Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 6
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The test
- Artillery hold
- Shimmed scope
- The cheek rest works
- What about a dot sight?
- It worked!
- Sight adjustment
- Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets
- Air Arms Field pellets
- JSB Exact RS
- The result?
- The safety linkage
- Final comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!