Brocock Commander XR - test & review
- Credit: Archant
Dave Barham reveals what’s new with the improved Brocock Commander XR in this air rifle test and review
A couple of years ago, I reviewed the Brocock Commander Hi-Lite rifle, and soon afterwards they changed it all about. Enter the Commander XR, with its nifty new sidelever action and CNC-machined, refined firing system.
The XR concept is designed to be modular, accepting various parts and fitments across the range compatible with AR upgrade parts and accessories.
The XR range of rifles feature Brocock’s improved hammer system, which has some distinct advantages over the previous slingshot system.
First of all, the new hammer makes the rifle far easier to cock. The old rifles often needed quite a bit of force to pull the bolt back, but the new sidelever, hammer and spring arrangement makes for easier cocking – even on guns shooting 55 ft.lbs.
Add the Huma-Air regulator into the mix, with its constant delivery pressure, and this too makes the hammer requirements simpler, so it does not need a highly sprung hammer system.
- 1 Airgun law in the UK
- 2 Gun test: Lee Enfield M1911 A1 Co2 pistol
- 3 Watch: How to mount and set-up a riflescope
- 4 Improve your benchrest shooting skills | Part 2
- 5 Weihrauch HW100 - test & review
- 6 3 of the best: Weihrauch airguns reviewed in 2021
- 7 How far can a sub-12 ft.lbs air rifle shoot?
- 8 Test & review: BSA's new Portable PCP Compressor
- 9 3 of the best: break-barrel air rifles under £300
- 10 Gun test: Gamo GX-40 PCP air rifle
Then there’s the added advantage of the entire action being quieter; because the hammer is not hitting the valve with such force, the firing cycle is noticeably quieter.
Last but not least, the new system provides better efficiency. There is a slight trade-off with a slower lock time, but given the advantages, it definitely seems a worthwhile compromise.
BARREL AND POWER
There is a Lothar Walthar barrel underneath the impressive shroud, which has a removable end piece that reveals an industry-standard ½-in UNF thread, should you wish to add a 0dB silencer.
There’s a power dial situated just above the trigger on the right-hand side of the rifle, which allows you to switch between high, medium and low power. This is mainly for those who purchase the rifle in one of the FAC versions, but it can be used by us 12 ft.lbs. UK shooters, too. It’s great to have the option to shoot on medium or low power in situations where you’re not looking at hitting targets 30 yards out, like in your back garden or at close quarters when ratting in a barn, for example.
Brocock has taken a note out of Daystate’s book and is now using their new self-indexing mag’s. They’re extremely robust and very easy to load by flipping open the metal cover, then winding the mag’ one full rotation clockwise until it stops. You can then insert the first pellet, nose first, and this traps the mechanism in place so you can load the rest of your pellets in any order that you wish, filling all the available holes.
Once loaded, flip the lid of the mag’ up and it snaps into place, thanks to some powerful magnets, and you’re ready to insert it into the rifle.
Even slotting the mag’ into the loading port is a simple affair, too, and it slides into place with a satisfying ‘click’.
One thing that instantly grabs your attention when you pick this rifle up is its weight. Unscoped, it weighs a mere 6.4lbs! Even when you slap an MTC SWAT Prismatic 10 x 30mm on top, that only pushes the weight to a few ounces over 7lbs! It’s the perfect rifle for carrying around a field all day, that’s for certain.
There are Picatinny rail mounts on top for your scope, plus one underneath on the foregrip for a bipod and these are both removable via Allen screws. If you opt for the MTC SWAT like I have, you don’t need the Picatinny rail mounted in front of the mag’ port at all.
One thing I really like about this rifle is the adjustable stock. With the push of the switch, you can extend and reduce the length of the butt to give you the perfect fit. The full extension is way too long for me, even with a regular scope attached, but as it turns out, with the SWAT on top, just one click out give me the perfect eye relief and comfort. It’s a really ‘close up and personal’ rig when it’s set up like this.
TRIGGER AND FILLING
The Commander’s safety switch is a manual one, so you need to reset it physically, but it’s situated inside the trigger guard right in front of your finger and is easy to operate, even whilst you’re zeroed on a rabbit at 30 yards.
The trigger has a slightly curved blade, one of the closet to straight that I have used and it’s really comfortable. Being two-stage, this one has a huge range of adjustment from ‘way too light’ to ‘super-safe’.
Filling is easy, thanks to the Brocock port situated just in front of the trigger guard on the underside of the foregrip. Simply pull the magnetic port cap away and push the quick-connect fill adaptor in.
You’ll notice there are two gauges on the side of the stock. The upper is the grey-faced Huma, which displays regulator pressure, whilst the lower one tells you the reservoir pressure.
There’s also a little hidey-hole inside the pistol grip, which can be used for carrying spare magazines or even a small amount of cleaning kit and Allen keys.
Having had quite a lot of time with the bolt-action Hi-Lite model in 2019, I was keen to get to grips with the new XR model. It’s significantly shorter than the Hi-Lite, especially with the MTC SWAT on top, measuring in at just 770mm or a tad over 30 inches when set up to feel comfortable for me to shoot. For this reason, I can see a whole host of situations where the shorter length will be a distinct advantage, like when shooting in a barn, or when buried in deep cover for roosting pigeons. Even stalking squirrels will be easier with this shorter rifle.
I spent a good two hours solid on my back garden range, nailing targets and spinners out to 25 metres, then took it to my mate Roger’s back garden, where I pushed my luck on his 40-metre set-up. As I expected, this .22 model on test performed seamlessly, and after just 20 minutes of shooting over the additional range, I felt at one with the rifle, and extremely confident in my ability.
There’s something about a rifle with a Huma regulator fitted that instils confidence, and with just a 6-shot variation over 20 shots through the chronograph, I can confirm that the only thing that would let this rifle down is me – the shooter.
Each time I have reviewed a rifle during this seemingly endless lockdown period, I’ve been itching to get out on my perms and try them out on the rabbits and pigeons. I could get away with it, too, if I had a letter from the landowners, requesting my services for pest control, and I could also argue that ‘It’s my job’, but it doesn’t seem right or fair on so many levels with everybody else being confined to staying local – and I’m not the kind of guy to rub peoples’ noses in it, so I’ll bide my time and wait until we’re allowed out again. I’m going to try to hang on to this rifle for a month or two, so I can get in the field and probably put together a feature on hunting rabbits for our sister title Airgun World, as well as a video for our Shooting & Country TV YouTube channel (go check that out if you haven’t already).
Until then, I’ll be enjoying many more hours in my back garden, letting the Brocock Commander XR do all the hard work for me!
There are a number of options when it comes to the XR. The rifle I’m testing here costs £1,250 with the 480cc Carbon bottle, but you can get it with the standard 400cc bottle for £1,138.
There’s also a really neat folding stock option, which allows the rifle pack down so small that you can easily fit it into a little rucksack! The folding stock costs an extra £50, which is a really nice little touch.
Then there’s a dual side Picatinny rail option for £55 and of course you can have the whole rifle in the Cerakote option for an extra £194.
Ergonomic sidelever operation
Pre-charged from a dive cylinder or high-pressure pump
Multiple power settings via side power adjuster
Removable 10 shot (.25), 11 shot (.22), 13 shot (.177) self-indexing magazine
Polymer ambidextrous stock with AR grip
Collapsible stock with folding option
Underside Picatinny rail
Revised hammer and valve assembly
Resettable safety catch
Full length, built-in, fully baffled silencer with adaptor for second-stage silencer
Model: Commander XR
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
Models: 12, 18, 30 and 46 ft.lbs.
Max Fill Pressure: 200 bar
Bottle Capacity: 480cc
Stock Material: Black synthetic
Stock type: Ambidextrous with adjustable length butt
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Calibres: .177, .22 and .25 (FAC)
Safety: Manual, in trigger guard
Overall Length: 838mm (33in) max
Barrel Length: 431mm
Magazine Capacity: Ten shots
Weight: 6.4lbs (2.9kg)
Shot Capacity: .22, 420, .177, 380
Variation (10 shots): 6 fps