BSA Polaris underlever air rifle: Part 3
by B.B. Pelletier
Today is accuracy day, and I hope I have a surprise for you. Sometimes, I get an airgun that just wants to shoot, and the BSA Polaris underlever air rifle seems to be just such a gun. It isn’t quite in the TX200 class, but it rivals the Diana 46 underlever more than a little. So now let me stop telling you the results and instead show the tests that provided them.
I decided to go straight to a scope. Since I had it on hand, I mounted the Hawke 4.5-14×42 Sidewinder tactical scope. The more I use this scope, the better I like it. I definitely need to find a way to keep this one around, because the optics are finer than anything I have in my gun closet.
Unfortunately, I did a poor job of mounting the scope. For starters, I used high rings, and the Polaris already has a tall scope base, plus this Hawke is designed for low mounting. It ended up being so high that I had to put my chin on the comb to see the image. Also, I mounted the scope too far back, so instead of a full image that was bright, I was getting a smaller image with black borders. The image rotated around the central axis of the reticle as I moved my eye slightly. Nevertheless, as you will shortly see, I got good results in spite of these problems.
For most of the test, the Polaris acted like a tuned air rifle. The shot cycle was quick and without any buzzing. That’s what put me in mind of the Diana 46. Only when I shot the lightweight Air Arms Falcon pellets did it have just a touch of buzz.
I’ll criticize the Polaris trigger a little. The long second stage that releases so indifferently is a distraction. However, I remember something I learned years ago about shooting accurately with a poor trigger. Squeeze the trigger faster and your groups will shrink. Whenever you have a trigger that’s vague, get through the pull as fast as you can without disrupting the sight picture and you’ll get the best results. I tried that technique here, and pellets started going through the same holes.
Modified artillery hold
Normally, I like to place my off hand back, touching the triggerguard. With the Polaris, this makes the rifle so very muzzle-heavy that it shakes. For this one, I slid the off hand forward to the point that I could feel the cocking slot on my palm. That settled the rifle down and, as the groups will show, it was a good hold.
The Polaris is very forgiving of the hold, as long as you follow through. Make sure you’re on target when the sear releases, and the rifle does the rest.
Sight-in with Premier lites
I sighted-in with 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellets. The range was 25 yards, and it took 8 shots to get on target. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of making the POI the exact intersection of the crosshairs, so on the first target I blew out the aim point on the first shot. With other scopes, that might not have mattered as much, but this Hawke is so sharp that I had to guess where the center of the target was. Yet, with all that going on, I managed to shoot the best group of the day with the first pellet tested.
At this point, I got that confident feeling about this rifle. I actually started feeling good about the Polaris in Part 2 when I saw the velocity was not ridiculous. You’ll remember that the velocity for Premier lites was 782 f.p.s. That made me think that this might be a good shooter; and if this target doesn’t convince you of that, I don’t know what will. Remember, the Polaris is a spring-piston rifle and these are 10-shot groups. This is very good performance for such a rifle.
Air Arms Falcon
Next, I dropped the scope by 10 clicks so I wouldn’t shoot away the aim point. This time, the pellet was the Air Arms Falcon dome that in some air rifles has been shown to be a winner. The 10-shot group was slightly larger but still able to hide under a dime.
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into this 25-yard group that measures 0.467 inches. It was the worst group of the test, yet a dime can entirely cover it. The group is intentionally low, so the aim point isn’t shot away.
With the 7.33-grain Falcons, the Polaris also buzzed a little with every shot. Maybe this isn’t the best pellet for this rifle, though it isn’t that bad.
JSB Exact RS
The final pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. Another 7.33-grain light weight, the RS didn’t make the powerplant buzz, so there’s a definite difference between it and the Falcon pellet. It gave me a better group than the Falcons, too.
The BSA Polaris is a killer air rifle! One of those that comes along so rarely. I’m thinking strongly of putting it in Tom’s Picks, because it isn’t that often I test a gun that is this easy to shoot and also is one that shoots so well.
Want to know what this rifle reminded me of? It reminded me of my Beeman R8, which is another lower-velocity springer that shoots 25-yard groups a dime can cover. You can’t buy a new R8 anymore, but the Polaris is available as a new gun.
I have to give this rifle high marks for almost everything except the trigger. But it isn’t a magnum by any means. It’s just a good accurate spring rifle that wants to shoot where it’s aimed. You can’t do much better than that.