BSA Scorpian SE Tactical
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- Last updated: 21/12/2018
I’ll never forgot when I first got to test what was then BSA’s new PCP, the Scorpion and I’ve tested several variants, in a as selection of calibres since then. However, I have a feeling that many shooters might be forgetting about this cracking rifle, as it’s a bit of a ‘piggy in the middle’.
I don’t mean that in a negative way, but many might look at the extensive BSA range and choose one of the Ultra variants if they want something compact, the R-10 if they want a buddy bottle fed model or be hankering after the company’s gorgeous new Defiant bullpup. After a discussion with Simon Moore and Jon Hatton of BSA at the recent Midland Game Fair, I received a Scorpion SE Tactical for review and it’s great to be able to re-evaluate this cracking rifle with fresh eyes.
I’ll start at the stylish and distinctive, black synthetic stock that was first encountered on the BSA XL Tactical spring gun and later used, in a slightly modified version on the ‘T-10’ version of the Scorpion in 2007. From the rear, you have a very grippy, ventilated, black rubber buttpad that feels great in the shoulder and an ambidextrous cheekpiece with a pronounced ‘peak’ at the front. The upright grip provides a perfect hold and the reach to the trigger is just right. There is no separate trigger guard, instead, it is part of the moulding and has stylish grooves for the trigger finger on each side; it’s not completely ‘ambi’ though, as the groove on the left is slightly shorter but that’s me being a bit picky!
Moving forward, the forend has a hand-filling, slightly squared profile with textured gripping panels as part of the design. The tip of the forend is angled back from bottom to top and the overall look is very stylish and it’s a very good bit of modern furniture. I doubt anyone will deliberately chuck their air rifle about too much but a synthetic stock like this is more than capable of shrugging off a fair amount of abuse in the field.
One thing that is instantly apparent, is the fact that the Scorpion’s air cylinder receives more of a polish than the original model I tested all those years ago! The first version was a little ‘dull’ but at the time I just thought that it went well with the overall ‘tactical’ look but BSA rifle components obviously now spend that bit longer in the polishing shop before they travel off to the blueing tanks. Bluing tanks are pretty disgusting things actually and I’ve seen several at various companies over the years and they are like hot, bubbling cauldrons of nastiness; however, they produce amazing results, so I’ll let them off!
BSA still make their own barrels in Birmingham on their cold hammer forging machines, where a ‘gun drilled’ steel bar is placed over a mandrel and hammered using huge force, to produce the rifling on the internal of what is now a barrel. The Scorpion comes fitted with the distinctive ‘pepper pot’ style muzzle brake but it’s more of a thread protector really, keeping the all-important hand-finished choke safe. I mounted one of BSA’s own VC silencers for most of my range sessions and I’ll definitely be using it in part two of this review, when it gets used in earnest, to tackle a rather unwelcome feral pigeon invasion!
The action is the company’s tried and tested variant that is used on most of BSA’s PCPs and the ‘Bolas’ bolt handle is now black, as opposed to shiny chrome, which fits in much better with the Scorpion’s overall ‘tactical’ look. The magazine is the standard type and the inner rotor is now colour coded to distinguish the calibre, blue for .177 (as here), red for .22 and black (8-shot) for .25. They are also self-indexing now, as they no longer need the tiny probe that used to activate the original types; reliability is now 100% with these new feed devices. There are ten pellet holes and an O-ring holds the ammo in place and the inner wheel is rotated each time a pellet is loaded. It is the pellet itself that stops the inner drum from turning and it rotates each time the bolt is pulled back – just don’t double feed it by mistake.
The mag is held in place by the catch that is found on the front left side of the breechblock and is pushed forward to change magazines. The catch is attached to a rod that fits into the centre of the mag body and it’s a very strong system. Magazines are fitted into the appature on the left and the catch pushed to the rear. The Bolas bolt cycles smoothly and the probe pushes pellets from the inner wheel directly into the breech. If you don’t want to take the shot immediately, then the easy to reach safety catch on the left of the breechblock is pulled back for safe, which blocks the two-stage trigger completely.
Push forward and it’s FIRE. No PCP will be of much use without air and the charging port is found under a screw-on cap on the end of the cylinder. The brass probe that is supplied has two O-rings on the end and when the probe is inserted and air fed in from a pump or dive cylinder, they form an airtight seal; air then passes through the one-way valve into the reservoir. The maximum fill pressure is 232-bar but PCPs usually have an ideal fill pressure to provide the most consistent shots per fill. A pressure gauge is now fitted, mounted under the forend and it makes life much easier.
No open sights are fitted, so I teamed the Scorpion SE Tactical with a 1-inch-tubed Hawke Vantage 4-12 X 50 AO, which has a very useful Mil-Dot reticle and the image is focused via front adjustable objective lens (the AO in the name) With that 50mm front lens, it sucks in plenty of light and passes through the internal lenses that have 11 layers of special coatings to enhance the image. The robust, glass etched reticle can be illuminated in five levels in either red or green and the elevation and windage turrets are the ¼ MOA type and the eyebell is the ‘fast focus’ type. At 13.7-inches long and 21-ounces, the Vantage really suits the rifle well, without ‘over scoping’ it. I used as set of two-piece Sportsmatch mounts, but I could have used a onepiece type, as the action has a continuous rail, uninterrupted by the magazine, which sits low in the breechblock.
I also paired this fine rifle with a ‘proper’ tactical bipod from Tier-One; it’s beautifully designed and made on stateof- the-art CNC machinery and clamps to a Picatinny rail with a quickly detachable (QD) mechanism. It pivots to allow for uneven ground and the tension of the pivot bolt can be adjusted. The legs extend when a catch is pressed and the legs themselves on this particular version are sleeved in carbon fibre for strength and reduced weight. A cheap eBay adaptor that attaches a short Picatinny rail to the front sling stud allowed easy fitment.
Once everything was assembled, I visited Pete’s Farm in Essex once again and set about getting a spot on zero. I tried numerous pellets, as I usually do and the Scorpion worked well with various types; however, it shot extremely well with the new H&N Baracuda FT pellets. Tiny little groups at 30-yards were produced with ease (well, I was set up with a very classy bipod and a rear bag!) and I have every confidence in this lovely rifle. HFT comps would be a doddle and it would also make an ideal rifle for anyone taking up FT, as it’s accurate enough for both. It also produces sensible power and 65 shots per fill.
Using the Vantage’s Mil- Dot reticle, I discovered that the central crosshair is perfect for shots between 15- and 30-yards, 1 dot down is spot on for both 10- and 35-yards, which is very easy to remember in the field and makes this combo pretty much a ‘point and shoot’ affair. I’ll be using the 10-yard aimpoint quite a bit soon, as I tackle those pesky ferals! The discharge isn’t too loud once the VC silencer is screwed on and it will allow me to sort the problem discretely. Find out how I get on in a couple of months.
Well, BSA are still producing the goods, as ever, and this ‘middle of the range’ rifle is well worth considering if you’re on the lookout for a deadly accurate, sweet shooting PCP that can put up with a bit of rough and tumble in the field. The synthetic stock handles very well indeed and is comfortable to use in all shooting positions. Off a bipod, it shot amazingly well, which is obviously the most vital job a rifle has to do. In short, the BSA SE Tactical is a perfect all-rounder at the excellent price of £589. There is also a ‘Scorpion Combo Pack’, which contains the rifle, VC silencer, charging pump, scope, and gunbag for £979, which is a real bargain and will get you going as soon as you get back from the gunshop!
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