Gun test: Ultra JSR

Being able to hold your rifle comfortably is vital to learning and fun

Being able to hold your rifle comfortably is vital to learning and fun - Credit: Archant

This is surely every youngster’s dream rifle

Every feature a youngster could want is right here

Every feature a youngster could want is right here - Credit: Archant

Like many people, I’m always pleased to see young people coming into our sport, but all too often they’re presented with guns that are simply too big. Struggling to hold a rifle that’s too heavy can be very off-putting and not being able to reach the trigger in a comfortable way can lead to bad habits that are hard to overcome later. Many rifles that claim to be ‘junior models’ may be light, but can have adult proportions, so are far from ideal.

When BSA showed me a prototype of the JSR on test, I was really pleased. It has truly small dimensions where they count, namely an 11½” pull length, compared to the standard 14½”, and a very short reach from the pistol grip to the trigger blade. This lets the young shooter hold the JSR naturally and become comfortable, so eliminating the desperate need to snatch at the trigger before little arms tire and wobble.

With time to listen and learn, the teacher can help the shooter to develop proper trigger control, one of the most important skills that any rifle shooter can have. On the subject of the trigger, this is another area where the JSR scores compared to the typical junior rifle. The Ultra trigger unit is reasonably light, very smooth and consistently predictable – a huge help to anybody wanting to shoot accurately.

The simple beech stock and short barrel help to keep the weight low, and at just 5¾ lbs it’s a true featherweight.

The reach to the trigger blade is ideal for small hands

The reach to the trigger blade is ideal for small hands - Credit: Archant

Received wisdom

There’s been a view for many years that children should be taught to shoot a spring/piston rifle, preferably with open sights, before anything else. I have to say that I disagree. I believe that hitting the target rewards the learner, and the more success they enjoy, the more excited they are to continue learning. I’ve seen kids brought to tears of frustration as they miss time and again, and unsurprisingly, lose interest in trying. PCPs are much easier to shoot than springers and can be rested on a table without any loss of accuracy. Hitting equals smiling, in my book.

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The JSR takes this advantage much further. The bolt action is light to cock so there’s no concern about young arms getting fatigued. It also eliminates the dangers that break-barrel springers can suffer in terms of trapped fingers. Further, the multi-shot magazine means that the youngster can simply sit and shoot whilst the adult stands behind to offer guidance and control. I strongly believe that a kid who is lucky enough to be bought one of these will learn to shoot well far quicker than one struggling with a springer.

The barrel is screwcut ready for a silencer

The barrel is screwcut ready for a silencer - Credit: Archant

Enough power

Wisely, BSA chose to set the power output to 6 ft.lbs. which is more than enough for plinking and target shooting, and has a secondary benefit of delivering more shots per fill. To keep the rifle as small and light as possible, plus to keep costs down, the JSR does not come with a silencer, but my advice to any dad buying this rifle is to get one. The sharp crack that PCPs make will soon annoy your neighbours, whereas with a silencer fitted they’ll hardly know that you’re shooting.

Because the action is pretty much the standard Ultra, as your child grows you could buy and fit a standard stock, making it a full-size, adult gun and extending the gun’s useful life. Using a standard stock could also be an option if you wanted to use the JSR whilst Junior wasn’t about.

Beyond the performance, it's a great looking rifle as well

Beyond the performance, it's a great looking rifle as well - Credit: Archant

Full spec’

No corners have been cut in making this gun, as evidenced by the pressure gauge that lives in the belly of the stock. All PCPs need a gauge, and I was glad to see the smart BSA-branded one fitted as standard.

Despite the fit being totally wrong for me, I couldn’t resist shooting the rifle and I was not at all surprised to find that it shoots just like its full-size brother. It printed neat little groups at 25 yards, straight from the box, and with a BSA silencer fitted it was as quiet as you could wish.

As I’m sure you’ve realised by now, I think this is a really great little rifle and any youngster lucky enough to be bought one will be delighted, I’m sure. I’m also confident that they’ll quickly become a competent shot, which will open the door to a lifetime of pleasurable shooting and that has to be one of the greatest gifts we could ever give a child.


Manufacturer: BSA Guns


Model: Ultra JSR

Type: Pre-charged pneumatic

Action: Bolt-action

Length: 27” (69cm)

Weight: 53/4 lbs (2.6kg)

Calibres: 177 and .22

Muzzle energy: 6 ft.lbs.

Shots per fill: 120

Max fill pressure: 232 bar