Swarovski dS rangefinder scope: chronicles of the coming future
An amazing review of the Swarovski dS optical sight published in Gunmag. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
MOSCOW, (BM) – In the life of each user of optical sights – regardless of their gender, age, political views and sexual preferences – three key events can occur that are directly related to these very sights.
The first of these is, of course, acquaintance. Naturally, only full-time: no films, TV shows or television shows, even high-budget ones or with retired professionals in the lead roles or as presenters, are counted.
Acquaintance is considered to have taken place as soon as you have your own leading eye (the second eye, if you have one, it is not necessary to close your eyes) looked into the eyepiece of a working optical sight and saw how the world familiar to you has changed in its field of vision.
To observe how reality changes in the telescopic sight is how to join some secret knowledge, gain new, previously unknown superpowers or become one of the chosen ones for a great mission, inaccessible to the understanding of ordinary mortals and completely impossible for them.
Moreover, it is not at all necessary that the first optical sight in your life be branded and super-sophisticated; it can be either a textbook PSO, or a rare PU from the time of the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky operation, or some kind of “Chinese” in general – here the principle itself is important. In any case, your life will never be the same.
Obviously, the first key point is all users of sighting optics without exception. The second of the significant events is already the result of luck, a successful combination of circumstances, stars that are favorably located in the sky, etc.
The second key point is a close acquaintance with sighting optics of the highest class. The upper class here is not understood at all the prohibitive price (the high cost of such sights is a consequence, not the root cause).
Figuratively speaking, the upper class can conditionally be attributed to a sight, the perfection of which corresponds to the old Odessa principle “So that we live like that!”; sharpness of the image given by this sight, uniformity of sharpness over the entire field of view, including edges, level of detail, color reproduction, saturation and juiciness of the picture in the complete absence of any aberrations, accuracy and clarity of the operation of internal mechanisms, mechanical strength and resistance to external influences – each of these characteristics individually (more often it happens) or all of them together (and this is already – “So I lived like that!”) at the sight, belonging to the upper class, significantly exceed similar characteristics or their combination in the sights of the initial budget class and common “workhorses”, that is, mid-range sights.
Speaking even more figuratively: if the first key point, acquaintance with optical sights in general, introduces you to a hitherto unknown world, then the second acquaints you closely with those who are rulers and demiurges in this world. And if after the first turning point you understand that you used to live incorrectly, or even in vain, then after the second you will know that nirvana exists, and you will clearly understand what it looks like.
Is there life after reaching nirvana? I’m not sure about orthodox Buddhism, but in the Universe of optical sights and shooters who use them, the second key point is not limited to the path to improvement – because the universes, as you know, are constantly expanding.
And since I’m already tired of choosing poetry allegories, I’ll say easier: sometimes among the sighting optics of the upper class there are patterns that differ more from others than, say, the great Paco de Lusia differed from other fans of wandering on the guitar. Continuing to speak figuratively – such sights no longer just change your perception of reality; they change reality itself, forming new rules of the game.
Reality, however, has a fair amount of elasticity – therefore, quite often the appearance of such unique examples of sighting optics does not, so to speak, begin any new era (just like the mechanical flea savvy by the left-handed Levsha, for example, did not foreshadow either the era of nanoblots, nor era of nanopods).
Nevertheless, if a unique sight, as in our case, is produced by one of the industry leaders (I think no one will dispute the leading position of the Swarovski Optik concern in the optical world), then this is probably not a coincidence, but a strategy.
And if so, then a close acquaintance with the sight, capable of changing the previous alignment, on the most legitimate grounds, can be considered the third key event in the life of an adherent of sighting optics.
It is such an event that recently happened in my life. And here is the time for you to get comfortable.
dS – new to the Swarovski clan
Swarovski Optik sights from the town of Absam in Austrian Tirol have long been known to hunters and shooters-athletes around the world. The company’s products can be distinguished from the overwhelming majority of other sighting optics (perhaps the expression “blindfolded” in this case will still be inappropriate), just once looking into the eyepiece: such transparency and clarity, vividness and richness of the image as in sights (and also binoculars, monoculars and telescopes) Swarovski, it is impossible to confuse with anything. Some time ago, Austrian optical engineers made a breakthrough also in terms of the functionality of the sights, significantly increasing the zoom ratio.
There is nothing outstanding in this fact – however, it is well known that the greater the difference between the maximum and minimum magnifications of an optical device, the more complicated its optical design, which means a permanent decrease in light transmission and a decrease in overall optical quality.
However, Swarovski specialists were able to expand the range of magnifications of their sights (first increasing the zoom ratio to 6 in the Z6i series, and then to 8 in the Z8i series), while being able to maintain at the highest level the key characteristics associated with it – such as light transmission and width field of view. How did they do it?
Well, dozens of other optical companies, with longing and carefully concealed envy, following the success of Swarovski Optik, would also love to know.
In our coordinate system, the Swarovski Z6i and Z8i sights are the second key point (at least with regard to the perfection of the optical part – in the sense of sophisticated reticles), the Austrian company, which focuses on the hunting use of its sights, very wisely removed from the race for leadership, giving competitors from Nightforce, US Optics, Hensoldt, and Schmidt & Bender) “butting” for seats on the podium. But the new Swarovski dS 5-25 × 52 P scope is already something completely unprecedented.
First impressions are always subjective – especially since for the first time I saw the new Swarovski dS 5-25 × 52 P not live, but on the manufacturer’s website. In the photograph taken from the direction “at half past ten”, the newcomer does not look like another product of the famous Austrian optical brand.
For some reason, he reminded me of a submarine; just not the funny yellow one like The Beatles, but something much more formidable and respectful – like an Ohio-class American submarine nuclear missile carrier. Perhaps this is due to the massive tower located at the dS where the vertical correction input drum is located at the traditional sights – a spilled conning tower (on the slang of the submariners called “sail”) and the absence of a horizontal correction input drum at its usual place.
The similarities and strange covers of something resembling hatches add to the upper and right sides of the back of the dS lens – it’s not so difficult to imagine that these are manhole covers of torpedo tubes. Looking ahead, I note that in terms of density, variety and multitasking of the internal filling, Swarovski dS can really compete with the strategic submarines of the last generations – however, we will talk about this a bit later.
The table with the technical characteristics on the website states that the overall length of the sight dS is 403 mm, the diameter of the central tube is 40 mm, and the mass is 1090 g. This is more than that of hunting rifle scopes, the sights used by sportsmen competing in dynamic types of shooting , and even some sights for precision shooting.
Nevertheless, there is nothing particularly excessive in these characteristics – for example, Nightforce Optics flagship models, ATACR 5-25 × 56 F1 sights and B.E.A.S.T. 5-25 × 56 F1, in terms of overall length and weight almost exactly correspond to dS. Subjectively, the newcomer from Swarovski does not look particularly bulky (especially compared to the monstrous B.E.A.S.T.) – apparently, due to the lack of a significant difference between the diameters of the lens and the central tube.
The remaining key characteristics from the table are quite on the level. Unless the transmittance of light of a new sight is only 83% (for comparison: for Swarovski sights of the Z6i series this indicator is 90-91%, and for devices of the V8 series of their main competitor, Carl Zeiss – 92%); Apparently, this is a retribution for a complex internal filling.
But the field of view width dS practically did not suffer because of this – 7.3 m at a distance of 100 m with a magnification of 5x (for Swarovski Z6i 5-30×50 P – 7.9 m, for Zeiss Conquest V6 5-30 × 50 – 7, 4 m). Other parameters we will consider in more detail already in practical use.
What is “on board” in the new product from Swarovski Optik, in addition to conventional lenses, and what exactly did it deserve the epithet “intellectual hunting” for? Spectacular commercial on the company’s website opens the curtain of secrecy.
First of all, a laser range finder is built into the optical circuit of the dS sight, which measures the distance to the target with an accuracy of a meter. The minimum range to the object is 30 m, while the maximum is 1375 m (as for me, the maximum measurement range is already in the tactical area, and not in the hunting area – it is difficult to imagine the practical need for hunting shooting at such a distance; however, I admit, that it’s just a lack of imagination for me personally).
Of course, now you won’t surprise anyone with the built-in laser rangefinder – a series of Diarange sights from Zeiss competitors immediately comes to mind; only the laser of the Swarovski product is built directly into the optical path of the sight, and is not designed as an additional module.
DS also has an inclinometer that measures the angle of inclination of the optical axis of the sight relative to the horizon plane (measurement range is from 0o to 60o in any direction) and temperature and atmospheric pressure sensors.
“And what is so revolutionary here?” – Ask an understanding in the sights and therefore skeptical reader. “Built-in laser rangefinders are not a rarity for a long time, just like removable mechanical inclinometers mounted on a sight pipe or Picatinny rail on a rifle.
Portable weather stations are also widespread – the most advanced of which, by the way, can also work as a ballistic computer. Well, where is the paradigm gap? ”
Well, let’s get it right. Imagine that you are hunting a red deer somewhere in the Carpathian mountains – and finally, after a long search, tracking, tracing and hiding, you see on the opposite slope a chic male with 14 horns of horns.
For greater realism, let’s also imagine that the distance to the future trophy is much greater than the shooting distance of your rifle-sight-cartridge complex, plus you shot the rifle on a hot July afternoon, and now it’s already November and it’s slightly freezing, in the hollow between you and the deer it’s pretty strong wind, and in addition you’ll have to shoot at an angle up (do not want to up – imagine that down, in this case it is not too significant).
Well, let’s not lose time: the rangefinder displays the distance to the target, the inclinometer gives the angle of inclination (and, which is much more useful, its cosine), the weather station – air temperature, atmospheric pressure and wind speed. Then, using a ballistic calculator, we calculate the corrections necessary for an accurate hit.
We occupy a position convenient for shooting, we aim at the target, imposing an aim mark on the slaughter place; holding the breath, gently pulling the trigger, a shot — and the rest of the day (or even a part of the night) we, cursing a deer for its incompetence, the Carpathians – for the steepness of the slopes, and ourselves – for greed and imperfection of physical form, we are engaged in zom trophy from the land to the base. In general, everything is as usual.
Now let’s imagine that you have Swarovski dS mounted on your rifle instead of any other optical sight. All that is required of you in this case is to combine the reticle with the target and press the button at the top of the eyepiece that activates the range finder. And on this your participation in the preparation of the shot ends.
No more numb fingers poking at the touch screen of a smartphone in an attempt to enter values into a ballistic calculator. No more fears that the fragile impeller of the weather station will hook something from your equipment and fail; no risk of knocking the inclinometer mounted on the tube of the sight, climbing on rocky ledges.
And, most importantly – no rush when preparing a shot. Accurate shooting does not endure fuss – and intelligence, in turn, guarantees its absence.
What happens after you click on the activation button of the rangefinder on the eyepiece of your dS? Nothing for you, since it is difficult for the human mind to analyze time intervals shorter than the interval between heartbeats.
However, in these fractions of a second, the laser beam manages to overcome the distance to the target and return back, and the tilt, temperature and pressure sensors – read the instant information and transmit it to the ballistic computer. Then the picture in your field of vision changes.
More precisely, it remains the same, crystal clear, bright and full-color – however, a luminous horizontal line with four vertical serifs appears slightly below the crosshairs of the reticle.
The intersection point of this luminous line with the vertical thread of the aiming net means the place where the bullet fired from your rifle will fly in with the complete absence of crosswind, the extreme serifs show the amount of wind drift left or right with the crosswind blowing at full strength (the numerical equivalent of this wind speed is chosen during preliminary configuration of the sight and can be equal to 6 m / s or 10 m / s), intermediate notches – the drift value in half wind.
Additionally, the kinetic energy of the bullet at the moment of impact is displayed in the field of view – this will help to understand whether there is enough lethal force to put your trophy in place. Thus, all that is required of the shooter is to adjust the position of the weapon so that the point of impact displayed in the sight falls on the slaughter place of prey.
Then, as before, breath holding, descent processing, a shot – and the rest of the catharsis associated with the removal of the trophy follow (I want to believe that someday this part of the hunting process will be robotic). Well, is it revolutionary enough?
Despite the seemingly proven intelligence, the Swarovski dS scope must be pre-configured. For traditional sights, all the preliminary settings are reduced to installing it on a rifle, shooting and zeroing – and that’s all, since the calculation and introduction of corrections remains a matter for the shooter.
In dS, human intervention (as well as errors related to the human factor) is minimized, so it must also be configured first. This is done in the best traditions of modern gadgets: first, you download a special application called dS Configurator to your smartphone from AppStore or GooglePlay.
Then, using the Bluetooth interface, you should establish a dialogue between the smartphone and your dS and proceed directly to the configuration, during which you enter data about your weapons and ammunition, the selected type of range units (meters or yards), the selected reference wind speed ( 6 m / s or 10 m / s), the desired time to display information in the field of view (40, 60 or 80 s), as well as the visible size of the displayed elements (large, small or medium).
After this, the configuration is considered complete, and the only thing you need to do before you go to the Carpathians to get a deer is to get to the shooting range to shoot and reset the scope under the cartridge, the data of which you entered during configuration. You didn’t think that you could do without a shooting range?
At the shooting range
For the shooting range, in addition to the dS sight itself, we also need a rifle and ammunition. Since it is not so far from the Austrian Tyrol to the German Baden-Württemberg, the issue of choosing a weapon is solved quickly and easily – it will be a .308 Win caliber Blaser R8 Professional Success SemiWeight.
The barrel of this rifle has a medium-heavy profile, its length is 580 mm, and the rifling pitch is 1:11 ”- perhaps the perfect combination for hunting from approach or from ambush (that is, those methods for which the sight with parameters 5-25×52 is suitable the best way). The contour of the barrel allows us to hope for a decent accuracy of fire, its length is sufficient for the full realization of the capabilities of the selected caliber, and the steepness of the rifling is enough for the optimal stabilization of almost any hunting bullet that exists in nature.
What is still good about the Blaser R8 is the presence of a “native” saddle-shaped bracket, designed for quick installation / removal of the sight – and at the same time ensuring perfect retention of the sight. In addition, as it turns out, Blaser also produces rings suitable for this bracket, designed for a central pipe with a diameter of 40 mm. As you know, 40 mm is an extremely non-standard size.
In addition to the new Swarovski dS, only a few sights manufactured by I.O.R. from Bucharest, Romania (whose products are known worldwide under the brand name IOR-Valdada) – moreover, prudent Romanians immediately equip them with rings designed for mounting an aim on the Picatinny rail.
We take cartridges from the range of the American company Hornady. We need, as they say, reference ones – we have no reason and once to investigate their accuracy and compatibility with weapons, our tasks are completely different.
We need ammunition to guarantee good accuracy — to see how this accuracy will affect the use of our intellectual sight when shooting (and whether this intelligence, for example, will become an obstacle). As a result, we select one cartridge from the American Gunner line, with a BTHP Match bullet weighing 155 grains, and the second from the Match line, with a similar bullet weighing 168 grains.
These ammunition has long been tested by domestic high-precision shooters and recognized as more than suitable. American Gunner cartridges also have one more plus: they are delivered in real cartridge boxes with a capacity of 200 pieces each. At present, such packaging is much more popular than traditional cardboard boxes for 20 rounds.
The test program this time is extremely simple: since our firing range is limited to 100 m, we will be satisfied with just shooting and zeroing the sight, after which we will try to assemble several groups at the maximum distance.
Along the way, since the shooting involves the introduction of the necessary amendments, we will also check the accuracy of the input mechanisms (with regard to Swarovski Optik products, this sounds sacrilegious, but there’s nothing more to do at the 100-meter shooting range).
But as for the study of how the Swarovski dS scope works during real hunts, when you have to shoot at distances several times greater than the shooting distance, and in conditions far from laboratory, we will provide this opportunity to more successful colleagues.
But at the shooting range, sitting comfortably at a concrete table for firing while sitting, we can finally find out in practice what is hidden under the cover of the massive vertical tower of our sight – and, of course, under those hatches on the lens that resemble torpedo tubes ( the editorial staff even arranged a small tote on this score).
We start with the cover of a massive tower. The cover is easily unscrewed by hand. Having removed it completely, we see – no, not at all a tricky drum of corrections, not an electronic stuffing, and not even an interface to connect to the Matrix (which, by the way, was the most bets).
Surprisingly, only a luggage compartment is hidden under the tower cover … a luggage compartment combined with a battery socket! Between the two electrical contacts, a CR123A type lithium battery is located here (it should be noted right away that the attached manual does not recommend the use of rechargeable batteries of the RCR123 type).
Next to it, in a special cavity, a small black oval-shaped plastic part is found, and also a small L-shaped key with a Torx T6 profile at one end. The key, according to the manual (yes, previously we read it and are not embarrassed at all), is needed to unscrew the locks of those same trapezoidal hatches on the back of the sight lens, under which – attention! – The handwheels of entering amendments are hiding.
The handwheels under the hatches have gear-shaped protrusions, while the black plastic oval-shaped part has a corresponding gear-shaped recess. By putting one on top of the other and rotating the oval detail in the right direction, you can adjust the position of the midpoint of the hit until it finally coincides with the aiming point – which, in fact, completes the shooting process.
The magnitude of the click of each of the handwheels for entering corrections of the sight dS is 7 mm at a distance of 100 m. This is slightly less than the traditional 1/4 MOA, but slightly more than 1/4 inch at a range of 100 yards. The range of corrections of the vertical sight dS is 120 cm at a distance of 100 m, i.e. 12 mrad. The margin of amendments horizontally is 70 cm / 100 m, i.e. 7 mrad.
This, of course, is quite small; the same Zeiss Conquest V6 5-30 × 50 has a vertical margin of 1.5 times more, and B.E.A.S.T. and ATCR 5-25 × 56 F1 from Nightforce – almost three times. Nevertheless, this reserve is quite enough for sighting – and then, as you remember, all shooting will be carried out by the removal.
We really succeed in zeroing out without problems (the quite significant removal of the exit pupil also helps in this – at the dS sight it is constant at all magnitudes and is 95 mm), thanks to which both arrows participating in the test shooting were able to keep the superciliary arches intact, although the butt “ Blazer ”was both a little short for both of us).
Of course, introducing corrections using a small patch detail is far from as convenient as using a full-fledged tactical drum – but one time you can tolerate it; the clicks themselves are quite clear and controlled without problems.
The shooting results are shown in the pictures. The best group, assembled by a match cartridge with a bullet weighing 168 grains, amounted to 0.69 MOA (the result could easily be better – only a very easy and short descent of the test rifle required more time to get used to than we had available).
With regard to the accuracy of the correction mechanisms, firing at the test “square” once again confirmed that the mechanical part of Swarovski sights is no less perfect than their optical part. The Swarovski dS reticle is thin enough to shoot at the smallest targets, and its location in the second focal plane, due to which the apparent thickness of the lines remains unchanged at any magnification, will help the hunter quickly adapt to a new scope.
In the same way that the new intellectual sight of the famous Austrian brand behaves in real hunting situations, which trophies can be obtained with its help, and with what envy the hunting colleagues watch all of this, we will devote a separate story.
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