by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA Meteor
BSA Meteor Mark I.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

A history of airguns

This report covers:

    • Bear food
    • What about a Weaver/Picatinny mount?
    • Yes, but couldn’t you…?
    • However
    • Wrong again
    • Evaluation

     

    Bear food

    Sometimes the bear eats you! At the end of Part 7 I said I would back up to 25 yards and test the BSA Meteor Mark 1 with a “real” scope. I fully intended doing just that and a reader (August from Germany) reminded me of that recently.

    Folks, it ain’t-a-gonna-happen! When I located the rifle and removed the BSA scope for this test I found a problem. The rifle has two places on the spring tube where the scope base clamps to. Those places are unlike any other scope base I have seen. Instead of cutting parallel dovetail grooves in the scope tube, BSA pressed two steel plates into large transverse dovetails, making a place for scope ring jaws to clamp to that isn’t exactly a dovetail but functions like one.

    BSA Meteor scope base detail
    There are two of these scope bases on the Meteor spring tube. That flat steel plate is pressed into a large transverse dovetail to create the parallel dovetail grooves the jaws of the scope rings clamp to.

    The steel plate is far too wide for an 11mm scope mount to get past. It measures 0.632-inches wide, which is 16.07mm. There isn’t an 11mm scope ring that I know of that will open that wide. Now, 11mm is just a name. Airgun dovetails range from as small as 9.5mm to as wide as 14mm. But 16mm is just too wide. Let’s see what I’m talking about.

    11mm base compared to BSA base
    The BSA base is on the left. As you can see, it’s way larger than the conventional 11mm dovetail on the right.

    What about a Weaver/Picatinny mount?

    Both Weaver and Picatinny scope mount bases are even wider than 0.632-inches/16mm. Wouldn’t they fit? Yes, but both of them have a transverse raised ridge of some kind that engages with a slot in the scope base to lock the mount after installation. That ridge contacts the BSA’s steel plate, preventing the jaws from dropping low enough to grab the dovetails. Let me show you what I mean.

    Weaver base
    A Weaver base is wide enough, but they have a ridge across their width that hits the flat plate on the BSA. It prevents the jaws from engaging the dovetails.

    Yes, but couldn’t you…?

    Sure, I could remove the Weaver ridge from the bottom of the scope ring if I wanted to. If it meant enough to me to modify a set of rings that would then fit only this air rifle, I could do it. Just a little time on a grinder is all it would take.

    But why? Just to run one test that shows how accurate a BSA Meteor Mark I can be when it sports a decent scope? That’s a good topic for when you’re at an airgun show and run out of interesting things to talk about, but hardly worth the effort to destroy a perfectly good scope mount.

    However

    Okay, so the bear ate me this time. Still, no guarantee that he won’t get indigestion! So, I decided to shoot the rifle at 25 yards with open sights (which is how a vintage air rifle like this should be shot, anyway!). Can’t go wrong there, can I?

    Wrong again

    Oops! I forgot that the sights on this rifle don’t happen to align with where the barrel looks — not by a long shot. If this particular Meteor had been made in the U.S., I would call it a Monday gun — as in one made by someone suffering on Monday morning from a weekend bender. If it were Russian I would call it a quota gun — one that was slapped together to meet some arbitrary production number. I don’t know what terms the Brits use for things like this, but here is what I am seeing.

    At 25 yards the pellets are hitting the paper 6 inches high and 8-10 inches to the right. They aren’t even on paper! Looking at the sights I see the front sight is sitting on an angle and it’s off the the left of the centerline. It’s far enough off that I can easily see it.

    The rear sight has no provision for windage adjustment and the elevation is adjusted as low as it will go. I did drift the sight to the left as far as it would safely go, and that was where I got the results I’m reporting.

    The bear isn’t just eating me — he’s enjoying a fine meal at my expense. In a world where Diana model 27 rifles exist I see no reason to break my heart over the shortcomings of this vintage BSA Meteor!

    One good thing has come from this misadventure. When I tested the BSA Super Meteor Mark IV several people told me I was testing the wrong airgun. I should definitely get a Mark I, because they are so much better. Well, I did that and now I know the whole story — don’t believe everything you are told.

    Evaluation

    The parts in the Mark I are much better than those found in the Mark IV. They are both better-designed and better-finished. And the exterior finish of the Mark I is blued steel instead of painted metal. But the assembly quality of the Mark I I am testing is no better than that of the Mark IV I complained about. In fact, the Mark IV was assembled better, despite the lower quality of its finish. And it shot to the point of aim. I had to invest a ton of work to get it up to snuff, but when I did it turned out to be a very nice air rifle.

    This Mark I needs to be modified in a major way to equal the shooting quality of that Mark IV. I’m sure there are Mark I Meteors that are assembled perfectly and they must give their owners great joy to own and shoot. This isn’t one of them. It is a scarce gun though, and as such still commands a lot of value for being what it is. The factory scope just makes it all the more rare. So I haven’t lost anything by owning it. But it will not be in my estate sale!

    I don’t suppose I need to tell you, but this is the last test I will do on this rifle. August, I hope this answers your questions.