Pictures of ZF4 and parts for ZF4


German 4-power scope serial numbers

ZF4 scopes

The scopes were mainly produced for the G/K43 rifles, but many were also produced for use on the FG42 - marked "L". Few were actually used for this purpose. The same can be said about the "P" marked scopes: tested on the MP43 and the "K.Z.F." marked scopes - used on swept back mounts for K98k.
These scopes were produced by:
AGFA Kamerawerk, München, code "bzz" - a rare scope. About 3500 made and all marked GwZF4
Opticotechna GmbH, Prerau (Czechoslovakia), code "dow". About 40,000 produced for the Wehrmacht. Most marked Gw ZF4. A few of the last were marked: ZF K 43. BLM used almost exclusively "dow". Walther used in some cases "dow". Opticotechna made about 10,000 more ZF4 marked "dow", but the German marking was lined out, and the scopes were then used by the Czech army. Almost all of these were marked ZF K 43.
Voightländer und Sohn, Braunschweig, code "ddx". The first were marked Gw ZF4. The last were marked K43 and some were double marked: Gw ZF4   K43 or Gw ZF4    L. About were 73,000 produced. Walther used "ddx".
It was announced on Dec. 15, 1944 that the designation changed from Gw ZF4 to ZF K43 - so the ZF4 suffered also of "the German name games".
The above figures indicate that about 116,500 ZF4 were made for the Wehrmachts G/K43. As told elsewhere on these pages about 58,000 G43 ZF4 were delivered from Walther and BLM. The actual use of the scopes was only 50% of the production. Where did the other 50% end? Some were made for the FG42 (marked "L"), some didn't meet the production standards?, some weren't shipped from the factory?, some were destroyed, bombed etc. - or left over in the weapon factories ?

Background and history
The Gewehr-Zielfernrohr 4-fach (Gw ZF4x) or 4 power telescopic rifle sight was the great white hope of the beleaguered German sniper. Faced with increasingly skilled Soviet snipers, as well as massive numbers of regular troops, the military leaders pressed for a sniper rifle and scope combination capable of mass production. After a thorough examination of the Soviet PU telescopic sight and the semi-automatic M1940 Tokarev rifle, it has been indicated that the German military wanted a copy as fast as possible. This new scope was to be mated with the newly produced G43 semi-automatic rifle. The general idea was to produce every single G43 with the capability of having a telescopic sight mounted on an integral rail milled into the receiver. I believe the end result was meant to field a designated marksman's rifle as opposed to a dedicated sniper rifle. In practice, skilled snipers employed the G43 system. Production levels never reached the point where every good marksman could be equipped with one.
When carefully produced, the Gw ZF4 was quite capable as a sniper sight. Unfortunately for the Germans and subsequently fortunate for the allies, the quality control on the ZF4 was anything but consistent. It never saw the mass production requested in the original orders and workmanship tapered off under the constant bombing raids by the allies. Voigtländer, the company that designed the sight, seemed to have the most problems. Sights made by Opticotechna and J. G. Farbenindustrie seem to have experienced less problems. Compounding the problems, the accuracy of the G43 rifle never met expectations, which when combined with the ZF4 made for little hope of first round hits at longer sniping ranges.
In capable hands and when constructed properly, the Gw ZF4 was sufficiently successful in its role. Measuring 6" long (not including the removable sun shade and rubber eye cup), it was made of stampings to save production time and material. It had flat sides that flared out to round cylinders at the objective and ocular ends. Elevation adjustment was via a turret mounted on the right side of the telescope body. It was a BDC-type turret marked in 50-meter increments from 100 to 800 meters. Each positive click approximated one half moa. Windage was adjusted via a turret mounted on the top of the telescope.
Turret adjustment was simple. Each turret has three locking screws. To zero the rifle, one first removed the screws from one turret, either elevation or windage. A small circular cover is then removed from the turret top, exposing the center adjuster and thereby allowing the shooter to adjust the reticle as needed. The adjuster moves quite smoothly and is easy to align. Once the reticle is in the proper position, the circular plate is placed back in position and the locking screws are reinstalled. As in the PU, the ZF4 does not have an optically centered reticle. You can observe it moving downward as you dial in longer ranges.
The turret clicks feel fairly precise, however any ham-fisted operator could easily overshoot his mark. The clicks are positive but the distance between each click is quite small. For instance, if you wanted to dial in 450 meters, it would be very easy to overshoot and click in 500 or even 550 meters. The windage turret is a bit of an odd ball in that there are no numerical markings on it. It has nine vertical hash marks consisting of a center mark with four marks on each side for left or right adjustment. There are two clicks between each mark. I am guessing that these represent half moa movements. The windage turret seems useless for adjusting fire in the field as you might with a modern sniper scope. I believe it was only used to zero the rifle and then covered with the provided sheet metal cap. It seems to me that all of these scopes are best utilized by holds as opposed to actual adjustments.
The reticle is the typical German Three-Post system. Now 70 years old many have foggy optics, this concerns especially the "dow" scopes. Had the Germans been able to produce this sight under ideal conditions and in the numbers originally required, I have no doubt that the damage would have been telling on the allies. While the G43 was hardly an ideal weapon system, it was capable of hits to 400 meters and beyond. Thankfully for the allies, they were not able to put into effect the theory of the designated marksman. Having a telescoped rifle in each platoon certainly has its advantages, and with every G43 capable of mounting a scope, the average grunt may well have been able to really reach out and touch someone. A later version of the ZF4, the ZFK 43/1 closely matched the PU scope and was quite excellent considering how badly Germany was being pounded by the allied air campaign.
The history of Gw ZF4 and its subsequent marks can hardly be considered a success story. Be that as it may, it was a good attempt at a universal sight. Had production issues been resolved, the sight was slated for mounting on the K98k, the G/K43 systems and the MP44 assault rifle. It was also used on the FG42. As Germany's first attempt at a standardized sighting device it made a lot of sense. At the time, its parent nation was using countless commercial sighting devices and standardization was at best, a dream. In this light, the Gw ZF4 must be viewed as a worthy attempt at ending a logistic and maintenance nightmare. (cut & pasted with some changes from snipercountry.com)

The color of the triangle indicates the internally used grease:
Blue: grease for cold climate, most are seen with a blue triangle
White: grease for temperated climate
Green: grease for hot climate
Many of the last produced didn't have a color at all

A "dow" scope

A late variant - note the phosphated finish.

A "ddx" scope
with the special and not so common marking "L" - for use on the FG42. (Beware fakes are out there)

A "L" fake
A not so cleverly made fake

More pictures of the "L" marked ddx scope
The engraving style of the "L" changed several times

Special ZF4's:
The "Bu" scope
Rare. A special reticle after an idea of Hauptmann Burk, Gebirgsjägerschule Mittenwald.

The "P" scope
Rare. Used on the MP43 with side mount



The elevation drum is marked "P" and the distance between the graduation is more than on the standard ZF4. Consequently the maximum distance is only 600 m. See a couple of pictures more on the MP44 / StG44 site.

The "Threated Objective lens" scope
Presumed to have been made by Voigtländer. Other than the standard triangle marking for the elevation dial, there are no other markings on these scopes. They have a "gas plug" which is typical for the last made Voigtländer scopes. The annular abutment grove is far deeper and set about 10mm to the rear. This makes fitting the standard ZF4 mount or using the standard rubber eyepice impossible, so it must have been a kind of test scope.









Note the original leather, rivets and stitching.

A real FG42 scope
Rare. Marked "L" + FG 42 and a serial number.



The "K.Z.F." scope
Super rare. It's presumed that this scope was used on the K98k (Karabiner Zielfernrohr) for the "Swept Back Mount". The first picture shows a scope with "ddx" marking. The next scope with "dow" marking. Only one is known with that marking, and it must have been made very late in the war.

The "Versuch" (Test) scope
The marking is here:
GZF  69V
     037
     ddx
This should mean test #69, serial# 037 - some of these don't have the side adjustment (but this here has)

Blunt versus pointed post
German wartime ZF4s can be found with two types of reticle pattern: "blunt post with horizontal bars", and "pointed post with horizontal bars".
 

One-piece stamped reticle
Voigtländer used on their last production a "one-piece stamped reticle". It should be more sturdy than the first design which proved very fragile with several tiny parts. It's possible to see the construction without disassembly. Look from the front of the scope up against light and note that the sides just aren't up and down, but go at an angle out to the horizontal bars. (The photo is taken from Darrin Weavers book). The lowest recorded number with one-piece stamped reticle is ddx #70092 and it's marked K43. It might be possible to find earlier scopes with the stamped steel reticle (send me a mail) (such a scope with a very low number has been reported, but it's presumed that it has been repaired - the first ddx scopes were described as full of flaws). One-piece stamped reticles are always with a "pointed post".

Triangle contra arrow
"bzz" and "ddx" used always the "triangle" type. "dow" used up to very late in the war the "triangle", but the bold "arrow" appears after about number 40,000. All scopes made after the war have the bold arrow, so if you see a "ddx" or "bzz" scope marked with the bold arrow - then you are sure of fraud.
 

ZF4 used in Czecho-Slovakia after the war
The G43 was used by the Czechs after the war with the designation vz43. After the adoption of the vz52 and later the vz58, the Vz43's were relegated to reserve and training use.
Many of the used scopes were normal ZF4 scopes produced during the German occupation. They have a horizontal line through the markings. Most of these are of the late K43 dow type.


The scope below is marked with a Czech lion and U 45 (made in 1945 ?) The scope is marked on the left side: ZF K 43  dow   41628. These markings have the horizontal line.


Scopes produced by the Czechs aren"t marked ZF4 but has a number, 4x and an indication of field view 4,5°. Note also vz43 and the 3-letter code: xbk. (A Czech ordnance code). On the left side: Z1 - two swords - 49 and OM262. Note the unmarked drum. The last production year of scopes and mounts for the vz43 is 1949.
 

See below a later production marked with a number, 4x and an indication of field view 4,5°. Note also vz43 and the Meopta logo. On the left side: Z1 - two swords - 49 and OM262. The scope indicates that Meopta was formed in 1949 or before - a pretty rare scope.
 
The last ZF4 type produced in Czecho-Slovakia
It's said that Meopta now has resumed the production of the "ZF4" and also make repairs.
(perhaps a reason for we now see many ZF4 fakes on auctions)
See further down pictures of Czech made scope mounts.

Unmarked elevation knob
This knob is seen on a ddx 51585. The cut in the drum and the 3 screw holes are similar to other ZF4, but the small holding teeth are twice as numberous as normal, meaning that the adjustment is more precise and maybe would not correspond to the numbers found on other scopes.
The clicks are lighter to adjust and not so noisy. The origin of the drum might be a postwar Czech made scope - see above.
A special thanks to Alain

A special thanks to Alain

ZFK 43/1
The successor to the ZF4 was constructed by Zeiss in Jena (Code rln) in the latter part of 1944. A focus knob was included. About 100 were produced and only 6 are known to have survived.
A special thanks to Mike Prucey

ZFK 43/1
See below more photos of the ZF 43/1
A special thanks to Terrill

A special thanks to Terrill

Wooden / fiberboard scope case
A difficult to find accessory. The ink stamp is WaA317

Below photos from two auctions. At the left side from a GunBroker auction and on the right side from a German eBay auction:
 
 
 
 
 








Metal scope case
Below pictures of an original metal scope case in an incredibly fine condition - like new.

 
 
 
 
 

Below another scope box. It is difficult to say whether it is genuine or not. But beware; most of the scope cases seen for sale are very good reproductions - artificially aged - not used; there is a difference. The code is "jvb" and WaA = 542.


Sunshade
Note: Two originals and one repro right
Note two originals + one repro right
Seen on eBay. The seller says this is a repro. If that's correct, it's difficult to tell what's genuine and what's a fake.
Rubber eye cups
Note: Two repro eye cups at the top.
Note two repro eye cups at the top
Leather for the ZF4
Note: One repro at the left and three originals.
Note one repro at the left and three originals
Wood plug for the rubber eye piece
Note: A repro upper left.
Note a repro upper left

More photos of original scope leather
Note the snap fastener
 
 
 
 

Mount lever One original lever at the right. The latest repro levers are made exacly like the original.
See one original at the right

Scope bands
The lower is a repro.
Note: there are differences between the interlock at the backside. Org.: Cut with an ellipse. Repro: Cut at 90 degrees angles.



Screws for the bands
The right one is a repro.


G43 scope mounts
How to tell the difference between real and fake:
I havn't had many scope mounts. I had a fake. It was made very rough and the centerline of the scope wasn't parallel to the line of the bore. The lever had capital letters (see above). The repro was very well made - too well - and has WaA214. Repro WaA359 mounts exist also and most repro mounts are round ended. A mount with WaA135 is the same as a repro. An unnumbered mount will also indicate a repro.
Below some facts of a genuine 214 mount:
Appearance: coarse, phosfated
Cradle: machine lines
WaA214: sharp
Length of slot in the cradle for the rear screw: 7.3 mm,
Distance between the slot and the upper side of the cradle: 11.0 mm
Length of the cradle: 110.5 mm
(Measures of another real round ended: 7.5 mm, 10.8 mm and 110.5 mm)

Differences between Walther and BLM mounts - note here that Gustloff never issued mounts and scopes for their rifles:
Walther:
WaA 359: center
G43 number: rear if the mount is marked with the scope number otherwise on the front end
Style of numbering: stamped on the first - later engraved slant script numbers
BLM:
WaA 214: front end (some of the first - square mounts - had the WaA on the rear end)
G43 number: rear end (some of the first - square mounts - had the number on the front end)
Style of numbering: engraved block numbers

Here you can see the differencies of the cradles:
The repro mount is at the top


Genuine mounts:
WaA359 with square edges

WaA359 mount with round edges
Photo of a G43 ac44 #6847d - all parts are matching incl. mount. The scope is marked ddx 29845


WaA359 mount with round edges
Late war - most of it is phosphated


WaA359 mount with round edges
The milled surface is very finely made. Note the appearance of the locking catch.


WaA214 mount with square edges
Early type


WaA214 mount with square edges
The same as above. I presume that the same company delivered mounts for both Walther and BLM - but who knows?


WaA214 mount with round edges
Late type - note that the front screw is repro




WaA214 mount believed to be fake
The mount is very close to an original mount




Early mount
See below a photo of a very special mount without locking catch - perhaps for an early Walther rifle?
Note also the early rubber eye cup

A special thanks to Terrill

An early prototype ?
The mount is curved over so that the scope is centered on the receiver. When casting the mount they left an indent for the elevation knob to rest in. Therefore the reticle is level looking through the scope. The only thing they did not calculate correctly was the distance between the bolt carrier and the scope band dowels. It catches by about 1mm or 2mm and that is why the dowel is installed at an angle so the bolt carrier can clear it. It has a eagle/359 proof and was numbered to a rifle.
When it's mounted on the rifle it set lower than the standard mounts and is leveled precisely over the rear and front sights. This give it a more compact appearance, compared to the standard mounts which awkwardly protrude above the rifle.
Is it more probable that it should be used on a MP43 ?

A special thanks to Ted McDonald

A special thanks to Ted McDonald

Czech post war mount
Original German mount, Czech used. "fest", "lose" and the WaA have been removed. The mount is marked "rid" (The Czech continued a similar coding system after the war and "rid" was a Czech code )

Czech post war mount with lion and production year. Note also "rid".


One must presume that these post war mounts are of at least the same quality as the German mounts and of a better quality than most modern repro mounts.



The same scope / mount seen from the left side. Note the low number and different marking on the scope - see more scope pictures above.



At last a "field invented ZF41 mount" ?

A beatiful scoped qve45 with numbermatching mount
The stock is marked ZF  K43 (Does it mean that the rifle was test shooted and found suitable as a sniper rifle). Note also the late type of sling.

 

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