When it comes to long-distance hunting, every minute detail can make a difference between bringing down a buck of a lifetime or firing a missed shot that you’ll be regretting for weeks.
Experienced pursuers of wildlife will tell you that nothing beats careful preparation that takes in everything: from getting familiarized with the terrain, understanding behavioral patterns of the game, factoring in the atmospheric conditions to - last but not least - choosing the correct equipment.
Lucky for you, Swarovski Optik engineered the new Z8i 3.5-28x50 P riflescope model that solves the latter dilemma.
The Z8i 3.5-28x50 P model is Swarovski’s brand new addition to the already incredibly successful Z8i series of premium sport optics. True to their name, these riflescope models offer powerful 8x zooming capabilities.
The wide magnification range of Z8i 3.5-28x50 P offers unmatchable versatility. While the moderate 3.5x magnification is perfectly suitable for most big-game hunting trips, the 28x magnification will impress you on longer distances.
Compared to other members of the family, this Z8i scope offers much better detail recognition. The previously released Swarovski Z8i 2.3-18x56 worked well on extended ranges. However, due to the relatively low maximal magnification, hunters had some trouble accessing the faraway game.
Bearing in mind the fast advancements of sport optics that are used in the modern hunt, there is just no excuse for rough estimates.
Indeed, the maximal magnification jump from 18x to 28x is exactly what was needed.
With Z8i 3.5-28x50 P, you’ll see the animal much more clearly and in sharp detail, making it easier to determine its health, gender, and possible trophy. Everything a responsible hunter needs to know before releasing a single shot.
The sharp details and brilliant image clarity over the entire field of view make this scope a reliable companion on challenging hunts, where you need an optic you can trust to perform.
Z8i 3.5-28x50 P passed the test with flying colors and after a few minutes in the field, the smooth view-through began to feel almost like a second eye.
The only complaint we have is the relatively low image brightness at high magnifications. Admittedly, this is an issue with all scopes of this type. The higher you go, the darker the image gets. Over many years of working in the optical business, we've encountered many different approaches to the same problem.
Take Zeiss' Victory V8 4.8-35x60 scope for example. Instead of negatively impacting the optical performance at high magnifications, the Jena experts engineered a 970-gram scope that is brilliant ... except when you have to carry the big guy around.
It makes sense that Swarovski Optik did a complete 180° and offered the contrasting solution, rather than copy their closest rival. With Z8i 3.5-28x50 P, Swarovski was forced to compromise extra-bright image at higher magnifications for a super lightweight unit. That just won't sit well with some hunters who seek the supreme optical execution, no matter the cost. But that's just fine. As with many things in sports optics, the choice simply comes down to the user's personal preference.
There are 3 reticle designs to choose from, namely 4A-I, 4W-I, and BRX-I. All of them are in the second focal plane configuration (reticle size doesn't change with zoom), which is best suited for hunters and long-range sport shooters.
The model that we used for this review has a 4A-I reticle that is crisp and well-defined.
The superfine central dot is illuminated in red color. When comparing the newest model to its predecessors, we immediately noticed that the illumination intensity is even nicer than before. This is a testament to Swarovski's dedication to continuous upgrades.
What makes the scopes of the Z8i series especially practical is the use of Swarolight technology. With this inclination sensor, the illumination automatically shuts off and turns back on - depending on whether the reticle is held in a shooting position or not.
The 93% light transmission rate of fully multi-coated Swarovski lenses will have you covered on those hunting trips when the game is elusive and twilight is setting in. Note that the maximal permeability moved up from the 92% of previous Z8i launches. The series just keeps getting better.
The hydrophobic Swaroclean varnish on the external lenses repels dirt, oil and dust particles.
Designed for Distance
The new Z8i model sports the typical understated and classic Swarovski design that makes all their shooting optics blend in seamlessly with the firearm, no matter the style of weapon they’re mounted on.
The 30-millimeter (1.2-inch) central tube comes with the optional SR rail that ensures quick and easy fitting.
When handling the scope, we were all impressed to feel just how ultra-light it is. Not what you'd expect looking at the large 50-millimeter objective lens.
Weighing only 665 grams (23.5 ounces), the scope is light enough to use it when hunting in mountains where every gram of surplus matters. The compact build won’t take up too much space in your backpack either. But looking at the 381 millimeters of scope length, there is certainly room for improvement.
The scope was created for mountain hunts, which explains the 50-millimeter lens. Mountain hunters do not require lens sizes of 56 or 60 millimeters that are more suitable for low-light situations. The majority of hunting at high altitudes takes place after dawn and wraps up long before dark, having to take into account the considerable distances that separate the hunter from the spoils.
Watch our extended video review of Swarovski Z8i 3.5-28x50 P.
The Z8i 3.5-28x50 P has CCW internal windage (70 cm per 100 meters of windage) and internal elevation (140 cm per 100 meters of elevation) turrets with locking function.
Note that the standard version of this scope comes with low and capped hunting turrets that are resettable to zero - same as with all the other models in the Z8i series.
Compare that to the upgraded variant with Ballistic Turret Flex (BTF). We strongly recommend installing this scope with the use of a 20 MOA inclined mount. This way you be able to make the full use BTF turret for long-range hunting.
The turret was smartly designed so that it is compatible for use on all Z8i models, no installation tools needed.
These finely adjustable turrets move 0.10 MIL per click (1 click will move the hit on a target for 1 centimeter at a 100m range), taking the guesswork out of each shot.
What’s more, Swarovski hunting turrets in the Z8i series are bulky, ergonomically designed with ridged caps.
The large operation units of this scope guarantee effortless one-hand manipulation. So the next time you’re accessing the game and need a fast correction, there is no need to look away from the prize.
The side-focus parallax is adjustable from 50 meters to infinity. Here is another nice little attention to detail - the turret glide slows down when the parallax setting nears the 100-meter mark. That’s great for making intuitive adjustments.
Customized with Care
With the Z8i family, Swarovski went an extra mile to ensure almost bespoke adaptability of their superior-quality riflescope models.
Beyond the 5 earlier models and the new Z8i 3.5-28x50 P riflescope, the series also offers many functional accessories that take the user-friendliness of Z8i optics to the next level.
The optional Ballistic Turret Flex (BTF) can be used as either an elevation or a windage turret. Even better, it is designed for super-easy installation without tools.
Long-range precision shooters are those who will especially appreciate the optional addition of the Personalized Ballistic Ring (PBR) with individually engraved data.
Other Swarovski riflescope accessories created for the Z8i series include a throw lever for faster zoom ring adjustments, neoprene scope covers, and protective lens caps.
The introduction of this 3.5-28x50 model has successfully filled the gap between the all-rounder model 1.7-13.3x42 that just isn’t up to snuff on extended shooting ranges and the dusk-and-dawn specialist that is Swarovski Z8i 2.3-18x56.
The new Z8i family member has everything a wildlife hunter needs in the great wide open and is at the same time finely adjustable to satisfy precision shooters.
Still, we expect the main target audience of Swarovski Z8i 3.5-28x50 P to be long-range and mountain hunters.
Swarovski Z8i 3.5-28x50 P riflescope is engineered and wholly manufactured in Austria.
It comes with 10 years of warranty and will be available from selected retailers from September 2, 2019.