Dust Mites

Phill Price re­vis­its a clas­sic sport­ing scope from MTC Op­tics

Airgun World - - Contents -

Ex­clu­sive! First-ever test of the Dust Devils, from Stephen Archer in the USA

Ithink it’s in­ter­est­ing to see a prod­uct that stays in the man­u­fac­turer’s cat­a­logue for a long time when all the other mod­els change. It says to me that the idea and de­sign was right from the be­gin­ning and cus­tomers are en­dors­ing that with their pur­chases. Just one such prod­uct is the ex­cel­lent Mamba Lite from MTC Op­tics. Over the years I’ve tested just about ev­ery scope they’ve of­fered, but I al­ways re­turn to my old favourite, the Mamba Lite. I don’t shoot in com­pe­ti­tions or at long range, so I don’t need overly com­pli­cated ret­i­cles, twid­dly ex­posed di­als or mas­sive mag­ni­fi­ca­tion.

What I want – and more im­por­tantly, need – is a tough, reliable scope with bright, clear op­tics that al­low me to see my quarry clearly. Air­gun hunt­ing is all about pre­ci­sion, and you can’t hit what you can’t see, so I value sight pic­ture qual­ity very highly. MTC changed the com­pany they use to man­u­fac­ture this scope re­cently, and the new ver­sion uses what they call ‘su­per bright’ lenses that are fully mul­ti­coated to de­liver an even higher qual­ity im­age.


All too of­ten peo­ple fall for the idea that you need a 50 or 56mm ob­jec­tive lens to get good low-light per­for­mance, but I’ve long be­lieved that it’s the qual­ity of the lenses and their coat­ings that make the dif­fer­ence. I choose either 42 or 44mm ob­jec­tives when I can, be­cause I think they of­fer the per­fect com­pro­mise be­tween per­for­mance and weight. Most 50mm ob­jec­tive mod­els are a good deal heav­ier than the Mamba Lite’s 580 grammes and need to be fit­ted with high mounts to clear the ac­tion. High mounts place the heavy scope fur­ther away from the ri­fle’s axis, com­pro­mis­ing han­dling and forc­ing us to lift our heads from the cheek piece. These are com­pro­mises that I feel are un­nec­es­sary, so the Mamba Lite’s 42mm ob­jec­tive ap­peals to me very much. That be­ing said, it seems that 50mm is be­com­ing the norm right across the ri­fle shoot­ing world these days, so we need to en­joy the Mamba Lites while we can still get them.


Keep­ing lenses clean makes full use of their per­for­mance, and MTC has some of the best flip-up cov­ers I’ve ever seen. They’re sub­stan­tially built and held firmly in place with

“MTC wisely chose just to il­lu­mi­nate the cen­tral por­tion of the ret­i­cle, as shown in the di­a­gram”

mag­nets which, un­like springs, don’t weaken or break over time. I also ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that when open, they lie flat against the scope, so are less likely to snag or get bro­ken. The rear one has a 2x mag­ni­fier built in that can be used to help read the in­cre­ments on the

el­e­va­tion ad­juster.

You can choose from 3-12 x 42 and 4-16 x 42 with just a few grammes in weight, and a few pounds in price, sep­a­rat­ing them. I’d choose the 3-12 be­cause I have no need for higher mag’ but it seems that many peo­ple to­day want as much mag­ni­fi­ca­tion as pos­si­ble, so the 16x will make them happy.


An­other small change that was added to the Mamba Lite was to il­lu­mi­nate the ret­i­cle. The first ver­sion lacked this and I wel­come its in­clu­sion. In truly low light, set­ting the ret­i­cle to a low glow can re­ally help pre­cise aim­ing. This is not only used by hun­ters but hunter field target (HFT) shoot­ers note its ben­e­fit when the course set­ter places a target deep in the shade, so that your ret­i­cle can be tricky to see pre­cisely. Here, the il­lu­mi­na­tion can save the shot. MTC wisely chose just to il­lu­mi­nate the cen­tral por­tion of the ret­i­cle, as shown in the di­a­gram. If you light the whole thing, it can daz­zle your eye and ob­scure the kill zone. The il­lu­mi­na­tion con­trol is on the left side of the sad­dle on top of the par­al­lax ad­juster and has a novel fea­ture. In­stead of a ro­tary switch, it uses a rub­ber cov­ered push on/off but­ton. Once on, you use mul­ti­ple presses to se­lect the bright­ness you re­quire, and then in fu­ture each time you switch on again it re­mem­bers the set­ting you chose and goes straight back to it.


I also value the low pro­file windage and el­e­va­tion ad­justers that shel­ter un­der screw-on metal cov­ers. The ad­juster drums are com­fort­ably turned with your fin­ger­tips, then locked safely away once your zero is per­fected. Any hold over/un­der ad­just­ments can be made with all the ex­tra aim­ing points that the SCB2 ret­i­cle of­fers, so there no need to use the ad­justers.

This is just my kind of scope and one that I hope lives long in the MTC range. It can do ev­ery­thing I need and more im­por­tantly, do it well. I re­ally don’t need any­thing more and I sus­pect that many of the peo­ple car­ry­ing mas­sive sniper-sys­tem scopes would ac­tu­ally be hap­pier with a sim­ple model like this. I say choose a sim­ple yet high qual­ity model over one with too many bells and whis­tles and you’ll be a hap­pier air­gun­ner.

On most sport­ing ri­fles the Mamba Lite is a great fit. Inset: The SCB2 ret­i­cle has ev­ery­thing cov­ered, in­clud­ing il­lu­mi­na­tion.

Il­lu­mi­na­tion is con­trolled with a push but­ton switch. Hav­ing lens cov­ers that lay flat makes them much less vulnerable.

Fin­ger friendly di­als live safely un­der metal cov­ers.

A mag­ni­fier is built in to the rear lens cap.

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