Phill Price revisits a classic sporting scope from MTC Optics
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
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.
PUCH BUTTON CONTROL
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.
SIMPLE HIGH QUALITY
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.