In 2017 Swarovski presented its new Z8 series hunting riflescopes at the IWA in Nuremberg. The choice of magnifications and objective sizes is very wide and includes both driven hunt models and scopes for long-range selection hunting. It starts with the Z8i 1-8x24 model designed for driven hunting; the Z8i 1.7-13.3x42 P, the 2-15x50 P, 3.5-28x50 P and the top of the range, the Z8i 2.3-18x56 P, follow.
The driven hunts model features a variable 1-8 magnification with 24 mm objective lens. This riflescope has soon made itself noticed for its excellent qualities in terms of robustness (the tube is thicker than the previous Z6i's), image sharpness and good brightness. The use of optics in driven hunting, where you often shoot at a target a few meters away, is controversial: many hunters are still convinced that metal sights are the most suitable for shooting at very short ranges, while others have instead opted, especially in recent years, for red dot sights, considered more suitable than scopes for hunting.
Driven hunt optics: competing with red dots
However, more and more hunters are moving towards driven hunt optics, considered not only more versatile (thanks to the higher magnifications they allow you to shoot even at ranges above one hundred meters) but also perfect for short ranges, because of the high image quality and the illuminated reticle.
With a 1x objective you can shoot with both eyes open, so you have a perfect view of the area around the target. The image sharpness, the illuminated reticle, the excellent view offered by the high level optics (the edge of the eyepiece almost disappears from the sight of the aiming eye) allow for an effective use of the scope, helping your aim just like a red dot sight.
At higher magnifications you'll aim with a closed eye, relying on the scope's field of view (which must be as wide as possible) to observe and aim the target correctly. Obviously, the higher the quality of the product, the higher the performance in terms of brightness – a very important criterion for an optic with 20 mm objective lens, which structurally captures much less light than one with a larger lens. In addition, in the forest you are often in semi-darkness and in this case you can appreciate how the quality of the Z8i 1-8x24 is really good, putting this model in the high end of the market for driven hunt optics.
The driven hunt optic according to Swarovski
Up to now the criteria of use for an excellent driven hunt optic have been those previously described. Even in the field of driven hunts optics, however, Swarovski decided for a new version of the Z8i (which however remains in production), introducing a more compact version (it weighs only 500 grams and is 277 mm long) with a revolutionary 0.75-6x20 magnification.
They may seem like details for specialists, but in reality it is exactly on these parameters that Swarovski's Z8i 0.75-5x20 can boast its superiority. In a riflescope with an objective lens of just 20 mm it is clear that the quality of the glass used plays a fundamental role, increasing the brightness, the sharpness on the edges and the image contrast, which is essential for easy and accurate aiming. The light transmission level of this model is a remarkable 93%. Two illuminated reticles are available: D-I reduced and 4A-IF, with 64 different brightness levels.
But what is a 0.75 magnification for? Simple: to have a larger field of view at very short ranges, so that you can acquire the target moving in the dense vegetation with greater speed and accuracy. If you use the scope with 1x magnification, the field of view at short range expands considerably, making it easier to follow the moving animal in order to accurately place the shot. In most cases, when driven hunting for wild boar, you shoot over ranges between 5 and 20 meters. It is therefore intuitive how a large field of view is essential to frame targets that move almost always at high speed and to make the right anticipation without distortions on the edges of the field of view.
New Swarovski Z8: a record-breaking field of view
However, the Z8i 0.75-6x20 also holds another record: at 100 meters the field of view is a full 56 meters, an absolute record for a scope in this category, which allows you to observe the area around the target for greater accuracy so that you can choose of the right time to pull the trigger. And with six magnifications, the Z8i 0.75-6x20 can be used even at ranges up to 150-200 meters, keeping in mind that the brightness level in these conditions is always lower than in optics with 42 or 50 mm objective lenses.
In other words, the Z8i driven hunting scopes are very versatile, but they can only be used for driven hunting or when shooting up to a range of 150 meters.
During the last hunting season we had the opportunity to thoroughly test both models and I must say that I liked the one with 0.75-6 magnification the most because of its high image quality, superior field of view and smaller size.
I could appreciate the high brightness of this optic, which allowed me to shoot animals moving in the thick of the forest, in less-than-optimal light conditions. Thanks to the possibility to choose among as many as 64 levels of reticle brightness, I could always have an optimal view of the target. Personally, for short range shots, I got into the habit of adjusting the magnification to about 0.8 / 0.85 – a good compromise to have an excellent view of the area around the target, and the results were not long in coming.
In short, it is a very special riflescope, which I appreciated not only for its optical qualities, but also for the small size and light weight.
What do I think about it? Quality always pays off, and in this case too Swarovski has proven to be one of the best optics manufacturers in the world. A test passed with flying colors.
Swarovski Z8i 0.75-6x24 specs
|Model:||Swarovski Z8i 0,75-6x24|
Lens Diameter: ||6.3-20 mm|
|Exit Pupil Diameter:||8.1-3.2
|Exit Pupil Distance:||95 mm|
|Field of view (at 100 m):||56.07 m|
|Field of view (degrees):||31.0-4.0°|
|Diopter Compensation:||- 3 to +2|
|Twilight Factor acc. to ISO 14132-1:||2.2-11.0|
|Impact Point Correction per click:||10mm/100m|
|Maximum Elevation/Windage Adjustment Range (at 100 m):||2/2 m|
|Weight:||17.6 oz/499 g|
|Central Tube Diameter:||30 mm|
|Battery:||3V CR 2032|
|Battery Operating Time:||1400 hours|
to 2830 euro (prices may vary in your country)|