Swarovski Z8i 1.7-13.3 x 42
- By Pete Moore
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 17/03/2017
I’ve been green for many years and by that I mean I’m an avid Swarovski Optik fan and as a hunter, their Z-range of scopes they introduced with the 6x zoom Z6 took the world by storm and impressed the hell out of me too! In essence, this offers a wider magnification range; so one model can be used for both short and long range use. My first example was the original Z6i (illuminated) 2.5-12x50 that might not sound so exciting now but at the time it was the business. But their latest incarnation, the Z8 (8x zoom range) offers even more versatility, as can be imagined!
There are four options in the Z8 range and all as we shall see are versatile, but one stands out for me! The 1-8x24 is probably the ultimate dangerous game and driven option, the 1.7-13.3 x 24 (on test) is in my opinion the best all-rounder ever. And if you want more, there’s the 2-16x50 and finally the 2.3-18x56 and here was I thinking my 2.5-15x56 Z6i mark II was good and it is!
Swarovski first offered this more all-round spec in a single scope with their Z6i 1.7-10x42i; in truth, do you need any more mag? Maybe, as the Z8 variant increases the top end to a very useable x13.3, which at times just allows you to extend your range a bit or see more detail as required. Plus the 42mm objective gathers a good amount of light and can be mounted quite low to the bore. Though Swarovski have always been known for quality glass, comparing the original Z6 to the Z8 I’d say it has got better. Their latest HD optics feature fluoride-containing lenses, which near eliminates colour aberrations. Scatter is lessened too than with even the best types of optical glass. This enables maximum colour fidelity and leads to a significant improvement in resolution and contrast.
Having sampled the Z range from the original Z6 through the Z6 Mk II and now the Z8 shows some changes. Most notable is the streamlining of the eyepiece bell; with its integral touch pad rheostat and selectable day/night ON/OFF switch, with the battery now being moved to sit in the parallax drum on the left of the saddle. The Z6II offers dedicated ballistic turret models, my 2.5-15x56 BT is a good example, but the Z8 takes this a stage further with their Ballistic Turret Flex (BTF). You can easily fit a proper, add-on BT to either windage or elevation drums (without tools) to any model, allowing you to dial in range/drop and windage corrections. BTF works with every reticle available and has a locking mechanism; always useful in the field!
Of particular interest to me is the Flex Change reticule offered on the 1-8 and 1.7-13.3. Called the 4A-I, it’s a basic 4A pattern – three thick outer bars at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, with a fine centre cross with illuminated dot. Good enough for most uses but at the touch of a button you can surround the dot with a red ring; similar to Schmidt & Benders FD9 ret. Which offers fast acquisition and lead possibilities too.
With its 30mm body tube, the 1.7-13.3 is not a big or heavy scope and manages to pack a lot in. Most noticeable is the lower rheostat moulding that has re-positioned the rubber adjuster buttons from the sides to the top. The Z6II also improved this area over the original Z6 but not as much as this! As before, there’s a combined ON/OFF switch and day and night mode selector, this too has been streamlined and is less easy to accidently operate.
Illumination uses an angle-controlled shut off system that turns off the power to save battery life when the rifle/scope is inclined 30° either way from horizontal and 70° from vertical up or down. Not a new idea but given the rifle will be sitting flat in a high seat or slung for most of the time it helps! What might seem a bit odd is the parallax drum, which is a requirement of these higher zoom range optics in general, but I found it was needed certainly as you increased the magnification and range.
Click values are 1cm @ 100m and .36” @ 100 yards, with a generous 75-clicks per turn and two full rotations plus 5-clicks of total movement in both windage and elevation. This gives a top to bottom and side to side of 55.8” @ 100 yards. Typically, the turrets are half marked with a central point and a lift to disengage zeroing ring. The only thing I could not try was the Ballistic Turret Flex system as no BTF turrets were supplied; hopefully Swarovski will at a later date! On that point, a spare battery is carried in an extended turret cap, as with previous Z6s.
I put the Z8 on my Blaser R8 Professional Success for a boar hunting in Czech Republic, where the x1.7 proved good for close range, quick reaction shooting. Back in the UK, I used it on roe deer, where x13.3 gave great medium/long range performance and the superior optics worked well at dawn and dusk. As a Swarovski, I naturally expected it to be good and it did not disappoint! To be honest, I rate it as the best all-round scope I have ever used; not too big, not too heavy and superior optics and ability; what’s not to like?
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