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default_fov is a CVAR used to control player's Field of View. The default value is 90, but it's recommended for players with 16:9 resolutions to use a value of 110. The highest value of this CVAR is 150 in GoldSrc, while in Source Engine it's unlimited.
This CVAR can be used for zooming by temporarily lowering its value, though some may consider this illegal for non-TASes.
In Source Engine, the CVAR is fov and it requires sv_cheats to be set at 1. The CVAR doesn't work with OrangeBox Engine versions of the game, because it has a slider in Video Options, that allows the player to choose a FOV from 75 to 90.