Among other manufacturers who started offering railed scopes on the market, Zeiss is definitely one of the most known. In company of other premium European manufacturers of railed rifle scopes, Zeiss chose its own path with their own ZM/VM mounting rail. This rail was invented in 1990 which means that is in use for a very long period of time. This also means that their rail standard was one of the first if not the first one to replace very well known LM rail standard. Comparing an old LM rail with the ZM/VM rail, the solution from Zeiss does not require any drilling which is a huge advantage for the user besides nicer aesthetics.
The ZM/VM rail is also known as
It is important to know that ZM/VM rail standard is used by many brands nowadays, not only Zeiss.
Rifle scopes that are made for using a ZM/VM rail mounting solutions, have an internal dovetail rail on the bottom part of the scope. In this rail there are at least two wedge nuts, milled under 45° angle that are able to slide along the rail (and reach different positions). The scope mount can be attached to these wedge nuts with a use of torx, allen or hex key.
ZM/VM rail mounts normally reach the height between 7-9 mm (for hunting rifles), but can also be higher (up to 23 mm) for modern AR rifles.
Drawing of scopes with (left) and without (right) Zeiss rail, both connected with Picatinny interface
It is somehow strange that rail mounting of rifle scopes is not more popular or at least as common as mounting with rings. In majority of cases, rail mounting is far better solution. One of the main reasons for it is that using rails offers better stability of the rifle scopes. Such mounts deal with recoil much better, also because of their robustness and reliability. There is no stress or tension provided to the scope tube while mounting or after mounting during the normal lifetime of the equipment.
We should not forget to mention that perfect horizontal alignment between the scope and the rifle is always achieved. There are no subjective factors during reaching horizontal alignment, because everything is already there and prepared for you. You just have to tighten the screws and the scope will be horizontally aligned, perfectly. If you will ever think about changing the scope or putting your old one on the other rifle, there will be no mounting marks on the scope. Sliding the scope on its rail forward or backwards, usually means that it is also quite easier to adjust the perfect eye relief.
There are really not a lot of disadvantages when using a ZM/VM rail. We have to mention that in some configurations, the setup can be a little high, compared to the same setup using mounting rings. Also, the truth is that German rail solutions are not the cheapest ones.
Nowadays, ZM/VM rails are produced also by other European manufacturers besides Zeiss. Let us show you the list of some of the most recognized manufacturers:
These are all the brands that found sense in adopting the ZM/VM rail standard for their scopes. Knowing that all these well reputed brands using the same rail standard from Zeiss, it looks quite promising, right?
The reputation of ZM/VM rail is well deserved and probably this is so because we are talking about one of the best and most common rail standards available. We also (always) recommend that if you are in a situation when you can choose between mounting rings or mounting rail, you should always choose rail. All of the advantages are definitely worth it.