By Chris Denham
I honestly can’t remember having this much difficulty explaining a new product in the optics market! The new Swarovski ATX (angled) and STX (straight), hereby known at the Swarovski X scopes, are that revolutionary. It wasn’t until I saw the first photographs that I was completely sure I understood how the new scope works and what the potential benefits would be. Fortunately, I didn’t have to rely on a press release and photos, since we were able to test one of the few scope sets currently in the country.
In every issue of Elk Hunter and Western Hunter magazines, we strive to bring you the most thorough, in-depth reviews of the best new gear on the market. This article was published in our Winter issue of Western Hunter Magazine. Click here to subscribe to Western Hunter & Elk Hunter magazines so that you don't miss out on the next gear review!
A Modular System
The X scope is truly modular in that you can purchase an angled eyepiece or straight eyepiece assembly, either of them for a 65mm, 85mm or 95mm objective lens assembly. Each piece is sealed against the elements and is completely waterproof. The eyepiece and objective assemblies are joined by a bayonet-style locking system similar to the way premium spotting scope eyepieces attach to a scope body. The connection is absolutely solid and locks into place with an audible click.
There is a release button on the side of the eyepiece that must be depressed to disassemble the spotting scope. When apart, protective caps are provided for the exposed lenses and the connection points. It is very important to actually use these covers and keep the connections clean. I’ve already had a few sportsmen mention that it would be a pain to constantly have to put your scope together each time you needed to use it. There is actually no reason to take the scope apart, unless you are changing objective lenses or you need to break it down into smaller components for packing.
The power ring is located next to the focus ring, making it very easy to manage all the controls on the scope without taking your eye off of the subject. This may not sound like a big deal, but after you’ve used the X scope for an hour or two and then go back to a traditional eyepiece power-ring scope, you’ll know what I mean.
The variable-power eyepiece is fixed in place, so as the focal length changes with the change of the objective, so does the power. With the 65mm scope, the power runs from 25x-60x; on the 95mm, it goes from 30x up to a whopping 70x. The spec sheet states that the 85mm delivers the same magnification as the 65mm, but I doubt this is true. Because the focal length on the 85mm is only slightly longer than the 65mm, the resulting power seems like it should be something like 27x-63x. Those are numbers that have never been used and are not statistically different than the stated power.
The 95mm is literally and figuratively the “big deal”. This is the largest objective lens ever offered in the premium scope market. All three objective units are HD lenses with field flattener lens technology, but with the extreme magnification generated from the 95mm, the resulting edge-to-edge clarity is especially astounding. This is a digiscoper’s dream setup!
A Digiscoper’s Dream
Speaking of digiscoping (the art of taking pictures or video through a spotting scope), Swarovski has two new adapters to fit the X scope. The DCBII clamps to the body of the eyepiece and will mount just about any point-and-shoot camera on the market. The new TLS is specifically for digital SLR cameras and could revolutionize wildlife photography and videography. I’m genuinely excited to see what images will be generated when more of the X scopes start to hit the street.
Get Your Name on the List
Many of you have already started to do the math on how much it would cost to put together your own dream X system scope. You also probably thought that your calculator was lying to you for a split-second. Obviously you could buy two separate scopes (the 65mm and 80mm) for less than one X eyepiece and a 65mm and 95mm objective modules, but if you did that, then you wouldn’t the 95mm, and that would be a mistake. I’m impressed by the whole take-down concept, and being able to break it down and fit it into a carry-on or into smaller side pockets on my pack is great. However, having the 95mm objective module at high magnification is worth the extra money…period.
As I write this, the new ATX and STX scopes should start arriving on USA soil in mid-to-late September. The Outdoorsmans has already placed their order and started a waiting list (800-291-8065). This will be a high-demand product and it will likely take a while to fill the pipeline, so get you name on the list.
In every issue of Elk Hunter and Western Hunter magazines, we strive to bring you the most thorough, in-depth reviews of the best new gear on the market. This article was published in our Winter issue of Western Hunter Magazine.
Click here to subscribe to Western Hunter & Elk Hunter magazines so that you don't miss out on the next gear review!
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