by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
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
• 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.
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.
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.
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?