Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- No more RWS 34?
- What is good power?
- Air Arms 16-grain dome
- JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
- RWS Hobby
- Trigger pull
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.