BSA R10 FAC
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- Last updated: 05/10/2020
Continuing my ongoing quest to see what the world of airguns has to offer FAC holders, this month I’m taking a look at a true home-grown beauty, the BSA R-10 SE. So home-grown, in fact, that I was able to pop down to the historic BSA works on Armoury Road, collect the test rifle, and be back at the shooting bench in under an hour!
As regular readers will know, I’ve recently been testing a cluster of black bullpup rifles, whose hardcore performance has been matched by some rather hard-edged ergonomics. In this context, the BSA’s classic lines, curvaceous walnut stock, and much milder manners on the bench were a refreshing change. Even in FAC, the R-10 SE isn’t a rifle that chases foot-pounds of energy (FPE) like a dog after a postman; instead, what you get is a potent blend of elegance and finesse, straight out of the box.
Power levels are typically between 24-27 ft/lbs, depending on the pellet used and pellets are the order of the day since neither the power level nor the twist rate is designed for use with slugs. Consequently, the R-10 SE is not a ‘long-range’air rifle, but rather one that repays the commitment of having it on-ticket by delivering a substantially more decisive downrange impact than its 12 ft/lbs equivalent at normal airgun ranges. It opens up the opportunity to take quarry out to around 60m with the right ammo and in the right conditions.
There are good reasons to like this power band, as it won’t over-strain standard pellets, reduces carry-over and ricochets, makes for a smooth shooting experience, and permits a design that combines an ample shot count with sleek lines.
Accuracy was bench-tested at 50m and first place was a tie between with 15.1-grain H&N Field Target Trophy and the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbos. Close behind came JSB’s 15.89-grain Hades and 18.13-grain Exact Jumbo Heavies. By contrast, the heavier 22-grain FX Hybrids and 25.38-grain JSB Exact Monsters produced disappointing groups. No great loss, because these projectiles are designed to run at high muzzle velocities that will produce flat initial trajectories and then out-perform standard pellets at distances over 60m, where their higher ballistic coefficients come into play. At the lower velocities delivered by the BSA, however, their greater weight simply produces greater drop at 50m with little onward benefit. It was ideal, therefore, that the most accurate pellets were the ones that would fly fastest and flattest to 50m, before shedding their energy as quickly as possible downrange, and thus shortening the danger area behind the target.
With that in mind, I tried JSB’s super-lightweight 13.43-grain Exact Jumbo RS, but these performed less well at 50m, with more erratic groups and a lower mean point of impact (MPI), suggesting stability issues and overly-rapid loss of their initial 20 fps advantage over the H&Ns.
Having worked out a ballistic strategy, it was time to relish the form and function of the R-10 SE. Function first, and what a positive experience that is! BSA has been making this model for a good while now, and that means this is a rifle with all the kinks well-and-truly ironed out.
Filling up is by way of the supplied brass probe, which plugs into a discreet socket inlet located on the underside of the rifle’s forend, ahead of the pressure gauge. To keep dirt at bay between fills, a filler-port plug is also supplied. The on-board, BSA-branded gauge is helpfully colour-coded for quick reference. There are some figures too, but these are microscopic, so for hard numbers, you should rely - as ever - on the full-sized gauge on your air supply.
I was getting around 45 good shots from a 232 bar fill of the compact 250cc bottle, and the regulator keeps the power chart flat to the very end. The bottle is removable, so you can boost your air supply, by purchasing additional ones, or upgrading to one from Best Fittings. They offer highcapacity alloy or carbon-fibre examples, available in 220, 300, 400 and 500cc options.
The R-10 SE comes with two 10-shot rotary magazines. These are light but sturdy, with a black polymer body, steel back, and a spring-loaded alloy rotor. The latter is anodised red in .22, blue in .177 and black in .25, and is scalloped and numbered around its edge. Filling is as simple as dropping in a pellet, indexing the rotor, and continuing until all ten chambers are full. When the magazine is empty a white dot on the rotor shows through a hole in the backplate. Even in this high-capacity age, 10-shots is plenty, especially as the resulting low-profile permits a closed-top receiver design with a full-length dovetail, thereby eliminating the mounting constraints that bedevil split-bridge actions.
Locked and loaded To load a magazine into the rifle, first apply the safety, which is a resettable foreand- aft lever on the lefthand side. Then cock the bolt, slide forward a small square catch located frontleft of the action, and insert the magazine from the left, ensuring that a rounded pin on its right-hand side engages with a matching hole in the receiver wall.
Returning the catch to the rear position secures the mag in place. Closing the bolt again will seat a pellet in the barrel. It would be nice to be able to load just 9 pellets and ‘ease springs’on an empty chamber so as to stalk with the rifle at condition 3 (chamber empty, full magazine in place, not cocked), but the auto-rotating operation of the mag, and the fact that you can’t manipulate the rotor with the magazine in situ, prevents this.
The cocking effort required is greater than on the off-ticket version, but by no means excessive. The size and feel of the blacked, ball-ended bolt handle are a satisfying meld of grip, unobtrusiveness and good looks.
The trigger is excellent, with a broad, ribbed blade that can be externally adjusted for height, reach and left/ right angle. Also adjustable are the second-stage sear engagement and pull weight, although this requires removal of the stock and air bottle. I was happy with the factory settings here but would have liked the option to shorten the first stage pull.
The ergonomics can be tweaked further via the butt pad, which is adjustable for cast as well as height. You can also lighten the rifle and adjust its balance slightly by removing the purely cosmetic barrel shroud and refitting the supplied sound moderator directly to the barrel. The mod works well, too, as befits a unit with ‘hair curler’ internals.
The greatest joy of this rifle, however, is its stock. Sleek and curvaceous, its smooth, well-figured walnut feels as good as it looks, guiding your cheek and hands perfectly into position (whether you prefer a thumb-up or wraparound hold) and then giving them all the comfort and grip they need via swooping contours and smartlychequered panels on each side of the pistol grip and on the flanks plus the underside of the forend.
Additional kerb-appeal is provided by dark wood caps and spacers at the tip of the forend and base of the pistol grip, and by the neat BSA piled-arms logo inscribed into the top of the butt. Finally, factory-installed sling-swivel studs are a welcome practical detail. The stock is by Minelli, who never disappoint, but neither does BSA. This is a simply gorgeous rifle that is a peach to shoot, and in FAC format it is a really potent hunting tool.