We spotted the group of hogs from nearly a mile off, eight black figures in our binoculars cutting across the front of a steep hillside in Central Coastal California near Paso Robles. Our guide, Doug Roth, owner of Camp Five Outfitters, loaded us up into his truck and drove us down a series of sandy roads, parked, and pointed to the series of steep ridges we needed to hike.
“They’ll be coming through there, at some point, somewhere,” Roth said. “We’ll try to cut them off.”
We struggled up those hills, near vertical in spots, and finally found the hogs feeding under a group of oak trees. My hunting partner was professional football player Bear Pascoe, a tight end for the New York Giants, as well as a member of Team Weatherby, and we were on a hog hunt sponsored by rifle maker Weatherby. We’d decided earlier that Bear was first up when it came time for shooting. He and Roth stood at one side of a huge California oak, me on the other side. The hogs were spread out among the trees ahead of us, not 70 yards away, noses down and rooting.
Bear lined up his rifle on a hog. I did the same, after I spun down the magnification on my Zeiss Duralyt 1.25-5x36mm scope to 2 power. I aimed at a nice, 150-pound sow that stood all the way to the left of the group, figuring Bear would take one of the hogs on the right and directly in front of him. As soon as Bear pulled the trigger, I’d take on my pig.
Bear pulled the trigger—and the hog in my Zeiss hit the ground in a heap! The remaining hogs split up, one group running through the trees on the right, another three dashing from my right to left, heads down, short legs churning furiously.
I put the Zeiss onto the nearest hog, pulled the trigger and the ground exploded. A miss! I worked the bolt and slammed in another .308 round, fired and hit the hog in the left rear leg. It didn’t slow her a bit, but the shock of the bullet turned her more broadside. Another round in the chamber, I placed the crosshairs near her shoulder and fired. She ran maybe forty yards and collapsed, the .308 Winchester round having taken her through the ribs and puncturing her lungs and other vitals.
A lot of elements came together to put down that hog, not the least of which was the Zeiss Duralyt scope. At that power setting and range, I had a wide field of view and excellent light transmission, perfect for a running shot. I saw not only the crosshairs but the hog’s hair, the muscles pumping under her hide.
All in all, the Zeiss Conquest Duralyt 1.2-5 is among the best tactical hog hunting scopes I’ve ever used. Truthfully, I’ve struggled to find a criticism of the scope, and the only one I can come up with is….the price tag. Not that I feel it is over-priced—I don’t, not for the quality of scope it is—but that one grand asking price is going to cause some sticker shock.
I had the pleasure of using that scope on two different models of Weatherby’s new Hog Reaper rifle, first in Wyoming in October of last year, where I took a pronghorn antelope with a Reaper in .243 Win, plus over a dozen prairie dogs, at distances up to 225 yards. My second go around with the Zeiss occurred in California during the above hunt, three shots at the running sow at 60 yards or so with a Hog Reaper chambered in .308 Win, and then, the next day, a 230-pound reddish boar, dropped with one shot at 180 yards while he fed on a far slope. The day was windy, with periods of mist and rain, and the lenses got wet but never fogged up.
More recently, I used the exact same rifle and scope combo on a West Texas hog hunt, bagging a young, 100 pound boar at 110 yards, just a couple minutes before complete darkness threatened to make shooting impossible. It helped that he was cream colored and therefore reflected the available light well. But I have used other scopes which, while they work fine in full sun, simply would not have been able to illuminate that hog in this poor light. The Zeiss did, no problem, and I believe I could have shot right up to and just past dark that night, even though the hog and his dozen or so siblings were under some trees, further cutting down on the available light.
Those hunts, plus several boxes of ammunition burned up at the shooting range, have led me to believe that the Zeiss Duralyt scope is a great choice for tactical hog hunting, where your shots might be fast, furious and close or hundreds of yards away in poor light.
The Duralyt is a compact scope, just a tenth of an inch under 12 inches long and weighing 16.6 ounces. Zeiss rates the eye relief at 3.54 inches, with a 90-foot field of view at 100 yards when set at 1.2 magnification, and a 25.5 foot field of view at 100 yards at 5 magnification. It’s nitrogen filled to resist fogging.
The reticle is crisp and clear, might even seem too thin if you are used to a thicker post with hash marks. It seemed too thin to me, at first, as I was used to beefier posts, but I soon came to appreciate the slim precision of this reticle.
It’s taken some bumping around, too, between the airlines I have transported the Hog Reaper on, and riding in various trucks. It’s been slapped with its share of brush and got banged in shooting stands more than once. Its zero has remained rock steady the whole time.
Given the compact size, wide field of view, and the ability to easily go from low to mid-level magnification, the Duralyt is also an excellent choice for an AR-style rifle. I consider it a more versatile alternative to a red dot.
Problems? I wouldn’t want to use it to take a real long shot, 350 yards or better, with it. Not with the top magnification of five power and (probably the larger factor) my 53-year-old eyes.
And while this is considered the “entry-level” of the German-made Zeiss scopes, the Duralyt, as mentioned, is not cheap. You will spend $1000 on this scope, and closer to $1300 if you get the model with the illuminated reticle. (The Duralyt is also available in 2-8x42mm and 3-12x50mm models, with or without illuminated reticles. They are even more expensive.)
So, is the Duralyt twice as good as a pretty darned good $500 scope? That’s a question for each individual shooter. But if you have a friend who is running this scope, and you don’t have the cash or credit to buy it—do not under any circumstances try out your friend’s Duralyt! You are going to see a noticeable difference in the clarity and light gathering ability compared to that pretty darned good $500 scope, and you’ll spend way too much time kicking yourself for not having the means to mount the Duralyt on your rifle.
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