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Ammo Testing BSA’s 2X20 pistol scope: Part 1

Testing BSA’s 2X20 pistol scope: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Pyramyd AIR has marked down their line of Falcon PCP rifles. Save up to $190 on some models. Check ’em out. Now, on today’s blog.

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.

The BKL risers allowed me to position the BSA scope in the right position for cocking the gun.

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.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

52 thoughts on “Testing BSA’s 2X20 pistol scope: Part 1”

  1. Thought it was just me. The purist. The virgin with great hesitation.

    First pistol I ever mounted an optical device on was my ruger mkIII. The fiber optic sights that came with the gun was my excuse. I mounted a red dot on the mkIII. Felt awkward and dirty.

    I have to confess I really like it.

    Guess I’m not a pistol monk anymore.


    • Heh…

      It was a MK-II Government/Competition Target mode that I put the red-dot on…

      Had to carve out part of the fitted plastic case as the red-dot required the extended length scope rail, rather than the standard rail that came fitted..

        • Sorry… My last exposure to Alabama was 1966 (3rd & 4th grade), Ft. Rucker & Enterprise; where, once a month, one could forget about any decent TV reception as the latest graduating group of UH-1 pilots swarmed the skies in formations creating so much multi-path interference the TV looked like a picket fence of people clones.

            • “Wulfraed” is the name I’ve used on-line since the days of the GEnie service “Beastie Board” (which started life in the Comics Roundtable, focused on anthropomorphic critters). “Baron Wulfraed” is an Imperial Vargr on detached duty (you never retire) from the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service. {Traveller RPG universe}

  2. B.B.,

    I have one of these scopes and it is a real help for shooting past 10 meters; some of my pistols have sights that are not very good for longer ranges and my eyes are not that good anyway. It is even useful on an IZH 46M – with the scope I can hit soda cans at 50 yards. That would be impossible for me with the open sights.


  3. I fully understand your trepidation shooting a P1 with a scope.It really takes a lot of technique.It is so completely unlike any other air pistol…..but fun none the less.I’ve got a Beeman shoulder stock for mine,which I’ve had a hard time deciding if I like.With or without the stock and scope….there’s nothing quite like one.The Hogue combat grips have given the best results for me personally.

  4. B.B.,

    1) Is this the P1 with the modified trigger screw?
    2) How is the PVC pellet trap holding up?
    3) Testing of an Aimpoint H-1 red dot sight is underway here. It can be used on Weaver/Picatinny and airgun/rimfire rifles and pistols. A bit pricey, the intent is to move it around many rifles/pistols as needed, “spreading” out the cost. The list includes air and centerfire types. Would a summary of the results be of interest?

    • Jim,

      Yes, this is the pistol I modified, following your instructions. Until mounting this scope I never felt a need for the light trigger that modification gave me, but with the scope it really comes in handy. I do plan on mentioning that in the next part of this report.

      I finally shot through my homemade pellet trap a couple months ago, so your trap is all I have to use for indoor velocity testing now. I need something larger and am on the lookout for a steel box of some sort, but I don’t want to pay the $160 that a new electrical box of the proper size would cost.

      As for dot sights, I have tested quite a few over the years. I own two Aimpoints, but aside from testing them I do not like to use them on handguns. I still like open sights.


      • BB,

        You don’t need a steel box! All you need is a wooden box with a steel plate behind the ballistic putty. Or in my case a steel plate behind the compressed shredded pine cat liter. Much less expensive too.

        In fact, why would not a new board on back of your shot out trap with a steel plate do the trick? Much cheaper!

        Me? I gotta be cheap as possible as I am on SS disability!

          • BB,

            Yikes! You need to quit shooting your .45 acp indoors! Shame on you! 🙂

            Seriously, I have never even shot through the putty, let alone a steel backer!


            1) Thicker putty in front of the backer. (Or more bales of compressed shredded pine)

            2) A thicker piece of steel for the backer.

            3) Less powerful airguns.

            Finally, if any one of those alone don’t work, ALL of the above!! 🙂

            • I put two holes in my “silent trap” just rough-sighting a .177 Marauder with factory settings… Granted, I was shooting at 15 feet…

              No problem with one pellet — but at that distance I /was/ managing to get subsequent pellets to hit previous ones — so the third hitting basically the same hole punched through…

  5. On Grip: The US AMU manual seems to differ on how to hold a pistol from what I remember reading on your previous posts. Their approach is a very firm grip with the second and third fingers with the thumb and little finger “along for the ride.” The gun is nestled very firmly into the web of the thumb. I certainly find that a loose grip causes many flyers. Similarly, gripping with the thumb.

    I can shoot 95% with .22LR with my S&W M41 (well, 854/900 at last match — missed by one point). I still don’t shoot as well with a 1911 (803 at last match) but am learning. I practice every day in my basement at 10M with my 2240 modded to a PCP.



  6. Hi, B.B. Hi, folks. I’ve never shot a scoped pistol before. I see that this scope has a fixed 50-yard parallax. How much reticle movement does this give you at 10m? Is eye placement the driving force behind your search for the best hold for the scoped P1, or is it the usual springer dynamics?

    PS, months ago you asked if the stuffed turkey was still on display at the Damascus IWLA-WAC chapter house. It is!

    Joe, missed you at the last couple of DIFTA matches. Coming in October?

    And now, to re-lurk…


    • GenghisJan,

      Thanks for news of the turkey. I bet he’s real dusty now!

      As for the scope, I plan to discuss the optics in the next report. I didn’t look for parallax, but there might be some there. I was trying to shoot as good as I could, so the hold was as close to the same each time as I could make it. But next report I will move my head and see what happens to the reticles.


  7. For those who don’t like accessories on pistols, there is a lot of catching up to do with flashlights and lasers as well as scopes. But for myself, I find myself leaving my Walther Nighthawk bare and using it for snap shooting. If I want accuracy, I have plenty of rifles. My biggest concern with a scope would be how it changes the feel of the pistol. But apparently this is not a problem for most….

    Duskwight, help me out. I just came across an article on Arsenal AKs which talks about their noise because of their muzzle brakes. Then the article segues into talking about the Russian involvement in Afghanistan and how many veterans are now deaf because of a similar muzzle brake used on their AK74s. Is there anything to this? It sounds very improbable. On the other hand, it does have me wondering if the American army or any others makes any provision for protecting the hearing of soldiers in the field. I don’t see how you could avoid deafness or serious hearing impairment with large caliber guns, especially in confined spaces. But I understand that typically one’s hearing will recover in the short term from just about anything, including noise that will blow in your eardrums. But the damage resurfaces in later life with hearing loss. Does anyone know if the army requires hearing protection in training? My Dad says that when he was in basic training in 1960, no hearing protection was worn with M1 Garands. In the 1980s, when I went to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii for a JROTC camps, people were issued earplugs for firing the M-16 and other small arms although no one made a big deal out of it. The trend would suggest now that ear plugs would be mandatory. On the other hand, it wouldn’t make sense to train soldiers with earplugs and then take them away when they are expected to perform at their best in combat….

    Now, as for myself, I’m curious as to what people consider the ultimate hearing protection. Of course, I use double protection, but the question is what. Outside, I have about the most robust earmuffs one can buy at a reasonable price. But what goes inside? Partly for economy’s sake I’ve gone with oversize cotton balls. They don’t fit snugly in the ear canals. But I’m borrowing from earlier blog wisdom and some common sense to imagine that the loose material of the cotton will disperse and disrupt the sound waves and absorb their energy more effectively than really dense material that just blocks it. Anyone know how this works?


    • matt,
      I use an electronic ear muff I bought at Gander Mtn for less than $30. For being so cheap it works extremely well. It allows for normal conversation (even amplifies hearing if desired) and attenuates at loud noises. Even a hand clap will shut it off. The downside is it is bulky, hot in the summer, and sometimes interferes with cheek weld. The hot and bulky disappears after you get used to it but the cheek weld problem doesn’t. I have a hard time getting ear plugs seated correctly for a good seal and they make conversation impossible, in both directions

      • Hi Matt,

        I typically use a very inexpensive ear muff bought at a local shop that is no longer in business. I could use a bit more protection as when I’m at the local range and someone is in the next port pounding away with his Glock 40, it’s pretty noisy. Not to mention the darn hot empties bouncing over the devider. Plus I found it a good idea not to wear sandles anymore at the range. Those empites do burn when they land on one’s foot. Otherwise, I find this muff fine for smaller calibers and perfect for air rifle shooting when I have a loud rifle (such as an open Disco with no Lead Dust Collector). I have also found the foam earplugs to be just fine and give excellent noise attenuation (as much as -33 db). I buy a box of 500 for around $20 from Graingers and use them when I go on motorcycle rides, as well.

        Fred PRoNJ

        • Cheap ear plugs often work great, and being disposable, they’re a clean way to go.

          No, don’t wear sandals at the range. And don’t wear them with socks, people will think you’re a college professor. And button your shirt up, a hot empty down your shirt is not fun!

      • I too use a similar cheap electronic ear muff which I got at Cabela’s I believe for $19.95! Works great! I think the other pair of non-electric muffs I have cost me more than that, but I got those back before I went on SS disability so I had a LOT more money and did not worry about cost.

        • Ah, but what is the sound deadening ability of the two types.

          I’ve got a moderate pair of amplifieds that I haven’t used yet, an old set non-amplified set that is (I recall) Remington branded… The non-amplified set will kill more sound than the amplified… To get an amplified with the same overall sound-reduction level would put me into the $$$ range (once you’ve added the microphone port and volume control openings, it take much more innards around the speakers to produce the same amount of sound reduction).

    • Matt,

      Trust me, I know quite many Afghan war vets – and none of them’s deaf 🙂 I guess it’s just another “bloodlusty Soviet regime” tale based on perversion of facts. The fact is that 74’s muzzlebrake ejects hot gases and partially sound to the sides – so it’s better to keep behind or shoulder to shoulder with shooter, as it’s louder from the sides than from behind, but that’s true for any side-ported muzzle brake rifle. Any loud sound can damage hearing. And if someone shoots any gun right above your head – you’ve got a great chance to get your ears damaged, even if it’s M-16 or .22 LR plinker.
      So I guess it’s a typical combat hearing trauma of “you’re not alone here” kind.
      But when it comes to AK-74… I believe there was a special KGB officer with a Party order in Kalashnikov design bureau – to design AK so that as much soldiers as possible lost their hearing… ew, wait – how would then they hear Party Leader’s annual speech? 🙂
      Shooting in outdoors greatly reduces a load on ears, but indoor range reverb the sound and act like a guitar body – so I guess it’s obligatory to wear some protection with powderburners oh hi-cal airguns indoors.


  8. B.B.,
    “pull back with my left hand and push forward with my right”. I’ve never tried shooting a pistol with two hands, let alone use a scope, but this use of opposing forces sounds like it would introduce the kind of bias that we try very hard to eliminate in pistol shooting (and rifle). I’d be very mindful of shots that get pulled in one direction.

      • B.B.,
        I don’t doubt that. I’ve seen champions demonstrate this technique for action/combat shooting, but I wonder what you give up, if anything. Many questions come to mind. I might elaborate on this later – Need to leave. I can see this as a blog in itself (i.e. comparisons and justifications).

        • Take into account that this is a field stance — those competitors are not laced into overly starched straitjackets/girdles which hold them into position… And they are often shooting double-taps or more vs taking a minute or more per shot.

          Compared to the old isosceles (both arms locked at full extension), Weaver stance (and to a lesser extant, modified Weaver) allow the arm muscles to take the recoil and reposition on target fairly quickly. Isosceles and formal (1-hand) target stances tend to put the recoil on the shoulders and upper body.

          The favorable feature of the isosceles is that, with both arms locked into a, well, isosceles triangle, is that the pistol is centered and (ideally) pointing straight away from the body, and if the head is looking straight ahead, it is in alignment (might have to rotate the head some to acquire the sights as they’d otherwise be centered over the nose)… It was sort of a 2-hand “instinctive” defensive shooting position — roughly chest high, traverse at the hips.

          • Wulfraed,
            Sure, I understand that there are practical considerations, but I still wonder if this approach is entirely justified for the specific tests that B.B. will be doing with this pistol scope. Now, if the scope is so heavy that the shooter must use two hands, then the decision is an easy one. Eye relief is another important reason. Extending one arm out will be longer than gripping with two hands (at least for most of us).

            It would be interesting to find if in general using two hands is better than one hand for accuracy. I’ve never tried to make such a comparison. I know that women prefer two hands because it makes holding the pistol up easier. I’m sure that the approach that B.B. is taking is the best one. Just thinking out loud.

  9. To shoot well with a pistol, you have to practice a LOT. Some will have a “knack” right off but it just plain takes practice.

    Short of putting a red dot on it, you can work on getting a sight picture that works for your eyes. You can put a wider notch on the rear, a wider or narrower post on the front, etc. You can get shooting glasses that have a lens that puts your focused zone on the sights. You can even put a little peep aperture on the glasses and in conjunction with a lens you can clear those sights right up.

    You have to “call” every shot. You absolutely have to do this every shot and *not* look into your spotting scope until you’ve done so.

    Lasers and lil’ red dots etc are not a panacea for lack of skill. In the end, for me, a decent set of sights isn’t any harder to use than the little red bouncing ball.

    • Flobert,

      I agree with you. In fact, I find it easier for me to use standard iron sights than a red dot, especially for target work. To me, the only use I can find for red dot sights is short range plinking and hunting.

      Now a laser, that is a whole nuther story! I put them on my scopes, and sight them in at short range (7 – 10 yds.) and they are great in conjunction with a scope for those short range shots that pop up every now and then while I can have my scope sighted in at 15 -20 yds for my pcp guns. Even in broad daylight with the scope I can spot the red dot on the target!

      Basically I like my scope dead on at 40 yards which gives me close to “line of sight” holds from 15 yds. to 45 yds. and the red dot of the laser takes over under 15 yds.

      • If any of you older fellers have eyes like mine, you might want to check out this (www.clear2target.com). It’s alot cheaper and I think it may even work better than the Merit disk.


      • I’d actually like to put a laser on my Henry .22 lever-action, but it turns out the cheepee lasers are just that – the switches don’t last and who knows how long the lasers do. You get what you pay for. I’d want something “cop grade” like the Streamlight flashlights, and I can’t get that quality at Big-5 or Wally’s. So that’s been put off until later.

        The reason to put a laser on that is, if I’ve got a bunch of coons treed (as I have in the past) I can have it zeroed for about 10 yards and just put the lil’ light on ’em without even bringing the gun up to my cheek and get ’em. While keeping my eyes unimpeded.

        When laser sights were first showing up at the range, people thought they were the cure for their accuracy ills. I remember one guy, he’d hold that little dot steady on the paper then heel, or flinch, or snatch at the trigger, and it was comical to watch, that steady little dot which would then dash quickly in the direction the bullet hole would appear. I asked to try it, and held the pistol at as close to waist level as the range “shelf” allowed, and proceeded to put a bunch of shots in a little group, by concentrating on smooth shot execution. Very cool.

  10. B.B,

    I was looking at one of your previous articles
    about how long a mainspring will last and you
    said a chinese air rifle will probaly break before
    1000 shots. I’ve decided to get a crosman optimus
    in .177 (the one you reviewed not to long ago)
    and I don’t wanna throw away 100 dollars on something
    that won’t last at least 1000 shots.

    • Bobby B,

      I don’t believe I ever said that a Chinese mainspring would probably break before 1000 shots. Maybe I said it would break-in, which is completely different.

      Now there are poor mainsprings out there, but I’m darned if I know when they will break.


  11. Hey B.B,

    Not sure if I’m in the right spot for posting comments. But I have a HUGE problem with my MP 315 M rifle. I let my brother shoot it and he screwed up the firing sequence and now the gun is stuck. He broke the barrel down all the way which engaged the anti bear trap, then he cocked the rear safety BEFORE closing the barrel. Now the rifle is stuck broke open and I can not manually remove the safety. I know the MP315 is designed to be fire after the piston is fully depressed, and can not be uncocked unless one actually fires the rifle.

    What do I do? Do I have to send it to the factory? I can’t find any information reguarding this type of issue any were on the Internet. I think it is because the MP315 is a lesser known rifle. Any information would be amazing.

    Waiting with bated breath,
    Stuck in Arizona

    • Nemo,

      I did see your other message, but I am only answering you here.

      I tested a 513 years ago, but I never had this problem, so I went to the owner’s manual.

      It says, “The hammer (They mean the safety) may be lowered manually by putting your thumb on the hammer and holding the hammer to the rear and then slowly pulling the trigger to release the hammer (fig 1a). With the hammer released and with your thumb on the hammer you may gently lower the hammer to its resting place.”

      Have you tried that? Since the barrel isn’t closed, you should also hold the barrel all the way open, so if the gun fires the barrel won’t suddenly release and close rapidly. If it does, it will bend the barrel and perhaps crack the stock.

      Good luck and please teach your brother the right way to operate this air rifle.


    • Nemo…

      1) There is no safety on the gun. The hammer is a hammer. When it falls it hits a pin that releases 3 ball bearings that releases the piston.
      2) The position of the hammer has nothing to do with the cocking.
      3) You can’t pull the trigger because the barrel is open.
      4) If you can’t close the barrel, I’m betting that it isn’t cocked all the way. Try cocking it further (as you know, you’ll need a fair bit of effort), and I’ll bet that you’ll find that the barrel will move, releasing the barrel ratchet, and that now you’ll be able to load the gun, close the barrel and shoot it normally.

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