by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- New Bug Buster
- H&N Baracuda 5.50mm head
- H&N Sniper Light 5.50mm head
- H&N Field Target Trophy with 5.53mm head
- Shot count
I’ll start today’s report by listing some of the comments you readers made to Part 1. Several of you don’t care for the Hatsan BullMaster’s looks. That’s why I show a picture of the gun at the top of each report. You have to be satisfied with the appearance if you’re going to buy an airgun this expensive.
Next, several of you commented on the weight. At more than 10 pounds before the scope is mounted, this is not a lightweight airgun. Bullpups are small, but not necessarily light.
Then there is the size, itself. For a bullpup, the Bullmaster is on the large side. The overall length of just under 31 inches is very short compared to a conventional air rifle, but for a bullpup it’s on the long side. That length does give you a fully shrouded barrel that’s just under 20 inches, and you need the barrel length for power, but the point of a bullpup is its compact size.
And there was a comment about the trigger — as in they hoped it was as good as a Marauder trigger. Guys — that just isn’t going to happen. The BullMaster is one of the very few true semiautomatic pellet rifles available and you already read about this trigger in my test of the Hatsan Sortie pistol a while back. This rifle has the same trigger, and it’s going to perform about the same. I told you then that I tested the pistol first to get used to the action, because the BullMaster was the same. Well, it is. So, sit back and let’s all start learning how this air rifle performs.
New Bug Buster
One reader, I think it was RidgeRunner, suggested I mount the new UTG 3-12X32 AO Bug Buster scope on the rifle. I knew that scope was coming, but I didn’t know it was already out. I asked Leapers for a sample to test and they graciously sent one, plus some of their new UTG Accu-Sync lightweight scope rings that even Pyramyd Air doesn’t have in stock yet. Bug Buster scopes can be tricky to mount because of their short scope tubes, but I have looked closely at these rings and I think it’s going to work.
The new scope is everything we have come to expect from Leapers. It’s clear, lightweight, bright and it focuses down to 9 feet! It’s perfect for a rifle whose weight we don’t want to increase.
So — this test just got a lot better. We have a powerful and accurate semiautomatic air rifle to test, a new Bug Buster scope with the highest power ever and some new mounts to evaluate. We are going to have some fun!
Today I will look at the rifle’s power, plus check the function of the 12-shot .22-caliber magazine. My large carbon fiber tank was down to just 3200 psi, so I put it on the Air Venturi compressor and had it back to 4500 psi in 15 short minutes! You guys asked me to keep on reporting how this compressor works, and that’s what I’m doing.
The specs tell us to expect 31 foot pounds from the .22 caliber BullMaster. I told you in Part 1 that Hatsan is always conservative with these numbers, so let’s see where this one is.
H&N Baracuda 5.50mm head
First to be tested were the H&N Baracudas with a 5.50mm head. Hatsan sent these with the guns and if you remember, the Sortie really liked this one. Ten rounds through the BullMaster averaged 842 f.p.s., which works out to a muzzle energy of 33.29 foot pounds. So Hatsan is being conservative, once again. The first shot went out at 812 f.p.s., but I included it in the string for the average. After all, hunters always shoot that same first shot. Velocity ranged from 812 to 857 f.p.s., which is a spread of 45 f.p.s., but if we throw out that first shot the next slowest was 840 f.p.s. So the spread was reasonably tight.
H&N Sniper Light 5.50mm head
The next pellet I tested was the H&N Sniper Light with a 5.50mm head. I have no experience with this 14-grain dome, but Hatsan sent them with the Sortie and BullMaster, and they didn’t do well in the Sortie, so I’m thinking they are for the Bullmaster. They averaged 965 f.p.s. for 10 shots with a low of 950 and a high of 974 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 24 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Sniper Light produced 28.96 foot pounds of muzzle energy.
H&N Field Target Trophy with 5.53mm head
The final pellet I tested was the H&N Field Target Trophy with a 5.53mm head. I usually don’t test pellets from just one manufacturer, but Hatsan sent these, too, so I have to believe they are the best for this rifle. They averaged 949 f.p.s. for 10 shots. The spread went from 943 to 955 f.p.s. That’s just 12 f.p.s. At the average this pellet produced 29.3 foot pounds of energy.
Thus far we see a rifle with a reasonable velocity spread. When I looked at the gauge it showed there was still 2/3 of a fill remaining, so I pressed on to get the shot count.
The rifle is supposed to give 50 shots per fill. That’s in .22 caliber. In .177 it’s supposed to give 60. The shot count is where I usually part ways with the manufacturer, because they are willing to accept everything that makes a pop. I want to stay in the same power band. There were already 30 shots on this fill.
I chose the Field Target Trophy pellets for this next test, simply because I had just finished using them. This time I loaded the magazine with all 12 pellets. On the next string, which were shots 31 to 43, the BullMaster averaged 953 f.p.s. That’s a little faster than when I tested them before! The next 12 pellets — shots 44-56 — averaged 940 f.p.s. That’s a little slower, but still in the same ballpark! I was impressed. So I reloaded 12 more pellets. I’d like to show you what they did. These are still Field Target Trophys.
In case you are curious, that string averaged 936 f.p.s. You readers know that I don’t cut these airguns any slack. I report what happens and leave most of the discussion to you. But I have to comment today. WOW! I might have complained about the 250 bar fill pressure in Part 1, but Hatsan clearly did a lot with all that air. Remember — they are working the action with it, too! Good on you, Hatsan!
The trigger pull is two stage. Stage 1 is light and short. Stage 2 has movement you can feel, but it’s not too heavy or unpleasant. It breaks between 5 lbs. 15 oz. and 6 lbs. 6 oz. That sounds heavy if you are expecting a safe-cracker trigger pull, but it’s about where an arms room 1911 will be. It’s really not bad and will be no hinderance to accuracy.
Shooting the BullMaster in my office, it was loud, but not that loud. Louder than a powerful spring rifle, but still acceptable. You can’t shoot it in a small suburban back yard without notice, but it won’t deafen you, either.
The BullMaster is a rifle you can load on Sunday and shoot all week. At least it is when it comes to air. If this rifle is accurate, and we have every reason to suspect that it is, it will be one that hunters should consider.