Zeiss Terra 3X Riflescopes: Bottom End or Top Value?


Another difference—which really makes no difference—is the warranty. Conquest products come with a 5-year, no-fault warranty, plus a limited, transferable lifetime warranty. Terra 3X scopes carry only the latter. I’ve used dozens of optical sights since 1967, often under harsh conditions and with cartridges as brutal as the .500 Jeffery, and haven’t once sought warranty redress. Consequently, warranties mean little to me. In the current market, scopes that fail bring instant retribution to the maker. Even purveyors of entry-level scopes take care not to field sights that might disappoint shooters.

Terra 3X scopes feature rear-plane reticles (which don’t change apparent size as you change power) and fast-focus (European or helical) eyepieces. They are, of course, nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging. Zeiss rates them waterproof to 400 millibars (equivalent to a depth of about 12 feet), and functional in temperatures from -13 to 122 degrees F.


Not long ago I snared a new Terra 3X 3-9×42, then found another on a “package” rifle for review. “We wanted a good scope for this project,” said Rick Homme, who markets Howa rifles under the Legacy Sports International banner. I’ve used these smooth, solid bolt guns—in the form of Howas and Weatherby Vanguards—on many hunts. The Legacy package intrigued me because rifles sold with scopes are commonly cheap, and so are the sights. But the walnut-stocked, stainless .338 Win. Mag. that Rick showed me was first-cabin. And the new Zeiss Terra 3X sitting on top seemed a perfect fit. It had enough free tube for the long Howa action (not all scopes are so engineered), and the trim, cleanly checkered stock put my eye right on the 3-to-9’s axis. Rick smiled.


As soon as spring winds swept winter off the Columbia Basin, I brought the Terra-scoped Howa to the range and shot “around the square” to test the windage and elevation dials. Cranking 20 clicks at a time, I found them very slightly greater than the advertised quarter minute. My last bullet, after 80 clicks, struck within  an inch of the center of the starting 3-shot group. Fired with Remington’s 250-grain pointed softpoint factory loads, it measured an even inch. That Remington recipe proved the best of several in the Howa rifle.

At 13.4 ounces, the 2-7×32 Terra 3X is a bit heavier than some of its competitors, but surely not too heavy. The same is true of the 14.8-ounce 3-9×42 and 4-12×42. All three scopes should mate easily with low rings on most rifles, while the 3-9×50 and a 4-12×50 will require somewhat taller rings. I like the Terra 3X’s leggy 1-inch tube, the satin-black finish and neat, under-stated graphics. These scopes dress up any rifle without looking dressy. Most importantly, they’re weather-tight, sturdy and optically excellent. If you find the target image in a Terra 3X won’t match what you see through a Conquest or a Duralyt, you have better eyes than mine!

The Zeiss Terra 3X is more than a good scope; it’s a delightful way to save money. See them at your firearms retailer, or for more information contact Carl Zeiss Sport Optics, Dept. OT; Tel.: (800) 441-3005; Web: www.zeiss.com