S&B 5-45x 56mm PMII High Power FFP Scope
Schmidt & Bender is on an upswing. Long considered the gold standard when it comes to tactical scopes, the rate the Military is choosing them was to the detriment of the civilian market. I am happy to report all that is changing as S&B refocuses on the commercial side of things.
To recap, they have leveled off their prices, in many cases dropping them by as much as 14% – 19%. They streamlined their SKUs to help stocking dealers. S&B clarified their USA Warranty, confirming a limited 20-year transferrable warranty for everyone here in the States. The significant change, they are back to supporting the shooting community and embracing the competition circuit.
While the pressure put on them by the Military took away from the civilian market, the new products it made available to this market should not be overlooked. Soon we will see the Bluetooth Models hit the street that will link ballistic computer data to the optic for display. Very pricey, but that is the direction we are going.
S&B High Power Line
The High Power line was designed for the ELR requirements of the military. With sniper teams using the 338LM and 300NM, they wanted a scope to match the capabilities of the rifle. The precision sniper rifle or P.S.R. extended the range of the special operations sniper. It made sense to match the PSR rifle to an optic. S&B was fielding all of these requests. From the 5-25x PMII to the 5-20x Ultra Short, we now have the 3-20x Ultra Short for the military’s semi-automatic platform or what they call the CSASS. Each step in this evolution was lead by Schmidt & Bender.
Initially, you had the 3-27x High Power, with a wide field of view, and as much as 36 Mils of adjustment depending on the turrets ordered. Shortly after, USSOCOM pushed S&B towards 5-45x High Power, the subject of this review.
Right off the bat, the S&B 5-45x is not an “every man” scope. The average price is about $5400.00 depending on the options ordered. So if that scares or offends you, I recommend you stop reading and just look at the pictures before moving on. Unfortunately, this is the direction we are going. $3000 is no longer high end; those are mid-priced optics today. $5000-$6000 is now the top end of the scope market. You can spec out a 5-45x that can tip the scale at $6300. More money if you invested in a Hensoldt 3-26x.
Still here, good, on to the Review.
Schmidt & Bender 5-45x56mm High Power
Normally I am not a guy who likes a lot of magnification. I am a field shooter, the majority of my work, even beyond 1000 yards is done between 12x and 18x. When I am using a 25x scope you can bet your next paycheck it is down in this magnification range. I only increase my magnification when shooting paper, and usually, that is pretty close in, 300 yards or less.
I was a bit skeptical about a 45x power “Tactical Scope.” Don’t get me wrong I see the benefit, particularly for searching and identifying targets. Open up the field of view, locate your target, zoom in and identify. Very rarely do you have scopes in this configuration capable of dialing enough elevation to get you past 1200 yards from a 100 yard zero. The High Power line from S&B solves this problem. I went from 100 yards to 1600 yards during this review.
The extra magnification does not limit the internal adjustment range which is common with other scopes. The 5-45x High Power has 27 Mils or in my case, 66 MOA of usable adjustment. We zeroed this optic at 100 yards on top of an Ashbury Precision Ordnance ASW300WM. This rifle features a 30MOA rail. After zeroing, I tested the adjustment range of the scope and indeed found 66MOA of usable adjustment. Generally speaking, depending on the turret configuration, S&B hides a lot more elevation under the hood. What this does is help keep the erector centered preventing blurring or shadowing on the ends of your adjustment range. Short answer, it keeps you off the bottom, so the sight picture remains consistent.
Ashbury Precision ASW300WM
The ASW300WM has a 30MOA rail on top. With most S&B scopes you can use a 45 MOA base. 45MOA will give you complete run of the internal adjustment. On the 30MOA with 66 MOA of adjustment, I can just reach 1 mile with the APO 300WM. In fact, using the 220gr RUAG ammo, I would need 65MOA to reach my 1 Mile target. Because of the conditions, I stopped at 1600 yards. Spotting my shots at 1600 yards was no problem using this scope. Even with a magnum, its eye box was generous enough to stay on target.
Something I would like to see S&B address is the markings on the scope. This model does not have anything indicating whether it is Mils or MOA. I almost defaulted to Mils until I saw how little 3 moved the scope when bore sighting it. 3 MOA doesn’t make near the impact of 3 Mils. I would recommend something on the capped turret of the windage at least. Speaking of Windage, I like the zero marking on the windage being at the 10 O’clock position. This minor change helps a lot, especially with a one piece mount. Most of the time they are in the way. Putting the windage zero a bit at a 45 degree (If you were looking at the scope from the side) helps see it. Like the song says, it’s the little things.
The 45x magnification range is pretty darn big. I can see the F-Class guys shooting paper with it, but field shooters tend to use much less. Still, there is next to no distortion when powering up. Of course, the more mirage or variations in the air you have, the more problems higher magnification give you, so powering down is the logical solution. The 5-45x would be a great crossover scope for guys who want to take their tactical rifles to their local F-Class matches.
Does it tunnel?
That is a silly question as I don’t know anyone who buys a high magnification scope only to shoot it on 5x. The masking in the field of view between 5x and 7x actually means you can stop on 7x instead of needing to go to 5x, but as the argument goes, they bought 5x so they want it. Even if that means they only use it out the living room window after opening the box. I can’t think of a single time since 2005 where I shot my 5-25x PMII below 8x. I don’t see this scope tunneling. It appears to me that the FOV continues to open up between 10x and 5x. The field of view is listed at 7.8 meters, and that seems to be changing the entire time as I do not see the mask in place. Let’s be logical here for a second, if you are that worried about it, get the 3-27x High Power.
Tall Target Testing
We did two kinds of “tall target” testing on this scope. The first was using the Sniper’s Hide Target. It’s limited in its travel but enough to see any problems. To combat this limitation, I use a 4ft level. The level is placed at 100 yards and is leveled to gravity when attached to the backer. This allows me to check the level on the reticle, a priority when setting up the scope. After that test, I can then run the reticle 48 inches to make sure it tracks true across the adjustment range.
The 5-45x High Power ran 185 clicks or 46.25 MOA. That gave me .26 inches per click. In total you have 48.1″ of adjustment noted, and honestly, that .1 is more a technicality than anything else.
My next test, to mount the scope on the Ashbury Precision Ordnance ASW 300WM. This rifle was verified and shot out to 1500 yards. Before today, it wore a Nightforce Beast, and a track was created in my TRASOL Ballistic Solver. The dope offered up by TRASOL has been trued and verified out to 1500. Switching scopes will let me see how everything compares. Using TRASOL, I converted the dope to MOA and shot.
The results speak for themselves. I was right back on target with monotonous ease.
Conditions for the day,
8-12 MPH Winds
I think it is fair to say; the S&B 5-45x passed every test one should ask of their optic.
Technical Data from Schmidt & Bender
The scope features a 34mm Main Tube, 56mm Objective. It has locking turrets like the Ultra Short Series and features a second rev indicator. The zero stop like other S&B turrets is set from the factory. The turrets have the MTC feature, so you have the heavy detent on the main MOA markings. The clicks are so audible you can hear it on the video.
Currently, there is a limit on the reticles available. Be sure to stop by the S&B website for details. I was using the MOA-Based P4FL reticle for this unit. I am a P4F fan, so it worked out perfect for me. More reticles are in the queue.
Here are the Technical Specs from S&B
I was not sure how I was going to feel about a 45x scope. It’s just not me on a personal level. However, I found this scope super easy to use. Hand holding it, the eye box on 45x is a bit tight but mounted; it was much easier to manage. At 25x I really like the sight picture, even at 30x I found it comfortable to shoot behind. Colorado has far to much heat and mirage to crank it all the way to 45x, but the picture through this scope is excellent.
The 5-45x High Power is a specialty optic. It’s not a run and gun scope and needs to be put in that context. I think it’s an excellent magnum rifle scope. The eye relief it more than enough I never had to sweat an ocular strike. It’s easy to get on target, and engage. I felt it was a bit overkill on a short action; I could not bring myself to writing this review if I was shooting it on a 6.5CM. The S&B product line is too diverse to go this route. I love the 5-20x Ultra Short on my AX308 SA.
With a high magnification range, I would like to see S&B come out with a throw level for the magnification ring. I could see myself moving that magnification a lot, locating and zooming in on targets. A throw level would help this action immensely.
I am a big S&B fan and have been since the early 2000s. I switched to S&B when everyone else was running Leupold Mk4s. To this day I still run my 4-16xs, as well as several 5-25xs. You will never lose moving to a Schmidt & Bender scope. The military recognizes this, and I have been an advocate of theirs for years now. In short, you can buy with confidence the 5-45x is an impressive optic.
Check out Mile High Shooting as they have an huge inventory of S&B scopes in-stock and ready to go.