Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
MARK CAMOCCIO begins a two-part review of this rather magnificent PCP rifle
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Blimey, just look at Brocock … sorry ... BRK! What a transformation in just a few years, and under their new stewardship, what a line-up of top-class hardware! Whether you appreciate the BRK rebranding, or not, there’s no doubting the strong statement of intent, coming from this Staffordshire-based manufacturer; and with a distinctive line-up of punchy, well thought out pneumatic airguns, they look well positioned in the marketplace. I say ‘distinctive’, yet I couldn’t help questioning their latest Ghost model, when I tested that recently, just for looking too ‘Daystate-like’, and whilst close links with the sister company are inevitable, there’s no such qualms about stolen profiles with the tasty little number on test here.
Welcome to the BRK Brocock Sahara XR. No prizes mind, for guessing what inspires the name, and whilst some curious lighting has a few of my photos with the stock a little lighter, most are a true reflection of that satisfyingly rich sandy hue.
The profile really is classic Brocock, with the thumbhole stock and buddy bottle arrangement, but it’s perhaps those boldly-styled components that make this model so easy on the eye. I’ll be totally honest, I’m not usually into guns with buddy bottles when compared to the more conventional layout of a slimline cylinder, yet this Sahara stopped me in my tracks, for the sheer handling and practicality of the layout.
We are talking classy PCP here, and the spec’ sheet is significant. Listen to this: sand-coloured, full-length barrel shroud, colour-coded polymer stock, huge shot count courtesy of the 480cc buddy bottle, sidelever magazine-fed action, semi-match trigger with full adjustment and adjustable shoe, adjustable cheek, adjustable butt, twin manometers, HUMA regulated action, Picatinny mounting, Picatinny accessory rail, manual safety catch, and even a power adjuster.
Everything feels extremely well made and finished, and whilst this model isn’t cheap, there is an air of sophistication which goes some way to justifying the outlay. Pick up the Sahara for the first time, and it feels high grade; helped in no small part by the quality, density, and sheer precision of the moulded polymer stock. Ambidextrous styling will by definition be something of a compromise, but the configuration here – thinned down pistol grip, extended fore end, and professional butt pad – all combine for superior handling and feel. Even the contrasting black polymer cheekpiece looks the part, but the fact that it’s easily adjustable via the two bolts, means it’s not just about the aesthetics.
The sidelever action, largely lifted from the Sniper XR, is another great piece of design work, incorporating a robust-looking breech block, multi-shot magazine system, and a super-practical matte black finish, all in keeping with the target audience and the requirements of field use. That practical theme extends to the muzzle of the full-length shroud, with a half-inch UNF thread ready for any decibel calming device of your choosing. The shroud itself goes some way to dissipating muzzle crack, but the option is there. Ergonomics play a big part with this model, but design flair goes further, with detail such as the shroud supports, just adding to the smooth profile.
Brocock partner with Dutch company, HUMA, to supply precision regulators, fitted at the factory, and the Sahara XR then gets twin manometers, both fitted to the right side of the action – the top one to show reg’ pressure, the other to show residual pressure in the main buddy bottle. Information is everything, as they say, and in our highpressure world, it’s reassuring to be able to keep an eye on things.
Despite being a big fan of using pumps to fill PCP airguns, I know when I’m beat, and sizeable buddy bottles are realistically best tackled with a diver’s bottle. To charge the Sahara, first remove the neat magnetic valve cover on the underside, then using the specially oversized extended adaptor supplied (to get easy access into the recessed valve), snap the spring-loaded fitting into place over the Foster valve, and when all secure, slowly fill the buddy to 200 bar, bleed, and remove the adaptor. Snap the cover back on, and you can then forget about air for some while!
This model gets the new style of selfindexing ‘gate’ magazine, and it feels extremely well made and precise. On test, the magazine was 13 shots for the .177 rifle, whereas the .22 version is 10 shot. BRK supply the usual singleshot tray, too, and this just snaps into the breech, held in place by small magnets. Given this gun’s raison d’etre, I can’t see many single-shot trays being utilised, but it’s nice to get one nonetheless.
Anyhow, to fill the mag’, open the hinged side, twist the drum clockwise against spring pressure, all the way round, then drop a pellet head first into the bottom central hole, taking care to prevent it dropping all the way through. The first pellet then holds the mechanism, and the rest of the chambers can be filled in turn.
Shaping up nicely then. Join me next month for the concluding part, and a breakdown of what to expect from this classy PCP.
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