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- Last updated: 30/01/2017
With the conventional spring/piston air-rifle still accounting for the vast majority of airgun sales, there’s never been a better choice of models from which to choose. Most of the household names are still with us in one form or another, such as Weihrauch, BSA, and Webley, yet many other manufacturers are producing spring powered models, often catering for specific areas of the market. One relative newcomer to this sector is Brocock. Originally famous for their development and improvement of the Saxby Palmer air cartridge system back in 1989, Brocock have now gone on to expand their operations, and one such venture is the Independent spring powered air-rifle.
The Birmingham Connection
The Independent is Brocock’s first spring/piston air rifle, and comes as a direct result of a collaboration with BSA. Two versions exist, with Brocock offering the alternative of a synthetic stock around the action if desired.
Basically a break-barrel design that follows the traditional layout, the Independent offers some classy additional features along the way. Aimed fairly and squarely at the novice, who needs a reliable workhorse, this rifle certainly has a lot to offer.
All the metalwork is treated to a smart semi-matt blueing, evenly applied. The 16inch barrel finishes with a final 1/2inch knurled, removable ring at the muzzle; neatly concealing a 1/2inch UNF thread, ready to accept a suitable silencer/moderator as required. The knurled ring is finely engineered, and adds a touch of style and detail to this gun.
One detraction from the slick external finish has to be that awful piece of black plastic masquerading as a cylinder rear end cap. It looks crude and takes away from the genuine air of quality about the Independent. The other weakness with regards to aesthetics has to be the trigger area, with both the blade itself and the trigger guard, just appearing a little featureless and basic.
With an increasing number of shooters fitting telescopic sights these days, the open sights are probably destined for a quiet life, yet they can be great fun to use, and indeed promote good marksmanship and a grounding in the basics along the way. The open sights fitted to Brocock’s Independent follow BSA’s traditional pattern (being identical to those on my old BSA Airsporter), yet are now moulded in plastic rather than the cast alloy of old – a sign of the times I suppose. However, the actual sight picture is still as good as ever, with a precise bead foresight, sitting inside the ‘V’ of the rear-sight. The rear-sight, incidentally, is still fully adjustable and the ‘V’ can be reversed to a wider ‘U’.
The breech area, is again, obviously BSA. The fairly long main cylinder has the usual dovetails cut to receive a scope, and one hole for an arrestor stud.
Focusing on the woodwork for a moment, the stock on the Independent, is nothing short of a triumph of design and execution, with the shape, finish, proportions and general feel to the timber, just spot-on for this type of rifle. The sporter style offers an excellent line-up of features that we’ll look at in turn. Brocock just specify ‘hardwood’ (probably beech) with regards to this ‘Superior Wood’ version, but whatever resource is used, the test rifle displayed very attractive grain that could pass off as ‘walnut’ in my book, all sealed off in a pleasant matt lacquer.
The forend, whilst being notably sleek and slimline, tapers attractively towards the muzzle, and offers a comfortable grip at the tip. The base of the forend swells out to form a near flat underside; providing for a steady support. Two panels of sharp and attractive cut chequering appear on the pistol grip. The entire butt end of this stock works brilliantly, with the swell of the shaped pistol grip filling the hand nicely, and ending in a profiled ‘cap’, that add both definition and character.
The high comb of the cheek-piece is one of the best that I’ve used of late, and sets the head perfectly in line for a telescopic sight. Hallelujah! I think the message is finally getting through that a vague and ultra low cheek-piece has no place on a quality air-rifle. Indeed the cheek-piece on the Independent is so prominent that it even makes open sight use a little awkward. Well you can’t really have it both ways, after all… Or can you? Looking down the centre line of the stock, it becomes clear that Brocock have joined the growing band of manufacturers who are now fitting totally ambidextrous woodwork to their products, yet handling and performance clearly don’t have to necessarily suffer, if clever design is utilized.
Finally, the butt of this rifle sports one of Brocock’s own top quality butt pads – offering a deeply curved, ventilated red rubber design, that certainly hugs the shoulder in use, and looks the part too.
So how does the Independent shape up on the range? Well the cocking effort, for a start, is very reasonable, and could be further improved by the addition of a silencer, adding obvious improved leverage.
There was some noise on the cocking stroke, yet very little ‘twang’ as the gun actually fired. However, as the rifle is fairly light at around 6lbs, a fair amount of kick is present, despite the reasonably slick sounding action.
Over my 30yd range, I settled down for a session with .22 Air Arms Field and Dynamit Nobel Superdome pellets, for some accuracy comparison tests. The trigger is a fairly basic unit, it must be said, and a fair amount of inherent creep means a really deliberate approach is required to extract optimum accuracy.
The presence of an anti-bear trap device means that de-cocking the action is not an option, yet it’s a welcome safety feature nonetheless. Accuracy wise, the best 5 shot group with Superdomes returned 7/8 inch, just shaded by the Air Arms Field , with a ¾ inch cluster at the same range. It should be noted that power testing revealed a slightly ‘hot’ action ,with both pellets just nudging the 12ft/lbs limit, yet consistency was remarkable – good at 15fps over a 10 shot string, with the Domes, and stunning at 6fps variation with the AA pellets.
At around £249, the Independent is fairly pricey compared to some, yet it’s a fine first attempt from Brocock, and the build quality alone (quality breech lock up, superb wood to metal fit, and that brilliant stock) surely justifies this model’s inclusion on any newcomers shortlist – for a reliable, solid performer, and a great starter package. A moderately tuned action at a later date, would be the icing on a very nice cake.
Velocity (AA Field pellets | Superdomes):
High 594fps | High 625fps
Low 588fps | Low 610fps
Average 591fps | Average 619fps
Variation 6fps | Variation 15fps