Posts Tagged ‘breakbarrels’

BSA Supersport SE: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

BSA Supersport SE
BSA Supersport SE

Let’s look at the velocity of the BSA Supersport SE. The factory advertises 750 f.p.s. for the .22-caliber rifle I’m testing. I just hope that’s with lead pellets.

Cocking effort
I mentioned in Part 1 that the rifle cocks a little on the heavy side. I estimated 40 lbs. of effort. On my bathroom scale, this one actually requires 39 lbs. to fully cock the rifle. My gut tells me that some of the effort is the tightness of the new gun and will probably decrease by a few pounds over time.

I cannot resist making a comparison with the Beeman R9, which is also sold as the HW 95. The size and power of this rifle seem to align with that classic, but shooting will tell us the whole story.

RWS Hobby
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby – a lightweight lead wadcutter that’s used to test the legitimate velocities of all airguns. By legitimate, I mean that there are many lead-free pellets that may go faster; but since very few of them are accurate, they probably won’t be used by many shooters.

Hobbys averaged 717 f.p.s. from the test rifle. But the velocity spread was large — from a low of 695 f.p.s. on the final shot to a high of 731 on shot three. That’s 36 f.p.s., which is a bit high for a springer — especially these days when many new spring guns come out so well adjusted.

At the average velocity, Hobbys generated 13.59 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Hold your comments, however, because I noted in Part 1 that I thought this rifle might have a heavy piston (or top hat) that I said could make it shoot better with heavier pellets. So, let’s try one.

Beeman Kodiak
The next pellet was the 21.14-grain Beeman Kodiak — a heavyweight if ever there was one. Kodiaks averaged 535 f.p.s. in the test rifle, and the spread was just 12 f.p.s. It ranged from 527 f.p.s. to 539 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet produced 13.44 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Not as much as the Hobby, but very close. And the tight velocity spread leads me to suspect I was right about the piston. I think the Kodiak has earned a spot in the accuracy test.

RWS Superdome
We need to see what a medium-weight pellet can do in the Supersport SE, and the RWS Superdome is a fine one to try. At 14.5 grains, it sits right in the middle of the weight spread — especially in the range of pellets that should be considered for this rifle.

Superdomes averaged 661 f.p.s. in the Supersport. Since we know the “magic” number is 671 f.p.s. — where the weight of the pellet in grains equals the muzzle energy in foot-pounds — we are very close to that level. This rifle must therefore produce a shade less than 14.50 foot-pounds with this pellet. And it does! It produces 14.07 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle — the highest energy of the three pellets tested.

The total velocity spread for the Superdome was 16 f.p.s. Therefore, the 2 heavier pellets did better (shot more stably) than the lightweight Hobby. I’ll keep that in mind as I test the rifle for accuracy. Yes, I will test it with a scope; but since it comes with a nice set of open sights, I plan to first test it with them.

General comments
The rifle cocks smoothly and without the normal noises I associate with a new spring rifle. And when it fires, there’s no objectionable vibration, as long as you hold it lightly.

The trigger is reasonably crisp. It breaks at 2 lbs., 14 oz., which is light but not overly so. I also really like the fact that the safety is manual.

Last comment. The Supersport SE feels very “old school” to me. It isn’t overly powerful. It has a smooth cocking and shooting sequence. And the size and weight of the rifle feel very nice. I’m so tired of those oversized breakbarrels that make me feel like I’m a kid shooting dad’s big shotgun for the first time. The Supersport SE feels just right.

BSA Supersport SE: Part 1

Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

BSA Supersport SE
BSA Supersport SE

Today, we’ll begin looking at a .22-caliber BSA Supersport SE. This is a conventional breakbarrel spring piston air rifle in a beech stock. It’s been some time since I’ve tested a conventional new spring rifle like this.

The serial number of the rifle I’m testing is SSE22-770789-13. The metal finish is unpolished but probably tumble-finished, giving all the parts a matte sheen. The only plastic parts you can see on the outside are both sights, the safety lever and the triggerblade. They blend into the overall matte black finish very well.

The stock is shaped well and has 4 panels of pressed checkering — one on either side of the forearm and one on either side of the pistol grip. The BSA stacked rifles logo (called piled rifles in the UK, and the BSA logo is called the Pylarm logo) is pressed into the base of the pistol grip. The wood is finished smoothly, and the only rough area is the point where the black rubber buttpad meets the wood. That transition isn’t smooth, and there’s glue around the joint.

BSA Supersport SE butt
The joint at the buttpad is a little rough and has dried glue.

The barrel comes very far back when the rifle’s cocked, making this a long-stroke piston. The cocking linkage is in 2 pieces that are jointed to keep the cocking slot in the stock as short as possible, which reduces the feeling of vibration. BSA says that the action is internally weighted to deliver top performance. I’m thinking they mean that there’s a weighted top hat inside the piston, or the piston itself is heavy. Either way, the rifle should shoot medium and heavyweight pellets better than lightweight pellets.

BSA Supersport SE air rifle
The barrel comes way back when the rifle’s cocked. That means the piston stroke is long.

The rifle is supposed to weigh 6.6 lbs., according to BSA information. The rifle I’m testing weighs 7 lbs. on the nose. The difference is attributable to the density of the wood in the stock.

BSA advertises the muzzle velocity at 730 f.p.s. That would be with a lightweight pellet, but I’m hoping it’s a light lead pellet. If so, that’s a good velocity for a .22 spring rifle — not too fast, yet plenty of power. We’ll find out in the velocity test.

The trigger is adjustable via an Allen wrench. The adjustment works on the second stage to lighten it or make it heavier. The safety is manual, which I must applaud. Only the shooter should be in control of the gun — never the design!

The sights are fiberoptic, front and rear. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, so I’ll start the accuracy testing using the open sights.

BSA Supersport SE front sight
Front sight is fiberoptic.

BSA Supersport SE rear sight
Rear sight is fiberoptic and adjusts in both directions.

There’s an 11mm dovetail groove machined into the top of the spring tube, but BSA has long been noted for having its grooves set at the widest end of the size spectrum. For newer readers, 11mm is a nominal size for airgun dovetails. They actually range from 9.5mm out to almost 14mm, and BSA has always had the widest set. But it looks like the grooves are now 11mm apart.

I’m very pleased to see a deep, wide vertical scope stop hole in the middle of the dovetails at the rear of the spring tube. This provides a solid anchor point for a vertical scope stop that most of the conventional 11mm scope rings have.

BSA Supersport SE scope stop hole
This deep, wide hole in the spring tube is for a vertical scope stop.

Solid firing cycle
I couldn’t resist shooting the rifle a couple times to check the trigger and the firing cycle. The trigger is definitely 2-stage, with some creep in stage 2. I’ll work on that for next time. The firing cycle is quite smooth. It’s got a hint of spring buzz, but only a hint. The shot feels solid and there is no hurtful vibration at all. This is a very pleasant spring rifle to shoot!

I would add that, when I cocked the rifle, the stroke felt to smooth that I almost thought it had a gas spring. Ten years ago, I would have said this rifle has been tuned. It feels that smooth. The cocking effort is heavier — going up around 40 lbs., as a guess. In recent years, I’ve seen a number of breakbarrel air rifles that cocked as smooth as this one, so what I believe is happening is the manufacturers are paying more attention to the internal tolerances. The result is that the buyer gets a smoother air rifle; and at the price for which this one retails, that’s quite a bargain. Five years ago, you got something much harsher for the same $250.

I have owned and tested BSA Supersport rifles in the past. In fact, in the 1990s they were a huge seller here in the U.S. They are no-frills rifles that offered good performance and accuracy at a good price. Let’s hope BSA has continued that tradition in this latest offering.

BSA Meteor: Part 8

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

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

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

Today, you’ll see how I fixed the bad muzzle crown on the BSA Super Meteor, and then we’ll see if that had any effect on the rifle’s accuracy. You might want to read Part 7, again, just to remind yourself of what I faced.

The BSA project has been just that — a project from the start. All I wanted to do was test another vintage spring-piston air rifle for you and report the results, but this particular air rifle has challenged me at every turn. From the time I bought it at the Roanoke airgun show last September, it’s been nothing but a prolonged learning scenario. I won’t bore you by recapping all that’s happened; but if you want to find out, read Parts 1 through 7.

At the end of Part 7, I showed you a nasty muzzle crown, which I surmised was the reason that all the pellets were leaving the barrel with a yaw to their axis. They weren’t tumbling, because every one of them struck the target paper in exactly the same orientation. They were yawing, or traveling forward while pointing off to one side. Because the barrel is rifled, they were spinning on their long axis, but that axis didn’t happen to coincide with their flight path.

Meteor crown
The BSA Meteor crown has some serious nicks in it. The dark spot at 10 o’clock is the deepest. Compressed air could escape through this channel before any other part of the pellet leaves the bore, and the jet of air could push the pellet over on its side.

The solution was to crown the bore; but as you can see in the picture, the Meteor’s muzzle is counterbored by more than an inch. In other words, it isn’t where it appears to be from the side. It’s deep inside the barrel, where the theory says it shouldn’t get damaged as easily. Only this one was — perhaps from over-zealous cleaning through the muzzle. Who knows? The point is that it had to be fixed.

My shooting buddy Otho suggested a piloted counterbore to face off the crown true and square to the axis of the bore. And he volunteered to make the pilot, so I slugged the bore for him and found it was a diameter of 0.176 inches. That seemed odd to him because it’s larger than the bore of a .17-caliber rimfire bullet that’s about 0.172-inches. But that’s the difference between .17 caliber and .177 caliber — which is important for airgunners and firearms shooters to know. The pilot he made measures 0.1745 inches and fits the Meteor’s muzzle comfortably.

Meteor crown end mill
Otho made the pilot for this counterbore.

The counterbore chucked up perfectly in my portable electric drill. I allowed extra length for the bore to go down into the barrel and touch the muzzle without the drill chuck touching the barrel.

Meteor crown end mill in drill
The counterbore is chucked in the drill and set to run true. It sticks out far enough to cut the crown without the drill chuck touching the barrel.

Plugging the barrel
Before starting the work, I pushed 3 fat pellets into the breech and then pushed them with a cleaning rod to within 2 inches of the true muzzle. These will keep the metal chips from dropping down the bore.

I oiled the counterbore and pilot with a good grade of light machine oil before inserting it into the muzzle of the gun. The drill was set on a slow speed, but I can also control the speed by how hard I squeeze the trigger. I wanted a slow steady turn without putting much pressure on the drill. The counterbore is sharp enough to cut the soft barrel metal without a lot of encouragement.

Meteor crowning the muzzle
The drill is set to run slow, and I’m also slowing it more with the trigger. You don’t need speed for a cut like this.

After about 10 seconds of cutting, I removed the counterbore and cleaned the new crown with a cotton swab. There was a band of bright metal around the muzzle where the counterbore had cut. Upon close examination, I could still see gouges in the bright band. The gouges were deeper than the first cut.

Meteor crowning first cut
The new crown is bright after the first cut, but there are still gouges that need to come out.

I cleaned the counterbore with a swab and oiled it again. Then, I made a second cut on the crown. This time, I felt the drill pulse as the cutter removed the uneven metal. It became smooth, and I knew the cut was finished. When I cleaned and inspected the new crown this time, it appeared smooth and even. The job was done.

Meteor crown complete
I apologize for the blurriness of this picture. Focusing on the crown is very difficult when I’m also trying to light it from the same axis as the lens is pointing. The lens is about one inch from the end of the barrel, and this was the best picture I got. There are still some faint marks on the crown. After examination with a loupe, I didn’t think they would be a problem.

At this point, I felt the crown was as clean as I could get it. And there was a simple way to see if this had made a difference. I drove the pellets in the bore out the muzzle and a few steel chips came with them. Next, I shot two RWS Hobby pellets offhand from 12 feet. If the crown was good, they would cut the paper perfectly instead of hitting sideways. And that’s what happened.

So, I backed up to 8 yards and shot 2 more shots from an improvised rest. These 2 pellets landed very close to each other and also showed no signs of tipping. I felt the job was done.

Meteor crown proof target
The two lower shots were from 12 feet. They confirmed the pellets were hitting the paper straight-on. The two upper shots were from an improvised rest at about 8 yards. They told me the crown is probably working.

Now for the test!
The test is a rerun of the Part 7 accuracy test. I used every pellet from the last accuracy test and shot at the same 10 meters.

Pellets:
Eley Wasp
Crosman Premier lite
Air Arms Falcon
RWS Hobby

Meteor crown proof Wasp target
Ten Eley Wasps went into 2.256 inches at 10 meters.

Meteor crown proof Premier lite target
Ten Premier lites went into 1.522 inches.

Meteor crown proof Falcon target
Ten Air Arms Falcons went into 1.941 inches.

Meteor crown proof Hobby target
Ten RWS Hobbys went into 1.361 inches.

Conclusions
If you compare these targets to those in Part 7, one thing jumps out at you. None of these pellets tipped when they went through the paper. So, crowning seems to have solved that problem!

But the accuracy seems no better. The Hobbys did group better in this test, but the Falcons grouped worse. With groups this large at 10 meters, I’m not willing to say anything has improved. I’ve had cheap Chinese air rifles group better than this.

I have one trick left up my sleeve. I’ve noticed that the Meteor rear sight seems hinky and difficult to adjust, and I suspect it jumps around as I shoot. It’s not loose to the touch, but I don’t trust it to hold zero.

I’ll do one more test of this rifle with either a dot sight or with the See All Open Sight if I can get it mounted to the Meteor. If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably abandon this air rifle as a bad investment.

2014 SHOT Show: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Here’s our second look at what’s new in airguns for 2014. Last February, while I was having dinner with Hans Wonish of Umarex, he told me about the upcoming Broomhandle Mauser I’m now testing. After we discussed that for a bit, Herr Wonish asked me if there were any other handgun models that I though might be well-received by airgunners. Several crossed my mind, but the one that really stuck out was the Colt Python! This year, I saw that revolver in the Umarex booth!

Umarex Colt Python CO2 BB revolver
BB gun shooters are going to love the new Colt Python .357 from Umarex. It uses real shells to hold the BBs!

Another new rifle from Umarex is going to have a lot of hunters excited because it offers something they’ve been requesting for a long time. The new Umarex Fuel breakbarrel spring rifle (with Reaxis gas piston and SilenceAir technology) has a bipod built right into the stock! That’s right — there’s nothing more to buy. Just pull the legs apart and rotate them down to make a solid field stand. Or flip them back up, and they’re just part of the stock.

Umares Fuel air rifle
Built-in bipod makes the Fuel spring rifle stand out — and up!

Umarex Fuel air rifle
When not needed, the Fuel’s bipod folds neatly back into the stock.

Edith and I went snooping over in the German pavilion. In the Diana booth we saw a gun that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. yet. It’s the 340 N-TEC Premium, a breakbarrel Diana with a nice silencer on the muzzle and a beautiful walnut stock with deep checkering. That’s all pretty usual fare for Diana, except this rifle has something new. A gas spring that’s 100 percent German made!

Diana 340 N-TEC air rifle
The Diana 340 N-TEC Premium is German’s first rifle to have a German-built gas spring.

We’re fortunate to have Herr Michael Mayer (of Mayer and Grammelspacher — the owners of Diana) show the gun to us. He was justifiably proud of the craftsmanship of this beautiful rifle and told us we may start seeing them in the U.S. by June of this year.

AirForce Escape nets big sales on first day!
Remember the Escape rifles I showed you 2 days ago? Well, AirForce sold their entire first 3 months of production on the first day of the show! The reception was overwhelming for this rifle; and like I predicted, people who aren’t traditional airgunners were buying them, too!

Remington gets back into airguns
They haven’t made airguns since 1929, but Remington Arms is revitalizing their airgun selection in 2014. Leading the effort is Dani Navickas, the lady who served many of us at the old Beeman organization for so many years. She has spent a lot of time teaching the Remington staff about the airgun market, and it looks like it will pay off this year.

The first offerings are guns made in China, but don’t make a face. When I saw them, I was shocked. The quality looks as good as anything that comes from Europe these days. Each model is patterned after a popular Remington firearm, and the guns should be available to the U.S. market by early summer.

Remington Express air rifle
The Remington Express and Express Compact are 2 new air rifles from Remington. They say I can test an Express very soon!

Reminton also has a neat 1911A1 BB pistol. It has blowback and can fully disassemble like the firearm. I’ll test that one as soon as possible!

Remington 1911 air pistol
New Remington BB pistol has blowback and offers full disassembly. The grip safety really works!

Another new product from Remington are some great field targets with features I haven’t seen before. They offer killzone reducers that are permanently attached and just flip in and out of position! And some of them are resettable with a second shot — ending the need for long cords that can tangle and break.

Remington field targets
Killzone reducers simply flip in and out of place! And reset the target with a hit on the bottom paddle!

With Dani at the helm, we can count on Remington to enter the airgun world in the right way. I hope they realize how fortunate they were to get her to lead their efforts!

BSA Meteor: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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

I’m headed to Las Vegas this weekend for the 2014 SHOT Show, so I’m asking veteran readers to help the newer readers more than usual. And I thank you in advance.

Tuesday’s blog will have something very important. It’s the first day of the SHOT Show, and I’ll show you something brand-new. It’s a pretty big deal, so it’s worth a look. Now, let’s get to today’s report.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the BSA Super Meteor Mark IV that I’ve been working to restore. This report was never supposed to be an ongoing saga. It was supposed to be a quick 3-part look at a vintage air rifle, but the Meteor that I bought at the Roanoke airgun show last September turned out to need almost one of everything. So, I hunkered down and went to work.

I said in one of the earlier parts that fixing up an old spring-piston rifle is a lot like rebuilding an old tractor. Man, was that ever a prophesy! I had no idea that I would have to get down into the guts of the rifle to get it shooting again; but if you’ve followed along on all the earlier parts, you know that’s exactly what happened. Now that the old girl is shooting like she should, let’s see how accurate she is.

This is a vintage spring rifle with open sights, so I like to begin shooting those at 10 meters. Since I have no idea how accurate or inaccurate they are, it’s best to start close. If the groups show some promise, I can always back up to 25 yards and shoot a second test.

Eley Wasp
I figured a vintage airgun deserves a vintage pellet, so I broke out some obsolete Eley Wasps in .177 caliber as the first pellet. The first 2 shots were to sight in, and shot #1 was low, so I tried to adjust the rear sight up using the adjustment wheel. Alas — it didn’t move the sight! The backup plan was to loosen the rear sight blade and slide it higher. I also noted that the whole rear sight unit needed to be snugged down, so that was also done.

Eley Wasp
These .177 Eley Wasps are from the same timeframe as the Meteor rifle.

BSA Super Meteor leather breech seal
Loosen the 2 screws and slide the sight blade up to raise the point of impact.

Before we proceed, a word about .177 Eley Wasps is in order. Many of you know that the 5.56mm (.22-caliber) Eley Wasp is a particularly fat .22-caliber pellet. It’s often the best in vintage airguns whose bores are on the large side. But the .177-caliber Wasp is not an oversized pellet — at least not the ones I have. I often choose these pellets for guns with larger bores such as the Meteor, forgetting that these aren’t the best or biggest .177 pellets around.

I shot only 8 pellets at the target because the group grew to 3.559 inches between centers, and it didn’t seem worth my time to finish. But that wasn’t all I noticed. Most of the pellet holes are ripped out to the right, as if the pellets were not traveling straight. We know from the previous velocity test that this rifle now shoots fast enough to not tear target paper when the pellets pass through, so this tearing had to have been caused by the pellet’s orientation and not its velocity.

Eley Wasp target
It only took 8 Eley Wasp pellets to convince me that this was not the right pellet for the Meteor. Notice the tearing of the paper! It’s all in the same direction. I’m cutting off parts of the bulls in this photo because they contain another group from another pellet.

Crosman Premier lite
These results were enough to convince me to use modern pellets in the Meteor. The next pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier lite. This time, I fired all 10 pellets, and the group was much smaller than before, but it still measured 1.73 inches between centers. That’s horrible for any air rifle at 10 meters!

What was even more surprising is the fact that the Premiers also tore paper to the right of the main pellet hole. In fact, they tore in exactly the same place!

Crosman Premier lite target
It looks like 9 holes, but there are 10 Crosman Premier lite pellets in this group. It measures 1.73 inches between centers…and notice the tearing of the target paper in exactly the same way that the Eley Wasp pellets tore it.

If the pellets were tumbling in flight, the tears would be randomly scattered around the main hole because the tumbling pellet would change its orientation all the time. But because they are all in the same place, it looks like the pellets are tipping as they exit the muzzle and flying straight to the target in that tipped orientation. Hmmm! Have to think about that.

Air Arms Falcon
The next pellet I tried was the Falcon from Air Arms. I selected this pellet because the heads were sized large, at 4.52mm. They have the largest heads of any .177 pellets I have.

They put what looks like 9 shots into 1.863 inches between centers. Once again, several of the holes are torn on the right side.

Falcon target
Nine holes (I swear I shot 10!) went into a 1.863-inch group at 10 meters. And, again, several of the holes are torn out on the right.

RWS Hobby
The final pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. This is a large wadcutter that sometimes is very accurate at 10 meters. But not this time. Ten went into a group that measures 2.05 inches between centers. They also tore the paper to the right of the main pellet holes.

RWS Hobby target
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this vertical group that measures 2.05 inches between centers. They also tore the target paper on the right of the pellet hole.

What’s up?
I knew something was wrong with the rifle because these pellets all fly at different speeds. There’s no way a tumbling pellet can tear the paper in exactly the same place when they all get there at different times. For even one single type of pellet to do that is hard to believe, but for 4 different types…it’s impossible. The pellets have to be leaving the muzzle tipped on their edge and remain in that orientation all the way to the target.

I know that most of you have guessed what’s wrong with the rifle by this point, but I hadn’t. Of course, I didn’t have someone pushing my nose into the facts like you have in this report. It wasn’t until my buddy Otho came by for a visit. I showed him the targets (because he has an interest in the Meteor, as you recall), and he said, “I’ll bet that barrel needs to be recrowned.”

Oh, my gosh! How could I fail to see that? Of course that was the problem. When I brought out the Meteor for him to look at, he saw it right away. I bet you will, too. The muzzle is backbored by more than an inch; but with a tactical flashlight, we were able to look down inside.

Meteor crown
See the dark spot at 10 o’clock? It appears to be a nick in the muzzle. How it got there I don’t know, but it should be fixed.

The saga continues!
Yep, this Meteor is like an old tractor, all right. Just when you think you have the thing running and looking spiffy — the magneto quits. These days, there’s only one old man in Kansas who can repair them. Actually, I protesteth too much because I really enjoy working on this gun. It wasn’t made in China, yet it has turned out to be even worse than most of the very poor-quality Chinese airguns I’ve tested in the past.

In truth, there’s a lot of great engineering in this rifle, as well as a ton of abuse. You BSA Meteor owners out there know that I’m not purposely beating up your favorite airgun. It’s just that it challenges me at every turn. But that’s a large part of what makes this hobby interesting. After all is said and done, I’m not upset.

OK, take that report on a Friday and run with it! Remember, I’m on my way to Las Vegas and cannot answer as many comments as normal.

Octane combo from Umarex — trigger job: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Octane combo
Umarex Octane gas spring combo.

Today’s report is a guest blog from blog reader DMoneyTT. He promised to show us how to fine-tune the Octane trigger, and he’s provided some good photos to go along with his article.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, DMoneyTT.

Umarex Octane trigger job

by DMoneyTT

As the cost and availability of firearm ammunition continues to keep many shooters from getting adequate trigger time, scores of shooters are turning to airguns to keep their skills honed. Often, new airgunners will be tempted to put down their hard-earned dollars on a rifle offering the highest advertised velocity. Airgun marketing tends to focus on this aspect of performance over all else; but experienced shooters know that accuracy is paramount, and it takes more than just a good barrel and powerplant to deliver tight groups. Proper fit and trigger control are critical considerations when attempting to extract the maximum potential from any rifle.

It’s no secret that the Chinese-manufactured airgun market has seen unparalleled growth and their products are steadily closing the gap between these affordable rifles and their more precise, yet costly, brethren manufactured in Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States (to name but a few). Many times the differences in quality of manufacturing may be ironed out by the end user. It’s not beyond the skills or tools of the average shooter to dramatically improve the performance of a budget Chinese airgun.

For the shooter who desires all the power of a magnum springer and wants the accuracy to make good use of the velocity but doesn’t want to spend a lot, there are a few good choices. In my humble opinion, the best of these is the Umarex Octane combo. I picked one up several months ago, and it’s been a real joy to plink with and should be excellent for hunting small game, as well. The only downside to this excellent rifle is the trigger-pull. Out of the box, the pull on my rifle registered almost 10 lbs. Others have reported slightly less, so I may have started with an abnormally high pull weight to begin with. There was very little creep (which is a result of minimal sear engagement), and the break was quite crisp. So, a trigger job was necessary, and lessening the pull weight was the only task required.

I would like to say that this does take a steady hand, and careful attention should be paid to the work done on these tiny parts. Any work you decide to do on your rifle should be done with care to maintain the original parts geometry, and it’s always a good idea to carefully test the rifle after any work has been performed. I suggest reading this article before beginning any work to decide if this is within your skill set.

Note from B.B.: Do not work on your gun’s trigger if you do not already have experience working on airguns or are not 100% confident that you can properly disassemble and reassemble the gun and trigger. If you decide to do any part of this trigger tune, you will void the gun’s warranty.

The necessary tools are few.

You will need:
• An Allen wrench that fits the forearm screws.
• A large Phillips screwdriver
• Some paste-type lubricant (synthetic open-gear lube worked well for me)
• A fine wet stone (300-600 grit is preferable)

Optional:
• A Dremel (or any other rotary tool) with a grey rubber polishing wheel may be used on contact points other than the primary sear and secondary sear interaction point because it’s too likely to round edges.
• A vise to hold the rifle while performing the work.
• Small needlenose pliers or hemostats.

So, let’s begin! Start by ensuring that the rifle is not cocked or loaded. The next task is to remove the stock from the rifle so the trigger group can be accessed. Use an Allen wrench to remove the two forearm screws that attach the action to the stock.

Octane combo forearm screws

Next, a large Phillips screwdriver is used to remove the screw found behind the triggerguard.

Octane combo Phillips screw
The action can now be removed from the stock. It’s helpful to hold the rifle directly upside down, as the trigger pins fit very loosely and will fall out if the action is tilted to either side once the stock is removed. It’s wise to do all the work over a flat and clean surface that will easily allow dropped parts to be seen and recovered. I chose to mount my action in a vise to allow easy removal of the stock and to gain access to the components of the trigger group. It’s certainly easier to work on the rifle if both hands are free.

Here is the correct placement of the pins in the trigger housing.

Octane combo trigger pins

Each pin will now need to be removed, and the associated component will need to come out with it. I find that hemostats are very helpful for those with large hands like mine. To help organize the parts, it’s advised to lay them on a white sheet of paper according to their position as they’re removed.

To illustrate the internal layout of the parts, I assembled a jig to hold the pins in the same position they are within the trigger housing. Notice that the shorter leg of the V-shaped sear spring rests against the secondary sear. This is important to reproduce when assembling the trigger group.

Octane combo trigger parts
These parts are shown upside down. In the rifle, the trigger blade would be on the bottom of these parts.

Now that the components have been removed from the trigger housing, warm soapy water should be used to degrease all the parts. All contact points between the parts should also be deburred and polished. These areas are circled below in red. I first used a fine (500 grit) whetstone to debur and smooth any rough surfaces. I then polished these parts with a very fine (1000 grit) whetstone. Remove as little metal as possible to get the desired mirror finish and be careful not to round any of the sharp edges. The goal is to make the parts smooth and shiny so they’ll slide against each other with minimal friction but not alter the shape of the parts.

Octane combo trigger parts cocked

Like the previous photo, these parts are also shown upside down.

Octane combo trigger parts fired
Perhaps the most important part to refinish is the trigger adjustment screw. It comes from the factory with a very sharp point that digs into the tertiary sear where it touches. This galls the metal, and there’s significant drag produced when attempting to pull the trigger in its stock configuration. Simply removing this grub screw with a small Allen wrench and rounding and polishing the end that contacts the tertiary sear will reduce the pull weight by 2 or more pounds, depending on the severity of the galling.

I chucked this screw into my drill and spun it against my whetstone until it had a nice, smooth ball end instead of a sharp point. It should look like the image below when you’re done.

If you are not confident enough to tackle this full trigger job, the trigger adjustment screw can be removed from the rifle without any other parts being removed. That allows you to round and polish the end and install it in the trigger to realize a vastly improved trigger-pull with little work involved.

 

Octane combo trigger adjustment screw

The adjustment of this screw has very little effect on the pull weight or quality because it allows adjustment of the first stage only. This first stage is not a true first stage because the sears do not move as the trigger travels through this stage. The trigger return spring is just being compressed, much like a Gamo or Crosman trigger. Feel free to adjust this screw to whatever position you prefer. There’s no set rule except to not adjust the screw so far in that it eliminates the first stage. That will result in an unsafe rifle that may cause a bear-trap incident (where the piston releases without the trigger being pulled, allowing the barrel to snap shut unexpectedly).

Assembly of the trigger is fairly straightforward and is the reverse of disassembly. The use of a thick paste-type lubricant on the bearing surfaces of the parts will help decrease pull weight as well. I use Mobile One synthetic open gear lube, but most any paste-type lubricant should work. My Octane trigger group was bone-dry from the factory, which certainly contributed to the very stiff pull weight. Use the pictures to help install the parts and pins in their appropriate locations. The hemostats will come in handy again at this point. I installed washers to remove slop from my components but would not recommend it. The difference is hardly noticeable, and it makes assembly much more difficult.

The sum of these modifications should get the trigger-pull down to around 4 lbs. and make it much more smooth and consistent. After averaging the pull weight from 5 measurements, my trigger has settled down at a 3 lb., 2 oz. pull. It’s possible to go slightly lighter with some modifications of the secondary sear geometry; but because of the required precision and the possibility of dangerous results, I suggest stopping at this point. A 3.5-lb. trigger is quite good for a magnum springer and is ideal for accurate plinking and hunting. I know that my groups have improved dramatically, and I’m enjoying the fruits of my own labor when I feel a crisp trigger-break and see targets fall. I hope this helps you get the best from yourself and your rifle.

Please post any questions, comments or tips you have. I’m curious to see what you think.

BSA Meteor: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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

Today, we’ll find out if a new breech seal fixes the low-velocity problem I had with my Meteor in the last test. You’ll remember that I tested the rifle for velocity and noted that the breech seal was pretty bad in the last report. I removed it and made a quick leather seal just to test the gun. I got initial velocities in the low 500s with light lead pellets, but they quickly dropped to the 300s to 400s. I felt the breech seal was the problem, and since T.R. Robb had treated me so well on the piston head and seals, I ordered some new breech seals from them. They were 5 pounds each, and shipping to the U.S. added 2 pounds, 50 pence for a total of 17 pounds, 50 pence, shipped ($28.82). They arrived last Friday, and I quickly installed one in the gun.

BSA Super Meteor new breech seal
The new breech seal is small in diameter, but tall to fit the groove in the breech.

BSA Super Meteor leather breech seal
The temporary leather seal had flattened out across the entire rear of the barrel. The darker circle is where the actual seal is supposed to be.

BSA Super Meteor no breech seal
This is the groove where the breech seal fits.

BSA Super Meteor new breech seal

And here’s the new synthetic breech seal standing proud of the breech, as it should.

The rifle is already well-lubed from the rebuild I just finished. After the new seal was pressed into place, all that remained was to test it. You would do well to at least scan Part 5 to see the last velocities. RWS Hobbys were running around 360 f.p.s.

RWS Hobby
I’d seated the pellets deep for the previous test, so that’s how this test began. RWS Hobby pellets averaged 648 f.p.s. with a spread from 633 to 663 f.p.s. It was obvious that some dieseling was happening, as I could smell it as I shot. I think these velocities are slightly elevated from where the gun will settle after a break-in of a few hundred shots. At the average velocity, this pellet is producing 6.53 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That’s not a lot, but it’s much more than it was doing before the breech seal.

Next, I tried seating Hobbys flush with the breech with finger pressure, alone. These averaged 652 f.p.s., with a spread from 638 to 665 f.p.s. The muzzle energy raised slightly to 6.61 foot-pounds — not really a significant difference. The velocity spread tightened by 3 f.p.s., too, but that’s also insignificant. I’m of the opinion that at this point, deep-seating isn’t doing much — at least for this pellet.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried the 7.33-grain JSB Exact RS pellet. This one shot faster when the gun had the leather breech seal — an average of 460 f.p.s., but that number was also declining fast as the seal flattened out. The difference in velocity between these and the Hobbys might just have been the order in which they were tested.

When seated deep, the RS pellets averaged 611 f.p.s. for 5 shots, but I got the impression that the velocity was starting to drop — as if the excess lubricant had been burned off. Seated flush, the same RS pellet averaged 592 f.p.s., but the string was an almost linear velocity drop from the first shot at 611 f.p.s. to the last, at 577 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 5.71 foot-pounds.

The gun seems to be breaking in and the velocity is declining slightly. I think it will settle down soon, so the gun will still show a marked increase from the new breech seal. To test that, I’ll do a special velocity retest after the accuracy tests are complete. They’ll give the gun more time to break in.

Trigger-pull
I’ve mentioned more than once how much I like the way this rifle fires. The trigger, though single-stage only, is crisp enough for me. It breaks at 4 lbs., 14 oz., which may seem like a lot; but on a handy plinking rifle, it really isn’t bad. If I’d been trying to shoot groups at 50 yards, maybe I could complain; but for what I want this gun to do, the trigger’s fine.

Cocking effort
The rifle cocks with just 19 lbs. of effort! Though it’s an adult-sized airgun, it cocks like a youth model — a feature I really enjoy. And the cocking is so precise. Pull the barrel down until you hear the sear click into position…and you’re done. There’s no overtravel and no long cocking stroke that takes you outside the range where you have the best mechanical advantage.

There’s also no buzzing or vibration that’s noticeable. I’m sure there must be some, but the gun feels very solid when it fires. It’s difficult to explain until you feel it in another air rifle, but it’s a feeling you’ll really enjoy.

I literally cannot wait to shoot this rifle for accuracy! I’ll first try it at 10 meters. If it does well, I’ll also try it at 25 yards. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to test this rifle a lot, now that it performs so well.

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Swiss Arms P92 CO2 BB pistol

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