Comparing a Swarovski to other brands of optics is an exercise in apples and oranges. This is the Swarovski assembly and repair facility located in Cranston, Rhode Island. They are celebrating 20 years in the US, and the over 60 employees assemble and service the best optics money can buy. Assembled in batches of 10, with meticulous quality control at every stage of the process, the expertise and technology that goes into a Swarovski is unparalleled, and that leads to an optic that is unparalleled in clarity, color, contrast, repeatability and a lifetime of reliable service under heavy use. If you can’t view this embedded video in your browser or mobile device, the direct YouTube URL is http://youtu.be/H9O30plSI-o
The Plex reticle is similar to a standard crosshair but it has thicker sides to aid in rapid target acquisition. The 4A is the same as the Plex except they leave the top line thin, so it is more like a three point battle sight.
The BRX and BRH are Swarovskis version of the ranging reticle, but they have a novel approach to it. Rather than tell you that you are limited to one power on the scope and one ammo choice for ranging, their ballistics calculator allows you to pick your power, pick your ammo, and it gives you the ability to reset those values.
This is the Swarovski Ballistics Calculator. As you can see, the BRX/BRH reticle have holdover lines, and the calculator will tell you what those lines correspond to downrange with your given ammo and conditions. There are two things about this application that I think are really good. One is that if you look at the distances in the reticle image, for the main lines you get three numbers. Those are based on what type of animal you are hunting and they represent the minimum and maximum point blank type of shot for that given game animal with your ballistics. So the second line down from the middle of the reticle is dead on at 324 yards with the Hornady 165gr. GMX, and for a white tail you can safely use that line from 290 to 324 yards. This gives you an idea how much bullet drop is occurring in that portion of the flight path and allows you to adjust accordingly for your best shot. The other thing that I think is really nice about this application is that Swarovski paid the extra money to allow it to be downloaded and run as a standalone application on your computer. That is great if your hunting camp is somewhere offline and you want to be able to change your ammo on the trip. Note that this is Flash though and doesn’t work on Apple mobile devices. I was able to get the calculator to work on my Android phone but it wouldn’t download and install to the SD card
Swarovski Optik STM-65 HD
Swarovski Optik Z5 Riflescope
PLEASE NOTE: The contest is over but you can still add the Swarovski Facebook page on Facebook.
This week we are giving away a choice of two optics from Swarovski Optik – a Z5 riflescope and a 65 HD spotting scope. If you haven’t entered the giveaway, it’s easy. Just “like” Swarovski Optik North America Hunting on Facebook and look for the instructions to enter. The full explanation was emailed earlier in the week and is posted in the blog at this link. As promised, this is an overview of Swarovski products, and our two giveaway scopes.
Quality is not something you can fake with optics, and learning how to buy quality optics isn’t as hard as you might think. There is a boatload of technology behind great optics: patents, design trials, and research and development, but you really don’t need to know any of that to choose an optic that outperforms the rest of the field.
You just have to walk into a store and look through them.
Swarovski has always been considered the "top of the line" in optics, and for good reason. When you look through Swarovski you see an extremely bright, high contrast, true color image that is unmatched.
Compare Swarovski side by side to other scopes by looking at the same image through the same (or similar) power on the two scopes. Even at low powers you will see the difference in color and clarity through the Swarovski. Let your eye wander around the glass, you’ll notice that the image stays sharp and clear towards the edges of the Swarovski.
You’ll see the big difference in the Swarovski most when you turn the power up. The Swarovski stays clear and color true, while in other scopes the image quality can range from a milky haze to a flat picture with very little detail at long distances.
Once you look through the Swarovski next to the top of the line offerings of the other brands, you will see what the extra investment delivers. The Swarovski image is very "three dimensional" even at full power on a bright and sunny day. I find the expensive models of the other brands to just be fancier looking versions of the same scopes that go for hundreds less, and the images aren’t that different. I find them very two dimensional, lacking contrast, and not a heck of a lot sharper.
Dean Capuano (who appears in the Youtube video we have included here) explained, "A lot of companies making optics today don’t even make the parts used in their products. At Swarovski we make everything- even the glass itself is special ordered from Germany, then custom cut and ground by us. The coatings on the glass have come a long way in the last ten years and give you a sharper image than ever before. We also now use a patented four spring shock absorber system in our riflescopes. This makes them able to handle the heaviest calibers for a lifetime of heavy use without failing. And the scope you buy today is lighter and better constructed than a scope we made even five years ago. "
"It isn’t just the parts or the glass that go into a high quality optic that make it better. You also have to be an expert at assembling those parts if you expect a lifetime of service out of the scope. We do a lot of the assembly right here in Rhode Island in batches of ten. If one scope in the lot misses one point of quality control, the whole lot goes back to the prior stage for analysis. You can’t compare that to a product made from purchased parts put together on an assembly line using automated equipment. When you take a look at the images through a Swarovski and another optic, you not only see a high definition image from Swarovski but there are factors you cannot see until you get to the range. Repeatability, durability, ability to hold zero make it an investment that you will be happy with for a lifetime.”
"Swarovskis are priced above most other brands, but the value is built into the product you receive. You are making a lifetime investment with a team of people right here in Cranston Rhode Island to make sure you enjoy it for the rest of your life. We have been here in the US for twenty years and our products, our reliability, and our customer service are second to none. "
The Z5 Riflescope
A Swarovski riflescope is a dream come true for many of us, and it will be just as at home on top of an off the shelf Ruger, Savage, Remington or Browning as it will be on a fancy custom rifle costing many times more.
The option for the giveaway is the Z5 series in 3.5-18 x 44. It uses 1" rings and you can get it with your choice of reticle. The reticle is what many people call the crosshairs, because in a traditional hunting scope they look like crossed hairs. I am told that this is what they were originally made of, but I have never seen an actual example.
Swarovski makes four different reticles for this model. Most people are going to want the Plex or 4A reticles. They are a fairly standard "crosshair" type of configuration, with thicker bars outside the middle the help you get on target quicker. There is also a BRX and BRH model that incorporate holdover lines, and you use them with the Swarovski online ballistics calculator to determine what the lines work out to using your given ammunition, factory or handloads.
Something really refreshing about a Swarovski riflescope is that the clicks are actually accurate. They really do move the bullet a 1/4" at 100 yards. I can’t tell you how many times I have banged my head against the wall with scopes that will otherwise remain un-named because four clicks didn’t equal one inch. And not only is a Swarovski accurate, it is repeatable. This giveaway scope is a traditional model, with covered turret caps. But if you mark on the dials where they are zeroed for a given rifle and ammo, and mount the scope back on that rifle the same way, the zero should be the same.
The 65 HD Spotting Scope
Long range shooting has gained a lot of popularity over the past several years. A high quality spotting scope is something you must have. At a busy range where you can’t change targets by going cold more than a few times a day, being able to see that target 500 or more yards away is really important. With the 25-50 eyepiece that comes with this scope the street price is just over $2500.
If you use a spotting scope for hunting, that is where you will really see the benefits of a Swarovski. You pay a lot of money to hunt these days. The trip itself, the time out of work, the guns, the gear, maybe even the guide can all add up to thousands, just for one year. With cheap scopes, your eyes fight the image as you look through it for minutes or even hours. We’ve all had the tired eyes feeling after looking through a spotting scope or binos for more than five minutes. A spotting scope like the 65-HD will take that all away. It feels like you are watching an HD movie and your eyes don’t get tired at all and that can make the difference between failure and success.
For the giveaway prize you have a choice between the STM, which is the straight version, or the ATM, which is the angled version. Either will come with the more expensive 25-50 eyepiece.
One of the features of this 65-HD series is that it’s fairly compact and can fit in carry-on luggage. The large focusing ring is effortlessly smooth and it has an aiming hole on the side. With such a huge, colorful, and clear field of view I can’t see how you could ever expect more from a spotting scope. Swarovski makes accessories to attach it to either an SLR or point and shoot camera as well, for "digiscoping." So to make a long story short, if you really want the riflescope, don’t tell your significant other that you won.
What If I Don’t Win?
Unfortunately only one person can win the giveaway, and they only get to pick one of the prizes. This was really great of Swarovski to do this for our GunsAmerica people to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the US. As with any promotion, the goal is of course to get you to go out and buy the product, but in this case, the only thing you need to take away from this is to go compare a Swarovski head to head with whatever other optic you are planning to buy. Whether you buy a Swarovski or not is up to your budget, your priorities, and all the other demands of your life. But one thing I can assure you once you finally walk into a store and look through a genuine Swarovski.
You are going to want one.