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Swarovski Prairie Dog Hunting

Prairie dog hunting is high-volume, short- to medium-range hunting - and Swarovski gear is cut out to make hunts like these a smashing success. Derek experiments with the new Swarovski Z8i and the Ballistic Turret Flex.

Last year I was able to go on a prairie dog hunt in the vast beautiful landscape of Casper, Wyoming. Two and a half days of high volume shooting in some fairly challenging conditions. The optics for the trip were exclusively Swarovski. While a lot of the shooting was done with their new Z8i 2-16 (a phenomenal scope in its own right) I was more interested in the 1-8x24 with BRT reticle and clip-on BTF turrets. With most hunters taking game from 25-300 yards, I wanted to see if this scope could be exactly what I was seeking for such shooting. I am happy to report that it is. And then some.

Beautiful Wyoming Countryside

The Swarovski Z6i is a fantastic optic. The 1-6 is still favored by many short range and dangerous game hunters as well as many 3 gun shooters. The extra power offered by the Z8i, combined with the Ballistic Flex Turret, really lets this scope elbow its way into the medium range hunting realm, too. Mounted on an AR-15 for the afternoon, it proved to be an impressive optic. For a 1x optic like this, the image quality at 1x is most important to me, and is the hardest part to engineer. That is why there are many 1.1, 1.2 and 1.5 type scopes out there. The Z8i, though, was flawless. Edge to edge clarity was spot on, and the field of view was immense. Looking through it was almost as if there was nothing there at all. Combined with the bright center dot, the optic is the best I have seen for fast, short range shooting, the sort I had to manage with a shot from 10 yards on a running prairie dog.

Swarovski/EuroOptic team on site.

At distance, the optic shined as well. The Z8i is capable of accepting a clip-on turret that can be engraved with your personal ballistic profile. What I had was a straight up 1/10 mil turret, which I preferred. The setup we had was fairly efficient. Scan with a set of EL Range laser rangefinding binoculars, identify a target, range it, consult the ballistic chart and dial it in. Most prairie dogs are about the size of a 20oz bottle of soda and the optic was plenty clear enough to land hits at well over 400 yards. If not for the 15-25mph wind, I am confident that I could have made hits at over 500. If the optic is good enough for a 500 yard shot on a prairie dog, a shot on any other larger game at further distances is well within the capability of this scope.

Normal day at the office...gas guns and top-shelf optics.

Being more the shooter, I would not hesitate to put one of these on an AR match rifle for 3 gun and similar sorts of shooting matches. With shots from 7 to about 300 yards common, this optic’s wide field of view, excellent 1x image and reticle/turret options make this a very capable optic for this discipline of shooting as well.

In all, the Swarovski Z8i is a multipurpose, compact scope that ticks a lot of the boxes needed for close and medium range hunting and target shooting. Starting at $2419, they are in stock and available for order now.

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