BSA Scorpion SE
Compact, but still with a real sting...
as Mark Camoccio finds out when he tests the improved BSA Scorpion SE
Today’s industry is far more adaptable and quicker to embrace change than those in the past; but in the current climate, as economic conditions see the screw being tightened on many an operation, business in general needs to stay sharp, if it is to survive.
From where I’m sitting, the household name that is BSA appears to be doing just that with their latest Scorpion SE model, which is a super slick piece of design work, showing that they really mean business.
The Scorpion SE is a full power bolt action, multi- shot PCP, complete with two stage trigger, self regulating valve, quick fill adaptor, integral pressure gauge, and fully floating barrel. The delightful sporter stock completes the rather impressive spec list, placing this rifle, on paper at least, firmly in the ‘highly desirable’ bracket. So let’s take a closer look at those features, and see whether this model delivers its full potential.
‘Eye-grabbing woodwork’, best describes the sporting stock which compliments this Scorpion’s action, and any assessment of the Scorpion SE has to start here. Where standard models are concerned, factory production stocks really don’t get much better than this in my book, and with a superb configuration coupled with that ultra trendy signature styling, this design scores in every department.
The pleasingly high, well defined cheek piece gives perfect eye/scope alignment, whilst the slightly raked, 90 degree drop down pistol grip, looks and feels the part. This stock, beautifully machined by Minelli in Italy, is admittedly ambidextrous, and rarely is that route trodden without some compromise along the way. Indeed the minor detail sacrificed here, is the lack of a dedicated palm swell. That apart, the finely stippled panels (laser cut into both the grip and fore-end), and subtle thumb shelf,all help to aid control, as well as enhance aesthetic appeal.
The fore-end, complete with that bold, ‘R10 style’ flared ridge running the diagonal, just feels right in the aim, with the finely tapered tip particularly comfortable from the kneeling position. Other discipline shots, such as the standing position, are well catered for, given the depth of the boxy section just forward of the trigger guard, so the leading arm is well supported target style.
In short, form combines with function, and BSA deserve much credit for a mouthwatering design that’s near perfect, given this rifle’s remit.
The stock fitted here to my test rifle, is the thickly varnished, but no less attractive, beech version; yet a trendy black synthetic Tactical model is available, and another fine piece of design work it is too. For the connoisseurs among us, a walnut option is also available (same configuration as the beech), yet given the quality of my test model in beech, I’d think long and hard before justifying the extra outlay.
The Scorpion SE comes fitted with BSA’s own barrel, and the configuration sees it totally free floating, and capped off with a ported muzzle diffuser. With no silencer in place, this Scorpion is nicely compact; yet a silencer can be screwed on, in place of the diffuser, which I would recommend, given the significant muzzle report. My ideal rifle spec would always include a genuine floating barrel such as this, free from any brackets or ‘o’ rings. This allows the barrel harmonics to come into play, and the cylinder the freedom to expand and contract as necessary. Of course theory is all well and good, and undoubtedly many rifles work perfectly well with brackets and such like in place; yet the Scorpion’s set-up just looks right to me.
To be honest, metal finish is not something that modern BSA’s are renowned for, and this Scorpion comes with rather lack lustre blueing applied to the barrel and cylinder, and a matt blacking to the breech block which is slightly prone to wear around the mag housing. That said, the overall impression is still one of a well thought out and reasonably well machined tool.
As a multi-shot, the Scorpion can boast a 10 shot rotary magazine, and back up shots are available just as fast as that bolt can be cycled. BSA’s revised magazine is incorporated into the SE, and it’s a far more robust design than previous efforts. Pellets are passed through a precise metal front plate, which allows easier access, and mags are colour coded, blue for .177, red for .22 calibre. A figure also shows on the body of the mag to indicate the number of shots left, which is always a good feature.
Loading is simple, with the rotary mag revolved to allow a pellet to be chambered in turn, until the mag is full. With that super stylish, hand filling stainless Bolas bolt fully withdrawn, and the magazine retaining catch open, the mag can be pushed home, into the right hand side of the action. At this point, push the bolt home, and pull the retaining catch (just forward of the breech block) backwards to lock everything in place.
Probe & Performance
Getting air into the Scorpion SE is simplicity itself, since BSA opt for the push-fit quick fill probe method. Just unscrew the valve dust cap, push the probe adaptor securely into the inlet valve, and charge the main cylinder to the tune of 232bar. I should point out here, that whilst the probe adaptor is by far the quickest filling method, it is always good practise to check that the probe is pushed fully home after a short time of charging, just as a safety precaution. Pressure keeps the air line in place, and an inspection early on should suffice.
The Scorpion SE comes fitted with a half decent trigger unit, and the fully adjustable mechanism feels both respectably light and precise, with maybe just a little too much spring weight on the first stage for my liking. A flatter blade would also be an improvement, yet admittedly, as primarily a hunting rifle, many traditionalists would baulk at such radical moves. As it stands then, this trigger allows the Scorpion to show what it’s capable of
BSA don’t fit a regulator to these models, but utilize what they term as a ‘self-regulating valve’ instead. Over the chronograph, using Daystate Rangemaster Li pellets, my test rifle produced 55 shots within an acceptable 24fps , but a further 20 or so shots were available before velocity died altogether. BSA claim 65 shots from the smaller calibre and around 96 in .22, but in keeping with all unregulated rifles of this type, shot count is dictated by just how tight a velocity spread is deemed acceptable by the user. The requirements of a practise target shot at 30yds will be less demanding than an HFT course of targets for example, where small kills can be positioned out to 45yds.
Where accuracy is concerned, sub half inch clusters at 35yds were the norm, using the same Daystate pellets, proving that this BSA is a formidable performer given some half decent ammo. Handling is excellent given the quality of the woodwork, although if this were my rifle, as previously mentioned, I would source a silencer ASAP. Not only to tame that muzzle crack, but also to add front weight, given the lightness towards the muzzle.
Negatives with this Scorpion SE are confined to the fact that it is still possible to double cock the bolt and load two pellets at once, as it is with many PCP’s on the market; but a deliberate and positive cocking regime should minimize the chance of this happening.
All things considered then, in this latest Scorpion SE, BSA have a cracking little contender for the ‘compact hunter’ category, which not only looks and handles superbly, but can perform down range too. Maybe a little pricey compared to some, but a worthy addition to any shortlist. GM
|Model||BSA Scorpion SE|
|Type:||PCP multi-shot bot action sporter|
|Calibre:||.177 on test/ .22 available|
|Fill Pressure:||232bar max|
|Shot Count:||Factory claim 65shots In .177 or 96 shots in .22|
|Average velocity:||788fps using Daystate Rangemaster Li pellets:|
|RRP:||£598 guide price|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates