Brocock Bantam Compatto Hi-Lite - Wood Stock
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- Last updated: 15/01/2018
When Brocock launched their Compatto model (Italian for compact) back in 2015, it signified not only a bold relaunch of the company, but also a brave approach from their design team. Being different will always make you stand out, and in product terms, the Compatto was definitely that; but with its semi-Bullpup configuration, Brocock had really delivered a ‘third way’.
Full blown Bullpups see a conventional length action, set right to the back of the stock; but the dramatic change in weight distribution really divides opinion. Some shooters love it, and the incredible compactness it offers such a layout, yet all that concentrated weight towards the rear, is quite off-putting for others.
Where the Compatto scores, is in moving the action around 5-6” further back, but still allowing for conventional use of the stock cheek piece. A reach forward scope rail deals with the altered position of the action, but all the big negatives of the regular Bullpup are cleverly sidestepped.
On test here is the latest Bantam Compatto Hi-Lite, and this model builds on the success and popularity of the original, but switches power sources to a sizeable, front-mounted, carbon fibre buddy bottle, meaning shot count should be huge, as well as a reduction in weight, due to the material used! For fans of this style of PCP, it’s a welcome development for sure, and with Brocock’s usual extensive list of options available, on paper at least, this model has much going for it. At £849, it’s no cheap option either, but the specification list is certainly impressive. So, let’s confirm just what we get for our outlay, and see if it delivers where it counts.
The PCP bolt action uses the standard rotary 10 shot magazine cassette, and my test model came fitted with a 480cc carbon fibre buddy bottle, There’s an integral pressure gauge, two stage semi-match trigger, Slingshot hammer system, re-settable safety catch, stained and lacquered ambidextrous skeleton beech stock, with adjustable cheek and butt sections, a reach-forward scope rail, full length barrel shroud incorporating a built in baffled silencer and adaptor for second stage silencer, and adjustable power to 3-levels. That’s quite some specification sheet, so let’s take a closer look.
First impressions are good, as the radical design and quality engineering come together nicely. My test model came with an MTC Viper Connect 3-12x24 scope, and with this fitted, balance sat bang on the trigger guard, giving the rifle a highly ‘pointable’ feel. At just 34” without a silencer, highly portable too. Also included was a Daystate Airstream carbon fibre silencer, but with this being a neat reflex design, only a few extra inches are added, so handling isn’t exactly compromised.
Brocock have designed this model to come with either a Soft Touch black finish stock, or a beech version. My tester sported the traditional wood, and it really is well shaped and attractively finished, with discreet panels of stippling covering both sides of the pistol grip and forend. The skeleton-style helps to lose unwanted weight of course, but this Hi-Lite model plays its joker with both an adjustable butt section and cheek piece.
The Wegu-style rubber butt pad is perfectly concave, and is easily adjusted up and down its axis by simply slackening off the chunky Allen bolt at the rear, sliding into the desired position, and tightening it up to suit. The cheek piece section is plastic/ composite material, and again, this all helps to trim weight. Adjustment here is done by inserting the appropriate Allen key into the two small holes on the left side of the action, to slacken off the bolts. The cheek panel can then be raised or lowered on its support bars, and finally tightened in position. Take the trouble to play with these individual elements, and scope eye alignment can soon be set to perfection. Effectively, we’re making the gun fit us, and not the other way around, remember!
The carbon fibre, on-board buddy bottle has that trendy ‘urban’ look about it, and is filled in situ, via the inlet valve on the underside of the action, just forward of the trigger guard. A neat magnetic dust cover needs to be pulled clear, and then the airline adaptor can be snapped into place to inject the required, 200bar fill pressure. The adaptor is Fostertype, but here lies the source of a minor nit-pick, since the recess underneath the Bantam needs a longer adaptor than standard- otherwise just getting the adaptor end off, proves irritatingly fiddly and awkward.
Next, we need to prime the multi-shot action. The 10-shot magazine has a quality feel about it, very similar to Daystate’s own design in fact. To fill it, pull back the cocking bolt to the rear, pull the magazine free of the action from the left side, and then drop pellets nose first into each chamber, taking care to gently seat each one before rotating the spring-loaded drum. Each chamber snaps past under spring pressure, and with the mag full, slide it back into the breech block and close the bolt, which chambers the first shot. Subsequent cycling of the bolt will cock the hammer and index the magazine each time.
Pick up the Bantam, and the lack of overall weight is immediately apparent, despite the setback action sporting a full length 18” barrel. The stock is very comfortable, but I still reckon the forend comes up too short, so gripping the bottle in the aim is highly likely. An integral silencer, as mentioned, is a feature inside the shroud, but with a knurled cap at the muzzle, neatly covering a ½” UNF thread, the fitting of a secondary silencer is another welcome option. Use this model for hunting, where the majority of Bantams will see out their days I’ve no doubt, then this will be a smart move. The Daystate Airstream reflex unit is an optional extra but is the perfect partner- being itself ultra-light, and super smart into the bargain. Oh, and it helps quieten things down too, although the Bantam still isn’t exactly whisper quiet.
This model comes fitted with a power adjuster knob, as per the entire UK 12ft/lbs Compatto range, accessed on the right-hand side of the action, just below the magazine. It has three power levels, which approximately equate to the following: high 11.5ft/lbs , medium 9ft/lbs, and low 5ft/lbs. It’s all neatly done and works well, bringing even more versatility to this innovative hunting rifle. Shot count is huge from that 480cc carbon fibre buddy bottle, but that obviously goes skywards, as the power output is reduced.
With such a hefty shot count quoted, I was bracing myself for a long chronograph session, and a shocking waste of good pellets; we do need to verify the manufacturers claims after all! Leaving the action set to high power, and charging the Bantam to the prescribed fill pressure of 200bar, I reached the stated 270-shots, and then called it a day, since residual pressure looked lowish on the gauge. A total spread of 29 fps over the full 270 shots though, is damn good in my book, and evidence that the self-regulating Steve Harper designed Slingshot Hammer system was doing its job nicely.
Cycling the bolt is smooth too, but it is possible to double load if you pull it too gently, which can initially only cock the hammer and not cycle the mag. The next cycle of the bolt puts a second pellet up the spout! The solution; adopt a positive movement, and all will work well. The 2-stage trigger is crisp, and certainly helps accurate shot placement. Add in a resettable manual safety catch, set just inside the trigger guard, and we have the makings of a seriously well thought out rifle.
Accuracy wise, I arrived back at the ubiquitous JSB pellets, in the form of Air Arms Diabolo Fields, in .22 calibre- and here, the Bantam produced easy ragged single hole groups at 25yards, and sub-1/2” clusters over 35yards. Pretty impressive, and benchmark accuracy, if you plan on taking on live stuff.