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GUNS Magazine August 2010 - Page 16

• JOHN BARSNESS • High quality meets lightweight. hese days it seems as if Swarovski scopes have been around T forever, yet the Austrian company produced its first riflescopes in 1976. Since then, Swarovski scopes have become the top-selling 3-9X36 Z3 MAKER: SWAROVSKI OPTIK 2 SLATER ROAD CRANSTON, RI 02920 (800) 426-3089 WWW.SWAROVSKIOPTIK.COM WEIGHT: 12 ounces LENGTH: 12.1" TUBE DIAMETER: 1" FINISH: Black matte ADJUSTMENTS: .25" RETICLE: 7A, a typical plex-type (others available) PRICE: $1,143.33 SwAROVSkI Z3 3-9X36 European scope in the US. This is due partly to their very effective marketing, but no doubt part of their success comes from the company’s crystal. Swarovski crystal has been around much longer, since 1895, and is so highly regarded we might imagine the wife of a hunter who wants a Swarovski scope saying, “Swarovski? Cool!” Swarovski was also the first of the high-end European optics companies to really make an effort to understand the American hunter. During the last half of the 20th century, most German/Austrian scopes were relatively heavy, had first focal-plane reticles and short eye relief. There were reasons for all these features, all tied to hunting methods in Germany and Austria. higher magnification and extra weight. The reticle should to be visible even in dim light. First focal-plane reticles stay the same size relative to the target, so the heavy reticles in Euro-scopes became highly visible at 8X to 10X. Also, since the biggest central European game is red stag and wild boar, both normally weighing less than 500 pounds, cartridges more powerful than the 8x57 or .30-06 aren’t necessary. High-Seat Hunting Short-eye relief isn’t a problem, and With the exception of climbing in the even helps when shooting in dim light, Alps for gemse (the small mountain goat increasing contrast by minimizing Americans know as chamois, if they “stray” light between our eye and the know it at all), most hunting over there scope. is done from a hochsitz. This means American hunters, on the other hand, “high seat” in German, and a hochsitz mostly hunt in daylight and (at least until is essentially a version of the treestands treestand hunting became common) American hunters commonly use when typically hike around the countryside, waiting for whitetails. so they prefer lighter scopes. We also Also, central European hunting often use cartridges larger than the .30traditions allow shooting during much 06, especially in the Western US, and dimmer hours than is generally legal in Canada when hunting elk, moose and America. Thus, scopes need to be very very large bears. We don’t like shortbright optically, meaning large lenses, eye relief, especially on elk and grizzly rifles chambered for rounds like the .300 Weatherby and .338 Winchester Magnums, and until recently most of us didn’t have much use for heavy scopes with coarse reticles that “grow” at higher magnifications. Most European scope manufacturers didn’t get this, so they tried to sell their At12ounces,theSwarovski3-9x36mmZ3isaperfectfitona German-style scopes modern“mountainrifle,”suchasthis6-1/2-poundNewUltraLight to American hunters Arms.30-06. and didn’t do so 16 MENA SUVARI well. Perhaps because Swarovski is an Austrian company, and Austria contains a lot of Alps, the Swarovski company decided to make some scopes especially for American hunters who hike around mountains. They are particularly lightweight scopes with second focalplane reticles and more eye relief. These lightweight scopes have been around for about half as long as Swarovski has been making scopes, and are now in what might be termed their 3rd generation. In the past few years, variable scopes with a much wider range of magnification have become common, with up to a 6-fold magnification increase in some models. Such scopes, of course, tend to be more expensive than “old fashioned” scopes with a 3-fold range, and not everybody needs or desires a scope that can be turned from 3X to 18X. Swarovski recently started calling their various variables Z6s, Z5s and Z3s, with the Z3s being the most recent version of their lightweight, 1" tube, American-style scopes, with the Z3s being the most “affordable.” I mounted the sample 3-9x36 on a New Ultra Light Arms Model 24 in.3006, using Talley Lightweight aluminum rings. The scope seemed to be a perfect fit for a high-tech, super-lightweight rifle, plus the NULA’s fine accuracy allows a precise test of any scope’s adjustments. In addition, a scoped .30-06 weighing less than 6-1/2 pounds recoils hard Lightweight Package WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • AUGUST 2010

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