Brocock has given its semi-bullpup XR a Safari twist and Mat Manning reckons the new look is something to roar about.
British gunmaker Brocock has adapted and evolved its winning semi-bullpup design considerably since its inception a few years ago. Some of these developments have focused on boosting performance while others have enhanced these handsome guns’ aesthetics. The latest change, and the one that has resulted in the subject of this review, brings benefits on both fronts.
If you didn’t guess from the name, the new Brocock Safari XR is cradled inside a Safari stock. This woodwork has already been seen on Daystate’s awesome Red Wolf Safari. Daystate has a close synergy with Brocock, which means many advancements made by the former end up being incorporated into guns made by the latter. That is a very good thing, and it certainly works with this new handle.
Apart from having a strikingly dark finish, the Safari stock also has what I would describe as a rough-cut finish. While that may not sound slinky, it has lots of advantages over traditionally finished wooden stocks. Aesthetics are a very subjective thing, but I think this handle looks fantastic – it certainly looks very at home in a hunting environment and its raw, muted finish blends in very well in a woodland setting.
The Safari finish is also quite forgiving if you happen to give it a ding, because chips and scratches simply blend in with the wood’s natural texture. In fact, the review gun I was sent already appeared to have had some unsympathetic handling, but the marks were nothing like as noticeable as they would have been on polished woodwork. If you want a stock that you can knock about but prefer wood over synthetic, then this could be just what you’re after.
Apart from looking great and being practical, the Safari handle is grippy thanks to that textured finish. There are additional panels of crisp stippling on either side of the forend and pistol grip, and they stick to your hand. Whether you wear gloves or not, and whether you’re out in wet conditions or dry, you will not struggle to get a secure purchase on this airgun.
The ambidextrous stock is also equipped with all the usual XR features. The cheekpiece and butt pad are both height-adjustable, so you can tweak fit and ensure correct eye alignment with your scope of choice.
I really like the pistol grip arrangement with a large thumbhole cutaway behind it. It seems to work well with hands of all sizes, and the steep grip, which has a nice scallop and a very comfortable valley to accommodate your index finger, ensures that your hand sits in exactly the right place.
As for proportions, its semi-bullpup design makes the Safari XR a very compact and pointable airgun. The gun featured here is the standard sub-12 ft-lb model, which is 87cm long with a 37cm length of pull and weighs 3.4kg. The barrel is 43cm long, while the one on the high-power version, which can churn out up to 55 ft-lb, is 60cm.
Brocock Safari XR – key specifications
MAKER: Brocock, England (www.brocock.co.uk)
MODEL: Safari XR
PRICE: From £1,416
TYPE: Sidelever-action, regulated, multi-shot PCP
CALIBRE: .177 (tested), .22, and .25
OVERALL LENGTH: 870mm
LENGTH OF PULL: 370mm
BARREL LENGTH: 430mm (sub-12), 600mm (FAC)
WEIGHT: 3.4kg (without scope)
TRIGGER: Two-stage adjustable
POWER: 11.5 ft-lb on test gun, with high-power versions also available
Features and function
One of the XR’s greatest boasts is its slick sidelever cocking mechanism. It is positioned at the rear of the action, features a dropdown handle that feels great in the hand and delivers smooth reloading. The system is now even better as it has a new and improved magazine at its heart.
Apart from increasing shot capacity to 13 in .177 calibre, 11 in .22 and 10 in .25, the self-indexing mag has been designed to improve alignment between pellet and bore, so it should bring gains to the gun’s impressive performance in accuracy.
The new magazine is a doddle to load. Pull the sidelever all the way back and the mag pushes out from the right ready for you to flip open the magnetic front gate towards you. Rotate the inner drum clockwise as far as it will go to tension the spring and then drop a pellet nose-first into the bottom bay to hold it in position.
You can now load pellets into the remaining chambers without the drum spinning back. When it’s full, simply snap the loading gate back into position, insert the magazine from the right of the action, return the sidelever and you’re cocked, loaded and ready to shoot.
The barrel, which has also had tweaks to boost precision with pellet and slug ammunition, is housed inside a shroud which has a really purposeful look to it. The shroud features an integral sound suppressor and although it does help to stifle muzzle report, I think that most hunters will want to fit an additional silencer – the end of the shroud is threaded so it would be a very easy job.
A good trigger is just as important as a good barrel, and this is a feature that Brocock knows how to get right. The one on the Safari XR is an adjustable two-stage unit with a simple but well-designed blade that comprises a gentle curve and a flat face that transmits plenty of feel.
Straight from the box and with no fettling, the generous first stage comes to an obvious stop and then breaks extremely crisply. There was absolutely no creep on the review gun’s trigger and the break-point was extremely predictable – if they all leave the factory like that there will be no need to tinker with them.
A switch-type safety catch is positioned just in front of the trigger blade. Regular readers will know that I don’t really think that a safety catch should be located too close to the trigger, but I will concede that it certainly makes it easy to use. This one is in the safe position when it’s over to the right and you simply nudge it across to the left when you’re ready to take the shot.
Picatinny rails are very much in fashion at present, and the Safari XR uses one for scope attachment, so connecting optics is fast and very secure. There is also a rail on the underside of the forend for the attachment of a sling or bipod, and the review gun had additional Picatinny rails on both sides just beneath the front of the scope rail.
Brocock has a reputation for building airguns with clean lines and neat engineering, and that is certainly the case with the Safari XR. This airgun may have a rugged stock, but it is very tidily engineered. Build quality appears to be excellent and, apart from protecting the metalwork from mud, blood and rain, the flash-free matt black finish looks the business and is a great match with the dark stock.
Performance and precision
An XR feature that makes a very big difference to performance is the Huma regulator. Combined with an upgraded hammer system it delivers impressive air efficiency and excellent shot-to-shot consistency right through the fill. The .177 calibre review gun was producing 11.5 ft-lb on full output and showed a variation of just five feet per second over a string of 10 shots.
Filling up with air is easy; a magnetic dust cap pulls off to expose the inlet in the underside of the forend ready for attaching the supplied connector. The large capacity 480cc carbon bottle means you can expect the best part of 400 shots from a full 250 bar charge at maximum output.
Turn down the power via the dial on the side of the action and you will get even more. Although plenty of sub-12 shooters will probably appreciate being able to turn down muzzle energy for backyard plinking sessions, the adjustability will be of most use to any of the FAC shooters who want to tweak output in order to optimise performance with different ammunition.
Because of its regulator, the Safari XR has two manometers neatly sunk into the right-hand side of the forend. The top one shows regulator pressure, which was set at 135 bar on the test gun, and the bottom one shows remaining air in the main bottle. The steps and numbering on both gauges are quite small, but I still found them easy enough to read.
There is no denying that the Safari XR is fully equipped when it comes to features and I am pleased to say that they all come together remarkably well to make an extremely good shooting machine. Off the bench and in calm conditions it can pretty much land pellet on pellet at 30m. The test gun shot particularly well with Rangemaster Sovereign ammo, and was comfortably clustering them into sub-20mm groups at 40m.
Take a gun away from the comfort zone of supported shooting and you soon discover whether or not its designers succeeded in doing their job properly. The Safari XR passed this test with flying colours. Handling well in standing, kneeling, sitting and prone positions, it’s a gun that will certainly earn its keep in the field.
With prices starting at £1,416, anyone splashing out on this airgun will expect something a little bit special. The Safari certainly is that, and also manages to strike a very nice balance between elegance and robustness. Above all, it is a very nice gun to shoot.
I have shot pretty much all variants of this rifle since its inception and it just gets more and more enjoyable to use on the bench and in the field.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“A slick sidelever PCP with compact handling and a very consistent regulated action. The addition of the handsome and practical Safari stock has made a great airgun even better.”
More reviews from Mat Manning
- Daystate Delta Wolf .177 review w/ Mat Manning
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- Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter review with Mat Manning
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