BSA Ultra SE
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- Last updated: 30/01/2017
The first thing that BSA fans will notice is that the Tactical stock on the BSA Ultra SE is not the same as the original Tactical stock that Jon Sykes of Hydrographics designed for BSA. This new stock is still black, still synthetic, but now it is ambidextrous.
The next big difference is that for the Ultra SE, BSA have ‘dumped’ the unique MMC cocking and drop lever loading in favour of its stablemates’ more conventional rear mounted bolt for cocking, plus the same magazine loading and firing mechanism. Though the Ultra is smaller than the Scorpion, with an overall length of just 31 ¾” from butt to muzzle - even with the ported muzzle brake left in place - it’s difficult to differentiate the two. When seen in the latest ambidextrous synthetic ‘Tactical Stock’ design, the BSA Ultra SE could easily be mistaken for a carbine sized version of the BSA Scorpion SE multi-shot, in fact apart from length, you’re pretty much buying one and the same airgun.
That Marmite Moment
People will either take to the new Tactical stock design immediately… or they’ll shy away from it altogether – a real personal taste test you could say (however there are wood stock options).
On initial handling I was dubious on the ambidextrous versions benefits over the original Tactical right hand stock, and I can assure you I mean no disrespect to the left handed shooters who I feel get a raw deal on some models of air riﬂe - or firearms for that matter.
Looking at this from a right handed shooter’s perspective, I had a feeling it wouldn’t work as well as the original Tactical stock, as I felt Jon Sykes had got the thumb channel and pistol grip to cheekpiece configuration bang on the button first time around. These features are not present on the new stock, and it did take me time to adjust to the fact there’s no thumb channel to lead your big digit into a steadying position at the side of the steep drop down pistol grip with palm swell. Nevertheless, the rear of the neck is quite slim as it tapers up to meet the action where it does broaden out quite noticeably, obviously to accommodate for the new ambidextrous design.
The thick black rubber ventilated butt pad still gives a reassuring feel in the shoulder, even though you could draw an ‘imaginary’ horizontal straight line ‘across’ the top of the stock to its position approximately only an inch lower than the comb. On noticing this I was quite surprised a sliding height adjustable butt pad wasn’t fitted, to accommodate for various scope designs and most importantly the height of mounts that may have to be used to fit some of the more in-vogue 30mm tube scopes. However this isn’t an air riﬂe you’d want to ‘over-scope’ as the Ultra is a compact carbine designed for a purpose, and that’s dealing with pest species in and around farm buildings, or when you’re having to shoot from a cramped position, such as the cab of a 4 X 4 or small hide. It’s here that the Ultra excels, and personally I feel it’s even better than the original, but that’s more due to the more traditional rear bolt mounted cocking and firing mechanism, rather than the new stock design.
Moderator and Scope
I fitted a UTG 3 – 12 X 44 SWAT Accushot scope set in Sportsmatch ‘reach forward’ mounts which seemed to complement the Ultra. Then after removing the muzzle brake from the free ﬂoating BSA manufactured 12” barrel, I spun a compact sound moderator from Swift Precision Riﬂes (01527 871620) onto the ½” UNF screw cut muzzle. Even though measuring only 5” in length, this Swift moderator - with its dish shaped bafﬂes -seriously tamed muzzle report.
The Ultra action worked faultlessly as I rattled through the new BSA magazines which incidentally now have a red inner drum for .22 calibre or – in the case of the test gun - a blue inner drum for .177 calibre. The only gripe I have with the action is the fact that they’ve proportionately sized the cocking bolt, but it’s too small for me and of a design not to my liking. As I said, it operates without fault but for accessing a quick back up shot should you miss the targeted quarry - as I did in the field - on returning my hand to re-cock the riﬂe I missed the cocking bolt on my first attempt and in that short ‘extra’ space of time my chance had disappeared into the thick bramble thicket at the side of the wood I was stalking along. Like everything though, there’s a knack to not missing it and that’s to bring your trigger hand up at an angle to rest the side of your inner palm against the side of the stock then slide it back and you’ll pick the bolt up much easier.
In my defence, I’m used to my own original Ultra and its ‘retrofit’ Rowan Engineering custom bolt (which I’ve also fitted to most of my other Beeza’s). So although the cocking and layout of the SE action is superior you need to adapt your shooting style to make full use of the benefits the Ultra SE Tactical has to offer.
To load you pull the bolt up, then fully rearward, push the magazine retaining catch on the left at the front of the action block and lift the self actuating magazine from its neat housing.
Once you’ve filled all ten chambers you slip the magazine back into the housing, return the securing serrated face slide catch and push the bolt in and then return back down where it actually rests against the side of the stock. The Ultra is now cocked and loaded with the first shot ready to go unless you’ve pulled back the pivoting lever safety catch (found directly above on the left of the action) into safe mode. Apart from action block length and other important dimensions the whole set up is exactly the same as the Scorpion SE.
In The Field
It seems like I’ve criticised the Ultra SE quite a lot but, I tried various hunting scenarios with this compact PCP and it soon began to impress me.
Undoubtedly there’s a place for this riﬂe on many an airgun hunters’ gun racks, especially when you get performance like the following. The lightweight ‘fast strike’ hammer system gives a ﬂatter power curve and BSA state 20% extra in shot
The fully adjustable 2-stage trigger has a curved metal blade that sits in the integral trigger guard. This upgraded unit allows you to attain a very precise level of shot release, and my initial fears of the ‘missing’ thumb channel on the stock adversely affecting trigger control proved to be unfounded.
In a sentence the BSA Ultra SE Tactical is a fast handling lightweight and accurate multi-shot PCP that’ll suit younger shooters or those of a smaller stature, as well as experienced, not so young airgunners who want a really compact full power carbine for used in confined spaces. GM