Kahles ZF-95 Tactical Rifle Scope

31 March 2001
By peteR

The Kahles ZF-95 came as a real surprise to me. Over the past twenty years, I have all but exclusively used variable-power optics on a number of precision rifles. Initially, the thought of using a fixed 6X scope on a tactical rifle seemed to be a step backward. However, the sprawl of urban settings worldwide and the increase in both military and L-E actions in MOUT environments make a rifle outfitted with the ZF-95 an option that may be worth pursuing for those relegated to duty in such environments.

Karl Kahles is no stranger to our colleagues in Europe and to the more worldly tactical shooters here in the US of A. The quality of their product is top-rate and the body, glass, and internals are second to none. I have both used and sold Kahles and Swarovski scopes in past employment, and the first-light and last-light viewing with them is generally excellent. In fact, a favorite test was to take a client outside right at sunset to let them look through "Brand X" and compare it to a Kahles/Swarovski as the light faded.

SWFA of Texas recently provided me with one of their Kahles 6X tactical riflescopes for a little testing and evaluation. For those who wish to brush up on the history of Kahles, SWFA has a well-written history page worthy of reading.

The ZF-95 scope has the necessary features of a one inch diameter (25mm), one-piece steel tube; nitrogen purging for fog and water resistance; a matte black, heat cured enamel finish; 42mm objective; objective diopter adjustment; #110 reticle (round Mil-Dot pattern); and clearly marked, externally adjustable turrets for both windage and elevation. The ZF series also has pre-calibrated elevation turrets available for 69 grain .223, 168 grain .308 Win, 165 grain 7mm Rem Mag, and 190 grain .300 Win Mag cartridges - as well as a blank turret. A sturdy pair of rubber "bikini" lens covers and a LIFETIME warranty round out the package. I have had the "Turret vs. Cam" thing beaten into my head early on by two well-known and respected technical firearms experts, and just cannot break the habit. Turrets adjust the internal mechanism to a specific point; cams adjust or physically move the external body of the scope for such gains.

I mounted the ZF-95 scope on my Model 700 PSS in .308 and made a trip to the range for a quick T&E session at 100 yards. Ammunition consisted of a pet hand load with a 175 grain Sierra BTHP at 2683fps, another pet load with a Hornady A-Max 168 grain bullet at 2700 fps, and both Federal Gold Medal Match 175 grain (GM308M2) and Hornady TAP 168 grain BTHP factory rounds.

The ZF's come with a pre-centered reticle, which helps immensely when doing the initial setup of scope to rifle system. For those unfamiliar with zeroing a ZF Kahles scope, it is a doodle! Just like the American style BDC turrets, you loosen the caps, bore sight (or align with a collimator), and then fire a test series. Here is where many shooters fumble and become frustrated. First, shoot a 5 shot group; then, make your first adjustments, CAREFULLY recording any movement of the turrets in your data book. Don't just futilely bang away and spend time chasing the zero with the adjustment turrets!

Square Grid Test

Once properly zeroed, I shot the square grid test: firing shots and then moving the windage and elevation dials in a square pattern. No problems with the click adjustments were noted, and the tracking was probably better than my shooting ability.

Elevation Repeatability Verification

I affixed a sheet of brown butcher paper to a framed out sheet of 24"wide x 72" tall plywood with a one yard ruler fastened to the side. The zero mark on the yardstick I set to correspond to the center of the lower target. The test entailed firing a shot, running the elevation turret up to the max marking of "7", firing another shot, and then returning to the 100 yard zero. I repeated this process ten times (for a total of 20 rounds). The shot patterns were well within reason, giving an extreme spread of around 0.875" center to center.

Miscellaneous T & E

I took the 700PSS .308 test rig and viewed specific locations under differing lighting conditions, comparing the optics side by side with the Leupold M3 (set at 6X) on my 700PSS in .300WM. The luxury of a night with fresh snowfall lighted by a full moon gave me the chance to view a number of objects under what could be considered optimal nocturnal conditions. The ZF-95 easily held its own against the Leupold for the images transmitted to my eyeball.

I cranked the M3 up to 10X and compared the field of view, seizing a wonderful opportunity to track a small group of deer that decided to walk through the tree line at the edge of my "test area." A quick guesstimate with the mil-dots worked out to roughly 175 yards to target. I could have easily made a shot on any selected animal without artificial illumination. The Kahles was just a bit brighter than the M-3 at 10X, but I did not have time to readjust the magnification before they traipsed over a small ridge.

Summation

The Kahles ZF-95 is a scope worthy of VERY serious consideration for use on an urban tactical rifle. It offers the best of all worlds at a price that is competitive with similar domestic tactical scopes.

Current suggested retail - $799.95 (March 2001) contact SWFA for current pricing.



Specifications

Magnification :
6X
Max Effective Objective Diameter :
42mm
Exit Pupil Diameter :
7mm
Field of View at 100M :
7 Meters
Tube Diameter :
26mm (1")
Objective Diameter :
48mm
Scope length :
322mm
Weight :
500 grams


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