Top Value Guns
Tim Finley trials the ‘ultimate junior PCP’ in the BSA Ultra JSR
Tim Finley reviews a new incarnation of the BSA Ultra - a small rifle ideal for juniors
Ihave a massive fondness for BSA airguns. My first two air rifles were BSAs; first a second-hand Super Meteor, then a brand spanking new one for Christmas when I was 14. Back then, the Meteor was seen as a starter or junior rifle, but times have moved on apace, and with the rise of pre-charged pneumatic air rifles even those are available in a starter or junior format. BSA has a strong ethic to promote younger shooters and it shows in both their product line and the good work they do by supporting the development of youngsters.
The Ultra PCP from BSA was an instant success when it was launched back in 2005. I bought one of the early ones and fitted it with a synthetic folding stock, but the current incarnation of the Ultra is quite different to the one I bought. Gone is the front cocking system, and the new one has a 10-shot magazine – mine was single shot. There are other changes, too; the stock is ambidextrous, and the barrel 50mm longer.
The subject of this review is the JSR Ultra. It’s a dedicated starter rifle built to the same exacting standards as BSA’s adult airguns, and so it should be. When you handle the Ultra, even the ‘normal’ one, it’s not a big rifle. The JSR has a slightly shorter length of pull to accommodate the smaller frames of young shooters, so the distance from the trigger to the back of the stock, at 290mm is perfect, and you can simply upgrade the stock for a full-size synthetic version when they outgrow the small one, so that’s a bonus.
The main difference with the JSR is its power level which is set to 6 ft.lbs. This is a deliberate choice, and one I think BSA have got spot on. When starting out, new shooters must limit the range at which they shoot. It’s counter-productive to get them shooting at 55-yard targets straight off the bat because they will only become disheartened when they are not knocking down targets at that range.
By halving the power, the youngster can focus on what the pellet is doing, rather than what bangs and noises the gun is making. After shooting a 12 ft.lbs. PCP, putting pellets downrange with the 6 ft.lbs. JSR is like using a video-game gun – it’s totally dead, and the small noise it does make is like nothing from the full-power rifle. I even put a moderator onto the JSR which put a little weight into the front end and also made the gun stupidly quiet.
The barrel is threaded for ½” UNF and has a thread protector collar and the rifle is filled via the simplest system out there currently, the
“upgrade the stock for a full-size synthetic version, when they outgrow the small one”
probe fill. It has a dust cover that has to be removed first, which reveals the charging hole – just stick the brass probe in and away you go. To check on your air usage the JSR, as all modern Ultras, has a pressure gauge under the action, and maximum fill pressure is 232bar or 3365 psi.
Over the chronograph, the gun gave me 100 shots with 7.9 grain pellets, and a 232 bar fill all at around 5.8 ft.lbs.
The 183mm-long, 11mm scope rail runs the full length of the action, and it has a cut-out on the right-hand side to insert the 10-shot magazine. We all know how to load this type of rotary magazine, so I won’t bore you with that, but one cool thing with the BSA version is the white dot that appears on the bottom of the magazine to tell the shooter they have reached the last pellet. You can see this on the left-hand side of the action, with a magazine inserted.
The JSR comes in both .22 and .177, using BSA’s world-famous, hammer-forged barrels, so accuracy is assured. I was not disappointed. It one-holed at six yards – and don’t think you can’t shoot out to 45 yards with a 6 ft.lbs. air rifle. You can – you just need to give more Kentucky windage, but it might not knock over a stiff metal FT target. For pure short-range, back garden use, the JSR is the perfect rifle, even for adult shooters. If you love your back garden shooting that’s less then 20 yards, then the JSR is superb. You just don’t need a 12 ft.lbs. air rifle in your back garden; with a moderator on, the sound of your pellets hitting your targets will be the loudest thing anyone, including your neighbours, can hear.
The JSR has a manual safety catch on the left rear of the action, which you flick forward for the ‘fire’ mode, and back toward you for ‘safe’ – F and S, of course. As always, I’d encourage the use of the safety at all times. Just flick to ‘safe’ after you have fired your last shot.
The trigger weight is light and predictable at 0.5kg, adding to the JSR’s accuracy downrange, as does BSA’s world-famous, cold-hammer forged barrel. Expect sub 20mm groups even in inexperienced hands at 25m.
Overall the JSR is an impressive diminutive package, and for a junior PCP I cannot recommend it enough.
My thanks to Simon and Hayley for help in production of this article.
Side views of the BSA Ultra fitted with a Simmons Whitetail 1-5 x 20 scope.
Grip panels are provided on the fore end, too.
The safety catch in the ‘fire’ position.
A filler gauge lets you know how much air you have left.
Unscrew the end cap and you have a charging port. It’s a 10-shot magazine.
Ergonomically, the bolt is good. The .177 magazines have a blue drum.