Mat Manning tries out the MTC SWAT Prismatic airgun scope and has to reconsider his views on super-compact sights.
Scopes with extremely short eye relief are very much the Marmite of the airgun optics world – people seem to either love them or hate them. Fans of these innovative sights know that they deliver benefits, including an extra-wide field of view, and also happen to look great on compact bullpup and semi-bullpup airguns. The SWAT Prismatic from MTC delivers those benefits and more besides.
This really is a clever little optic. While an ordinary scope relies on a series of lenses to transfer the light, the SWAT uses a prism to refract it, which means the body of the scope can be made much shorter.
From: MTC OPTICS (www.mtcoptics.com)
Model: SWAT Prismatic 10×30 “Atom”
FOV at 100m: 32m
Tube diameter: 34mm
Objective lens: 30mm
Reticle: MD5 (with adjustable illumination)
Turret adjustment: 0.1 mil (1cm at 100m)
Parallax: Side dial (self configured)
Features: Angle-adjustable Picatinny or dovetail mounting, illuminated reticle, wide field of view
Nicknamed the Atom, the test scope is a 10×30 model, and retails for a mid-range £399. A larger 12×50 model is also available. The smaller version is certainly compact; it is less than 13cm long and weighs just 300g.
Despite being such a tiddler, it feels to be very solidly constructed. It’s waterproof and shockproof, and has been nitrogen-purged so it won’t fog-up in damp conditions.
This scope is supplied with a very secure attachment system so you don’t need to add the cost of a set of mounts to its asking price. The kit includes three interchangeable bases of varying length to ensure your eye is positioned the correct distance from the ocular lens.
All of the bases feature a Picatinny-type attachment, but you also get adaptors to fit them to dovetail rails. I used the latter option when fixing the test scope to my Brocock Compatto Sniper HR and the setup worked perfectly well.
The mount bases also incorporate a very clever tilt feature so you can actually angle the scope up or down very slightly. This should ensure that you don’t run out of adjustment on the vertical turret when zeroing with a problematic gun.
The mechanism is very simple to adjust – you simply slacken off the mount attachment screws to slide it back and forth – and it is marked with clear calibrations to guide you on how much shift to apply.
Windage and elevation turrets are of the tactical variety, which enables very fast and easy tool-free adjustment, and they can be reset to zero. Lift them up and they turn with distinct stops, each one giving 1cm of adjustment at 100m. Snap them back down and they lock very securely in place.
One of the key features of short eye relief scopes like this is that they give a very wide field of view, which greatly improves target acquisition. The SWAT in this optic’s name stands for Super Wide Angle Technology, and MTC reckons the field of view on this one is three times that of a comparable standard scope.
Having more or less zero distance eye relief also means that they tend to be very well matched to the cut-down proportions of bullpup and semi-bullpup airguns.
Magnification is fixed at 10x on the Atom, which I think makes it a pretty good all-rounder for general airgun use – hunting and plinking in particular.
I was particularly impressed with the brightness of the image from this scope – even in relatively low light conditions at dawn and dusk. The bright, clear viewing is no doubt assisted by the larger than usual 34mm tube and the multi-coated lenses used by MTC.
Side parallax dials make for fast operation, and the one on this scope dials down to just 6m (perfect for extreme close-range ratting when that wide field of view would certainly come in handy) and right out to infinity. The side dial is supplied unmarked so you can precisely calibrate it yourself.
That might sound like a bit of a chore, but if you intend to use it for rangefinding it means you’ll know it’s dead right when the sight picture snaps into sharp focus – it also lets you decide whether to calibrate it in metres or yards.
Numerical stickers are supplied so you can label distances on the wheel once you have established them by focusing the sight over set ranges. The scope in this review wasn’t mine to keep, so I didn’t attach any stickers to the wheel. Apart from the fact that I couldn’t use the feature to estimate range, it worked perfectly well without a marked dial.
I am very fussy about reticles; I like additional aim points but I don’t like it when they become complicated and cluttered. This model has MTC’s glass-etched MD5 reticle and I really like it: it offers plenty of reference points without looking too busy, and its fine elements really aid precise shooting.
You can ensure that it’s pin-sharp for your eye thanks to the fast-focus ring on the ocular lens. The reticle can also be illuminated red for improved contrast against difficult backgrounds. You switch it on and off, and wind the brightness up and down, using the button on the side of the parallax wheel.
The eyecup that gets you comfortable for that tiny 14mm eye relief comes supplied, as does a neat magnetic flip-up cover for the objective lens. The ocular lens has a push-in rubber cap, which is wisely marked “recoilless only” – use a short eye relief scope on a gun that kicks and you’re going to get a painful whack.
I have used the SWAT Prismatic 10×30 on the range and targeting grey squirrels in the woods. Until using this model, I wasn’t the biggest fan of scopes with short eye relief, but this offering from MTC has changed my perception. It worked brilliantly on my Compatto, and made for a lightweight combo which has been a pleasure to shoot.
MTC has come up with a really impressive package here; optical quality is excellent and the wide field of view is extremely useful when you want to pick up your target quickly.
I also think the mounting system is brilliant; providing solid and reliable attachment whether your airgun has Picatinny or dovetail rails, and this scope certainly looks the business on a compact airgun.
Short eye relief scopes in general, and prismatic scopes in particular, are becoming an increasingly popular choice. If you want a quality one, this offering from MTC is well worth its asking price.
Airgun shooter verdict
Build quality: 18
Ease of use: 18
Overall score: 88
“A quality optic offering a wide field of view and fast target acquisition. Features including a versatile mounting system and excellent reticle design make this a top choice for shooters who want to go prismatic ”