Expected from Leica but done by Swarovski, dS is an optic that we have all been waiting for for a long time. Famous Youtube channels like EuLRH and THLR with lots of views are an indicator that long range hunting is becoming more and more popular, and this is the main reason why we think that dS is going to be a big hit on the market. The riflescope has an integrated laser system with an active ballistics calculator. Swarovski dS is the long-awaited successor of Habicht LRS which was the first-ever riflescope with a laser rangefinder (that was surprisingly also made by Swarovski and not Leica).
Comparison to Burris Eliminator III
The idea behind Swarovski dS is similar to the concept of Eliminator III; however, the riflescope made by Burris is less sophisticated because its ballistic calculator doesn’t include the information about air pressure and angle of aiming while Swarovski dS’s calculator takes both into account. Regarding optical quality and design, dS is on a much higher level than Eliminator III but comes at a reasonably steeper price. Burris’s parallax adjustment is located on the objective in front of the scope, which makes it somewhat inconvenient to handle – Swarovski fixed that by putting parallax adjustment on the side turret where it is easily accessed. Furthermore, Swarovski’s dS no longer has traditional zeroing turrets. Burris Eliminator III is attached to the rifle via rail while Swarovski dS is mounted on a rifle with 40 mm rings, same as certain IOR scopes (update: since October 2019, dS can also be ordered with Swarovski SR rail). Entering data into the ballistic calculator is far more simple and intuitive with Swarovski dS than it is with Burris Eliminator III since it can be done via mobile phone. Given that we live in an era driven by technology, Swarovski made the right step. There is also a difference in the magnification range – Swarovski has 5-25x zoom range and 5x zoom factor while Burris Eliminator III has 4-16x zoom range and 4x zoom factor.
Comparison to Zeiss DiaRange
Zeiss DiaRange is attached to the rifle with a rail while Swarovski dS is mounted with 40 mm rings (update: since October 2019, dS can also be ordered with Swarovski SR rail). An average buyer who demands a ballistics calculator in a riflescope usually requests the biggest magnification possible, and Swarovski dS (5-25×52) has been produced in response to that demand. Zeiss DiaRange models’ magnification range is much more hunting-oriented and the magnifications are much lower. Presently, only the 3-12×56 model remains in production. Diarange riflescopes have an external laser system which is located on the left side of the scope. Consequently, the optics seem a bit lighter. Zeiss DiaRange measures and displays distance but is not equipped with a ballistics calculator and does not display the actual aiming point. The aiming angle and the atmospheric factors are also not taken into account. On the elevation turret, target-distance has to be set. Diarange has the same ASV+ turrets as Victory HT riflescopes. dS is far more revolutionary as far as this is concerned – you simply press the button to measure the exact distance and the aiming point appears.
dS is a very large, heavy riflescope with a 40 mm tube. Swarovski relocated the turrets to the objective of the scope, which is reminiscent of Aimpoint Hunter’s red dot design. The turrets are no longer where they used to be – the bulge on the top of the scope looks like a turret but is actually a battery cover. Swarovski dS has – like all other riflescopes – parallax adjustment on the right side but has no windage turret on the left side (it is located next to the objective along with the elevation turret – more about this can be read below in the “Software” section). The eyepiece and the buttons for regulating the illumination of the eyepiece are practically the same as in Z8 and Z6. On the outside, dS still closely resembles other riflescopes – modern technology is cleverly concealed in the housing. The objective is designed in such a way that night and thermal clip-ons can be attached to it. When using attachments on the objective lens, you can turn off the laser system. dS is also waterproof and shockproof. People at Swarovski claim that it can be used even on rifles chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum and .50 BMG.
For an owner of Swarovski dS, having a smartphone (iPhone or Android) is a must. Before you establish a connection between the riflescope and the mobile application, you have to zero the riflescope. By removing the cap on top of Swarovski dS (where the elevation turret usually is), we gain access to a battery and a small tool (see the picture below). We can use the small tool to access both elevation and windage turrets located near the objective and zero the scope. It’s not the simplest thing in the world, but a person with a moderate understanding of technological devices should be able to do it without major problems. Once the riflescope is zeroed, the user connects it to the application on the phone via Bluetooth and enters data in the ballistics program (the data entered is dependent on the caliber and other factors). Every time you aim at game, you click the button on the eye-bell and the computer will display the distance and the aiming point (including windage marks). The software measures up to 1375 m, but the aiming point correction only works up to 1000 m. The distance displayed can be in meters or yards. Swarovski dS allows its user to make a pre-setting based on current wind speed (there is an option of choosing between two wind speeds). Based on this pre-setting, the hold-overs in the displayed aiming point will be adjusted to the wind speed (3/6m/s or 5/10m/s).
In our opinion, Swarovski dS’s zoom ratio is perfect for long range hunting. The 52 mm lens suffices for most situations. But one has to keep in mind that – even though a night vision clip-on can be attached to the scope – dS is not a riflescope primarily intended for use in twilight as it only has 83 % light transmission rate and thus cannot be compared to other Swarovski riflescopes as far as hunting in twilight is concerned. However, long range hunting is mostly done during daytime, so its relatively low light transmission rate is not that big of a deal. The image is a little distorted because of the integrated laser system and consequently, the riflescope is subjected to more tunnel effect than other Swarovski riflescopes. Nevertheless, it offers decent optics if we take into account that it has an integrated laser rangefinder.
Swarovski has made sure to offer every accessory that a hunter could wish for – eyepiece scopes, objective scopes, scope guards, cleaning sets etc. These are all top quality products. All the European mount manufacturers have been informed about dS’s launch and are already producing 40 mm rings. Such rings will be produced by MAK, Recknagel, INNOmount, Henneberger, EAW, Rusan, Contessa, Dentler, Spuhr and many others. Since October 2019, dS can also be ordered with Swarovski SR rail.
Swarovski dS’s introduction is a step towards the future of optics. It is very likely that this is only an intermediate stage to perfected digital optics; however, at the moment we are still skeptical about digital optics reaching the quality of mechanical optics. The riflescope is big but not too heavy – dS weighs hardly 1090 g even though it is equipped with a laser system. Despite the fact that dS is a high-tech product, Swarovski has managed to preserve a traditional riflescope look. Optically, it is not on the level of Z8 and similar riflescopes, but it has a great laser system. The optics are still much better than in Burris Eliminator III. Swarovski dS is, without doubt, a milestone in the field of digital optics. It is a modern riflescope that will allow non-professional hunters to hunt on long distances. Even though it is quite expensive (4000 EUR), we are sure that it is going to be sold like hot cakes.