Review: Swarovski dS Smart Riflescope

posted on February 12, 2020

You can always count on quality gear from Swarovski Optik. Constantly on the cutting edge, the Austrian company’s dS 5-25x52mm P model with automatic aim correction is quite impressive. Marrying state-of-the-art technology with Swarovski’s high-quality optics, this remarkable riflescope has an integrated ballistic calculator and laser rangefinder.

The built-in laser rangefinder measures to about 700 yards with accuracy within one yard. By pressing the top button, the scope displays target distance, estimated shot energy (optional) and also an illuminated aiming point for the distance ranged. The calculated aiming point is based on individual ballistic data for your firearm and ammunition. Trajectory is calculated using ballistic data in real-time, including distance, angle, barometric pressure, wind and temperature. Incredibly, all of this is accomplished with a one button press—after set-up, very little manual adjustment (if any) is necessary.

Swarovski dS Smart Riflescope
The dS is a point and shoot scope. Line up your target, push the measurement button on top and the scope ranges the target, instantly providing a point-of-aim within the reticle, including wind brackets. Note how the battery is located in the top compartment, which doubles for adjustment tool storage. During normal operation the top cap is left on.

Swarovski wisely included Bluetooth capability in the dS, which in conjunction with the mobile app makes it an attractive option for discriminating electro-optics shoppers. The app is where ballistic data for your firearm and ammo is entered, and the calculated ballistic curve is sent to the scope via Bluetooth. The app also makes it easy to adjust other settings, such as the wind brackets. The dS uses a horizontal red bar for windage. Hash marks provide the proper locations to compensate for 5 mph and 10 mph or 10 mph and 20 mph winds, which are switchable via the app.

Not only does the dS calculate ballistic data, but also sports a second-focal-plane (SFP) reticle (4A-I) that compensates for bullet drop. Since it’s SFP, when the magnification is increased, only the size of the image increases, the display and the reticle stay the same. Using the central aiming point of the physical reticle as a reference mark, after pressing the top measurement button, the scope will laser the target as soon as it’s released. There are sophisticated instruments that Swarovski engineers were miraculously able to cram inside this scope, along with the electronics necessary for ballistic calculation and wireless communication. The instrument measures the exact distance and then displays the exact aiming point with a LED dot from the current magnification, air pressure, temperature and angle.

Swarovski smart scope
Elevation and windage are adjusted using a special tool located in the battery compartment. The controls are behind hidden panels in the objective bell.

Here’s the entire process: A red circle appears when the button is first pressed and the magnification function is activated. The measurement isn’t triggered until the button is released. The corrected aiming point will appear and you just use that. The rest is on you and your rifle.

Although the LED dot and reticle are easy to see with bright illumination—the rangefinder is the real star of the show. At FTW Ranch in picturesque Texas Hill Country, I experienced firsthand how fast the system works in conjunction with the clear, bright image you come to expect from the Swarovski brand. Our team was glassing targets quickly without skipping a beat.

The dS works beautifully in concert with a top-notch rifle. We were using Bergara HMR Pro rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, which everyone in our group tried out the day before testing the dS with other optics to nail targets out to over 1,800 yards at FTW Ranch.

Operation of the dS smart scope is simple enough, but there are some housekeeping tasks that must be completed before venturing out with this thing. Fortunately, Swarovski made the sighting-in process for the dS a breeze. Like any scope, first adjust the diopter, magnification and parallax. The diopter focus is easy to do with the adjuster ring located on the eyepiece. The diopter adjustments are really precise.

Swarovski dS 5-25x52mm
The aiming mark takes the form of an illuminated circle around the reticle aiming point (l.) that appears after the measurement button is pressed. Distance is displayed, along with wind speed and custom windage marks (r.). Distances between the wind marks are taken from the distance and the ballistic data of your firearm/ammo combination inputted in the app.

The magnification adjustment ring, which rotates through 180 degrees, provides precise and robust control. The scale is easy to read and when the magnification is changed, the aiming point and windage hash marks will adjust accordingly. The ring is easy to turn, but has plenty of heft. One improvement our group all agreed on is the knob should be a bit larger. Although it’s not small by any means, sometimes when you’re moving fast your hands can slightly struggle trying to find it.

Parallax adjustment is similar to other Swarovski scopes, with a turret located on the left-hand side. The parallax turret can be adjusted from 55 yards to infinity. Like the other turrets and rings, adjustment is easy with large controls.

Swarovski dS operation
The range measurement button is located on top in-between the illumination controls, which pull double duty as the Bluetooth connection controls.

Elevation and windage adjustments come with a twist due to the advanced technology. Both are hidden inside the objective bell on the top and right sides for the elevation and windage, respectively. The covers are removable by using a torx wrench hidden in the top-mounted battery compartment in the main tube, where the special adjustment tool also resides. This is a great feature, because both tools are really small and would be easy to lose if they didn’t have their own special home. After removing the covers, the adjustment tool fits in the dials, which correct ¼ MOA per click for both elevation and windage. After zeroing your rifle, simply screw back on the covers and put the tools back in the battery compartment.

After zeroing, next is configuring the dS with its companion app. Activate Bluetooth on your device, and after a few button presses and LED flashes, you’ll find your serial number in the app (write it down or memorize it before you begin, it’s located under the eyepiece). After a moment, the LED will light up permanently, signaling a successful connection. Input your data and transfer the data back to the dS. At this point, you are ready to shoot with corrected aiming.

Swarovski added one feature that considerably enhances the dS. There’s a reticle and display illumination automatic shut-off function that operates by tilting the scope 20 degrees to the right or left. By tilting the scope, you increase how much longer the scope will stay by a time pre-set in the app.

Swarovski dS magnification adjustment ring
The magnification adjustment ring is nearly perfect, if the knob was a tad bigger it would be easier to manipulate.

There are two major things that all shooters should consider about the dS before purchasing. For starters, without “conventional” elevation or windage turrets, you could really screw yourself if the battery dies and you don’t have a spare. And, since this optic is essentially a computer, the “Garbage in, garbage out” data principle applies here. Meaning, if you don’t input accurate BC and velocity data, e.g. correct rifle and ammunition, you won’t get a proper shooting solution. It’s also critical to have the entire system sighted-in and zeroed at 50- and 100-yards before tackling longer distances.

All things considered, this is one amazing riflescope, and is undoubtedly the current flagship for smart scopes—and a glimpse at the future of long-range rifle optics technology.

Using the Swarovski dS
The importance of having the dS properly zeroed before heading out into the field cannot be overstated.

Bottom line

Amazing visual clarity from optics paired with lasers, microprocessors and wireless communication capabilities don’t come cheap, however. The dS 5-25x52mm P smart riflescope carries an MSRP of $4,499. But, given the well-deserved reputation that Swarovski Optik has gained over 70 years of manufacturing high-quality glass, and the fact this scope pretty much just tells you where to shoot—this price is a bargain. Once you are rolling with this thing zeroed in and connected to the app with proper data, if you miss, it’s not the scope’s fault.

Swarovski dS smart riflescope specifications

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