Despite the current trend for diminutive optics, Mat Manning reckons that big can still be beautiful after putting the MTC King Cobra through its paces.
Although super-compact scopes are very much in fashion at present, there are times when bigger really is better. That’s certainly the case when it comes to getting a good view of something; if you want proof, ask yourself when you last heard someone bragging about how small their television screen is.
The same applies to riflescopes, and it stands to reason that it’s far easier, and more affordable, to cram high-end features and performance into a large package than a tiny one.
I found myself guilty of setting up with a scope that was a bit on the small side for what I was doing a few months ago. Out on the range testing the performance of slug ammo at longer than usual ranges, I decided to set up with my usual MTC Mamba Lite scope.
MTC King Cobra: specification
FROM: MTC OPTICS (www.mtcoptics.com)
MODEL: King Cobra 6-24×50 F1
FOV AT 100m: 5.2m to 1.3m
TUBE DIAMETER: 30mm
OBJECTIVE LENS: 50mm
RETICLE: SCB2 (with adjustable illumination)
TURRET ADJUSTMENT: 0.1 MIL (1cm at 100m)
EYE RELIEF: 86mm
PARALLAX: side dial down to 10m
FEATURES: first focal plane reticle, large zoom range, flip-up lens covers
This is a brilliant optic, and has earned itself the status of being my go-to scope for 90 per cent of my shooting, but I did find its 12x magnification to be a bit short of what I needed to ensure precise shot placement beyond 100m.
This month’s test scope would have been a far more appropriate choice for my long-range trials. The MTC King Cobra 6-24×50 F1 is a serious optic, and just the sort of kit you need when you start to really stretch the distance. It is packed with features to enhance long-range precision and retails for £426 – a surprisingly modest price for such a well-appointed scope.
As its majestic moniker suggests, the King Cobra is no tiddler; it measures 365mm from end to end and weighs about 750g. Typical of MTC, it is very solidly constructed, nitrogen-purged and is also waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. This scope is anything but delicate and is built to withstand heavy use in proper field conditions.
What you need and what you don’t when it comes to aiming points is a very subjective matter, and depends on personal preference and the sort of shooting you intend to do.
The King Cobra is equipped with MTC’s SCB2 (Small Calibre Ballistic MK2) multi-aimpoint reticle, which I think is pretty close to being a perfect all-rounder.
This versatile reticle provides numerous different reference points to compensate for the effect that wind and gravity have on a pellet’s downrange journey without being too complicated. The extended vertical element is a really nice touch as it gives you extra capacity for holdover, which is all-important for long-range shooting.
The F1 in this scope’s name denotes that the reticle is in the first focal plane, which means its proportional relationship with the target remains the same when you wind the zoom up and down.
The advantage with this is that your aim points won’t shift if you increase or decrease magnification. So, if you work out holdover and holdunder on the range using 10x magnification, the reference points you use to compensate for the rise and fall of the pellet or slug remain the same if you shift to 6x or 24x magnification, or anything in between.
A problem that can be encountered with first focal plane scopes is the reticle being too tiny to be usable on very low magnification and too thick to allow really precise shot placement when the zoom is wound right up.
Although extremely fine, this one is sufficiently clear to be usable at 6x and also remains slender enough not to mask distant targets when cranked right up to 24x.
A fast-focus eyepiece means you can quickly get the reticle pin-sharp, and the central element can even be illuminated red. This is a really handy feature for improving the visibility of the crosshair against difficult backgrounds and in low-light conditions at dawn and dusk, when a plain black crosshair can easily get lost against the target.
A neat and easily accessible dial next to the parallax wheel switches the illuminated reticle on and off, and enables you to select between six levels of brightness.
The side parallax wheel means that you can quickly dial out parallax error and keep the image sharp from 10m to infinity. It can also be used for rangefinding on higher magnification settings.
The high mag reduces the depth of field, and you simply turn the wheel until the target snaps into focus and then read off the distance on the dial.
Being able to crank the magnification right up to 24x is a real asset when taking on targets at distance, but this scope isn’t just for long-range shooting.
Because you are able to focus down to just 10m and turn down the zoom to as little as 6x, you also have the benefit of a very sharp picture and decent field of view for close-range work such as ratting.
Another feature of the King Cobra F1 that really impressed me was the design of its windage and elevation turrets. They’re finger adjustable, and you simply lift them to turn with positive clicks before pushing them down to lock back in place.
Each stop amounts to 1cm of adjustment at 100m, so you’d need to dial in four clicks to move the point of impact 1cm at 25m. The turrets can be reset and, despite being pretty chunky, they’re actually quite low profile so shouldn’t get in the way of scope-mounted accessories like night vision units or phone/camera-mounting brackets such as the SideShot.
Apart from being packed with features, this scope also boasts surprisingly good quality glass for its price point. The picture has good contrast and is bright and clear right to the edges. The 30mm tube assists with light transmission, as does the large 50mm multi-coated objective lens which evidently allows in plenty of light.
The King Cobra F1 comes supplied with flip-up magnetic lens covers, which are very handy. The rear one even has a magnifier to help you read the parallax dial – a unique feature but one I could easily live without.
A sunshade and oversize parallax wheel are available as optional extras, but it has to be said that with a diameter of around 37mm the standard parallax wheel is already a fairly decent size and certainly bigger than what most shooters would regard as the norm.
In my view, the MTC King Cobra F1 is at the top end of mid-priced scopes. Although I wouldn’t describe it as an affordable scope, I still think it amounts to very good value for money when its overall performance and features are taken into account.
It’s an optic that should appeal to plenty of airgun shooters who are looking for just that little bit extra when tackling longer targets. This scope can certainly cut it if you want a decent optic for long-range hunting and target work but don’t want to blow a whole month’s earnings – in fact, I’m already thinking about coupling one with my next FAC combo.
But don’t think that the King Cobra will only be of use if you’re stretching the distance, as it also has the versatility to tackle close- and mid-range pest control assignments with ease, even in low-light conditions at dawn and dusk.