Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

M1A
Springfield Armory M1A.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Artillery hold
  • Shimmed scope
  • The cheek rest works
  • What about a dot sight?
  • It worked!
  • Hobbys
  • Sight adjustment
  • Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets
  • Air Arms Field pellets
  • JSB Exact RS
  • The result?
  • The safety linkage
  • Final comments
  • Summary

Today we shoot the scoped Springfield Armory M1A and see how it does. If you read Part 5 you know that it wasn’t easy to scope this air rifle. I won’t go into all of that here, but read Part 5 for a refresher.

The test

I suspected the M1A would be accurate, well, actually I knew it is because of the test I did in Part 4 with the sights that came on it. But I conducted this test from 10 meters. I held the groups to 5 shots because of all the steps involved in cocking and loading the rifle. I’m not just talking about cocking with the underlever and then pushing down on the anti-beartrap mechanism to return the cocking lever. There was also the intermittent safety setting itself after the rifle fired, making it impossible to cock and load again, until the safety was pulled back off. And I had to watch the base screws that wanted to loosen as I went.

I had thought that getting to the anti-beartrap disconnect on the left, to push it down after the rifle was cocked would present a problem with the scope in the way, but the scope is mounted high enough that my hand can get under and hit the button. So no problem there.

Artillery hold

I shot with the artillery hold. My off hand started out next to the trigger guard, but eventually moved forward to the cocking slot, where the rifle seemed most accurate.

Shimmed scope

As you recall, I shimmed the scope before mounting it. Well, good thing I did because when I went to sight in the pellet struck the paper 4 inches too low and three inches to the right — at 12 feet! I adjusted the scope up a lot and also to the left which is good because adjusting to the left puts tension back into the erector tube spring that relaxed as the scope was adjusted up.

I checked the scope rings to be sure they were attached to the scope base correctly and they were. I checked the mounting of the scope base and it was also correct. I then adjusted the reticle as far up as it would go without relaxing the erector return spring. With this scope I can feel when that happens.

I was shooting .22-caliber RWS Hobby pellets as I adjusted the scope. Even with all the upward adjustment I had to hold 4 dots down on the vertical reticle to get onto the bull. But the scope I used is very clear, so that presented no problem. I would recommend using an adjustable scope mount if you’re going to scope the M1A because the shimming I did doesn’t come close to elevating the point of impact enough.

Once the Hobbys were hitting the target, I shot a group. Five Hobbys went into a vertical group measuring 0.72-inches at ten meters. I didn’t bother photographing that group for reasons that I hope will be clear in a moment.

Okay, Hobbys weren’t doing that well. What about the Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets that weigh 18 grains? Well, they hit the paper even lower and more to the right. In fact, several didn’t even hit the target trap at all, so I stopped the test. This was too hard. All the rigamarole I went through to mount the scope in Part 5 and now I learn that it doesn’t work!

The cheek rest works

The scope may not work but the leather cheek rest I attached sure does. I placed my chin on top of the pad and my eye was aligned with the scope. The other cheek rest that a reader suggested hasn’t arrived yet, but this one works fine.

But the scope I had mounted was too much trouble. I just didn’t trust it because I was missing the pellet trap at 10 meters!

What about a dot sight?

Someone suggested trying a dot sight on the M1A and I really didn’t want to give up at this point, so the scope came off and I tried mounting a UTG reflex micro red dot (though the one I have is a green dot). But I ran into a problem. The cross slots in the Air Venturi scope mount measure exactly 5mm wide, which is the specification for a Picatinny rail, but the UTG sight has a cross block that measures 5.08mm wide. It’s too wide to fit the base of the Air Venturi mount! I have had people tell me recently that a thousandth of an inch, or in this case a hundredth of a millimeter that is much smaller, makes no difference, but I’m telling you that 8 of them sitting next to each other sure do!

So I used a vintage Tasco ProPoint dot sight whose rings use the cross screw that tightens the jaws at the base as their mount block. They are  much narrower than 5mm. These rings are made to fit either Weaver bases whose cross slots are 3.5mm wide or the wider Picatinny bases.

These rings are also much lower than the ones I used for the scope, which means the ProPoint sat much lower on the M1A scope base. Even so, I could still reach the anti-beartrap button on the left side of the receiver with ease. I now reached over the red dot tube, instead of under the scope.

It worked!

And this time it worked. The sight was affixed solid on the mount and I kept an eye on the mount screws to ensure they were tight, too. The first test was five Hobbys.

Hobbys

Just as they did with the scope, RWS Hobbys landed in a vertical group that measured 0.603-inches between centers. There is a nice three-shot cloverleaf at the bottom of this group. This group is slightly smaller than the group I shot with the scope, so at 10 meters we don’t seem to be giving up anything by using a dot sight.

M1A Hobby group
With the dot sight the M1A put 5 RWS Hobbys into this vertical 0.603-inch group at 10 meters.

Sight adjustment

At this point I didn’t know where the M1A might shoot the remaining pellets, but I adjusted the dot several clicks to the left. Through blind luck I got it almost perfect.

Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets

Next up were some Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets. The M1A put five of them into 0.618-inches at 10 meters. They landed below the bullseye I was aiming at, but in line with its center, left to right.

M1A Air Arms Field Heavy
The M1A put five Air Arms Heavy domes into this 0.618-inch group at 10 meters.

I decided to leave the sight where it was adjusted because I didn’t know where the other pellets would hit. It’s still too low, but I won’t worry about that yet.

Air Arms Field pellets

Next up were five 16-grain Air Arms Field pellets. These landed in a group that measures 0.332-inches between centers. It shows the level of accuracy I was hoping to see in today’s test.

M1A Air Arms Field
Five Air Arms 16-grain domes went into this 0.332-inch group at 10 meters. It may appear smaller because the dome allows the target paper to fold back after it passes through. This is the smallest group of the test.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. Five of them made a 0.38-inch group at 10 meters.

M1A JSB RS
Five JSB Exact RS pellets grouped in 0.38-inches at 10 meters. It’s only a little larger than the Air Arms 16-grainers!

The result?

Today’s little test demonstrates that the M1A pellet rifle has good potential for accuracy. However, I don’t think it is a gun to scope. Shoot it like it comes and enjoy the gun the way it was designed.

The safety linkage

I promised reader Siraniko I would show the safety linkage. Well, you aren’t going to see very much! The safety lever reaches deep into the trigger mechanism and we are unable to see how it interacts to do its job when the trigger is together. And no, I am not taking this trigger apart!

M1A safety
The safety lever (to the left of the trigger) goes deep into the trigger assembly. The two thin pads on either side of it are just guides — they are not connected to the safety.

M1A safety front
Here we are at the front of the safety, looking deep inside. You can see the pin that the safety rotates on at the top of the trigger assembly. Without disassembly there’s nothing to be see with this safety.

Final comments

Taking the stock off exposed the two gears that move the forearm and loading port cover when the rifle is cocked. That was neat to see.

M1A gears
These gears move the upper hand guard and the loading port cover when the rifle is cocked.

The stock screws in the forearm both had blue Locktite on them from the factory. That tells me somebody cared about how this air rifle was built!

M1A screws
The forearm screws are Locktited.

Summary

The Springfield Armory M1A pellet rifle is well-made and is a very accurate replica pellet gun. I recommend not trying to mount a scope. Just use the peep sights the rifle comes with.

It has decent power and accuracy. It also doesn’t seem to be fussy about what pellets you shoot. That means all those oddball pellets in your collection can now be used.

Loading is difficult because of the small space provided. If you have large hands you will want to think about that.

This is a large airgun and not the type for all-day plinking. But if you fancy military battle rifles, this one could be for you!

68 thoughts on “Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 6

  1. B.B.,

    Thanks a lot for the peek under the stock. Seems the difficulty with the safety is somewhere deep within the rifle. The main spring looks dry. Maybe a little TIAT would be in order. This rifle would be near perfect if the sights could have been moved in their respective dovetails instead of being molded in (I know it was a design decision to keep the cost down).

    Siraniko




    • Chris
      I have a Daisy semi auto type pellet shooting M14. I have the exact same scope mount that BB is uing on the gun he is reporting on. Definitely not one of my favorite guns to scope.

      And I use my gun for fast action type plinking. For me anyway the factory open sights work fine.


  2. B.B.

    Let’s see, a gun that is heavy, hard to load, hard to “unsafe”, hard to scope, sounds like a wall hanger to me!!!!

    -Y

    PS why bother making an accurate gun when it so hard to shoot?


  3. BB
    Are you going to do a Christmas list report about guns and accessories and such this year before it gets close to Christmas? I don’t think you did one last year.


  4. If Wang Po Industries decides to turn that safety around and reskin this into a light sporter stock, I am interested. It is true that I am not much for the replicas. I also have big paws. I would be wanting to cut out those covers so I could get in there.

    There are a lot of things I like about this air rifle, but at least for me there are a few deal breakers.


  5. I agree with RR.

    The replica M1A is OK if replicas are your thing but re-skinning with a sport stock (fixing the safety and adding an integral scope mount ) would go a long way to making an airgun that would appeal to a lot of shooters.

    Hank


  6. BB-

    Well, I appreciate your efforts with this interesting rifle. I think the difficulty of scoping this is twofold. First, by making this a replica, we are stuck with the M1/M14 timeframe of development. We are rapidly approaching 100 years ago that the Garand was being developed, with adoption in 1937. The M14 was adopted in 1957. Think of the state of optical sights back then. I think you should limit yourself to a 32 mm objective lens on this gun. That will also help to bring the line of sight closer to the bore. The second problem of skinning an air rifle with an historic replica is that you are still stuck with an air rifle’s limited range and its trajectory arc. Trying to get the high line of sight cranked down enough is problematic as opposed to the original firearm. There are better scope mounts than the one shown here. The Sadlak (various flavors), SEI and A.R.M.S. #18 (scarce as hen’s teeth, now) have all worked well and are light years ahead of the Springfield Armory commercial mount. These mount will about equal the price of the air rifle. Not worth it to me.

    I hope they sell a bunch of these. The M14 was and is an excellent gun and served well when called upon. This air rifle can put shooters in touch with the past for a reasonable cost.

    The question of stripping off the replica bits and making the rifle perfect- it would certainly help with scoping. My question would have to be, will it sell? Seems like lots of complaints about underlevers on the blog- ‘It’s too heavy, It’s too complicated, I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time…..’

    If underlevers were a big seller in the market, maybe it would be a cinch for Air Venturi to bring this to market. I think it will take some convincing on our part, though. BB- Any ideas on how best to do this? Massive protest March? I’ll bring donuts.


  7. I am guessing that if you skinned this gun you would find an XS46U/Browning Leverage. It was the latest Chinese underlever and the safety on the M1 A works the same as it does on the XS46U. If Mike Melik is following this particular blog, he might want to weigh in. I got my XS46U from Mike. Pyramid air used to sell the Browning leverage in both 177 and 22 but it’s marked now as not available.

    Brent


  8. BB, The Air Venturi suffers from what the Sig Sauer pcp suffers from, but they look the part. I agree, shoot it the way it was meant to be used. Too bad it requires manually loading it each shot, at least it seems to be worth the trouble, accuracy wise. Nice groups. For indoor shooting this one is too much for me. It wouldn’t take long for me to put it down and pick up a nice old fashioned HW or Diana. Maybe this spring?? Enjoying the P1 still.
    Rob


  9. BB, interesting the differences between your rifle and mine. First, my rifle cocks just fine with the safety engaged. My safety does automatically engage after each shot, but no problem cocking.

    Second, my scope works great, too. I bought the Leapers UTG 4×32 AO True Hunter Rifle Scope, Mil-Dot Reticle, 1/4 MOA, 1″ Tube, See-Thru Weaver Rings and installed it on the mount. I was able to adjust the point of impact to the point of aim and get tight groups in the black at 20 yards.


  10. I fell in love with the open sights on this rifle. They can drop the replica features, but implement the sights on other rifles. Even other manufacturer can learn from this report; image having these sights on Diana 48 for example – or imagine a Hatsan with these sights, let’s say Proxima.


  11. BB
    It needs a setup like this.
    A Weaver rail that fits into the clip guide Dovetail and a short rail for the non moving part of the upper hand guard. It would drop the scope around 3/4″. That is a big scope I have pictured with it and not too practical for a BB rifle, but great in the looks department.
    Bob M



      • BB
        Note I said the non moving (Black) part, although I do not know the best way to go about it at this point.
        Don’t know what’s under it for attachment clearance or strength. Or even if its possible to find the parts and have them be horizontal with each other. It would be a trial and error thing unless Crosman or some aftermarket people come up with a set up.
        That is an airsoft plastic railed upper assembly on that bb rifle anyway. Just an example of something to strive for. Parts that are needed may not exist yet. A short rail with a curved bottom and a screw with some epoxy might suffice? But it is a lot more powerful than that CO2 rifle.
        That is an aftermarket Weaver rail dovetailed into the clip guide mount and I believe I had to shim it. I just lucked out in the compatibility of the two rails and wanted to fit a scope on a rifle everybody said could not be done.
        Another possible project for me…. After I get into creating ” SAM-I-AM ” with the RAI TERYX Chassis and park it next to “Full Dress & Heavy Metal” 🙂 Forgot, that TERYX Chassis was on Full Dress. Need to get creative with the RAI stock I got from Chris USA to replace it.
        Bob M



  12. B.B.,

    Thus far, I am not happy with the hand pump that came with the Origin. I don’t expect it to be top of the line, but because it is such an integral part of the package, I expect it to work reasonably. I do hope this one is just defective.
    The APG is filled with a liquid but has a large air bubble and the pump isn’t working right. So, I swap it with the one on my definitely good pump.
    Hand pump sticks at the top of the fill and frequently is pushed downward much to easily, as though there is no air pressure resistence (but everything is attached properly).
    I will ask Umerax directly about this.
    I did fill the Origin to 3000 psi with my good handpump. The experience is somewhat different than filling the Marauder.
    I long to shoot the rifle, but things are still not going overly well with my wife. She is also becoming more stressed by the prolonged stay and no visits. I am maintaining. Now going to pick up Sunshine from the vets. Poor little cat has some teeth problems, hopefully lessened now.

    ~ken


  13. Ian,

    LOL! I am afraid it is you who does not understand. I have owned a CO2 pistol before. I have shot several, including the M712. They are just not my thing.

    Now I do derive some enjoyment from trying to repair them as I am doing now. It has been a nice learning experience for me.

    Also, we had a heat wave today. It was up to 52 degrees here.


  14. Hello BB.

    Off topic question:
    I am swapping springs out on my GAMO CF-S springer to mitigate the really loud “slapping” sound of the piston hitting the end of the main tube. So far with a an old F.E.G spring I have reduced this noise substantially ( and dropped FPS which is fine ) but I am still puzzled by the noise itself. I also have a Nitrogen gas ram that I have used in this rifle but the “slapping” noise is even worse! It’s very loud and sounds destructive. The breech transfer block being some soft metal, I am hate to think how it is holding up! Also this: the transfer block is sealed with an O ring. So that it is held off the end of the main tube itself ( it is floating on the O ring ) but when it is hit by the piston it must get slammed into the main tube end, taking up that very small distance and slamming metal onto metal…. this cannot be good! I am not sure what to think. For dispatching dinner I think High power/ loud noise is ok and for plinking low power/low noise is good. How do I get the best of both worlds?
    ( I am not upgrading to PCP anytime soon! ) If you have written about his already can you point me in the right direction! Thank you. RobertA.


    • Robert,

      The slapping sound could probably be due to the excess weight of the piston. Does it become more pronounced with light pellets and softened with heavy pellets? The other thing I can think of is the fitment of the piston to the spring. Hopefully some other might be able to pitch in other ideas.

      Siraniko



      • Hello BB.

        You mean contact Gamo directly? But… that might solve my problem!
        I am picking that the noise is normal. The piston hitting the end of the main tube is going to make noise.
        It’s just really loud. KaTHUNK !!!! Siraniko: I have stacked about three pellets in the breech to see if additional work might slow the piston down and reduce the thunk, but no. It just spits them out!
        I guess it’s just physics. If you increase the speed of the mass it’s going to make a lot of noise when it hits the end of the line. Yes the pellets come out much faster but the noise is almost unbearable. Maybe I am being picky? If there was some kind cushion in the piston end? Absorb some of the thunk…. I am pretty sure the pellet is well on it’s way out of the barrel by the time the piston impacts the end of the tube. All that noise does nothing imho. With the lower power spring the sound is quiet pleasant, but not rabbiting power. I can see why high power springers gave way to PCP. The noise! The Kathunk is going to alert all a sundry to your presence. So it’ll be a one pellet stalk…. better make it a good one I guess. : – ) I have the scope on now! but that is another story….
        Robert.


        • Robert,

          Since you are already comfortable tearing into things,… get the spring preload down to 1/2″ to 1/8″. You will not even need a spring compressor.

          If the piston seal is leaking or something else,.. it will slam no matter what.

          “rabbiting power”,… ? They do it all day,… every day in Europe.

          That is all I have for you,……….. Chris


        • Robert,

          There IS something stopping the piston. It’s a thin cushion of highly compressed air. That’s how spring piston airguns work. The piston isn’t supposed to hit the end of the comression chamber at all until the pellet is well out of the bore.

          When people talk about piston bounce they really mean the piston is bouncing off the highly compressed air.

          Now, you complain of a loud noise. That is not normal. Spring guns do make noise when they fire but it’s not supposed to be loud. It’s louder to the shooter whose head is against the stock, because the sound is transmitted through the bones in his skull. But even then it’s not that loud. I really think Gamo USA needs to take a look at your airgun.

          BB


          • Hello BB and Chris,

            Blown transfer block seal! ( It was dieseling from the Moly … I will never use that stuff again! ) Rang ahead, got some leads on O rings, went in and sat in the nice air con warehouse while some chap went a found the rings, SIL Waikato New Zealand, 50 cents each. Got two. Fitted transfer block. Nice fit. No major “looper caterpillar” with the ring. : – ) O Ring dimension in MM 22 ID and 1.5 section. Too easy!
            I think my Kathunk is just normal. Every thing looks really good. Using the low power spring and a shim in the piston. Still spits out the pellet nice and quick. HN .177 Field target trophy 8.64 gr. One day will get a Chrony. Will try the various springs I have and A/B test them from nose. the current spring is easy finger fit. The gas ram needs a compressor. And I took out the solid steel top hat that was in the Piston. It’s pretty darn hefty! Will have reduced the preload too.
            So at the moment things are looking up. Low power is nice, way less kathunk. Fixed blow by. Cleaned out the moly. Scope is good and solid. Drilled through the Scope mount, milled out recess, drill and tap the alloy bar. 4mm screw into the old iron sight mount and then epoxy glue bulked out with corn flour. The screws holding the scope mount on to the bar will have a slot so I can point the scope in the right direction. Got a basic line up with laser, through the actual bore. this is actually starting to feel like a thing. 🙂 Have a nice weekend! Robert.


            • RobertA,

              The right hand picture is the top hat? Was the kathunk reduced when you removed the top hat? I applaud your scope mounting solution. Not quite confident if it can withstand the stress in the long run though.

              Siraniko


              • Hey.
                No the right pic is the transfer block thingy. You can see the new O ring and rubber grease. I will get a pic of the top hat… It fits into the spring then fits inside the piston. Not exactly sure what it is for. Added mass? BB should have some explanation for it! : – ) Robert.



                  • BB.
                    Thank you for your knowledge! With the 8.6gr field target pellets, low power spring and only shooting to 10m I don’t think the fwd spring guide is really needed. The extra preload also is not needed. If I change up and try to reach out further with the high power spring and heavier pellets then I will put it all back to stock. I have no idea what pellets then gun was designed to fire. With the stock spring it felt like 8.6 gr was too light and the piston was slamming into the tube end. I feel like the piston seal was acting like a bumper stop. Also this: Soft pellets vs hard pellets. One will seat in the lands easily and the other will be harder. A high power spring with soft pellets is not going to give the spring much to push against. What do you think? My regards, Robert.


            • Robert,

              Glad to hear that you got it sorted. So it was “something else”. Yes, Moly in the compression area is (not) good. BB’s explanation is how springers work and some are worse than others. You sounded pretty sure that the piston was in fact slamming to the bottom, so that is why I thought something else might be at fault. I will say, I do not think that a leak at a transfer block is all that common,.. so you did real good on finding it!

              Keep us posted as you move forwards.

              Chris


              • Hi Chris.
                I like to visually inspect everything from time to time and I knew from the last inspection that the O ring was not looking that happy. ( it actually looked like the wrong size, section too small ) So I was not surprised to see it was blown out. The new O ring as you can see in the picture looks really good and cheap! ( Good quality as well ) I am liking the low power spring and lower noise. Once it’s all back together I can start shooting some targets. I think the high power spring set up in this rifle might have been for more selling power rather than being practical. The pellet is still subsonic but, the KaThunk! blows any chance of stealth after the first shot. Or is it a KaDoink… Take it easy, Robert.


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