Home » Rifle Scopes » Carl Zeiss Terra 3X 3-9x42mm Riflescope (with 2nd IP Z-Plex Reticle)

Carl Zeiss Terra 3X 3-9x42mm Riflescope (with 2nd IP Z-Plex Reticle)

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zeiss terra 3x riflescope with hunting turrets plex reticle 3-9-x-42mm
Image Credit - Zeiss

Magnification: 3-9X
Power Variability: Variable
Objective Diameter: 42 mm
Length/Weight/Tube Diameter: 12.4 inches/14.8 ounces/1 inch
Field of View: 35.9 - 12.3 feet/100 yards
Eye Relief/Exit Pupil: 90 mm/13.8 - 4.6 mm
Reticle: Reticle Z-Plex, Reticle RZ6, Reticle RZ8
Adjustment Info: 1/4 MOA/Click
Optics Coatings: Fully Multi-Coated
Finish: Black Matte
Waterproof/Shockproof: Yes/Yes
Parallax Setting: 109 yards
Airgun rated: No
Illuminated Reticle: No
Mounting Rings Included: No

Best Uses: Big Game Hunting, Varmint Hunting, Target Shooting, Tactical Use

Zeiss have discontinued the Terra 3X rifle scope line and this model, the 3-9x42 is no longer available. Zeiss's entry level line of rifle scopes is now the Conquest V4 series which are available in 6 different configurations with up to 3 reticle options depending on your chosen configuration. Check them at Optics Planet and Amazon.

Zeiss Terra 3X Scope Review

For less than $300 you can snag yourself Zeiss' entry level, no-fuss Terra 3X 3-9X42 rifle scope. This Zeiss is arguably better than many other brands higher end scopes, and that's no exaggeration, since it came out in 2013 it has kept a near perfect rating online.

With superb glass quality for its price range and a range of reticles to choose from, the Terra 3X will be your rugged, compact, and waterproof, low-budget hunting companion.

At first I only wanted to feature the Zeiss Victory HT model that we reviewed previously, but I couldn't deny the high praises for Zeiss' most affordable and popular rifle scope. It's earned its own well-established standing in the hunting community and it scored enough points to make it into our line-up of the best rifle scopes.

If you're curious about how this Terra rifle scope has gone this long and kept its outstanding reputation, look to the Q&A to get intimate with every curve this scope sports.


  • Price
  • Excellent quality glass
  • MC anti-reflective coatings
  • Multiple reticle options
  • Available for ballistic upgrades


  • No zero reset turret

Terra 3-9X42 Rifle Scope Q&A:

What does the 3X mean?

If you're researching the rifle scope market, you're probably going to get really confused with all the terminology of the optics world. While Zeiss uses the 3X in the name for the new Terra rifle scope series, the 3X is a pretty common term you'll see here and there. It means 3 times zoom.

Each of the scopes in the Terra line will have at least three times the zoom power of its lowest setting. This specific model has the lowest power setting of 3X. Since this is a 3X series rifle scope, the highest zoom range is going to be 9X (lowest zoom multiplied by 3X).

The Conquest HD5 series rifle scopes have 5X power - but they're a bit pricier than the popular Terras.

zeiss terra 3x side view
Image Source - Zeiss

What is the main strong point of the 3X Terra scope?

This is a fine, entry level rifle scope for the all-round hunter. No frills, just quality. The one recurring strong point of the 3X Terra scope that's repeated over and over again by Zeiss fans is the glass quality.

While you can only expect so much performance out of glass at around $300, Zeiss doesn't disappoint. The clarity, color resolution, brightness, and contrast is outstanding for its price range.

While it doesn't have the LotuTec coating or HD optics, it does have MC anti-reflective coatings to ensure the sharpest image quality with true color resolution. For the price, this glass is almost too good to be true.

What type of reticle does this scope have?

zeiss z-plex reticle
Image Credit - Zeiss

The Terra 3-9X42 is available with three different reticles. They're marketed by Zeiss as 2nd IP reticles that just means the reticle is in the second or rear focal plane. The first reticle is the non-illuminated Reticle Z-Plex that has your usual duplex style cross hairs and it is the reticle that comes with the model featured here.

The following two are the hunting reticles for this model that supply a basic bullet drop compensator. The first is the Terra RZ6 which has four stadia lines along the elevation cross hair. The RZ6 reticle is designed for standard, non-magnum cartridges. The second is the Terra RZ8 which has more stadia lines since it's designed for heavier and bigger magnum cartridges.

Will the Zeiss scope hold up to recoil?

The 3X Terra is going to to hold up to as much shock as you can give it. That's why there's a variety of reticles available for you to appropriately choose which one is best for your hunting needs. The RZ6 reticle is going to hold up just fine on the commonly used .30-06, .308 Win, and .270 Win etc.

The RZ8 reticle is going to outlast all the hunting you can do with a .300 Win Mag, .270 Wby Mag, .270 WSM, .300 Ultra Mag, .338 Win Mag, or the .338 Ultra Mag etc.

Why are the Zeiss 3X Terras so affordable?

If you're wondering why Zeiss has an entry level line at all, you wouldn't be the first to think that. With a preceding reputation in high end and high performing optics, they've extended their workmanship to include rifle scopes that can cater to the realistic budget of average, working hunters.

Manufacturing is outsourced to Asia to keep costs down without compromising on Zeiss quality. If you're skeptical about quality control, don't be. Zeiss can't afford to have their name tarnished for "inferior" scopes, so they're not going to skimp on glass.

Why isn't there a 3-9X40 model?

The new Terra 3X series all feature a slightly larger objective lens to give an increased edge to low light hunting. The other models in the 3X series are also the 2-7X32, and the 4-12X42. For even better low light hunting light transmission, the two 50mm lens models in the 3X line are the 3-9X50 and the 4-12X50.

Are the turrets re-settable to the original zero?

terra 3-9x42 riflescope showing turrets
Image Credit - Zeiss

Unfortunately, they're not. While this feature is currently trending to be the norm for many rifle scopes today, the Terra doesn't come marked with yardage numbers on the turret for easy marking of your original zero.

This can be a deal breaker for you. However, you could always see it as a chance to improve your own skills and distance estimating abilities...

Study the ballistics chart for your holdovers at various distances and practice, practice, practice. This system and math worked for many, many years before zero-reset turrets were ever a thing.

Are you going to hide behind a different rifle scope to try to disguise that you're not as good as a hunter as you think? Or, are you going to suck it up and teach yourself some old school skills and put to shame whiners like yourself?

Noteworthy Features:

  • 42mm objective lens for added strength in low light conditions
  • MC anti-reflective coatings for ultimate clarity, sharpness, and true color resolution
  • Terra RZ6 and RZ8 hunting reticles for everything that you need BDC
  • 3X zoom with every Terra model for a versatile hunting experience in any terrain
  • Second Focal Plane reticle for subtensions relative to target acquisition
  • Available in ASV+ Elevation model for the ballistic turret technology
  • Backed by Zeiss' Limited Lifetime warranty

Our Verdict on the Terra 3-9X40

According to the bull's-eye, the Zeiss Terra 3X 3-9X42 rifle scope will always get you smack-dead center! It's hard to believe that there's a Zeiss in this low price range, but you know they wouldn't risk their reputation over producing a "cheap" scope. Instead, they've come through in the affordable market to cater to hunters who want a realistic opportunity to own a Zeiss. However, you will have to go without having a zero reset turret.

To really appreciate the low cost of this Zeiss, you have to check out the Zeiss Victory HT 3-12X56 rifle scope. It has a ridiculous price tag after witnessing in person the low price tag of the Terra. But, you won't ever be left wanting with the Victory HT. Check it out if you dare.

For a little bit more, the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40 rifle scope could be yours. It has some excellent quality glass coatings that's unique to Leupold. Even better, it's USA made! While we're putting it up against a Zeiss, the VX-3i scope can hold its own.

Zeiss has been the authority in sport optics for a long time, mostly because of their glass quality - they're the best! If you've got Zeiss glass on your side, you'll never miss the bull's-eye-ever!

Zeiss have discontinued the Terra 3X rifle scope line and this model, the 3-9x42 is no longer available. Zeiss's entry level line of rifle scopes is now the Conquest V4 series which are available in 6 different configurations with up to 3 reticle options depending on your chosen configuration. Check them at Optics Planet and Amazon.

Further Reading

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Simon Cuthbert - Founder

Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the founder of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. Simon has contributed to notable publications online and teaches beginners the technical side of optics through his extensive library of optics guides.

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2 thoughts on “Carl Zeiss Terra 3X 3-9x42mm Riflescope (with 2nd IP Z-Plex Reticle)”

  1. Hi, my Zeiss Terra 3X has both turret adjusters the same- the top says up/right? and the windage on the right also says up/ right instead of right with an arrow pointing as in normal scopes- this is a pain! Is this a factory mistake?

    • Hi Bill. Unfortunately, it's not a mistake. Zeiss used the exact same turret cover for both the elevation and windage turrets instead of creating a dedicated elevation one and a dedicated windage one. As far as mechanical operation, they work as they should - counterclockwise adjustments for UP (elevation) & RIGHT (windage). On the elevation turret, just ignore the "R" and ignore the "UP" on the windage turret. I hope this answers your question. Tina


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