While it’s great getting new scopes through for review, I really can’t recall getting as excited as I have by this beautiful little Mamba from MTC Optics. Yes, the model name will be familiar – but the 1-4×24 ‘IR’ spec of this particular 30mm-tubed Mamba is what’s got my pulse racing. There aren’t too many scopes of this ilk, not least at its £169 price point (and that includes mounts and flip-up covers).
Whichever angle you look at – or through – it, this is a very ‘different’ scope. For starters, there’s no objective bell – its 24mm diameter front lens sits comfortably within the MTC’s chunky, oversized body tube. “Too small!” I hear you shout… or “Too dark!” But that’s actually not the case – and the sight picture through this 290mm-long telly is remarkably bright, not to mention razor-sharp.
You see, its smaller-than-normal objective lens is paired to a lower-than-usual magnification range – its stepless zoom shifts 1x and 4x power. Coupled with its 30mm tube, this well balanced spec means the amount of light transfer through the scope is intensified more than its look suggests – and even on after-sundown forays, I could easily see into areas that looked black to the naked eye.
You may wonder as to the point of a 1x power telescopic sight, too – after all, isn’t the whole idea behind a telly to bring the target closer? Well, yes… but I also think that too many airgunners fall into the trap of thinking bigger means better. It isn’t always the case – and if you’ve ever been shooting rats or ferals around dingy old farm outhouses, you’ll know exactly what I mean. I often wind a 3-9x zoom scope down to minimum mag in such scenarios – and I frequently set the 4-12x zoom ring of my lamping rig’s scope to 4x when I’m rabbiting after nightfall.
As well as a much brighter sight picture, lower magnifications also increase field of view, so you get a better perspective of your target area. Indeed, the ‘tunnel vision’ associated with a high-mag scope in certain hunting situations can be more of a hindrance than a help. Having more peripheral vision often helps you ‘spot’ a more suitable target to the side of your initial area of focus.
Low-powered scopes are also easier to manage in the fraught conditions of a hunting environment. You don’t have to ‘search’ for your quarry asyou do with a scope set to 10x or more magnification; target acquisition comes far more naturally, and faster, because of it.
And once the target is in your sights, it’s a lot easier to lock on with a low-mag telly because you don’t have to fight the wobble. Of course, you’re moving just the same whatever size scope’s on board, but your brain perceives it to be a lot less when the sight picture is less magnified. That, alone, can instil more confidence in taking the shot.
Besides which, a 25-yard target viewed through this Mamba at 4x power still appears four times closer – in other words, just about six yards away. If you don’t feel comfortable holding a bead at that range, then you really shouldn’t be in charge of a gun!
To prove the point, I fired five ‘field-simulated’ shots at a target set just 15 yards away from a standing stance with my Huntsman Regal topped with a 10x power scope. Then I swapped optics, and repeated the exercise with the little Mamba – printing groups with the scope set on 1x, 2x and 4x power. My effort at 10x mag was the worst of the bunch – and there really wasn’t much to choose between any of Mamba’s groups.
As well as being pleased to see there was no ‘group shift’ as I dialled in new magnifications – the zero of many cheap scopes moves as its zoom ring is cranked up and down – I was also surprised at how comfortable I felt with the scope on 1x power. Given that 15 yards is a range that’s typical (for me) when shooting around the farmyard, it’s certainly food for thought. And even when lamping, I rarely shoot much further – typically around 20 yards; 25 yards maximum.
This baby Mamba has a few more gems hidden up its sleeve for airgun hunters, not least its snazzy reticle. Because scope fashions are generally in favour of high magnification, crosshair design has become quite complicated. Actually, you need a degree to work out some of the ‘Christmas tree’ reticles you’re faced with these days!
Not so with this Mamba, though. Its low magnification lends itself to a much simpler reticle – but rather than just give you a boring old cross, MTC Optics has equipped its shorty with a very unusual, but highly practical, aiming system.
Called the CQB – which, standing for Close Quarters Battle, has its origins in the firearms world – it’s a German sniper-style three-point bar radiating from a central circle, the centre of which contains a dot. It gives an uncluttered sight picture, making the most of the scope’s wide-angle view. Additionally, you get the added precision of aligning the circle and dot on your target – and the design still gives a number of specific reference points should you want to aim off slightly, to allow for trajectory drop or wind drift.
The CQB’s inner circle and dot can also be illuminated, in red. Given how effective this scope is in low-light conditions, it’s an ideal complement – and by way of the side-mounted rheostat (which holds the CR2032 battery), you can choose any one of 11 brightness settings to suit the ambient lighting. When working inside dark barns or lamping, the MTC’s circular IR system is arguably better than having an entire red crosshair beaming back at you with all kinds of reflections.
Zeroing is taken care of by way of solidly engineered, full-size knurled turnscrews under the low-profile, screw-off dust covers. Their friction-fit verniers can be set to a ‘0’ mark without any tools, though while the click adjustments sound quite microscopic, they only adjust in 1/2MOA increments. Yet while that’s only half as precise as the more usual 1/4MOA clickers, it actually has advantages for the limited ranges over which airgunners shoot.
For example, if your scope’s an inch out at 25 yards, it’ll need 16 clicks of a 1/4MOA scope – rather a lot! On the other hand, the Mamba can be dialled in with just eight clicks – making the zeroing process much simpler. Both turrets have a movement range spanning a massive 50MOA, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty calibrating the Mamba to any airgun model, regardless of its barrel-to-breech configuration.
I didn’t test this Mamba CQB on a springer, but it’s clearly up to withstanding the recoil. I did, however, ‘walk the zero’ – moving the turrets well away from the ‘0’ point and then back again – and the MTC always returned to its original setting.
MTC supply their Mamba CQB with mounts – but as they’re 22mm Weaver-fit, you’ll probably need airgun-sized clamps for most guns. Also in the box are metal flip-up covers to protect its multi-coated lenses, along with the tools to alter the angle at which they open. You’ll need to use one on the ocular cover; it screws into the quick-focus eyebell and therefore turns when you alter the dioptre setting to suit your eyes.
I’ve been so smitten by this little Mamba I’ve been testing that I’ve now acquired one myself. It may not be a long-ranger, but its compact size, excellent build quality, sharp image and intuitive reticle make it perfect for those special assignments which require precise and speedy shooting at relatively close quarters. That alone makes it a very useful tool in my armoury – plus I also happen to think it looks as sexy as hell! Thom Jarrino
|RESOLUTION FACTOR –NORMAL LIGHTING CONDITIONS|
|NOTE: Our standard scope lens resolution test is conducted in bright daylight over 12 yards, using a bespoke lens resolution chart. The best definition value a scope can achieve is 8, the worst 1. Edge clarity is rated according to quality of focus, and assessed as poor, average, good or excellent.|