David vs. Goliath, East vs. West… the analogies abound, but my goal here is to evaluate these FFP high erector, high magnification juggernauts to find out how they perform and what benefits or drawbacks you can expect to see from the two different designs. The Schmidt & Bender requires no introduction as it has served as the “elite class” of sport optics for many years and while March has been around for a number of years as well, this boutique Japanese manufacturer has most of its loyalists from the F Class division and is wanting to make a bigger impact in the FFP market. This new scope represents the first FFP scope using their new High Master glass.
Please keep in mind that while I try to evaluate each scope based on its own merits, I am human and am prone to err at times. This review is not intended to be exhaustive as both these scopes are on loan and I only have limited time to evaluate. My goal with this review is to evaluate mechanical functionality which is different from mechanical accuracy, you should always conduct your own tests to ensure mechanical accuracy when you purchase a scope.
The very first difference is immediately obvious in the image above, once you pull them from the package, the Schmidt is ginormous while the March is smaller than many 5-25 scopes today (hence the David vs. Goliath reference) and while one might immediately gravitate towards the shorter scope there are some pros and cons which are discussed later on when combining high magnification erectors with short body (or short focal length) designs.
Keep in mind this evaluation is based on my own personal observations based on what my eyes “see” when looking through the scope. My eyes are very sensitive to CA for example while some people cannot or have difficulty seeing CA when looking through the same scope. The point is that everyone’s eyes are different, and my observations will undoubtedly be different from others. That being said I try to be as objective as possible but, like all of us, do have my bias’s but try my best to keep my reviews as unbiased as I can. It should also be noted that I am not paid by anyone to do these reviews, this started years ago on Snipers Hide when I was trying to choose a light weight tactical scope that performed well in low light situations, recommendations covered high and low and ultimately I decided the only way to know for sure was to get all the scopes that fell within my criteria and see for myself (personal observation), sure I lost some money in it, but had decided that was worth the cost vs. getting a scope that ultimately would not satisfy my requirements.
I would like to thank March scopes in Japan for providing the March 5-42×56 High Master scope and Eurooptic.com for providing the Schmidt & Bender 5-45×56 High Power for this review. If either of these scopes interest you I recommend checking them out at Eurooptic using the following links:
The below specs are provided by the manufacturers which makes a good baseline of what these scopes offer.
As mentioned previously, the most notable difference comes in size, the Schmidt represents the traditional “long” scope design while the March represents the newer trend of “short” scope designs. But other areas of note are:
- Weight: The Schmidt is a half-pound heavier
- Field of view (FOV): March uses a 26° wide angle eyepiece offering greater FOV throughout the magnification range
- Turret Clicks: Schmidt uses .05 mil clicks while March uses .1 mil clicks
- Total Elevation Adjustment: March offers 13 mils more total elevation
- Close focus distance: Schmidt has a decent 30m while March offers down to 10 yards
One other area of note is that while March is using mrad (milliradian) for the gradation values (like most other scopes in this class), Schmidt is using CM (centimeter) value; the clicks and values can be converted to the same, but you have to divide the Schmidt’s numbers by 10 in order to get the mrad equivalent – so 5 becomes .5 mrad and 60 becomes 6 mrad and so forth. Another reason why I do not like this method of measurement is that it gives the impression that the click value is linear when in fact it is angular – it serves to confuse between inches and centimeters vs. mrad and moa which are completely different.
As I mentioned above this review does not cover the accuracy of each scope but covers the functionality – since any manufacturer is capable of producing a lemon it’s always a good idea to test your scope to ensure its accuracy.
Schmidt & Bender DT II+ turrets
This is my first experience with the new Schmidt DT II+ and having used both the standard PM II turrets and Ultra Short turrets in the past, Schmidt has knocked this one out of the park, not just in terms of feel but with very little to no play and very distinct clicks. While the Schmidt offers only 6 mrad per revolution, each click is actually only .05 mrad in spacing so you are getting the same amount of clicks per rev as a standard turret with 12 mrad per rev, so while each click is half as fine as the standard .1 mrad turret the spacing is still very manageable. I believe Schmidt’s ultimate goal with this scope is the ELR crowd and when shooting 2000+ yards the finer adjustments will come in handy especially if dialing for wind. One other type of shooting both the magnification and finer adjustments will come in handy for is rimfire competition, but the sheer size of this scope will intimidate any short barreled rimfire rifle. The added benefit of the DT II+ system is you have a lever for both elevation and windage that allows 3 settings: Locked, Unlocked with MTC and Unlocked without MTC (for those who may not know, MTC stands for More Tactile Clicks which means every full mrad value the click is stiffer than the rest providing a “more tactile” response). When in the locked position there is no play or movement in the turret. It should be noted that I had issue with previous generation MTC turrets, the full mil stronger click was so strong it would cause me to inadvertently overtravel by .1-.2 clicks coming out or going back which if I had a solution of 5.1 mils I would overtravel to 5.2 or 5.3 and would then have to dial back causing delay; however, the DT II+ MTC has rectified that and feels like the ideal weight without having to jump forward to get out of the full mrad value. Someone at Schmidt has been paying attention! The turrets are very tall but fit well ergonomically with the overall size of the scope and the top of the housing has a lighthouse window which displays the number for the revolution you are currently on. The Schmidt turrets are non-translatable which means the turret does not rise or fall when spinning through the different revolutions – I tend to prefer this method. I would rate these turrets as the best yet from Schmidt and Bender and arguably close to Tangent Theta in quality.
March FFP High Master turrets
When I first heard I was going to get the opportunity to test the new March 5-42×56 High Master I was mostly looking forward to seeing how this new “High Master” glass looked compared to previous March glass. Having reviewed the March 3-24×42 and 3-24×52 FFP scopes previously and being impressed with the glass and build quality coming from Japan I was anxious to see what improvements they could make, but what I was not expecting was the quality of the new locking turrets provided with the new March scope. The turrets available on the 3-24 left much to be desired but get the job done, landing on their appropriate marks consistently but with a bit of play followed by a mushy feeling. The new turrets leave the play and mushiness in the dust and offer one of the nicest and most distinct clicks I’ve felt in a long range scope; click values come in the standard .1 mrad per click and 10 mrads per turn. Not only are the clicks superb but you’ll also notice the face of both the elevation and windage turrets which share a lever with a blue and red dot, blue means unlocked and red means lock and one flip of the switch to locked and there is no play, no movement whatsoever, the turret is frozen in time until you move it back. The turrets are of the translatable kind which means the turret housing itself will rise and fall depending on the direction you spin the turret; my preference is for non-translatable turrets but this is more personal preference as both do the same thing. On the flip side of the windage turret comes an anomaly with the inclusion of a locking mechanism for the parallax wheel, I have not seen a great need from the community asking for this feature but it is there nonetheless in case you are one of the few who find yourself accidentally bumping your parallax out of alignment. The final unique feature about this turret design is the zero stop which March is calling “0-set” and is done using a hex key at the top of the elevation turret, a novel approach – after you reset zero using the side hex bolts, you can set your zero stop anywhere you’d like but it is a tension stop and not a mechanical stop in that if you really crank the turret hard you can move past the stop point; for those who rely on predictable zero stop in low light situations this may be something that takes some getting used to.
Turret Mechanical Assessment criteria (rating 1-10 with 1 being worst and 10 being best):
Turret Click Spacing – Advantage March: March – 10 | Schmidt – 9
This is more or less a personal preference, but my hand feels better with wider spacing. Tangent Theta is the best I have felt from a 15 mil per rev turret while the Nightforce has one of the best 12 mil turrets in the ATACR series and the Schmidt DT II+ aligns with the ATACR as some of the best 120 click per rev turrets, but I must admit I think I like the new March turrets best of all with the distinct clicks of each .1 mil value and 10 mil per rev spacing. The Schmidt is not far behind though giving up very little to the feel and functionality of the March.
Turret Click Feel – Advantage March: March – 10 | Schmidt – 9
This can be very subjective, but I am drawn to more distinct click sounds with very little play between marks, the March has very distinct clicks with very little play, the Schmidt is slightly less distinct with slightly tighter spacing but very little play.
Turret Alignment – Advantage Schmidt: March – 9 | Schmidt – 10
Both Schmidt and March turrets aligned perfectly through my testing running the turret out to the extreme and back. Because of the March’s translatable design, it does rise pretty high above the center mark which gives a slight perception you are off mark if your eye is not perfectly centered.
Turret Reset Zero and Zero Stop – Tie: March – 8 | Schmidt – 8
In order to reset zero on both scopes you have to loosen the side hex bolts on the turret housing, then spin the turret to align zero and re-tighten, this is typical of most long range scopes today and is only bested by the toolless design of the Tangent Theta turrets. Schmidt comes with a factory preset zero stop while March offers the hex key adjustable zero stop mechanism. I wish more manufacturers would come out with toolless designs or offer a convenient hex key in the turret housing like Kahles. There is definitely room for improvement from all manufacturers.
Turret Locking Mechanism – Advantage Schmidt: March – 9 | Schmidt – 10
Both Schmidt and March offer a locking mechanism, the Schmidt places theirs at the back of each turret while March places theirs on the top of each turret. Both are rock solid when in the locked position but the Schmidt offers one feature the March does not have with the MTC option.
Total Travel Adjustment – Advantage March: March – 10 | Schmidt – 8
For an ELR scope the Schmidt seems to be shortchanged a bit in the elevation department, especially with other scopes from the manufacturer offering 35 mrad of travel, the 5-45 only has 27 mrad of travel; however, at .05 mrad per click it is double the clicks of traditional .1 mrad click scopes. The March on the other hand offers a class leading 40 mrad of elevation which is going to be appreciated by the ELR crowd. On the windage side the March offers over double the travel of the Schmidt with 14.8 mrad of travel vs. Schmidt’s 6 mrad.
Overall Turret Mechanical Assessment – Advantage March: March – 56 | Schmidt – 54 (60 points possible)
Both the Schmidt & Bender DT II+ and new March High Master turrets offer superb mechanical design, fit and finish on both are outstanding and worthy of alpha class categorization. I would rank these turrets as among the best available today. It should be noted that the Schmidt has the windage zero offset at the 11 o’clock position instead of the 9 o’clock position, this does make it a little difficult to identify where true zero is if you dial elevation, if you hold elevation it may not be that big of a deal.
Mag Ring, Parallax, Diopter and Illumination Mechanical Assessment criteria (rating 1-10 with 1 being worst and 10 being best):
Magnification Ring Movement – Advantage March: March – 9 | Schmidt – 8
While the Schmidt boasts a greater 9x magnification range vs. 8.4x on the March, the magnification throw is much wider and my particular model exhibited a slight rough feel while the March throw was shorter and very smooth throughout the entire range. Of note is that the Schmidt increases magnification in a CCW direction while the March is the opposite in the CW direction.
Parallax knob Movement – Tie: March – 9 | Schmidt – 9
Both March and Schmidt exhibited very smooth parallax adjustment, March has a locking mechanism on the parallax which is a first I’ve seen and the jury is still out on whether or not this is actually a benefit.
Parallax Adjustment – Advantage Schmidt: March – 7 | Schmidt – 9
Schmidt has numbers marked while March has a symbol indicating smaller to larger. Schmidt had more forgiving parallax when transitioning between objects both far and near while the March had to be “fine-tuned” in order to correct for parallax. One must be aware that parallax correction does not always equate to an in-focus image so time was taken to ensure parallax was correctly adjusted for.
Diopter Adjustment – Advantage March: March – 9 | Schmidt – 8
Both the March and the Schmidt offer a “fast focus” diopter allowing for quicker adjustments, March offers a threaded locking mechanism to help keep the adjustment from moving after being set.
Illumination Dial – Advantage March: March – 9 | Schmidt – 7
Schmidt still uses an illumination tumor that is separate from the turret housing while almost every other manufacturer has gone to putting the illumination settings in line with the parallax adjustment. March is using a rubber cover over a push button for on/off functionality with numbers 1-6 on the dial while Schmidt uses a rheostat style to go from off to full power.
Overall Mag Ring, Parallax, Diopter and Illumination Mechanical Assessment – Advantage March: March – 43 | Schmidt – 41 (50 points possible)
Both the Schmidt & Bender DT II+ and new March High Master turrets offer superb mechanical design, fit and finish on both are outstanding and worthy of alpha class categorization. I would rank these turrets as among the best available today.
One of the most difficult areas to ascertain with any manufacturer is the quality of glass they use in a given scope model, or rather, how the image looks to the shooters eye when viewing the FOV through the scope. Traditionally when it comes to optics one generally “gets what they pay for” and hence the higher end optics tend to have the higher end prices; however, with new design technologies we’ve seen some scopes punch above their weight class. It is impossible to take images through the scope to show the quality of the image to the naked eye, this is because any image taking system also has its own lens system which introduces its own optical aberrations and if the system is better aligned on one scope verses another it may throw off values, so you will not see any through the scope images because I do not want to skew opinion based on IQ of one image over another. So for this evaluation I took meticulous notes based on my naked eye observations under as best controlled conditions I could get outdoors.
Optical Assessment criteria (rating 1-10 with 1 being worst and 10 being best):
Resolution (Center) – Advantage March: March – 9 | Schmidt – 8
Looking through both scopes at distance (1000 yards) you are often dealing with atmospherics that can wreak havoc for any optical system, both these scopes performed very well out to 1000 yards, so well that I had to throw up my resolution chart and evaluate line resolution at close range so atmospherics had minimal effect, when testing in these conditions the center resolution victor became clear, the March was able to resolve about 10% better than the Schmidt throughout the magnification range above 10x.
Resolution (Edge) – Advantage Schmidt: March – 7 | Schmidt – 9
The Schmidt had the clear advantage in edge to edge sharpness throughout the magnification range. The sweet spot for the Schmidt appeared to be in the 5-20x magnification range while the sweet spot for the March was between 20-25x. March is utilizing a brand new 26° wide angle eyepiece that offers and HD viewing experience similar to the ZCO with very thin outer edges while looking through the scope, but as a result of this wide angle design one of the effects is the edge distortion which is apparent throughout the magnification range – one of the drawbacks to such enormous FOV and a tradeoff the shooter will have to decide.
Color/Contrast – Advantage March: March – 10 | Schmidt – 8
When I bought my March 3-24×52 I currently owned a Schmidt ultra short 5-20 and was surprised to find the March, with its 8x erector design, faired very well in color/contrast to the Schmidt’s 4x erector design. Likewise, with the new High Master scope I was surprised to see that the March does very well with maintaining contrast and color and doing so better than the Schmidt up until 25x, at 20x the Schmidt exhibited what appeared to be flare while the March in the same conditions held a very strong image, at 25x and higher both scopes showed increased degradation in color and contrast.
Chromatic Aberrations (CA) – Advantage Schmidt: March – 7 | Schmidt – 9
A hotly debated topic – CA, which is typically seen at the edges between high and low contrast objects in what is termed as fringing and usually comes in a band of color along the green/yellow and magenta/purple spectrum, some are greatly annoyed by this optical anomaly while others insist they cannot see it, one thing to know is it has nothing to do with your ability to hit a target but can affect the clarity of the target. One situation I noticed is that while the March maintained excellent control over center CA I was able to observe more CA towards the edges, I believe this may have to do more with the wide angle eyepiece due to the curvature of the lens – sacrifice a bit of CA and sharpness to gain greater FOV is the tradeoff here. One other area is CA sensitivity with lateral movement off the center of the scope, you can quickly induce CA in these situations which are often rectified by proper cheekweld/eye placement behind the center of the scope. Up to 15x both scopes handled CA very well both center and edge, but above 15x the Schmidt showed better control of edge CA most likely due to the more traditional (longer) scope tube and resulting optical formula. The March suffered most with edge CA and some CA in certain conditions were observable around the black reticle and numbers.
Depth of Field (DOF) – Advantage Schmidt: March – 7 | Schmidt – 9
The Schmidt has extraordinary DOF, objects outside of the plane of focus maintain sharpness and detail for quite a distance, the March is not as forgiving and has to be dialed a lot more with finesse of the parallax wheel – fine adjustments are necessary and both ends of the magnification range with the sweet spot coming between 20-25x offering the most forgiveness. With the Schmidt it wasn’t until about 30x that DOF began to fall off some.
Field of View (FOV) – Advantage March: March – 10 | Schmidt – 9
For the longest time the scopes that boasted some of the widest FOV have been the Optronika inspired class of 5-25×56 scopes (e.g. Tangent Theta, Minox ZP5 and Premier Heritage) but when Schmidt introduced the 5-45×56 a few years ago it took the crown in the long range scope market, but the new March 5-42×56 High Master with its 26° eyepiece is the new king of the hill. Even the new Nightforce NX8 and Burris XTR III series with their impressive FOV numbers can’t really compete leaving the March in a category unto its own. Outside of the specs which offer FOV numbers at the low and high magnification settings, at 15x I was able to determine on both scopes how many mils could be viewed. The following numbers are from center so to get the full FOV value just multiply x2:
|Mag||March 5-42||Schmidt 5-45|
|15x||15.5 mrad||13.7 mrad|
|20x||11.7 mrad||10.2 mrad|
|25x||9.5 mrad||8.4 mrad|
|30x||7.8 mrad||6.9 mrad|
|35x||6.7 mrad||5.9 mrad|
|42x||5.5 mrad||5.0 mrad|
Eyebox – Tie: March – 8 | Schmidt – 8
I have seen varied definitions of eyebox in the community, so to be clear, here is my definition which will help you understand what I’m looking for – put simply, eyebox is the ability to be able to quickly obtain a clear sight picture when getting behind a scope. Both the March and the Schmidt showed decent eyebox forgiveness through about 30x with both getting more finicky at higher magnifications. The March seemed to have a slight edge in eyebox forgiveness around 25x.
Twilight Transmission (low light performance) – advantage March: March – 8 | Schmidt – 7
To be honest, I did not spend much time with these scopes in low light situations but both of them showed impressive results after the sun went down, the March seemed to maintain a slight bit more color fidelity while both scopes were “bright” when magnification was set appropriately.
Overall Optical Assessment – Advantage Schmidt: March – 66 | Schmidt – 67 (80 points possible)
The Schmidt has a brilliant image from edge to edge with excellent color and contrast while the March has some edge distortion but makes up for it with higher center resolution and brilliant color, possibly the best color/contrast I’ve seen. The Schmidt manages CA slightly better while the March offers enormous FOV throughout the magnification range. The Schmidt has very forgiving DOF while the March is more finicky requiring a lot more adjustment of the side focus setting. The Goldilocks zone (superb optical performance) for the Schmidt was between 5-20x while the March was between 20-25x during my testing.
Special Note on Resolution: As mentioned previously the center resolution between both scopes appeared very close during my normal testing so I decided to throw up my resolution chart at close range (to minimize atmospheric interference) and see how many lines my eyes could differentiate before they blended together, as you can see in the chart below as you move from left to right the lines get closer together, with each scope I would place the optical center/crosshair where the lines began to blur together and I would note which section that occurred.
The results were surprising because the March was the clear winner at every magnification, and you’ll notice there was some falloff with the Schmidt above 30x where resolution actually dropped with 35x exhibiting the worst performance throughout the range. So I had to ask myself why, during normal testing, did it appear the Schmidt may have been sharper and I believe that because the Schmidt has better edge to edge sharpness it tricked my eyes into thinking the overall image was as sharp or sharper than the March. I think further testing is necessary with equipment beyond what I have available to me to more accurately assess the lp/mm but the below chart shows what I saw with my eyes; keep in mind these are indicative of the units I had on hand and sample variance could have an effect on results for your individual scope.
|Mag||March 5-42||Schmidt 5-45|
|15x||40-45 lp/mm||35-40 lp/mm|
|20x||50 lp/mm||40-45 lp/mm|
|25x||60 lp/mm||50 lp/mm|
|30x||60 lp/mm||50 lp/mm|
|35x||70 lp/mm||40 lp/mm|
|40x||60-70 lp/mm||45-50 lp/mm|
RETICLE & ILLUMINATION
One of the most important choices one can make in a long range scope today is the reticle, this is, after all, what you will see every single time you bring the scope to your eye so it’s important to make sure that it fits the needs or your shooting style. That being said, reticle selection or preference is extremely subjective and saying Brand X reticle is “the best” is like saying “Brand X vanilla ice cream is the best” – we all have different tastes and the good news is that there are many, many options available to the long range community. With this in mind, my ratings below should be taken with a grain of salt because they are based on MY preference, but I will explain what I like and why, which should help you understand if it might be something you would like or not like even though I may have a differing opinion.
Reticle & Illumination Assessment criteria (rating 1-10 with 1 being worst and 10 being best):
Reticle Usability – Advantage March: March – 10 | Schmidt – 7
The reticle in the March is their new FML-TR1 which is a superb design created by none other than the Dark Lord of Optics himself. The reticle provided in the Schmidt is their new LRR-MIL design. Both are a newer .2 mil hash design with the TR1 offering a Christmas tree and the LRR with no tree but a ranging grid. The LRR-MIL is thin, we’re talking very thin, thinner than the SCR2 Mil reticle in the new Burris XTR III which I thought was too thin, the center dot all but disappears unless the background is a solid light color, like a target painted white. I do not like the sentences written in the reticle and the ranging grid takes up a lot of space. Reticle was unusable below 15x. The FML-TR1 on the other hand has become my favorite reticle, everything is based off .2 mil distance, even the gaps so you always know it’s .2 mil. When I first saw the specs for the reticle, I was worried the center would be too thick, but it is ideal in my book offering the perfect balance and allowing it to be usable even at 5x. The Christmas tree is made up of small dots and practically disappears if you’re not using it which is how I prefer tree reticles.
Illumination Color and Brightness – Advantage Schmidt: March – 6 | Schmidt – 8
Both scopes offer red illumination as the only option. Schmidt has always had lackluster performance when it comes to brightness, but sufficient for low light engagements, previous March scopes have been about on par with neither offering a “daylight” bright reticle. But that has changed with the Schmidt 5-45, this is the brightest illumination I’ve seen from the German manufacturer and is usable during daylight, while the March has improved on previous performance but still does not deliver a daylight bright illumination out of their module, although it is ample for low light situations. Both scopes did not exhibit any noticeable bleed in very low light but both designs only illuminate the very center cross of the design.
Overall Reticle & Illumination Assessment – Advantage March: March – 16 | Schmidt – 15 (20 points possible)
The Schmidt LRR-Mil seems optimized for purely ELR and/or rimfire work where precision is of utmost importance, for me personally I found the reticle to be too thin in almost every situation. The FML-TR1 on the other hand feels at home for just about any situation, the center may be a bit too think for some tastes with ELR or if you shoot .17 caliber primarily but one benefit is that once you move out of the center (like you would if holding wind) the rest of the reticle is more thin. My personal opinion is that the FML-TR1 is the best crossover reticle I’ve seen yet and by crossover, I mean it is as much at home on a competition long range rifle as it is on a hunting rig whereas the LRR-Mil I would never consider for a hunting application.
Overall Ergonomic Assessment – Advantage March: March – 9 | Schmidt – 7 (10 points possible)
Schmidt continues to excel with traditional designs in long range scopes, clearly they have some of the best glass and best fit and finish of any scope on the market; however, the “long” scope is getting just that… putting a scope the size of a baseball bat on your rifle is falling out of favor especially with the competition crowd; the newer shorter scope designs are beginning to take hold within the marketplace and the March offers almost the same magnification while reducing size and weight considerably. Schmidt really needs to get rid of that illumination tumor and free up more space on the tube for mounting options and while the new DT II+ turrets are the best from Schmidt to date the overall ergonomic winner is March with its short body and astonishingly good locking turrets, the scope looks at home on any rifle from short covert styles to the beastly ELR rigs.
FIT & FINISH
Overall Fit & Finish Assessment – Advantage Schmidt: March – 8.5 | Schmidt – 9 (10 points possible)
As good as the March is in overall craftsmanship, and it is superb… the best I’ve seen from Japan, earning it a spot in the ranks of alpha class scopes that are dominated by European craftsmanship, I do have to give the nod to Schmidt & Bender with overall fit and finish. Quality reeks from this scope everywhere you look, the smoothness of each mechanical feature, the precise fit of every single part abounds with the precision that German manufacturing is known for. All that being said March has their own set of impeccable crafts-men and women who are hand assembling each and every scope, if Schmidt gets a 9 then March is hot on their heals with an 8.5, we are truly splitting hairs when it comes to the fit and finish of each of these scopes – as it should be with the alpha class.
Overall Price Assessment – Advantage March: March – 7 | Schmidt – 5 (10 points possible)
Most knowledgeable shooters are aware that the alpha class of sport optics is not cheap, you’re guaranteed to pay in the thousands for these top quality optics, but the March and Schmidt scopes really push the wallet to the limit. MSRP for the March comes in at $4200 while the Schmidt is at $5650! Street price you can expect to pay less, check with eurooptic.com for the best price available.
Final Score – Advantage March: March – 205.5 | Schmidt – 198 (out of 240 possible points)
The final results are very close and I could easily see any one shooter choosing one scope over the other. But at the end of the day the March just has so much going for it: less expensive, shorter, lighter, more ergonomic with superb turrets, High Master glass with amazing color/contrast and outstanding center resolution with an industry leading FOV, and throw in a fantastic new reticle in the FML-TR1. The Schmidt bests the March in several areas including edge to edge sharpness, overall fit and finish, MTC clicks DOF and forgiving parallax. The Schmidt also separates itself by being a dedicated ELR or rimfire scope while the March seems to be more of a “one size fits all” design that can find its home on just about any rifle out there. If the features of the Schmidt suit your fancy more than March you won’t find an argument from me, but if the March finds its way into your heart with all it offers I think you will be pleasantly surprised and at over $1400 less your wallet will be thanking you as well.
Areas of Improvement
The first item that comes to mind is for March to design non-translatable turrets, that is – turrets that do not rise and fall as you spin them up or down. Move the zero set hex key under the locking lever to protect debris from hindering operation. Get an illumination module like so many other new scopes that have excellent low light quality with no bleed but also bright enough to be used when the sun is out. Find that Goldilocks zone between magnification and scope length which allows for much more forgiving DOF and parallax.
Get rid of the illumination tumor already! A PM III series with shortened bodies (doesn’t have to be ultra short short) for many of their long range scopes (e.g. 5-25, 3-27 and 5-45) would be welcomed. The LRR-Mil reticle falls short in some areas and the GR2ID reticle is a bit too busy for some, it would behoove Schmidt to send some of their German engineers designing these to the good ol’ US of A and get input from the PRS/NRL crowd. There’s a reason why the Kahles SKMR series, the ZCO MPCT series, the Nightforce Mil-C/XT and Tangent Theta’s new Gen 3XR have captured so many competitors hearts. Years ago Minox accomplished this feat with the MR4 and now March with the FML-TR1 – it is time for Schmidt to finally get it right when it comes to a good .2 mil Christmas tree reticle that’s not too thin and not too busy.
About the author:
Bill has been around firearms since he was a young boy and enjoys shooting for fun as well as hiking around the Rocky Mountains in search of big game. Bill was a professional wedding and portrait photographer for over 17 years which gave him his obsession for good “glass” and translates into his pursuit for the perfect scope (which he’ll readily tell you does not exist). Bill served in the US Army in the late 80’s and in 2012 he caught the long range bug and began having custom precision rifles built, as well as building some AR platform rifles himself. Bill’s passion for shooting has driven him to find gear which will best serve his shooting style and he enjoys sharing the knowledge he picks up along the way with other sportsmen.