Swarovski Z6 Rifle Scope Review

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The name Swarovski is synonymous with quality. A company that has worked diligently to earn its reputation in producing the finest optics in the world launched its new Z6 rifle scopes in 2007. Spectacular in every aspect, they offer a unique range in magnification and field of view, unparalleled clarity, and increased eye relief.

Serious hunters know that a top-of-the-line scope can literally make or break a hunt. Unless you're independently wealthy most of us have to think twice about dropping the cash on optics of this caliber, but ask anyone who owns a Swarovski product and they never regret their decision. I recently added the Z6 2-12x50 L rifle scope to my own collection. I opted for the Z6 2-12x50 L with the TDS-PLEX reticle to facilitate long range shooting accuracy. Although the Z6 is also available with an inherent illumination system, I chose to go with the basic model. My plan was to first put this new scope to the test during the 2007 spring black bear season in Alberta.

Arriving at my doorstep just in time for bear season, I had only a week to marry the scope with my rifle and then familiarize myself with it. After only a few shots I was hooked. At risk of sounding overzealous, this rifle scope was hands down the finest I'd ever used. Let me say that I'm one of the first to question overenthusiastic writers when they review a given product. There are usually positives and negatives about anything. But the fact is the Z6 stands out above the rest. Literally, the only drawback I found is its marginally larger size (the 2-12x50 L weighs in at 520 g /18.3 oz.). Here's why I like it so much. From its Swarotop® reflection-reducing coating, to its fine zero point adjustment features for elevation and windage, to its dioptric correction ring that facilitates crystal clear focusing, this scope is loaded with ideal features.

The 6x zoom facilitates larger field of view and greater magnification range and this translates into more flexibility for the shooter. Until you try one, it will be difficult to comprehend the full value in the extended field of view. The first of its kind, the new Z6 is the world's premier line of 30 mm rifle scopes with 6x zoom. What does this mean? Zoom refers to the adjustable range of magnification of a scope. Most of us are familiar with the standard 3x or 4x zoom. Swarovski's new 6x zoom offers an even bigger field of view at the lowest magnification. Likewise, even at the highest magnification, these rifle scopes enable crisp image identification. In turn, the shooter, or hunter, benefits in many ways by maximizing the field of view and clarity of downrange target detail. I took my bear last spring at a distance of 225 yards at the full 12 times magnification and the scope brought the target image up close and personal allowing me to place a solid shoulder and forward lung shot to roll the bear on the spot.

Another benefit of the Z6 is greater eye relief. The exit pupil distance (eye relief) on my Z6 2-12x50 L is 95 mm (3.74 in.). In turn, this makes shooting very comfortable and considerably safer. The risk of getting "kissed" by your rifle scope while discharging is lowered substantially with this increased eye relief. With the Z6 1-6x24 EE model, the eye relief is extended to an impressive 120 mm (4.72 in.).

The Z6 comes in a variety of models. I can only speak from first hand experience with the Z6 2-12x50 rifle scope. It is indeed a versatile scope that can be used in just about any type of terrain, i.e., for shorter shots in the woods or longer shots in open field situations. That said Swarovski makes the Z6 and the Z6i each in four different models including:

Z6 1-6x24:

Offering an exceptional field of view (42.5 m/127.5 ft), this scope allows the shooter to identify his or her target quickly.

Z6 1-6x24 EE:

Said to be ideal for large caliber rifles, the exceptional eye relief (120 mm/4.72 in.) makes this rifle scope even safer for strong recoil.

Z6 1.7-10x42:

Touted as the "all around" hunting rifle scope, this is considered to be the most versatile model for forest, field and mountain hunting.

Z6 2-12x50:

Again deemed to be a universal rifle scope, this one is versatile and shines under twilight conditions due to its enhanced light gathering capabilities.

All Z6i models are designed with ergonomic and functional operating elements for reticle illumination. Their built-in illumination unit is battery powered and protected by a forged watertight aluminum housing. With an inherent switch, the shooter can easily alternate between day and night mode and modify individual brightness in 64 levels.

Swarovski offers the Z6 in a selection of five different reticles including the 4, 4A, PLEX, CD, and TDS-PLEX. The Z6i is also available in a range of five different reticles including the 4-I, 4A-I, CD-I, LD-I, and TDS-4I. Availability of each is variable depending on the model you choose. Your best bet to learn more about these different reticles is to visit the Swarovski website at www.swarovskioptik.com.

I ordered my rifle scope with the TDS-PLEX reticle. The TDS Reticle System comes with four Range Marker Bars (RMB's) located just below the center horizontal reticle line. By compiling information about your rifle and ammunition such as the muzzle velocity of your cartridge by bullet shape and configuration, you can determine your bullet's "TDS FACTOR" number. This number eliminates the confusion of ballistic coefficients and is determined by first zeroing your rifle at 200 yards to hit exactly in the center of the target and then shooting at 300 yards. The drop in the bullet's point of impact at 300 yards, measured in inches, is the "TDS FACTOR" for the particular rifle, caliber and bullet you are using. Once this information is known, you can then determine which of the RMB's is accurate at specified distances, i.e., 100, 200, 300, 400 yards and so on. Likewise, the right and left ends of each RMB are designed to be used as the aiming points when adjusting for a 15 km/h (10 mph) cross wind.

To learn more about Z6 specifications, visit Swarovski's website at www.swarovskioptik.com. Check your local hunting and shooting supply store for availability.

Disclaimer: Kevin Wilson is a freelance writer/photographer that uses Swarovski products for hunting. Swarovski Optik (Kindermann Canada) provided this rifle scope on consignment to field test with the option to purchase.

Kevin Wilson is a freelance outdoors writer and professional big game & waterfowl guide/outfitter from Alberta, Canada. Confessing an obsession for big whitetails and bighorn sheep, he has hunted most North American big game species with either bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. Specializing in archery, freshwater fishing, waterfowl and big game hunting, his articles can be found in several well known outdoor publications across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on his outfitting services, visit www.venturenorthoutfitting.com.
Member of OWAA & OWC.

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