Ballistic brilliance

Swarovski raises the bar - again

Chris Redlich

Ballistic turrets are not new as far as Swarovski Optik are concerned and they recently added the new compact Z5 2.4-12x50 (BT) to their Z5 range. I own a pair of Swarovski Z5s with standard turrets so the chance to review the 2.4-12x50s with ballistic turret was too good to pass up. In comparison to my other Z5 riflescopes the new 2.4-12x50 (BT) is shorter and its compact, lightweight design makes for a feature-filled and well-balanced outfit.

Overview

The Z5 2.4-12x50 (BT) is not a replacement for any of the existing Z5 scopes but an addition to their already impressive range. Z5 stands for five-times zoom and the 2.4-12x50 is designed to offer the hunter a versatile magnification option suited for short range in close terrain and long range in open ground, a perfect choice of zoom for deer hunters doing the hard yards in dense bush or varmint hunters controlling ferals across open paddocks.

Magnification adjustment on the Z5s is found forward of the ocular housing and easily rotated by the rubber grip. The rubber dioptric ring is firm enough to ensure it won’t move when accidently knocked yet easily rotated for focus and obtaining a sharp reticle image quickly.

At the business end is the 50mm objective lens with Swarovski Optik’s anti-reflective coatings along with coatings to repel water, enable ease of cleaning and provide superior light transmission and that leading low-light performance the brand is famous for. In addition, the coatings throughout the internal lens system ensure brilliant colour and help retain the maximum light transmission available.

The 2.4-12x50 (BT) boasts the largest field of view and highest light transmission of all the Z5s thanks to the combination of 50mm lens and low magnification option of 2.4x. The popular one-inch main tube makes for an overall sleek, lightweight and compact scope that can be mounted low on the rifle with medium height rings depending on brand of mounts. The one- piece tube is made from lightweight aerospace-grade alloy and has Swarovski Optik’s durable scratch-resistant anodised matte black finish.

The review scope came with one of my all-time favourite reticles, the Plex, located in the second focal plane which enables the target image to be increased or decreased without affecting reticle size during zoom adjustments. It’s housed in the turret by Swarovski's patented four-point spring coil system which helps the reticle stay rock solid shot-for-shot and not shift under the heaviest of recoiling calibres.

Windage adjustment includes 50MOA of lateral movement and the ballistic turret has a generous 90MOA of vertical adjustment at 100m, each windage and elevation adjustment click equivalent to 7mm at 100m (¼^ at 100yds). Clicks of the adjustment dial are firm and positive and, unlike other Z5 riflescopes, the 2.4-12x50 (BT) doesn’t have a parallax adjustment as this is set from the factory to be correct at 100m.

Ballistic turret

Just when we thought a scope couldn’t get any better, Swarovski Optik developed the ballistic turret a few years ago and it’s right at home on the compact Z5 2.4-12x50 (BT). Other manufacturers have ballistic turrets for hunting scopes but only available on request and must be set from the factory. Swarovski’s is a unique design and by far the most versatile and can easily be set up at home to suit whatever load choice or calibre of rifle you mount the scope to.

The ballistic turret allows the shooter to customise a pre-determined zero for a chosen distance with the aid of three supplied, colour-coded rings and for the purpose of field testing I mounted the scope to my .22 250 Rem for busting ferals on open paddocks. My first adjustment was set to a 100m zero indicated by the arrow, green dot for 200m, yellow dot for 250m and red dot for 300m. I believe this to be a realistic range set-up and at 300m is an acceptable distance for the capability of the .22 250 shooting 55gr projectiles to control varmints.

Additional adjustment ranges are available as the BT will have enough scope to reach close to 500m if required. An addition to the BT is Swarovski Optik’s Personal Ballistic Cam (PBC) where the three rings are replaced by one larger ring fully engraved to suit your ammunition. PBC styles can have as much detail as you like with four engraving options, the most popular having marks every 25yd/m and continuing out to the last click on the BT. The PBC can be ordered any time once you’ve found the best ammunition for your rifle.

Setting up the ballistic turret

A ballistics program calculator is available on the Swarovski Optik website or the App can be downloaded free to aid with set-up of your desired calibre and load combinations but I set mine off the bench at my range. For starters, all range adjustment rings and sighting coupling are removed from the ballistic turret by unscrewing the turret cap using the supplied removal tool.

After disassembly you’ll find the standard height elevation adjustment dial exposed. Turn the bottom dial anti-clockwise until it stops then sight-in your rifle as normal, making the necessary click adjustments. After sighting, the lower section of the elevation dial must be rotated clockwise until it stops. Finding zero at 100m I slipped the base coupling back over the ‘splined’ elevation dial and lined it up with the zero mark. For ease, the arrow marked on the coupling lines up with the dot on the base of the scope turret and is found at the six o’clock position.

For setting at 200m the coupling is now rotated to allow for the elevation adjustment and, as with the zeroing process, I lowered the next ring down over the splined coupling until the green dot lined up with the dot on the turret base. The same process was applied for the other range settings and the turret cap re-screwed to lock all adjustments in place.

During the sighting-in and set-up phase I was surprised at how accurate my three-shot group averages were over the newly-set ranges. My target was a SSAA 200m ‘six pack’ and A4 sheet of paper with hand-drawn black cross, the A4 used for sighting-in to measure fall of shot for individual ranges. Using a spotting scope I checked the A4, calculated the necessary adjustments then fired a confirmatory shot.

With the range confirmed I moved to the six-pack target and fired a three-shot group, my first groups at 100 and 200m pretty good and as the ranges extended my group size averages remained close. All three-shot groups were one-offs and fired consecutively after each adjustment and with my 300m group measuring 1.2^ I was rapt. All adjustment information can be found in the supplied user manual which is a breeze to follow.

Field testing

Back at my usual hunting patch I was shocked by the rise in the local hare population, the critters darting back and forth in the spotlight on nocturnal crop-raiding duties. While the hare isn’t as destructive to the landscape as the rabbit, in large numbers they can be a menace to farmers trying to preserve crops and maximise yields.

With the Z5 and .22-250 Rem combination I took 10 hares in a very short time with no misses, a few of them shot at 100m, but for longer distances the range adjustments made sighting a breeze and took all guesswork out of aiming. My longest shot presented at 235m and with a quick turn of the ballistic turret dial, one click short of the 250m setting, I comfortably squeezed off a long-range head shot. Rotating the turret anti-clockwise until it stopped had me back at the 100m zero in the dark without the aid of a torch.

Conclusion

I’m not a bit surprised by the performance of the Z5 2.4-12x50 (BT). The confidence I gained from range testing the ballistic turret on paper targets combined with Swarovski Optik’s high resolution lenses made field testing in poor lighting easy. Any hunter after a quality lightweight scope with user-friendly ballistic turret will be well served by the new Z5 2.4-12x50 which retails for $1690 or $1790 with BT.

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