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Education / Training BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 3

BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA Airsporter
The BSA Airsporter Mark I is an all-time classic.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Superpoints
  • Open sights
  • Is it my eye?
  • Eley Wasps
  • The eyes have it
  • Next?

Today is the first accuracy day for my new .22 caliber BSA Airsporter Mark IV. As the picture shows, it came with an old Dianawerk scope mounted, and I said I would test it with that first. So that’s what I did.

The test

Today I shot off a sandbag at 10 meters, just to get familiar with the rifle. I tried it both using the artillery hold and directly rested on the bag. The first groups were shot using the scope.


The scope was not exactly on target like I had hoped, but it was close enough on the first shot that I adjusted it to hit near the POI. The scope is not adjusted for parallax as close as 10 meters so the image is fuzzy. The reticle is a German hunting reticle with three heavy black lines — two on either side and a pointer coming up from the bottom. You put the tip of the pointer on the target when hunting, but it gets lost on a black bull, so I set it at 6 o’clock.

RWS Superpoints

The scope adjustments have no clicks and the POI moves very quickly, so I had to fuss with the adjustments a bit before I was satisfied. But after about 10 shots I was zeroed and decided to shoot a group with RWS Superpoints. Ten pellets landed in nearly two inches at 10 meters when the rifle was rested on the bag, so I used the artillery hold. Eight shots later I gave up on the scope altogether, because the group was already over 1.5 inches. Fortunately the scope came off easily. Now I would try the open sights.

Open sights

Shot number one with open sights was left and low, so I adjusted the rear sight a little. Shot two went into the black at 8 o’clock, so I started shooting my group. The gun was rested directly on the sandbag. Ten shots went into 0.751-inches at 10 meters. That’s okay but not great.

BSA Airsporter Superpoint group 1
The BSA Airsporter put 10 RWS Superpoints into 0.751-inches at 10 meters when rested directly on a sandbag. That’s okay, but not exceptional.

I reckoned the rifle wanted to be shot from the artillery hold, so that was next. Same everything the second time except the hold. This time 10 Superpoints went into 1.392-inches! This is the first time that I can remember getting a bigger group from the artillery hold than directly rested on a bag! And it told me two things. First, the Airsporter wants to rest directly on the bag and second, Superpoints are probably not the best pellets for this airgun.

BSA Airsporter Superpoint group 2
Eww! Yuck! Ten Superpoints from the Airsporter held with the artillery hold at 10 meters. The group measures 1.392-inches between centers.

Is it my eye?

I shot these groups with open sights using my right eye — the one that had the detached retina. That eye is now 20/100 and has a cataract that’s growing, but I was wearing my glasses, so I think everything was okay. The next group should tell me.

Eley Wasps

Next up were the pellets reader Dom recommended — the vintage 5.6mm Eley Wasps. I laid in a supply of these when they were still available in the late ’90s, so if they work I’m good to go.

Wasps hit the target much higher than Superpoints. They also got downrange faster and hit the steel trap with more authority. This time I watched as the hole in the target paper seems to grow slowly. I resisted looking at the target through a scope — hoping what I was seeing was really happening.

When the 10 shots were over I walked downrange and was very pleased by what I saw. Nine of the 10 pellets had indeed gone through the same hole, with the other shot landing a full half-inch below. I have no clue which shot that was, because they all looked perfect to me and I never looked at the target through a scope. I do believe that stray shot was caused by me and not by the rifle or pellet. It’s obvious that this Airsporter likes Wasps.

BSA Airsporter Wasp group
Nine of 10 Eley Wasps went into 0.413-inches at 10 meters. The other shot opens the group to 0.98-inches, and based on the tight round group of 9 I believe I did something to throw that one shot low.

The eyes have it

Clearly my eye is doing okay. Another shooter might do better, but this is probably as good as I ever could do with this rifle. And the Wasp pellet seems ideally suited to it.

I have to mention that the Airsporter feels as lot like shooting a powerful Hakim. The actions are similar, and the accuracy seems to be, as well.


The next move is to back up to 25 yards and try this again with open sights. I will probably try a couple different pellets at that distance, just to keep looking.

I am very pleased with this Airsporter so far. The trigger is crisp and the powerplant is tame with Tune in a Tube. It’s a delightful air rifle to shoot.

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.

44 thoughts on “BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 3”

  1. B.B.,

    There is no doubt your eye has recovered. I am very satisfied with that last group at 10 meters, although spoiled by that one stray. I don’t think shooting with a scope at 10 meters will prove anything. Time to mount a Bugbuster and move back to 25 yards after the open sight series. That will definitely show how well your eye has recovered especially if the difference in performance would be minimal.


  2. B.B., flier be hanged–that’s some good iron-sight shooting with the Wasps!

    I’ve had the very same experience with .22 cal Webley Mk 3’s, in fact I don’t even try German ammo in them any more! That old British “No. 2 bore” wants the 5.6 mm pellets, period. Too bad there isn’t more variety available in that size these days.

  3. BB

    Lots of topics in your report. Very dramatic group size differences using the Wasp pellets compared to Superpoints.

    Also I am intrigued by the artillery hold being less accurate than resting this particular rifle on a sandbag. I have gotten away from using the artillery hold entirely because my old nerves shake and twitch too much. I am very careful about the exact placement of the rifle on the sandbag. Not much touches the rifle except the 8 inches contact with the bag which is draped over a deck railing. If the trigger is a Record or the pull is light enough I use a thumb/finger sqeeze as the only body contact with the rifle. My unproven theory is this method allows a rifle to vibrate the same way shot after shot.

    I am pleased to report that I have applied a second application of Tune In A Tube to my Diana 34, a bit more thoroughly this time. The twang has disappeared entirely and the sound duration is a fraction of what it was when new. This rifle now competes with my Weihrauch HW30 for accuracy. I can’t use a chrono but do wonder if velocity is more consistent now.


    • Decksniper,

      TIAT can indeed work wonders on a sproinger as long as you don’t have any other issues. Your velocity probably is more consistent now, but it is probably a little lower. With increased accuracy, who cares?

      Now a “proper” tune may or may not improve velocity and accuracy, but how much is a “proper” tune going to cost?

      This stuff almost makes me want to go out and buy a Gamo and see if it will help. Almost.

      • RR

        I owe thanks to you via BB for my purchase of a TIAT. I thought what could I lose by trying it at the price. I am in no way involved with this product maker or marketing. It turns out to be a magical fix. Wishing I had opted for a few more metal springers instead of so many gas springers. Not complaining just wondering.

        If you do try TIAT on a higher velocity metal springer I think readers would be interested. Know I would.


  4. I would get hat chomping if that old girl wasn’t in dire need of a new o ring and spring, they should produce more oomph than a meteor and cock very smoothly, the o’ring in particular wears very quickly.
    I suspect that’s why it hasn’t been used by more manufacturer’s, that and the fact its a bit of a struggle to get them to fit the cylinder well.
    That flier with the wasps isn’t unusual, they might be genuine 22 but aren’t the most consistently sized pellets you might come across, I’d suggest a larger head sized modern pellet but with the air bypass from the smaller size, the lossy tap system and what I suspect is a worn out o’ring they will amble gently out of the muzzle I suspect.
    A tidy 22 ‘sporter will happily make 11fpe with an original Wasp, more if tuned nicely.
    Does it shoot more calmly with the wasps?, the better seal should make it buffer better, if it isn’t then that really frames the o ring.

  5. Eley wasps are exactly the kind of pellet found here, just a little more crude and of 5.4 mm diameter.
    BB, for a new rifle , do you begin shooting with the forehand touching the trigger guard or just a little from the fore end below the cocking link? Which hold works with most rifles?

    • Riki,

      One tip that Gunfun1 relayed to me was to put your thumb on the rear of the stock, ( right where the top and rear safety’s are located,.. like TX and LGU),… and press down. Your thumb is on the wood. Your trigger hand.

      It helped me to be more steady when front rested and rear shouldered. The other tip for steady was for scoped rifles,…. and that was to rest the offhand on top of the scope with some down pressure. That works too,.. if and when you get a scope.

  6. BB

    You are a much better shot than I with iron sights, and I have never had a detached retina. Or perhaps I have and just don’t know it. I would search my carpet for my detached retina but I can’t even find my car keys half the time.

    • B.B. recommended that I search for dropped metal parts with a magnet, but I don’t believe that would work too well for a dropped retina.

      Your comment on the woodstocked Crosman 1077 brings to mind a saying of the psychotic madman, Hannibal Lecter, from Silence of the Lambs. “People don’t envy what they imagine but what they see every day.” Bwa ha ha.


    • 6.5,

      The fun ones are when the first 3 shots actually do go through the same hole at 25 or 30 yards. What happened to shots 2 and 3? Walk to the target in disbelief. Did they even hit the backer? (springers) I never have been able to see the pellet flight to the target except on rare occasion due to the jolt of a springer.

      Of course that is more rare than common,… and of course things go down hill from there. But it sure is cool when it does happen.

      • Thanks for your interesting reply about the knives. My own knife throwing range is both indoors and out meaning that the target is set up on my patio and I throw from concealment from inside a sliding glass door. The distance is about 5 yards which, coincidentally, is the same as my airgun range. The target itself consists of three layers of 3/4 inch plywood with some layers of cardboard sandwiched in between. It was interesting to watch the knife strikes chew their way through the wood sort of like pellets will do to a target. I chipped down to this strange dark layer of material which I suppose was the resin to glue the layers together, and kept going. Just a few days ago, I poked completely through the first layer. I think plywood is an easy and effective target material, at least to start with.

        Yes, the long rake on easy rider type motorcycles does look very difficult to ride. I have never even attempted it.

        That is perceptive of you to notice that some knife throws are made by gripping the handle so that the blade rotates through half a revolution. The more common style is holding the blade so that the knife turns through one and a half rotatations on the way to the target. This more common style is really for circuses since it is so hard to judge the distance for a rotating knife. The half-rotation is more for combat. (Incidentally, there is a style of throw where the knife is released point forward like a javelin. But since the knife is not a javelin, it is not stable over any distance.) Even the half-spin throw does have some rotation. But I believe the advantage is that the rotation rate is reduced so it works over a range of distance. And the rate for both handle and blade grips can be altered to change the rotation rate somewhat. But you are correct that you can only slow the rotation rate up to a point even for the handle grip. That is what determines the combat throwing distance under most circumstances. But I don’t think it is impossible for a skilled person to hit the target at a much longer range if they are good at estimating distance. People do this routinely with hatchets, so why not with a knife. The longest combat throw I’ve ever heard of was from some American commando unit on D-Day. Apparently, the thrower released from 89 feet and aimed 4 feet about his target to correct for drop, and he hit. But I don’t know exactly what type of throw he used.


        • Matt61,

          Interesting that you chose plywood. That is a very substantial stop. I would have thought 2×10’s attached to the plywood as it would be softer. Apparently your stop works,…. so I may need to reconsider materials choice. You have done well to get through that first 3/4″ layer. That means a lot of sticks in the same,.. or near same area. Nice job.

          I think that a book may be in order as well to learn some basic technique and theory,… though I am sure I can pull up something on-line. If you think about it,… there must be quite a lot of FPE remaining at target due to the weight of the projectile despite it’s relatively slow traveling speed. Just like a heavier pellet or bullet or any other projectile.

          This is truly an art that enlist a “sixth sense”. Thanks for the conversation,…. Chris

      • Well got some news about the Maximus.

        It’s still a tack driver with the modified synthetic stock and yes the factory Maximus trigger on it with the regulated tethered bottle.

        And some things I would like to note. I did have to put about 5 click’s of left windage into the scope adjustment. So putting the stock back on did affect point of impact. And yes I did make sure to adjust the bi-pod legs to get my reticle level as I like it. So no canting that could change windage if that’s what someone might be thinking.

        And the other thing is about the factory Maximus trigger. And first you remember I had a fully adjustable 1720T trigger grip assembly on it that was equal feel of a Marauder trigger. But here’s what I wanted to say. The Maximus trigger feels better to me than the Discovery trigger assembly I have and used on different guns with that trigger modded and unmodded. But to me the Maximus trigger feels like it has a lighter spring so less pull pressure is needed. And it has what feels like a hint of first stage on the pull then stops. And then I just keep applying pressure and with hardly any movement the shot goes off crisply. So I can live with the Maximus trigger.

        Anyway back to shoot’n. 🙂

          • TT
            Well I don’t know if you call this a tack driver but I do.

            I’m getting easy 60 shots out of a fill. The reason I say that because I have shot six 10 shot groups at 50 yards. And at various times since I got the gun. I did it this morning when I changed to the Maximus stock so I could verify if the gun got worse or stayed the same as with the stock off and the 1720T trigger assembly and the 1399 stock setup.

            Well the answer is yes it stayed grouping the same. Oh forgot you want to know what I mean by a tack driver. I’m getting consistent .450″ to .500″ groups at 50 yards. That’s right now using the bi-pod and even had a 5 mph wind comming almost straight at me but a little from the right.

            So to me I call that a tack driver.

              • TT
                Yep and threw out 5 bottle caps off some 2 litre soda bottles at various distances from 15-50 yards. Haven’t missed yet.

                I have been using 4 magnification now even. I’m zeroed at 50 yards and at about 35 yards and in I only need about a 1/2 mildot hold under. So real easy to get on aim point. And the real reason I’m using 4 magnification is it keeps me on my mildots out at the longer distances. Plus another thing that’s making the gun easy to shoot. That magnification is working out to be about a 1/2 mil dot equals 10 yards from 60 to 100 yards. After a hundred I need about 1 mildot per 10 yards to about a 150. The gun is about done at a 150 yards. I can still hit a 2 litre bottle out a 150 yards though and most shots go through both sides of the bottle out that far. Some shots only penetrate one side. I did all that the other day when I was texting back and forth with Buldawg.

                He suggested that I put a phone book out there to shoot at it and see how far it penetrated. So leaned it up against a tree and went back and shot. Shot 3 times and they went about a inch and a half deep. Then put the phone book up against a tree by the house and shot with the barrel about 10 inches from the phone book. The pellet this time went a little over 2 inches deep. So the JSB 15.89’s are retaining good energy out even that far.

                But yep I been putting the Maximus through the wringer. Had to know what she was all about you know.

                • GF

                  I picked up some AA pellets and some metal mags to try with theFWB, but will probably be spring before I get to check them out .
                  I used to go out to shoot or hunt in all but the worst weather when I was much younger, but I have grown adverse to unpleasant shooting conditions over the years .

                  Would like to see much more consistent groups out of the FWB . Best have been about 3/16″ at 25 for 10 shots . Many more groups around 1/4″ to a bit more . Wind does a job on it . Does not take much.


                  • TT
                    I just posted a short video down below of a 2 litre soda bottle from today at a 150 yards.

                    I was aiming at the center of the bottle every shot. You can see what the distance does and the wind to the pellets.

                    The .25 Mrod shoots a reconzable group at 5o yards. Not a shot gun blast group like the Maximus.

                    But all in all at least I can hit it with the Maximus. Now move into 100 yards and the Maximus starts grouping. So a hundred yards is much easier to hit than the 150 yard target for sure.

                • GF1,

                  Very impressive results that you are getting there. Was that 1 1/2″ deep on a phone book at the 150 yards? I never would have guessed that a 15.89 would do that well at that range. I find it hard to believe that it would do 2″ at 10 inches,…. but then I have never done the phone book testing method either. I am happy for ya. Sounds as if you got a real good one there.

                  The bi-pod has to help in my opinion. Did you chop off the front of the fore end on the Maximus stock? If so,.. why? From what I could see, the full stock would be no problem,… unless I am missing something.

                  • Chris U
                    Yep the bi-pod definitely makes it easier to steady my hold. Plus more repeatable hold then me trying to place the gun on a bag the same way everytime.

                    And yes that was 1-1/2″ penetration on the phone book at 150 yards.

                    And look closer at the Maximus stock in the video. Your forgetting something. The tethered bottle mounted to the front of the air resivoir tube. Yes I want to keep the tethered bottle mounted to the Maximus. So yes I had to cut the front of the Maximus stock off.

                    And yes I got really lucky I believe with this Maximus I have. Really, really a good gun. Or should I say accurate gun. 😉

  7. BB, Chris and all,

    Taking you guys’ word on the quality of the optics of this scope, I bought one for my HM1000X during the Black Friday Sale at PA.


    This scope is awesome! That big bell lets in all kinds of light and the image is crisp and crystal clear all of the way to the edge.

    The reticle is to die for! If you are sick and tired of those thick, clunky lines that are typical for Leapers scopes, you will absolutely love the fine lines of this floating mil dot reticle. They are almost as nice as those found on the nicest of Hawke scopes.

    And then there is the level. I have previously used a bubble level scope and highly recommend them, especially if you are into long range shooting. Having the level inside your field of view where you do not need to remove your focus from your target is so much nicer than one mounted on the rifle or scope. Just tilt the rifle until the bubble lines up with the reticle and you are there.

    The only possible negative I can find with this scope so far is that it is HUGE! It is longer than your average scope and the bell on it is quite large, but that is the trade off for the splendid view through this thing.

    I hope to have some range time with it this weekend and if it performs well, it will earn the coveted RRR rating. I have no real fear of that as I have always been pleased with Leapers quality. To top it all off, I bought it during the Black Friday Sale at PA and they shipped it to my door for under $178! Even if you have to pay MSRP, this scope is worth it.

  8. Nice shooting, B.B.

    Belgrath04, I don’t know the difference between the RWS 48 and 460. There was an enthusiast on the blog for awhile who was a great fan of the 460 as a magnum spring gun, but I never learned what else attracted him to the gun. I can also say that the 460 has never earned the smiling Tom Gaylord face of highest quality. 🙂


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