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October 25, 2007

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Field Report: Zeiss Diarange 2.5-10X50

Caribou generally don’t require a lot of gun. They are very accommodating when it comes to dying when shot with just about any caliber you like. But there are lots of shooting situations where they require plenty of scope. They are creatures of open ground and they live in places where when the weather turns nasty, it’s nasty. Under these conditions you want to be able to see clear and see far. Bou_3   

Now the scope on this rifle is not cheap. In fact it is the opposite of cheap. It is worth more than the GDP of many third-world countries. It is the Zeiss Victory Diarange 2.5-10X50, which was introduced this year, and will set you back about $4,200 should you choose to purchase one. And--here’s the scary part--it is probably worth it.

The hunter pictured is Shannon Jackson, who handles public relations for Zeiss. Her shot on this caribou happened to be pretty easy—she took it with her Savage at about 80 yards with a 130-grain Federal Powershok Soft Point in .270 Win.

In her case, she didn’t need all the bells and whistles that you’ll find on the Diarange, but her partner, who ended up taking a bull while hunting in sleet sure did.

I just had an opportunity to play around with a Diarange last week while moose hunting in Canada. Sadly, the scope was not on my rifle, but I had more than enough hands-on time with it to come away with the following impressions:

Weight: The engineers at Zeiss were able to get the weight of the scope (pictured) down to 32 oz. That’s not super light, but it isn’t prohibitively heavy either for a sporting rifle. Scope_2

Range finder: I don’t know exactly what electronics are being used for the internal range finder, but I do know this: they are very good. Target acquisition is very precise, very quick and worked just great out to 800 yards and beyond during my evaluation. To range you depress a stud that sits along side the scope housing. Impressive performance.

Moisture: The hydrophobic coating used on the Victory and Classic lines of Zeiss optics works very well. It is a thin (one molecule thick) layer of proprietary material that bonds to the anti-reflective coating on the lens surface. The hydrophobic coating makes the lens surface so smooth that water, fog and other forms of water vapor are unable to get a grip. The result is that moisture beads up and rolls off.

Reticle: In general, I’m not a big fan of scopes with ballistic compensating reticles. I think they’re more likely to confuse a shooter in the heat of the moment than help. That said, the Rapid Z reticle has a major advantage over other systems out there—namely that it is paired with the super accurate internal laser range finder. This lets the shooter range an animal and quickly adjust the hold without needing to lift an eye off the scope.

Illumination: Reticles that light up are rarely necessary in a scope. But that’s not to say they’re never useful. Shooting a black bear in low light against a background of dark timber would be one such occasion. The same goes for hunting in sleet on the tundra in low light. Caribou, anyone?

John Snow


Ralph the Rifleman

John, for that price the scope should gut,skin, and quarter the animal too!
Probably cost as much as the hunt did, and that's just nonsense!
A flat shooting caliber signed in at 3" high at 100yds can keep any steady hand honest in the field with a well made $300 scope mounted on their rifle.

Cheap Guy

This is a scope for one of the many snob hunters out there. I've hunted in weather as bad as it gets in SC with some of the cheapest scopes available with no issues. If I can shoot a deer in pouring freezing rain blowing right in my face with a $50 Simmons I would imagine I could get by anywhere in the world with a scope that costs less than $1000. But there are obviously people out there willing to pay $4200 for a scope or Zeiss would not have made this one, or most of their others for that matter. Same goes for Swarovski.

Clay Cooper

First of all, Congratulations Shannon Jackson on the Caribou!
During my 4 year tour at Eielson AFB Alaska and one of 7 range directors for recreational shooting, the #1 scope we found to be the biggest bang for the buck, is Leopold! Perhaps if I was looking for asteroids in space a Zeiss might do? But for this second generation U.S. Air Force High Power Team Member, a Leopold has the eye relief for rifles with heavy recoil, fantastic for bear hunts in very low light conditions and works fantastic for those extreme shots for Caribou at 700 yards on my 338 Win Mag or deer with my 25-06! And by the way, a 270 with a 130 grain bullet works absolutely great on Caribou unless you’re deep in Grizz country like I was. A young man from Dominion Republic that I’m proud to be his sponsor for his US Citizenship, I purchased for him as a gift, a Parker Wildfire Bow and the darn thing is just as accurate if not more as my bow at half the price. First shot was for slighter, adjusted the sight and fired the second and the third right down the shaft of the second. Cannot get better than that!
So my case and point is this, why pay for something and not gain any advantage over something at one third of the cost!
Reminds me of people who buy Hummers and don’t go into the brush.
I think I’ll make a bumper sticker for my Silverado that reads, HUMMER RETRIEVER!

Clay Cooper

Cheap Guy



I have to agree with above posters as well. I don't understand this fascination with a $4,000 scope that adds 2 lbs to your rifle.

Most calibers that you would use for caribou shoot out to 300 yards fairly flatly. If one must use a rangefinder a hand held unit that costs far less than this would more than suffice.

Companies keep coming up with solutions for problems that don't exist. Kind of like all the new rifle calibers that come out every year. Most are duplicates of existing rounds that aren't really necessary.

To each their own but I think I'll save my money.


Chris H.

I've hunted with Simmons, BSA, Bushnelle, Leopold, Redfield, Tasco, and one Swarovski that was on my Father-in-law's rifle. I never ran into a situation that really made me like one any better than another. Can't see any reason to pay more for one than another.

John Snow


I agree with you on the issue of what you really need from your optics while hunting. I can’t remember who said it off the top of my head, but it is always worth remembering that a rifle scope is an aiming instrument and not a viewing instrument.

My own preference, which I talked about in my post on How To Miss, is for a plain duplex reticle with the scope adjusted for the correct maximum point blank range for the cartridge I’m using—which more often than not translates to about 2.5 to 3 inches high at 100 yards, though sometimes I’ve cranked it up even more. The last thing I want to think about is some complex calculation about which hash mark on my reticle to use before pulling the trigger. I want to center the crosshairs in the fur and let it fly.

In fact, when it comes to choosing a scope I’m much more concerned with how low I can adjust the power on it than just about anything. I’ve got a number of 1.5-6 power scopes on my rifles—that is by far my preferred power range. Give me a wide field of view for easy target acquisition any day. I can’t even remember the last big game animal I shot with the scope turned up past 4X and that includes a mule deer I took at 414 yards a couple years ago.

For guys who want—or feel they need—a little more magnification on an all-around big game scope I’m not sure how you can do better than with something like a Leupold VX-III 2.5-8X36. It is a great, solid do-anything scope that won’t cost you a mint and will last a long, long time.

That said, I don’t think it is worth dismissing top-of-the-line products like the Zeiss Diarange out of hand. If for no other reason than to see what features—coatings, ergonomic improvements, electronics—are being integrated into the scopes of the future. There is an undeniable trickledown effect in the technology. The multi-layered coatings that were the sole province of Swarovski, Leica and Zeiss a few years back are now on just about every mid-price point scope and binocular out there.

I think the same thing will happen with electronics. While I don’t like the fancy reticles, I do use a rangefinder. And having a good one integrated into my scope is something I could see using down the road—provided the weight isn’t out of control and that the cost isn’t through the roof. For me, the Zeiss is like a peek at the future.

Can we kill game with less? You bet. My Marlin 336C in .35 Remington has a ghost-ring sights on it and I whack deer with it every year and will continue to do so.

But I still think the Zeiss is pretty cool, even if I’m not going to rush out to buy one.



While I respect your opinion, I don't want a rangefinder built into my scope.

I think it's just something else to break @ some point that you've paid way too much money for.

I'd rather buy a good rangefinder and a nice scope separately and replace the rangefinder (if necessary)as technology improves.

Just my opinion.


Clay Cooper

911 …---…
Last night, a friend told me that Wal-Mart had computers with Windows XP and would be nice to have two spares for the business my Wife and I own. So I swooped over to Wal-Mart and they were sold out. So I went over to the Sporting goods section and their stood a Father with his 9 year old son looking at rifles. The young man was wide eyed with excitement just as if it was Christmas morning and the father had a very sad look on his face and sick to his stomach. Youth season for deer is Nov 3-4, there was no youth rifles in stock and if there was the father couldn’t afford one. That was sad enough for me until the father turned to the wide eyed boy and said, I’ m sorry son, looked the other way and just wanted to fall to his knees and cry. What has happened to us in the Sportsmen community??? I remember my father going all out to make sure I had what I needed and the training to go with it. He had the recourses at hand. He was a member of a Military Rod and Gun Club and Member of the Air Force Shooting Team that was able to get things at a reduced price and knew places like Jensens Gun Shop in Tucson Az to customize his 03-A3 for me. I’ve been really pissed off and just outright angry for years at the manufacturers. It wasn’t until last night realized just how much I am and why I am so pissed when that young man of 9 wanted so badly to go deer hunting. Last week I ordered a Ramline Cadet Youth stock for my brand new Remington 700 CDL 25-06 so my Grandson can go out on this coming youth hunt. I have the resources to do so thanks to my Father. When I was in the Air Force, I was blessed with a great Father and passed it on to volunteer to local Youth Hunter Safety and Boy Scout programs. At Dysart High School west of Phoenix Az 1995, I was asked to teach the ROTC rifle team. They had the worst equipment and they still finished second place in their Regional Championship and I was told by Army Sgt Charles Hydman in charge of the program they wouldn’t have done it without me. The truth of the matter is, it was a generational thing like saying it’s in the genetics. As my Father taught me as I passed onto them as you the Sportsman should do the same. Follow what I’m saying. What do we do? Every year there is less and less youths coming into the field to go hunting and fishing.
I hope and pray that some manufacturer will read this and follow suit!

Tom OB

All valid points made on criticisms.
I'd like to add a different view.
In my pre-retirement years, I was a
ships navigator on supersize ships...I was in "traffic situations" with other ships & boats...like approaching the cross shipping lanes to Singapore for
instance..where you had to just use experience & judgement to direct the ship from dangers..there was no time, nor automatic radar info that could do it for you. Likewise, from this analogy, you also can use your judgement to estimate & evaluate range & distance. Admittedly, its often not easy, but the more you do it & check it with a rangefinder, the better you become at it. And I can estimate good enough for most shots. But, if you take away the "trying" to do this, then you become dependent on the gizmos that give you the exact info.
This Zeiss scope does that...I really don't want to have my hunt so computerized...I want the fun of estimating, the fun of hunting. I also do use a rangefinder, but find I'm pretty good without one. Its just too automatic a solution to me. Takes
the skill needed & fun away, imho.

Chris H.

This may not be right for everyone but Rossi makes some fine youth model rifles. A couple of years ago I picked up a Rossi Triple Threat that comes with 20ga, .22LR, and .243 barrels. I pretty much stuck the shotgun and rimfire barrels in the closet and set it up with the .243. That little gun cuts holes at 100 yards consistently. I saw them at Dick's Sportinggoods the other day for $249. Another neat youth rifle I've heard good things about is the H&R NEF Handi-Rifle. These are single shots also and these are made in the USA. I think they run around $250 also. I got the Rossi in a trade with a buddy of mine and tomorrow I hope my son kills his first deer with it. I currently have $75 in this gun. I got in trade for a .22 pistol I was given for some gun work I did. I have a cheap Simmons scope with Leopold base and rings. I've carried it to the woods about two dozen times and never had to readjust my scope. Still cutting holes. The only thing I've noticed is it is a little more difficult to hold steady freehand because it is so light.

Frank Fox

I think we're forgetting the whole point of hunting with things like this Zeiss scope. Aldo Leuopold once said that hunting by nature is adavistic--the whole point is to get into the woods and away from the factory, but more and more we're bringing the factory with us into the woods. To me, it ruins the whole thing. Worse, it makes us look lazy and incompetent to people who don't hunt.


It's technology for the sake of technology.

Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily make it worth somthing.

William Giordano

Sharron works for Zeiss.. Betcha she didn't pay four large for HER scope


MAN! If using a Zeiss got here that Caribou, imagine if she used a Leopold. My Caribou was a MONSTER and I had to hold my rifle between the rack by both the muzzle and the recoil pad to keep it from falling to the ground! Only if she had spent the money on the actual hunt instead of the $3000.00 scope she would really have something to brag about and able to pay for the wall mount to!


And they give Crossbow hunters hell!

KODIAK has a point here. She should have done what I do. Take the round out of the chamber, close the bolt on a empty chamber, aim, pull the trigger and yell bang! Then wait for a real wall hanger to come by. I like to give her guide a John Wayne rights cross for taking advantage of the young lady ending the hunt short with a yearling. Boy she sure got taken on this one!