Phill Price reviews the Explorer from SMK
When I was a young man, there were famous British brands that we knew and respected; Webley and BSA for rifles, and Eley and Milbro for pellets. In recent years, the beloved old name of Milbro has been all too hard to find, but now it’s reappeared on the side of rifles and scopes imported by those masters of value for money, SMK. The first to hit my desk was a large, break-barrel springer, called ‘the Explorer’, although I have no idea why.
At 48” long and weighing over 8lbs without a scope and mounts, this is a sizable rifle and a proper handful. It features a moulded-on silencer that adds to the muzzle-heavy balance on an already long barrel. This is no rifle for youngsters, or those of a slight build! Although the black synthetic stock looks deep from the pictures, it’s actually quite slim, side to side. The pistol grip is well shaped with a stylish flare in keeping with the large build, and the reach to the trigger blade is best suited to those with long fingers. As on the pistol grip, the fore end has moulded, chequered panels that are very nicely formed, with notably sharp points that really do offer added grip.
The fore end is very long, giving a good choice of hold positions, and despite the Explorer using an articulated cocking linkage, the cut-out is 7½” long, which is unusual. However, in use I hardly noticed it at all. There are cheek pieces on both sides of the butt, making the Explorer properly ambidextrous, and behind this is a nice, thick rubber butt pad that gripped my shoulder well. At 14¾” the pull length is a touch longer than average, adding to the impression that this is a rifle built for the larger man.
Up front, the barrel and silencer assembly measure 22”, making them a powerful lever with which to cock the main spring, and the force needed was noticeably easy. The synthetic silencer appears to be moulded onto the barrel permanently because I couldn’t see screws for removal. On top, the fore sight element is moulded in and offers a bright red, fibre-optic insert that complements the green ones in the fully-adjustable rear sight. Some people question the point of fitting open sights when almost everybody uses a scope these days, but on a rifle intended for those just joining our sport, they’re a very good thing.
I found the firing cycle smooth and quiet.