Gray’s Best 2017

(River Travelers, by Chet Reneson)

SHOOTING: Swarovski Z8i 1–8×24 Riflescope

swarovskiWith all the technological marvels emerging in optics, it takes something really special to earn a Gray’s Best as a scope for practical hunting, but Swarovski has accomplished it with the Z8i 1–8×24. This 30 mm straight-tube scope, with a multiple of eight (ranging from one- to eight-power) is compact, weighs less than you would expect, and its eye relief allows comfortable mounting even on short actions. Being a Swarovski, optical quality and durability are beyond reproach. Equally noteworthy is the new, illuminated 4A-IF reticle, which incorporates a red dot surrounded by an illuminated red circle overlaying a crosshair. This is reminiscent of a reticle Swarovski introduced in the mid-’90s on its 1.25–4 PH riflescope. In that instance, the reticle was in the first optical plane, and grew in size as the power was increased. At low power, dot and circle presented a single, highly visible aim point; at high power, the dot alone allowed precise shot placement. The new 4A-IF is in the second plane, and stays the same size, but works essentially the same way. The illumination has both day and night settings, which remain set when the power is switched off by a convenient switch atop the ocular bell. It can be manipulated easily by feel, in the dark, as can the power-level buttons. Swarovski has dealt with every niggling complaint I ever had about illuminated reticles in a scope that is so good, it’s hard to see where they can go from here.