BSA Polaris underlever air rifle: Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
I believe that, in this case, Gamo makes both rifles, because on the side of the Polaris it says, “Made for BSA Guns (UK) Ltd.”. That seems like a roundabout way of saying someone other than BSA made the rifle, and who but Gamo would do that? In my opinion, the Polaris is a close cousin of both the CF-X and the new Gamo Whisper CFR.
But I don’t like to compare airguns, so that’s all I’m going to do with this one. This test is about the BSA Polaris, alone. The Polaris is an underlever spring-piston air rifle that loads via a rotary breech that BSA invented and Gamo acquired when they bought the company. The now-discontinued BSA Stutzen was the first to use it, and it’s a wonderful way to load an air rifle while keeping your fingers safe at all times.
The rotary breech won’t open until the piston is retracted a little, giving me reason to believe that the rear of the rotary breech is also the front of the compression chamber.
The rifle I’m testing is serial number P1-562919-09. Blog reader Tunnel Engineer has suggested that I tell you the serial number of the guns I test so you can later identify them if you happen to buy one of these guns.
The Polaris sits in a beechwood stock that has many panels of fine pressed checkering on the grip and forearm. The pattern is too small to give purchase to your hands and feels slippery, but it looks attractive.
The black rubber buttpad is vented like a recoil pad, and there’s a black ribber spacer between it and the stock. The whole affair stands proud of the wooden stock, but it doesn’t look sloppy. It looks intentional.
In this day and age, it seems that you cannot sell a sporting rifle that doesn’t have fiberoptic sights, so the Polaris has them front and rear. While they’re great minute-of-pop-can sights and will work on game at ranges under 25 yards, they’re not as precise as plain, open post-and-notch sights. If you’re serious about accuracy, you’ll want to mount a scope.
This BSA, along with both its Gamo cousins, has a raised scope mounting base with an 11mm dovetail for conventional airgun scope mounts. Here’s where the BSA heritage shows through, though, because the dovetail really measures more than 13mm, so not all conventional airgun scope mounts will fit. They really have to be made for BSA rifles to accommodate the wider-than-normal dovetail spread. The base also has two vertical scope stop holes, plus the base is anchored to the spring tube with a screw.
The base is clamped to another 11mm (really MUCH larger) dovetail cut directly into the spring tube, so we have to ask what is BSA/Gamo thinking? Did they think we needed the extra quarter-inch elevation the base gives us? It does allow the mounting of larger scopes with medium-height rings.
The rifle I’m testing for you is in .177 caliber. But a .22 caliber is also available. At the power that’s claimed, this rifle would be good in either caliber.
This rifle is just over 45.5 inches, stem to stern. My test rifle weighs 7.5 lbs. on the nose, so it must have an extra-dense wood stock, because the specs say the weight is around 6.6 lbs. I knew it was heavier than that, so I weighed it on a balance beam scale.
The wood is finished beautifully, but the stock is shaped in a somewhat slabbed fashion. By that I mean that it feels blocky when I hold it. But it’s not too thick, a fault of many spring rifles.
The metal is finished matte and even. It obviously spent lots of time in the tumbler but no time at the buffing wheel. It’s very even and looks attractive. The end cap, a couple small sight parts and the cocking lever latch are the only plastic parts I found on the gun. Everything else is metal — a sign of BSA quality.
If you like underlever rifles, this will be one to watch.