Testing the BSF S20 and Webley Hurricane for accuracy
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
The big three air pistols of the 1970s are from the top — BSA Scorpion, BSF S20 Match and finally the Webley Hurricane. Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the BSF and the Webley.
This report covers:
• I didn’t test the shoulder stock
• How the test was conducted
• BSF S20 Match air pistol
• Summary of the BSF air pistol
• Webley Hurricane air pistol
• Summary of the Hurricane air pistol
Today’s report is a look at the accuracy of the vintage BSF S20 Match pistol and the Webley Hurricane pistol that I compared for velocity in Parts 1 and 2 of the test of the BSA Scorpion pistol. I compared them because they were contemporaries of the BSA pistol, and because, in their day, these 3 were considered to be the most powerful air pistols around.
I didn’t test the shoulder stock
There was some discussion of a shoulder stock for the Scorpion in the comments. Blog reader David Enoch brought one of his Scorpions with a shoulder stock to the Ft. Worth airgun show and offered to let me test it for you. I decided not to test it, however, because in my experience, shoulder stocks on pistols of any kind don’t work. I’ve tested them on Broomhandle Mauser firearms and on the Beeman P1, and they never increased the accuracy of the gun. If anything, they made the pistols less accurate because they’re wobbly by their very nature. I suspect this is why the shoulder stocks found on Colt blackpowder revolvers were never very popular.
David Enoch was selling his BSA Scorpion with the detachable shoulder stock at the 2014 Ft. Worth airgun show.
I discussed this with David, and he agreed that the Scorpion shoulder stock is very wobbly and flimsy. I could feel that it was just by holding the stock alone. I’m also not interested in testing the Scorpion any further — just in testing the 2 similar vintage pistols as a comparison with the Scorpion.
How the test was conducted
I shot both pistols from a rested position at 10 meters using a 2-hand hold. This is the same way I shot the Scorpion. I also used the same pellets in this test — so everything is as equal as I can make it. I gave each pistol one shot to wake up the powerplant, then shot a 10-shot group with every pellet. I’ll test the BSF S20 Match first.
BSF S20 Match air pistol
Like the BSA Scorpion, the BSF S20 Match also looks like a small air rifle that’s been converted into a pistol. Unlike the Scorpion, though, the S20 is very easy to cock — requiring no cocking aid. Also the single-stage trigger is the lightest one among the 3 pistols being tested. It’s adjustable, but BSF triggers have a nasty habit of going off by themselves when adjusted too light, so I have this one adjusted as heavy as it will go. And it’s still pretty light.
The first pellet tested was the Crosman Premier lite (7.9-grain). Where this pellet was loose in the Scorpion, it fit the S20 breech very tight. I did try deep-seating the pellets with the Air Venturi Pellet Seater, but it did not improve things.
Ten pellets went into 1.99 inches between centers at 10 meters. As you can see, this group is spread out, so I don’t think Premier lites are right for this pistol.
Next up were RWS Hobby pellets. Hobbys are larger than Premiers, so I expected even more resistance at loading, but they slipped into the breech easier than the Premiers. I think the rifling must go all the way to the end of the breech and the hard alloy of the Premiers is what’s causing the resistance, rather than their size.
Ten Hobbys made a 1.855-inch group, although 7 of those pellets went into 0.674 inches. That leads me to believe that there’s a particular hold for the pistol that will make it group best. I was probably using that hold most of the time, but not always. Naturally, I did try to be consistent on every shot, but sometimes the difference can be too subtle to spot.
The final pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which the Scorpion liked a lot. In the BSF, 10 Superdomes went into a 2.378-inch group that had a single outlier. Nine of the 10 pellets are in 1.166 inches.
Summary of the BSF air pistol
That ended the test of the BSF. Please understand that if I’d tested other pellets and if I’d experimented with different holds, the pistol might have done much better. But I didn’t do any of that with the Scorpion, either, and it still shot well.
I like how easy the S20 cocks, I like its light trigger and I like how it sits in my hand. But it just doesn’t stack up against the BSA Scorpion.
Webley Hurricane air pistol
The Webley Hurricane was the other contemporary of the Scorpion, and in the velocity test we learned that the Hurricane is more powerful than the BSF, though not as powerful as the Scorpion.
Cocking the Hurricane varied from heavy and smooth, to a grinding pull that doubled the effort. The trigger is single-stage and very crisp. And the firing behavior is quite different from the other 2 pistols. Both of them rock in your hand when they fire, while the Hurricane just pulses. It’s a much more positive feel.
The Hurricane put 10 Premier lites into 1.229 inches at 10 meters. It’s fairly good, but nowhere near what the Scorpion can do.
Next up were the Hobbys, which gave a very vertical group. It measures 1.339 inches between centers, so it’s a little larger than the Premier group.
The final pellet for the Hurricane was the RWS Superdome. I didn’t look at the target until I walked downrange to take it down, which is when I saw a tight little 0.792-inch cluster. This is clearly a very good pellet for this pistol!
Summary of the Hurricane air pistol
I don’t know what I thought I would get from the Hurricane, but that last group surprised me. I’ve always thought of the Hurricane as a powerful, yet rough spring pistol; but compared it to these other 2 vintage guns that are similar to each other, this one is nicer than I remembered. I especially like the smooth firing behavior and the crisp trigger.
Now that this test is complete, I find myself wondering how the Beeman P1 and the P17 would stack up against these oldies. Oh, well. I guess that’s what keeps this blog rolling!