Zeiss’ Björn Pados interview w/ Mat Manning

Airgun shooters are celebrating Zeiss’s launch of a range of scopes especially for them. Mat Manning catches up with Björn Pados, category manager for the German optics giant’s hunting division, to find out more.

Until very recently, Zeiss telescopic sights had generally been regarded as being for powder-burners only, but the new Conquest V4 range has pushed the brand firmly into the airgun market. Apart from boasting super-sharp clarity and exceptional brightness, these high-quality optics now parallax from infinity right down to just 10 yards. That means that, as well as being an excellent choice for long-range work, they are also perfect for airgunning at close quarters.

Being a quality German brand, Zeiss scopes cost a bit more than most airgun shooters are accustomed to parting with for a set of teles. However, you get what you pay for and, after testing the Conquest V4 range for several months, I don’t think it will take much more than a peep down the lens to convince serious airgunners that these scopes are very, very good. And, in an age when many airgun shooters are prepared to spend upwards of £2,000 for high-end rifles, I would expect plenty of them to see the sense in investing in an optic that hovers somewhere around the £1,000 mark.

Eager to find out more about Zeiss’s move into the airgun optics market, I put a few questions to Björn Pados, who manages the optics business’s hunting division.

What prompted the decision for Zeiss to move into the airgun optics market?

Serious airgun shooters want high-quality optics, and that’s what we do. With our V4 series, which enables up to 24x zoom, this product family is the right companion for usage in different applications. After establishing the scopes within hunting and competitive shooting, we then optimised the parallax setting starting from 10 yards to infinity, making it perfect for airgun applications.

All Zeiss optics are exhaustively tested to ensure their endurance and their suitability for everyday use. The stringent testing procedures ensure faultless performance in the tough conditions of everyday hunting and shooting, making it possible to act and react with confidence in every situation. Our products have to withstand several environmental tests and also shock tests up to 1,500g—that’s equivalent to .460 Weatherby Magnum, so recoiling airguns won’t be a problem.

Airgun shooters are known for liking a wide variety of scope reticles to cater for different scenarios and disciplines. How is this reflected in the Conquest V4 range?

The V4 family of riflescopes offers the largest range of reticles within the Zeiss riflescope portfolio. The full range can be seen on our website, but the most popular V4 reticles are the ZBi reticle and ZMOAi-20 reticle. The ZBi reticle has one minute of angle (MOA) hash marks, allowing for easy aiming and corrective aiming in windy conditions.

Only the centre section of the reticle illuminates, providing a most effective and precise point of aim in low-light environmental conditions. The ZMOAi-20 reticle, meanwhile, borrows from the most popular reticle design from Zeiss, the ZMOAi-T20; however, it offers a thicker reticle line subtension of 0.12 MOA at 24x. It also has illumination of the central element.

Have you received much feedback from airgun shooters who have tried the Conquest V4 and what have they had to say?

From what we have heard, airgun shooters seem to be very impressed with Zeiss optics. I think a lot of airgun shooters have known about Zeiss optics for a long time, and now they are able to use them confidently as they can parallax down to 10 yards and out to infinity.

Airgun shooters are quite taken aback by just how bright and clear our telescopic sights are—certainly compared with what they are used to. Aside from optical performance, they also appreciate the build quality and features such as our ballistic turret and 24x zoom.

Of course, the wide choice of reticles means the Conquest V4 range can cover just about all airgun shooting applications—shooters like the fact that though some of our reticle designs are quite sophisticated, they are still uncluttered and quick to use.

Zeiss doesn’t just make telescopic sights. What other products are there in the line-up that could be of interest to airgun shooters? 

If you use your airgun for pest control, a thermal-imaging device like our Zeiss DTI 3/35 will enable you to pick up pests such as rats and rabbits faster and more efficiently. By day, binoculars such as the Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 or Zeiss Conquest HD 10×42 are ideal for spotting pests.

What single thing about the Zeiss brand are you most proud of? 

It is not only a single thing we at Zeiss are proud of. When Zeiss started 175 years ago, we and our customers were inspired by curiosity, passion and precision—new perspectives that shaped how we looked at the world. To discover major challenges and turn them into great opportunities.

Despite the many ways the world has changed over the past 175 years, one thing remains the same: together, we challenge the limits of imagination. Zeiss has spearheaded many innovations that nowadays have become an industry standard. Examples for milestones that we set are T* multilayer coating to obtain best optical performance, LotuTec for easy cleaning of the lenses, or extra-fine illuminated reticles to aim perfectly. 

What are the most important factors to Zeiss when designing and manufacturing a telescopic sight? 

Our optic designers calculate every product with experienced knowledge of optical performance to avoid aberrations, stray light, coma, vignetting and many more optical challenges in order to get the best possible image quality. This results in great optics which, combined with solid and very durable mechanics, ensure precision, repeatability and durability over the whole lifetime of a product. 

Can we expect to see Zeiss expanding its range of airgun-related products in the future? 

We have a strong connection with our customers and listen to their needs. However, unfortunately, we cannot give statements on our planned roadmap.


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