This article originally appeared in the premiere issue of Elk hunter Magazine. To subscribe and be among the first to read our gear reviews, click here!
I spend most of my hunting time trying to get as close to game as possible, and there’s few things better than a good, dependable 100-yard shot at a trophy bull. However, there’s one little catch to hunting wary bulls – they’d actually just as soon keep that distance significantly larger, and their instincts and wit will often allow them to do just that. In those cases where a well-educated shot at greater distance makes good, ethical sense, having a scope with a great ballistic reticle is a must.
For the past three years, I’ve been using a 4.5-14×44 Zeiss Conquest with Rapid-Z 800 reticle on top of my super reliable Blaser R93 .300 Win.-mag. It’s no bull when I tell you that this combo has been an almost indescribable improvement over previous setups.
Just this past fall, I used it to take a great Wyoming 6×6 at 368 yards on a late October high country hunt. Before that, it helped with one-shot kills on several trophy mule deer and even some decent pokes at some Wyoming antelope.
The nicest thing about the Rapid-Z is that it’s amazingly simple, which helps mediocre shots like me become better shots just by using great equipment. Here’s how it works. First, go to Zeiss.com and navigate to the Optical Long Range Reticle Analysis form. Input all the necessary ballistic information, including cartridge, ballistic coefficient, etc.,
and it will tell you what the optimal power is that you should have your scope dialed to in order for the reticle to be “on” at each
100-yard interval appearing on the reticle. It’s that simple. All of this is based on a 200-yard zero.
When looking at the reticle itself, there are numbered hashmarks for each 100-yard interval starting at 300 yards, with intermediate hashmarks for every 50 yards in between and dots for each 25 yards before and after the 50s. This enables you to be accurate to no worse than 12.5 yards without worry of using interpolation.
There are also hashmarks on the left and right sides for 5 and 10 mph winds. So, if you have a bull standing at 400 yards with an estimated 10 mph left crosswind, you can go directly to the 400-yard crosshairs, move it to the left to the end of the line (the 10 mph adjustment) and fire with confidence.
While to some this might seem almost too easy, some time at the range practicing these scenarios will help you immensely in using this tool to its utmost ability. This is twofold in importance – 1) to familiarize yourself with the system and be able to use it quickly, and 2) to prove to yourself that it works and give you confidence at crunch time.
The Rapid-Z comes in four reticles and is available in both Conquest and Victory models. Here are Zeiss’ recommendations that match each reticle model with the most favorable cartridges:
• Rapid-Z 600: Standard hunting cartridges such as .270, .30-06, etc.
• Rapid-Z 800: Magnums such as .300 WSM, .300 RUM, .338, etc.
• Rapid-Z 1000: Tactical/Long range shooting, such as .308.
• Rapid-Z Varmint: Smaller, fast-shooting cartridges such as .204 Ruger, .220 Swift, .223, .22-250.
Here are a couple of other interesting
• The reticle is located in the second image plane, resulting in minimal target cover.
• It comes with an integrated ranging feature – hashmarks are available above the crosshairs and are designed to determine distance to the target animal. Simply place one hashmark on top of the back and count how many hashmarks down to
brisket, then do some quick math.
• All Rapid-Z reticles are designed to be sighted in at 200 yards, except the RapidZ 1000, sighted in at 500.
• Non-illuminated versions are available in Victory and Conquest models; illuminated versions are available in assorted Victory Diavari and Victory Diarange models.
There’s no question that it takes a bit more effort to use a rangefinding reticle than a simple “point-and-shoot” duplex. However, the simplicity of such a reticle has great limitations. A solid ballistic reticle and riflescope such as the Rapid-Z, with some time and familiarity, will be worth its weight in gold with its return on investment. I know it has been for me.