BSA Lightning GRT SE
- 5 Comments
- Last updated: 26/01/2017
When I wanted to test the BSA Lightning GRT, instead of first going to the more ‘sleek’ looking XL variant, instead I chose the basic SE model as it has long been a favourite carbine of mine in springer format. So what better way to introduce myself to BSA’s new GRT (Gas Ram Technology) powerplant than in a package I’m familiar with.
BSA make no bones or secret about the GRT system stating on their website and brochures that the rifles are powered by ‘a gas ram filled with pressurised nitrogen.’ The benefits of the gas ram have long been lauded - those being the rifle can be left cocked for a longer period of time without the worry of overly stressing a mainspring, the power is reputedly more consistent and the faster lock time (the amount of time the pellet is in the barrel before exiting after firing) is far less, therefore less likely to be affected by you wandering off aim before the pellet has left the muzzle.
However with the quality of spring powered rifles at an all time high, stressing a spring and consistency of a springer aren’t usually of concern to us, but ‘lock time’ can still be beneficial as long as the rifle is inherently accurate. With that said, time to see how the Lightning GRT SE fairs…
The build quality and ergonomics of the 37.5” carbine immediately stand out, and even upon first handling without a scope, weighing just 6.6lbs it really is a lightweight. Even so when scoped up it feels nigh on perfectly proportioned.
The fully ambidextrous beech wood furniture boasts a medium height cheekpiece and a generous ventilated black rubber butt pad. A thumbrest has been crafted into the top of the pistol grip, while the forward area of the grip sweeps ergonomically down and back showing a panel of well cut chequering on either side. The forend is slim with a nicely rounded underside and tapers upwards from the front of the metal trigger guard until ending in a slightly rounded tip. Three chequered panels of a similar design chequering adorn either side to aid grip and are ideally positioned to suit any shooters preferred leading hand hold.
Like the springer variant this Lightning is a scope only carbine – thanks to the Volumetric moderator up front - and now has a new look Maxi-Grip scope rail on top of the air cylinder. This is clamped onto 13mm dovetails machined into the top of the cylinder below and attaches like a one-piece mount using three hex head base bolts.
Measuring 6” in length and fully railed (13mm) for scope mounting the Maxi-Grip has two arrestor pin holes machined in the top front and rear, plus there’s a large protruding round head ‘Star’ bolt to ‘back’ this up and act as a scope mount stop.
The scope used was a Vogue 3 – 9 X 40AO with a ‘Tri-Colour’ IR facility. I’m soon to review this unique optic that has 3-intensity settings and 3-colour options of red, green and blue for the Mil-Dot inspired reticle.
The GRT SE is no exception from many gas ram powered air rifles in the fact that it can dish out punishment to any scope you choose to fit. Thankfully the Maxi-Grip scope rail makes for a very capable shock absorbing platform. Should you choose to remove it, I recommend any optic be mounted on the well cut dovetails below the ‘rail’ using a one-piece Dampa Mount made by Sportsmatch UK.
Cock and Load
Upon beginning the cocking stroke initially the ease of which the barrel ‘unlatches’ at the detente (no need to tap the back of the silencer) stood out. Many think barrel lock up is better if you ‘need’ to ‘tap’ the upper front part of the silencer on a break-barrel. It isn’t, this ease of operation shows the quality of the rifle’s engineering. Once un-locked it does take a bit of heft to cock but the full cocking stroke is very smooth and it positively engages with the sears in the open position. After thumbing in a pellet, the rubber ‘O’ ring on the 14.5” Birmingham made tube and large wedge shape detente lock ensure an air tight seal at the breech when returned to the closed position.
The 2-stage adjustable trigger unit is a new design and fitted to all the mechanical rifles that BSA produce, be they spring powered or gas ram. They state ‘it takes a minimal amount of pressure to fire.’ By that they refer to the adjustment but rather than set it as a hair trigger which isn’t advisable for an air rifle used for hunting. Moreover at the factory setting it tripped the sears crisply, the nicely curved metal blade being thoughtfully designed. Credit must also be given to the new design trigger safety. Positioned and operated as a ‘rocker lever’ as others before, it sits on the right of the action just above the trigger blade. The lever now has a rounded ABS serrated edge top for ease of use giving an assured feel under the thumb of the shooting hand when engaging or disengaging it.
Though the Volumetric silencer does OK for the spring powerplant, unfortunately it didn’t fare as well taming muzzle report from the gas ram. However, the sound I and others in the past have described as a ‘thock.’ Isn’t overly loud but after having tested and owned many original Theoben gas ram rifles it still stood out. Then again it’s a single-shot air rifle and hunting with any air rifle such as this is definitely a one-shot deal.
All in all the BSA Lightning GRT SE though basic is a very attractive and capable carbine. It will suit many shooters but how long the ‘gas ram’ fad will last is anybody’s guess as more and more companies are launching models of air rifle or already have gas ram powered air rifles on their roster. In other words it’s fast become a very saturated market and with news that a new company have taken over the old Theoben HQ in Cambridgeshire and are soon to be reproducing the models that brought this technology to the pinnacle of efficiency.
I’d say it’s going to become a very hard market to exist in but if this little package is the type of rifle you want a gas ram system installed in, then I’ve no hesitation in recommending the BSA Lightning GRT SE as it’s an accurate, well priced and fast handling carbine that will do most general hunting work that an airgun such as this is designed for. GM