MTC TAIPAN The Waiting is Finally Over

Well, the waiting is finally over. MTC's Viper, Mamba and Cobra have now been joined by that most deadly snake of all - the Taipan. Before now, anyone wanting a no-frills scope would go for the Cobra, most hunters would chose the Mamba and most target shooters would choose the Viper, although there is plenty of room for crossover with the last two scopes. I both hunt vermin and shoot targets, and have owned both the Mamba and Viper. My three air rifles currently wear Vipers - but with the arrival of the Taipan, that all looks set to change. The Taipan most closely resembles the Viper in form and function, so that's the scope I'll be using as my MTC yardstick for this review.

MTC's team of Taipans currently includes a 4-16x50 and 6-24x56 in the familiar SCB reticule, and a 4-16x50 and 6-24x56 in the new AMD reticule. The scope reviewed here is the 6-24x56 with the AMD ret. Don't worry, the differences in the reticules will be explained later. This scope has a 30mm tube, an upgraded finish, a push-button operated red and green illuminated reticule, upgraded internals, selected optics and a sliding sunshade.

An optional sidewheel and double-strap mounts are also included in the box as well, plus a set of Allen keys, a battery for the IR and a set of tools to remove the lens covers. A scope cover is also included - not the velvet bag with the drawstring previously used, but a cover that can actually be kept on the rifle and taken off when in use. This is certainly one complete package - but is it any good? Well, let's begin by stating from the outset that the wait for the Taipan was well worth it. This is one snake that most definitely bites!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

My first impressions of the Taipan were extremely positive. The thing which struck me most was the smoothness of the controls - the side parallax adjuster, the magnification ring and the fast-focus ring. With the Viper, the smoothness of these controls was something of a lucky dip. Of my three Vipers, two had stiff controls. One became smoother with time, while the other never did. Luckily the Taipan is not affected by any such drawback, with the controls being smooth and precise from the outset.

FINISH

The finish of the scope is extremely good. It's a nice, solid, anodised matt black. The finish on the Viper came in for some criticism, but with my Vipers I never had a problem with the finish rubbing off of the scope body itself, just the usual high-wear points on the various controls. Is the finish on the Taipan any better? I don't yet know. The controls have been redesigned and look more robust, but only time will tell as to how well they fare with extended use. They are certainly easier to use as they offer a more positive grip, with or without gloves. I also compared the Taipan with my two fullbore scopes, a Bushnell Elite 4200 and 6500, and found the Taipan's finish to be just as good as the Elites'.

SUNSHADE

A telescoping sunshade comes pre-fitted as standard. The sunshade can be quickly pulled out to its fullest extent or anywhere in between. Sunshades are ideal not just in very bright daytime conditions, but at night too, when they can be used to stop unwanted glare when you're out lamping. The benefit of the Taipan's sunshade is the fact that it's always available. While many shooters like to leave their sunshades permanently in place as they arguably "look cool", a sunshade should really be used only when it is actually needed, as you otherwise run the risk of depriving yourself of the maximum available light. With this system, everybody's happy as it takes just a couple of seconds to deploy the shade or close it back up. And if you really don't like it, then just take it off altogether.

LENS COVERS

The scope is fitted with the standard flip-open metal covers seen on the Viper, the objective cover attaching to the front of the pull-out sunshade. These covers can come loose with use, but the hinge screw can be tightened to avoid them flopping down. The covers clip in place when they are closed using a peg and slot system. The cover over the ocular lens was fine on my Taipan, but the one over the objective did not line up correctly. I've never been a fan of these covers and would immediately replace them with Butler Creeks if I owned the scope. Am I being picky? Yes, that's my job!

ILLUMINATED RETICULE

Two buttons on the face of the parallax adjuster allow you to illuminate the reticule in either red or green, toggling positively with a single push of each button - one for each colour - between various intensities of brightness. The scope will remember the last setting used when the feature is turned off then back on again. As with most battery-powered devices, it is best to take the battery out if the illuminated reticule feature will not be used for a while. I have illuminated reticules on many of my scopes, but only need to use them occasionally. With the Taipan, illumination may well be more necessary if you choose the AMD reticule rather than the SCB, which I'll explain below.

RETICULE OPTIONS: SCB OR AMD

Two types of reticule are offered by MTC, the standard SCB (Small Calibre Ballistic) and the new AMD (Advanced Mil-Dot), which are both in the second focal plane. The scope reviewed here has the AMD reticule. As MTC points out on its website, the AMD offers similar information to the SCB, but the extra long windage stadia have been removed. Most shooters I know love the SCB reticule, while some others thought it was too fussy, hence the seemingly simpler sight picture of the AMD. What lines are included on the AMD ret are far finer than the SCB's, allowing more precision for target work. I found this extended to hunting too, which was a most pleasant surprise.

But I shall say from the outset that while I found the AMD ret to be more precise, it can be trickier to use because the stadia lines are so fine. When shooting at certain indoor targets at 25 yards, I could not easily make out the lines of the reticule over the black of a standard 10-bull target, and was forced to use the illumination feature so I could see where to aim. This is not the case when viewing the same target in the same lighting conditions with the SCB reticule. However, a friend who shot the same rifle at the same type of target under the same lighting as me did not have a problem with the AMD ret, so this was obviously down to how our eyes worked - and just shows how choosing a scope can be a very personal thing.

I had the chance to take the rifle out in the field a few days later, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the available light on what was a very dull, wet and miserable day was more than enough to make the stadia clearly visible without illumination. So for me, this in many ways turned out to be a win-win situation. I found the illumination a big help when indoors, when I had plenty of time to compose my shots, I didn't need it during the day outdoors, and in both cases the finer stadia aided precision.

WINDAGE & ELEVATION

The extra precision offered by the AMD ret is backed up by the elevation and windage adjustments, which offer 1/8 Minute Of Angle of movement (1/8" at 100 yards) rather than the usual 1/4 MOA. This is especially important when trying to "chase the bull" with conventional adjustments. Sometimes one click on a 1/4 scope is too much, especially at short distances, overcompensating and hence placing the next shot slightly too far in the opposite direction.

The turrets themselves offer positive clicks, and they have been re-designed regarding the locking system, which was a simple "pull up, twist, lock down" on the Viper. While I never had a single problem with this system, apparently some people have managed to damage their turrets by using excessive force and twisting them when they were in the locked down position. A thumbwheel collar has therefore been added on the Taipan's turrets to act as a "brake". This locks the turret in normal use, but will ease if pushed with excessive force to prevent any permanent damage to the turret mechanism.

OPTICS

No matter what features a scope may possess, it will stand on fall on the quality of its optics, and the Taipan stands tall in this area. The Taipan was pitted in two outdoor tests against my two Bushnell Elites. The first test was done in bright sunlight, using a house 65 yards away as the optical target. I was secretly willing my Bushnells to be the clear winners, simply because they are far more expensive scopes, but sadly for me that just wasn't the case. All three scopes were wound to a constant 24x magnification, and all three showed every detail of the brickwork of the building, the tiles on the roof and the moss and the lichen.

However, most half-decent scopes work well in bright light, so how about reduced light? The same test at 100 yards on the dismal, grey day described above showed the Taipan was a serious contender in the optics department, again holding its own extremely well against the Bushnells. A third test was carried out indoors against a Viper, both scopes being turned to 16x magnification. It was here that the clarity of the Taipan's glass really shone through. I'd been perfectly happy with my Vipers on my indoor range. Until now, that is. The Taipan has now raised the bar significantly higher.

I did some short-range tests to see just how close the scope could be used and still be in focus. I chose 10 yards as my minimum range. At 24x magnification the target was blurred - but then again who would want to shoot at such a short distance with such a high magnification? However, the target was beautifully clear at 16x magnification at 10 yards, and the target was certainly in focus enough to be shootable at 18x mag at this distance.

CONCLUSION

So did I like the scope? Hell yeah! I'd always said of the Viper that it was a brilliant-value scope with loads of features - but I'd be prepared to pay just that little bit more for extra quality. Well it seems the shooting gods listened to my prayers, and the Taipan was born. Who would want one? Well, with the Taipan parallaxing down to 10 yards - and being rated to .308 Winchester - it's hard to see who wouldn't want one. If I was a pure hunter, or did a lot of night shooting then I'd definitely go for the SCB ret, but I do like the extra precision offered by the AMD for most other types of shooting.

MTC Optics can be found here

Author Mike