Rifle build Part Two

Black hog down!

In part two of his rifle build, Mark van den Boogaart uses the BRX-1 to good effect

After a couple of successful trips to the range it was time to get the new BRX-1 Minecrafter dirty. This is a real straight-shooter and the 20” barrel coupled with five-shot magazine and Aimpoint optic made for the perfect walk-up combination. It’s essentially a modern version of the scrub gun, a short-barrelled and high-capacity rifle that’s quick to aim, fire and cycle. For me that meant pigs, goats and, if I was lucky, maybe a deer or two.

Sticking with the close-quarters theme I zeroed the BRX-1 for 100m though the .308Win chambering and Aimpoint optic is obviously capable of far more. In fact I’d shot well out to 200m with the set-up during a previous range visit, yet it was my eyes rather than the equipment that were proving the weak link in the chain.

With confidence in both the rifle and my ability to use it successfully, it was time to go hunting. Unfortunately our dry El Nino summer was producing more than 200mm of drenching, hunt-postponing rain each month since December so options were limited. Then late in January came a decent afternoon with relatively clear skies, so I made the decision to head for the Brisbane Valley. I’d some trail cameras to check on and while it would be quick visit, the BRX-1 was along for the ride. As this would be my first time walking the hills I fitted a sling, lifted a box of 150grain Sako Super Hammerheads and hit the road.

The heat was up as was humidity along with a few spots of rain, though not enough to damped my resolve. The block had really copped a flood with a few new slips appearing on the gully slopes, the grass responding accordingly to be anywhere between waist and above head-height in places. Of my five cameras two were now below the grass line, one carried all the hallmarks of being underwater while another had been completely washed away. Yet the last one held plenty of game signs, including a series of images showing deer and a boar.

During the next four hours while sweating up hill and down gully the BRX-1 proved a comfortable carry, its shorter barrel and overall compact design certainly appreciated when moving through scrub. Though I didn’t spot game I did shoulder the rifle regularly just to get a feel for it, while also adjusting the Aimpoint intensity down to display a finer, less obtrusive red dot. Now I was really looking forward to putting that on a game animal.

A few weeks later came a weekend invite to a property in south-west Queensland. It was in known deer country but for the past six months pigs had become a major problem so I grabbed the BRX-1 again. It seems of late that no trip’s complete without bucketing rain and, setting off on Friday morning, I drove through the tail-end of 12 hours of a 200mm drenching. It was pretty much all rain until I crossed a fogbound Cumminghams Gap and into relatively clear skies on the western side of the Great Divide.

A couple of hours later I met Mark, the property owner, at a local petrol station from where we headed down some minor roads and eventually a dirt track to the block. It’s a fantastic property and the chances looked good I’d finish the weekend with some game on the ground. After sorting out my gear we rolled out of home base in Mark’s Polaris. I hadn’t ridden in one before and was immediately impressed by its leg-saving abilities. This was going to be fun.

Our plan for the afternoon was to sit over a clearing and see what moved in the fading light. Technically we were a little early and as the Polaris cut down travel time, we took the long way round and in doing so spotted pigs way off in the distance. It was great to see game so early in the afternoon and I took it as another positive sign for the weekend. During the next couple of hours we sat quietly over the clearing which proved quite the macropod meeting place, so no shots were fired.

Next morning we headed out before dawn and joining us was good friend Ian from The Hunters Campfire who was acting camera operator and back-up gun. With Mark in the lead we made our way to Pig Hill, in effect a long climbing ridge running along a rough east-west axis. Literally five minutes into our journey and still about 20 minutes from Pig Hill we spied a dark blob up front, a pig snuffling around something in the grass.

Two small piglets then appeared so we assumed it was a sow, though it was still too dark to properly identify our target. As the light slowly increased so did my shooting opportunity, though just as a shot started to form so did the breeze. Like clockwork an easterly gust accompanied the light, as first the piglets then the sow winded us and took off into the scrub.

A short while later we reached our intended jump-off point. Pig Hill was a scrubby, tangled mess broken at varying intervals by small clearings and it was these we were interested in, as they usually held feeding pigs in the early morning light. Mark certainly knew what he was talking about and as we approached the third such clearing we spotted them. While the wind was in our favour the sun wasn’t and I had to find a good shooting position to minimise glare.

Sitting at the base of a scrubby bush and at about a 45-degree angle to the pigs I picked my target. After sliding the action I put the dot on one of the larger ones, settled down into the shot and fired. The mob bolted into heavy scrub and walking back to Mark and Ian I was unsure what had happened. The consensus was it had been a solid hit and with Ian checking the viewfinder he confirmed I had indeed dropped my target.

We kept moving and on reaching the final clearing on Pig Hill descended into a gully then climbed back up to home base. After breakfast we got to it and spent the rest of the day exploring, spotting game, pigs and deer at distance during late afternoon. Two of the pigs were monsters, a genuine razorback boar which flew across a track and a lumbering brute of an animal making its way over the horizon.

As light faded we decided to check the fence line and travelling three abreast in the side-by-side, bumped a couple of pigs along a boundary line which bordered crown land. They clearly regarded it as a safe haven and rather than move deeper into the property and away from the noise of the Polaris, they headed for well-worn divots which allowed them to scoot under the wire.

With the light disappearing I initially didn’t realise there were two of them. The first, a fleet-footed blur, broke through the grass on the side of the track and stepped into the clear. Sliding the action I brought the rifle up and put the dot on its vitals. The report of the .308Win added to the noise and general mayhem as the pig dropped and kicked to a halt.

The sound of the shot caused the bigger one to react and go to ground. That small movement caught my eye, allowing me the chance to quickly slide back the action and prepare to fire again. Like his compadre, he eventually broke cover and with the slightest lead I fired and struck a direct hit below the ear. Finally, after a day of missed opportunities it was time to put a couple of notches, figuratively speaking, in the stock of the Minecraft madness BRX-1.

This is my second project build with Beretta Australia and while the BRX-1 is more rightly a customisation of an existing platform compared to the Indi build, the goal was the same: To create something that might be better than its individual parts.

Rather than the mythical all-rounder, the customised BRX-1 matched with Aimpoint H2 Micro is something quite specific, a 21st century update on the classic scrub gun. Light, short, fast-cycling and quick-handling with easy target acquisition wrapped in a custom colour palette designed to set it apart. Yep, it’s a keeper.

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