The Zeiss Victory ASV+ is a clever scope designed to make longer-range shooting easy. Byron Pace puts the system to the test
My first taste of proper long-range shooting was with a few members of the Sporting Rifle team, when we travelled to the Steel Shot Challenge in Wales not long after it opened. Back then, my hunting kit was pretty basic, but it did everything I needed. (My gun cabinet now looks very different, with a variety of scopes, rifles and calibres – more out of fascination than necessity.) Back at this event, I presented myself with a second-hand Sako L691 in 7×57 and a fixed 6×42 Zeiss scope. With guidance from my colleagues, I was soon making the necessary adjustment to successfully place lead on steel beyond the 500-yard mark. It was a bit Heath Robinson, but it did the job at hand and gave me a taste of just how satisfying long-range shooting could be.
Since then I have modified my own shooting range to include plates out to 400 yards, with my serious zeroing and testing done on paper out to 250 yards. I have learnt a lot by shooting over these ranges, and in the past few months I have been putting various scopes through their paces with mid-range shooting in mind.
For a lot of hunters, the thought of ballistic charts and target turrets is more than they would want to stomach. It does require considerable ground work to get right, and even once you have all the data at your fingertips, different scopes offer different adjustment measurements, which can confuse things further. I have previously had experience of the Burris Laserscope and the ballistic reticle option available from Swarovski, both designed to bring long-range shooting to the masses in a mana
geable, foolproof format. When I say long range, we are really talking about medium-range shooting for these purposes, but it is still a lot further than the 100 yards most hunters zero their rifles at.
So we come to the innovation I will be looking at this month: the Zeiss ballistic compensating system. It’s the latest version of the ASV ballistic turret system, known as the ASV+. I first encountered it on a trip to Germany with Zeiss, where a number of European journalists had gathered to test some of the latest kit on offer, both on the range and in the field. Following a similar design to the original ASV system for making elevation adjustments, the ASV+ offers a simple way of compensating for bullet drop.
Having already tested a number of bullet drop compensation (BDC) systems on the market, I was yet to be fully satisfied. I wanted a top-quality optic with a simple crosshair designed for stalking, preferably a German #4 type, which has always been my favourite. Obviously this already exists, and there are plenty to choose from, but I also wanted something that would allow me to shoot at longer ranges of up to 500 yards. I wanted to achieve this without having to carry a drop chart or have ungainly ballistic turrets and enough zoom to see the surface of the moon. An illuminated dot was not an essential for me, though if the scope was to include one, the operation had to be unobtrusive and not easily turned on by mistake. Most importantly, however, the residual black dot should not be so big that it interferes with accuracy, as is the case with cheaper scopes. When I finally got my hands on the Victory HT with the ASV+ reticle, all of my desires seemed to have been fulfilled.
Thanks to the simplicity of the BDC system’s design, it won’t take me long to explain how it works. Once you have the rifle zeroed at 100 yards, you strip the turret back by undoing the screw on top, setting the zero stop to ensure you can return to the 100-yard zero even with your eyes closed. With that done, reassemble the turret, removing the outer knurled ring. This will allow the rubber collar and, most importantly, the ballistic ring to be removed. Now you can fit one of nine ballistic rings depending on the rifle and calibre you are using.
As I have said before, with scopes offering ballistic solutions, you will only be able to use them to their full potential if your inputs are correct. By that, I mean your ring selection has to be right, and it is worth spending a little time to achieve this. Zeiss does offer a downloadable Excel sheet, which can help you with this endeavour, available from its website – but I found it easier to make use of Zeiss’s drop table. This appears in the instruction booklet and shows each ballistic ring and the corresponding bullet drops they can be used for.
As I was using 87-grain Berger handloads in my .243, I simply plugged my data into QuickTarget and outputted my drop over 400 yards given the muzzle velocity I had already measured. For the flatter-shooting calibres, the ballistic rings offer bullet drops out to 600 yards (rings one to three), whereas the rest provide adjustment to 400 yards. For most applications, this is ample.
So with my drop noted at -63cm at 400 yards, the output from ring two most closely matched it with a drop of -64cm. This was within the tolerance area that I would be able to shoot, in any case, so it was pretty much bang-on. After dropping the ballistic ring over the turret, I replaced the rubber ring and tightened the whole thing up again, making sure that the number one was set correctly against the zero stop. Now it should be a case of simply lifting the turret (which unlocks it), turning it to the correct distance, dropping it back down to lock, taking aim and firing.
Not wanting to push my luck, I dialled in three, referring to 300 metres, took aim at the fresh steel plate I had put up just for the occasion, and squeezed off a shot. With a resounding ring singing back across the valley, I knew it was a positive strike, but I couldn’t have asked for better placement. Given the lack of any measurable wind, the bullet had struck almost exactly in the centre. Already smiling, I turned to the 400-metre target, but shuffled my shooting position back a further 25 metres to make use of the finer adjustment offered. The story was the same, with a near-perfect placement.
Of course, this may not work out quite as well for everyone depending on the combination of rifle and ammo you are using. If you can’t get the bullet drop right, there are two options available. The first is to tweak the ballistic curve, by bringing the 100-yard zero point a click up or down from the aim point. This will lift or lower the curve and may provide a more accurate result down-range, while the 100-yard point will only be a third of an inch out, which is neither here nor there. The other option, if you still can’t calibrate the scope successfully, is to send your ballistic data to Zeiss, who will make a specific ring for your load and rifle.
I could only come up with one downside to the set-up: there was no equivalent, simple system for windage compensation. But on a hunting scope, which this is, that would probably overcomplicate the situation. If it is indeed so windy that you are forced to compensate considerably, you should probably think about reducing the range to achieve an efficient, ethical shot.
Having used the system out to 500 yards with two of my rifles, I am tempted to adopt the ASV+ system on all of them. Not because I can see myself needing it all the time, but it’s just nice to know you can.
More information from Zeiss Sports Optics: 01223 401525, www.zeiss.co.uk/sportsoptics