Zeiss Conquest V6 Riflescope Review
By Andy Backus
The new Zeiss Conquest V6 riflescopes marry glass quality that will be very hard for other manufacturers to compete with at their price point with all the features, bells and whistles that American long range shooters have come to expect, in an exciting new line of riflescopes that has been several years in the making.
In writing this Zeiss Conquest V6 review article I started thinking about the fact that Zeiss has been doing just one thing for the last 170 years and that is innovate, design and manufacture some of the very best optics on the planet. With such a strong history of optical expertise it had always surprised me that they had missed the mark on offering a long range rifle scope line that would appeal to American shooters and hunters - until now. With the introduction of the new Zeiss Conquest V6 line of riflescopes I can personally say that Zeiss has finally gotten it right.
Don’t get me wrong. There will be a contingent who say Zeiss got it wrong again by only offering the Conquest V6 line in MOA and not MIL and only in second focal plane with no first focal plane options. There seems to be a trend in the US where more and more shooters are heading to FFP and MIL, however there are still a huge number who prefer second focal plane and MOA as I do, and for those shooters the Conquest V6 line will be very appealing. Plus I wouldn’t be surprised to see the V6 line expanded in the future to add FFP and/or MIL options. But for now FFP and MIL shooters will be disappointed.
CLICK HERE to read an article about the pros and cons of FFP vs second focal plane scopes.
To further my point about there being large numbers who prefer second focal plane and MOA I will mention some polls that we have run on our website LongRangeHunting.com, which is an online magazine and forum site dedicated to long range shooting, especially as it relates to hunters, with over 100,000 members. We have polled our readers several times over the years asking, “Will your next riflescope be in MOA or MIL?” and separately, “Will your next riflescope be FFP or 2nd?” Our most recent polls on those two topics show a 69% to 31% preference for MOA over MIL, and a 65% to 35% preference for FFP over 2nd. So MOA is preferred over MIL by our readers and although FFP is preferred, there are still a large number who use 2nd focal plane scopes.
So what did it take for Zeiss to finally get it right for many long range shooters? From what I have heard, a watershed moment happened when some of the American Zeiss higher-ups persuaded a group of their German engineers to come to the US and spend a few days in Texas at the FTW ranch, a 2000 acre ranch specializing in providing extensive training for law enforcement, military and civilian shooters and hunters. There they shot steel at many different distances all over the Texas mountains and got a taste of how many American shooters love to shoot and hunt. I can imagine that the excellent, former military instructors at FTW gave the engineers lots of good feedback and suggestions about what features they personally look for in a long range scope and what they feel works best for their 500 students per year and many hunters per year. I am told that after that experience, the Zeiss engineers finally got the message about what the US market wanted and headed back to Germany to design the Conquest V6 scope line.
Fast forward a couple years and I too was recently invited by the sales and marketing team at Zeiss USA to attend a Conquest V6 product launch event at the same FTW Ranch in Texas, along with a group of writers, photographers and industry insiders. Over two days we were treated to an abbreviated version of FTW’s famous “SAAM” (Sportsman’s All Weather All-Terrain Marksmanship) Hunter Training Course. High quality bolt action rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor were provided, topped with the three new Zeiss Conquest V6 riflescope models. And Hornady generously provided thousands of rounds of their outstanding 140 grain ELD Match ammunition for us to play with.
Our first morning of training began with a classroom session where Zeiss introduced the Conquest V6 scope line. They explained that there are three models, a 1-6x24, a 3-18x50, and a 5-30x50.
CLICK HERE to read the Zeiss Conquest V6 product brochure including specifications, reticle details and more.
In describing all three models they made the point that the glass in the V6 line is superior to anything else in its price point. Zeiss said that Conquest V6 scopes feature fluoride lenses, which no other scopes in this price point have. Fluoride lenses are considered a step above HD lenses in quality and they reduce chromatic aberration, aka color fringing, where different wavelengths of color are not focused at the exact same position in the focal plane. The result of color fringing is a less sharp image and less contrast between similarly colored objects (a tan antler and tan grass for example). In addition, both sides of every lens within the V6 scopes are coated with specific coatings developed by Zeiss to provide extremely bright and sharp images from edge to edge.
The Conquest V6 1-6x24 is designed to appeal to competitors and hunters for close up, fast acquisition style shooting including for dangerous game, especially when configured with capped hunting style turrets and a simple duplex style reticle called Zeiss’s #60 reticle. But it also has a configuration option with serious elevation and windage turrets for dialing up longer shots along with Zeiss’s ZMOA-4 reticle with hash marks on the vertical and horizontal crosshairs. The turrets feature ½ MOA click values for speedy adjustments. This model does not have a parallax adjustment system so I would consider the maximum effective range to be about 500 yards.
But close range work is where the 1-6x24 scope really excels thanks to outstanding glass with a forgiving eye box and a wide field of view, which allows the shooter to acquire targets quickly and confidently. A bright, pinpoint illuminated center dot using a brand new fiber optic illumination system designed by Zeiss further enhances target acquisition. the 1-6x24 scope features a battery power management system that automatically turns off the illuminated dot whenever the gun is tipped away from the typical shooting position and then it automatically turns on when brought back to the shooting position.
The 1-6x24 with hunting turrets and #60 reticle will retail for $1549.99 and the version with ballistic turrets and ZMOA-4 reticle will retail for $1599.99. All the Conquest V6 models are expected to be available to the public in early summer of 2017.
The Conquest V6 3-18x50 and 5-30x50 are designed for long range shooting and hunting and I was especially eager to learn more about them. They are built on a 30mm main tube which allows for 103 minutes of elevation adjustment in the 3-18x50 model and 62 minutes of elevation adjustment in the 5-30x50 model with 20 minutes per revolution. The exposed elevation and windage turrets feature ¼ minute clicks and a zero-stop system.
Both models have side parallax adjustment and offer several reticle options. The two reticle options that will appeal most to serious long range shooters are the ZMOA and ZBR. On the 3-18x50 model these reticles have 2 minute spacing between hash marks when at full power and on the 5-30x50 model they have 1 minute spacing when at 25 power.
The 3-18x50 and 5-30x50 scopes do not have an illuminated reticle option, which will be disappointing to many shooters. When I asked about this omission I was told that it had to do with Zeiss wanting to keep the V6 line below a certain price point. The 3-18x50 will retail from $1699.99 to $1799.99, and the 5-30x50 will retail from $1849.99 to $1899.99.
As a hunter I was glad to see that the overall size and weight of both long range models was relatively modest compared to other similar scopes. For example the Conquest V6 3-18x50 is nearly an inch and a half shorter and 8 ounces lighter than a Nightforce NXS 3.5-15x50. The Conquest V6 5-30x50 is one inch shorter and 6 ounces lighter than a Nightforce NXS 8-32x56.
All Zeiss products are covered by a limited lifetime, transferable warranty. The Conquest V6 line also includes a 5 year No-Fault policy where they will repair or replace product damaged during normal and intended use free of charge.
After the Conquest V6 scopes were introduced one of the SAAM instructors presented some information on the fundamentals of long range shooting and how we could use the different features of the Conquest V6 scopes to maximize our accuracy at different distances. Then it was time to get out into the field for some shooting. We split into two groups, loaded up on safari style jeeps and headed into the rugged landscape of Southwest Texas to our first shooting location at the top of a knob with a beautiful 360 degree view. After a short instructional demonstration, the first order of business was picking a rifle and sighting it in at 100 yards.
There were several different models and styles of rifle to choose from and I grabbed one of the heavier tactical rifles which featured an adjustable comb and adjustable length-of-pull. Mine was topped with the Zeiss Conquest V6 3-18x50 with their ZMOA reticle. I settled in prone behind my rifle and got my first look through the scope.
The first thing that jumped out at me was that the eye box was very forgiving. It took me awhile to get my comb height and length-of-pull adjusted to a comfortable shooting position but during the process, no matter where my head and eye were in relation to the eyepiece I had a clear, wide view with very little of that frustrating black ring obstructing the view. Once my rifle was set the way I wanted it, I moved my head forward and back and left and right and confirmed that there was a wide range of locations in relation to the eyepiece that provided a clear and unobstructed view.
My 100 yard sight-in went smoothly and quickly and gave me a chance to use the V6’s exposed elevation and windage turrets for the first time. The turrets are the general size and shape that I have become accustomed to while using many different brands and models of long range scopes over the years. They are easy to grip and the ¼ minute clicks are crisp and solid. The MOA numbers are easy to read as are the click hash marks.
Once sighted in I zeroed my elevation and windage turrets and set my zero stop. The turrets are removed by loosening two set screws and lifting the turret up and off. Inside there is a small physical stopping block that can be set so that the turret will stop at zero, or it can be set to allow the turret to rotate a desired number of clicks below zero. Then the turret is replaced, lining up the zero with the reference mark on the scope, and the set screws are tightened.
For the rest of the first shooting session we worked in shooter/spotter teams and shot steel targets from 200 to 800 yards using dope cards given to us by the SAAM instructors from the prone position. The wind was fairly consistent in the 5-7 mph full value range. It was mostly sunny and around 65 degrees.
We were instructed to dial our turret for elevation and we were given the option to dial for windage or use the MOA hash marks on our reticles being reminded that the MOA spacing of the hash marks were only accurate on full power for the 3-18x50 models and were only accurate on 25 power for the 5-30x50 models since the scopes are second focal plane.
The Conquest V6 3-18x50 scope worked very well for me for this first shooting exercise. The image was sharp and clear as would be expected at these ranges during a sunny day from a high quality scope. Although some mirage was present, my targets were clear and easy to see. The turrets felt comfortable and familiar to me and the ZMOA reticle did also. The laser etched reticle is similar to other MOA hash mark reticles on similar scopes from other popular scope manufacturers.
Because most high quality glass looks great in average daylight conditions I focused on very specific details of the image like the clarity out near the edge of the glass which was very, very good. I held a 700 yard steel target right to the edge of the image and the edge of the steel looked very crisp and sharp. I also focused on the contrast between similarly colored objects such as some rocks along the ground out in the distance. The edges of the rocks appeared very sharp even though rocks in front and behind were very similar in color. Overall, the colors of the Texas landscape looked rich and pleasing to my eye through the V6.
I ended that first shooting session with the conclusion that the Zeiss Conquest V6 3-18x50 riflescope was a pleasure to use for that style of shooting. The optics were beautiful and the reticle and controls felt familiar and similar to those on other high quality, popular long range scopes. It was after that first session that I began to think that Zeiss had finally gotten it right when it came to producing a long range riflescope that will appeal to American shooters and hunters.
After lunch we loaded up the Jeeps and headed to a new shooting location where I ended up with a lightweight sporter rifle topped again with the Conquest V6 3-18x50, but this time with the ZBR Christmas tree style reticle. Again we shot prone at steel targets from 200 yards to 700 yards but this exercise focused on using our reticles for our elevation and wind holds rather than using our turrets. Again I was very impressed with the V6’s forgiving eyebox. This rifle did not fit me well at all and still I enjoyed a comfortable view.
A dope card provided by my SAAM instructor showed the elevation and wind hold values corresponding to my reticle. The ZBR reticle was just the ticket for this exercise as the wind was gusting now and my spotter’s wind call changed quite often. I usually prefer to dial for elevation and hold off for wind using my reticle so this exercise was a good refresher for me on using my reticle for both elevation and wind holds. The Christmas tree style of the ZBR reticle allowed me to be especially precise since I could hold for elevation and wind on the same stadia line and I worked my way out to 700 yards fairly quickly.
At our final shooting location for the day I picked a slightly heavier hunting rifle topped with the Conquest V6 5-30x50 riflescope with the ZMOA reticle. At this location high on a bluff our challenge was to quickly engage multiple targets at different distances from about 300 yards to 600 yards tucked into nooks and crannies around the valley below. Our instructor pointed out all the different steel targets while we all looked for them with our naked eye. The conditions were very bright with a blue sky and most of us could barely pick out a few of the targets tucked into the shadows below and could not see most of them at all.
Our instructor wanted to simulate some of the pressure that can come in a real hunting scenario so he split us into two-shooter teams and made it into a competition. He specified three different targets at different ranges for us to shoot in a sequence and gave us the range to each target. Each team’s first shooter had to complete the sequence before his partner could then reverse the sequence. When all three targets were hit by both team members the round was complete. The fastest team won.
This exercise was a great test for any long range riflescope. We had to be able to find the small targets in our scope, dial or hold with our reticle for elevation and wind, take the shot, hopefully spot our hit and then move on to the next target as quickly as possible. The 5-30x50 Conquest V6 scope worked very well for me when it was my turn. Thanks to the excellent Zeiss glass I had no trouble picking up the targets even though they were tucked back in the shade or in otherwise difficult spots to see. For many of the shots we were facing west almost into the sun and I had absolutely no trouble with any glare or flare.
I could comfortably zoom out to find the targets in my scope and then zoom in to take the shot. The extreme range of power (5-30) on this scope came in handy. I didn’t want to zoom all the way to 25 power (where my reticle offered 1 MOA spacing) for some of the shorter shots, so I chose to dial for elevation and I held off for wind based on the size of the target, which I had pre-measured using the ZMOA turret rather than relying on the MOA spacing of the reticle. Admittedly this exercise was one where a first focal plane reticle could be an advantage since the 1 MOA spacing would have held true at any power.
After this fun and fast paced exercise we then shot at some larger steel targets at over 1000 yards across the valley. My 5-30x50 scope really shined for this. I was able to spot trace on many of my shots and spotted my hits often. Once again my V6 felt comfortable and familiar to me for long range shooting and the optics were a joy to look through.
I was actually very impressed with how many hits were made at this range by all the shooters, many of whom had never shot that far before. The rifles, ammo and scopes had to be top notch for that many hits to be made by eight different shooters all using unfamiliar equipment.
On our second day of shooting we again split into groups and began with a session on shooting off of shooting sticks. Our SAAM instructor showed us quite a few different sitting, kneeling and standing positions. Then it was our turn to try some of them. My 3-18x50 V6 again worked great.
After that we drove to a new spot where we shot at distant targets at 1500 yards. I didn’t expect to see too many hits. Our instructor called our wind and it varied from about a 6.5 minute hold to over 9 minutes. Again I was really amazed at how many hits occurred. I had a chance to try a 3-18x50 and a 5-30x50 V6 at this extreme range and they were both outstanding. Obviously the 30 power on the larger scope was very nice for this distance but I was able to make a couple hits using the 3-18x50 too.
In the afternoon my group was trained on shooting heavy calibers for close shots on dangerous game. We were given .375 Ruger bolt action rifles and a .450/400 double rifle to try, all topped with Conquest V6 1-6x24 scopes. The training was lots of fun and included moving targets, charging cape buffalo and elephant targets and a hunting simulation trail through the woods with surprise shooting opportunities. The V6 1-6x24 was absolutely outstanding for all of these situations. I have never hunted or trained for dangerous game before but the need to be able to get on target in a serious hurry was pretty obvious from these exercises. I felt extremely confident using the V6 1-6x24, and the illuminated center dot was especially impressive. It is the sharpest illuminated dot I have used.
For the rest of the day we drove to different interesting shooting locations all over the 2000 acre FTW Ranch and had lots of fun shooting the 6.5 Creedmoor rifles in different mid to long range shooting scenarios.
As you can tell by the description of my time at the FTW Ranch I did a ton of shooting with the Conquest V6 scopes. The only thing I wish I could have tested but was not able to because the schedule never allowed for it was the low light capabilities. Zeiss says the V6 scopes offer 92% light transmission which is outstanding. Based on that and the overall quality of the optics that I observed I would expect them to be very good in low light hunting scenarios.
My final impressions of the Zeiss Conquest V6 riflescopes is obviously very positive. I feel they have put together the right mix of features, price point, glass quality and overall quality to appeal to the US long range market with the 3-18x50 and 5-30x50 models. And the 1-6x24 should appeal to a wide range of shooters from predator hunters to 3-gun competitors.
Time will tell how durable and repeatable the Conquest V6 scopes are but our group of shooters together with a similar group earlier in the week ran them through the gauntlet from bumping around the mountains in Jeeps to dialing the turrets like crazy and not to mention the 7000 rounds or so fired, and not one single problem or malfunction. Add to that the fact that many shooters of all different experience levels made tons of great shots at mid to very long range and I was just really impressed.
Andy Backus is a husband and father of two little girls. He grew up hunting whitetail deer and other critters in Wisconsin with gun and bow and over the years has been fortunate to hunt and explore most of the Western US states and Alaska. Andy is the Field Editor for Long Range Hunting Online Magazine and also manages the Long Range Hunting Store.