If you had to pick one rifle scope for every type of hunting, from driven boar to alpine chamois and everything in-between, what would you choose? For Fieldtester’s Tim Pilbeam, it would have to be the Swarovski 3.5-28×50 P. Why? “This scope does the lot,” he says. He’s been using it on a Merkel Speedster .308 for deer and fox shooting, and finds it super-versatile.
“It could be the ultimate all-rounder, catering for the European hunter who wants to shoot a pig in the forest at 25 metres, a mouflon at 300-400 metres up in the alps, as well as the deer stalker, the fox shooter… if you enjoy playing on the range, this will quite happily cope with 800 metre shots as well.”
The 8 in the name Z8i represents 8x zoom, so it goes from 3.5x magnification all the way up to 28x. Tim points out that you get the same Swarovski clarity all the way through the zoom range. “I’m not a magnification junkie. I tend to use the scope at 6-8x. But it’s nice to be able to zoom in when you want.”
“It’s not all about shooting at long range. For instance if you’re in the alps shooting chamois and mouflon, you might see an animal a long way off and want to check it out in more detail. With this scope you can leave the spotting scope in the truck, because at 28 power you can take a closer look and decide if that’s the animal you want to cull.”
Tim is a big fan of the illuminated reticle system built in to the scope. “It’s very simple to use, with just three settings: off, night time and daylight, with a switch at the back. Very ergonomic,” he says.
The other feature he likes a lot is the Ballistic Turret Flex, or BTF. “It’s basically a ballistic turret,” he explains. “You can just pop it off by pushing in the button with the nose of a bullet. You zero your rifle, then go on the Swarovski app and work out your ballistic drops, set up the turret and you’re good to go.”
He has zeroed his rifle for 150 metres, then he has the turret set up for 250 and 300 metres. He can quickly turn the turret to the right setting for a given range, and take the shot aiming dead-on. Then it’s a simple matter to spin the turret back to zero. “It’s a clever bit of engineering,” he says. “It’s very simple and it works. Brilliant.”
The P in the scope’s specification means that it’s parallax adjustable, with a turret on the left of the tube. It means you can dial out any possible parallax error that might come from not looking exactly down the centre of the scope.
“All in all this is the top end of the top end scopes, and the price reflects that,” Tim says. “This retails for £2,700 and the BTF is another £250 on top. But if you want the best, and you’re shooting a range of quarry in different situations, then the Swarovski Z8i really does tick all the boxes.”
Find out more at Swarovskioptik.com