Minox is making a big splash with American assembled, German-designed scopes featuring Schott Glass and generous eye relief. The ZA-3 series has a 3:1 ratio erector, while the ZA-5 is a 5:1 power range line. Tested is a ZA-5 example.
Minox has an interesting history, as the “Minox” was the spy camera invented back in 1936 by Walter Zapp. Minox still manufactures sub-miniature cameras. Minox was purchased by Leica, reportedly in 1996, and became an independent company again in 2001. My first experience was with a set of Minox binoculars during an informal optics comparison some years ago. The test set of Minox binoculars was and is outstandingly good. Now, Minox has launched a riflescope line, designed in Germany for the American market, meaning inclusion of one inch tubes. They are the ZA-3 and ZA-5 riflescopes, with 3x and 5x erector ratios respectively. Minox scopes feature Schott glass and are assembled in the United States, in Oregon. The scopes are all feature four inch plus so eye relief, argon purging, quick-focus ocular portions, and offer three basic reticle choices. They are a plex, the #4 German, and the BDC holdover reticle. I opted for the #4 German reticle in this ZA-5 test scope, a terrific hunting reticle as far as I'm concerned, and not as widely available as it should be. This is about a 14 oz. scope, lighter than most with 5X or greater power ranges.
When hunting, my bull's eye is at least eight inches and perhaps much more. Locating an animal is done with binoculars, my naked eyes, or perhaps a spotter, but not my riflescope.
This Minox ZA 5 has quick diopter focus, is argon purged, and shares the effortless to use extended rubber zoom ring common to the rest of the ZA 5 line. Low scope mounting that might be prohibited by oversize objective bells are not a problem with this optic, contingent on the specific rifle. On the high end, if you can hit what you are shooting at with open sights at just 50 yards, you get the same size image with this scope at 400 yards. On the low end, such as when hunting black bear from a tree deep in the timber, the 1.5 power setting is where this scope can stay, a field of view many scopes can never arrive at. Currently, this ZA 5 can be had for $480 or so street price. On a cloudy morning, forty-seven minutes before sunrise, the low-light performance at 6X was compared against several other scopes. This Minox not only did well, passing the dark green on dark green "make the shot test," it was noticeably brighter than the already excellent Minox ZA 5 2-10 x 40 at 6X.
One of the challenges that the Western hunter faces is finding the right pieces of equipment without breaking the bank. Many hunters, like myself, are very price conscious, but won’t sacrifice quality - herein lies the challenge. Speaking from a personal standpoint, the family budget is almost always tight – especially with a lovely wife who is a stay-at-home mom, and four young children that think they need to eat every day (the audacity!). To put it bluntly, a $2,000 pair of optics will probably never be in my budget, only in my dreams.
For my money, a mid-range pair of binos like the Minox BL 10x44 is tough to beat. Couple all of these great features with the Minox Lifetime Total Coverage Warranty, and you have a quality setup that will not only last, but leave some money for that taxidermy bill.
I recently caught up with a couple of the guys from MINOX at the CLA Game Fair 2011 that was held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. We spoke a little about their range of binoculars, especially the ones that are ideal for taking on safari like the excellent Minox BL 8×33 Binoculars and their compact BD 7×28 IF binoculars. After a short while I noticed a small green box on their stand and enquired about what it was and what it did:
They told me that it was their new trail or game camera. Which for the benefit of those who don’t know is a camera that you leave at a location to take photos or video of what ever passes by that activates the motion sensor on the camera.
Apart from the fact that they are both German brands that produce high-end optics, Minox binoculars are in many ways very similar to Steiner's in that they pride themselves on producing tough, functional binoculars using the highest quality optics, yet are also priced in such a way as to make them really good value for money.
With this in mind, I recently had the opportunity to review their very good looking mid-sized BL 8x33 binoculars, that from first appearances look like ideal binoculars to take with you on safari, camping, birding walks on a hike or pretty much anywhere.