Outdoorsman Ballistic Turret For Swarovski Scopes Review
By Jim See
I had the opportunity to test and review a Swarovski Z6 5-30X50mm BT (ballistic turret) rifle scope. Now this might not sound all that interesting but the unique thing about this scope is it wore a custom Ballistic Turret from the Outdoorsmans. (www.outdoorsmans.com)
The starting point for the Outdoorsman ballistic turret is the Swarovski BT riflescope, offered in nine standard models and four illuminated models. With scope in hand, one needs to order the turret based off of the ballistic information of the rifles load. If you’re new to the BDC system the good people at the Outdoorsmans (1-800-291-8065) will walk you thru the process of gathering data.
This particular scope and turret system was set-up for a 243AI. Problem was it was not set up for MY 243AI. This set-up was based on Len's load, and with a limited amount of time on his hands Len asked if I would offer my opinions on the system. I gladly accepted and mounted the scope on a 243AI f-class rifle that was soon to be rebarreled. I took the rifle to my range that gives me access to 600 yards worth of dirt embankments. This turret was made with a 100 yard zero and had the ability to dial out to 700 yards. Had I ordered the turret and set it up I would have opted for a 250 or 300 yard zero so as to extend the yardages that the turret could be accurately marked. As with life you play the hand your dealt, so on with the testing.
I picked a calm morning for the range session. I zeroed the scope to the rifle at 100 yards. Setting up the turret for zero was relatively easy with the only tool required being the instruction book and a coin. The scopes zero stop feature was an added plus. I then set out to test the turrets accuracy or lack thereof with my load. I shot 3 shot groups at 300,400, and 600 yards, the 3-3 shot groups all printed close to ½ moa. To my surprise the turret was accurate to within ¼ moa at those yardages, when measuring center of group to point of aim. My conclusion was, Lens load and my load must be very close. I then repeated the test to see if the scopes adjustments were repeatable when turning the turrets up and down, looking for possible play or backlash in the system. For the most part the system repeated the performance of the first go around. The 400 and 600 yard group missed point of aim by a slightly smaller margin than the first ¼ moa variance. Performance was on par with what I considered to be the expectations for this upper end scope and turret system.
As with most BDC type turrets, many are familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of the system, most importantly is having the turrets data applicable to the conditions you shoot under. As with any BDC, and cross country environment changes, it is a necessary requirement to re-zero the turret at a solid mid to long range distance. This will keep any of the possible turret error on the lower yardages, where a ½-1 moa impact change will still keep you in the vitals.
As I was gearing up for a mid-range f-class, the Swarovski was pulled, and the 243AI morphed into a 6mm Bench Rest. I again mounted the Swarovski and zeroed the gun at 600 yards. I was not concerned at this point with the ballistic turret as much as just getting a feel for the scope and the “trustworthiness” of the adjustments during repeated use. I used this set-up to compete in LaCrosse and Lodi, at 600 yard f-class matches.
At Lodi I had one poor relay that took me out of the top 5 of a 23 competitor field. I started the morning well shooting a 198-10x, and a 197-8x. After coming out of the pits the sun wind and mirage made things a bit more difficult. My third string suffered with a 190- 3x, mental errors more than conditions. I pulled myself together mentally and fired a 198-7x for the last relay of the day. This helped wipe away the poor earlier performance, finishing 7th overall respectively.
The scope was optically excellent; resolution was very good allowing me to easily see the scoring rings at 600 yards. The scope remained on 30 power for both matches even during periods of thick mirage. During this time the rifle had fired 200+ rounds. I found no anomalies which made me question the scopes ability to repeat. Add to that a quality Ballistic Turret by the Outdoorsman, and I think you’re looking at a true winner.