Supporting an unconstrained user interface is an important issue in iris recognition. Various methods try to remove the constraint of the iris being placed close to the camera, including portal-based and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ)-based solutions. Generally speaking, a PTZ-based system has two cameras: one scene camera and one iris camera. The scene camera detects the eye's location and passes this information to the iris camera. The iris camera captures a high-resolution image of the person's iris. Existing PTZ-based systems are divided into separate types and parallel types, according to how the scene camera and iris camera combine. This paper proposes a novel PTZ-based iris recognition system, in which the iris camera and the scene camera are combined in a coaxial optical structure. The two cameras are placed together orthogonally and a cold mirror is inserted between them, such that the optical axes of the two cameras become coincident. Due to the coaxial optical structure, the proposed system does not need the optical axis displacement-related compensation required in parallel-type systems. Experimental results show that the coaxial type can acquire an iris image more quickly and accurately than a parallel type when the stand-off distance is between 1.0 and 1.5 m.