Brocock AimX Grand Prix & Atomic Pistols
- 3 Comments
- Last updated: 26/01/2017
Brocock’s latest AimX range of pre-charged pneumatic rifles, carbines and pistols give me a strange sense of déjà vu: they remind me of the guns Falcon were making in the 1990’s. This is not a criticism: like the old Falcons, these are trim, handy guns, good-looking, well-finished, efficient and accurate. Better still, Brocock’s guns have benefitted from all the technological developments of the last decades, not the least of which is the fact that all their mechanical components are manufactured on an array of literally “cutting-edge” computer-controlled machinery in the company’s Redditch factory.
As well as permitting an unprecedented degree of sophistication and precision, Brocock’s investment in new technology cuts down on time and labour costs, resulting in products that are both readily available and keenly priced. Just as importantly, keeping both design and manufacturing in house gives them the flexibility to develop the AimX range in response to feedback from their customers.
Consequently, the original AimX pistol has now been dubbed the “Grand Prix” so as to distinguish it from the new kid on the block, the smaller, handier “Atomic”. Differences are essentially dimensional: the Atomic is 3” shorter overall, with a 7.5” barrel, as compared to the 11” tube on the Grand Prix. This obviously makes the Atomic more compact, and arguably better balanced, but it also shortens the sight base and, as we shall see, significantly reduces the pistol’s efficiency.
In view of its reduced dimensions you might expect the Atomic to be proportionately lighter than the Grand Prix, but in fact the weight advantage is just 1.5 oz, because the Atomic is fitted with a heavier-contour barrel. I’m not sure why this is, but it does allow a front sight unit to be attached directly to the tube rather than mounted on a figure-of-eight barrel support.
Incidentally, the Grand Prix tested here is one of the first to be offered with open sights, the original version having been optics-only. As you might expect, it has the same rear sight unit as the Atomic, which is adjustable for windage and elevation via a pair of straight-headed screws, and mounted on an elevated section at the rear of the receiver. On the Grand Prix this section is detachable and mounts via a grub screw to dovetails that run the full length of the receiver, thereby enabling you to use both the front and rear receiver rails to mount an optic. By contrast, the Atomic’s rear sight base is integral to the receiver [Note: both models now feature a detachable rear-sight base].
The two pistols may use the same rear sight, but their front sights are quite different: the Grand Prix having a plain square blade, and the Atomic a vermillion fibre-optic element mounted on a ramp and protected by a metal hood, skeletonised to optimise brightness. The Atomic’s fibre-optic sight is undoubtedly quicker to acquire and makes you feel more confident in your sight alignment, but the traditional black notch and post of the Grand Prix proved to be at least as precise, due in part to its longer sight radius. Nevertheless, the Atomic’s higher-visibility sights were better suited to field use.
Dimensions and sights aside, both pistols share the same virtues: a crisp, adjustable 2-stage trigger; a slick ambidextrous action; an ample loading port; a quick-fill valve under an elegant screw-fit cover; and a walnut grip whose sculpted contours and smart chequering make it a pleasure both to hold and to behold. In fact there are several nice styling touches; from the rounded diagonal knurling on the valve cover and muzzle cap, to the rakish lines of the receiver, and the inverted fleur-de-lis motif in the grip chequering, all of which add to the air of quality achieved by the satin-finished walnut grip and the high standard of blacking and anodizing on the metalwork.
The pistol’s action is also pleasingly slick. First, you depress a small catch at the right-hand rear of the receiver. For once this is perfectly placed for a left-hander like me… but no doubt right-handers can get used to it too! Anyway, this catch frees the bolt to spring a half-inch or so to the rear, at which point you grip the knurled disk at the end and give it a brisk tug to cock the sear. This also clears the loading channel, enabling you to slide a pellet in and seat it in the barrel by pushing the bolt forward, where it locks automatically. The process quickly becomes instinctive, but after an extended spell of shooting – these pistols are hard to put down – I began to think it would be nice to have a smooth brass cocking piece, and possibly a brass bolt release too, in place of the rather basic piece of curved steel currently used. Pistols this good deserve that little extra!
When it came to shooting them, I tried a variety of pellets, all of which performed well, but ultimately settled on Daystate Selects. Accuracy was impressive from the start, with both pistols printing inside 1.5” offhand at 20 yards. Encouraged by this I set up a rudimentary bench rest and shot the groups you can see in the photos. The conclusion: these pistols show you how good you are, not the other way round!
Of the two, the Atomic was my immediate favourite, thanks to its more compact dimensions and more instinctive sights, but as the shooting session progressed, and the Atomic ran out of puff after around 40 shots (not at all bad and more or less what I expected), I became increasingly impressed by the Grand Prix, which just went on and on, for over 100 shots, and this in the less-efficient .177 calibre!
Both pistols were running comfortably under the 6-FPE legal threshold, but still had enough residual energy to drop and reset a Knockover target at 20 yards, raising the question of whether they might have a place in the hunting field – or the farmyard at least. My own view is that if you’re confident you can put a pellet in the kill zone at 20 yards or less then there’s no reason you shouldn’t hunt with either of these pistols. I took collared doves, feral pigeons, magpies and rats cleanly with both guns while testing them (ambushing them from a hide with a built-in rest), but personally prefer the extra confidence that comes with shooting from the shoulder. An Atomic in .22 would be hard to beat for despatching trapped or wounded quarry, however.
As you can see, I accessorised the test guns a bit, adding a Rhino 2x32 pistol scope from Brocock, which I used for my hunting forays. The scope adds precision and gives a nice sharp image, and the low magnification minimizes shake (though personally I prefer a 4x32). I also fitted a Brocock moderator, via the requisite adapter (different for each model). This certainly took the edge off the muzzle report… but then I tried a full-sized carbon-fibre moderator, which performed so well, and affected the balance so little, that I hope we’ll soon see something similar from Brocock.
Overall, then, these are two VERY good pistols that with just a touch more refinement in the controls and accessories could be superb. That said, on performance, accuracy and price, I can’t fault them.