Swarovski z8i 1.7-13.3×42 P scope

Swarovski Optik has a well-earned reputation for first-class optics.  The recently released z8i series of scopes only adds to that reputation.  The clarity, sharpness and colour rendition are outstanding.

The z8 series, as the name indicates, offers 8x zoom.  The z8i scopes have an illuminated reticle.  More than that, these new Swarovski z8i rifle scopes have the Flexchange feature which allows a choice of illuminated reticle at the push of a button.

In addition to the illuminated centre dot, an illuminated surrounding ring can also be switched on, providing excellent sighting on moving game.  Clearly, this was developed with European running boar shooters and driven hunts very much in mind.

The Swarovski z8i 1.7-13.3×42 P proved to be an ideal combination on my Savage 11 FCNS sporter rifle in 223 Remington.  That rig is my light stalking rifle.  Most times I am afield with it I am chasing wild dogs.  Occasionally in that pursuit, I stumble across a mob of wild pigs.

When hunting I set the scope to its minimum magnification of 1.7 and switch on the illuminated central dot in the reticle. That way, if any pig or dog pops up at close range then I am perfectly set to take the opportunity for a shot. A lot of opportunities on flushed game at close range are missed because hunters carry their rifles with the scope dialled up to high magnification. There is always time to crank up the magnification for a long shot, but the opposite does not apply!

Swarovski z8i scope sights

There are four scopes in the Swarovski z8i series.

Z8i 1-8×24

Z8i 1.7-13.3×42 P

Z8i 2-16×50 P

Z8i 2.3-18×56 P

The z8i scopes incorporate a number of vision enhancing innovations by Swarovski.  Swarovision technology uses field-flattening lens design to give remarkable peripheral definition.  The HD glass contains fluoride which minimizes colour fringing.  Proprietary lens coatings ensure true colour fidelity.  Swarotop, Swarodur, and Swaroclean optical coatings all ensure easy maintenance of the crystal clear optical clarity.

The Swarolight feature maximizes battery life for the illuminated reticle.  The z8i scopes have level, inclination and movement detection.  While the rifle is held within ± 30 degrees of left-right cant and aimed within 70 degrees up or down to the horizontal the illuminated reticle remains on.  Outside of these normal shooting positions the reticle illumination automatically turns off, but instantly reactivates when the rifle is brought back to a normal shooting position.  Similarly, if the rifle is immobile for an extended period, the reticle will switch off to conserve power, but will reactivate at the slightest movement.  The Swarolight feature can be deactivated at any time by turning the night-off-day selector to off and pressing both the + & – illumination intensity pads for six seconds.


Swarovski z8i Illuminated Reticle Options

The Flexchange illuminated reticle choice is activated by turning the night-off-day selector on, to either day or night setting, and pressing both the + & – pads for three seconds.  That will turn on/off the illuminated ring that surrounds the central dot point.  The z8i scopes have varying options for choice of reticle.  The z8i 1.7-13.3×42 P scope that I had for review only comes with the 4A-IF reticle.  The 1-8×24 has the 4A-IF and the BRT-I reticle options.  The 2-16×50 and the 2.3-18×56 both have three choices available, 4A-IF, 4W-I and BRX-I.  I greatly prefer the 4A style of European reticle so that suited me fine.

Reticle illumination is activated by a switch above the eye piece.  It has three positions; middle is off, to the left (moon symbol) is night mode and to the right (sun symbol) is daylight mode.  Just ahead of the selector switch are two small rubber covered pads.  The left pad decreases the illuminated reticle brightness while the right pad increases the brightness.  These are particularly useful in the transition from sundown to night when the light fades quickly.  In those circumstances I reduce the brightness of the daylight setting every few minutes until it is at minimum, then I switch to maximum night mode and similarly begin reducing the brightness.  The illuminated reticle is a great asset for quick target acquisition and precise shot placement, but you do not want a glowing red blob of light there, so it pays to reduce the intensity accordingly.

The illuminated reticle will flash in warning as the battery approaches its change out time.  The CR 2032 battery that powers the illuminated reticle is contained beneath parallax turret cover on the left side of the scope.  A spare CR 2032 battery is carried under the windage turret on the right hand side, so there is no excuse for running out of battery power at a critical moment in the hunt.  However, it should be noted that any brightness presets will be lost on changing out the battery.  The reticle will then default to medium brightness in both night and day modes.  That, of course, is quickly and easily changed.

Eye relief is a generous 95mm on all models, allowing plenty of clearance even for shooters who wear spectacles.  The reticle is in the second focal plane, meaning that apparent reticle size does not change with magnification.  Recommended scope ring torque settings are 18 inch pounds (actually 200 Ncm which = 17.7 in lbs) which is a bit lower than normally recommended settings for scope mounting.  However, that torque setting will hold the scope securely and avoid any problems with excessive tension on the body of the scope.

Parallax adjustment is from 50 metres to infinity.  There is a slight click stop at the 100 metre setting which is useful if you are seeking to adjust the parallax in the dark, or wish to keep your eyes on your quarry.

Swarovski z8i Illuminated Ballistic Turret

An optional extra for the z8i scopes are the BTF and PBR turret rings.  That stands for Ballistic Turret Flex and Personalized Ballistic Ring.  A box of turret ring inserts provides a range of options.  These turret rings can be fitted without requiring any tools.  While the main purpose of the BTF and PBR is to allow a shooter to customize the scope for the trajectory of specific ammunition, the BTF can also be used as an insert on the windage turret.  That enables precise windage allowance or lead distance on moving targets to be set.  There is also a set of fine rings that can be used to set up precise long range sighting.  I used Swarovski’s web-based calculator (http://ballisticprograms.swarovskioptik.com/Ballistic-Program) to determine sighting for my 223 Remington.  The rings were then fitted to the scope to give 200, 250, 300, 350 and 400 metre zeros settings.

The ballistic turret means that I have the opportunity to take long-distance shots with confidence.  I have proven that to my own satisfaction by dinging the big metal disc on my hunting buddy’s farm at long range.  I would not take a shot at a game animal out past 200 metres with my 223 Remington, however, a smaller bodied and less robust wild dog is fair game out to extended range.

The Swarovski z8i series are premium bits of gear and the retail pricing reflects that.  Typical retail pricing in 2017 for the Swarovski z8i 1.7-13.3×42 P scope is around the $3,600 mark.