BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

Overview

Testers: Doug Rogers, Stephen Archer

Caliber: 0.22

Model Number: Pathfinder XR FAC

Test Date: April 3, 2024

Serial Numbers: SL 2306326

Source of Supply: Supplied by Airguns of Arizona

Condition: Previously used.

We Like

Outstanding handling

Ideal for designated task of pesting

Accuracy

We Don't Like

Loud

Some minor operational issues for Steve

Nothing else

HAM RATING

  • Value for Money
    90%
  • Speed and Accuracy
    80%
  • Trigger and Cocking Effort
    100%
  • Comparison to Makers Claims:
    100%
  • Consistency
    100%
  • Noise Level
    70%
  • Sights
    100%
  • Shootability
    100%
  • Appearance and Finish
    100%
  • Buying and Owning
    90%

92%

HARD AIR MAGAZINE TEST CONCLUSIONS

The BRK Pathfinder is definitely an example of the “less is more” philosophy applied to airguns. If you’re looking for a high quality pesting air rifle, this is the one.

It’s accurate, compact, fairly light and has great handling. It’s easy to shoot and ideal for offhand shooting. It has sufficient power for the pesting role. The quality of design and finish is clear too.

The Pathfinder earns a HAM Gold Award because it delivers so well on what it claims to do.

 

VALUE FOR MONEY

At a Street Price of $1,795, the BRK Pathfinder is not exactly a cheap air rifle. Plus – of course – you’ll need to add a decent scope, rings and HPA charging equipment.

It’s also a highly-specialized air rifle. Intended as a pest control tool, that’s the whole focus of the product. It’s clear that it meets that goal extremely well.

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

So this is definitely a “working gun” for relatively short range use – out to ethical shooting distances only.

With the short barrel, limited air capacity and adequate power, the Pathfinder is not intended for long range, competitive benchrest competition, for example. But that’s precisely what makes it so good at being what it is.

That’s why it rates highly for value.

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

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SPEED AND ACCURACY

The .22 caliber BRK Pathfinder tested by HAM achieved a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 973 FPS with 10.03 Grain H&N Field Target Trophy Green lead-free pellets.

However, most potential owners will be more interested in the power levels generated by the Pathfinder. As you can see from the table below, Muzzle Energy varied between 21 and 28 Ft/Lbs for the standard HAM test pellet suite.

All the testing for this review was undertaken with the side-mounted power adjuster set to the “Max” position.

PelletAverage Muzzle VelocityAverage Muzzle EnergyAccuracy
H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain973.11 FPS21.09 Ft/LbsPoor.
Predator GTO 11.75 Grain915.37 FPS21.86 Ft/LbsExcellent. Best Tested.
RWS Hobby 11.9 Grain893.27 FPS21.08 Ft/LbsGood.
Crosman Premier HP 14.3 Grain849.09 FPS22.89 Ft/LbsExcellent.
JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain853.88 FPS23.23 Ft/LbsExcellent.
H&N Field Target Trophy 14.66 Grain849.38 FPS23.49 Ft/LbsExcellent.
Datstate Howler Slugs 20.3 Grain743.74 FPS24.93 Ft/LbsExcellent.
H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain751.72 FPS26.53 Ft/LbsExcellent.
JSB Jumbo Monster 25.39 Grain706.56 FPS28.15 Ft/LbsExcellent.

In respect to accuracy, there were two pellets that it was very difficult to separate. Perhaps surprisingly, these were the 11.75 Grain GTO lead-free pellets and the 25.39 Grain, redesigned Jumbo Monsters.

In our 10-Yard “data collection” testing, the GTOs were just marginally more accurate than the Jumbo Monsters (as you can see at the foot of the page). However, at 25 Yards, the Jumbo Monsters gave a marginally better group.

But it was a VERY close-run thing, as these targets show. Note that both 25 Yard groups were shot with the scope settings unchanged. The Jumbo Monsters impacted about 1-Inch lower on the target at that range.

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

 

TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT

HAM Tester Doug Rogers summarized this section as follows in his test notes. “Trigger nice. Cocking easy”.

The average pull weight of the BRK Pathfinder tested by HAM was 2 Lb 6.5 Oz. The feel is good. There’s a definite first stage and it’s easy to feel when the sear is going to release.

As always, HAM tested the trigger “as received”. However there are adjustment possibilities for both first and second stages, together with trigger position.

Interestingly, there’s also an adjustment capability for the safety catch. This is to be adjusted as needed after any other trigger adjustment. That’s definitely an uncommon feature!

The manual safety is a “paddle type” that flips from side-to side. It’s inside the trigger guard, just in front of the trigger itself. This is a convenient location for the safety and it works precisely. However, it is not easy to operate with one hand.

The safety pushes to the left to disengage. This is easy and natural for right-handers, but not so for southpaws, who may find it necessary to break their hold on the gun to let off the safety. On the other hand, setting the safety is more difficult for the right-handed shooter…

Also, it’s the HAM Team’s opinion that it’s not so easy to see the safety’s position.

The sidelever cocking action is easy and precise to use.  The side lever itself is well positioned and pleasantly-weighted.

The cocking effort around 9 Lbs. It felt light and easy, helped – no doubt – by the oversize cocking lever handle. This has tactical looks and tactile feeling – it’s an efficient and enjoyable way to cock the air rifle. Very nice!

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

While we’re here, this may be a good time to mention the power adjuster of the BRK Pathfinder. It’s that rotary switch just under the company logo. We left it set to “maximum” for the whole test and imagine that most owners will do likewise.

 

COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS

Headline specifications for the BRK Pathfinder in .22 caliber are a Muzzle Energy of up to 27 Ft/Lbs and between 50-80 shots per fill.

HAM test results produced a maximum of 28.15 Ft/Lbs when using Redesigned Jumbo Monsters. That’s comfortably above the manufacturer’s claim.

Our consistency testing below shows that the Pathfinder achieved 50 consistent shots at the full power setting. This matches the claim and makes believable the “80 shots” claim were the power adjuster set to a lower setting.

 

CONSISTENCY

The BRK Pathfinder tested by HAM offered excellent consistency. Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot consistency in a string – averaged just 1.99 FPS across the range of HAM test pellets. It actually fell to as low as 1.0 FPS for the JSB Jumbo Monster Redesigned 25.39 Grain pellets. That’s really outstanding!

The “shutdown chart” shows below was made at the full power setting. As we can see, the regulator set point was met at shot 40 when firing 18.13 Grain pellets.

However HAM’s definition of “consistent shots” is those with an Extreme Spread of 40 FPS. Applying this rule, the number of consistent shots for the BRK Pathfinder tested by HAM was 50.

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

Trigger pull weight was also very consistent. It varied by less than 3 Oz above or below the average of 2 Lbs 6.5 Oz. That difference is imperceptible to the HAM Testers and – probably – to any other user, too.

 

NOISE LEVEL

It came as no surprise that the BRK Pathfinder tested by HAM gave a fairly loud report. After all, with a fair degree of power, a short barrel and no acoustic silencing, how could it be anything else?

The perforated muzzle brake supplied with the Pathfinder is attractive and compact. But really it’s purely decorative.

Fortunately the muzzle is threaded and the brake can be easily spun off. Attaching an airgun-specific 0dB silencer tamed the bark considerably, making it definitely backyard-friendly. However the overall length of the gun increased by about 3 Inches.

Is that a good trade-off? That will be a decision for each individual owner.

 

SIGHTS AND SCOPE

The BRK Pathfinder is equipped with a two-part Picatinny rail for scope mounting. This provided plenty of real estate for attaching a scope.

For this test review, the HAM Team attached a Sightron S-TAC 3-16 x 42 scope. This has good, sharp optics and a fine, Second Focal Plane mil-hash reticle. We like the turrets, too!

The scope is not too big, so it balanced well on the Pathfinder. Mounted with 30mm Leapers UTG Pro rings, the all-up weight was just 7 Lbs 15 Oz. Plus, the finish of the metal components matched very well too.

Needless to say, there are no open sights supplied with the BRK Pathfinder. However, everyone will want to mount an optic of some sort for pest-control shooting, so that’s a non-issue.

One convenient usability feature is the positioning of the pressure gauges. As with the Sniper/Commander models, the two pressure gauges are placed above each other. The HUMA gauge indicates the regulator pressure, the Daystate gauge the pressure in the HPA bottle.

That makes it quick to check on air pressure in the gun. The different gauge face plates make it easy to understand which is which at a quick glance.

 

SHOOTABILITY

This is a great strength for the BRK Pathfinder!

The compact design, plus light weight and well-placed center of gravity make this an easy and fun air rifle to shoot.

Of course the Pathfinder is not intended for benchrest competition. It’s intended for a tough life as a pest control tool. Most shots likely will be taken off-hand and in confined spaces.

So accurate “snap shooting” out to – say – 60 Yards is the forté for this particular model. For that, the Pathfinder definitely delivers.

However, there’s a short Picatinny rail in the underside of the forend. This can be used for a number of purposes, including as a mounting-point for a bipod, if required.

We installed a Leapers TBNR bipod to continue the compact, light weight theme of the Pathfinder.

The 10-shot rotary magazine works well and predictably, as always with Brocock/BRK and Daystate air rifles. The HAM Team also particularly liked the single shot tray. This was easy to use, providing a convenient, high wall on the “non-loading” side.

The single shot tray can also be installed from either side. This unusual feature was particularly appreciated by Doug Rogers, who is a left-hander.

 

APPEARANCE AND FINISH

The BRK Pathfinder is a compact, “chunky” kind of gun. It certainly feels as if practicality and ergonomics – rather than outright appearance was the driving factor behind the product.

However – so long as you like black guns – the HAM Team found the Pathfinder to be quite good-looking in its own way. I would say that it’s one of those air rifles that looks better “in the flesh” than it does in photographs.

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

As always with Brocock/BRK products, the machining, molding and surface finish of all parts is perfect. There’s not much more to say!

BRK Pathfinder Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber

 

BUYING AND OWNING

As with all Brocock/BRK products, you’ll only find the Pathfinder available from specialist airgun dealers such as Airguns of Arizona and the Precision Airgun Distribution network of dealers across the USA.

However, knowledgeable air gunners will know this. They will also value the three-year warranty that’s provided with the Pathfinder. This is supported in the USA by Airguns of Arizona’s repair facility in Phoenix for US customers.

The Pathfinder tested by HAM was supplied with a generic, BRK “Official Handbook”. This is a beautifully-produced, full-color publication that provides much information, including parts diagrams. However it’s not model-specific and so the Pathfinder owner will need to select the information appropriate for his or her gun.

Surprisingly, there were a couple of operational issues concerning the BRK Pathfinder where the HAM Testers had very different experiences…

Firstly, the folding “AR-style” buttstock. Doug Rogers had no trouble opening and closing this. Stephen Archer found it completely impossible: he just could not do it – even when supervised by Doug!

Secondly, the male fill nipple is extremely well-protected in a location sunk within the stock. It’s covered by a convenient cover that snaps into place using magnets.

But – here again – Stephen was completely unable to remove the fill cover and had to use pliers to grasp it. Doug had no problem. Nor did he have any problem with removing the extended collar of the female quick disconnect.

Stephen obviously just has fat fingers!

However both testers agreed on another couple of usability issues…

To access that deeply-recessed fill nipple, BRK supplies a special female quick-disconnect with extended collar. However, instead of having a male quick disconnect on the other end – as upwards of 90% or US owners probably want – this quick disconnect has a threaded end instead.

So most purchasers will need to buy an additional adapter if they are to fill their Pathfinder from a tank or pump. This is the one. (An equivalent black part is shown in the photo above). If you don’t know this, it would be a source of frustration.

The second gripe concerns the faceplate of the Pathfinder’s HPA gauge. Take a close look at it below…

Judging by normal conventions, this gauge indicates a maximum fill pressure of 200 Bar (2,900 PSI) as the red sector starts there.

However this is incorrect. The maximum safe fill pressure for the BRK Pathfinder is actually 250 Bar (3,625 PSI). That means that it’s safe to fill the gun to the end of the red sector.

This is OK when you know, but without careful investigation, many owners could be filling their Pathfinder to less than its maximum fill pressure.

 

TEST TARGETS

This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.

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