Scopes on test: two of the best for around £1000 and under
Shop wisely and £1,000 can buy you an extremely good telescopic sight; Mat Manning puts two solid performers through their paces
While some shooters are happy to spend thousands of pounds on high-end optics, you can still buy an extremely good telescopic sight for around £1,000. In fact, once you pass through that price barrier, improvements in optical performance and features only go up by small increments in relation to the increase in spend. So I put two scopes on test. The models featured here come from brands with a proven pedigree in the optics field. Both sights are versatile all-rounders, designed to meet the needs of rifle shooters and serious airgunners. (Read our advice on different airgun scopes from £134.)
Two scopes on test
Zeiss Conquest V4 4-16×44 RRP: £1,060
Zeiss is known for manufacturing high-quality optics, often with high price tags.
The Conquest V4 delivers the optical performance on which this German brand is built, but manages to come in at a competitive price. The Conquest V4 is available in numerous different formats, with objective lenses as big as 50mm and magnification up to 24x. The model here is the 4-16×44 with 60 reticle and ballistic turret, which retails for £1,060. Apart from being an appealing option for shooters who use powder-burning rifles, that asking price also makes this optic a realistic choice for airgunners who want to pair a high-end air rifle with a decent scope — this optic parallaxes right down to 10m for that very reason.
I was immediately struck by the Conquest V4’s excellent light transmission — an impressive 90%, thanks to good glass and Zeiss’s performance-boosting T* lens coating. As well as being bright, the sight picture is also sharp right to the edges.
Mounted on my .22 LR, this scope has accounted for dozens of rabbits. I shot right through to dusk on my first outing with it, taking full advantage of the excellent low-light performance. As the crosshair began to disappear into the gloom, the illuminated central element of the reticle still ensured a clear aiming point. Illumination is controlled by a dial next to the parallax wheel on the left turret, and there are 10 levels of brightness.
This variant of the V4 has a 30mm tube, weighs 670g and is 350mm long. It is made in Japan and the build quality is excellent — it is shockproof, properly waterproofed and nitrogen-purged to stop it from fogging up in rain, plus it’s covered by the Zeiss limited lifetime transferable warranty and five-year no-fault policy.
I like the V4’s simple design with minimal notches and grooves; it made for easy cleaning after I caked it in dirt while bellycrawling around muddy field margins to get within striking distance of skittish bunnies. (Read rabbiting with air rifles.)
The second-focal-plane V4 has numerous reticle options, including some sophisticated multi aim-point versions. The 60 reticle on the review scope is a more basic layout, similar to the familiar Duplex design. I got on well with it; its uncluttered layout makes for quick target acquisition and the fine central element assists with precise shot placement. I also found the 4-16x zoom range more than sufficient, although I left it on 10x most of the time.
There are various turret options for the Conquest V4. On the review model, the cap screws off the right-hand windage turret to reveal a finger-adjustable dial that turns with very positive clicks; each one adjusting point of impact by ¼ MOA (minute of angle). The top elevation turret has a rotation scale indicator and Zeiss’s ballistic turret feature, so you can set exactly where it stops turning. That means you can dial-in for different ranges and always be assured of an exact return to zero. Scopes on test score 9/10
Hawke has an amazing ability to deliver excellent build quality and performance at extremely competitive prices. The Frontier 30 FFP is clear proof of that, with this feature-packed model coming in at an impressive £799.
The Frontier is made in China and looks and feels like a quality item. These neatly designed scopes are waterproof, nitrogen-purged and shockproof rated for all calibers. At 336mm long and weighing 630g, the 3-15×50 FFP model featured here should sit comfortably on most guns.
Reticle choice is a subjective thing but I got on well with the Mil Pro layout, which offers plenty of aim points without looking cluttered. This is a first-focal-plane scope, so the reticle remains proportional to the target as you zoom in and out to avoid shift in aim points at different magnification levels. The reticle can also be illuminated red, with six levels of brightness controlled by the outer dial on the left turret — a feature I really appreciated when ambushing rabbits as they ventured out from the burrows at dusk. The inner wheel on this turret serves as the parallax dial, focusing from infinity down to an airgun-friendly 9m.
There are lots of zoom, tube and objective lens options in the Frontier line-up. The test scope’s 3-15x magnification range covered everything I needed. Targeting farmyard rats with my airgun, the lower end of the scale provided rapid target acquisition and boosted brightness, while 15x gave extra precision, remaining pin-sharp and without noticeably pinching the field of view, when using my rimfire to bowl over long-range rabbits from the support of a bipod. The supplied throw lever that screws into the zoom dial proved helpful, making for easy adjustment when wearing thick gloves on a couple of bitterly cold evening sessions.
Windage and elevation turrets pop up to unlock and turn with distinct stops, each one shifting point of impact by 1/10 milliradian (MRAD) with a full adjustment range of 26 MRAD. Snap them back down and they lock safely into position. The elevation turret’s Zero Lock ‘n’ Stop feature enables you to set a stop position for an assured return to your original zero after dialling in to compensate for bullet drop.
The 50mm objective lens and 30mm tube combine with Hawke’s H7 optics, which feature high-grade low-dispersion glass and some clever coatings, to deliver impressive light transmission. I used the Frontier on several dusk sessions in pursuit of skittish rabbits and didn’t find it lacking when the light began to fade.
This optic comes with some genuinely useful extras, including a 100mm screw-in sunshade and some good metal flip-up lens covers. It is also covered by Hawke’s no-fault lifetime warranty. Scopes on test score 9/10
The Conquest V4 from Zeiss boasts remarkably good optical quality that results in a sharp sight picture with exceptional brightness in a wide range of light conditions.
Hawke’s Frontier is also no slouch when it comes to optical performance. It costs significantly less than the Zeiss and still manages to include a host of handy features and genuinely useful accessories.
Both of these scopes on test are brilliant all-rounders at a sensible price point. Final choice will boil down to what tops your priorities when splashing out on a telescopic sight.