Monday, August 2, 2010

A couple of years ago, I had a BSA SuperTEN with a bull barrel. It was a really neat air rifle and accurate as the dickens, but there were a couple of things about it that really drove me to distraction: you had to remove the “bottle” (the air reservoir) to recharge the gun, and there was no way to tell how much air pressure was left in the reservoir.

The new BSA R10, available in .177 and .22, is an evolutionary step forward in the SuperTEN concept. The R10 is a so-called “bottle” gun because it has a removable 200cc air bottle at the end of the forestock. It is a multi-shot repeater with a fully shrouded barrel and an excellent trigger.

The R10 is 43 inches long and weighs 7.3 lbs before a scope is mounted. Length of pull from the trigger to the end of the butt pad about 13.75 inches. At the extreme aft end of the R10 is a soft rubber butt pad that is adjustable vertically. Just loosen a screw and slide it up or down as needed. On either side of the stock, near the butt pad, the stock is laser engraved with the BSA logo. On the underside of the butt stock, about two inches from the butt pad, the stock has a fitting for attaching a sling. Forward of that the walnut stock is distinctly right-handed with a pronounced cheek piece and comb on the left hand side of the stock.

The pistol grip has sharply cut checkering on both sides and a nice dark wood cap with a lighter colored spacer. Just above the pistol grip is an indentation is an indentation that the shooter can use as a thumb rest. Forward of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard which houses the two-stage adjustable match trigger. The forestock has checkering on both sides and underneath.

Ahead of the trigger guard is a screw that secures the action in the stock. Forward of that is a white-on-black pressure gauge, next to which is a quick-fill port. Beyond that you’ll find another attachment for a sling, followed by dark wood at the end of the forestock with a lighter colored spacer. Beyond that is the air reservoir.

Above the air reservoir is the fully shrouded bull barrel with a ported thread protector at the end. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a magazine retaining catch on the left side at the front end of the receiver. The full length of the top of the receiver has a 10.8 mm dovetailed scope rail. About halfway back along the length of the receiver on the left side there is a slot for inserting the 10-shot magazine.

At the rear of the receiver on the left side is a lever-type safety. Push it forward to ready the gun for firing, and pull it back to “safe” the action. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is a large chrome bolt. In all, I find the R10 a handsome air rifle, but I think the finish on the receiver is not quite as nice as I remember on the SuperTEN.

To ready the R10 for shooting, you first have to charge the reservoir, which can be done in two ways. (1) Remove the bottle, and using an optional filling adaptor, charge it to 232 bar with a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump. (2) Insert the filling adaptor supplied with every R10 into the quick-fill port and charge it using a SCUBA tank or high pressure pump. The quick-fill port has a restrictor screw that should be screwed down tightly if you are using a SCUBA tank. BY ALL MEANS, READ THE MANUAL!

There are detailed instructions in the manual for loading the magazine, and it is a pretty straightforward process. Once you have accomplished this, slide the magazine into place and push the bolt forward to slide the first pellet into the barrel.  Take aim at a target, flip the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. At 10.3 oz, the first stage comes out of the trigger. At 1 lb, 14.2 oz, the shot goes off. The trigger is extremely crisp and clean with no creep, very much like the trigger you would find on a 10-meter match rifle.

The .22 caliber R10 sample launched 18.2 grain JSB Exact Heavy pellets at 832 fps (27.98 foot-pounds), and when the shot goes off, you quickly discover where BSA has dropped the ball in the design of the R10: the fully shrouded bull barrel offers no acoustical advantage. There are no baffles in the bull barrel, and, as a result, this gun is loud.

On the other hand, the accuracy was outstanding. At 35 yards shooting from a casual rest, I was able to put 5 shots into a ragged one-hole group that you could easily cover with a dime.

In the end, I can happily recommend the BSA R10 on all fronts – it operates smoothly and efficiently, is commendably accurate, and has a superb trigger. The only exception to that is if your shooting requirements demand a neighbor-friendly report.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott




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