You can always count on quality glass from Swarovski Optik. Constantly on the cutting edge, the Austrian company’s dS 5X-25X-52mm P model, with automatic aim correction, is quite impressive. Marrying state-of-the-art technology with Swarovski’s top-quality lenses, coatings and manufacturing, the resulting riflescope has an integrated ballistic calculator and laser rangefinder that delivers precise shooting solutions from a single optical device.
The built-in laser rangefinder measures to about 1,500 yards with accuracy to within 1 yard. By pressing the top button, the scope displays target distance, estimated energy on target (optional), windage marks and an illuminated aiming point for the distance ranged. The calculated aiming point is based on the unique ballistic data of your firearm and ammunition combination, and real-time readings of distance, angle, barometric pressure, wind and temperature. Incredibly, all of this is accomplished with a single button press, after initial set-up, with very little manual adjustment (if any) necessary after that.
Swarovski incorporated Bluetooth capability in the dS, which, in conjunction with the mobile app (dS Configurator) makes it an attractive option for discriminating electro-optics shoppers. The app is where ballistic data for your firearm and ammo is entered and sent to the scope wirelessly. The app also makes it easy to adjust other settings, such as the wind brackets you see in the scope display. Representing windage is a horizontal red bar beneath the crosshairs complete with hash marks to provide proper compensation for 5 and 10 mph winds or 10 and 20 mph winds.
Displaying all this information is a second-focal-plane LED 4A-I reticle. Activating this miracle of modern optics is almost too easy. Using the reticle as an aiming point, pressing the top measurement button on the scope will laser the target, and as soon as the button is released the instrument measures the range, completes the ballistics math (accounting for magnification level, temperature, air pressure and angle) then illuminates an exact aiming point along the vertical crosshair to deliver consistent hits on target. It’s a one-button process that provides instant results. The rest is on you and your rifle.
Although the LED reticle is easy to see with bright illumination, the rangefinder is the real star of the show. At FTW Ranch in the picturesque Texas Hill Country, I experienced firsthand how fast the system works in conjunction with the clear, crisp image you come to expect from the Swarovski brand. Our team was glassing targets quickly without skipping a beat. The dS works even more beautifully in concert with a top-notch rifle. Atop our Bergara HMR Pro rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, the dS gave us the solutions to range and ding steel beyond 1,000 yards.
Operation of the dS smart scope is simple enough, but there are some housekeeping tasks that must be completed before venturing afield. Fortunately, Swarovski made the sighting-in process a breeze. Like any scope, first adjust the diopter and parallax, and start with a comfortable magnification.
The magnification adjustment ring turns through its range easily enough and holds its position with more than enough force, though I do wish it had a slightly larger adjustment knob available for purchase for when things need to happen quickly. The scale is easy to read, and when the magnification is changed, both the aiming point and windage hash marks will adjust accordingly within the reticle, taking into account your pre-set ballistics and the distance to target. Parallax adjustment is similar to other Swarovski scopes, with a turret located on the left-hand side and an adjustment range from 55 yards to infinity.
The elevation and windage adjustments on the dS are more than a bit unorthodox due to how and where the advanced technology is built into the scope. Rather than standard adjustment turrets, both the windage and elevation adjustments are hidden within the objective bell (elevation on the top and windage on the right side), concealed and protected by two covers. The covers are removable by using a small wrench hidden in the top-mounted battery compartment (located inside the top turret where one would normally find the elevation adjustment). This is also where the special windage and elevation adjustment tool resides. After removing the covers with the wrench, you can insert the adjustment tool into the exposed dials to adjust your windage and elevation in increments of ¼ MOA per click. After zeroing your rifle, simply screw on the covers and put the tools back in the battery compartment.
Once zeroed, your next step will be to configure your dS with the ballistics data via the companion app. After pressing a few buttons and receiving a few LED flashes from the optic, you’ll be ready to pair the scope with your smartphone via the app using your scope's unique serial number (located under the eyepiece). Once the app is paired, you’ll see a permanent green light appear on the dS and a confirmation message on the app screen signaling success. At this point, all you need to do is input your ballistics data and transfer it back to the dS. You are now ready to shoot.
Swarovski added a reticle and display automatic shut-off feature to considerably enhance the battery life of the dS. This feature will power down the illuminated display after no movement is detected for a time interval pre-set by the user via the app. Once the time limit is reached, the illuminated display will shut off, but it is easily turned back on with a quick 20-degree tilt of the rifle in any direction.
There are two major things all shooters should consider about the dS before purchasing. For starters, as a digital optic, all the technological benefits become useless if the battery dies and you don’t have a spare. Secondly, since this optic is essentially a computer, the “garbage in, garbage out” data principle applies here: If you don’t input accurate BC and velocity data for your rifle and ammunition pairing you won’t get a proper shooting solution.
Of course, amazing resolution paired with lasers, microprocessors and wireless communication capabilities doesn’t come cheap. The dS 5X-25X-52mm P smart riflescope carries an MSRP of $4,999. But all things considered, this is one amazing riflescope, and is undoubtedly the benchmark for such optics and a glimpse at what the future of digital optics technology will bring.