Not too long ago I re-connected with a long-time industry buddy who joined the folks at MTC Optics. After we caught up on life, he gave me the lowdown on MTC Optics. These folks make a variety of superb scopes for airgun (and center-fire) use, so I decided to try out the MTC Cobra F1 airgun scope on a nifty bullpup air rifle from FX Airguns, the FX Wildcat Mk II. If you’re interested in learning more about the FX Wildcat Mk II, stay tuned, we’re covering that next week.
The folks at MTC understand air gunning so this scope is designed to focus down to a close-up and air-friendly range of 10 meters. For you new air gunners, if you go to Discount Cheapie Mega Budget Emporium and buy an inexpensive rifle scope for your spiffy new air rifle, you’ll learn that when you shoot at closer-range airgun targets at, say, 10 or 15 yards, things will be out of focus. Most center-fire scopes don’t care about targets that close and aren’t built with a parallax adjustment to focus properly at close airgun ranges.
This MTC scope is most definitely airgun friendly. The 10 to 25-yard adjustments are precise but forgiving, meaning you have a lot of focus ring play to adjust your sight picture just as you want any yardage from 10 to infinity.
The MTC Cobra F1 is a first focal plane scope. Without getting into the weeds, the differences between first and second focal plane scopes relate to the positioning of the reticle relative to the internal lenses. With a first focal plane optic, the reticle grows and shrinks as you adjust magnification. This is a good thing. Since common shooting activities like “holding over” using the reticle marks are proportional, a first focal plane scope enables holdovers to work properly regardless of magnification level. If you know you have to hold on the first hashmark below the crosshairs with your rifle and pellet combo at 50 yards, a first focal plane scope like the MTC Cobra F1 lets you do that at any magnification setting. Second focal plane scopes don’t work like that. Your carefully developed hold-over data only applies at one power level. If you forget and shoot at different magnification, you’ll miss.
Once you try a first focal plane scope, you might never go back. They’re more complicated to manufacture, so they cost a little more, but for me it’s well worth it.
The Cobra F1 SCB2 Reticle
Speaking of reticles, the Cobra F1 has its Small Caliber Ballistic Reticle (SCB2) marks graduated in milliradians so that’s consistent with the turret adjustments per click. The matching graduations keep things simple. A single milliradian (mil) is 36 inches at 1,000 yards, 3.6 inches at 100 yards, and .36 inches at 10 yards.
The big hash marks in the reticle represent a single mil and the short ones in between indicate half-mil adjustments, so you have plenty of holdover precision without resorting to turret adjustments.
The reticle is also illuminated on demand. A dial on the left side of the scope allows you to choose between six different brightness levels. Between each numbered setting, you’ll see a position labeled “0.” That’s an off setting and I like that fact you you can move from you preferred brightness setting to “off” with just one click. It’s a nice touch.
Turret Locks and Zeroing
One feature I like best about the MTC Cobra F1 is the turret design. Consider this. Normally when you “zero” a scope, rifle, and specific pellet type, you fire some shots then diddle around with the elevation and windage dials until the shots land where the crosshairs intersect. That’s normal, so no issues there. However, after zeroing, the dials will probably be set on random minute of angle (or milliradian) readings. For example, the elevation dial might be on the “12 clicks” indicator on the dial. If that will be your default setting, you’ll want to adjust the turrets caps so the internal scope adjustment of “12” actually reads “0” on the dial itself. Make sense?
Normally, you’ll have to loosen hex screws or some other thing, go through some “raise this while standing on your ear” routine, and re-tighten everything to get the dial to read “0” while the scope internals are set at “12.”
Here’s where the MTC Cobra F1 is cool, and better yet idiot-proof. The normal operating position of the turret is locked, meaning it won’t turn if you grab your air rifle the wrong way. To perform initial zeroing or field adjustment, you lift the whole darn thing up. That allows you to make click adjustments. So far, so good. But here’s where it gets easy. If you want to adjust the indicator ring to read “0” when you’re done, just raise the indicator ring when the turret is in the unlocked position. Spin it around to where you want, and you’re done. It’s the easiest system I’ve ever used on any scope.
While we’re talking about the turret system, this scope uses the milliradian system for click adjustments so it’s consistent with the reticle markings. Each click adjusts the point of impact 1 centimeter at 100 meters, or .1 mil per click.
I’m really impressed with this optic. With a street price of about $450, it’s not a big box budget special. However, with optics, you absolutely get what you pay for. This scope is rock solid, but the more subtle features are where it shines. The glass is crystal clear, even at the outer edges of the viewable area. Controls are positive and sturdy. Even “minor” features like the flip-up scope caps are done right. They’re threaded and lock into position with locking rings, so you when you get things adjusted to your preference, they’ll stay put.
Good optics have an uphill battle. It’s easy to justify spending money on a quality air rifle. As an “accessory” we have more trouble investing in a quality scope even though good optics are essential to good shooting. Once you shoot with a good scope, you’ll be spoiled rotten and wonder how you’ve been doing without for so long. The MTC Cobra F1 is one of those that’ll make you ask that question.
Objective Lens: 50mm
FOV @ 1000m: 82m – 22m
Diopter Adj: +2/-2
Eye Relief: 115mm – 105mm
Parallax Setting: 10m -infinity
Adjustment per click: 1 click = 1cm @100m
Max Windage Adjustment: 140cm@100m
Max Elevation Adjustment: 140cm@100m
Clicks per one turret revolution: 60
Mils per one turret revolution: 6
Impact point correction in one click @ 100m: 1cm
Illuminated reticle with separate on/off and brightness control