Gun test: Brocock Bantam Sniper HR laminate
PUBLISHED: 16:45 01 May 2019
Dave Barham explores this striking semi-bullpup rifle from Brocock - it's a hunter's dream!
When I first laid eyes on this magnificent rifle at the Great British Shooting Show I couldn't help thinking, 'I'd love to have a play with that'. I'd already seen the original black-stock Bantam Sniper lurking about the office, but I never actually got to shoot it. The rifle displayed at the show had the new grey laminate stock, and after a brief discussion, I arranged to have one sent to me to review. I love my job!
The Bantam Sniper HR incorporates a highly-advanced regulator system, developed in partnership with the internationally renowned Dutch regulator specialist, Huma.
When paired with the Bantam's patented Slingshot Hammer valve system, this technology precisely meters the air release to eradicate totally the usual 'power curve' that unregulated PCPs suffer from.
Measured air control ensures minimal shot-to-shot deviation as the rifle cycles through its usable air charge, not only improving accuracy, but also returning an even higher number of shots from each fill – a big bonus for those who go for the FAC versions. The sub 12 ft.lbs. .22 version sent to me gives a rather impressive 450-plus shots, but I believe you can get even more with the slightly larger capacity 500cc alloy bottle.
Power to the people
The Bantam Sniper HR is extremely short, measuring just 864mm (34 inches) long, but it retains a full-length, 17-inch (432mm) barrel and comes complete with 400cc carbon-fibre air bottle.
The Bantam is a full-power rifle with sub 12 ft.lbs. models for most UK shooters, plus two FAC versions – the .22 calibre producing up to 31 ft.lbs. and the .25 cal producing up to 46 ft.lbs. That said, there is a Hi-Lo power adjuster knob on the side of the rifle, to allow you to change your power output at the flick of a switch. Why would you want or need to do this I hear you ask? Well, the benefits are two-fold. Being able to adjust from Hi Power to Lo Power is primarily for those shooting FAC, going from say 32 ft.lbs. to 16 ft.lbs. However, for us sub 12 shooters we can use the lower power setting for ultra-close range hunting, like rats and feral pigeons. It also helps when you are training in your back garden at close quarters, where using the lower power setting will provide an element of extra safety.
During my testing, I put ten shots through the chronograph, which gave just 5 fps variation, more than likely due to the pellet inconsistencies. The average fps on full power was 567 with the 16-grain Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, resulting in about 11.4 ft.lbs.
My first outing with the rifle was to an induction day at the Basingstoke Air Rifle and Pistol Club, which gave me the perfect opportunity to test the rifle on a proper range – as well as getting some feedback from other shooters at the club.
After about 100 shots I had a good feel for just how accurate this rifle is because, time after time, I was destroying the inner bullseyes on paper targets at 30 metres.
As the day wore on, the wind began to get up a tad, so when the time came for me to put my usual five shots into the paper for photographic purposes, I was pleased to see that the gun – and my nerve – held its own, producing a neat 12mm spread at 30 metres – more than accurate enough for my hunting needs.
The general feedback from other members of the club was very positive, with just a few negatives regarding the slightly 'clunky' loading as the bolt pushes the pellet from the magazine into the breech. Every other shot required the bolt to be pushed slightly firmer in order to force the pellet into the breech.
I also found this to be the only negative I could find, however, upon returning home I realised that it was actually the magazine that was at fault, not the rifle. Brocock sent me a new mag and now the action is a smooth as a baby's bottom.
More things to love
I love the bolt-action loading. It's perfectly situated for me and not too far back, so my hand falls naturally in the right place each time. The two-stage trigger is also just right – with a short pull to the second stage, it releases cleanly. In front of the blade is the safety lever, perfectly placed to be switched by your trigger finger just before you take your shot.
I love the balance of this rifle, the centre point seems to be in front of the trigger guard, which makes palmed resting shots a doddle. The total length is just right, too. It's not long like a traditional rifle, and not super-short like a real bullpup – it's somewhere in the middle, like a super-carbine, for example. It's ideal for hunting in dense woodland, with not too many appendages to get caught up on branches and twigs.
Filling it is easy, through a male Forster fitting in the underside of the stock. This has a really nifty magnetic cover to prevent debris and water finding its way into the rifle. I really like this fitting –another piece of simple, genius engineering.
The entire Walther Lothar barrel is silenced (shrouded), and the rifle sent to me also had the new 0dB second-stage silencers attached. As you can imagine, this helps to make the rifle super-silent, which again bows to my hunting needs.
All in all, this is a truly magnificent piece of engineering from Brocock, and the Bantam Sniper is winning hearts all around the world at an impressive rate. I can't wait to take this rifle out hunting, and rest assured that as soon as this typically rubbish British weather allows me to, I will!
My rifle was delivered fully built with a rather intriguing MTC Connect Viper 3-12x32 scope fitted. The mounts used are superb, with an additional Picatinny rail moulded to the fore end – very handy for adding additional lamps or lasers.
After many hours shooting this rifle, I've grown to love this little scope. I wasn't too sure about it at first glance, but the more I've used it, the more I understand it.
The first thing I have to mention is the eye relief – there isn't any, well, just 30mm. As I settled down to the cheekpiece, my eyebrow gently nestled into the soft rubber outer ring surrounding the eyebell, and my nose just touched, too. I instantly discovered that this type of scope is perfect for hunters needing to mount up and take a shot in a hurry. After a good few shots from the rifle, plonking your cheek on the cheekpiece with your eye in the perfect position becomes second nature, and I'm really looking forward to getting out in the field with this rifle to put my theory into practice.
This particular scope is available with a choice of AMD or SCB2 illuminated reticles. My scope has the Advanced Mil Dot (AMD) which provides multiple aiming points in a simplified version of a more complicated design. In other words, it's the perfect scope for hunting.
I simply adore the way that the 'illuminated' part is just the tiny X in the middle of the reticle and not the surroundings as found in some other scopes. The intensity of illumination is also widely adjustable, from 1 to 12, by turning the knob on top.
There's side parallax adjustment from 10 to 1000 yards plus infinity, and the ultra-low, semi-target turrets really add to the look and practicality of this scope.
Other great features include a solid flip-up cover on the objective bell and the wide field of view – almost double at 10x compared to most other scopes – plus the whole thing only weighs 600g. It really is a compact masterpiece and perfectly suited to the Bantam – it's as if they were made for each other!
Brocock Bantam HR features:
• Pre-charged from a dive cylinder or high pressure pump delivering a shot capacity
• Power adjuster
• Removable self-indexing, 10-shot rotary magazine
• Single-shot tray
• Grey laminate stock
• Adjustable cheekpiece
• 2D adjustable butt pad
• Slingshot Hammer system (not .25 cal)
• Two-stage trigger
• Resettable safety catch
• Full length. Built in fully baffled silencer with second-stage silencer
• Precision Huma regulator
• Twin manometer display (bottle pressure and regulator pressure)
Model: Bantam Sniper HR grey laminate
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot or single shot
Models: 12, 18, 30 and 46 ft.lbs.
Price: £1149 including multi-shot mag and single-shot tray
Max fill pressure: 200 bar
Bottle capacity: 400cc
Stock material: Grey laminate
Stock type: Ambidextrous with adjustable butt pad and cheekpiece
Cocking: Bolt action
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Calibres: .177, .22 and .25 (FAC)
Safety: Manual, in trigger guard
Overall length: 864mm
Barrel length: 432mm
Magazine capacity: Ten shots (two supplied)
Weight: From 7lbs (3.2kg)
Shot capacity: .22 450; .177 360
Variation (10 shots): 8 fps
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