BSA Portable PCP Cxompressor
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- Last updated: 21/01/2022
Filling a pre-charged pneumatic airgun has never been simpler and the options are now many and varied. I favour a pump, as I need the exercise and like the feeling of independence. Many shooters are perfectly happy using a divers bottle, but they need filling up and safety testing periodically. But the final option, the air compressor, is becoming increasingly popular as more and more machines become available, at increasingly competitive prices.
On test here is the new Portable PCP Compressor from BSA Guns, and first impressions, with it out the box, is of a super compact unit that looks well made. Full instructions, a bag of spares and some basic tools are all included, as are the airline, twin jump leads for car battery attachment and power cable, so I was keen to see how it all shaped up.
At just under 20lbs in weight, the BSA compressor is quite weighty but for those fairly fit, a quick carry to the car, to take to a shoot or the club, for example, is all pretty easy. If refills aren’t required during the day, just simply charge at home. At this stage though, I should point out that as far as BSA are concerned, this compressor is intended to charge rifles directly, rather than divers bottles, and for that specific task, it does seem rather impressive.
I have to say, that before I started playing with this compressor, I was a little anxious. This is the first time I have dabbled with such hardware and we must never forget that we are dealing with high-pressure air in our little PCP world. Respect the system at every stage and use common sense, and pneumatic airguns are extremely satisfying to use. As with any technical kit, always read the instruction manual thoroughly before diving in. That said, in the case of this compressor, after spending some time scrutinizing the instructions, to be quite sure that I hadn’t overlooked anything, final operation really is as refreshingly straightforward as the first few lines in the manual suggest! I reckon that the vast majority of shooters will opt to charge via a mains electric power source, so let’s cover that procedure first.
First, check that the top rubber-coated catch is set to 220v, rather than 110v (I couldn’t get it to move anyway, so I have a feeling this comes pre-set for individual markets). Then, connect the large push-fit mains cable to the unit and plug it into the mains. You will then hear the gentle fans start up. Next, gently close off the bleed valve screw and connect the rifle’s adaptor to the airline, and here I would recommend using a quick coupler from Best Fittings to streamline the process. Moving on, twist the needle on the compressor gauge until the marker is set to the required fill pressure, then, connect the airline, via the adaptor, to the gun and press the red button to select ‘AC’ for mains use. The loud cooling fans will then activate. Finally press ‘Start’.
All importantly, when the gun’s pressure reaches the pre-set level, the unit automatically shuts down and the ‘OFF’ button illuminates to make it obvious. At this point, bleed the airline and disconnect in the normal way.
You can, as mentioned, opt to power this compressor from a car battery. The only difference will be to select the power source as DC12V and then use the two jump lead cables to connect to the plus and the minus terminals on the car’s battery. I would always recommend keeping the car engine running whilst the operation is carried out, so as not to run down the car battery in the process.
So how does it perform? Well, for my test I just happened to have a BSA Scorpion Tactical on loan, and this seemed a perfect candidate. First, filling the Scorpion from a residual 100bar up to 200bar, the compressor took just 1 min, 45 seconds. Then, filling from an ultra-low residual pressure of 30bar up to 232bar, I clocked 3.5 minutes.
Whilst this machine is quite noisy in operation, with a loud ‘chug, chug, chug’motor noise, the auto-off and quiet finish makes it easy to keep a track of progress. In addition, the ‘OFF’ button illuminates as mentioned at the finish. All very efficient, but it’s worth mentioning that, as per any PCP charging process, the air warms throughout the process and obviously cools afterwards. So, give the gun time to settle in order to see the true pressure, which may be slightly less than desired. If you look closely at the gauge on the unit, a small drop-down marker helps be precise with the pre-set pressure. I found this needed setting just fractionally past the desired pressure on the gauge, to allow for that tiny element of lost pressure through cooling. Of course, once set, precision is guaranteed for fills thereafter, so the gauge will not need to be touched if filling the same gun.
A conversation with BSA’s Head of Sales & Marketing, Jon Hatton, revealed that this portable PCP compressor has seen extensive testing through a tough quality regime, by both sister company Gamo and BSA themselves, and apparently, they have been found it to be particularly reliable. I must say there is definitely a solid and robust feel about the whole thing, and I was left mightily impressed.
As a footnote, many thanks to Range & Country gunshop in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, for the kind loan of this compressor.