Minox ZA-5 2 -10 x 40 Riflescope
Minox is making a big splash with American assembled, German-designed scopes featuring Schott Glass and generous eye relief. The ZA-3 series has a 3:1 ratio erector, while the ZA-5 is a 5:1 power range line. Tested is a ZA-5 example.
Minox has an interesting history, as the Minox was the spy camera invented back in 1936 by Walter Zapp. Minox still manufactures sub-miniature cameras. Minox was purchased by Leica, reportedly in 1996, and became an independent company again in 2001. My first experience was with a set of Minox binoculars during an informal optics comparison some years ago. The test set of Minox binoculars was and is outstandingly good. Now, Minox has launched a riflescope line, designed in Germany for the American market, meaning inclusion of one inch tubes. They are the ZA-3 and ZA-5 riflescopes, with 3x and 5x erector ratios respectively. Minox scopes feature Schott glass and are assembled in the United States, in Oregon. The scopes are all feature four inch plus so eye relief, argon purging, quick-focus ocular portions, and offer three basic reticle choices. They are a plex, the #4 German, and the BDC holdover reticle. I opted for the #4 German reticle in this ZA-5 test scope, a terrific hunting reticle as far as I'm concerned, and not as widely available as it should be. This is about a 14 oz. scope, lighter than most with 5X or greater power ranges.
There is a little ongoing discussion over the usability of extended zoom range scopes, from those who prefer fixed power scopes to those who want as wide a power range as possible. It really is up to the individual to decide for themselves. Personally, I do see the value in a 5X scope like this, leave it on two power for a deep woods bear hunt and enjoy the extra field of view. Ten power is more than you'll ever need for big game hunting. Ten power also limits a scope design in other ways. With a reasonable objective, 40mm, ten power is all the law allows if you want to maintain a 4mm exit pupil. Ten power is a practical limit before a scope might need an adjustable objective as well. If you feel you need a 50mm objective in this platform, Minox offers a ZA-5 2-10 x 50 as well.
These are aggressively priced scopes as well, with the Minox ZA-3 clearly taking a shot at the Zeiss Conquest line, the ZA-3 running a hundred dollars less street price than the Czech (Meopta) glass equipped Zeiss, with the #4 reticle, and about the same with the standard plex at about five hundred dollars. In fact, right now the street price for this ZA-5 2-10 with the #4 reticle is about the same as a Zeiss 3-9 x 40 with a #4 reticle, and it is about an ounce lighter despite the extra zoom range. It is also about four hundred dollars less than a Leupold 2-12 x 42 VX-6, and only a couple of dollars more than a Bushnell Elite 4200 2.5 10 x 40 and substantially less than Bushnell 6500 models. At about $480 street, this Minox is priced to sell. The ZA-3 3-9x40 with a German #4 reticle runs just under $400 street.
The tested Minox ZA-5 2 -10 x 40mm scope has likely my favorite big game hunting reticle, the #4 German. It is a 14.1 oz. scope with very generous eye relief, and is 12.4 inches long. The specifications for the relevant portion of the Minox line follow.
The rubber enhanced power ring is a dream to grip and turn effortlessly, the generously rubber-covered ocular quick-focus ring is easily appreciated, and the scope has a very balanced, aesthetically pleasing look. My only minor grievance is the overly prominent, silver, bumper stickerish "MINOX" on both sides of the objective that could be far more subdued and tasteful. A little more restraint in this area would be easier on the eyes from a cosmetic standpoint, as far as I'm concerned.
Minox is presenting their line as "uncompromising value," and that's not far off the mark. It is clearly targeted to "out-conquest the Conquest." I'd say they have met their goal, on the basis of lighter weight, better zoom ratio, no excessive upcharge for a #4 reticle, equal to or better eye relief, argon gas purging, slightly better adjustment range, and what is to my eyes slightly better image quality. The extended rubber power ring is also an upgrade from the Conquest, as far as I'm concerned. That's quite a substantial battery of features in this ZA-5 2-10 x 40mm Minox, for actually a few less dollars current street price than the popular 3-9 x 40 Zeiss Conquest with a #4 reticle. For all of these reasons, this is an easy scope to recommend without hesitation.
Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.