I have reviewed a couple of Norica springers over the past year, which have impressed me from both performance and price point perspectives, so you can imagine how keen I was to get my hands on one of their PCP rifles to see how they perform too.

This ‘Dark Bull BP’ is Norica’s first-ever foray into the PCP market, and with a history of performance springers under their belt, this bullpup rifle has a lot to live up to, especially with a £950 price tag. It’s not ‘new’ by any stretch of the imagination because it was first launched back in 2019, but it is new to me. Here’s how I got on with it.

Norica Dark Bull BP testBarrel & power

Like all Norica rifles, the Dark Bull BP features a Lothar Walthar barrel, but this one is semi-shrouded. By that, I mean that the front end is contained within a shroud, but you can see part of the rear end of the barrel as it passes through the main block back toward the breech at the rear of the rifle. It's an interesting set-up, and the shroud features internal noise-suppressing qualities that do a really good job.

There’s no thread at the end of the barrel for an additional moderator, but if you do unscrew the cap you’ll find a plastic baffle sitting in a 30mm gap between the end of the barrel and said end cap. It’s a really neat set-up, and it’s actually less than 65dB when fired.

There are three calibres available, including the standard sub-12 .177 and .22 for us Brits, plus FAC .177, .22 and .25 for those with an FAC, and the global market. Max power is 44 ft.lbs. The quoted shots per fill are 70 for .177 and 60 for .22, but those are based on 33 ft.lbs., so you can at least double those for us sub12-ers! It’s also worth mentioning at this point that the Dark Bull BP  also features a regulator. 

Norica Dark Bull BP testSleek design

The Dark Bull features a wooden stock, which has been sculpted to appeal to most tastes – it’s blocky, but at the same time has sexy curved edges and lines. I like how they’ve cut the trigger guard out of the wood and engraved the Norica logo underneath – that screams just how proud they are of this rifle.

The thumbhole grip is very comfortable and well balanced, and I like the rounded edges of the pistol grip. The stock comes with two studs fitted to house a sling or one of the stud bipods at the front end and the rear butt pad is adjustable for height via an Allen screw.

The 340cc air cylinder features a rotating alloy sleeve that hides the fill port away to prevent any dust or debris from getting inside. It’s easy to turn and the rifle is very easy to fill, using the supplied probe. There is a fill gauge on the end of the cylinder with clear, colour-coded markings. Up on top there’s a 210mm-long Picatinny rail, mounted to take your optics, and immediately below and in front of that there is a small spirit level, which is easy to see when you mount the rifle.

Norica Dark Bull BP testTrigger & safety

This rifle features a two-stage trigger, which is adjustable for both length of pull and weight between 200-400g (around half a pound to a pound). It’s really clean and crisp and I soon knew exactly where the release point was during testing.

The blade itself is reasonably wide at around 6mm and is gently curved. The downside to the trigger unit is that in order to adjust it you have to take the stock off, but then once it’s set, you shouldn’t have to mess about with it again, so it’s no real hardship.

The other thing that’s one of my personal gripes is the safety. This one is really good, but I just don’t like having a manual safety inside the trigger guard close to the trigger – loads of manufacturers do it, though. Norica have utilised a long metal bar for their safety lever. It is pushed forward to make the rifle ‘live’ and pulled back to obscure the trigger to make it safe. It does work, too, because I tried to pull the trigger with the safety lever pulled back and it wouldn’t let me.

Norica Dark Bull BP testDifferent magazines

When it comes to loading the 10-shot, self-indexing magazine, it took me a few attempts to get it right, because in true ‘man’ fashion, I refused to read the rather comprehensive instruction manual first!

It transpired that you need to turn the spring-loaded inner section of the mag’ two turns to the left before commencing loading, then work your way round until it is fully loaded. It’s a bit finicky to begin with, but you soon get into the groove of it. Once loaded, the mag’ slots firmly into place, with the bolt pulled back, thanks to a small metal guide pin embedded into the breech.

Incidentally, the cocking bolt is really smooth and easy to use.

Norica Dark Bull BP testTesting the Norica Dark Bull BP

If I sound a little bit excited it’s because I am. Bear in mind that this is the first rifle I have shot for best part of 11 weeks! I can’t tell you how nice it was to sit outside for that first hour of testing, and then again on subsequent days during the course of the next week.

As with most bullpup rifles, it takes a few shots to get used to cycling the rifle without having to move your head position from the stock, but it soon became a fluid motion for me. Having spent so much time destroying paper targets and smashing spinners on my garden range, I’d really love to take this rifle out on a hunt, but I’m afraid that’s going to have to wait for a month or more before my legs will allow me to spend that much time out and about.

Anyway, enough of the ‘woe is me’ – I’m really impressed with this rifle, and it’s a big thumbs up to Norica who have planted their feet well and truly in the PCP market. There’s another little bullpup rifle in their stable too, which I’m expecting here very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that in a few months’ time.

Tech specs

  • Model: Dark Bull BP
  • Manufacturer: Norica
  • Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
  • Models: 12, 33 and 44 ft.lbs.
  • Max Fill Pressure: 250 bar
  • Cylinder Capacity: 340cc
  • Stock Material: Beech wood
  • Stock type: Ambidextrous with adjustable butt pad
  • Cocking: Side bolt
  • Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
  • Calibres: .177, .22 and .25 (FAC)
  • Safety: Manual, in trigger guard
  • Overall Length: 730 mm
  • Barrel Length: 450mm
  • Magazine Capacity: Ten shots
  • Weight: 6.4lbs (2.9kg)
  • Shot Capacity: .22 60, .177 100
  • Variation (10 shots): 9 fps
  • Website: www.edgarbrothers.com   
  • PRICE: £950