BSA Comet breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I wanted to let you know that there are two new videos on Airgun Academy. We’ve started a series on airgun maintenance. Episode 27 is about properly maintaining pneumatics, and episode 28 is CO2 gun maintenance.
Before I start today’s report I’d like to say a couple words about yesterday’s test of some non-lead pellets. There were several early comments that ranged from observationa that an FWB 150 will shoot anything accurately to why don’t I test these pellets in a more real-world type of rifle? Those comments, as well as my own curiosity, will probably drive me to fashion some sort of test that is more encompassing than what I did yesterday.
I’m leaning away from the test that uses the more common type of pellet rifle, simply because it’s endless. And, what would we learn — except that some guns do well with non-lead pellets while others don’t? If I can set up a controlled test where I test the same pellets at two or even three power levels in the same gun using the same barrel, then we might learn something useful.
It seemed to me that perhaps these non-lead pellets perform well at lower velocities, but from my past experience they don’t do as well at higher velocities. Is that true? Many readers seem to think so. I have a way to find out. I can set up my Whiscombe rifle in .177 caliber to shoot the subject pellets at very low velocity, then at a medium velocity and, if they’re still grouping okay, perhaps bumping them up to supersonic. That can all be done in the exact same barrel, which is the benefit of using the Whiscombe. I have air transfer port limiters that control the velocity of the rifle. If you recall, my Whiscombe came to me with a 12 foot-pound limiter installed, and I freaked out until learning about the limiter and the reasoning behind it. That’s discussed back in 2006, in Part 2 of the Whiscombe report.
I’m aware that a test like this will not be of interest to everyone. As always, I’ll serialize it and put some space between the reports. It seems to me that we might be able to really learn something important this way, and I’d like to pursue it. Okay, that’s all that was on my mind. Let’s move on to today’s report.
I’ll tell you exactly why I chose to test the BSA Comet (serial number CD-398513-09). It was the velocity. This is a .177 breakbarrel spring rifle that sells for over $300, so what velocity would you expect it to have? Over 1,000 f.p.s., right?
“Me too,” seems to be the most popular slogan in the world of consumer goods today. Once the market is defined, every manufacturer rushes to make the same product and sell it for less. If they can’t do that, they pack it with “features” that justify the extra expense. Not so for the BSA Comet.
In a forest of 1,000 f.p.s. air rifles, here’s one that touts 825 f.p.s. Are they out of their minds? Or are they marching to the beat of a different drummer? Only a thorough test will reveal which is the case. At this time the Comet is available only in .177 caliber.
Like the others?
In many respects the Comet is a cookie cut from the same sheet of dough as all other modern breakbarrels. It has a synthetic stock, the metal is not finished bright (excuse me, sir, that’s a hunter matte finish) and it has the requisite green and red adjustable fiberoptic sights that guarantee minute-of-pop-can accuracy.
One look at the rifle tells you that it probably wasn’t made in the United Kingdom. Look at the Gamo-style trigger for starters. Oh, and do the words, “Made for BSA” lasered on the right side of the action sound a little non-specific to you?
Okay, we know that the Spanish airgun maker Gamo owns BSA. It’s not much of a stretch to think that the Comet was made in Spain for BSA. That’s not bad because Gamo has come a long way in the past decade. They’ve upgraded their airguns to the point that they’re very nearly on par with German guns at the lower end of the cost spectrum.
BSA also has the reputation of making some of the finest barrels in the world. They’re on par with Lothar Walther when they want to be, and their barrels have ended up in some very expensive top-end airguns.
Here’s what I hope. I hope the Comet is a diamond in disguise. I hope that the lower muzzle velocity and the (possibly) BSA barrel combine to make this one heck of a good shooter. At this price, they’re $100 more than the RWS Diana 34, so the rifle needs to be accurate, smooth and have a decent, adjustable trigger. These are things I’ll be looking for in this evaluation.
The Comet is lightweight, at 5.9 lbs without a scope, and it’s medium-sized, at 42.5 inches overall. Given its power, could it be positioned against the Beeman R7? This is all speculation, and only thorough testing will reveal what the Comet is really like. I’m curious to discover this rifle’s secrets, if it has any.
The shape of the stock and location of controls such as the safety make the Comet a 100 percent ambidextrous rifle. The breakbarrel design lends itself to that. Looking underneath the stock, I was surprised to see a two-piece articulated cocking link. That means the cocking slot in the stock can be shorter, which helps reduce vibration.
The triggerguard is cast into the stock as one piece, and there are side panels on either side of the forearm that remind me of many Gamo rifles. I know the forearm screws are located beneath those panels because I’ve already had them off the gun.
The breech seal is located on the end of the spring tube instead of the rear of the barrel. That shouldn’t make any difference in the performance, but it’s worth noting.
The pull of the stock is 13.75 inches, which is compact. The 17.5-inch barrel offsets that a little. It also biases the weight forward for a muzzle-heavy balance.
The trigger is two-stage and adjustable for engagement. I will find out what that means in Part 2. The manual safety blade is located in front of the trigger and is pulled back to set and pushed forward to release. The safety blocks the trigger blade from moving and can be set and released whether or not the gun is cocked.
I had to remove the stock to adjust the trigger because the one adjustment screw is not conveniently placed. Once the action was out of the stock I could see that this trigger is changed and improved from the Gamo triggers of a decade ago. I’ll show pictures next time.
These’s no mention of the force required to cock the Comet, but I’ll measure it in Part 2. I shot the rifle a couple times just to familiarize myself with its operation and can observe that it cocks easily enough.
An 11mm dovetail is cut directly into the top of the spring tube, and there’s an appropriate hole at the rear to accept a vertical scope stop pin. But BSA has a reputation for having some of the widest dovetails on the market, sometimes pushing 14mm, so I’ll look at that when I mount a scope for you.
I like the smaller size, lighter weight and lower power of this breakbarrel. If it also producea some good groups, we may have something here.
One more observation. In the few (10?) times I’ve fired the rifle, it seems to be dieseling pretty aggressively. I think a break-in period may be necessary before good performance can be realized.