Swarovski Z6i 1-6x24mm Shot Show 2012 mini-review
By Les (Jim) Fischer (BigJimFish on AR15.com and Snipershide)
January 23, 2012
The Swarovski booth has a fountain. Yes, that’s right with water and everything. I did not notice it on my first visit to the booth because I came in the back way but as I was running across the shot show floor at 4:00pm on Friday trying to get to Boyt to pick up my cases before they closed the place down (actually, after I sort of had to run past the gate attendant) there it was in all its glory. Water cascading in true Vegas fashion over the logo and into a pool at the bottom. I am saddened to have not had time to photograph it. Still, it underlines my next point. Swarovski has some class. Most booths don’t have a floor but they had a nice raised wooden platform with tables, chairs, flower, arrangements, and a fountain. Felt like nice cafe on a crisp summer morning. I wonder how they got all the water there. The booth was kind of out in the open so it must have taken quite a long hose. And how did they get rid of it after the show. I’m glad I wasn’t left holding the bag…err bucket on that one.
Swarovski treats you right to. I got better service at the Swarovski booth than at any of the Vegas restaurants on my trip. I got my very own sales associate as well as some refreshments. But enough about the booth set up. You are here for the optics and optics you shall get.
Swarovski Z6i next to the GRSC 1-6 reference scope.
This was my first opportunity to examine the Z6i 1-6×24 rifle scope. This was the first of the >4x erector ratio scopes and though originally designed for dangerous game has become a dominant presence in the 3 gun world to the significant surprise of its creators who now have it as one of their fastest selling products. Upon examination of the optic it becomes clear why. The clarity is quite good, significantly better than the reference GRSC 1-6x and the field of view is much more generous. The lens coatings have been improved for this year as have many features on the Swarovski line general. The illumination is quite bright. The scope uses a flash dot type illumination rather than a whole reticle illumination design. This provides for better close quarters speed at the expense of low light ranging capability. The illumination is digital and allows the user to have separate settings for day and night settings separated by a toggle switch, the center position of which is off. Like many digitally illuminated scopes it also features a battery save function that turns the illumination off if the rifle is canted to its side to far or held vertical. This feature can, however, be disabled by the user. Unlike most 1-(n) power scopes the Swarovski’s illumination housing is on top of the eye piece leaving the left side of the saddle open. While this may not seem relevant it does allow a greater field of view for the left eye when using the scope both eyes open at 1x and no doubt contributes to the scopes popularity. I can tell you that subjectively I felt very comfortable and quick behind this scope. How exactly the interplay of clarity, field of view, exit pupil, and illumination contributed to this I cannot exactly quantify but it was a good experiance.
Z6i on full illumination at 1x
Z6i on full illumination at 4x
The adjustments on this scope are finger adjustable and capped with a pull up feature allowing the user to set the zero. The caps store spare batteries inside. Adjustment clicks are .15mil and feel very good. Similarly the power ring and diopter turn smoothly and with the resistance one would desire.
For a long time Swarovski did not offer this optic with any kind of ranging or drop compensating reticle. They now offer the BRT reticle in addition to a german #4 and a sort of #4 with circle option. A very complete instruction manual is included with the BRT scopes on how to properly range and compensate for bullet drop using this reticle. Stickers with reference values are even included as well as some extra ones that can be printed upon to match your specific loads and rifle using Swarovski’s ballistic resource. The user is also reminded that this is a second focal plane reticle and ranging is therefore only to be performed on 6x. The intent of this reticle seems to be to provide as minimalist and universal drop and windage system as possible. This accomplishes universality and reduces clutter but sets a high bar for competence and training in the user. I expect that this can be a very effective reticle for the 3 gunner who has the practice, patience, and knowledge to supplement the information provided on the reticle with a great deal of information out of his or her head. While reading the literature has given me a bit more appreciation of this reticle than I originally had, My recent time studying and practicing ranging for my article on the subject coupled with my knowledge of the average potential users time and money budget for practice leads me to the conclusion that this reticle is probably only of real benefit to a select group of individuals who are fairly serious about competition in 3 gun.
My overall impression of the Z6i is that it is a very solid design that will continue to have a powerful hold on competitive 3 gunners but that the reticle and adjustment increments, somewhat limit its desirability amongst a larger audience. I also think that this scope will sell better amongst those who have tried it than its features alone would indicate. It is a comfortable optic to use.