Winner: Kelly Houston from Renfrewshire
King of the springers
To a sportsman the word springer can mean many things. For the angler it’s the finest salmon and for the game shooter it’s the finest gundog (OK, I’m biased) but to the serious airgunner it often raises a more moderated opinion – the phrase ‘entry level’ often occurs.
Actually the BSA GRT Lightning XL SE .177 I tried for this review isn’t a true spring gun. Instead of being powered by a coil of metal, the piston is propelled by a gas ram, a column of nitrogen which is compressed when the gun is cocked, storing the energy to be released when the trigger is pressed.
Straight from the box the Lightning can be fitted with a scope in minutes. BSA provided its Essencial 3-9×40 glass for this review and it’s pretty decent. But, before you rush out to try the gun, spare a little time to view the supplied CD manual; it really does contain much useful information from fitting the scope to selecting quarry.
The gun itself is very handsome; excellent woodwork with a finish of real quality. Lifting it to the shoulder, it seems very nicely balanced. But handsome is as handsome does, so what is it like in the field?
To begin with, the cocking is firm and mercifully unlikely to result in a hernia, thanks to extra leverage from the included silencer on the carbine barrel. Lining up on a target, the gun feels every bit as good as it looks, the trigger is precise and the recoil from the gas ram seems much softer, which also contributes to its notable accuracy. I was also very pleased with the positioning of the safety catch on the side of the breech where your thumb sits naturally.
Out on the hillside on a breezy day its performance was impressive. With a little practice you should get some remarkable results; for close-range pest control this is a perfect tool, and a pleasure to use. I shot some tight groups on paper targets and dispatched a couple of pesky magpies in the garden without problem.
Coupled with BSA’s legendary reliability, the GRT Lightning is a gun that should give a lifetime’s satisfaction, putting it way beyond ‘entry level.’