Written by: Greg Duley
The Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x44 Z5 has become one of the most popular scopes on New Zealand hunting rifles in recent times – and for very good reason! It is very close to the perfect all round magnification for the wide variety of hunting opportunities across the majority of locations and situations we encounter in this country.
Combine this with the superb Swarovski custom PBC turret calibrated in yards/metres for your load, very good optical quality, the 4W reticle with windage hash marks, a side focus, fast focus eyepiece, and all in a one inch tubed package that weighs just 15.9 ounces, and you can easily understand why – especially considering the retail price of under $2000.
Then you have the bigger brother – the 5-25x52 Z5 – if longer range is more your objective. Now Swarovski have added something to the other end of the spectrum, releasing a model designed for the closer range opportunities – particularly in darker bush situations. The new 2.4-12x50 completes the Z5 line-up – offering a model for any application.
Swarovski have simplified the new baby in the Z5 range by leaving off the side focus – as its not needed up to the maximum magnification of 12x. The other changes are to length – at 13 inches it is one inch shorter than the 3.5-18x44, and is still 3/4s of an inch shorter than the 4-12x50 Z3 (which it’s probably nearest to usage wise). It has the same trim ocular housing with the fast focus eyepiece as the other Z5s. It comes with the excellent Swarovski adjustable coloured dot Ballistic Turret with the ability to order the custom PBC to match your load. The 50mm objective drags in more light than the 44mm objective on the 3.5-18x44, and even more than the 50mm Z3s and Z5s (due to improved luminosity optics its rated at 92% light transmission, up 2% over the other Z5s and Z3s, and very close to the higher rated Z8’s 93%.) Its available in our favourite 4W plus the usual duplex reticle. If you decide you don’t want a ballistic turret, then you can choose a heavy BRX ballistic type reticle, but personally, the PBC option is a no brainer for the Swarovski scopes in our opinion. Ballistic type reticles in a second focal plane scope are not a great idea, as the reticle subtension changes as you change magnification.
I’ve seen far too many guys shoot way high when they try and use the ballistic reticle in the heat of the moment with the scope on a lower power.
In the test jig, the baby Z5 performed as expected. It tracked perfectly and returned to zero, also with no discernable zero shift through the zoom range. It shifted .975 inches at 100 yards for 4 clicks, just as all the other Z5s do. This is slightly less than true inches per hundred yards (IPHY), but the difference is not significant for all reasonable ranges. We simply allow for this when ordering our PBCs via the Swarovski Ballistic Program to take this small variance out. Optically the baby Z5 was as we’ve come to expect – not the absolute pinnacle of optical performance that the Z6, X5 and Z8 provide, but extremely good optical performance with a wide field of view and in this model in particular – very good low light performance.
The 2.4-12x50 arrived at the beginning of April, so we mounted it up on our TV Show Tikka T3x 270 BushPig for our Sika roar hunts when we got back from the South Island. The objective bell just clears the barrel in the standard Tikka mounts, but we could also still just get our preferred neoprene scope cover on. Then into the snowfallen manuka, kanuka and mingimingi infested jungle of the Eastern Kawekas we went, to try and get Sika stags on film. This is always extremely challenging, and can be very frustrating but also incredibly rewarding all at the same time!
Now I can’t spoil next season’s episodes for you by spilling the beans on how we all got on, but here’s a few pics from some of the hunts without giving away the star performers – both stags and hunters! Sorry Emil, you and your scrubby old 4 pointer didn’t make the episode cut…but you’ve made the magazine instead!
In conclusion, the new baby of the Z5 line is a very worthwhile addition - especially if the closer range bush hunting end of the spectrum is more what you do.
It has a very wide field of view ideal for fast target acquisition in the bush - in fact on 2.4x it shows quite a bit of the suppressor in the bottom of the field of view. Then you can wind it up to 12x and use your PBC turret for accurate shooting to 400 yards or so. The extra low light performance is also ideally suited to the bush. The weight is still extremely low at 16.2oz for a 50mm objective scope of this magnification, and the length is also very manageable in the tight stuff. All in all, I think this is the perfect scope for BushPig type applications, and no doubt we’ll start seeing them popping up regularly on these rifles!
Magnification : 2.4-12x
Objective lens diameter (mm) : 50
Exit pupil diameter (mm) : 10-4.1
Exit pupil distance (mm) (Eye relief) : 95
Field of view (ft/100 yds / m/100 m) : 45.9-9 / 15.3-3
Light transmission (%) : 92
Max. elevation / windage adjustment range (in/100 yds / m/100 m) : 90/50 / 2.5/1.4
Length (in / mm) : 13.1 / 334
Weight (oz / g) : 16.2 / 460
Central tube diameter (in / mm) : 1 / 25.4
Submersion tightness : 13 ft / 4 m water depth (inert gas filling)