Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

M1A
Springfield Armory M1A.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Reflection
  • No more RWS 34?
  • What is good power?
  • Air Arms 16-grain dome
  • Safety
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • RWS Hobby 
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

I took some time introducing you to the .22-caliber Springfield Armory M1A underlever pellet rifle, so today is when we find out how powerful it is. Before we do that, though, I’d like to reflect on the rifle in general.

Reflection

When someone asks me to recommend a good spring-piston air rifle, I default to the RWS 34. It has the power and the accuracy to do many things. Its trigger is good and its sights are, too. With a synthetic stock the 34 sells for right at $300. Although I don’t care for the shape of the synthetic stock, this is the least expensive spring piston air rifle I can recommend.

No more RWS 34?

Well — glory be! When I went to check out the 34 I discovered that it no longer exists! It’s now the 34 EMS or easy modular system. I have to test one to see how close it comes to the original 34. They are not in stock at the present time, so I will wait and watch like everyone else.

My point was going to be that the cheapest spring-piston rifle I could recommend is priced at $300. Today I am testing a spring-piston air rifle that retails for $200. Even if it was not a good replica, the performance features of the M1A alone might be enough on their own to recommend it. To get onto my list of goody-gumdrop air rifles it just needs to have two things — reasonable power and reasonable accuracy. Today we test the power.

What is good power?

I’m writing these words before sending the first pellet through the chronograph, so I know as much about the rifle as you know at this point. This is a .22-caliber pellet rifle, so I would like to see something in the 15-18 foot-pound region. The website says to expect velocities up to 800 f.p.s. but I have no idea what pellet was used to get that. Since 671 f.p.s. is the magic number (the velocity at which the weight of the pellet in grains equals its energy in foot-pounds), I would like to see the M1A put out a 16-grain Air Arms pellet at something around that speed. Let’s see!

Air Arms 16-grain dome

I’ll start with that pellet — the Air Arms dome that weighs 16 grains. The test M1A put that pellet out at an average 673 f.p.s. How’s that for a good guess?

The low was 657 and the high was 681 f.p.s., so the spread was 24 f.p.s. That’s about right for a new spring-piston rifle. At the average velocity this pellet produces 16.1 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Safety

I told you in Part 1 that the M1A safety is manual, and that’s what the manual says. On this first string, though, the safety went on after each shot. You can’t cock the rifle when it’s on safety, which is how I discovered it. Once I figured out what was happening I manually took the safety off before cocking for the next shot.

And here is the thing. If the safety was coming on when the rifle was cocked that would be one thing, but this is something different. The safety goes on when the rifle is fired. That’s not normal. I’ll keep an eye on it.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

The second pellet I tested was the 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. These averaged 651 f.p.s. from the M1A. The low was 644 and the high was 654 f.p.s., so a spread of 10 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 17.07 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s a surprise because this is a heavier pellet, but the M1A seems to like it better. I did note that it fit the breech a little better. The first pellet was rather loose.

On this string the safety went on by itself when the rifle was fired just over half the time. That means the tendency is diminishing, making it a probable break-in thing.

RWS Hobby 

The last pellet I tested was the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. They averaged 786 f.p.s. with a low of 779 and a high of 793. That means the spread for the Hobby was 14 f.p.s.

At the average velocity the Hobby produced 16.22 foot-pounds. That’s also higher than the Air Arms dome. Hobbys fit the breech the tightest of all the pellets I tested.

I will point out that the Hobby almost hit the 800 f.p.s. mark that the rifle is rated for. I know with both time and use a spring-piston rifle almost always becomes faster, so the velocity rating appears to be right on.

On this string the number of times the safety set itself with the shot was exactly half. So it is still diminishing. I notice that when I take the safety off to cock for the next shot the trigger pops forward with a click. I think there is something holding the trigger in the pulled position and that’s what is setting the safety on its own. I believe it’s a break-in issue that will disappear with use.

Trigger pull

The trigger pull is still variable. Sometimes its lighter and other times heavier. The difference isn’t great, but I want to be on target before I touch the blade.

It seems like all the creep (and there isn’t much) is in the first stage. When the trigger stops moving the rifle is ready to fire. Stage one measures 3 lbs. 6 oz. and stage two breaks at 3 lbs. 15 oz. Like I said, get on the intended target before you touch the trigger blade.

Summary

Well, the M1A seems to be exactly where Pyramyd Air said it would be. And it’s right where I wanted it to be, for power. If it’s accurate too, I think we have a new budget-priced springer.

Now my suggestion to Pyramyd Air would be to see if you can turn these performance parameters into a breakbarrel, shed 3 pounds of weight, slim the stock, keep the good sights or give us sights that are just as good and hold the line on the retail price. That rifle wouldn’t compete with the M1A, but it would blow the doors off all other breakbarrel springers. I am amazed that all of these features can still go out the door for just $200!

I’ll keep an eye on the safety as the rifle breaks in. I fully expect it to revert to specified operation at some point.

78 thoughts on “Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    I don’t suppose we can get a look at what’s underneath the stock before you check for accuracy? Somebody might be able to see what’s going on with that intermittent safety.

    Siraniko


  2. BB,

    Of all the parts to malfunction….. That is indeed interesting. The 34 EMS is certainly a departure from the norm. I like innovation, but it is a bit sad to see an icon done away with.

    Chris


  3. BB,

    That trigger is likely to get quite a few sent back pretty quick.

    A personal thing is the safety is backwards to begin with.

    Having the trigger being so unpredictable is a real problem. This time it is light. This time it is not. This time the manual safety is automatic. This time it is not. I would really like to see in there, but the customer should not be the one to fix it.

    I like your idea of taking that sproinger out of that stock and building it into something nice. It has some positive features. It is kind of reminiscent of those old Chinese air rifles, is it not? Do you smell frying bacon?


    • RR
      If I was to get the gun I would take the safety out of the gun. As in no safety if its causing that much problem.

      Of course that’s if the trigger will funcrion if the safety is removed.

      But that’s were I would go.


  4. It’s interesting to me that the Diana 34 is mentioned here because I’ve been considering buying a Xisico XS25, which, I understand, is a clone of the 34. Of course many air gunners are against any clone, and particularly if it comes from China, and I understand that. But, if it weren’t for inexpensive airguns, I wouldn’t have any airguns. And the ones I like the most are the ones I have taken apart, learned about, tinkered and massaged till they work just the way I want. For the price of the XS25 I wouldn’t expect something I unwrap and use for years without any hiccups, I am hoping for a gem that requires a little polish. Are there any here who have an XS25, if so what do you think of it?


    • Toddspeed

      I have had a couple Xisico pcp’s and the quality was not there.

      Others might like them. Not me.

      Save you up some money and buy you a quality air gun is all I can tell ya.


    • Toddspeed,
      I have an XS25 and also an RWS 34. Externally, the XS25 is not much of a clone. It’s shorter and has the clunkier stock. The internals may be very similar, I don’t know. The 34 has the T06 trigger. I ordered my XS25 with the full tune by Mike Melick that included a modified trigger. The trigger, as I understand it is now like the Diana T05 type which is still a very good trigger. I haven’t had the opportunity to chrono both rifles yet, so I can’t tell you how they compare that way. I achieve about the same accuracy with both rifles with the edge going to the 34. Hope this helps.
      Larry from Algona



  5. B.B.,

    So the Diana 34 is gone. So is the Benjamin 392/397 with wood stock. Can the Beeman P1 / Weihrauch HW45, higher-end Weihrauch springer air rifles, and Air Arms springers be far behind? Are the Webley Hurricane and Tempest still made, even if in Spain or Turkey?

    My advice to anyone thinking about buying a classic air gun new is to do it soon. The time when no more classics are available is soon upon us. And yes, my implicit argument is that newly designed classic air guns no longer are being introduced (i.e., Maurauders, AirForce products, etc. are excellent but NOT true classics that will be collected and passed down generation after generation).

    Michael


    • Cannot agree anymore. Now is the time to act. 30S, 50S, R9, 350 and such are all dying breeds…
      $319 for an EMS 34! Can somebody give me one good reason for not spending an extra $80 and buying an R9?


  6. A question here, you suggest taking the existing m14, and changing the action into a break barrel, instead of the existing under lever design, but also mention keeping the price where it is.

    Why is that?
    Does an entry level spring powered air rifle HAVE to be a break barrel?

    Wouldn’t the extra cost of having to change the design have to be reflected in the overall price?
    Most people ( I am trying to speak from an non airgunner’s prospective here) in doing research tend to find and see under levers as being more expensive, or upscale compared to a break barrel.

    And from a firearms owners prospective, most shooters will always perceive a fixed barrel as being potentially more accurate than a barrel that moves in relation to the scope with every shot.

    If it is accurate, and we see it has the power, wouldn’t it be more cost effective to drop the existing action into a standard sporting stock, delete the “flashhider”, put a open rear sight on it, and use the extra money saved from the military stock, and flash hider to refine the trigger in the production process so there is not a potential safety issue or a break in period.

    I know all guns that are built to a price point, will have to break in, but I firmly believe the trigger and safety is an area where it should work correctly from day 1.

    It has the looks, it has the power, now if it will bring the accuracy…

    You have my attention..

    And this comes from a non springer guy…..

    Ian





        • GF!
          Hey, man! So much has happened. Yeah, I left town and headed for the hills…
          I read the specs of 34 EMS the other day and couldn’t get a grip of my emotions. I left everything behind and ran to the hills. It was cold, rainy, and dark, but I kept on running into the heart of the wild. When the world loses her mind, the bears’ hustlings, wolfs’ howlings, and animal instincts to stay alive become the best friends of a man’s suffering soul. Despite the endless territorial wresting of the wildlife creatures around, I had eventually reached the top of the hills. I fell on my knees and raised my hands toward the skies to ask for fairness as the boy in the movie Platoon had done. My shirt had been all teared up due to the vicious branches of the woods; blood, sweat, and the pouring rain were recklessly cleaning the sins of EMS 34 from the misty night.
          “Why?” I asked the gods. “Why is this happening to us?”
          Gods replied, “Is this about fibreoptic sights again?”
          “No! It’s… It’s the 34 EMS,” I cried…
          Nothing had happened for a while – until the ancient goddess Diana herself showed up with a PA coupon in her hand. She told me that I should let go of the things that are out of my control to keep a healthy blood pressure. “Take this coupon and go buy yourself a 350 with 05 trigger while the deal still lasts,” she said. I wanted to hug her, but I was not wearing a mask – and she wanted to keep six feet social distance, so we parted ways after an elbow handshake.
          I ran back home and used the coupon with the 350. It gave me a $25 discount, but then the free shipping was taken away – so the total discount ended up being something like 8-9 bucks only; I’m going back to the hills tonight!
          =^b
          🙂
          Fish


          • Fish
            So sorry. I’m cry’n right now.

            I have been through those journeys too.

            Here I go. This could be a political reply if you want to make it out to be that way.

            Maybe your letting it all out to the wrong God.

            But look on the bright side if you don’t order at all look how much money you saved. But on the down side when will this trend end if you don’t get something you want. Sounds like a vicious cycle to keep repeating to me. But who am I to say. I’m just a lowly air gunner myself.


            • GF,
              Artemis, a goddess, not a god. The mythological goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the Moon and chastity. The goddess Diana is her Roman equivalent – Goddess of the hunt, wild animals, fertility, and the Moon… Diana, the daughter of Jupiter and Latona – in Greek equivalent, Artemis, the daughter of Zeus and Leto…
              https://dreamingandsleeping.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Diana-Roman-Goddess-of-The-Hunt-Mythology-Symbolism-and-Facts.jpg



                • GF,
                  Sorry, it’s taken me a while to reply; I was at the hills. I know that you’ve known; you own a bunch of Dianas and look at their logos of Diana dropping her bow for an airgun everyday. How could I have thought that you had not known? Come on now! That was not the point of my comment, and you know that. There is a deeper meaning here.
                  Fish
                  🙂



                    • GF,
                      I knew that you had known about that, man. I was trying to tell you something else. I meant to say, “We’re airgunners; we’ve gotta to believe in a goddess eventually, not the God.” You know because of the Diana logo and stuff…
                      Fish



                  • Fish,

                    I am not sure that God’s, Goddess’ and Mythology names/references carry a whole lot of meaning/implication/sales influence here in the states. For one, many may not have the education/exposure to such things.

                    This would be a case of foreign makers not doing research into their market. A simple example would be names like grizzly, wild cat, viper and so on that you see here.

                    Chris


                    • Chris,
                      The Mythological names I mentioned were very basic – 101 high school material pretty much. And, oh my ‘goddess,’ it has to have meaning to airgunners everywhere in the world. When you look at the logo of Diana airguns, you see Diana, the goddess of hunting, throwing her bow away and holding an air gun over her head; every air gunner knows this. It has an appealing meaning but nothing too deep at all – a very increadibly basic message here, based on basic info. The names of gods and goddesses I listed were the very famous ones; I don’t know how anyone who is lack of these kinds of basic knowledge can function in any civilized conversation. It’d be like… i don’t know… living like animals, using only insticts, no brains at all what so ever. I mean that much of ignorance would give a new name to illiteracy.


                  • Fish,

                    That may well be,.. however no such classes were offered in my high school. I did not attend college, so no help there.

                    “It’d be like… i don’t know… living like animals, using only instincts, no brains at all what so ever. I mean that much of ignorance would give a new name to illiteracy.”

                    Mmmm?,… not sure what to say about that. I guess that I am not smart, literate or educated enough to compose a proper reply? Then again,.. more that a few thoughts come to mind.

                    Chris




          • Fish,

            If things follow the past, we might soon be bestowed with a 15% off Black Friday coupon that may be combined with free shipping! I, too, intend to use such a coupon if it becomes available.

            If not, we might bump into each other as we run through the wilderness, “destroyed by madness, . . . looking for an angry [airgun] fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.” :^)

            Michael


          • Fish,
            That was some really good on-the-spot narrative and you really cracked me up until I realized it all really happened. You need to have your own “Supernatural Airgun Experience” blog.



            • MOS,
              By the way, your macaroni ammo inspired me to build my steam gun at last. I used a brass valve attached to two steel heating fittings – and a cap at the end of one. I poured a few drops of water in the fitting with the cap and heated it with a lighter under it. Then I insert the macaroni into the fitting on the other side of the brass valve. When I turn the valve, it shot like charm. I’ve not tried the full potential as I’m scared of it. I have a friend who is not very smart; I’ll ask him to test it for me. 🙂
              Fish
              Just kidding, I’ve cancelled the tests.



                • gf,
                  nah, just seeing purple… but i really wanted to make a steam gun for the contest just for fun. then I realized it required real man talents like attaching a barrel to the brass valve. i didn’t have time either, so i shelved it. a few days ago, I remembered mos while eating spaggetti and realized that his blow gun was also 1/2 diameter. A few trial error efforts made it work, It was loud though. i returned the valve and moved on with my tranquil life.


  7. BB,
    34 Classic is far from being gone. It’s still around all over the world. It’s retired only here in the US.
    https://www.diana-airguns.de/en/products/break-barrel/detail/diana-34-classic
    By the way, I don’t see the EMS version on Diana site. It must be only for the US market then.
    I believe Diana is making a mistake with the EMS version – meaningless, redundant features. With exchangable barrels and such, it might even turn out to be inaccurate. Instead they should sell premium versions with proper iron globe sights. They can always make the fibreoptic parts avaliable, just like Beeman does with R7/9 – which is what quality springer manufacturers should do. I hope Diana hears my outcry. I, at least, wish to see a wood stock premium 34 with iron globe sights in the US market, simple but quality design like R9; with the synthetic option, they could still push the EMS…
    https://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/HW_Front_TruGlo_Fiber_Optic_Sight_Fits_Select_HW_Rifles/5584
    https://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Weihrauch_Rear_TruGlo_Fiber_Optic_Sight_Fits_Select_HW_Rifles/5583
    Fish


  8. BB

    Why would the Diana 34 in wood stock version be taken out of the market here? If margins are tight put it in big box stores. Sales may be slow for awhile but soon the word is going to spread that this wonderful air rifle is superior to anything else on the shelves. Start up costs would be minimal unless there are manufacturing constraints.

    My question is also for Diana companies.

    Deck


  9. BB

    I get it. I would next have suggested Walmart online but a year or so ago they changed their return policy. Oh well, if their customers only knew enough to appreciate the Diana 34.

    Thanks,
    Deck


    • Deck,
      This is kinda not very related with your comment, but I’ll say it anyhow. If Diana contiues her new trendy ways, she will soon get her sad eternal spot on Walmart shelves. I have no issues with Diana making extra few bucks with cheap airguns, but she should never forget about the real airgunners who has made her who she is today. A premium airgun company like Diana should always have premium quality coil springers on sites like PA. I’m only interested in coil springers, so seeing these kinds of developments feels like a slap of thousand needles on my face. I’m not an old narrowminded airgunner living in the past and preaching the same ideas over and over again like a parrot; it’s just so sad to see another great air rifle like 34 to slowly mutate into a low quality marketing mess. It truly breaks my heart.
      Fish.



        • GF,
          This would be such a good time for Hatsan to replace all the plastic parts on 95 spring piston with metal, replace the fibreoptic sights on it with iron globe sights like the ones come with R9, and dump the scope. With the walnut stock and a price at $160, it could turn into something serious maybe.
          Fish.




              • Fish
                You might just get a surprise about that in the future.

                The gun manufacturers do read the blog. And from what I have seen they listened to what was talked about and there has been a release of guns this year that have been asked for here on the blog in the past.

                Like I said. You never know. Your iron sights could happen.


                • gf,
                  not hatsan. 🙂
                  diana pulling out of this could open hatsan a space for quality springers. i don’t think they will see the opportunity here though.
                  95 barrels are fine, walnut stock is nice, all they have to do is get rid of the scope, fix the jiggles and tweaks of the quattro, reduce the power to the level of R9, get rid of the plastics, and realize the iron sights thingy. if they could do all those and keep the price under $200, then they might have a future classic here.
                  Nah, I don’t see it happening, ever…
                  Fish


  10. BB,

    I am wondering if the extendable cocking lever is patented. Air Arms should adopt it if not. A Pro Sport with an extendable cocking lever, though still not easy would be easier. It would be possible to make a true TX200 Hunter Carbine.

    A Synergis with an eight inch barrel and an extendable cocking lever would be awesome. There would be many possibilities for new carbine sproingers with this innovation.


  11. “… if you can turn these performance parameters into a breakbarrel, shed 3 pounds of weight…”
    B.B., yes, a 7-pound rifle at this power level would be awesome, especially if the accuracy is there. =>


  12. And a note.

    At 35 pounds the cocking effort seems awful heavy for a 700 fps velocity average.

    I bet they got 2 inches of extra spring preload that don’t need to be there.

    And what’s wierd is the (wood stock) LGU in .22 caliber users be rated at 685 fps a few years back. So I’m sure they cocked at a lower pressure than what they now. That was the reason I bought it back then because I knew it was a good velocity for that gun.

    I bet chopping the spring would make for a better shooting gun.

    I know I would be taking this M1A apart and toning it down a bit.

    One of my best shooting .22 caliber under lever guns was a Walther LGU shooting 15.89 grain JSB pellets at a bit over 650 fps. And cocking effort was no way in the 30 pound zone.

    Ask Chris. He owned it for a while.

    Anyway. I bet this M1A could be made to shoot better.


    • GF1,

      Yea,…. you would have thought by now that “they” would have figured out that they do not need that much spring, and in turn, the cocking effort could be much lighter.

      Why not start with different springs,.. all the same dimensions,.. (but varied length, say 1/2″ increments),.. and work down to the shortest one without seeing an fps loss.

      It could even be an advertising/sales point,…….. “Our XYZ rifle gets the same 850 fps with HALF the cocking effort of the ABC rifle”.

      We all know about the fps wars. I was not aware that there was also a cocking effort war going on as well.

      Geeesh! How tuff is that to figure out!?

      Chris (yup, the LGU was a great shooter)


  13. BB, I was going to give a Synergis to my brother, but it’s not hair loom quality. His comment after shooting mine was ” it’s got some kick to it”. He doesn’t know a Walmart spring gun from a TX, so I will look for something else for him.
    I think the sights on the M1A are a cool feature, maybe the best feature because they appear to be decent replicas,
    and encourage the shooter to shoot the rifle with them, but this flies in the face of what we are taught; put a scope on her for best accuracy. I hope this one is accurate, I am glad it comes in .22, it has power, but it’s no lightweight easy plinker either. I think it’s a good effort for a non airsoft replica, maybe the best one out there. the question is there a market for other lead shooting replicas? The standard for replicas is pretty high now. I think it needs a magazine.
    Rob


  14. B.B. and extreme Readership,

    The Darkside Devote are watching the piston powerplant types turn themselves inside out over which way is better to charge the power plant… Over, Under, Side or Broken? Why can’t they build them like they once did, sell them cheaper in Big Box stores…how would they look in Blister Packs on the CLEARANCE Table? Oh, my!

    …do you hear the muffled laughter from the D.S.?

    Pure EVIL!

    shootski


  15. BB, your rifle and mine seem to act differently about cocking with the safety on. Mine cocks…no problem. When I fire a shot the safety goes on (forward) like yours….only mine does it everytime and I’ve fired 50-75 shots so far. But, no issue cocking with the safety on.


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