Test: Swarovski Optik Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL, the top model of the Z8i riflescope series 

The Tyrol-based Austrian company Swarovski Optik is known among hunters around the world for its top quality and excellence. The company employs nearly 1000 people who are constantly fine-tuning the products of the premium manufacturer of long-range optical equipment. For a long time now, Swarovski have not only been supplying the right riflescopes for hunters. Sports shooters appreciate the particularly high optical and mechanical quality as well. A new all-rounder for hunting – but also for sports shooting at long range – is the model Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL with BRX-I reticle. The test team from all4shooters.com fitted this scope onto a long-range rifle and tried it out.

The Z8i Series models

The Z8i series includes a total of six models. All featuring a 8x zoom factor, there are driven hunt scopes with 0.75x to 6x magnification range. The spectrum extends to the present long-range scope with 3.5-28x magnification. Wait, 0.75x magnification? Yes, you've read that right. Swarovski calls the whole thing "Viewplus". This increases the field of view by 30 percent and allows the shooter to keep an even better eye on the surroundings.

The test riflescope – Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL

The Ballistic Turret Flex of the Swarovski Optik Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL
Optional for the Z8i, the Ballistic Turret Flex (BTF) can be fitted over the side turret or, as here, the elevation turret. In the picture, the aiming marks for 200 and 300 m are set.

The Z8i makes a very slim and elegant impression. At 23.8 oz/675 grams and about 14.9”/380 mm long, the scope is very comfortable to carry on the hunting rifle. Both elevation and windage turrets are protected by a cover cap in the standard model. Underneath it reveals the adjustment ring, where each click adds 0.1 MIL, or one centimeter of point-of-impact shift at 100 meters of target distance. The windage adjustment can be corrected by 29.5”/75 cm and the elevation adjustment by 57”/145 cm. Admittedly, this would be a bit tight for purely sporty long-range operation. In that case, the scope could only be used in combination with a pre-tilted mount. The adjustment via the standard turrets also proves to be somewhat awkward for this purpose. There is a zero point and 15 graduation marks each (in both directions), which is more than sufficient for hunting and thus the main purpose of the optic, but unsuitable for tactical adjustment – for now. Swarovski offers the Ballistic Turret Flex (BTF) as an accessory.

Swarovski Ballistic Turret Flex with different rings
Swarovski supplies the Ballistic Turret Flex with different rings and markings for individual assembly.

This ballistic turret can be put on by means of a simple interface. This eliminates the need for a protective cap and provides a full-fledged adjustment turret. The BTF can be equipped with a simple 10-scale but also with ballistic rings to match the ammunition used. In addition, there is the possibility of setting variable range points. For example, the shooter can mark his 300-meter setting with a "3" and thus set it with consistent accuracy, just like a classic ASV. The BTF can also be locked in position. This rules out unintentional adjustment. The BTF fits both the elevation and the windage turret and costs 267 euros as an accessory.

The eyepiece of the Swarovski Z8i riflescope
The eyepiece of the Swarovski Z8i with magnification ring and control elements for the illuminated reticle. In front of it, the elevation and windage adjustment turrets with protective covers.

Opposite the windage adjustment turret is the adjustment wheel for parallax adjustment. This is adjustable from 50 meters to infinity. The 50 mm lens has an M 52 x 0.75 female thread. Also included in the accessories is a matching lens protector. Made of aluminum, the protector can be rotated 360 degrees and costs 102 euros. On the eyepiece, the shooter can adjust the diopters from -3 to +2 dpt. On top is a toggle switch for the illuminated reticle. To the left, the shooter has 32 nighttime brightness settings and to the right, 32 more brightness settings suitable for daylight. In front of the illumination unit, the magnification ring encompasses the eyepiece. The rubberized ring proves comfortable to grip and adjusts tightly, as it should. Swarovski claims the light transmission to be a very good 93 percent. In addition, the riflescope is supposed to survive an immersion bath up to 4 m water depth without damage.

The BRX-I reticle from Swarovski Optik

The test riflescope was fitted with the more tactical BRX-I reticle. The reticle is located in the 2nd image plane, so that it always remains the same size to the observer at different magnifications. The disadvantage of this is that one can only use the reticle image and the hash marks to determine size or distance under the greatest attention and exact knowledge of the reticle. The advantage is that the reticle lines do not get larger at high magnification. Therefore, the scope with the BRX-I reticle is particularly suitable for benchrest and F-class shooters in addition to hunters. The reticle is very fine and the underlying "Christmas tree" with reticle marks blends discreetly into the field of view. Only the aiming point is illuminated.

Swarovksi Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL specs and price

Model:Swarovksi Z8i 3,5-28x50 PL
Price:3280 euro + 267 euro for the BTF turret (prices may vary in your country)
Objective Lens Diameter:
50 mm
Length:14.6- 15.1 in/372-385 mm (depending on diopter setting)
Main Tube: 30 mm
Reticle: BRX-I, 2nd image plane
Click Adjustment: 0.1 MIL/click (1 cm per click at 100 m)
Maximum Elevation Adjustment: 
14.5 MIL (145 cm/100 m)
Maximum Windage Adjustment:7,5 MIL (75 cm/100 m)
Parallax Adjustment:50 m - ∞
Weight:23.8 oz/675 g

How did the Swarovski Z8i perform on the shooting range?

Parallax adjustment of the Swarovski Optik Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL
Swarovski marks the 50- and 100-meter settings on the parallax adjustment wheel – before, in between and after that you adjust by "eye". 

We mounted the Z8i scope on a Voere X3 bolt-action rifle in .308 Winchester. As all testers found, fitting was perfect – the Voere, after all, also comes from the Austrian Tyrol and, so to speak, is a compatriot of the riflescope. The target distance was 100 meters, and the shooters determined the hit groupings using a SOLO electronic hit display from Silver Mountain Targets. The Z8i passed the box test, which has become an established part of all4shooters.com's scope tests, with flying colors. This is done by firing at 100 meters at a defined distance. This results from the click adjustment, the aiming point remains the same. It is called a box test because it is used to adjust the point of impact across the corners of a square. The team fired a total of 25 shots for this purpose. By adjusting the optic, 4 groups of 5 shots each were fired 50 clicks apart. Then a fifth group followed to determine if they had come back out where they started with the first group. The result: there was an almost perfect square with an edge length of 50 cm, where the first 5 shots were congruent with the last 5 shots – as desired.

The mechanics in the elevation and windage adjustment turrets of the Z8i.
The mechanics in the elevation and windage adjustment turrets of the Z8i. The direction of rotation and adjustment is marked.

That still leaves the parallax. The testers checked this in the open field, using aiming points at varying ranges of up to 800 meters. The testers measured target points and tried to focus with the parallax dial at maximum magnification. This succeeded flawlessly both with the close targets and up to the target set up at a distance of 800 meters.

Swarovski Optik Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL: test conclusion

The Swarovski Z8i 3.5-28x50 PL with BRX-I reticle is absolute high-end. Workmanship, feel and optical performance of this riflescope are, as expected, of the highest quality. 3280 euro without accessories is a lot of money, but the scope is worth it. The main customer base for this optic is likely to be hunters. However, if you invest in the optionally available BTF turret, the scope can be converted into a universal optic, i.e. suitable for hunting and tactical missions, in addition to hunting. So if you can afford it, you get a perfect piece of Tyrol to take home.

For more information on the Z8i riflescope series please visit the Swarovski Optik website.

With more technology such as an integrated laser rangefinder and ballistic calculator comes the Swarovski dS 5-25x52 P – tested here.

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