Zeiss ZO 4x30i Combat Gunsight: A First Impression

    [ Written by gun optics guru Timothy Yan ]

    Carl Zeiss Optronics introduced their new ZO 4x30i combat gunsight at the 2012 Shot Show and I did a preview of the prototype for TFB. For the past three months, I had a preproduction ZO 4x30i on T&E for my upcoming G&A Special Interest Publication article.

    I took the ZO 4x30i to the Combat Carbine 2 course by Stoic Venture and let two former Marine Captains to tried it out. One of them is Mike Lamb, the lead instructor, formerly Marine Force Recon and Magpul Dynamics. Both of them were impressed by the optical performance of Zeiss sight.

    Let’s cut to the chase: How is the Zeiss ZO 4x30i comparing to the Trijicon ACOG 4×32 models?

    Optical Quality: Zeiss

    The Zeiss is definitely better in term of optical performance. Not by a whole lot, that’s because the ACOG is actually quite good optically. What contributes to the main difference is that the Zeiss has a huge 36mm ocular lens to the ACOG’s much smaller ocular size.

    Field of View: Zeiss

    The Zeiss covers 41.7 ft. at 100 yards vs. ACOG’s 36.8 ft. at the same distance.

    Reticle Design: Tie w/ some conditions

    The Zeiss’ modified G36 reticle looks odd in the beginning but the more I using it the more I like it. It’s simple without numbers or other clutters, yet it’s very functional for precision and sufficiently fast in CQB. The Zeiss’ reticle ties with the ACOG’s chevron or horseshoe reticles but it’s superior to the crosshair reticle of the ACOG LED and the rest.

    Illumination & Power: ACOG

    The ZO 4x30i’s reticle illumination is useful only in lowlight. Both the ACOG LED and dual-illuminated ACOG have daylight visible reticle illumination. The ACOG LED offers 12,000-hour battery life to the Zeiss’ 800-1200 hours.

    Eye Relief: Zeiss

    The Zeiss offers 2.56 inch of eye relief to ACOG’s short 1.5 inch. Furthermore the Zeiss’s ocular lens is recessed into the housing, which is covered by rubber armor, both of those features helps to prevent eye injury if the sight does hit the user on recoil. The longer eye relief of the ZO 4x30i would make it a good choice for an AR-10 or other carbine that’s in the .308 caliber.

    Size & Weight: ACOG

    While the Zeiss is shorter than the ACOG by half inch, it’s bigger everywhere else. Its 20.1 weight is 2 oz. heavier than the ACOG LED and 4 oz more than the dual-illuminated ACOGs.

    Price & Value:

    The release price of the Zeiss ZO 4x30i will be $1300, much higher than the original projected $1000 price. The new price is slightly more than the ACOGs with standard TA51 mount with dual thumbscrews. However, the Zeiss includes a nice German-made QD level mount. Which makes it comparable to the ACOG with upgraded BoBro or LaRue QD mounts and the Zeiss is $100 cheaper than either. Call for dealer, military and LE volume discount.


    The Zeiss ZO 4x30i is currently available only from Carl Zeiss Optronics USA, inc directly. It’s a sister company of Carl Zeiss Sport Optics USA but the Carl Zeiss Optonics focus on military, law enforcement and tactical markets, instead of hunting and sporting optics. Also noted that the two companies don’t share the same dealer network.

    Contact: Carl Zeiss Optronics USA, inc. Phone #: 205-690-8472

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!