The benchmark for optical quality in tactical rifle scopes has long been the Schmidt & Bender PM II. It wasn’t a hard choice for me choosing what optic to buy for my Sako TRG for long distance shooting. The repeatable easy to use turrets, alpha tier glass and simple reticles have been a draw card not only for me but for tactical and military units around the world. The 5-25×56 variant in particular has become a go to choice for many competitive shooters also looking for exceptional build quality and performance.
Price wise in the tactical optics world the PM II sits between the Nightforce ATACR and Steiner T6Xi. Recently in the bustling market of alpha class rifle scopes the Schmidt & Bender PM II series have gotten a little more competition with the introduction of Zero Compromise optics. Having used the PM II over the past 8 months in a variety of conditions, it’s given me a good understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
|Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56||Schmidt & Bender PM II 5-25×56||Steiner T6Xi 5-30×56|
|Click Value||.1 MRAD||.1 MRAD||.1 MRAD|
|29 MRAD||26 MRAD||26MRAD|
Schmidt & Bender are no strangers to creating high performing scopes and I was interested to see how well it held up. The PM II series are designed to withstand use in harsh environments but getting hands on with a scope really lets you get a feel for how its built. Whether you’re in a rapid fire stage or transitioning between various shooting positions, this scope is made to take a beating and still hold zero. I didn’t test it out underwater or in the freezer but it has been used regularly over the last 8 months in comps and alot of trips out west and at the local range.
Competitive events don’t always happen in sunny, calm weather under cover. For those rainy or foggy days, the PM II 5-25×56 is waterproof, fog-proof, and can handle varying temperature ranges without breaking a sweat. Made from a single piece of high quality aircraft grade aluminium, its designed to take hits from heavy recoil.
The 34mm main tube has a black finish which is slightly shinier than its more mat black counterparts in the Nightforce ATACR or Steiner T6Xi. There are other colour options available from Schmidt & Bender, including tan and even green in some PM II variants. The parallax adjustment knob is on the rear left side of the scope and compensation goes as close as 10m/11yd out to infinity. The turret is located near the magnification ring at the rear and has 11 settings and takes a CR 2032 battery.
It’s tough exterior does come with a higher weight of 1065g / 37.5oz. Keeping in mind the Schmidt & Bender PM II isn’t primarily a hunting scope but more designed for large military platforms or short trips by tactical units and benchrest shooters so the weight factor is less important than durability. The newly redesigned magnification ring on the PM II is made of solid aluminium, whereas the older version was a low profile plastic.
The new ring has deep grooves for a better grip and also allows the addition of a throw lever. It’s been easy to use and no issues with the amount of tension changing magnification. The diopter has also been redesigned to attach a polarization filter via a thread. The ribbed rim of the diopter adjustment also allows Tenebraex scope covers to be fitted which come standard with the PM II. If you have read any of my previous high end optic reviews you will know I am a big fan of these scope covers.
I have to start off by saying the hype I had heard on the glass quality in Schmidt & Bender optics is true. I was blown away by how impressive the sight picture is the first time I took it to the range, it is hands down the best glass in any high end rifle scope I have ever used.
The 5-25×56 magnification range brings a good balance of wide field-of-view at the lower end and a detailed high magnification view at the higher end. But it’s not just about magnification it’s about the clarity of the lenses. The lens quality and coatings used are German made SCHOTT HT lenses that ensure the bright, clear, and sharp image regardless of the magnification level I am on. Some other high end optics I have used suffer at lower magnifications, where chromatic aberration creeps in.
Colours through the scope are true to life without any noticeable change. Shooting in the late afternoon as the suns fading the PM II maintains great light transmission thanks to its large 56mm objective lens. The contrast is high and difficult to differentiate between other higher end optics I have such as the impressive Japanese glass in Maven Optics.
The most noticeable feature of the glass is the high resolution which continues to impress me when running the scope on higher magnifications. It was hard work trying to induce any major chromatic aberration around the edges of the scope, the lack of CA and the optical performance really drives home where your money is going in this scope.
There’s something deeply satisfying about turret clicks that feel tactile and precise and at this price point I had high expectations for the turrets on the PM II. Overall they are not too mushy and not too stiff. Compared to the Nightforce ATACR, Steiner T6Xi and Leupold Mk5, the turrets are the best ones I have used yet. The turrets are easy to adjust with very little play and offer great audible clicks. For those who prefer dialing more than using holdovers these turrets are a pleasure to use.
One of the standout features of the PM II 5-25×56 has to be these turrets. Designed for tactical applications, they offer tactile feedback with distinct and audible clicks. With both double-turn and multi-turn elevation turret options, you can dial in the exact range needed for those distance shots. The presence of a zero-stop ensures you can return to your original zero without any second guessing. Moreover, Schmidt & Bender scopes are also available with the MTC (More Tactile Clicks) feature, where every 10th click is more pronounced, ensuring you don’t lose your count if dialing with limited light.
The double turn elevation turret is one of our most popular turret designs on the market. It provides a visible rotational indicator showing when the turret is onto the second rotation. The indicator changes colour during the transition to the second rotation from black to yellow, which corresponds to the yellow font on the turret. My PM II is in MRAD where adjustments are made in 0.1 MRAD adjustments. There is a total of 26 MRAD of elevation adjustment and + / – 6 MRAD for windage.
Running Hornady Match ammo through the Sako TRG 22 A1 6.5 Creedmoor I have had no problems with tracking when dialing adjustments up and down. I tend to prefer dialing over holdover so the turrets have been getting a workout dialing from 100m out to 1000m. The adjustments have been super accurate over the past 8 months with no differences in point of impact when frequently returning to zero for both elevation and windage.
Competitive and tactical shooting is all about speed and accuracy. The reticles available with this scope are designed with that in mind. Whether you’re tracking a moving target or trying to get those precision shots, the reticle patterns help you make quick and informed decisions. Lucky for me the PM II is available in my favorite reticle, the Finnish designed MSR2. The simple design of the crosshair can be used by beginners, advanced shooters and professionals with a milling scale included.
Schmidt & Bender understands that one size doesn’t fit all. Depending on the model, the PM II 5-25×56 offers a huge choice of reticles. Whether you’re a fan of the P4LF, Tremor3, or the MSR2, there’s a reticle tailored for your specific shooting needs. The PM II is available with the following reticles: GRID, H59, LRR-MIL, MSR2, P4FL, PFFL-MOA, P5FL and Tremor3.
The Schmidt and Bender PM II is a lot of scope for the money. It is truly one of the best scopes you can buy anywhere in the world and a great piece of kit for long distance shooting. There is a reason they are in such widespread military and law enforcement use around the work, it has earned its reputation with crystal clear glass, great light transmission and reticle options. The majority of high end scopes you will come across in today’s market strive to reach the PM II’s level of durability, optical quality, repeatability and performance.
Its worth noting that the PM II comes in a large number of magnification variants including 1-8×24, 3-12×50, 3-12×54, 3-20×50, 3-27×56, 6-36×56, 5-45×56.