February 4th, 2010

Long-Range Scope Comparison: Schmidt & Bender, Leupold, Zeiss

Forum member Thomas Haugland (aka “Roe”) from Norway has created an excellent video comparing the features on four long-range scopes: Schmidt & Bender PMII 3-12x50mm, Schmidt & Bender PMII 12-50x56mm, Leupold MK IV, and Zeiss Diavari Victory 6-24x56mm. Thomas shows how the adjustments function, he records the available vertical elevation, and he takes apart the turrets to show how the weather seals work. While the Leupold MK IV has MOA clicks, the three Euro scopes tested by Thomas have mil-based or mil/cm adjustments. These mil-based clicks work well with first focal plane reticles that have mil or half-mil hash marks.

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Thomas explains:

These films emphasize the shooter’s Point of View (POV) and ‘user friendliness’. ALL these scopes get the job done, but they have some similarities and differences in the details and your own personal preferences would decide what scope can be labeled ‘best’. The perfect scope doesn’t exist, you’ll have a compromise somewhere — be that economy, magnification, reticle, turret, optical quality, sturdiness…

In these films I’ve set the Schmidt & Bender PMII 3-12×50 as the benchmark for comparison. Not because it is ‘best’ (it isn’t!) but because S&B is one of the manufacturers which first recognized the needs of professional Long Range shooters and put together products [optimized to work well] in high stress environments. The features that are important are: First focal plane, MIL reticles and MIL turrets, plenty of adjustment and suitable magnification.

Note that S&B and Zeiss scopes are also available in the USA with MOA-based turrets and/or second focal plane (SFP) reticles, for those shooters who prefer the MOA system, and SFP. A first focal plane reticle is best for ranging, but a target shooter working at known distances will probably prefer a second focal plane reticle that doesn’t change in size with magnification.

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