BSA Ultra CLX Compact PCP Air Rifle
Recent news has included the announcement of the new Crosman Icon compact PCP air rifle. Both this and the forthcoming Umarex Notos are examples of this genre.
A compact PCP air rifle offers the lure of great handling, light weight and easy shootability for the whole family. But of course there’s a downside – isn’t there to everything?
In this case the downside is that most compact PCPs offer lower power than their full-length cousins. So, power-hungry airgunners generally pass them by.
But what if power is not the most important consideration? Or, maybe a lower-powered air rifle has attractions of it’s own. Like because of that low power…
If you have a basement range – as many of us do in the North East, for example – then low power can actually be a benefit. Likewise if you shoot in your home’s garage.
Low power can also be a benefit for some types of close-range hunting. Birds, mice, squirrels, rats and other small critters needing to be taken at close quarters could be the reason here.
Another hunting-related need for low power could be due to the surroundings. What if you miss the target? Low-powered airguns will cause less damage in that case.
In fact, the probable originator of the compact PCP air rifle concept was the BSA Ultra. This British-made model has been available for some years. Now there’s a new version – the BSA Ultra CLX.
At just 32 Inches long, this is a miniature “full length” airgun, not a bullpup. It has a 12.5-Inch barrel and weighs-in at just 5 Lbs 11 Oz.
In the hand it feels just a pleasure to hold. Handling and “pointability” are absolutely outstanding – everything just feels so good. It’s definitely not a toy, nor is it an out-and-out kid’s gun.
During a recent visit to Airguns of Arizona, I had the opportunity to investigate this compact PCP air rifle. So I mounted an MTC Optics Viper Pro scope and did some shooting!
The first surprise was that the MTC scope – a chunky 10 x 44 model with an overall length of 14.5 Inches – did not overwhelm the Ultra CLX. The handling and balance remained outstanding!
The second surprise was the quality of the trigger. The gun I shot was pulled completely at random from stock but the average of five pull weight tests was just 11.1 Oz. Yes, that’s zero Pounds 11.1 Ounces!
The trigger has an adjustable blade and the pull length can be adjusted by the user. The feel was very good, too…
The Ultra CLX has a threaded muzzle and is supplied with an air stripper as standard. In fact, the noise level was a little sharper than I expected in this configuration.
However it was easily hushed simply by screwing a 0dB dedicated airgun silencer into place in replacement for the stripper.
So, we have a beautiful little air rifle with a high quality Minelli hardwood stock, a terrific trigger and outstanding handling.
BSA claims up to 72 shots per 3,365 PSI (232 bar) fill for the .22 caliber model I was shooting. And the newly-designed 12-shot magazine – red for .22 caliber, blue for .177 – was easy to load.
The only immediate downside was the bolt action. It’s not at all bad, but I usually prefer a sidelever. However BSA PCPs are all bolt guns, so that’s just the way it is.
As for power, the manufacturer rates it to stay within the restrictive UK 12 Ft/Lb legal limit. So you can expect a maximum of somewhere around 11.5 Ft/Lbs.
I shot the gun with H&N Field Target Green alloy pellets. These 9.57 Grainers gave an average of 670 FPS and a Standard Deviation of just 5.1 FPS across a 10-shot string.
The Muzzle Energy works-out at 9.54 Ft/Lbs with the “Greens”. That’s quite reasonable given that the gun has to hold down below that 12 Ft/Lbs limit even with heavy lead pellets and that heavier pellets always have more power in PCPs.
Sure, I didn’t have the time to run a full test, but I did have the time to enjoy myself with the Ultra CLX – as you can probably tell from reading this post.
It was a clear reminder that power is not always everything and that a low-powered, compact PCP air rifle can be a ton of fun!
High quality products in small packages are not necessarily cheap, however. The BSA Ultra CLX sells for $859. But if a compact, high-quality, low-powered PCP air rifle is what you need (or just want), it’s a gem.