle, mounted in the first focal plane, is detailed without being cluttered

It’s not too busy and lacks excessive distractions. The graduations are clear and using them to adjust your aim for range and windage is a cinch if you prefer to do that rather than adjust the turrets.

Like the adjustments, the markings are in milliradians, which might seem an obvious thing to do but, strangely, many scopes do not have complementary settings.

At full magnification, when the reticle appears at its largest, it won’t obscure your target unless you’re shooting bunnies at 300m-plus; the markings are fine enough and the centre dot is small enough.

However, at minimum magnification, when the reticle appears quite small, you can lose its details against a complex background, or one that doesn’t contrast with the reticle. I never had a problem with this, but it’s possible you might find a situation where it slows you down just a bit.

The illumination helps there by highlighting the centre crosshairs, and switching it on is a simple matter of pressing the button at the end of the left turret. Each press brightens it step by step until finally switching it off.

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review
Side-mounted parallax adjustment is handy

The view through the HD glass is beautiful: bright, with a claimed 92 per cent light transmission, and with a nice amount of contrast. Vision is clear almost right to the edges, where the merest hint of blur isn’t enough to worry you. This is another scope that proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to get excellent glass quality.

Eye relief is just over 90mm, which is plenty, especially on a heavier rifle. As you’d expect, it’s fairly critical to get your eye the right distance away at 16x magnification but the range is far more generous as magnification is wound down.

As the light fades and the scope’s exit pupil becomes more important to vision, the 16x zoom and 44mm objective lens reduce the pupil to just 2.75mm, but that’s a physical property you can’t change without zooming out or having a bigger objective. 

Down at around 8x I found the Thrive HD to be fine until the light had fallen to the point where my own eyes were no better.

If low-light shooting were a more important issue, the Thrive HD 3-18×56 would be a very tempting alternative to this scope, because you have a bigger exit pupil even at 18x. Not only does that scope have a greater range of magnification, but it’s the same price as this one, although the main trade-offs would be in weight and bulk. The reticle is different, too.

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review
This ZeroTech is a medium sized scope so suits a sporter-weight rifle as much as it does this one

I am sure the field of view of the 4-16×44 is a bit more generous than the claimed 9.2m wide at 100m distance on 4x, reducing to 2.3m wide at 16x. It appears wider.

ZeroTech has provided parallax adjustment via the turret on the left side of the scope, where it’s most convenient. Adjustment goes from 10m out to infinity. The Thrive HD also has a fast-focus eyepiece.

Aluminium flip-up lens covers are attached to each end of the scope but if you don’t like them you can remove them. They are well made, fit precisely and I happily left them in place to help keep the lenses clean.

There are many reasons to like the Thrive HD 4-16×44 — everything from its low profile and respectably light weight through to the convenience of side-adjusted parallax and the great LR Hunter reticle. It has lots of features, not least of which is excellent optical clarity.

It has a lifetime warranty but it’s unlikely you’ll need it, based on the reputation the brand has built up over the past few years. 

It is one of the most well-considered long-range hunting scopes you’ll find, it’s also fine for range work, and at only $849 it’s very attractively priced. 

ZeroTech Thrive HD 4-16x44 rifle scope review


  • Reticle: Illuminated; first focal plane; LR Hunter
  • Adjustments: 0.1 MRAD clicks
  • Maximum adjustment: 36 MRAD
  • Parallax adjustment: 10m to infinity
  • Eye relief: 93mm
  • Lenses: Fully multi-coated
  • Objective lens diameter: 44mm
  • Main tube diameter: 30mm
  • Magnification: 4-16x
  • Field of view: 2.3-9.2m @ 100m
  • Exit pupil: 2.75-11mm
  • Light transmission: 92%
  • Length: 361mm
  • Weight: 653g
  • RRP: $849
  • Distributor: TSA Outdoors
  • Website: ZeroTech Australia




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.