BSA Ultra Multishot
"What!" I hear you cry, "Graham Allen's testing another BSA air rifle!" Well, if BSA keep making them, and Peter Martineau keeps sending them; it would be rude not to review them, now wouldn't it...
Hot Off The Press
The item in question is the eagerly awaited multi shot version of the Ultra, the handy little mini carbine that's proved to be so popular since it was launched last year. The single shot model is ideal for pest control, but especially so when used from a confined hide or when shooting from a 4X4 vehicle. It's also just the ticket for younger shooters, who might find a full-length rifle, or even a conventional carbine a little cumbersome. Me, well I just love 'em, as they're compact and pointable, but not too light to be skittish whilst on aim. I find some small, light air rifles to be great as far as carrying them around is concerned, but a real pain to keep still when shooting, as there's not enough heft to keep them still. Other shooters swear by them, so it's horses for courses I guess. The two stage cocking and loading is also something you either love or hate too, and once again it's to my liking. The bolt is opened via a small catch on the right hand side of the breechblock, which allows the spring-loaded pellet probe to move rearwards. A pellet is then placed in the loading trough in the conventional way, and the probe pushed forward with the thumb. Even though there's one 'up the spout', the action isn't cocked until the Micro Movement plunger, positioned in front of the forend, is pushed back. This action was originally used on the BSA Hornet, but as it was a conventionally sized carbine, (and later a rifle) the forward hand has to be moved from its position on the forend to make the rifle ready. I wasn't bothered by this, as I simply slid my hand forward, cocked the action, and then returned it to where it was. The 10 shot magazine from the Super 10 was later incorporated into the Hornet's action, but once again; the leading hand had to be placed rather un-naturally at the tip of the forend, or moved to cock the action.
Small, But Perfectly Formed
The Multishot Ultra however, due to it's truncated dimensions, really makes the most of this style of cocking, as the hand is positioned in just the right place for easy operation of the cocking knob. It is therefore possible to load and cock this little gem, without moving either hand from the stock. The photo of the action removed from the stock shows clearly how the cocking knob is connected to the twin steel rods, which in turn impinge on the hammer during the cocking process.
The BSA ten shot magazine has had a bit of a re-design lately, but you'd be hard pressed to tell, as outwardly the old and new look identical. However, those in the know assure me that the new internal components will enhance reliability and longevity. Pellets are loaded one at a time into the internal cylinder, which is rotated against spring pressure, to reveal another waiting chamber. This process is repeated until all ten are full. With the probe rearward, the clip is slotted into the left hand side of the breach block, and retained by a sliding catch, located in front of the left hand side of the breechblock. As the pellet probe is pushed forward, a pellet is stripped from a chamber in the magazine, and fed directly into the hammer-forged barrel. When the action is cocked via the cocking knob, a small steel pin moves up and presses on the release catch in the magazine; this allows the internal magazine wheel to rotate the next time the pellet probe springs back. This may all sound a little complicated, but trust me, it's not. In use, it's a sweet action, just different to what most people are used to.
The tried and tested, two-stage trigger unit has been retained, and it's a precise mechanism, that can be set to give a very light release should that be required. This is fine for range use, but for use in the field, a heavier pull is to be recommended, especially if you suffer from 'buck fever'. The safety catch is also identical to previous models, and can be set and re-set as required, by thumbing it backward for safe, forward for fire.
Compared to when I tested the first Ultra, the beech stock has had a bit of a make over. The pistol grip isn't quite as upright as before, but is still comfortable to hold, and a groove runs up the rear for those that use a thumb up hold. The belly of the forend is now deeper, which reminds me of the old Weihrauch HW35 furniture, and fills the hand nicely. The scope-height cheekpiece now has a sort of double curve at the bottom, which is both attractive and distinctive. The butt is finished off with the usual ventilated rubber pad, which has the BSA logo moulded into it. Chequering is now laser cut, which is a feature found on a lot of airguns these days, and it's a welcome addition on the Ultra Multishot too. Panels adorn both sides of the forend and grip, with the BSA piled arms motif etched into the base, which was first seen on the Lightning XL spring piston rifle.
Extra Length, Good Or Bad?
One other change from previous models is that the barrel is now nearly 2 inches longer. The plus side of this is that shot count goes up a bit from 40 to 45 per fill. The downside is that to keep the overall gun/moderator package the same super compact size as before, 32 inches, the can's thread is now recessed inside. Half of the unit comes back round the barrel, in a similar way to many full-bore models, but it doesn't increase capacity as the latter do. The end result is that although the trademark discharge of a pre charged pneumatic is reduced, it's hardly tamed. It must be a bit of a dilemma for the designers: keep the package compact, but compromise moderation; or increase moderation to the detriment of size. Me, I'd try and design a better silencer… In fact I have, and I'll be showing it to BSA, so who knows, they may like it. Potential purchasers will have to decide which way they go, but when you consider that most vermin species tackled with an air rifle end up dead, do they really care how noisy the gun was that just put their lights out? Also, the pellet striking the head of a rat or rabbit makes quite a thud, and even when using the quietest of airguns, the mates of a fallen comrade often scarper at the sound of the pellet hitting home, and the fact he's flipping around on the ground for a while despite the fact he's dead. As the silencer is included in the price (along with a set of quality mounts) it's up to the buyer to upgrade or not.
The test piece came complete with a BSA Essencial 3-9 X 40 parallax adjustable scope, it's 12 1/2" long and weighs 1 lb, so is ideal for the reduced dimensions of this PCP. The combo was kept safe and secure in a BSA Backpack rifle case. The black woven nylon exterior is well made, and has accessory pockets on one side, that can be used to carry buddy bottles, silencers etc, and there's a large zipped section that could carry target cards, shooting permission letter etc. Conventional handles are stitched to the case, but there are extra straps included that allow the user to carry it on their back like a rucksack. It's a well thought out and constructed item, that's well priced at around £35.
Down To Business
To fill the well-polished and blued air reservoir, the knurled dust cover is unscrewed from the front of the cylinder, and the charging probe inserted. Twin O-rings form an airtight seal as soon as the diver's bottle valve is opened, with 200 bar being the required pressure. Over the chronograph, the results were impressive, with very little shot to shot variation over the sweet spot in the power curve. I was pleased to see the .22 Ultra Multishot produce 45 shots of around 11 ft/lbs with a variety of pellets, but I settled on JSB Exacts again, as they're so consistent, straight out of the tin. Ragged one-hole groups at 30 yards are pretty much industry standard these days for air rifles, so I wasn't at all surprised by the groups I achieved.
I had to help get rid of a quantity of rats on a local farm, so once I'd worked out where they were appearing from, and the ranges involved, I settled on a 15 yard zero. Shooting them at such short ranges may sound easy, but when they're darting about from one piece of cover to another, at quite remarkable speeds, it's challenging sport. They just refused to stop still for long, even with some tasty treats provided as bait. I managed to shoot a few on each evening visit though, so their numbers are gradually being reduced, but I think I'll be kept busy over the coming weeks. The scope supplied is a nice, all round optic, but as I was shooting in some pretty gloomy conditions, I attached a 2LF laser/torch to the tube. I could therefore have extra illumination at the press of a button, and a red laser dot to pinpoint the rats if required. With the pressure switch for the torch fixed to the forend, and the one for the laser under my thumb, it was possible to zap the rats as soon as they stood still. The light produced by the unit seemed a bit too bright, as it seemed to startle the quarry as soon as I switched it on, so I reduced it a bit by scribbling on the lens with a marker pen. The Ultra's action cycled faultlessly, but could be a bit noisy in the enclosed spaces I was using it. However, I found that if you slow the opening of the pellet probe with your thumb, it quietens things a treat.
Many shooters still think multishots are for fast fire shooting; as far as I'm concerned, this is incorrect; as what they really give you is the ability to load and fire with ease, even in the dark, with a quick back up shot should it be required. Controlling vermin with an air rifle is still about one shot, one kill; not blasting away as fast as you can.
Over the last few months, I've enjoyed shooting the test piece, as it's very handy and pointable, has a reliable magazine and loading system, and is more than capable of reducing the local vermin population. The new-style furniture is well designed, and compliments the well-built, reliable action. The two-stage cocking and loading may not be to everyone's taste, but trust me, you soon get used to it; and once you're accustomed to it, it becomes second nature. The only downside to this airgun is the standard silencer, but you get it as part of the package, so you can upgrade to something more efficient if you wish. Air rifles don't get much more compact than this, so if you need one that's compact and punches above its weight, the Ultra Multishot is just the thing.
|Model||BSA Ultra Multishot|
|Length||32" including moderator|
|Barrel Length||12 1/2"|
|Weight||6 1/2 Lbs|
|Action||Pre Charged Pneumatic|
|Magazine Capacity||10 shots|
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