I just got back from the NRA Headquarters range (after a nice visit with the National Firearms Museum’s senior curator, but more on that later). I’ve zero’d the Swarovski Optik Z6i 1-6×24 BRT I posted about a few days ago. And I have to say, the bloom is coming off the rose a little bit . . .
Before I get to the “tough love” part, I need to talk about this newest addition to the scope. The silver pointy bit arrived after I had written up my first impressions, but it really adds to the functionality of the scope. It’s called a “throw lever” or a “cat’s tail” and is mounted to the rubber ring that controls the magnification of the scope.
With a normal fixed scope, there’s only one magnification setting and it never changes. With a variable power scope such as this, however, there has to be some control to allow the user to adjust the magnification. The normal convention is to use a rotating rubber ring near the eyepiece that moves the bits inside the scope and changes the magnification. The problem is that in a competition or hunting setting that ring is very hard to adjust quickly and under stress. A throw lever allows the user to quickly change the magnification in one clumsy swing of their palm.
I’ve mounted the Swarovski scope on my competition rifle (which I lovingly refer to as my “pretty princess”). For inquiring minds, that’s a Noveske 18″ SPR upper, an Aero Precision lower with a DPMS parts kit, Magpul UBR stock, a pair of iron sights on Daniel Defense one o’ clock mounts and a GripPod. If you do the math, the optic actually costs more than the rest of my rifle combined.
Sighting it in this afternoon was a breeze. 16 rounds and I was done. But I did notice a couple of things when I was practicing with the rifle.
The first minor complaint I had was that the illuminated dot, at full magnification, covers more than a square inch worth of real estate on a target 50 yards away. That means the dot is a little less than 4 inches wide at 100, and 8 at 200.
The gold standard for a swinging steel plate being used as a competition target is a 10 inch plate at distances between 100 and 600 yards. This means that the dot will nearly cover the target beyond 200 yards, the only remedy for which is turning the illumination off and going with the crosshairs alone.
This may be fine if the stage only consists of long range steel, but if a shooter needs to go from long range steel to short range targets in a hurry or if the light is fading things may get hairy.
I thought the problem with illuminated reticles was solved quite efficiently by Trijicon when they were designing their AccuPoint scopes (I usually have a Trijicon AccuPoint 3-9×40 on my rifle), opting to use a triangle instead of a dot. The tip of their triangle is the point of aim, not the center, meaning that more of the target can be seen by the shooter. The triangle itself is much bigger than Swarovski’s dot (about 4 MoA) but the part that counts is much, much smaller.
The second minor complaint I had was that the highest magnification isn’t quite high enough for me. I’ve been a bit spoiled with my massive trijicon scope (even if it weighs as much as a dump truck); that little extra bit of magnification has seemed to help me out in some recent matches where fiendishly evil match directors have placed teeny tiny targets out around 100 yards away. Like this match at Summit Point a few weeks ago.
Despite my absolutely terrible shotgun work (which has since been fixed with a lot of practice, BTW) I still placed 10/50 overall, 8th in my division mostly due to the speed with which I knocked down those tiny 100 yard targets.
Comparing the Swarovski Optik Z6i 1-6×24 BRT to other 1-6 power scopes it seems to be head and shoulders above the competition. But is it the best optic to put on your rifle, especially given the price tag? Right now I have some mixed feelings, but we’ll see how it performs in the competition tomorrow.
Oh, and one last thing. Just for those who are wondering which brand mount I went with (since this scope is a 30mm and I only had a 1 inch mount that wouldn’t fit this scope), I briefly considered Leopuld, LaRue Tactical, and even Rock River Arms. But there’s one company whose products have never let me down, are always in stock, and can be overnighted to my doorstep for under $100.
Primary Arms. The best things sometimes do say “Made in China.”