BSA Meteor Mark I: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA Meteor
BSA Meteor Mark I.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • You outta try…
  • Off the bat
  • A scope!
  • What to expect

Back in 2013/14 I wrote a 9-part review of the BSA Super Meteor Mark IV that I bought at what turned out to be the last airgun show in Roanoke, Virginia. That gun was pretty bad when I got it, but I was able to buy all the parts to make it good again, plus my buddy, Otho, did some welding on the piston that saved it. When I sold the gun at the Malvern airgun show in 2015, it had been transformed into a nice little air rifle.

You outta try…

As I reviewed the gun several readers told me the model I really should be looking at was the Mark I or Mark II Meteor. Those were made as fine airguns, before BSA started painting their parts and cheapening their manufacture. Well, as luck would have it, I saw a Mark I Meteor on Larry Hannusch’s table at the recent Texas Airgun Show. He wanted a lot for it, and I let him take it home, but then, after a lot of thought, I reconsidered and bought it. Larry gave me a nice discount and shipped it immediately, which is why I have it today.

Off the bat

After assembling the rifle out of the package, I had to shoot it to see if it really was that much better than what I remembered from the Mark IV. It is. Several readers said this was their favorite air rifle, and after a few shots with this one I now understand. It cocks easily, has a nice adjustable trigger pull and fires smoothly, if with a lot of buzz. The stock is slender like air rifles used to be in the 1950s, and overall I can see why so many people like this model.

My new/old Meteor is a .22 caliber Mark I. I know that from its serial number, which is T 41267. It’s a small air rifle — just 40.5 inches overall with an 18-inch barrel. It weighs 5 lbs. 5 oz, which makes it lighter than a Diana 27.

BSA Meteor serial number
The serial number is found on the underside of the barrel base block (the part that holds the barrel). This one indicates a Mark 1 Meteor made between 1959 and 1962.

The stock is beech without any grain. The forearm is scored with three deep parallel lines on each side that help with the grip. The wood is finished with what looks and feels like a synthetic spray.

The metal is all blued steel, where my Mark IV Super Meteor was painted. The metal is polished very well. It is what would be considered a superior finish today, but in 1960 was simply business as usual.

Up front is a hooded post and bead that is replaceable. A screw on the left side of the sight base allows removal of the post and bead element and replacement with something else. I assume BSA had a number of different front sight elements available in the day. A sliding sheet metal hood that shades the sight comes off easily.

BSA Meteor front sight
The front sight element has been removed from the ramp for easier viewing. The hood is slid forward for this picture.

The rear sight is adjustable for elevation, but to adjust for windage you must drift it sideways in its dovetails. I will know better how well these adjustments work after I start shooting the rifle for accuracy.

BSA Meteor rear sight
The rear sight adjusts for elevation.

A scope!

The BSA Meteor was the first air rifle to come with an optional scope. And this rifle has one! I think that is what drives the value, beyond the quality of the airgun, itself.

What an instrument it is! It has a tube with an outer diameter of 0.70-inches, so the optics are tiny. It’s 2 power and has an ultra-fine crosshair with the traditional turret adjustments. But the beauty of this scope is not the performance. It’s the BSA trademark that’s cast into the side of the turret. Yes, this BSA scope wasn’t made in Asia. It was made in England and says so on the scope tube. According to Wikipedia, was the first telescope to be offered on an airgun.

BSA Meteor scope on rifle
The scope was an option for the Mark 1. This was two decades before scopes were common on air rifles.

BSA Meteor trademark on scope
The BSA trademark is seen on the turret of the scope. Elsewhere on the scope it says “Made in England.”

What to expect

The Meteor was never meant to be powerful. In .22 caliber I’m hoping for velocities in the low- to mid-400s with lighter pellets. I had good luck with JSB RS pellets in the .177 Meteor, so I’m thinking the same might hold for the .22 caliber RS.

Currently the powerplant buzzes a lot with every shot. I’m hoping I can tune that out and get a smooth shot without loosing much velocity. Thankfully I have the detailed teardown procedure outlines in the earlier report, so this time it should go faster. And I know that T.R. Robb carries the parts I need.

So settle back. This should be an interesting series!

34 thoughts on “BSA Meteor Mark I: Part 1

  1. B.B.,

    Interesting item. You mentioned that you had to “assemble” the rifle. What did you have to assemble? The Blue Book mentions that this came in rifled and smooth bore. I am assuming this is the rifled version? The scope mounts look interesting. From the top picture, it appears that the mounts can only go in 2 areas on the receiver. Then there is the 3 hole blocks that seem integral to the scope body. A close up of how all that works in unison would be nice to see. Good luck on getting things smoothed out.

    Chris



      • B.B.,

        Thanks. Just keeping you on your toes! 😉 I was surprised that the Blue Book made no mention of the scope part of the article. The front sight is interesting as well. It almost looks as if it could tilt forward and rearward with that rounded bottom. That would adjust the height of the front post in a sense, though it might present a rather odd looking profile. I suppose that shroud and front post are items that might be missing on older guns. It would be interesting to know if there in fact there ever was additional inserts available, like on a 499 bb gun.

        Chris


    • Chris USA,

      If I surmise correctly, the mounts are fixed to the rifle. The 3 hole blocks that seem integral to the scope body allow you to adjust for eye relief. Just my guess.

      Siraniko


  2. I like the gun. And the scope is way cool. Especially since it was offered as a combo.

    I have to ask. Does the barrel lock up tight when you close it. You didn’t show a picture.


  3. I’ve had an extended stint in the hospital with heart complications, and another unrelated diagnosis. It hasn’t been fun, and I would urge everyone over 50 to get a simple 15 minute checkup at their doctors as a simple precaution. Who said old age are the golden years?
    Anyway, this blog has been my salvation, along with the comment section.
    I can’t wait to get back to my airguns, and garden. The wife says it’s been a bumper year for everything.
    The BSA Mark1 has caught my attention enough to comment on my iPhone. I’m used to using a qwerty keyboard instead of the plodding hunt and pick of the iPhone system.
    Very interesting this gun would be sold with an optional scope. I have a Norica model 61 in.22cal from the eighties. It’s grooved for 11mm scope mounting, but the grooves are only 4 inches long making it next to impossible to mount a scope.
    How is the scope mounted on the BSA? Considering BSA’s reputation for durability, and accuracy, I would think you have a nice little plinker on your hands. Thanks for your eclectic blog BB.
    Ciao
    Titus


    • Glad you’re back and sorry about the medical scare. My parents share your view of old age. Still the medication is getting better all the time as I can attest. After years of struggling around on a cane, I am pain-free and more active than ever. I told B.B. on the occasion of his recent birthday about the saying that 70 is the new 30. We will see. Judging by my various interests that estimate might be on target. I’ve actually had some new developments in archery about which more below.

      Matt61




  4. Happy Labor Day, a holiday that I am particularly enjoying this year. Today’s post is thematic about never giving up on old things. The other night I had a bad moment when I popped open the caps on the Leapers scope mounted on my IZH 61 and saw a cloudy image. I figured that after 10 years and 90,000 shots, that the scope had finally given up the ghost and leaked out its nitrogen. It has had several lifetimes of use. But this morning, I got up for a final check before writing Leapers and the scope was fine. It turns out that the culprit was dirty shooting glasses and that scope is as good as ever. That saved a potentially embarrassing situation. And I would also like to send a shout out to Ming Qian of Leapers whose correspondence I was reading from a couple years ago and who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in the gun trade. I’ve actually had good luck with that recently with the incredibly nice folks at CZ-Custom who modified the trigger on my pistol and Tim Shufflin who fixed my Garand.

    Titus Groan, I had quite a weekend of archery last Saturday where I believe I may have reconstructed the lost methods of the medieval English archers who were able to shoot gigantic bows to incredible distances. I won’t bore you with the details which I wrote up. But I will say that it allowed me to hit a door-sized target at 30 yards with a 60lb. bow which is a significant improvement for me. Along the way, I got to thinking that flat trajectories are overrated. I got a lot of satisfaction out of operating at a distance where I needed an arcing trajectory. It was nice to hear those arrows plop in there on their descent.

    Now, I’ve gone to even closer quarters with my sheets of plywood for knife-throwing. I had to start at about two feet distant, releasing the knife right in front of the wood, but I got it to stick. And later in the same day, I even got a knife to stick in a telephone pole from about 12 feet. Today might be the day of my first stick with the tomahawk. I suppose it’s true that only accurate [weapons] are interesting, but it all depends on what you mean by accurate.

    Here’s an unrelated question from my epic range day last week. How come cases that come out of a semiauto are too hot to touch while the ones that come out of bolt actions are relatively cool? I had thought that the hot gases from the discharge push a piston which works the mechanism. So, they wouldn’t come in contact with the spent case, not unless the gases could bleed around the piston and work their way into the action somehow. It’s still puzzling.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      I had the same thing happen with a Leaper’s,…… panicked,…. I headed outside to have a “long” look and all was fine. You may remember?, .25 M-rod, no pellets, no magazine, not charged,…. entrée the Ground Hog,… 20 feet in front of me. 🙁

      Now,.. if I had some throwing knives at the ready,….. I would have been all set!

      You have theorized in the past that people of the past must have been in much better shape (bows). At least for the warrior end of the peoples, maybe. But do you not think that the most fit of “warriors” today could not do the same? I guess I look at it at it as “fit is fit” and “strong is strong”,…. then,… or now.

      Chris


    • Matt61,

      Maybe because cases ejected from a semiautomatic rifle do not have enough time to dissipate the heat through the surrounding metal because they are ejected violently as soon as they are fired. In a bolt action the cases stay little longer before being ejected and can shed some heat into the action.

      Maybe, just maybe.


  5. Welcome back Titus. I have scoped some of my Slavia 618,s with a single scope mount (ring). The receiver groove is about 2″ long. Enough for one ring. I use the old Tasco 2.5X20 bantom scopes. They are very short. I have not dropped these rifles, so I dont know its strength. I tend to be careful and “baby” my rifles. I do know that it works, and holds its zero. ———BB— I went to a Barnes and Noble bookstore today, and found several airsoft , and 1 air rifle magazine in the gun magazine section. This is the first time that I have seen them, I go there often because they also have a Starbucks in the store.The air rifle mag is from England. It had an interesting article re pellet deformation. Deformed pellet skirts stay deformed, they do not open up when shot. Deformed pellets shoot much tighter groups than we thought. There is no such thing as a perfect pellet, only the degree of the defect. This is what the article says. I hope that you get the mag and read the details. —-Ed




  6. Off topic question,did anyone other than Crosman make a BB gun that cocks by pushing the Bbl straight back? I found one at my brothers that has a lot of surface rust and I can’t find any markings on it.It still cocks and shoots but is weak.Would this be worth repairing and how hard will it be to get parts? Should I just leave it as a wall hanger instead?


  7. Siraniko,thanks for the reply.No it doesn’t resemble those,to my eye it looks like the V350 but knowing how some companies are I thought there may be others that looked similar.


  8. The Meteor is the UK’s Red Ryder, and holds a similarly special place in our hearts, despite less than stellar performance, (though massively better than a Red Ryder), of this vintage, you will be looking at 8ft/lbs and, plausibly, an inch at 20 yards with RWS Super points, a good open sight barn ratter, best used with a pair of Jack Russells


  9. A lot of them were issued to Army Cadet troops, and 5 shots in 5 inches (on a NATO target) at 30 yards on, normally supplied, peep sights was the order (quite literally) of the day.



  10. Great article, looking forward to the next part.

    As I mentioned before, I own a mk 1 meteor. Great rifle but I’m missing the rear sight an yet to get a scope for it. The rails aren’t standard, so mounts are pricey here.

    Another project an keeper for my collection.

    Take care.

    Rick.


  11. Hi Everyone. Found this looking for info on the mark 1 BSA Meteor I just bought. In its original box complete with target holder oil bottle and telescopic sight! Serial number is low T2396 so assuming it is most likely 1959 or 1960?


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