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Education / Training BSA Comet breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1

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.

It’s medium-sized and lightweight. The velocity in .177 is 825 f.p.s. The BSA Comet is a different air rifle.

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 rifle
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.

There is no denying the Gamo heritage when you look at the Comet’s trigger.

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.

First impression
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.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

20 thoughts on “BSA Comet breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1”

  1. This looks to be an interesting one for me. I have overlooked this one mainly because of the synthetic stock, but if it turns out to be a 10-11 fpe smooth shooter and a competitor with the 50s I may have to reconsider my decisions. Also, a while ago, you started testing the Supersport .25 but sent it back because the power was too low. Any hopes of a follow up on that one?

      • Fused : I have the BSA Supersport in .25 that I bought new from PA earlier this year. Mine was within one serial number of the one BB tested. I believe BB’s was defective and Gamo customer service displayed it’s usual contempt for it’s end user by not bothering to respond to replacing it . Wasn’t that the case BB ? Shooting mine with the 20.6 gr H&N FTT , it will do 600-606 fps . With the JSB 25.4 gr pellets it does 516-518.5 fps . Very tight spreads and mine now has well over a 1000 shots through it. They also have a larger bore than is often reported on the forums. I tried Milbro Rinos, and BSA Plyarms pellets in mine and they are too loose for 25 yard accuracy. It is very accurate, and in my experience, I would reccomend any of the BSA Supersports or the fancier Lightings in a medium powered springer. I like all of them , but as to the importer Gamo USA, not so much.

        • BTW, with the above mentioned lighter pellets from BSA and Milbro the .25 Supersport will get up into the 650-660fps range, but are not accurate in my gun. The wts of the Plyarms are 18.5 grs and the Rhinos are 19.0 grs. , and spreads are higher because they are noticeably loose. In fact the Rhino’s will often fall right out of the breech if you are not careful.

          • I had a BSA Lightning XL a few years back in .25 caliber and to fit a German made pellet in it I needed my trusty Beeman pel seat and a hammer. At first I thought they had sent a .22 caliber rifle instead of a .25, but a .22 dropped straight though the barrel. So the fact that the bore was too small in the real BSA .25 calibers is not an urban legend. Also they did not stamp caliber designations on the .25’s, just the .22 and .177.

            The only pellets it shot really well were Webley Misquotes, but since those were discontinued I stock piled what was left ( I bought PA and another retailer out) and I sold it when they were gone. If you weigh Rhinos they are terribly inconsistent. It was a 14 ft lb rifle.

            The reason for the size difference is the English used a bore designation previously and I believe a number 3 bore was what they began to call a .25 caliber but did not change the actual size. ( B.B. will know the designation) That is the reason those UK made .25 caliber pellets are smaller.

            The point of this post is just to let anyone know that if they see a real used BSA .25 rifle for sale they should consider pellet supply before they buy it along with the extra wide scope base mentioned in the blog.

            • Volvo: Yes the older ones breeches are tight and if a buyer reads old information on the forums he should know that it is not so anymore. I did the search on it before buying and was very much surprised that it was so loose . Also, my new BSA .25 has a 11mm scope dovetails cut into the receiver tube. It is the auxiliary rail that the Lighting model wears that is 13mm. In addition be aware that the BSA Supersport has no scope stop. There is a threaded hole in the receiver tube that is for a allen bolt that is for attaching the rail mentioned above for the Lighting model. That bolt’s head also serves as the stop stop as well on that model. A scope stop has to be made for the Supersport model, and can use that treaded hole as the attachment point for it. It needs one, as the Supersport has a snappy recoil to it ,and that is what I did with mine. Also my new .25 BSA Supersport was made in the UK not Spain. Also ,you are right the Rhino’s are terrible, but they are cheap , so I had to try. You get what you pay for. It is a 14 ft/lb rifle ,but what is so wrong with that? Regards,Robert.

              • Robert,

                Nothing wrong with the rifle per-say, issue was so few pellets worked in it. In .25 cal your newer version sounds better. One of my excuses for buying the BSA was to use up a bunch of .25 pellets I had left from my UK made Patriot which did have a real .25 caliber barrel, but none of them fit in the BSA.

                I had Rich in Mich tune the Lightning XL for me and and eventually sold it to him. In turn I saw him sell it in the classifieds about a year ago, my guess is he finally ran out of the last of the .25 misquotes I included.

                That beautiful UK made Patriot was only $413.00 from PA before this blog existed. Hard to believe.

                Had I known about the issues with the the old BSA .25’s I would of went with a .22. Lots of power in a handy little package with a good trigger after some work. Sadly the trigger in today’s photo looks 100 % Gamo.

                • Volvo: my reason for the Supersport was as an iron sighted ,wood stocked , sporter type pest killer for ranges 25 yards and under. You are right about the pellets ,as only two have shown real accuracy in my gun,the JSB’s and the H&N’s. The only real choice is the H&N FTT in 20.6 gr as they make the most of what this power plant can offer. I have always wanted to mess with a springer in .25 and could of (should have) bought one back in the day. I won’t pay the price today for a used Paitriot or kodiak in .25, with parts becoming more un-obtainium . At least my Supersport doesn’t come from china and it doesn’t have the Gamo trigger of the 1250. Didn’t want another Quest type platform on seriods which is what the Benjamin 725 is to me. My Diana’s in .22 are beter guns for hunting than any of the current .25 cal springers. If I could get a .25 cal updated version of the MSP 392, with a breech like my LE version and more durable pump link, and valve componets , I would never, ever, look at a springer in .25.

              • More on the scope stop for the BSA Supersport. I made one for mine , but you can also buy one . It is part #18-1178 called the scope arrestor block. PA doesn’t carry it for some reason. I bet it would fit the Comet as well. There is a picture of it on BSA’s website and if you E-mail them with your serial number they will tell you where your gun was made ,and when.

            • Volvo,

              You are right about the number 3 bore designation, but I was unaware that it was on the small side. I do know that BSA number 2 bore (.22) are larger than other barrels in the same caliber, which is where a lot of the 5.6mm Eley pellets went.


              • B.B.

                The vendor confirmed the issue with the .25 caliber size when I called them. The solution they offered was to use a cone shaped sanding bit on the breech and then order smaller diameter pellets they knew would work. 90% of the H& N product I already had could never be used. Between that and not having a scope mount that fit the wider rail it was a bit disappointing. Once all was said and done however it was a unique little shooter.

  2. It would be more than interesting to compare the powerplant directly with current Gamo production.
    I would be beyond surprised if it differs in any way since with minor exceptions all Gamos utilize a common powerplant.
    In that regard I recently had a new ‘Big Cat’ torn down to detune. Both piston and main tube seemed suspiciously light so I put the digital caliper on them. The piston metal was .054″ & the tube .074″.Too light for durability IMO. Especially in light of the fact that virtually all Gamos I’ve worked on have seals that were damaged—as delivered new—by insertion in a compression tube that wasn’t properly deburred. The combination of a heavy spring, damaged seal and lightweight components means that the gun begins beating itself to death with the first shot unless the defects are corrected. Hardly a formula for longevity.
    The above is in stark contrast to an LG-55 ‘club gun” I recently resealed. As a ‘club gun’ it has had many thousands of rounds ran down the pipe, cursory maintenance and minimal care. Even so the internals needed only a new seal and lubrication and it still has the accuracy of the legendary Walther barrel.
    Some things are made to last, some to sell.

  3. B.B.,
    Is the 825 ft/sec claim with PBA ammo (if you know)? That’s a nice moderate velocity, and would be great if it was easy to cock, for someone smaller, or a women.

  4. Hello!

    An easy way to fix the gamo trigger (at least the old ones) is to simply remove the strong spring in the trigger peace.
    It will be a bit loose but sooo light….
    The problems with the gamo trigger will be gone.

    The GRT III trigger doesn’t have a spring, that’s why it’s so light.

    • Gamo’s new trigger group design won’t take the GRT-III (there is a GRT-4G available, but it’s not as easy to install).

      If the next installment shows the innards, we should be able to tell which style it is…

      I still need to check the GRT-III installed on my NRA 1000 Special (now that I at least have the RWS 54 set almost ideally, I need to figure out what to do on the Gamo — very creepy pull and I couldn’t feel a transition; the so-called pre-adjusted GRT-III now feels like my m54 did with the factory T01 [just one felt stage and it was long and heavy]… maybe some moly on the trigger engagement points)

  5. B.B.

    It seems I just felt the word “Whiscombe” being typed in across the ocean.
    On that transfer port restrictors – I spent quite a time thinking on that. What I’m building looks very much like JW’s fixed barrel oeuvres, so there’s amost no place for conventional screw-in restrictor. So I proposed a T-shaped channel in moving breech. T’s shoulder is for regulation screw and its rubber ring and L-shaped channel is for the air. I made a mockup and tested it with some ancient manometer – well, it does regulate something. The thing is to learn what – as I strongly suspect that the dependency is non-linear and cannot be just counted in turns, but “two turns – stage one, three and a half more – stage two, etc”.
    At least I have a new job and decent money, but man, I do work for that 🙂

    Non-lead pellets sound something unnatural to me anyway. That’s some modern “greenish” craze and a toy for FPS-crazy people. I don’t recollect any of them to be a dead accurate or a real deathbringer – then what’s the reason for their existence? And I’m not sure if any of them will ever become one or another.

    On dieseling – in my experience Izh then Gamo are the greatest free lube dealers in the market 🙂 So I prefer to disassemble and rub all the metal parts, especially inside compression volume, before the first shot. I remember that once Gamo Shadow behaved like a sort of a dragon – I could see the flame, a powderburner-loud report and lots of foul smoke. Rest in pieces, poor seal and rubber seal ring too. Good thing spring was OK.


    • duskwight,

      The transfer port limiters have turned out to be one of the best features of the Whiscombe, after the interchangeable barrels. I have found many uses for them over the years. I hope you are able to get yours to work as well.


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