BSA Ultra JSR
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- Last updated: 25/08/2017
Blimey, I must be getting old, but lately, I find myself pondering more and more just how vital it is, that we encourage new blood into the airgun sports, and that means all playing our part in the process. Inviting youngsters to come along and try their hand at club level is one thing, but the whole strategy needs to include manufacturers, if we are to safeguard our sport and shooting rights for future generations.
Many airgun companies offer junior rifles of sorts, sometimes adult guns that have been adapted, and sometimes going the whole hog with smaller, lighter fare, designed from scratch. In fact, a flurry of late models, aimed at the little people among us, has been a really heartening sight of late. Yet, up until now those offerings have been confined to the traditional spring piston/gas ram ‘recoilers’.
Well, that’s all set to change, with the bold step just announced by BSA. For their brand new Ultra JSR is a precharged pneumatic (PCP) aimed fairly and squarely at youngsters. The specification makes for impressive reading: multi-shot pneumatic action utilising BSA’s latest 10-shot magazine, boltaction system, pressure gauge, beech sporter stock, quality 2-stage trigger, and floating barrel. Sound familiar? OK; this model does use many standard Ultra parts, so all those classic BSA features are here. Yet take a look at the ‘whole package’and it soon becomes clear that this gun is no half measure.
For at last we have a properly scaled down stock that juniors can handle with ease, and whilst the action is identical in appearance to the standard Ultra, BSA have cleverly opted for reduced energy levels, down to 6ft/lbs. This has multiple benefits. Firstly, with slightly less stress on the trigger, final settings can be more sensitive. Lower power means this gun can be used in more confined areas with less noise generated in the process. Beginners and juniors just don’t need full power in any case, and finally, low power in a pneumatic equates to far more shots per charge. Blimey, this Ultra JSR is quite a good idea!
Pick up the Ultra JSR, and it is instantly recognisable as a classic BSA product. The floating barrel is their own cold hammer-forged, Birminghammade design, and the finish to the cylinder and barrel are up to the usual standard. For that read well-engineered, with a good level of finish, without being overly showy. Their bluing is a little dull, and the breech block gets a matt black finish that’s functional rather than refined, with an air of that no-nonsense efficiency synonymous with their modern day product.
Close inspection of the woodwork reveals a slick piece of attractive beech, sporting pin perfect, laser-cut chequering, and an attractive lacquered finish. The clever bit is the way it is properly scaled down for small hands and youngsters in general. BSA’s master plan is to supply the JSR with its special scaled down woodwork (Minelli made incidentally), and then allow shooters to upgrade, purchasing the full sized adult Ultra synthetic stock further down the line. Growing into the rifle for sure.
Time to pressurise the system. Getting air into the JSR is a simple process, courtesy of the probe adapter, which comes supplied. Just screw it straight onto the external air supply – be that a dedicated pump, or diver’s air bottle, unscrew the valve cap from the front of the cylinder, and push the probe into the female valve inlet on the rifle. Now charge the cylinder to the prescribed 232-bar recommended fill pressure, withdraw the probe, and screw the valve cap back into place. An ultra-fine thread makes this fiddlier than necessary, but hey! Just double check the probe is still fully inserted once initial pressure is in the hose, before the main charging commences, and all should be fine. Residual pressure can be checked too, as a manometer sits sensibly on the underside of the action.
Next, we need to fill the 10-shot magazine. My .177 test model came with a blue colourcoded drum, whilst the .22 will have red. To load the mag, first pull back the bolt and cock the action, the magazine retaining button is then pushed forwards, just forwards of the breech block. Now remove the mag from the left side of the action. Simply push a pellet nose first into each chamber, revolving the central numbered drum anti-clockwise after each one. Once filled, push the mag back into its housing within the action, lock the catch, and close the bolt. Subsequent cocking of the action and cycling of the bolt, indexes each shot in turn. Finally, we need glassware, and fitting a scope is simple, given that the dovetails are one continuous run- unlike many PCPs with a two-part configuration to navigate.
Of course, getting one of these mini marvels through to review is all very well, and I can put it through the usual consistency, power output and raw accuracy tests, but will that tell us the full story? No; of course, I needed to enlist the help of a little person, for a proper evaluation from their perspective.
James is 12-years old, and he’s been a regular member at my local club with his dad, for a couple of years now. I remember when he arrived, and how eager he was to get started in our great sport. Both James and his dad are really getting into their shooting, and James has progressed onto an Air Arms S400, which despite being a handful for him, he actually shoots really well. He’s still only a youngster, however, and I knew his dimensions would be a perfect test of the JSR formula. Looks wise, the Ultra JSR got the thumbs up, and when he got into the aim, his hands fell perfectly on the grip and that neat little forend. In fact, handling wise, he couldn’t really fault it, and was soon downing targets with relative ease.
At 5.25lbs in weight, the ‘JSR is very manageable, and the quality 2-stage trigger has to be the best fitted to any BSA I have shot, being just totally crisp and very light. Adjustable of course, but as I always train shooters to avoid the trigger area until they are close to taking the shot, I didn’t rush to adjust it for James.
Okay, this is a junior gun, so chronograph figures are not quite so relevant, but with that 6ft/lbs power output, I was eager to test shot count from 232-bar pressure fill. 110-shots with a total spread of 60fps was the full stretch, and close to BSA’s quoted 120-shots. However, stick to the first 80 and my test gun clocked excellent consistency of just 21fps total spread. In the real world, this Ultra JSR is for youngsters to enjoy, so no point in getting hung up over figures, yet for those of us who get excited about such things, the background stats are impressive and reassuring nonetheless. Accuracy, helped in no small part by that fabulous trigger, led to effortless centre – to – centre clusters of around 3/8-inches over 25-yards, so this all importantly reward shooters as they improve.
Well, what a clever move, from one of the biggest names in airguns. Effectively the first dedicated, junior PCP and it really performs! My little club mate, James, is proof positive that BSA have got the formula about right, and the design and execution of project JSR, is just about faultless. Of course, it still represents a significant investment, if you do have to factor in charging gear at the same time, but BSA see many a parent who already owns a pump or bottle, buying an Ultra JSR for their youngster, and here, their strategy could well pay off. All-in-all then, a brilliant little rifle, and the perfect route for youngsters into pre-charged shooting.
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