I’ve long been a fan of Swarovski’s superlative sport optics. I’ve dragged the company’s binoculars all over the nation and huffed an ATS 80 spotting scope to 1,200-foot-high peaks to glass for elk. The only weak spot I could ever find in the company’s line was in its riflescopes: No really good long-range ballistic reticle was available.
That changed a couple of years ago—to a point—with the introduction of the BRX reticle. I was fortunate enough to field-test the new reticle on a particularly accurate Remington rifle on a Wyoming prairie dog shoot, and liked it greatly for a varmint rifle. But I considered the BRX—and still do—unsuitable for a big game scope. The crosshairs are very fine, just as dedicated varminters prefer them, and they tend to get lost against brush or in low light. Since I am primarily a big game guy, I was kind of stuck between liking the design of the BRX reticle and yet being unwilling to mount a scope equipped with it on a rifle that could be called on to perform in fast-changing situations on the edge of dawn or dusk.
Several weeks ago the good folks at Swarovski let me know a loaner scope with a new, heavier version called the BRH—“H” for heavy, I presume—was headed my way, and I’m currently sitting at my desk with two fantastic scopes at my elbow: One is equipped with the original BRX reticle, the other with the new heavier BRH. Comparing them side-by-side, the crosswires of the new version are considerably heavier, but I still wouldn’t consider it a true “heavy” crosshair. That said, it’s perfect for big game with the caveat that all ballistic reticles are cursed with to one degree or another: It’s complicated when compared with a plain old duplex.
By complicated, I mean that not only must one use one’s noggin when employing those useful little hash marks and dots to calculate and pull off a long shot, but when that surprise opportunity jumps up at 40 yards one must keep one’s cool enough to avoid the distraction (let’s face it, in that situation they’re distracting) of all the extra lines of the ballistic marks. I think it’s safe to say that it’s an experienced shooters reticle. Not a friend of the chronic buck fever victim.
However, as mentioned the complication comes with the territory: No ballistic reticle is without it to some degree. And when one is willing to put in the time to learn to shoot such a reticle, the rewards can be bountiful. Swarovski’s website has a ballistic calculator at that allows a shooter to enter pertinent info such as caliber, ammo manufacturer, specific load (the database contains virtually every currently available factory load on the market), scope height above bore, sight-in distance, altitude, and choose a power setting within the scopes zoom range. By then clicking the “calculate” icon, one receives a printable diagram of the reticle with each stadia bar and dot’s impact range marked.
Even better, a hunter can choose the vital size of intended game—let’s say eight inches, which is about right for whitetails—and a list of point-blank holds for each stadia bar is provided; for instance, the second bar down from the main crosshair might be dead on at 405 yards, with a lower limit of 372 yards and an upper limit of 431 yards, meaning that a bullets impact should theoretically stay within a whitetails vitals with a dead-on second-stadia-bar hold from 372 to 431 yards.
Even more exhaustive, handloaders may enter a specific bullet, that bullet’s ballistic coefficient, chronographed muzzle velocity, and so forth to get similar info for their personal handload. The scale and usefulness of the online program is impressive.
As for the scopes themselves, as always, the glass is as good as it gets. Anybody that could wish for more is delusional—more doesn’t exist. Construction, design, ergonomics… all are typical legendary Swarovski quality. I’m delighted that the company finally has a really capable ballistic reticle that is particularly suited for hunting big game.
|Eye relief:||3.54 in.|
|Field of view ft/100 yards:||33-11.7|
|Field of view (degrees):||6.3-2.2|
|Subjective field of view, apparent (degrees):||22.7|
|Click value:||.25 moa|
|Max. elevation/windage adjustment range:||50 in. @
|Parallax correction:||109 yards|
|Objective filter thread:||M 44×0.75|
|Central tube diameter:||1 in.|