Posts Tagged ‘Brocock’

When I spoke with Nigel Silcock, owner of Brocock Airguns, to find out how his company had scrambled back from the edge of oblivion after the British government banned their cartridge guns, he was forthright about their objectives: “We knew we had to come up with an action, a reservoir, and plan to produce a whole family of successful airguns.”

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense: if a company can create one really good basic action as a base for their airguns, they can then fiddle barrel lengths, reservoir sizes, and valving to produce a wide range of air rifles and air pistols. And that appears to be exactly what Brocock has done and done very successfully.

The Contour is a compact air rifle that ought to put a grin on a lot of airgunners faces. When I first pulled it out of the box from Airguns of Arizona, I thought: “Whoa! I know a lot of hunters who would love to take this beauty out in the field.”

The Contour measures only 27.5 inches from end to end and weighs just four pounds. No, that’s not a typo; four pounds. I can’t think of any other precision air rifle that weighs so little.

Starting at the back, a soft rubber buttpad that is adjustable vertically is mounted on the skeletonized thumbhole wood stock. Moving forward, a cheek “piece” sits over a large cut out in the buttstock. Ahead of that is the thumbhole, which also has a spot for resting your thumb on the rear of the receiver if you prefer that position while shooting.

The pistol grip has checkering on each side, and “Brocock” is emblazoned on the bottom of the pistol grip. The trigger guard is comprised of wood, and inside the trigger guard is a metal trigger which is wide, slightly curved, and is apparently made out of a single chunk of metal. Moving forward again, you find a single Allen head bolt which secure the action into the stock.

Ahead of that is the forestock, which is checkered on either side. Beyond that, the air reservoir protrudes from the forestock. A threaded metal cap on the end of the reservoir protects a male foster fitting which is used to charge the reservoir from a SCUBA tank or high pressure hand pump.

Above the reservoir is the .22 cal barrel which can be fitted with a silencer where legal. Moving back, you’ll find the receiver, which has an opening in the middle for the breech and dovetails for scope mounting. At the rear righthand side of the receiver is a lever that, when pushed down, allows the bolt to spring backward and open the breech. At the extreme back end of the receiver is a knurled knob which is the aft end of the bolt.

Now, here’s where I get to tell on myself again. When I first shot the Contour, I didn’t read the manual. I just charged it up, pushed the lever that opens the breech, slipped in a pellet, and tried to shoot . . . but the gun just wouldn’t go off! Maybe it has a safety, I thought.

I ran to the basement, pulled out the manual and read. The Contour has NO safety, it clearly said. Then I realized that I had not cocked the action by pulling the knurled knob back until it clicks. I did that, and it shot just fine. In fact, my trigger gauge told me that 10.9 ounces of pressure takes the first stage out of the trigger, and at 2 pounds 4 ounces, the shot goes off.

With a 2900 psi fill, the Contour will deliver 21 shots with JSB 15. gr. pellets. High velocity is 678 fps, low 641, average 661, which is about 15.5 fp of energy at the muzzle. Shooting at 13 yards in my side yard, with Crosman .22 Premiers and a four power Hawke scope, I found that I could shoot the exact spot that I wanted. First I blew out the center of the target, then I concentrated on precision sniping the small fragments of bulls eye left around the center. This is the kind of accuracy that I really enjoy and that would give me confidence in making accurate, humane shoots for pest control.

And if you want to load your Contour and put it on safe for travel in the field, just press the bolt release lever, but this time, do NOT pull the bolt back to cock the action. Now, load a pellet, and close the breech again. Now you’re set up to carry the Contour, loaded, but not cocked. When you want to make a shot, press the bolt release lever, pull the bolt back to cock the action, then close the bolt again. You’re good to go, quickly and easily, and with no fumbling for a pellet.

I think Brocock has another clear winner with the Contour, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

In last week’s exciting episode, we found out how Brocock airguns had nearly been put out of business when the British government banned manufacturing, selling, purchasing, transferring or acquiring any air weapon using a self-contained gas cartridge system. The ban ripped away half of Brocock’s business. Even worse, it was the most profitable half of the firm’s business.

But Brocock didn’t take the blow lying down, and they took decisive action when they saw storm clouds headed their way. One of the most decisive steps was to hire the chief designer for now-defunct Falcon Pneumatics to create a new line of precharged pneumatic air rifles and pistols. The first of the new line was introduced in January, 2009, and has been met with better than anticipated demand.

It’s easy to understand why; I’ve been testing two samples from the new
Brocock line of airguns, and I think they are just terrific. This week, we’ll be taking a look at the Brocock Grand Prix.

The Brocock Grand Prix is a precharged air pistol. Stretching 15.5 inches long and weighing 2.8 lbs, it is available with and without sights. The sample that Airguns of Arizona sent me was the “sightless” version, but was fitted with a Hawke Red Dot sight which appears to be a notch above the quality of a lot of other red dots I have seen.

Let’s take a walk around the Grand Prix. It Grand Prix has an ambidextrous wooden “stock” with checkering on either side of the pistol grip. The rear of the stock overhangs the pistol grip by about an inch, so that the pistol nestles comfortably into the web between the shooter’s thumb and forefinger. While scarcely a match grip, the pistol grip is contoured nicely, including a lip at the bottom to support the shooter’s little finger, and I found that it felt very comfortable in my hand.

Moving forward, the trigger assembly is surrounded by a wooden trigger guard. Inside the trigger guard is the trigger assembly. The metal trigger is wide, slightly curved, and appears to be machined out of a single piece of metal. Just forward of the trigger guard is a single Allen head bolt that secures the receiver into the stock. Moving forward again, the forend is flattened, which allows the Grand Prix to be rested easily.

Ahead of that, you’ll find the air reservoir which has a screw-off metal cap. Under the cap is a male foster fitting for charging the air reservoir from a SCUBA tank or hand pump. Above that is the .22 cal. barrel. The muzzle has a screw-off fitting which reveals threads for fitting a silencer where legal.

Moving aft, you’ll find the metal receiver, which has an opening for the breech in the middle and dovetails for scope mounting fore and aft of the breech opening. On the right side of the rear section of the receiver, there is a lever, and at the very aft end of the receiver is a knurled knob. Overall, I found the fit and finish of the metal and the wood on the Grand Prix to be excellent and very appealing.

To ready the Grand Prix for shooting, remove the protective cap on the foster fitting and charge the reservoir to 200 bar/2900 psi. Press the lever at the rear of the receiver down, and the knurled knob springs backward, opening the breech. Pull the knurled knob backward until it clicks, and you have cocked the action. Insert a pellet into the breech, push the knob forward until it clicks to close the breech, and you’re good to go.

On my Lyman digital trigger gauge, it only took 11.4 ounces to ease the first stage out of the trigger on the Grand Prix. At 1 pound 7.5 ounces, the shot went off. I found the trigger to be crisp and predictable. With a 2,900 psi fill, the Grand Prix will deliver 35 shots. With JSB 15.9 gr. pellets, the high was 570 fps, the low 519, and the average 543, which works out to about 10.4 foot pounds.

I tried shooting the Grand Prix from a Creedmoor position at 13 yards with Crosman .22 Premier pellets, and I found that several times I put pellets in the same hole. When I can shoot that well with an air pistol with a red dot on it, that puts a smile on my face.

The bottom line: it looks to me like the Brocock folks have hit a home run with the Grand Prix.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

It wasn’t so long ago that you could visit the Airguns of Arizona website, click on “Brocock” and view wonderful airguns like “the Cattleman” and the “Buntline Special.” These airguns used the Brocock air cartridge system, which consisted of a metallic cartridge, which was pressurized with air, into which a pellet was inserted. The air cartridge was then inserted into the Brocock airgun and when you pulled the trigger, the air would be released, pushing the pellet down the barrel.

Some years ago, I tried a Brocock western style revolver, and I wasn’t hugely impressed by the performance of the air cartridges, but I loved the fit and finish of the guns. Little did I know at the time, Brocock air cartridge airguns were doomed.

Here’s how it happened. On March 13, 1996, Thomas Watt walked into the Dunblane Primary School in the Scotland, armed with two 9 mm automatic pistols and two .357 magnum revolvers, and slaughtered 16 children and one adult. The following year, the government almost completely banned all private ownership of handguns.

In 2002, the BBC reported: “Figures from NCIS (National Criminal Intelligence Service) show that converted Brococks now account for 35% of all guns recovered by the police. When used legally, the airgun fires small pellets using a compressed air charge in a cartridge that is loaded into the pistol. But criminal gangs have been adapting the guns by fitting special steel sleeves inside the chamber of the gun, enabling live .22 calibre bullets to be fired. In October, Bradford taxi driver Mohammed Basharat was murdered with a converted Brocock pistol. This weapon had been drilled out to take more powerful .38 calibre bullets.”

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure on what would happen next. This is from a police website in the UK:

“On 20th January 2004, it became an offence to manufacture, sell, purchase, transfer or acquire any air weapon using a self-contained gas cartridge system.

From 1 May 2004, it became an offence, punishable by a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, to possess a self-contained gas cartridge weapon without the necessary firearm certificate.”

With the stroke of a pen, a mature airgun technology that had at least 75,000 customers in the UK was wiped out. On the face of it, you would think that that is would be game, set and match for Brocock airguns. But it didn’t turn out that way. Starting January, 2009, Brocock has come back in grand style in both the UK and the US.

I spoke with Nigel Silcock, owner of Brocock Airguns to find out why. “When the air cartridge guns were banned, we still had 50% of our business left. The thing that really hurt, however, was that we lost the half of our business that was most profitable,” he says.

But Silcock and his team are no dummies. When they saw trouble brewing on the horizon for the air cartridge guns, they began looking are precharge designs. They brought out the Enigma, but according to Silcock, it never really took off.

“Then Falcon Pneumatics closed, and the guy who did their design work came to work for us,” Silcock says, adding, “He knew how to put these things together.”

“We knew we had to come up with an action, a reservoir, and plan to produce a whole family of successful airguns,” he says.

And indeed they have. Since the introduction of the first of the new line in January, demand has been twice what Brocock had anticipated.

Next time, we’ll start to explore this new line of airguns by taking a look at Brocock’s new Grand Prix pistol.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott