Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50 riflescope

Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50: a detail of the eyepiece lens and reticle illumination control "turret"

Until quite recently, the idea that a high magnification ratio scope like this Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50 could have a minimum magnification of just 3x, therefore with an excellent field of view for shooting nearby targets, would have been unthinkable. 

Not to mention that again, until quite recently, a hunting scope with reticle illumination would have needed a spare battery, or at dusk you could find yourself with the reticle no longer illuminated and hard to see against the background of the forest with a high chance of taking a bad, and therefore unethical, shot. 

Before we start looking at the optical and mechanical characteristics of the scope, there is one feature that solves many problems. 

The reticle illumination, which has two different settings depending on the available light, indicated by the day icon (sun) and night icon (moon), remains illuminated only for as long as the rifle is being aimed. 

When the rifle is in a rack, lying on its side, or pointing downwards, the reticle powers down. 

Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50 reticle illumination has two intensities for day and night
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The reticle illumination day/night switch. Day mode selected
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The reticle illumination day/night switch. Night mode selected
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50: the ballistic turret adjustments for elevation and windage are metric at last
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The parallax turret can be adjusted without taking your eye away from the scope

We do not know exactly how long this extends battery life, but the feature is a good solution. It is not the only original feature on the scope. For European shooters, turret adjustment is no longer measured in 1/4 inch at 100 yards but finally in millimetres at 100 metres. 

Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The plastic tool provided will not damage the adjusting slots like a coin could

When adjusting the scope on a shooting range, we take reference from the pre-set distances in metres and the distance between the various concentric rings of the target measured in centimetres.

This time it will be the British, who still have not converted to the decimal metric system, doing complex calculations, as one click corresponds to half a centimetre at 100 metres. 

This is equal to 0.18 inches or 1/6 MOA, if the British really want to complicate their lives; who knows but maybe having to deal with such complications might one day convince them to follow the rest of the world. 

The third parallax turret adjustment is easily perceivable and can be set without taking your eye away from the scope. 

The reticle illumination system, with two settings for day and night, is adjusted using the two buttons on the side of the battery cover. 

It is a less intuitive system than turning a knob, but it does not take long to get used to it. 

The Swaroclean treatment prevents dirt collecting on the surface of the lenses, and makes it easier to remove tree resin. 

Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The battery is into a battery compartment which also houses the rubber-coated buttons used to adjust brightness and the day/night selector
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The two extremes of the magnification range adjustment. The ring is easy to adjust, but also remains stable
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
The two extremes of the magnification range adjustment. The ring is easy to adjust, but also remains stable

I tested the Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50 mounted on a centerfire hunting rifle. My first impression was that the luminosity is very bright, much more so than any scope not in the premium segment could offer with a 56 millimetre front lens, and it also offers a 25% greater area than a 50 millimetre lens.

The reticle of the scope I examined is a Z-Plex on the second focal plane; the manufacturer decided not to use a Mil-Dot reticle, which would be impractical if the reticle dimensions remain unchanged as the distance changes. 

Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
A detailed view of the illuminated reticle control turret. Note the button used to increase reticle brightness

Furthermore, in my opinion, the less unnecessary information cluttering your field of view, the better. 

For the rarefied premium scope segment, the price cannot be considered overly expensive, while quality and ease-of-use do make the difference.

Two considerations on the optical characteristics. 

I did not check the coma because on a scope that is not designed for star-gazers it does not make much sense. 

As for the rest, there is no astigmatism correction, the curvature of field is perfectly compensated for by the curvature of the retina, there is no chromatic aberration and I did not notice any luminous distortion around the edges, or worse, intensely coloured haloes around trees in a strong backlight.

Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50
Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50 variable magnification hunting scope: in the premium rifle scope segment. 6x magnification makes this a universal scope for hunting and long-range sports shooting

There is some distortion, but it is minimal and deliberately introduced to avoid the “rolling ball” effect, which would be evident in the absence of distortion when panning from one side of the woods to the other. This distortion cannot be considered a flaw, but rather an asset. Swarovski would be perfectly capable of providing a scope without any distortion, but they would not be doing you a favour. 

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For more information all4shooters.com or visit the Swarovski website

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Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50

swarovski-Z6i-riflescopeFranco Palamaro

€ 2.400,00
ModelZ6i 3-18x50
Type Hunting scope with illuminated reticle    
Magnification variable 3-18x
Objective diameter 50 mm    
Eye relief 95 mm    
Exit pupil 9.5-2.8 mm    
Reticle BRH or Z-Plex illuminated on second focal plane    
Turrets 1 click = 5 mm at 100 metres    
Tube diameter 30 mm
Overall length 381 mm    
Weight 595 g    
Materials/Finishes Fog-proof nitrogen-filled tube. Water resistant to 4 metres  
Notes Day/night reticle luminosity adjustment selector    
Price€ 2.400,00