Well, I’ve already ‘fessed up that the swoopy good looks and massive moderator on the BSA Lightning XL Tactical make my heart go pitty-pat, but all that stuff is irrelevant if the gun doesn’t shoot well.
Fortunately, (not to keep you in suspense any longer) there’s good news: the XL Tactical shoots like a house afire.
The XL Tactical is a break barrel springer. So to get it ready for shooting, you grab the Massive Moderator (which the factory specifically says can be used as a cocking aid) and crank it down until it latches (cocking effort is about 38 pounds). Slide a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. The safety does not activate automatically when the XL tactical is cocked, which is fine with me.
The BSA Lightning XL Tactical that Airguns of Arizona sent me was equipped with the Center Point Optics Adventure Class 3-9 x 40 scope. I think it is a good size and weight for the XL Tactical, and I’ve had very good luck with the Center Point scopes. I’ve mounted them on several airguns, including several heavy recoiling springers, and I’ve never had one break.
I have one tiny complaint about this setup, and that’s when you flip open the lens cover on the objective (big) end of the scope, you can’t rotate the objective all the way around to focus it without the lens cover collides with the receiver. The solution is quick and easy; take the cover off when you start shooting and slide it back on when you’re done.
Okay, back to shooting the XL Tactical. Take aim, pull the first stage out of the trigger, squeeze a bit more, the sear trips at about 2 pounds 10 ounces, and the shot goes down range. The XL Tactical launches JSB Exact 8.44 grain pellets at about 785 fps. That’s about 11.6 foot-pounds of energy, but I understand that these rifles tend to gain about .5 fp as they break in. With JSB Exact Express pellets, the rifle generated 12.1 fp of energy.
What’s neat about the XL Tactical is that it shoots like a tuned springer. There is no creaking or spring noise when you cock it, and when the shot is triggered, there is a quick snap with just the teeniest hint of vibration at the very end of the shot cycle. For a box-stock factory springer, this is very impressive, and a whole lot of fun to shoot.
Another note: with its swoopy curves and high-relief cheekpiece, I found the ergonomics of the XL Tactical to be very good. Shooting off a rest in my yard, my cheek was spot-welded to the stock, my eye squarely behind the scope, and the butt nicely snugged into my shoulder.
When the XL Tactical first arrived in April, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I went outside on a blustery 40-degree day and banged off a few shots. At one point I heard a very soft “clunk.” I looked down and found that the plug that goes into the bottom of the pistol grip had fallen out. (It never happened again when I shot the gun on warmer days.) It was easy enough to pop it back into place, but it gave me an idea. The inside of the stock is hollow; maybe it could be used for storing useful stuff.
I saved the best for last: shooting off a bench at 35 yards, the XL Tactical delivered a 5-shot group with JSB Exact pellets that measured just 21/32 inch edge to edge. Do the math, and that works out to just under a half inch ctc.
All in all, if you want a fast, accurate, cool-looking springer, the BSA Lightning XL Tactical delivers the goods.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.