BSA Scorpion T-10 & BSA Scorpion Single Shot rifles
Mark Camoccio tests the BSA Scorpion T-10 and the wood stocked BSA Scorpion Single Shot rifles 'head to head'
Hunting with air rifles places particular demands on design. A heavy cumbersome weapon can be a real hindrance in the field, and take its toll on tired muscles as the day progresses.
The best examples therefore, strip unnecessary weight where possible, whilst still offering features that both support and guide the shooter towards his goal. Ergonomics is the name of the game, and with more thorough design work finding its way into stock design these days, we’re better equipped than ever to take to the field with confidence.
The modern sporting pre-charged pneumatic (PCP), seems to have slipped into an accepted format; and there’s no doubting that it’s a neat design. With the barrel running above, and parallel with, the main compressed air cylinder, the dimensions can be kept relatively compact and manageable. There are some notable exceptions, but this is the norm.
In the vast majority of cases though (including most of the big players), the barrel is supported near the muzzle end to add rigidity and protect from any knocks that may occur during the rifle’s life. But any minor expansions and movement from the main cylinder (perfectly normal in any PCP) could affect the barrel, pushing it fractionally out of alignment, if the barrel is clamped to the cylinder. Therefore a small synthetic ‘o’ ring is normally used, through which the barrel runs - sitting within a ‘figure-of-8’ clamp. Even this could have an adverse affect on the rifles zero, and with earlier PCP designs on the market, it did just that! In practise, with modern soft ‘o’ rings allowing for movement within the clamps, this shouldn’t really be a problem; so it’s more a case of peace of mind.
This is all well and good and may well reassure that the barrel is protected but does fly in the face of the ideal; which for me, sees a sturdy, thicker barrel, totally ‘free floating’ and unrestricted in any way.
For this review, I’ve two of the latest rifles from BSA’s ever expanding stable; the standard Scorpion supplied with a conventional wooden beech stock and the very latest ‘T-10 Tactical’ model, shrouded in a black ‘plastic’ stock, and I’m pleased to say, both incorporate just such a ‘free floating’ arrangement.
Both rifles are bolt action pre-charged pneumatics, but whilst the wooden stocked version is a single shot, the T-10 model utilizes BSA’s own 10 shot magazine system.
Traditional wood or drastic plastic
With the sad demise of BSA’s Hornet rifle, the beech stocked Scorpion is its natural successor; sharing more than a passing resemblance. BSA chose to drop that curious yet unique, Micro Movement Cocking (MMC) plunger of the Hornet, with the only remaining link being the small protrusion at the fore-end, now cleverly utilized as a sling swivel mounting point.
The latest beech stock on the Scorpion offers a traditional sporter design, and includes a particularly well defined, raised cheek piece, for spot-on scope alignment, and a near 90 degree pistol grip, the base of which carries a pressed ‘BSA Guns’ Piled Arms logo. Extensive skip-line chequering covers both sides of the grip and fore-end; and as well as adding real adhesion, it looks the part. A schnabel tipped fore-end and quality rubber butt pad complete what is a very attractive stock - all sealed in a pleasant matt lacquer.
This is where real choice begins, since The ‘T-10’ version of the Scorpion takes a rather more radical approach.
Now I’ve often nailed my colours to the mast, being something of a traditionalist, stating that plastic stocks are surely one step too far; and no substitute for a tasty piece of well figured timber. But every synthetic design that comes my way of late, seems only to serve to erode my long held beliefs… and slowly but surely, I’m coming round to appreciating that these ‘soulless’ slabs of compound, just may be the way forward! (Editor: I know what you mean!)
Did I really just say that? ….well here’s why. Consider the abysmal year just past - with hardly a let up in the wet stuff, and the logic of it all begins to crystallize. Give any rifle a real soaking, and the wooden furniture will hardly benefit from the experience, as moisture inevitably seeps between the action and the stock. Moisture can cause the woodwork to swell and distort, with possible minor movement passed to the action, and hence a change in zero - hardly ideal.
Synthetic compound stocks, on the other hand, are immune, and should remain stable in wet or excessive heat. In a hunting environment, this is a huge bonus, giving peace of mind where it matters.
The ‘T-10’ comes complete with an extremely well thought out, synthetic stock (apparently designed by Hydrographics) and shows real design flair. Since the stock is obviously moulded, the process allows for far greater flexibility than if a comparable design was fashioned from timber.
The integral trigger guard, for example, becomes all part of the flowing design; very akin to early John Bowkett styling - so maybe a nod to the fabled consultant, and his involvement in various BSA projects. The pistol-grip area is particularly comfortable; offering a near target hold, and even incorporates a full thumb-shelf.
A push-in plastic cap sits at the base of the grip, and on removal, it becomes clear that the entire grip and a large section of the butt, are actually hollow - allowing for weight to be significantly trimmed from the stock, with no loss of strength. A substantial black rubber butt pad, and roll over cheek-piece add to the ‘T-10’s impressive spec list; whilst the fore-end is scalloped to allow for a comfortable grip. A series of patterned panels - all part of the black moulding - contrast and add detail to the fore-end, whilst aiding grip. That said, the entire moulding is of a comfortable yet ‘grippy’ substance, and feels pleasant to hold.
Both rifles come complete with sling swivel mounting lugs- something that many hunters will be pleased to hear; although on the ‘T-10’, the forward lug protrudes where the leading hand wants to be!
Single or multi
Action wise, many similarities exist between these two stable mates. Firstly, both come fitted with that chunky, super slick, stainless steel bolt handle - termed ‘Bolas’ by BSA. It certainly is hand-filling, and feels smooth and slick in operation, especially the way the bolt subtly pulls into its groove at the end of the stroke.
Another common feature is the 2-stage trigger, which is adjustable for sear engagement, and second stage weight. In practise, whilst obviously being no match unit, the final let off is quite pleasant, and perfectly acceptable for a rifle of this type. If I had to criticize, the blade itself is just a shade too angular, and narrow on the contact surface, and looks, quite frankly, a little cheap - but it does the job.
Both rifles come fitted with 15 inch barrels, and with no attachments in place, they really are carbine length rifles - ideal for use in a hide, truck cab or anywhere where manoeuvrability is confined. With a silencer in place the balance improves dramatically (to my mind) and with it, the ability to tighten those groups. To this end, the muzzle is pre-threaded, and capped off on the T-10, with an attractive ported barrel weight, protecting the crown in the process; although on the single shot model, a simple collar hides the thread, and offers no such protection.
Metal finish to both rifles is up to BSA’s usual standard, with chemical blueing covering the main air cylinder and barrel - not overly lustrous, but effective. The breech block and bolt housing on both models come treated to a matt black parkerized effect, which matches the rest of the action.
Single shot is my favoured approach, but if magazines appeal, then the T-10 comes well appointed. To load up the magazine, the Bolas bolt has to first be drawn back until the action is cocked. The serrated magazine retaining clip (to the front of the breech block) can then be pulled forwards. The magazine can then be removed, as the bolt is pulled back slightly. Filling the mag is a matter of dropping a pellet into each chamber, then rotating the drum against mild spring pressure each time. This can be a little fiddly, unless a positive technique is adopted, but a red dot does signify the last shot.
Cycling the mag is automatic as the bolt is cocked and pushed forwards, although the process is smoother if a deliberate measured approach is maintained. The single shot model is easier still to operate, and once the bolt is drawn back, the pellet channel is exposed to guide the ammo directly into the breech.
Charging both rifles is again identical, with BSA adopting the push fit ‘probe’ method, so taking on air is a fairly straight forward affair. For ultimate safety, some form of lock-up for the valve connection would be nice, but the method utilized here is undeniably popular and easy.
Just unscrew the dust cover, push in the probe to the inlet at the front of the cylinder, charge to the prescribed pressure (either via pump or bottle), and the action can begin. BSA recommend 200bar incidentally, but after noticing some variation over the chrono, I reckoned on 180bar for a flatter power curve (bearing in mind the unregulated actions).
Over the chronograph, both rifles returned similar performance figures, with around 60 shots possible within a fair spread. The actions are unregulated, don’t forget, and given their intended use, are probably destined to see most action, despatching quarry at an average 30yds, and at this range, both rifles were capable of groupings just over half inch centre-to-centre using Daystate Select pellets.
From a rested position, both these rifles feel comfortable; yet from a kneeling or standing stance, I reckon they would greatly benefit from the addition of a silencer; taming the muzzle report (more noticeable from the single shot), and bringing the balance more towards the front.
In these Scorpion rifles, BSA have arrived at a well presented format for a dedicated hunting tool. Both stocks feel slick and supportive, but my personal choice would be to purchase the single shot, then switch to the optional extra of a synthetic stock for an additional £68.15; the best of both worlds!
|Model||Scorpion T10 | Scorpion|
|Manufacturer||BSA Guns UK | BSA Guns UK|
|Country of Origin||UK | UK|
|Type||Multi-shot PCP | Single Shot PCP|
|Calibre||.177 and .22 | .177 and .22|
|Weight||6lbs | 6.8lbs|
|Overall Length||32.75inch | 33.5inch|
|Barrel Length||15inch | 15inch|
|Stock||Synthetic black | Lacquered beech|
|Velocity||High 770fps | High 776
Low 720fps | Low 733
Ave 757 | Ave 763
Vari 50fps | Vari 43fps
|Fill Pressure||180bar on test | 180bar on test|
|Number of Shots||60 approx | 60 approx|
|Energy||10.7ft/lbs | 10.9ft/lbs|
|Price||£483 | £399 (wood stock)|
|Options||Synthetic stock or wooden stock as extra £68.15 | BSA SAS silencer|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates