Testing BSA’s 2X20 pistol scope: Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
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It took a long time to get me to this point. As a handgun shooter I’ve always had great disdain for scoped pistols, because I couldn’t see what purpose they served. But, like many other things about which I have a strong opinion, I was in the minority. I finally broke down and took the plunge. Today, I’ll begin a report on BSA’s 2×20 pistol scope mounted on a Beeman P1 pistol. There’s more. To mount the scope, I had the use BKL’s 566 riser blocks that clamp to the P1’s 11mm dovetail rail and offer a Weaver base on top. Because this is a BKL product, we know that it isn’t going to move on the gun, and the Weaver base assures us that the scope rings are not going to move, either. That makes this a perfect scope-mounting solution for the P1, whose recoil has always presented a problem for scopes in the past.
Speaking of problems…
In fact, I was going to use the new BKL adjustable scope mount that I reported on back in July. There was only one problem with that. When I tried that mount on the P1, the recoil went in the wrong direction and the adjustable legs of the mount lifted out of their adjustment yoke. When I checked with BKL, I found that I’d gotten my wires crossed and they never intended that mount to be used on the P1. I’ll continue that report by selecting an appropriate air rifle on which to test the mount, and today I’ll start the report on the correct mount solution for the P1.
Installation of these two BKL risers on the P1 couldn’t be much easier. Remove the clamping screws so the front sight blade will clear and just slide the risers onto the rail. Then, install the screw and screw them in until the risers are tight. The P1 has a very wide dovetail of nearly 14mm, so these risers are machined especially for it and other guns of equal width.
I located the risers forward, close to the front sight because I knew I needed clearance for my hand to cock the pistol. And where they wound up was perfect. The scope does not intrude on my grip when cocking the pistol, which on a P1 means lifting the topstrap and rotating it forward.
Because the BKL risers have Weaver bases on top, I was able to select some low Weaver rings to complete the installation. The BKL risers give more than enough clearance for the BSA 2×20 scope, which doesn’t have a very large ocular bell. The cross keys in each of the rings mean they’re not going anywhere.
The moment of truth approaches
Because the scope installation went so fast, I was now ready to begin testing, and this is where I faced my greatest fear. I’ve tested thousands of airguns throughout the years, but most of them have been rifles; and of the pistols I’ve tested, none of them ever wore a scope. This was my very first time. I felt like a unicycle rider who had agreed to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls. Sure, I had good balance, but this was entirely new.
I think I felt like a new airgunner approaching a breakbarrel for the first time. What would keep the people from pulling back on the curtain and exposing me to all of Oz, when it became apparent that I couldn’t shoot this scoped pistol? Heck — I knew so little about shooting scoped handguns that I wouldn’t even know whether it was the gun or me that was putting the pellets into the drywall behind the trap.
The only thing that kept me on track was the knowledge that hundreds of other people have done this before. Surely if the emperor was truly naked, one of them would have spoken up by now? Then, the thought of present-day politics flooded my mind with doubt again.
Riding this turbulent sea of doubt, I addressed the target from 10 feet and let the first round fly. Wonder of wonders, the pellet went through the target paper! Not exactly where I’d aimed, of course, but close enough that I knew the danger of shooting out the house lights was over for the moment.
I backed up to 20 feet and loosed a second round. Again, the paper was hit and not that far from the first shot. Thus assured, I moved back to my rested position at 10 meters and started testing the gun and scope in earnest.
Today’s report is not going to end this test. Today, I’ll get the pistol zeroed for the accuracy test. I need the extra time to become familiar with holding a scoped pistol.
The Beeman P1 has two power levels, but I use high power because it’s more accurate than low power.
Finishing the zero
Back at 10 meters, it was time to adjust the scope. The caps come off and the knobs required either a coin or a screwdriver to turn. They have crisp click detents, so you know how far you’ve gone.
The reticles move in half-minute steps, but at only 11 yards there are still a lot of them required to move the strike of the pellet noticeably. After seeing the pellet move in the intended direction, I lost another fear that this scope would somehow not work as all other scopes had. It took about 10 pellets to get a reasonable zero. Then, I was ready to prove it.
Proving the zero meant a group of 10 shots, just like any air rifle would get. For me, it also meant learning how to hold the pistol to get the best results. I’m so used to holding handguns with one hand that any two-handed hold seems disturbingly complex to me. I know lots of people do it, and it can be very accurate.
I decided to use Crosman Premier lites for the sight-in, because I knew they worked well in my P1. They won’t cut a good hole in the target, but I’ll cross that bridge later.
I soon discovered that I should pull back with my left hand and push forward with my right, but I still need some practice. So the group below shows both potential as well as my not-yet-coming-to-grips with the hold, so to speak.
Ten Crosman Premier lites went into this target at 10 meters from the scoped Beeman P1 pistol. While this is not the best 10-meter pistol target I’ve ever shot, the group of five together under the 10-ring indicates this arrangement can work. The shots outside that group indicate that I still need to work on my hold.
What comes next?
This is a test of the BSA pistol scope, so that’s what I have to test. This first step taken today just got the scope mounted and started my education in using a scoped air pistol. I see that the hold is very important and also that it’s possible to do good work with the gun once you understand how to use the scope correctly.
I’ll also test the pistol with different pellets to see if I can find some good ones. In the past, I’ve used Premier lites in a P1, but I haven’t paid much attention to a P1 as anything other than a 10-meter target shooter. The scope will allow me to stretch out farther, once I learn how to hold it.