Hunters know Zeiss optics for the company's high quality, German-made binoculars, riflescopes and spotting scopes. But the company's latest product steps outside their gun and glass wheelhouse. Zeiss' first ever crossbow scope, the Terra XB75, is the company's answer to the growing crossbow optics market fueled by an increasing number of states allowing crossbow use during archery season.
Zeiss sent our Game & Fish/Sportsman Magazine and Crossbow Revolution Magazine staff a production model XB75, available for purchase in March/April 2015, for testing and evaluation. After mounting and shooting the 2-7x32mm scope, here's an in-depth look at Zeiss' newest offering.
It's well known that Zeiss Sport Optics makes some of the best products hunters can take to the field: riflescopes, binos and spotting scopes included. The optical mastery began with its designing and manufacturing of the world's most advanced microscope, camera and eyeglass lenses. At the heart of any scope is the glass.
The XB75 lenses boast high light transmission and use anti-reflective mirror coatings to aid light's air-to-glass transition through the series of lenses. We used the scope in low-light conditions and were pleased at the results. It's possible that the glass quality is overkill considering that this is not a riflescope you're using to pick out a tuft of hair on a mule deer 300 yards away, but lens quality — even on a crossbow scope — can never be too high. Edge to edge, top to bottom, the absence of color distortion or bending of straight lines gave testament to the factor of quality.
The XB75 takes its place in Zeiss' Terra line. That means this scope is at the bottom of the spectrum of Zeiss products, but it's pretty amazing what you get for a sub-$500 scope.
How does Zeiss keep many of the high-quality features you might find in the higher-priced Victory or Conquest lines yet drop the price considerably? While technology for the Terra line remains a product of German engineering and production, Zeiss ships them abroad for cheaper assembly. This way you'll see a lower price tag without a dramatic drop in quality. You'll appreciate what the better glass can do at first and last light without regretting the cost.
During the early stages of development, Joel Harris of Zeiss asked me what crossbow hunters wanted most in a scope. One of my suggestions was a precise ballistic reticle that was detailed but easy to use in the heat of a hunt. It's obvious Harris and the engineers took the reticle seriously. They came up with a truly unique aiming solution.
In theory, you'll sight your crossbow in at 20 yards by adjusting the speed indicator to the speed of your bow (in feet per second) and then shoot a confirming shot at 30 yards with the 30-yard crosshair. In addition, through a reasonably clear series of small, stacked crosshairs and dots, you can drop an arrow at 2 1/2-foot increments from 17 1/2-yards to 75 yards if your crossbow and your skills are up to it.
Until now, you would have needed a ballistic turret or single-pin system, such as an HHA, to have such precision in a scope. This is where the XB75 shines.
Zeiss intelligently added yard numerals — 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 — next to the appropriate crosshair. It seems early prototypes did not have the numerals, and I was glad to see that they were added. When hunting, you don't want to be counting reticles in the heat of the moment. The fewer variables the better, and Zeiss reduced a huge variable by including etched numerals.
When we first tested the scope, I followed the instructions and sighted in at 10 yards to make sure the scope was on paper, following up with the proper adjustments. Then I moved the target back to 20 yards and adjusted a few inches to the left and down. I did the same for 30 yards.
When I shot from 75 yards, the hit was low by several inches. At first I was disappointed, but then realized I forgot to adjust the speed indicator after the 20-yard shot to reflect the arrow speed of my TenPoint Venom. When I adjusted the ring down to 356 fps, I shot a 3-arrow, 1-inch group an inch or two low and to the right at 75 yards. I was pleased with that grouping and made the final adjustments.
Do you have any idea how satisfying it is to have a crossbow and scope combination that will consistently place arrows on a quarter at 75 yards? While I may never shoot an animal at that distance, the confidence it gives you at 30, 40 or 50 yards is priceless.
This is a bigger scope than what I am used to putting on a crossbow. Personally, I like a compact model, such as Trijicon's ACOG Crossbow and EOTech's 512, which now have competition in the premium crossbow scope market. The XB75 is 11 1/2 inches long, just over 13 ounces, not including rings and bases. By comparison, the expensive $1,160 Trijicon is 7 inches long and weighs about 5 ounces, and the $489 EOTech is 5.4 inches and 10.9 ounces. Perhaps a better comparison, although not a premium-glass scope, is the $150 Nikon Bolt XR. That riflescope-style optic is 8.1 inches long and 11 ounces.
But what does a larger size get you? A better field of view than most scopes out there. For example, the Nikon Bolt XR gives you a 35-yard field of view at 100 yards, while at the 2X setting, the XB75 boasts a substantial 46 yards at 100 yards. The Trijicon will give you a meager 25 yards FOV at 100 yards.
One more advantage of the length is the option for increased magnification, from 2X-7X. Few scopes on the market give you a 7X magnification option. One that does is the longer, heavier and more expensive Vortex Viper, which ups the mag to 10X.
Speaking of magnification, the user is limited to what magnification he or she can use if he wants to be on target at 20 to 75 yards. That's because the magnification ring and the feet-per-second setting is the same ring. If you change from 2X to 7X, you'll be changing the speed setting from about 250 fps to 425 fps, rendering your ballistic reticle useless. Zeiss needs to look again at this set up. I'd like to have the option of the ballistic reticle's precision along with the option to change from a 2X to a 7X for those longer shots. Plus, the light acquisition is different at 2X (more light comes in the lens) when compared to 7X, which restricts the amount of light that eventually makes it to your pupil.
The XB75 consumes nearly a foot of rail space on my crossbow. I like the option of modifying my setups for, say, hog hunting in Texas at night by adding a light to the rail. That will be difficult with this scope.
When you're getting to your blind in the morning, headed back in at night, stalking hogs in the mesquite or just trying to maneuver around a tree stand without bonking aluminum on aluminum, a full-sized scope can be a problem.
Plus, personally I like a compact scope with integral rings and basis that can be clipped onto a Weaver or Picatinny rail and be ready for action.
Still, it's true that it'd have to give up a wider FOV and perhaps that early morning and late evening advantage with a smaller scope. That's up to each hunter to decide for themselves.
Starting at $444.43 MSRP, what draws me to this scope is the precision you get for the price.
If $400-plus isn't too much for you to spend on a scope, then this is an excellent option for you. The components are unlikely to fail and the glass is fantastic for the price you'll pay. But it's the precision that excites me.
I now have a scope on my crossbow that makes the unit a precision, tack-driving combination. A 20-yard reticle, 30-yard reticle display without incremental options between them just doesn't cut it because I want to be the best, most ethical hunter I can be. Ten yards is a lot, especially if you are off just a few yards in your aiming or in your range-finding. I truly believe you will do less blood-trail tracking and more double-lung high-fiving with a quality scope like the XB75.
Zeiss is known for high-end glass and optics. But its Terra line keeps the prices low by shipping parts out of Germany for assembly.
The 11 1/2-inch XB75 takes up a good amount of real estate on the crossbow rail.
A close-up of the focus-adjustment ring. On the far side of the ocular barrel is the speed indicator/magnification ring.
The 1-inch scope is rugged, and the adjustment rings stay in place after they are set to your preferences. Nothing is more annoying than when a diopter ring or other adjustment ring wanders after being set.
The scope is large at nearly a foot long, but it wasn\'t a burden or unwieldy when used in a ground blind. In a tree stand, however, less is more and the scope's full frame is something to consider for those who like more of a minimalist setup.
Rings & Bases
You'll need a set of rings and bases — sold separately — to mount this 1-inch crossbow scope. Since you\'ll need to buy the rings and bases, you\'ll have endless options regarding what kind of rail you'd like to mount it on. On the other hand, scopes with integral rings and bases are ready to go out of the box.
The windage and elevation knobs are protected by dust covers. Adjustments are 1/4 MOA at 100 yards, which means a lot of clicks when sighting in at 20 or 25 yards.
Other crossbow scopes, such as Nikon's Bolt XR, adjust 1/4 inch at 20 yards, which makes sighting in much quicker. However, with 1/4 MOA clicks, you have the option for more precision at longer distances.
The XB75 had sufficient eye relief. However, I had to mount to scope almost all the way to the front of the rail for my setup. Hunters with a longer relief or a larger head might need to mount the scope further away from their eye and might not have the space to do it.
A view inside the scope while looking 35 yards downrange.
Adjustments on the XB75 include an ocular focus ring and a combination speed-setting/magnification ring, as well as windage and elevation.
Zeiss' Terra XB75 is part of the company's least expensive line of scopes, the Terra line. The 'œXB' stands for crossbow bow, or Xbow, and the 'œ75' indicates the reticles design to give hunters an aiming point out to 75 yards.
Using different parts of the crosshairs, plus dots, you have aiming points up to 70 yards away. For 75 yards, use the top of the thick reticle at the bottom of the sight picture.
After getting the crossbow speed correct, the second, third and fourth shots at 75 yards was about a tight a group you could get without a Robin Hood.