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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.