Don Robinson BSA Airsporter: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Don Robinson Airsporter right
UK maker Don Robinson made this beautiful BSA Airsporter — a testimony to his work on airguns!

This report covers:

• Velocity — Premier lite pellets
• Air Arms Falcon pellets
• H&N Baracuda Match pellets
• Cocking effort
• Trigger-pull
• Evaluation so far

Today, I’ll test the .177-caliber Don Robinson BSA Airsporter velocity. As you recall from part 1, this rifle was given a Master Tune by airgunsmith Dave Slade. I’ve selected 3 pellets to test today that I think will show us the power and consistency of this rifle very well. Let’s get to it.

Velocity — Premier lite pellets
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome — the Premier lite. This pellet averaged 594 f.p.s. in the Airsporter, with a low of 585 and a high of 605 f.p.s. That’s 20 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 6.19 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

That’s lower than expected. I was looking for something in the 9-10 foot-pound range from this rifle. I’m not complaining, because the firing cycle is dead calm, but I missed on my estimate of the power by more than expected.

Air Arms Falcon pellets
Next up were Air Arms Falcon domes. These pellets have a 4.52mm head. At 7.33 grains I expected them to go faster, which they did. They averaged 630 f.p.s., with a low of 617 and a high of 640 f.p.s. That’s 23 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Falcon generates 6.46 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Not only were Falcons faster in the Airsporter, they also generated more energy, making them more efficient. That aligns with the belief that lighter pellets are usually more effective than heavier pellets in a spring-piston powerplant.

H&N Baracuda Match pellets
The last pellet I tested was the H&N 10.65-grain Baracuda Match with the 4.53mm head. If what I said about pellet weights in springers holds true, these should generate less power than the Premier lites.

They averaged 550 f.p.s. in the Airsporter. The range was from 534 to 571 f.p.s. That’s a 37 f.p.s. spread! At the average velocity, this pellet generates 7.16 foot-pounds. That’s the most power of the 3 pellets tested, and it runs contrary to the rule of light pellets dominating. But I have a thought about that.

This is a tuned rifle, and it shoots very smoothly with every pellet I tried. But with the Baracuda Match, the shot cycle is even smoother. You can tell the difference in a firing impulse that was already smooth. I’ve only seen this a few times before on guns that were tuned. They smooth out when fed pellets they like. I had a hunch these were going to do well — though the results did surprise me. I’m not sure that carries over to accuracy, but one can hope.

Cocking effort
I will admit that I really don’t like cocking these short-stroke underlever rifles. I never have. It’s not the effort that bothers me — it’s where the fulcrum is located — so far back on the rifle. Only the Hakim seems pleasant to me. All the others seem very hard to cock, which is why I don’t like the Air Arms Pro-Sport. I know many people do like it, and I guess it shoots as well as anything, but the cocking always seems difficult to me.

Don Robinson Airsporter cocking lever down
The fulcrum for the underlever is located close to the triggerguard. That makes the cocking effort harder for me.

I was very surprised when I measured the effort needed to cock this rifle. It is barely 28 lbs. By “barely” I mean only once for an instant did the needle on the scale jump to 28 lbs. The rest of the time it stayed around 26 lbs. or less. If I had to guess at the effort, I would have put it at 40 lbs. Looking back at the report I did on the BSA Airsporter Stutzen, I see that I said the same thing about it in Part 2.

I guess this is something you either get used to or avoid altogether. I have been avoiding it for many years; but now that I own such a beautiful rifle that’s also tuned so well, I have to face facts and learn to live with it. And, no, mom, I still don’t know if she eats! Re-read part 1 to get that reference.

Trigger-pull
The trigger is 2-stage and breaks cleanly at 2 lbs., 6 oz. The shape of the trigger blade positions your finger at the spot where you get the maximum leverage, so that works out nicely. And, I love the fact that there’s no safety of any kind. Of course, the loading tap is all the safety you need, and airgunners are quick to grasp that fact. Because there’s no anti-beartrap device, this rifle can be uncocked at any time!

Evaluation so far
I still love the rifle. Even though it cocks hard (for me) and the power is low, I didn’t get it for those things. It is a work of art that can also be shot, and that’s hard to beat in my book. It also shoots smoothly and has a very nice trigger. Accuracy comes next. I wonder what we’ll find?

36 thoughts on “Don Robinson BSA Airsporter: Part 2

  1. BB,

    You are definitely very good in teasing out this article one step at a time to allow you more time to appreciate this rifle and leave us hanging waiting for the next installment. Fortunately it is only Tuesday, but since that last report was more than three weeks ago I am just going to have to wait.


  2. Love the idea of the loading tap. I always get the shivers loading a pellet in my underlever.
    Just wish they would reintroduce the loading tap to all modern underlevers, Not only would they produce a safer gun but they would also reduce the weight by eliminating a number of parts. Might also be cheaper to produce.

    Pete


    • There are several issues with the loading tap. One is that it has internal volume that the expanding compressed air must fill behind the pellet. The tap must also be large enough to accept pellets of varying diameters, requiring more air. Another is that the compressed air must push the pellet forward into the rifled barrel, using up some more of it’s force in seating the pellet in the rifling. These reasons lower the efficiency.

      Another issue is a properly made loading tap requires fine quality machining to insure the proper fit of the tap in the breach block so no air pressure is lost in leakage around the tap and the proper alignment of the hole through the block, tap and barrel. This is one of the reasons I am enthralled with my 1906 BSA. The breach block and barrel is made from a single piece of steel. The fit of the tap into the breach block is such that no seals are required. This entire air rifle is machined steel and walnut.

      The loading tap does have the advantage of allowing you to dry fire a sproinger. If you leave it in the load position, it blocks the air passage and allows the air to cushion the piston when it is fired.

      The Gamo CFR with it’s rotating breach is probably the closest thing you can find today.

      BB whines about the cocking lever on this Airsporter, but I will bet you big money that it is not going anywhere in a hurry.


  3. Does indeed look just like the cocking of a ProSport…the PS showing some more vigor, not all that much difference than the much and very rightly vaunted TX200.
    But there are those of us that appreciate the demands of a bit more formidable device, say a short (mongolian style) bow suitable for a 21st century transit to…the range…on a motorcycle. Also say, accompanied by the carbine-length ProSport residing in the scabbard ‘longside the opposing rear wheel…
    It’s possible there can be (not necessarily) obvious reasons why things are done in a certain way.
    I’m just really, really lucky, where I live, such things are possible.
    Really, really lucky.
    And the rule is, never, never, for any reason, especially because you forgot, disrespect the God’s of luck.
    There is an (apparently) little known) intelligence test available that purports to reveal how well on does in life. It goes something like this;
    Choose a single attribute,
    1. Be really smart.
    2. Be really rich.
    3. Be really pretty.
    4. Be really well educated.
    5. Be really the happy recipient of inherited wealth and prestige.
    6. Be really wise.
    7. Be really talented.
    8. Be really lucky.
    9. Be really funny.

    Now I’ll help you out here. (Number 3 is an “almost,” and never generates negative numbers, but neither carries the day by itself.
    The answer has been and always will be, “anything other than # 8 means, You flunk.”
    Think long and hard about it.

    All have powerful attributes, but only one is sure. Which is it?
    Try number 7.


  4. Smooth out and pellet choice. How about those choice words for a springer.

    Its nice when you can get a heavier pellet that works in a springer. They definatly change the guns firing characteristics.



  5. B.B.,

    Did I miss it ?

    You said, “the baracuda pellet generated the most power of the 3 pellets tested, and it runs contrary to the rule of light pellets dominating. But I have a thought about that.”

    Be interested to know your thought since it is contrary to my limited experiences.

    kevin



  6. Good evening all!

    First of all, a beautiful rifle and awesome engraving! “eye chocolate” indeed!

    Question,….would the TX200III take out a ground hog? .17 or .22? Range? Shot placement?

    Suggestion,….. as a new (again) air gunner,I see “military holds” mentioned frequently. For those of us that are new to the sport and without the benefit of military training, I think it would be helpful to do an article on the [basics]. Pistols, rifles, standing, rested, sitting, etc. Pictures of course.

    I have not run across a blog on this site that has covered this yet. ( I’m back to Oct. ’12).

    And yes, thanks to all the Vets that have served. It would seem that we have more than a few from reading the comments.


    • Would the TX take out a Ground Hog? I would say yes, It would be better for that purpose in .22 cal. I would say a range of 25 yards would be max. I don’t have a TX but I have used a Diana 52 on animals up to the size of a Fox. The 52 is a bit more powerful but not a great deal more.

      I think your are asking about the “Artillery Hold” for springer’s. Do a search for that as it has been covered a lot. But, basically the rifle is held very lightly and allowed to vi berate the same way every time. Where the non-trigger hand is placed on the stock can make a big difference too.

      Mike


      • Yes,…..artillery hold,….my mistake. Chalk it up to being a newbie. 🙁

        And thank you for your comments. I live in the country with a mature woods 10′ from the house and got more than a few ground hog mounds within 75′.

        With all the under growth in the summer, it would be quite challenging to say the least.

        On the TX200III, I just went to the P.A. site only to see the price go from 629 to 729 in the last few days. Ouch! It was already at the top of my price range and I figured on a scope as well. Maybe Bologna for a month and some O.T. at work???

        I wonder how you cook a ground hog anyway? 🙂



          • Thank you for the link. I saved it to “favorites”. I will check it out further and hopefully find some pistol tips. I have a Beretta 92FS air pellet pistol and get 20mm. groups often and even a few at 10mm., but always a flier. 25-30mm. is usual depending on pellet size and weight.



          • Thank you for the reply. A quick re-check of the TX on the P.A. site shows you are indeed correct.

            My rather stupid mistake was that I did not realize that depending on what particular model options, (of the six), that I was looking at,…the price changed.

            As it happens, I shoot left, and if I want to “pop critters” with it, that means .22. Walnut is the only option so my cost would be 759.

            I like the quality of the TX and the fact that parts and tear down info. is so easy to find. You would think that a high end gun would be the opposite, (parts and info).


      • On the other hand, to heck with,………I’ll just go to “wally world” and buy 3 or 4 ” Zombie Mega Blasters”, duct tape them all together, sit them 1 yard from the “critter” hole with strings to fire them all at once! If I’m lucky, MAYBE I’ll hit something. 🙂


  7. Lee,

    Taking the action out of the stock is not a big issue with me. My concern would be whether I would have to disassemble the action to adjust the piston pressure or whether it was constructed in such a manner as to allow the adjustment of the piston pressure without further disassembly.

    That would be awesome!


    • RR
      I cannot comment on the gas spring in the new Impact air gun or a Theoben for that matter, but the Hatsan gas spring I got from RDNA that came out of the 95 he bought from Gunfun is adjustable for air pressure with the use of the fill probe that they supply with there PCP guns like the AT44s and Galatians. It does have to be removed from the compression tube to do so. I am building myself a crosman Quest/vantage clone that is branded ” Firepower ” with the Hatsan gas spring that is pressurized with compressed air and can be pressurized up to 135 bar as its upper limit. I am building it for FT match use so it will be set up with zero spring preload when installed and only compress the spring when cocked so it will be no issue to change the air pressure as it will not be preloaded hence no compressor needed to change the power level.

      I am looking for as smooth of a firing cycle as possible and still be accurate to 55 yards so I will start on the low side of probably 80 bar and work my way up till I get the accuracy I need out to 55 yards and not go any higher on the pressure than is required for that. I am hoping to make a gun that shoots as close to a TX or LGU as possible and maintain it accuracy to 55 yards.

      The issue with the Hatsan gas spring is not filling it but rather releasing the pressure as the slot headed screw is in very tight and required me to use a hand impact driver to get loose when I got it from RDNA and after the machining on the OD of the rear of the spring I am not sure how much of the slot in the head of the screw will be left as it is right where it has to be turned down about .060 inches. So once it is turned down to fit in the compression chamber it may not be able to be removed again.

      So hopefully after the first of the year when I can get to my friends machine shop to turn the OD of it down on the lathe and make a retainer for the spring in the rear spring guide of the crosman gun and a guide in the front of the piston to keep the rod centered in it I will have it together and start tuning it for FT match shooting.

      BD


      • BD,

        Be careful on your fill pressure. Somewhere, it may have been on Hatsan’s site, I read when researching this that the max fill was either 26 PSI or 26 Bar. I cannot remember which and It may be for the Theoben.


        • RR
          It says right on the side of the gas spring 125 bar fill pressure and RDNA sent me all the emails between him and Hatsan that he had a bunch of questions he asked them and they answered when he was swapping to a coil spring and they stated that the max fill pressure was 135 bar which I would assume was before their 135 max Springer.
          I doubt I will get anywhere near that as I am only wanting to fill for a max 800fps or what ever it takes to push a 177 pellet to 55 yard accurately and that is usually 750 to 800 fps area and I believe that will be somewhere in the 80 to 100 bar range. I want to keep it as low as possible to allow for me to cut the barrel to 10 to 12 inches in length from 16 as in most springers anything over ten inches is just creating more drag and slowing the pellet down so I am hoping I can cock it at ten inches fairly easy as that will be the real factor in barrel length is the difficulty in cocking so, it will not be cut until I get the spring pressure set at the proper pressure.

          BD


  8. Happy Holidays! Way off topic question. I recently ordered and received a Daisy 499. I thought they were made in China. The box says it is made in the USA. The stampings on the gun do not say where it is made (unless my old eyes missed something). Can you please tell me where the 499 is being made ? It sure would be great if production of this BB gun has been brought back to the USA. Thanks! Toby.


  9. This Airsporter is definitely tired rather than tuned, box stock you are looking at 9ft/lb plus, I must say, he isn’t a tuner I have heard of so assume he is Stateside?
    The best tune on one of these is to plastic sleeve the inside of the piston, fit a slightly longer and plastic guide, stroke the piston (easy), grease the spring, put a steel washer each end,burnish the inside of the chamber with moly, and refit with original spring
    That will give you a smooth 11 ft/lb in 177 and a touch more in 22
    Not 6….which basically ceases a sporting rifle functioning for its purpose
    I’ve had 4 Airsporters….I must say, I don’t recall any cocking effort or difficulty, y’all need to start eating oats for breakfast 🙂



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