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Education / Training BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 4

BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Eley Wasps
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • How is it working?
  • What now?

Sometimes the bear eats you. That will be the theme of today’s test of the BSA Airsporter Mark IV at 25 yards,  shooting with open sights.

Eley Wasps

You may recall that in the last test of this rifle at 10 meters with open sights, I got a tantalizingly good group of 9 out of 10 Eley Wasps. It was good enough to make me start the 25-yard test with the same pellet.

The first shot hit the target high on the edge of the bull at 11 o’clock. I reckoned that was good enough for me, so I shot the next 9 without looking again. I didn’t even look through the spotting scope after I was done. I just walked downrange to change targets, and thought I would see a one-inch group, perhaps with a flier or two. What was actually there was ten shots spread out in a group that measures 2.471-inches between centers. Clearly not what I had imagined!

BSA Airsporter Wasp group 25 yards
Not what I expected. After the good group with this pellet  at 10 meters I was hoping for something smaller at 25 yards. Ten Eley Wasps are in 2.471-inches.

Why did this happen? Is the Wasp somehow unstable beyond 10 meters? I don’t think so. Was I having problems aiming? That’s far more likely. Is the gun off a little? Probably. I will have more to say about that at the end of this report.

Remember, I said I wanted to try some different pellets in this test? Now was my chance. If the Wasps weren’t that great at 25 yards would something else be better? The wide dispersion at this distance is a much better indicator of the accuracy potential than the groups at 10 meters.

RWS Hobby

I knew from the last test that German pellets are too small for the bore of this rifle, but RWS Hobby pellets have very wide skirts. I thought they might give me some latitude in the Airsporter.

Alas, that was wishful thinking. Ten Hobbys went into a group that measured 3.737-inches between centers! That’s going the wrong way!

BSA Airsporter Hobby group 25 yards
Yuck! This isn’t good! Ten RWS Hobby pellets made this 3.737-inch group at 25 yards, when shot from the BSA Airsporter.

Okay, German pellets still don’t work, no matter how big I think they are. What’s next? Well, since there is nothing to lose, I tried 10 JSB Exact RS pellets.

JSB Exact RS

The first pellet struck the target about 3 inches lower than either of the first two other pellets. Also, the shot cycle was harsher. I don’t think this pellet gives the piston the resistance it needs. After the first shot I didn’t look at the target again until I went downrange to retrieve it.

Oh, my! The group is lower on the target, but it’s also the smallest group of the three pellets tested. Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.849-inches, center to center, at 25 yards. While that is nothing to brag about, it is the best I have seen so far from this rifle at this distance.

BSA Airsporter JSB RS group 25 yards
This is better, but only by comparison with the first two groups. Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.849-inches at 25 yards.

How is it working?

The Airsporter is still shooting dead calm, so the Tune in an Tube I applied many shots ago is still working as advertised. The trigger breaks crisply enough to be enjoyable. Despite the rifle’s power, I am resting it directly on a sandbag, because I also tested it with the artillery hold an had no luck. Resting it on a bag makes testing easy, though it isn’t the way I would shoot the rifle in the field.

What now?

Do I try this again — maybe with other pellets? I think before I do that I would like to tune the powerplant. I’d like to see the additional power so many readewrs have said should be there, plus I would like to calm the shot cycle a little.

Several people tell me they can’t wait to see how I handle the Airsporter’s pointy end cap when I disassemble the gun. I have a thought about that, but you’ll just have to wait for it.

I may mount a good scope sight on the rifle, because I wasn’t that confident in my ability to aim well during this test. My right eye goes from adequate to poor at times, and today it was off the mark. A scope would put to rest any problems like that.

If the tuned Airsporter will then put 10 pellets into one inch at 25 yards, I think I might keep it. If it won’t, I will sell it, and someone will get a rebuilt Airsporter. I already have a Hakim that features pretty much the same powerplant and is as accurate as I want. I don’t need more than one like that, though the Airsporter is different enough to make it interesting.

If I ever find a nice Mark I Airsporter, I will try to acquire it — if only to say I owned one for awhile. It’s a bucket list item for me.

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.

33 thoughts on “BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 4”

  1. BB,

    Wow, that was pretty bad. Tuning might help, but it seems there must be something else. If it was you, I hope you do not have any more days like this. I would certainly try a heavier JSB and possibly a larger head H&N Field Target Trophy.

  2. BB

    Will the bear let you pick the low hanging fruit? If mounting a good scope is easy on this rifle, why not do that and test for accuracy before introducing more variables? Or is it that you really want to get inside this rifle?

    I do enjoy your daily reports. Keep on keeping on!


      • B.B.,

        I would second the motion for a scope mount, pre-tune. It would be different if your eye had been up to par on the test day. That way you can have an “apples to apples” data base,.. independent of any eye sight issues.

        As a side note,.. for accuracy testing at 25 yards,.. I would always use a scope. To me,.. there is just no comparison as to how well the target/bull can be parsed at that distance. In fact,.. I would applaud anyone that could group as good or better with open sights vs a scope at 25 yards. That said,.. I do understand the need to test guns with open sights especially if that is how they were used with the majority of shooters.


  3. B.B.,

    I am with Decksniper and Chris regarding trying the Airsporter with a scope during the wait for the parts. My old weak eyes are not a problem at 10 meters, but from 15 yards on, my eyes need optics.

    Both RidgeRunner and you suggested trying a few different pellets, and I agree with that as well. You really haven’t tried too many, and at 25 yards the Hobby’s are at their limit. How many times over the years have you tried a pellet you expected to do poorly which then surprised you with tight groups, defying logic?

    I suggest you scope it, briefly retry the Wasps and JSBs, and then try some other pellets that are quite different than either of those. How about Superdomes? Or, ahem, Superpoints? They sure have the soft skirts, and Hakims love ’em.


  4. BB

    Should you ever decide to try the heavy H&N FTT pellet be sure to select 10 or so with the same head diameter. I would suggest nothing under 5.54 mm. They are not match pellets but my Stoeger ATAC prefers them over all others I have tried.


  5. TR Robb is your friend for all things Airsporter in the UK, even if not buying from there his site is worth a browse
    To be honest, I’ve never found the Airsporter that accurate, certainly when I got a Weihrauch HW35 back in 1982 it was a revelation, that said, an inch at 25 yards was a definite.
    Be nice to see a Mercury turn up, it’s not that common this side of the pond so might be a big ask stateside, keeping the same powerplant but losing the tap breech equalled a bit more power and accuracy

  6. Just watched “The High Road with Keith Warren” hog hunting in east Texas with a Gamo Whisper G2 in .22 cal.. He dropped 2 at 22 yards with Rocket pellets (bb in the head). (Straight on head shots) dropped them where they stood with a bit of kicking. That was off hand and scoped from a blind. One at 10# and the other at 25#.

    I was impressed. No doubt,.. that was pushing the limits though.

    • Chris,

      No — that was inhumane. A spring piston pellet rifle is no gun for a pig. Nobody recommends shooting them with a .22 CB cap, yet a spring rifle is much less powerful.

      I’d call it the low road. Sounds like he is trolling for an advertiser!


      • B.B.,

        Well,…. I would not argue with any of that. They did drop where they stood and about the only way to make it more humane would be if they quit kicking sooner. This older gent looked and spoke no-nonsense. In this case however it did work and looked as humane as anything else. (Very) well placed shot(s) was the key I think. 1 shot per hog.

        I do agree though,….. the weapon was inappropriate for the quarry.


        • Chris,

          My remark was that the gun was inhumane for that target. People call it unsportsmanlike, but I prefer to say inhumane. The death of the pig was normal. Kicking is a nervous reaction that even an animal hit with a centerfire cartridge will do. The kill sounds good, but they were on a razor’s edge with that gun.


  7. BB, I just picked up a S&W Model 78G .22 caliber pistol. The pistol functions properly, but leaks CO2 rapidly allowing for only a few shots. I applied Pellgun Oil with the CO2 cartridge. I may run a few more cartridges with Pellgun oil through to see if that gets the seals working again. If not do you know of any service centers out there that still work on these pistols. I have a Model 41 22lr and this would be the perfect companion piece if I can get the thing up and running. Bub

  8. BB– Michael– Chris– Jim——-Re the use of pellet loaders in sliding chamber air rifles—-I thumbed through a copy of a British air gun magazine today, while I was in Barnes and Noble. One of the articles re beartrap mechanisms mentioned an accident while loading a TX200. The shooter lost part of his thumb. I am glad that I found out how to make a pellet loader for these rifles. It is the safe way to load them. ——-Ed

    • Ed,

      No doubt that your method is the safest. It would be interesting to know some other facts though.
      -Was the rifle a newer TX? I believe the older ones did not have bear trap safeties.
      -Was the trigger hit or pulled during loading? Plus, if fully cocked,.. the rear safety is now on.
      -Was the bear trap safety mechanism hit during loading? Was it even engaged yet?
      -Did the shooter have their hand on the cocking lever?
      -Did some mechanical device fail? (trigger, sear, cocking shoe, cocking linkage, bear trap safety)

      That may seem like a lot and you may not know the answers,… but quite a few mistakes or things would have to happen before an accident could happen,…. especially if it’s a newer model with the bear trap safety.

      Thanks, Chris

  9. BB,

    Kinda off topic but there was an earlier lively discussion above on different pellets. My last PA order included a tin of JSB Target Sport Diabolo 8.02 grain pellets to try out. They are proving to be extremely accurate from my Crosman 2400KT. You need to get PA to send you a couple of tins to test. I would like to ear how they do for you and other blog readers.



  10. i have a .22 BSA Mercury of about the same age and that is basicly the break barrel version of the Airsporter, i find superdomes to be most reliable of all the pellets i’ve tried to date (i can hit a 1 inch block of wood 9 times out of 10 scoped at 25 yards), i reckon it,s well worth testing other pellets even if the overall firing dynamic is different between .177 and .22 with the same model of BSA’s and the same type of pellets in BSA’s from that time period.

    All the best, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe

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