Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
Dave Barham reveals an exciting new compact hunting air rifle with a folding stock from BRK Brocock in this review of the Pathfinder XR.
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Launched at this year’s Northern Shooting Show, the BRK Brocock Pathfinder XR is another one of those rifles that is going to sell like hot cakes! There aren’t many compact, lightweight hunting rifle, especially ones that fold up small enough to put in a small rucksack.
There’s always a lot of folk spreading misinformation that this style of rifle isn’t legal. Do you really think that a company as big as BRK Brocock would produce a rifle that wasn’t UK legal? Here is an excerpt from a statement issued by Brocock on the matter;
‘Brocock confirms that the Brocock Pathfinder XR conforms with the UK Firearms Act 1968 in that it is an air weapon and is exempt from defining gun length as specified under Section 5 (1) (aba).
‘Brocock further defines the Brocock Pathfinder XR as an Air Rifle, which does not exceed a muzzle energy of 12 foot pounds and is therefore not classified as especially dangerous and is exempt the need for a Section 1 licence under the Firearms Act 1968.’
So, there you go, it is in fact a legal airgun, even if the barrel is only 255mm long!
The Pathfinder XR is a full-power, UK-legal sub 12 ft.lbs. air rifle, which follows a similar concept to the hugely successful Ranger XR, but with a little more beef and a much higher shot count 300cc carbon Kevlar bottle.
Weighing in at just 6.4lbs it’s one of the lightest hunting rifles on the market and is going to be a massive hit with hunters. Thanks to the ingenious folding stock and removable silencer, I managed to get it to pack down to around 420mm.To collapse the stock you simply grab hold of it near
the joint and lift the butt of the stock upwards to release the mechanism. You can then fold the stock to the left so that it butts up against the main body of the rifle. To open it all out again, simply push the stock to the right until the locking mechanism goes ‘click’ and locks it all into place. It’s absolutely rock solid, too, which I know has been a concern with many other folding-stock rifles from other manufacturers. There’s absolutely no play in it once folded out.
You can extend or reduce the length of pull by depressing the small lever housed inside the skeleton butt section, then slide the butt in or out to your desired length. I must make a point of noting that the butt cap itself is made from a rubberised material, with horizontal grooves cut into it for added support. It just adds that extra feeling of solidity when the rifle is shouldered, no matter what you are wearing.
As far as the polymer stock goes, I really like the AK pistol grip, not only does it look the part, it really adds a different dimension to the handling too. Moving onto the fully shrouded barrel, there is a muzzle brake supplied, but this can be unscrewed and a silencer added. I didn’t bother adding the silencer, I quite enjoy the ‘crack’ of this .22 model, and because the permission I took it to is sparsely populated with rabbits I wasn’t expecting any follow-up shots or two-at-a-time scenarios – it’s just a waiting game there.
As you would expect, a rifle of this quality requires the very best regulator, and just like their other PCP rifles, Brocock has installed a HUMA unit, which is linked to a floating hammer system. There is also a variable power dial on the right-hand-side of the action, which allows you dial the power down – handy for shooting at close quarters in your back garden, or within the confines of a small barn when ratting etc.
This regulator also comes into its own in the FAC versions, which are available in .177 (18 ft.lbs.), .22 (27 ft.lbs.) and .25 (30 ft.lbs.).
If you like your sidelevers, then you’re going to love this one. It has been ergonomically designed and uses a relatively short stroke with minimal effort to cock the rifle. It features a machined aluminium drop-down handle that sits really well between your thumb and forefinger when cocking. I particularly like the way they have drilled it out to reduce weight and also added some grip for use in wet weather, which, incidentally, just happened to be the conditions during my first hunting session with the rifle.
Brocock’s new self-indexing mag’s are also superb, you get 11 shots in .22 and 13-shots in .177. They’re the ‘flip-up’ cover version and are extremely easy to load – turn the inner of the mag’ all the way clockwise and drop a pellet in to hold it in place, then fill the remaining holes with pellets, flip the lid back over and you’re done. The Mag’ inserts from right to left, and it’s a magnetic one that clicks into place and stays there. The rifle also comes supplied with a single-shot tray.
When it comes to filling the 300cc bottle, the Pathfinder utilises Brocock’s quick-fill probe, and the fill port is cleverly housed underneath the main body of the rifle, underneath a magnetic fill port cap that simply pulls off.
The Pathfinder XR features Brocock’s classic 2-stage adjustable trigger unit, plus a manual safety ‘switch’, which is housed inside the trigger guard immediately in front of the gently curved, flat trigger blade. As far as pull weight goes, it’s just over a pound, according to my scales. The .22 rifle sent to me for test had a reasonably short first stage set, coming to an abrupt halt as it reaches the second stage, which then takes very little effort to pull. It’s clean, crisp and very easy to get used to – as you would expect from a Brocock unit.
This rifle comes supplied with a two-piece Picatinny scope rail, with 50mm at the rear and 145mm in front. The mag’ sits a couple of mms underneath the base of the rails, so you can use a single-piece mount if need be, but more importantly you can put a thermal or NV unit on top with no problems. I opted to swap out the MTC scope that I’d been testing the rifle at the range with, for the HikMicro Cheetah when I took it out for a proper hunting session.
There’s another 75mm Picatinny rail underneath the bottle and fore grip to attach a bipod, and this can easily be removed if required.
This was another one of those rifles that I’m really struggling to put down. It really is such a joy to shoot, even in .22 – I rarely shoot anything other than .177 these days.
This truly is a ‘one size fits all’ rifle, with a wide range of adjustment for all body sizes and it handles extremely well. I think because it’s such a small, compact unit the balance point is extended to a ‘palm’ rather than a single point, and it just feels great to shoot in all manner of positions.
I really have given this rifle a proper testing during the short time that I have had it. Two hunts and countless range hours have been put in, not for ‘thorough testing’ purposes, but because I just want to shoot this little gem at every opportunity!
On the very first hunting outing, I managed to put down two rabbits on a really hard permission, where speed and accuracy are paramount. To top it off, one of those shots was in the rain, and the Pathfinder performed faultlessly.
What you’re paying for here is exceptional quality and performance. Everything about the Pathfinder XR screams quality and purpose. If you’re a hunter, like me, then you’re going to love the Pathfinder, I guarantee it. I’m hoping the guys at BRK Brocock might give me a ‘mates rates’ deal on a .177 version. Yes, I love it that much that I really want to have one in my collection!
Model: Pathfinder XR
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
Cylinder Capacity: 300cc
Max Fill Pressure: 200 bar
Stock Material: Black synthetic
Stock Type: Ambidextrous
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Calibres: .177 and .22 (.25 FAC)
Overall Length: 416mm to 616mm (18.5in to 25.5in)
Barrel Length: 255mm (10in)
Magazine Capacity: 11 (.22) 13 (.177)
Weight: 6.4lbs (2.9kg)
Shot Capacity: 310 (.22), 285 (.177)
Variation (10 shots): 7fps
Average Energy: 11.5 ft.lbs.
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