BSA Meteor: Part 9

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

BSA Super Meteor
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.

This report covers:

• What we’ve learned so far
• Mounting the Tasco Pro-Point dot sight
• 10-meter accuracy RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Match Diabolo pellets
• H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
• RWS R 10 Pistol pellets
• The Meteor is good

What we’ve learned so far
I began the review of the BSA Super Meteor in October 2013 — almost a year ago. I acquired the rifle at the Roanoke airgun show (and, no, I don’t know whether or not it will be held again this year) from Don Raitzer, because I’d always wanted to review the rifle. I commented that Meteors had always looked like cheap airguns to me; but after researching them, I discovered they went through the transition period when BSA went from being a world leader in airguns, through several attempts to make their guns less expensive to build and eventually to the point where the company was bought by Gamo.

So, Meteors exist in numerous variations, with Marks I and II being considered the best, and the cheapening started with the Mark III. My Super Meteor is a Mark IV and well down the road from the top quality they enjoyed at their height. But it still does show a lot of innovation in the design. I showed you all of that in the early parts of this report, as I rebuilt the powerplant and crowned the muzzle.

I got the velocity back up to standards, but for some reason the accuracy was never there. I lamented over this in the last few reviews, but it wasn’t until the final part — Part 8 – that I discovered what might have been the problem. And then I guess I must have burned out, because I didn’t return to the rifle until today.

It was Monday’s look at the BSA Scorpion that caused me to look back at the reviews of the Meteor. That was where I discovered that I’d intended to try the rifle with a scope or dot sight but never did. Until today.

What I discovered is that the Meteor’s rear sight is loose and tends to move when the rifle’s shot. I wondered if an optical sight that stayed put might correct any sighting problems and let the rifle reach its true potential. Today, you’ll see what that is, and you can use the links to the earlier parts, above, to see the contrast between the accuracy with open sights and the dot sight I chose for today’s test.

Mounting the Tasco Pro Point dot sight
I mounted a 30mm Tasco Pro Point red dot sight that I’ve used in other tests. Mine is vintage and not at all like today’s Tasco Pro Point. I would have used the Tech Force 90 dot sight, but that one’s being used on another rifle we’ll get to very soon.

Meteor with Tasco mounted
I mounted a vintage Tasco Pro Point dot sight on the BSA Meteor.

Once mounted, the dot sight was very easy to sight-in for 10 meters. I saw tighter groupings at my 12-foot sight-in distance and began to hope I’d solved the problem. Let’s now see how well the rifle did.

10-meter accuracy RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby that had done best in the previous tests with open sights. Right away, there was a dramatic difference. Ten Hobbys now went into 1.033 inches, where they’d only previously made a best group that measured 1.361 inches with open sights. But inside the big group, 8 shots were in a tight cluster measuring 0.437 inches! This is what I was expecting from the Meteor all along!

RWS Hobby group
Maybe not the tightest 10-meter group, but 8 of these Hobbys went into 0.437 inches, giving me hope for the rifle.

JSB Match Diabolo pellets
Because no other pellet had done as well as Hobbys in previous testing, I decided to change my choices and concentrate on several target pellets. Next up was JSB Match Diabolo wadcutters. Ten of them went into 0.681 inches — with no fliers. Now we’re getting some results!

JSB Match wadcutter group
Now we’re talking! Ten JSB Match pellets made this 0.618-inch group at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. This one proved to be the most accurate of this test. Ten went into a 10-meter group that measures 0.456 inches between centers.

H&N Finale Match Pistol group
Ten H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made this best group of the day. It measures 0.456 inches between centers.

RWS R 10 Pistol pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS R 10 Pistol pellet. This is another lightweight wadcutter that’s often the most accurate in some airguns. Before shooting this pellet, I adjusted the dot sight 5 clicks to the right and 5 clicks down. Unlike scopes, dot sights don’t seem to have the same problem with stiction (the reticle not moving after adjustment until the gun is fired several times). The dot moves with the adjustments and doesn’t have to be bumped or vibrated into its new position by firing the gun. (If you’d like to read more about stiction, go to this blog on scope basics and scroll down to the Stiction subhead.)

Ten R 10s then went into 0.588 inches at 10 meters. This is the second-best group of this test, and it underscores the Meteor’s accuracy potential very well.

RWS R10 Pistol group
Ten RWS R 10 Pistol pellets went into 0.588 inches at 10-meters. The second-best group of the day.

The Meteor is good
When I began this series, I’d hoped to discover why so many shooters have a love affair with the Meteor. For many years I had thought it was a cheap-looking little rifle, but that was before I found out about all the changes over the years of production. Apparently, there are Meteors — and then there are Meteors; and it really makes a difference which variation you have. Also, in this instance, I started with what was essentially a junker.

It was an uphill battle because I had to rebuild my rifle, which included several major repairs like spot-welding the piston body and crowning the recessed muzzle (see Part 4). I have to thank my buddy Otho for the hard work he put into this project. He’s the one who spot-welded the piston body and made the tool bit I used to crown the recessed muzzle (Part 8).

The action forks that were very loose when I got the rifle, and I had to tighten. This involved putting the forks into a vise and tightening the jaws to squeeze the forks together (Part 4). Assembly after this operation was a chore, but I got it done. This is where a pivot bolt comes in very handy, but the Meteor doesn’t have one — just a plain pin.

I’d hoped the Meteor might perform like a Diana 27, but it doesn’t. The Meteor is its own air rifle — very abrupt during the firing cycle — while the Diana is smooth. And the trigger, while adjustable, can never be as light and crisp as the Diana’s ball-bearing sear. But don’t hold that against the rifle. The Meteor is its own airgun, not a copy of anything else.

And it can shoot — as today’s test demonstrates. I thought I might have to choke the barrel to get accuracy from the rifle, but it turned out the sights were the problem all along.

Doing this series has been educational and exasperating at times, but I learned a lot and got inspiration for many more blogs about vintage airguns.

57 thoughts on “BSA Meteor: Part 9


  1. B.B.

    Its really unbelievable how a loose rear sight can ruin accuracy. I went through a whole tin of 250 pellets trying to center my air pistol which was shooting all over the place and had me real mad cos the barrel was perfect. It was loose in its socket & was moving from side to side. I removed it and squeezed the sides in to fit snugly, fitted it up and the result was amazing. Of course its metal and you can’t do that with plastic sights.

    Errol


    • Errol,

      My M1 Carbine, which is a collector-grade rifle, had the same problem. I had to stake the rear sight in place to get it to group. And that is a very common problem with the Carbine.

      B.B.


      • Which rear sight do you have on your carbine? My M-1 carbine has the WW II two position sight and is rock solid in the dovetail.

        Mike


      • B.B.

        Well, there you are Sir. Don’t understand why manufacturers seem to overlook this important & very critical to accuracy issue. Also, most guns come with plastic rear sights today & some of them take a warp which cannot be corrected. Cost cutting at what cost?? Oh, for a well designed METAL rear sight.

        Errol




    • Gunfun
      I got my 22 cal 2240 back together and the seal that I made and sent you 2 of works perfectly and I did drill the tube and valve at 180 degrees apart to secure it better in the tube than just the small screw at the bottom, I used two 4-40 grade 8 allen headed screws. Then installed the air cylinder after installing the trigger frame assy and tightened the cylinder as tight as I could get by hand only which was much tighter than with the black rubber seal. Its all back together and filled to 3k with no leaks and the hammer spring adjuster is flush with the back end of the cap.

      I am waiting for it to cool down outside for about another hour then go get some chrony numbers and get it set to the fps I want, then I will take it to the range with my Hatsan and Firepower break barrel to sight them all in at the same time.

      The seal/gaskets I sent you today will work perfect for your 25 cal 2240 gun and just assemble gun with trigger frame on it and valve in place and tighten cylinder as tight as you can by hand because the gasket is not going to squeeze out like the rubber seal does when over tightened.

      Talk to you a little later when I have some numbers.

      Buldawg


    • Gunfun
      I only got to shoot one set of 20 shoots before it got to dark I guess because my chrony kept showing error.

      At flush with the end cap it was at a low of 568 and high of 618, so adjusted 1 turn in and got 20 shoots in from 3k to 2500psi at low – 635.1, high – 719.5, avg – 698, es – 84.43, sd- 22.71 and 16.44 fpe.

      I am going to continue tomorrow and hope I get close to 20 shots at 900 fps with the ebay spring if not then I will switch to the black spring and retest.

      Buldawg



      • buldawg
        Good I’m glad your seal is holding to 3000 psi. because that’s where my 25 cal will be going to. I will be waiting for them.

        And your getting somewhere with the fps. It will be interesting to see what you get out of it.

        Let me know how it goes.


        • Gunfun
          I will let you know tomorrow, it just got to dark sooner than I thought it would and the chrony would not read or see the pellets.

          The seals are on their way so you should have them by Monday at the latest, but probably Saturday.

          I will keep you updated

          buldawg


          • buldawg
            You know what I just realized. I haven’t chronyed the Hatsan yet.

            Got caught up with shot count, finding the right pellet and getting rid of the ping, the barrel band and then the new buddy bottle pressure issues. Oh and trying out the single shot trays.

            Starting tomorrow I’m off and don’t go back till Tuesday. So I better get it chronyed. Its been doing real good with the .177 cal. Crosman premier 10.5 gen. pellets in the box. So that’s the only pellet I’m going to chrony and use in the gun. I can’t believe I forgot that.


            • Gunfun
              You did forget to chrony it, I am interested to see what it does as I think they state 1070 fps for that gun so it will be good to see how accurate they are. Mine with the 23 inch barrel in 22 did with 14.3 CPs 1034 and with H&N 12.65 was 1078 but they were not accurate. It hard to beat the good old CPs for all around accuracy and fps. let me know how it does.

              I think I spoke to soon on my 2240 as I checked the pressure after 3 hours of sitting a 3k and it had leaked down to 1500 psi. I think I over tightened the high pack and possibly cut the seal or deformed it. I know I tightened it as much as I could by hand and I think it was to tight, so back apart it comes ,but now all the mods are done and I can have it apart in 15 minutes and put a new seal in and just put valve and cylinder in and fill to check for leaking before fully assembling. I know I put the gorilla grip on it and it was to much, I just did not want it to leak and went overboard.

              It is a crosman though and yes I would rather work on a crosman than a daisy.

              There are two crosman on GB for sale, one a 2250 with a BNA breech and hi-pac + 2 ext in 30 cal and rear cocker for 350.00 and the other a 2250 with a DAQ lefty breech in 22 with hi-pac and rear cocker for 275.00. both with 20 inch barrels and they look cool but to pricey and only shoot 650 fps so he must be running 2k Psi.

              Buldawg


              • buldawg
                I got a few things rolling around in my mind about what gun I’m going to get with the money I got with the Monsoon.

                And I think the Hatsan is going to be right around 1000 fps with the 10.5 grn. pellets. I’m going to try tomorrow to chrony it if possible.


                • Gunfun
                  Let me know the results of your chrony testing.

                  I am going to take my 2240 back apart to see if I over tightened the cylinder and will let you know so you will know how tight to make yours with the gasket seals, I am going to strip down to just cylinder and valve and check with soapy water to find exact leak point and then fix. Will let you know, but I am almost sure I over tightened it.

                  Buldawg


                  • buldawg
                    Been trying to get stuff done all morning. Going out right now to chrony the Hatsan. I will let you know what it does later.

                    And did you find where the leak was coming from?


  2. Loose rear sights can be a curse. its not just the fixing I have found on a couple of rifles in the past that the sight blade or other bits can shift slightly with the vibration of firing. its not something that one always thinks to check. If the screws seem tight then its generally left alone. But congratulations on a heroic series of tests!

    But painful to read for a Brit. BSA went from being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of military firearms, sporting guns, airguns, motorcycles and bicycles to essentially becoming a tiny company occupying a small corner of one of the 20 or so huge plants they once operated. A tragic lesson in how easy it is for an established giant to fall low, other large industrial concerns take note…. Still, their PCPs are excellent and the Gamo link up gave them new blood which was desperately required.


    • Oliver,

      I have seen that plot play out many times in industry. At one time Control Data Corporation was a Fortune 100 company that made some of the world’s most powerful mainframe computers. Now they are a fading echo.

      And General Motors, who once bragged they were the pulse of this nation, is now a struggling wannabe, competing with “those foreign imports” that they once derided.

      B.B.


  3. I’m glad you were finally able to bring it back to life. I find that to be quite satisfying. I need to find some time to finish up with these FWB 300S’s so I can find another little project to work on.


    • Ridgerunner,

      After your finished with the FWB 300′s if your testing then shows them to be shooting as well as we have come to expect a FWB300 to shoot please give me an opportunity to purchase one from you. Unless, of course, they are all spoken for already.

      G&G


      • I think GunFun1 asked about one a while back. I am not sure whether I will sell both of them, but I will keep you in mind.

        I am not certain of the accuracy at this point, but I can tell you that the trigger on this thing is AWESOME!


        • RR
          If G&G is interested by all means he can get it if he wants to. I sold my Monsoon to my brother in law. So I’m kind of debating what I’m going to do right now. So no problem with me. :)


  4. B.B.,

    An observation. Given that this rifle seems to have done so well at 10 meters with wadcutters no less, is it possible that many vintage air rifles, especially those with lower power, were intended to shoot more like 10 meter rifles? That is, shorter distances such as 10 meters with wadcutters. We seem to always start our testing with these rifles as though they are more like today’s conventional breakbarrels expecting them to be more accurate at longer ranges such as 25 yards with round nose(or diabolo) pellets. Perhaps our expectations should be revised when we first begin to test these vintage air rifles? Maybe I’m off base but it’s a thought.

    G&G


  5. B.B. How large is the Red Dot..1 MOA…? Never considered a Red Dot for accuracy, but for snap shots, etc. Maybe just use the top “edge” ?
    Thanks,
    Pete



    • Never the “top edge”… Since the apparent diameter of the dot will vary some depending upon how high you’ve cranked the brightness control relative to the target brightness. The dot IS your point of aim — center it on the target.


      • B.B…Duh, on my part…Lol..so at 33 meters it will only be 1″ Diameter (about) dot to drop a pest in the Lady’s California Native Botanical Garden…The Lady is a very important lady….
        Hope your leg gets better, it is a worrisome thing as we age…
        Thanks for the email, also..
        Pete
        Orcutt, California
        PS: Wikipedia says the Marlin 60 has sold 11 Million and the Ryger 10/22 over 6 Million. I love the Marlin 60, it fits me but sadly the beautiful Ruger 10/22 does not..


  6. B.B.,

    I’m so glad you came back and gave this old rifle one last try! I have a Meteor Mk IV, made in the mid-’70s, that used to belong to my grandfather. Although it is buzzy compared to my German-made springers, it has always displayed the kind of accuracy you finally demonstrated today. (I do find that it likes pellets with large head diameters best.)

    Thanks for another great report,
    Neil


  7. BB,

    I know this series was tough for you, but it taught me a LOT about break barrels. Thanks again for your patience and dedication for our hobby/sport.

    ATB,

    Chris


  8. Roanoke.

    Davis is ignoring all inquiries. Unlikely that Roanoke will happen. Even if it does many of the Roanoke regulars plan on attending the North Carolina “Hickory” airgun show instead.

    North Carolina Airgun Show Oct, 17 – 18, 2014
    Hickory American Legion Post 48
    (Hickory Fairgrounds)
    Contact: Tony McDaniel
    828-851-0245
    E-mail: northcarolinsairgunshow@charter.net

    End of an era.

    kevin


  9. It is pretty unusual for a BSA to be innacurate, even at the time of the Mk5 the Barrels were still made in the UK (now all springers are wholly made in Spain with the PCP’s still being made in the UK) and if BSA know little else it’s how to make a decent barrel.
    The differences between the Mk’s are not so pronounced really, the Meteor was always built to a price with the better heeled purchaser going for a Mercury if they wanted a break barrel (a massively under rated rifle that lived in the Airsporters shadow but was quietly more efficient)
    I’m very surprised that there were mechanical issues, they are pretty simple kit, my plain old Mk5 is soldiering on very nicely at 9.7 ft/lb in 22 cal
    If you scoped that, I would bet on Dime sized 10 shot groups at 30 yards, and then, BB, I think you’d understand why it’s been such a popular cadet trainer and rat killer over here in the sunny UK (slightly less “united” if the scots nationalists get their way soon lol)



      • Hi RR, no I don’t, however Protek Supplies (here in the UK) may have, have a browse of their site, and if you don’t see one send them an email, they have just taken a stock of early BSA’s in.
        Dom


  10. Nice shooting with the red dot sight. The last sentence is intriguing about choking the barrel. Is this an option? I thought choking was part of the barrel design like hammer forging or button rifling. Those aren’t options you add afterwards. I suppose you could rebarrel the gun but one never hears about that with airguns.

    Speaking of unusual guns, IZH does it again. They are selling a biathlon rifle with the cool toggle-lever for less than $1,000. So you don’t have to spend $3,000 for this design. This is the sort of thing I expect from IZH. But they are also selling something I didn’t expect: a $9,000 sniper rifle! How could a rifle cost that much, and from IZH of all places? Does it mean that the usual IZH high value is multiplied by that much? Surely there must be a limit to what you can buy in terms of actual performance. Higher prices than that must be for engraving and precious materials.

    Thanks for the additional info about lighting. The quality of lighting, especially whether it is fluorescent, is a matter of great concern. My bogus former manager slipped in one day and changed all the lights without telling me. They looked stylish, but I found that I had trouble reading by them. They were probably some kind of fluorescent bulb. I can read much more easily in my new place. So, I want to steer clear of fluorescent lighting. I gather that the LEDs trade long life for low power which is at least rational. One possibility is to buy LEDs and move them ever closer to the target and place them at a sharper angle to avoid ricochets.

    Matt61



      • I can imagine a few scenarios where that (Home reworking & addling a choke to a barrel) could be done, but my poor imagination (but with pesky inclusions of practical reality) forces me to reject possibilities involving large dead-blow hammers, Vise-Grips, and circular-grip hydraulic-presses, not to mention hiring Superman to give the muzzle end a bit of a squeeze. Who needs a diamond-hard choke anyway?.


  11. B.B., i’m glad you preserved through this one and I to am wondering about choking barrels or lapping or any knowledge your willing to share. I feel stupid asking but is the trigger guard designed that way for a purpose or just cosmetics? It looks like a blunderbuss trigger guard or something antique, it really stands out. Also nice shooting and detective work Magnum.


  12. B.B. or anybody else, sorry it’s off topic but how much does a pellet skirt bloom out when shot, and are there easy ways to tell which are more likely to. I’m guessing they expand inside the barrel but no more after it exits the barrel correct? I am thinking of this because of muzzle brakes and shrouds if they are installed off center or incorrectly drilled off center holes. The hole diameter is larger than the barrel diameter, so is that just in case the pellet skirt expands after leaving the barrel? Or just to help with the outward air flow pushing down the barrel to help it fart out instead of a champagne cork pop,lol.


    • The easy answer is “Yes!”, the pellet skirt DOES expand outward. ANY material, subjected to ANY stress will deform to some extent. The question is, of course, how much? That will depend a great deal on the alloy, skirt thickness, and the pressure behind it.

      The exit hole in a muzzle brake is larger than the barrel bore simply to make sure there is no contact between it and the pellet. By the time the pellet reaches the muzzle (in a springer, anyway) there is not much air pressure left… so “pop” or “fart” isn’t much of an issue…


      • Vince, thanks, that’s all along the thought process I have had and what I have read. I was really wondering how much more after it exits the barrel but before leaving the brake. I had a clipping issue on my Xisico xs46u and used a dremmel to remove some material but still found clipping! So I removed the brake and stepped drilled it and now it’s good but I couldn’t believe I had found more evidence of clipping. So I kept wondering how much they expand after the barrel especially since the brake on that rifle is maybe a little over a quarter to half inch from crown to brake exit. I know from testing my jsb 18 grain skirts flare out a good amount with their long-ish skirt.


    • Also the shroud is moving up or down and probably sideways too from recoil and harmonics. As the pellet leaves the barrel the exit hole in the shroud is moving perpendicular to the flight of the pellet. There is a small amount of time in between the pellet leaving the muzzle and passing out the hole in the shroud. The hole will have moved so it has to be bigger than the pellet.

      Mark N


      • Good point. Another is that the barrel bore is almost NEVER straight – so that if the hole in the MB is lined up with the center of the muzzle, it is probably NOT lined up with the pellet path.


        • Vince, also a very good point. I would like to video tape pellets and slow it down to see them come out of the barrel at low speed. Maybe shoot some dented skirts to see what happens, damn now I need a super video camera…


      • Mark N, I agree, on that one I was thinking more pressures and noise as the pellet passes out the barrel and moves through a mb or shroud. Just wish I could test with hole diameters, inner diameters and mb or shroud lengths for sound and pressures on the pellets. But your correct in that everything is going to move somewhat during the shot so designers have to compensate for that movement. But they must test hole diameters for sound consideration I would think? Really wish I could check out some airgun labs and see what their up to…


    • The trigger guard on the BSA pictured was their “Rolling Wave” design and was a trademark on BSA’s from around 1915, it looks slightly out of place on the meteor and looks better on the Airsporter and Mercury that had the stylised cylinder end cap


      • Dom Rivers, thank you and not picking on it as much as it looks out of place with the straight lines and light wood on this rifle. Definetly funky for a trigger guard though.


  13. Not at all, it’s a very relevent observation, and was a slightly odd inclusion on the Meteor, Goldstar etc, it must have been retained as a recogniseable trademark feature and I often think in error, it suited the flowing lines of the earlier guns where form and aesthetics were obviously considered (see the BSA Airsporter Stutzen BB tested a month ago) but less so on rifles where the rest of the gun didn’t follow the same Art Nouveau style left over from the era of the early wood stocked BSA’s.


  14. Tom, the entire series on this old, worn out, but still viable airgun was a very nice read and journey into what many of us know of from personal experience in the gun (and car) community. The fact that you have a certain amount of money invested in this gun which would be far more than you could hope to “flip” it for, is only a fact, not a testimony to the history of the gun, the perseverance of the owner to restore it to it’s former glory. It is, however, a testimony to the construction of the gun, (albeit with certain flaws) and its ability to shoot accurately. This is what true appreciation of air guns (and firearms and cars) is all about!!!! Well done! Congrats on the rebirth of a classic shooter!!!!


    • Neil,

      Welcome to the blog. Yes, I have more time and money in this rifle than I can ever recover, but now we all know how it turned out. That’s one reason for this blog, I suppose.

      B.B.


  15. As a sidenote to my earlier comment, back in July of this year I purchased a BSA Meteor MK 7 and am having fun with this great little rifle!! Still working on sighting in the scope, but with fiber optic sights at 25 yds this gun rocks!! So my interest in your article on the forefather of this gun is on another level aside from the restoration aspect.


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