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Zeiss Rapid Z Ballistic reticles

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Franco, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. Franco

    Franco Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have experience with these? The website calculator doesn't seem to work or I don't understand the theory. I bought a Rapid Z-800 for my 300 WSM. The instructions say to calculate your optimum power using the website calculator, which I attempted and I think it's 10 power. Then, using that power, sight in for 200 yds. Then shoot at 400 yds and if you're low then turn the power down a little and the opposite if you're shooting high. Does that mean that my 4.5 - 14 power is only useful at the "optimum power" setting? If changing the power means that you're affecting the bullet's targeting then you can never use another power other than the optimum power? Seems to defeat the entire purpose of having a variable power scope!!!! I must be missing something so if anyone has any experience here, I would appreciate the assistance. Thanks.
  2. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately Franco you are correct.

    I have been shouting from the rooftops for nearly a year about the Conquest line's failure to no avail here as everyone seems to love them.

    The Rapid Z as Zeiss calls it is a reticle they are licensed to use, not one developed by them. Pride Fowler Industries (PFI) developed the Rapid Reticle to be used under specific parameters that simply cannot be guaranteed by every rifle. Their original design was meant to be used with specific velocity loads using specific ballistic coefficient bullets. They also chose a first focal plane reticle to keep POA and POI consistent throughout the entire power range.

    In other words you have a velocity window of 2600-2700 fps and a bullet BC of .450-.540then zero at your chosen yardage. Now, no matter the yardage or magnification, the corresponding line will be on.

    With Zeiss's Conquest using a second focal plane scope only your 100 yard zero (assuming 100 yds. was your original zero) will be on at any magnification.
  3. Franco

    Franco Well-Known Member

    ***, that is awful. So I spent $900 for a scope that I have to keep at 10 power for every distance? I sighted it in for 200yds (per instructions) at the "optimum power" but are you saying, as I fear, that if I change the power then the bullet will strike higher or lower? (that's what the instructions say if you're hitting high/low at 400yds). If that happens at 300 or 400yds then it logically would also happen when I shoot at 200yds with other than "optimum power" setting!
  4. JDMorris

    JDMorris Well-Known Member

    That's pretty dumb if you ask me, Is it too late to return it?
  5. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Well-Known Member

    It will be off at every distance save the one at the middle of your crosshairs.

    Of course that will be true of any second focal plane reticle with hash marks of any sort and variable power. There is at least the upside that you're at 10 X and Zeiss offers arguably the best glass in the industry.

    I would still run the numbers through the program and see how much difference POI makes at a + or - 2 X setting to give you some leeway.
  6. Franco

    Franco Well-Known Member

    Way too late to return it. I wish they told me that before I bought it. Kind of a fraud to advertise it as a variable power scope with customizeable ballistics.

    Not to sound stupid but why would it still be shooting on target using my 200 yd center crosshairs at varying power if it would be off for the hash marks? I would think that varying the power would also affect the targeting at 200 yards. Are the hash marks in the second focal plane?
  7. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Well-Known Member

    This why I bought the Swarovski with the BRX reticle, the Swarovski online calculator is much more versatile in addition to being easier to use. Plus you don't have numbered stadia lines to confuse you when your rifle and ammo don't actually match up to a set "range" that is dialed into the reticle.

    My rifle, a Cooper M52 in .280AI was borderline between the Rapid Z600 and Z800 depending on bullet weight, B.C., and velocity. If I stuck with 140gr Accubonds at 3150fps then the Z800 was the right choice.... move up to a 160gr partition at 3000fps though and the Z600 was called for. Yeah, screw that.
  8. chas08

    chas08 Well-Known Member

    The cross hair is zeroed to a specific distance, it will remain the same regardless of the power setting. The hashmarks represent holdover in inches, which changes with magnification.
  9. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Well-Known Member

    Franco, the key is to find out how far off it is at it's lowest and highest magnification. If you can chart that and print it, you can tape it to your stock for quick reference.

    Ideally, we would all shoot mildot fixed power scopes and memorize ballistic charts etc. The original Rapid Reticle was meant to be a quick way to transition people to longer distance shooting without months or years of training.

    If yours is a hunting set up you're probably good to 300 yards or so without much problem.
  10. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    I like my Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40mm with the Rapid-Z 600 reticle ... but then again, I figured out how to use it before I bought it. It works as designed and is an excellent hunting scope with one of the best hunting reticles I've ever used. The scope is designed to be zeroed at 200 yards and this zero holds for any magnification. Using the ballistic calculator and appropriate load data, you can calculate the correct magnification so that the 300, 400, 500 and 600 yard stadia are correct. But guess what, that value is going to be towards the upper end of the magnification range. For my .300 WSM the "optimal" magnification is 8.9x but if you're going to shoot at 300, 400, 500 or 600 yards, it's highly likely that you'd use a higher magnification anyway.
  11. dmazur

    dmazur Well-Known Member

    Exbal (and perhaps other ballistics calculators) has a provision to handle what the author calls "ballistic reticles".

    You can optimize optimize the power so the numbered reticles match your ranges as closely as possible, which is what the Zeiss on-line calculator does. You can also use the maximum power on the scope and the ballistics calculator will determine (theoretically) what the ranges are for the 300, 400, 500, 600 hash marks. They will probably be something like 278, 355, 461, and 550, depending on the ballistics of the cartridge you're using.

    I believe this is what the Zeiss on-line calculator shows before you click on "optimize power".

    So, there may not be much of a difference. Stability of your improvised rest is probably more important than a 50 yd error in estimated range.

    I have a 3-9X Rapid Z and I love it. At close range, I have the scope dialed down to 3X and I use the center crosshairs (200 yd zero). So it shoots a couple of inches high at 100 yds. At long range, I have the scope dialed to 9X and I use the numbered reticle based on estimated range. (Which I estimate by using the thinner hash marks above the center of the reticle.)

    If you are trying to use a laser range finder, you could tape the actual ranges at full power to the side of your stock.
  12. Franco

    Franco Well-Known Member

    Thanks all. This has been very helpful, although I didn't need the snide remark about learning to use it before I bought -- I assumed that no one would be so stupid as to create a scope where the point of impact changes based upon the magnification.... Having said that, I'm a huge fan of Zeiss so this wasn't meant to bash their scopes. My 3.5-10 on my 7mm-08 is probably my best whitetail combo in my gun case. I just think it's quite ridiculous that if I want to dial up to 14x on my Z-800 for a 500yd shot that the #5 hash mark now means something other than 500yds. Thanks again, I guess I'll just have to aim a couple inches high at higher magnifications!
  13. dmazur

    dmazur Well-Known Member

    A couple of additional thoughts -

    Zeiss shows "typical calibers" for their Rapid-Z reticles. See this -


    It's just possible that the .300 WSM might have ballistics that fit the Z-600 better than the Z-800. That would explain why the optimum power for the data you entered into the calculator isn't near the maximum for the scope, 14X.

    So, if you don't want to tape the actual ranges the hash marks represent to your stock, another option might be to experiment with different loads to get ballistics that fit the reticle better. Perhaps bullets with a higher BC, for example.


    I checked the Zeiss site, and using Winchester Supreme 180gr XP3, it shows ballistics data based on mv = 3010 and a BC = 0.527. Then running the reticle calculator for a 14X Rapid-Z 800, it shows an optimum power of 12X. Using Winchester Supreme 150gr XP3, it shows ballistics data based on mv = 3300 and BC = 0.437. Reticle calculator shows optimum power of 13.63X.

    If their data is valid, you can get real close to the factory reticle marks with selected ammo.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  14. MCMXI

    MCMXI Well-Known Member

    As Skylerbone said, this is the case for EVERY scope with the reticle in the second focal plane ... EVERY scope. I have a bunch of Leupold Mark 4 scopes with tactical milling (TMR) and special purpose (SPR) reticles. Shooting with holdovers or any ranging is accurate at the maximum magnification since the reticles are calibrated to work at that magnification only. You should have bought a scope with a front focal plane reticle if you wanted to have holdovers accurate over the entire magnification range. But bear in mind that those holdover values won't be some nice neat round numbers. That's the point of the Rapid-Z reticles, they allow you to find (calibrate) the reticle so that the stadia line up for a specific load and magnification, and those numbers are easy to remember and use. If you choose the correct reticle for your cartridge, the calibration will work well at close to the maximum magnification which is how all Leupold SFP optics work.

    You always have the option to calculate your own holdovers using the reticle on whatever magnification you prefer. The 4.5-14x is probably 13.88x on the high end based on the values generated in the Zeiss ballistic calculator. Zeiss states that the reticle is in./100yd but their calculator generates values based on MOA holdover and not in./100yd. On maximum power, the RZ 800 reticle has the following holdover values in MOA.

    2 0.00
    3 1.70
    4 3.80
    5 6.15
    6 8.80
    7 11.78
    8 15.10

    You can use these values with a ballistic calculator to generate your own holdovers for maximum magnification. For example, using Black Hills Gold ammunition with a 180gr Nosler AccuBond bullet at 2,950 fps, the "optimized" magnification is 11.63x (first figure). If you force the magnification to 14x, the corresponding holdovers are shown in the second figure.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  15. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Well-Known Member

    It's still premium glass that bests nearly everything else out there for clarity and you don't have to mortgage your grandchildren for it. That's what Zeiss should let people know about the Conquest line.

    +1 for the above post. I don't reload for belted magnums personally but if you do there's no reason you couldn't find a load that works well.
  16. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Well-Known Member

    The Duplex reticle makes it even cheaper. I think that is what Franco is thinking.
  17. Franco

    Franco Well-Known Member

    Thanks again. Yes, I have no beef with the glass. This scope and my other Zeiss conquest are absolutely great glass. Just had an issue with the second focal plane reticle as I did not realize that all such reticles would have different impact areas at different magnifications. Someone mentioned the z-600 as possibly more appropriate for the 300wsm. That is correct but the dealer was giving me a really good price to take his z-800. Having said all of that, turns out that the optimum magnification for my load is 11x and even at 14x, the difference at 500 yds likely won't be unbearable once I get a few test rounds shot. I guess what pains me is that none of this is really well advertised and you don't expect it (unless you're a scope expert) until you open the instruction booklet. And, even then, you have to have an "ah hah" moment to figure out the problem that stems from the instructions (i.e. the problem with all second focal plane scopes as I'm learning). They are great scopes, no doubt, just wish I had more information as I would have bought a swarovski with a single focal plane BRX reticle with what I now know....

    Thanks again everyone for the info. This site has been a great place to build some knowledge.
  18. sscoyote

    sscoyote Well-Known Member

    Franco--using multiple stadia reticles for downrange zeroing and rangefinding is practically a college course unto itself. It took me several years before i "got it down".

    Zeiss is providing a system for the avg. guy who doesn't want to take the time to understand, work and manipuate the mathematics behind subtension in variable-powered 2nd focal plane optics, and match it to a ballistics program. It can get complicated sometimes. Adjusting the magnification (and consequently subtension) to match various trajectories is probably the best way to apply these reticles for intermediate range shooting and often works well assuming the reticle is close enuf to the trajectory. I never use this system in my ballistic and rangefinding reticles though. I always crank the optic to the highest power and leave the subtensions where they lie. I then attach a range-verified dope sticker to the inside of a Butler Creek scope cap cover calcd. in 50-yd. intervals, and go hunting.

    Understanding the system though allows a shooter to adapt any reticle for downrange zeroing (and rangefinding) with any trajectory. One of my favorite setups is the Rapid Reticle 22 Long Rifle reticle that i adapted to the trajectory of my AR-15 coyote load, and it's wonderful--though not even close to intuitive hundred yd. intervals of course.

    One of the best references for adapting reticles for dowrange zeroing is the Burris Tech. Notes on their ballistic reticles. Search the site and you'll find it there if interested.

    The 2 most important things i've learned about the math is--

    1) Subtension is inversely proportional to magnification (assuming the power ring is cald. correctly). This is the system Exbal and Zeiss and i think also the Nikon Spot-On use for their ballistic programs. This will also allow u to calculate the system "long-hand" with any reticle subtension actually.

    2) Undertand the most basic form of the "mil-ranging formula", as it defines not only rangefinding with any reticle (and even turret click value) but also downrange zeroing as well.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  19. vaupet

    vaupet Well-Known Member

    First focal plane is the solution if you want to use a scope for ranging and balistics. My S&B PMII with its P4 reticle is as perfect as they come.

    Due to import and other taxes, a S&B PMII is in the same price range for us Euros as a Leupold Mk4 FFP scope


  20. oz_lowrider

    oz_lowrider Well-Known Member

    zeiss conquest

    I have a Conquest with Reticle 4 and it's the best scope I've ever had. I thought about which reticle suited my purpose best and I chose No4.

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