Left and Right?
- Credit: Archant
Charlie McFee tries a left-handed super-gun from Brocock
When somebody says ‘target shooting’ to me, my mind immediately visualises people standing silently in a hall making little holes in paper cards. The precision and concentration needed to do this well gets my full admiration, but to be honest it’s just not my idea of fun. My kind of target shooting is far more informal. I like reactive targets like knock-downs or spinners and of course, like everybody, I like to see just how far away I can hit them. This game is given a new dimension when you’re shooting a pistol. Cheap plinking guns have their place but I’m the first to admit that I love accurate, pre-charged, pneumatic (PCP) guns, but PCP pistols are pretty rare animals.
Here They Are
One company that offers a choice of them is English manufacturer, Brocock, in the form of the Atomic, on test here, and the Grand Prix. In most respects they’re the same gun except that the Grand Prix has a longer barrel and reservoir and this is part of the company’s modern manufacturing principle. You see that they use common parts across many different guns which simplifies stock holding and keeps the price of the guns in the shops down. It also makes getting spares easier if you ever need them. In fact, the action block is the same one found on many of their rifles, too.
The heart of the gun is its six-shot bolt action which is well proven in the field. The magazine has recently been upgraded to being machined from stainless steel rather than the original anodised aluminium which, in my opinion, is a good step forward. Magazines suffer wear from hundreds of pellets passing through them and if we’re honest, they get dropped too. Stainless steel is much tougher than aluminium and apart from lasting longer it doesn’t show the wear like anodised aluminium does, so they look good for longer.
Although the Atomic Super 6 isn’t a new gun, the reason it caught my eye was that, like the rest of the range, it is now available with a left-handed action. Many of the guns have ambidextrous stocks already, but now lefties can have properly designed action to suit their needs. I guess you might wonder why a right-handed shooter like me would care about left-handed actions, so I’ll tell you the answer. Picture this: If you hold a bolt action pistol in your right hand and you want to cock it, you have to pass it to your left hand, cock it with your right and then take the shooting grip again. With a left-hand action your right hand can stay where it is on the grip, while you left does the cocking. Brilliant! It’s just so much better. I’ve only ever seen this set-up once before and that pistol is now obsolete, as far as I know.
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Charging the Atomic is like charging many other PCPs. You unscrew a dust cover from the front of the reservoir and connect the hose from your dive bottle or pump and then pressurise it to 200 BAR, which is something of an industry standard. The pistol doesn’t have a built-in pressure gauge so you need to monitor the filling process with the external gauge on your bottle or pump. If you’re used to filling PCP rifles please remember to go very slowly when it comes time to fill the pistol. The small reservoir fills very quickly, so keep a keen eye on the needle or you could overfill it, which might well lock the action. This requires a trip to the gunsmith to rectify the problem.
Lots of Shots
Despite the tiny size of the reservoir, we can expect 30 full power shots which is deeply impressive. For those who don’t know, the UK power limit for pistols is 6 ft.lbs. and the Atomic gave just over 5 ft.lbs. over my trusty Skan chronograph using the JSB Exact 8.44 grain roundhead pellet, just as advertised. A heavier pellet might well squeeze a bit more from the pistol but I was completely happy with the power.
Many people are impressed with this much power, but what I care more about is accuracy and consistency and I have to say that I was blown away by just how consistent the Atomic was. The first six shots from a fill varied just two feet per second and the next six, just three. That’s seriously impressive. The velocity does drop off more quickly than a rifle, of course, because of the small volume of air available, but that has little effect on accurate shooting as long as you manage your shots to fills sensibly. For best accuracy I liked to refill after three mags’ and I was satisfied with the results.
To really see just how accurate a gun like this is you need to fit a scope so I mounted an AGS 2x20 long eye relief model that I’ve used on many other guns. It’s a proper pistol scope and suits the Atomic well. Scopes designed for this job have extra-long eye relief so that you’re able to get the full sight picture when the scope is at arm’s length. I expect that some of you are thinking that 2x mag isn’t enough but it’s been well chosen. A hand gun wobbling around makes keeping the sights on aim hard enough, so any additional mag’ makes the problem worse. The cross hair (reticle) is also very well designed. It’s slender enough to allow precise aiming while remaining thick enough to be seen clearly.
With everything mounted up and the pistol zeroed at 23 yards, I could aim at the centre of the full-size, knock-down kill zone and hit it with no need for hold over or under, out to 25 yards. From the bench rest, to be honest, this was too easy so I started working further and further out. 30 yards ... 35 ... ? At this range the wind was becoming a huge factor because the pellet was only travelling at just over 400 fps and drifting off target with the lightest breeze. Our range has notoriously tricky wind conditions, not the kindest place to show a pistol’s best attributes, but they’re real-world conditions after all. Let’s just say that at 35 yards I was hitting more often than not and the silly grin on my face told the story.
This is a great pistol. If I owned one I’d reshape the grips to suit my hands better but apart from that I’d be happy with it straight from the box. It has power, consistency and most importantly of all, accuracy, on top of which it’s just so easy to cock and load. Left-handed guns for right-handed shooters? Of course!