Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
Heading up BSA’s airgun line-up is no mean feat – Mat Manning puts the laminate version of the flagship R12 CLX Pro to the test.
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Developing a new flagship PCP was always going to be one heck of a tall order for BSA. The Birmingham gunmaker’s R10 established itself as something of a modern classic, giving the R12 CLX Pro some seriously big boots to fill. So, is the latest leader of the Beeza pack up to the task?
The first thing to strike me about the R12 was its stunning looks. It certainly has a familiar aesthetic, which is clearly inspired by its predecessor. I was sent the black pepper laminate version, which gives a stylish twist to the gun’s sleek lines. This model retails for £1,265 and there is also a walnut stock option which costs about £50 less.
That sumptuous thumbhole stock has been carefully crafted by Minelli. It is ambidextrous, but it has a lot of adjustment, so you should be able to achieve a perfect fit whichever shoulder you intend to nestle it into. The butt pad actually boasts three-way adjustment, which means that apart from being able to shift it up and down, you can also angle it off to the left or right – after removing the butt pad to access the fastening screws – to put some cast into the stock. The soft-touch cheekpiece is also height-adjustable, after slackening off the easy-access fastening strews, so there shouldn’t be any issues with eye/scope alignment.
Thumbhole stocks can sometimes feel a little pinched for shooters with larger hands, but that is not the case with this one. The generous cutaway behind the pistol grip comfortably accommodated my large paw, and I was also able to shoot thumb-up. The pistol grip is really nicely contoured to steer your index finger towards the trigger and has tastefully styled stippling on both sides. The capping and white spacer at the base of the grip is a nice touch, which further enhances its handsome appearance.
The stock is adorned with the same style of capping and spacer at the front of the fore end, which also features the same stippling as the grip – there are panels of it on both sides and on the underside. BSA has thoughtfully decided to factory-fit front and rear swivel studs for accessory attachment, so you don’t have to risk gouging this beautiful stock whilst attempting to fit your own.
The design and adjustability of the stock ensures comfortable shooting from all stances. At 102cm long with the supplied silencer fitted, and weighing 3.6kg unscoped, the R12 CLX Pro is a substantial, adult-sized air rifle. However, the fit of its stock and its good balance make for a very pointable airgun that feels deceptively more compact than it actually is.
It’s one thing being kind on the eye, but build quality is an even more important factor, and there didn’t appear to be any skimping in that department on the test gun. BSA has a proud gun-making heritage, and it is apparent in the solid construction of this air rifle. It feels really robust, and its finish and engineering look absolutely flawless.
BSA’s cold hammer-forged barrel is famously accurate, and a 39cm version is standard equipment on the R12 CLX Pro. That much-envied barrel comes housed in a very sleek, black anodised shroud with a silencer attached. The set-up is known as CCS, or Customer Configurable Shroud, and it gives you the option of fitting just the silencer, just the shroud, or both or neither. I had both the shroud and silencer in place for my range testing, which made for remarkably quiet shooting.
This airgun has seen a lot of advancements over the R10, and one of those is a new high-performance regulator. The action is also now of a monobloc construction, and above it sits 15cm of dovetail rail for scope attachment. Much to my liking, the magazine sits beneath the rail so it doesn’t interfere with the positioning of your scope mounts.
As the R12 name implies, this BSA runs a 12-shot magazine – and it comes supplied with two. There were a few production wobbles with these magazines a while back, but I understand that any problems have now been ironed out and the ones supplied with the review gun worked brilliantly. They seem very pellet-friendly, and the easy-grip rotor makes for really simple reloading. A clearly marked shot counter shows you how many pellets you have left and, most importantly, they index incredibly smoothly. This latest version of BSA’s magazine is held securely in place by a magnet, so doesn’t require a retaining switch.
The CLX Pro’s sidelever action is one of its key features. It’s positioned in exactly the right place and its dropdown handle feels very good in the hand. The mechanism even has a little red indicator next to the magazine, so you can see at a glance when the gun is cocked. Most importantly, though, it works like a dream, quickly cocking and reloading the gun ready for a rapid follow-up shot whether fast-fire plinking on the range or dispatching live quarry in the field.
I always liked the trigger on the R12’s predecessor, and this one feels equally good. The match-type blade delivers plenty of feel, and you can adjust it for height, angle and length of pull. The two-stage mechanism can also be adjusted for second-stage weight and travel. Straight from the box, it was good to go – creep-free and very easy to predict. A long first stage was followed by a clear stop before a short and crisp second-stage break. A safety switch is sensibly positioned at the rear of the action, well away from the trigger. You can operate it with your thumb whilst staying in contact with the pistol grip; you flick it up to make it safe and push it down when you’re ready to take the shot.
Thanks to its new regulator, the R12 CLX Pro is a very consistent performer. The .177 calibre test gun was producing a muzzle energy of 11.4 ft.lbs. with a variation of 6 feet per second over a string of ten shots – that was with BSA Gold Star pellets taken straight from the tin. Maximum fill pressure is 230 bar, and from that you can expect 250 shots in .177 and 280 in .22, thanks in no small part to that large 280cc bottle and the efficiency of the regulator. The bottle is removable, but can be refilled in situ. You just have to remove the magnetic cover that protects the inlet, and then plug in the supplied quick-fill probe. On-board air pressure is displayed on a very clear gauge on the underside of the stock, which even features a special lens that makes it easy to read from most angles.
I own a BSA R10 and it is a very accurate gun, so I was expecting extremely good things from the R12, and I wasn’t disappointed. The review gun was soon stacking Gold Star pellets on top of each other at 25m; it was doing much the same at 30m, and was still single-holing at 40m. My main range test coincided with breezy conditions, so I couldn’t sensibly test grouping at really long range, but it was still clobbering reactive targets with 30mm kill zones at 50m.
The BSA R12 CLX Pro is designed and manufactured in Birmingham and I understand that factory test guns have about 50,000 shots run through them – if only everyone took quality control that seriously! In real terms, though, it is a beautiful looking airgun that’s built to last, feels great in the shoulder and performs brilliantly. On top of that, it’s just really nice to shoot. I think BSA’s new flagship is a more than worthy successor to its esteemed predecessor.
Model: R12 CLX Pro
Type: Multi-shot PCP
Stock type: Thumbhole sporter
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Calibres: .177 (tested) and .22
Overall length: 1020mm (40in)
Barrel length: 390mm (15.3in)
Weight: 3.6kg (7.9lbs) without scope
Fill pressure: 230 bar
Shots per fill: 250 in .177, 280 in .22
Energy of test rifle: Avg 11.4 ft.lbs. over 10 shots
Variation (10 shots): 6fps
RRP: £1,265 (for model tested)
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