Today Carl Zeiss binoculars, rifle scopes and spotting scopes are well respected around the world. But sports optics is just one small facet of what is a huge organization. Zeiss is also heavily involved in manufacturing precision components for the medical, semi-conductor and other fields. One of these other fields is the military and LE market. Products for this specialized market are now designed and built by the Carl Zeiss Optronics division and marketed under the Hensoldt label.
Hensoldt’s 4-16 x 56mm is built on a beefy
34mm tube and is available with a reticle in either focal plane. Build quality is superb, as it should be for the money.
Now, the name Hensoldt is much more than just an old and respected name pimped for commercial gain. Hensoldt and Carl Zeiss have long ties dating back decades. Hensoldt itself was founded in 1852 by Moritz Carl Hensoldt and was originally an energetic competitor of Carl Zeiss.
The company moved to Wetzlar Germany in 1865 and made a name for itself by producing innovative and high quality optics. Hensoldt expanded greatly into the military field prior to World War I. After the war they were forbidden to produce military wares and this, combined with the economic depression, led to their becoming part of the Zeiss Gruppe in 1928.
However, quite unlike all the other small German optics companies Zeiss acquired during this period, Hensoldt’s name didn’t disappear. Hensoldt’s production remained separate from Zeiss’s, and it continued to carry the Hensoldt name. During World War II, they produced optics, including sniper scopes, for the German war effort.
After the war, as it had not in the 1920s, Hensoldt returned to producing military wares. Binoculars and sniper scopes bearing its logo were fielded not only by the Bundeswehr, but by countries around the world. Then in 1964, Zeiss and Hensoldt joined manufacturing, effectively fusing the product lines for binoculars and riflescopes. Today, Hensoldt’s Wetzler plant is the home of Carl Zeiss’s Sports Optics as well as the separate Carl Zeiss Optronics division.
While the oldest part of the Hensoldt plant in Wetzler dates from 1922, the facility has been recently renovated and is both modern and in extremely good shape. I have visited a number of European optics manufacturers and Wetzler impressed me as state of the art when I toured it a few years back. All manner of military optics are produced behind the Skunk Works doors of Carl Zeiss Optronics.
These include, but are not limited to, submarine periscopes, gyroscopically stabilized tank and armored fighting vehicle sight systems, night vision devices, thermal vision and laser rangefinders which reach out to 20+ kilometers. In decades past both Carl Zeiss and Hensoldt supplied specialized optics to military snipers. Today though the name Hensoldt is what you will see engraved on a modern tactical scope from Carl Zeiss Optronics.
Up until today the Hensoldt line had been unavailable to American riflemen. For whatever reason, these military products were not offered here. In order to get your hands on one. you had to buy it in Europe. However all that has changed. If you have the financial means, you can pick up the phone and order a great variety of wonderful toys from HuDisCo.
The current line consists of tactical scopes, reflex sights, spotting scopes and night vision devices. Tactical scopes include the 3-12x56mm SSG-P, 3-12x56mm, 4-16x56mm, 6-24x56mm, 6-24x72mm and 6-24x72mm SAM. The 3-12x56mm and 4-16x56mm are offered with either a front or rear focal plane reticle.
Step up to the 6-24x72mm Sniper Auxiliary Module and you get not only a superb long-range optic, but one with a built-in computer module. This incorporates a ballistic calculator that allows a rifleman to input a variety of pertinent data and receive back a firing solution.
HuDisCo. was kind enough to give SHOTGUN NEWS an exclusive first look at two of their optics that are sure to be top sellers. These were the 4-16x56mm tactical scope and Spotter 60 tactical spotting scope. Although the whole Hensoldt tactical scope line is impressive, the 4-16x56mm does stand out.
The Hensoldt gave no surprises when mounted onto a Tikka Tactical rifle. It easily passed a box test and proved to have consistent and repeatable adjustments.
I have little doubt that this particular optic will be particularly sought after by serious marksmen. An excellent blend of size and performance, it will no doubt do well in a bare knuckled brawl with the likes of Schmidt & Bender and US Optics. Although I have handled this model before, this was to be my first chance to flog it at my leisure.
Out of the box the Hensoldt, is a most impressive looking piece of military hardware. Beautifully made with sinister good looks, its Teutonic military heritage is unmistakable. In the hand there is no doubt to its intended purpose.
This is no prissy hunting scope dressed up like a cheap tart with a set of oversize turrets and a mil-dot reticle. Neither is it mid-range tactical scope intended for the pampered life of a LE sniper rifle with its short engagement distances. Nor is it a glitzy bell and whistle laden status symbol intended to impress other shooters with the owner’s financial prowess. No, the Hensoldt is a true military grade optic intended for the dark, but necessary, work of taking life, at extreme range under the most adverse conditions, to save life.