Recently I had the opportunity to attend the media debut of the new Swarovski X5(i) long range rifle scope. This event was held at the famous FTW Ranch in Barksdale, Texas, about a three hour drive from my home, which is located in what is referred to as the hill country of Texas. This 12000+ acre ranch is in an area of mountainous terrain with great mountains, hills and deep valleys. It was just a beautiful and perfect place for this type of event.
This is the model scope I was assigned and used.
Five writers from around the United States were invited to this debut. Along with the writers, Swarovski flew in the design team for this scope from the factory in Austria. Along with these folks, the Swarovski Optik administrators and marketing representatives attended. There were more Swarovski people than writers. This gave us a chance to really get to know what went into this scope plus they could answer any questions we may ask. After spending a few days with these people I felt they had a great since of pride in their work and products. They seemed genuinely interested in our questions, opinions and observations.
For most of us in the shooting industry when we hear the brand name of Swarovski we first think of great quality and then high price tags. Swarovski has been the benchmark for what sporting optics manufacturers shoot for in regards to quality of glass and workmanship in their products. A few may be able to match this benchmark but I do not know of any that are better. As far as value, yes, they are expensive but there are others that cost even more. To me if a long range shooter spends $5,000 plus for a rifle, then why not spend $3,000 to $3,500 for a top quality optic to get the absolute best accuracy.
This is the reticle on my scope.
To understand the quality of Swarovski products you need to know a little about their history. This is a very old family owned company located in Austria. They first started in 1895 developing and selling the machines to cut, grind and finish stone. This evolved into the optic division and their first binocular in 1949. Twelve years later they made their first rifle scope, a 7x32. Now they are a leader in sport optics worldwide. Swarovski is still family owned, devoted to quality and improving their products to best meet the needs of the end users.
The first evening, after a great meal, while sitting at the fire pit on the patio I had a chance to chat with Albert Wannemacher, CEO of Swarovski Optik North America. He asked what I thought of the scope. At this point I had just read the handout material and the shooting would not start till the next day. As he listened intently, I asked why it was not a first focal plane reticle? Albert told me there were several reasons. First focal plane scopes were not in high demand when they first considered this scope over five years ago. Tom Hogan, Senior Technical Advisor, said they felt the first focal plane reticles were cluttered plus they had tried them before in other models but discontinued them due to a lack of sales. It was a nice evening talking to these people and hearing the story of this scope.
The next morning Tim Fallon, the owner of the FTW Ranch, gave us a short welcoming talk and then turned it over to Swarovski Marketing. Rob Lancelotti, together with the rest of the design team explained what went into this scope. From the concept and research, it took over five years to get the X5(I) to the production line. This scope was designed new from the front to the back or top to bottom. In other words, except for a few of the small parts, this is a brand new scope. The scope and turret system is complex, with 201 parts total in the scope. The scope’s 30mm aluminum tube is thicker than that used in their other scopes. All internal metal parts are stainless steel. Everything used to make this scope is made in house. So with a new scope they had to design and make the machines to produce the parts. Because of the tight tolerances that they required in the turret parts, new measuring devices were designed to meet these needs. They changed from the previously used coil spring in the turret to a new system.