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Minox ZA 3-9x50 review and comparison...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/15/2013 at 23:18
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Here is a mildly long-winded and somewhat simple review of the Minox ZA 3-9x50 in comparison to a few other popular and aged sub $400 scopes.


        As part of breathing new life into an old Mauser 30-06 I've had since about 1992 or so, a trifecta of face-lift enhancements were ordered this past summer, including a new Boyds laminate stock, Boyds Optima trigger and finally a modern scope; the Minox ZA 3-9x50. I am pleased to report it has found a permanent home atop my old, but new-looking Golden State Arms Mauser (circa 1951). 

  I have been using the same old (made in 1991) Leupold Vari-X 3-9x32 on it going on two decades now and thought it was time to either sell the rifle off as it didn't see much action (due to being bumped by a younger 300 win), or make it cooler. I chose make it cooler.

     The Minox ZA series is a breath of fresh air in the sub $300 hunting scope world. I came by this one via competitorny's Deal of the Day for $220 and have been wanting to compare it to other sub $400 ish scopes for awhile. For sake of comparison I will contrast it with some others in the same ball-park price point and what I have on hand for hunting scopes at the moment.

   Vortex Viper 2-7x32

   Leupold Mk AR 3-9x40

   Minox ZV 3-9x40

   Leupold Vari-X 3-9x33

   Leupold Vari-X II 4-12x40 (circa 1994)

   

     I spent several hours behind the old Leupy 3-9x while messing with a newly assembled AR pistol. It was temporarily scoped only to access accuracy. After some frustration from inconsistent grouping, it felt right to dabble a little with my Viper-topped 16" SPR to make sure it wasn't totally me; it wasn't totally me. So, a full on scope-off took place since it wasn't raining for about an hour and I have been kind of been wanting to look through them all side by side. 

     In short, I wasn't surprised the ZA 3-9x50 dominated the rest of the pack in resolution, what was surprising was just how much it dominated. I know its not totally fair being as it is endowed with a 50mm objective, but aside from image brightness (which it was the brightest), it just plain revealed way more detail that the others. Second in the resolution department was the Viper 2-7x. I feel if it went up to 9x it would be close as it revealed more detail at 7x than any of the other remaining scopes set at 9x. The old Vari-X II at 12x revealed the most of the target, but only due to the magnification increase; at 9x and 12x it had probably the dimmest image and had a noticeable yellowish hue, as did the smaller and also dim Vari-X. These have always held zero and have been very tuff scopes over the years and haven't been an issue in daylight hunting, but at twilight they need to be retired. 

Minox ZA 3-9x50:


Leupold Vari-X 3-9x33


    The newest addition to my scope family is the Leupold Mark AR sitting atop my Browning A-bolt in 300 win. I was hoping it could hold a candle to the ZA in resolution, but it didn't. I actually really like the scope though, it has compact turrets with good feel and is mil/mil and is really easy to get behind, and isn't so "tactical" as to not be hunting rile appropriate. It is great for an AR or close to medium range hunting rig as it is light and compact and has very good image brightness and a smooth magnification ring, its just not a super-reslover, but not bad. 


    *On a side note, I should mention I don't have the greatest eyes; I'm near sighted and also somewhat red/green color blind, so I don't spend too much time with color rendition or really intense optical-phile image testing, I just don't have good enough vision to get too detailed about image quality. I can tell a Swaro Z3 from a Nikon Buckmaster though : ) Resolution, Clarity, Contrast, and eye-box are all I mainly worry about.* 

  The other Minox 3-9x I have (thanks to competitorny again) comes in the form of the budget line ZV series with 40mm objective. This scope plainly out resolved the all the Leupolds and almost tied with the Viper, at least to my eye. It wasn't within striking distance of its bigger brother, the ZA, but had the second brightest image, and it made sense that it would. I paid $159 for this scope and to date haven't looked through another that compares well under $300 (except another Minox). It kind of doubt its durability if setup on a hard kicker, even though is has excellent eye relief like its sibling at about 4". As good of a value as it was, it was Well worth the extra $60 for the German (Wetzlar) glass found in the ZA. I haven't found a home for it yet, but I won't give up looking for one.

      So far after about 50 rounds down the pipe of my new old '06, the ZA 3-9x50 has held zero and been a pleasure to look through and I'd be happy with its performance even at twice the price. I find it very Zeiss Conquest-like, but with a decent hold-over reticle. It has really helped an old rifle feel young again. It really is amazing how far optics have come in the last few years. Thanks for reading. 

 

     

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/16/2013 at 04:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/19/2013 at 10:40
JD548 View Drop Down
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looks like you and i got some of the same scopes!

i have found the minox to be very decent piece of kit.  i have the same scope except it is a #4--
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/19/2013 at 10:54
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I noticed the same thing with my ZA3 3-9x50. What is weird is when you step up to the ZA5 series, things go downhill. The ZA3 is just a brilliant scope, both ZA5's I have bought, I immediately sold. I've had the 3-15x42 and the 2-10x40 and hated both of them. Like looking through a paper towel roll. Wondering if the the ZA3 3-9x40 is as bright as the 50mm version. I just can't seem to get in the right position behind the ZA5's. Frustrating.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/20/2013 at 01:33
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Originally posted by tarboroheel tarboroheel wrote:

I noticed the same thing with my ZA3 3-9x50. What is weird is when you step up to the ZA5 series, things go downhill. The ZA3 is just a brilliant scope, both ZA5's I have bought, I immediately sold. I've had the 3-15x42 and the 2-10x40 and hated both of them. Like looking through a paper towel roll. Wondering if the the ZA3 3-9x40 is as bright as the 50mm version. I just can't seem to get in the right position behind the ZA5's. Frustrating.


What I was able to discern about the ZA5 is that the 5x erector is a very difficult piece of engineering and has some significant drawbacks.  I really wanted to like the idea and I spent a lot of time cross shopping >3x erectors but I kept coming to the same conclusions.  They're difficult to get behind.  Eye relief isn't flexible and the whole design suffers overall because of that feature.  In the end what I found is that I really don't need the extra top end for the distances I should be shooting and I'm very happy with my ZA3 in 3-9x40 #4.  I've only got a little over a box down range and all on paper in relatively ideal conditions, but the brightness and resolution are both at least as good as my eyes are going to need from what I've been able to gather so far. 

I'll be in the field with it for an elk trip in about 4 weeks and I'll have a more informed opinion after that but so far I don't have any complaints or criticisms.  If all goes well, I'll be looking for another one the same as what I already have for another rifle I plan to buy next year.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/20/2013 at 09:30
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i'v got a 1.5-8x32 ZA5 and a 3-8x50 ZA3.

i don't know if you can compare the two directly but i can say this the ZA5 was a lot more fiddely to set up and the eye box is pretty tight, the sweet spot is also a bit narrow.

i came close to sending it back. if your eye position was 1/4" off the mark = tunnel  vision ,blackout, fish-eye ect-- once i got it set up proper and learned its little tricks --it seems fine.  it is very clear , though it does have a "little" distortion around the edges at low settings--  my vortex diamond back 2-7x has more of that little ring around the edge distortion @2x --though 2x on it is actually 1.7x--

i sort of think they tried to get a laundry list of hi-tech features and sort of ignored the technical difficulties  on the ZA5s. i think they could have got out of most of the problems had they just went with a little less on the eye relief --LOL!

the 3-9x 50 ZA3 was just like any other 3-9x scope on set up except it had a little more eye relief.

yea if you want easy--get the 3-9x in the minox--
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/20/2013 at 09:37
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I just ordered this ZA3 3X9 X50mm from the sample list last night.  I had been thinking about it awhile and then this review got me to take the plunge!!  Smile


It's heavier than I wanted but I couldn't pass up the price. And it's got a #4 reticle!!  I hope I'll get it in a couple of days...( I'll be working and can't go pick it up. )  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/20/2013 at 10:01
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/22/2013 at 17:18
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Minox 3-9x50 ZA3 Rifle Scope DEMO-B         


I came home from work just now and my new Minox ZA3  3X9X50 was waiting for my greedy little hands to grab!!   Thanks, guys!!  Fast work!  I took it outside and looked at my neighbor's yard and tree.  It looks very cool!!  





It was a Demo B but there isn't a mark on it!!....( but don't go rushing out and buy 'em all up because I want 'em all!! )  Bucky



Now I need to order some new mounts and take off the old Weaver mounts....and take off the old scope and save that for something else...








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