BSA Airsporter Mark IV: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSA Airsporter
The BSA Airsporter Mark I is an all-time classic.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Superpoints
  • Open sights
  • Is it my eye?
  • Eley Wasps
  • The eyes have it
  • Next?

Today is the first accuracy day for my new .22 caliber BSA Airsporter Mark IV. As the picture shows, it came with an old Dianawerk scope mounted, and I said I would test it with that first. So that’s what I did.

The test

Today I shot off a sandbag at 10 meters, just to get familiar with the rifle. I tried it both using the artillery hold and directly rested on the bag. The first groups were shot using the scope.

Sight-in

The scope was not exactly on target like I had hoped, but it was close enough on the first shot that I adjusted it to hit near the POI. The scope is not adjusted for parallax as close as 10 meters so the image is fuzzy. The reticle is a German hunting reticle with three heavy black lines — two on either side and a pointer coming up from the bottom. You put the tip of the pointer on the target when hunting, but it gets lost on a black bull, so I set it at 6 o’clock.

RWS Superpoints

The scope adjustments have no clicks and the POI moves very quickly, so I had to fuss with the adjustments a bit before I was satisfied. But after about 10 shots I was zeroed and decided to shoot a group with RWS Superpoints. Ten pellets landed in nearly two inches at 10 meters when the rifle was rested on the bag, so I used the artillery hold. Eight shots later I gave up on the scope altogether, because the group was already over 1.5 inches. Fortunately the scope came off easily. Now I would try the open sights.

Open sights

Shot number one with open sights was left and low, so I adjusted the rear sight a little. Shot two went into the black at 8 o’clock, so I started shooting my group. The gun was rested directly on the sandbag. Ten shots went into 0.751-inches at 10 meters. That’s okay but not great.

BSA Airsporter Superpoint group 1
The BSA Airsporter put 10 RWS Superpoints into 0.751-inches at 10 meters when rested directly on a sandbag. That’s okay, but not exceptional.

I reckoned the rifle wanted to be shot from the artillery hold, so that was next. Same everything the second time except the hold. This time 10 Superpoints went into 1.392-inches! This is the first time that I can remember getting a bigger group from the artillery hold than directly rested on a bag! And it told me two things. First, the Airsporter wants to rest directly on the bag and second, Superpoints are probably not the best pellets for this airgun.

BSA Airsporter Superpoint group 2
Eww! Yuck! Ten Superpoints from the Airsporter held with the artillery hold at 10 meters. The group measures 1.392-inches between centers.

Is it my eye?

I shot these groups with open sights using my right eye — the one that had the detached retina. That eye is now 20/100 and has a cataract that’s growing, but I was wearing my glasses, so I think everything was okay. The next group should tell me.

Eley Wasps

Next up were the pellets reader Dom recommended — the vintage 5.6mm Eley Wasps. I laid in a supply of these when they were still available in the late ’90s, so if they work I’m good to go.

Wasps hit the target much higher than Superpoints. They also got downrange faster and hit the steel trap with more authority. This time I watched as the hole in the target paper seems to grow slowly. I resisted looking at the target through a scope — hoping what I was seeing was really happening.

When the 10 shots were over I walked downrange and was very pleased by what I saw. Nine of the 10 pellets had indeed gone through the same hole, with the other shot landing a full half-inch below. I have no clue which shot that was, because they all looked perfect to me and I never looked at the target through a scope. I do believe that stray shot was caused by me and not by the rifle or pellet. It’s obvious that this Airsporter likes Wasps.

BSA Airsporter Wasp group
Nine of 10 Eley Wasps went into 0.413-inches at 10 meters. The other shot opens the group to 0.98-inches, and based on the tight round group of 9 I believe I did something to throw that one shot low.

The eyes have it

Clearly my eye is doing okay. Another shooter might do better, but this is probably as good as I ever could do with this rifle. And the Wasp pellet seems ideally suited to it.

I have to mention that the Airsporter feels as lot like shooting a powerful Hakim. The actions are similar, and the accuracy seems to be, as well.

Next?

The next move is to back up to 25 yards and try this again with open sights. I will probably try a couple different pellets at that distance, just to keep looking.

I am very pleased with this Airsporter so far. The trigger is crisp and the powerplant is tame with Tune in a Tube. It’s a delightful air rifle to shoot.


Sheridan Supergrade: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sheridan Supergrade
Sheridan model A, also called the Supergrade.

Sheridan Supergrade: Part 1
Sheridan Supergrade: Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • Sheridan Cylindrical pellets
  • Now, for the interesting stuff!
  • Pelletgage
  • Too many variables!
  • Trigger
  • Results

I think today will open some eyes. I know it opened mine! Today is accuracy day with the Sheridan Supergrade I borrowed. I’ll get right into it, because the surprises came during the test.

Crosman Premiers

Though no longer made, Crosman Premiers in .20 caliber are some of the most accurate pellets I’ve ever used. I started with them. It’s 10 shots at 10 meters from a bag rest. I pumped the gun 5 times for each shot. The Supergrade has an adjustable rear peep sight that should be more precise than the open sights on my Sheridan Blue Streak.

Sheridan Supergrade rear sight
The Supergrade came standard with a rear peep sight. Note the long bolt handle that is found on the earlier Model As.

I used a 6 o’clock hold on a 10-meter pistol target. Ten Crosman Premier pellets went to exactly where I was aiming! Since this rifle is borrowed, I’m going to leave the sights where they are. Ten Premiers went into a group that measures 0.743-inches between centers. That’s not too shabby, but not as good as my Blue Streak that shot the same pellet into 0.322-inches.

Sheridan Supergrade Premier target
Ten Crosman Premier pellets went into 0.743-inches at 10 meters.

Hold your horses, though. There is something great coming!

Sheridan Cylindrical pellets

I tried the vintage Sheridan Cylindricals next. Ten of them went to almost the same place as the Premiers, but the group was larger. It measures 1.035-inches between centers and is vertical. Yes, I’m shooting with my bad right eye, but hold your judgement about that for now. My Blue Streak put 10 of these same pellets into a vertical group that measures 0.872-inches between centers.

Sheridan Supergrade Sheridan Cylindrical target
Ten vintage Sheridan Cylindrical pellets went into 1.035-inches at 10 meters.

Now, for the interesting stuff!

I noticed while shooting the first group that on one shot the very first pump stroke was hard — like the gun already had air inside. On the second group I checked for this and found that one time the gun was indeed holding air. It even popped once on its own! That lead me to plan my third target carefully.

Pelletgage

I have a .20 caliber Pelletgage, courtesy of reader Jerry Cupples. With that device, I sorted ten Crosman Premiers for the third test. I discovered that Premiers are remarkably consistent. It only took sorting 13 pellets to come up with ten that had heads of the same size. And they were large. My gage has 10 holes running from 5.02mm to 5.11mm and the 10 pellets I selected were all 5.11mm. The other three were 5.10mm.

But that wasn’t all I planned to do. Since the gun was holding back some air from 5 pumps on some shots, I decided to shoot these pellets with 4 pumps instead. I further decided to cock and fire the rifle after every shot, just in case some air remained in the reservoir.

Too many variables!

You scientific types are going to lecture me because I introduced three variables into this final test. Well, here’s why. I don’t care whether it is the sorted pellets, the lower number of pumps or exhausting the air after every shot that works, because this isn’t my airgun. I’m looking for results — not test data. Maybe it was a combination of all three things, or it’s just as possible that only one of them mattered and the other two didn’t. Let’s now look at what this rifle did.

Ten Crosman Premiers went into a group that meassures 0.28-inches between centers! That is clearly the best group of either the Blue Streak or this Supergrade, and it tells me that the accuracy is there.

Sheridan Supergrade sorted Premiers target
Ten Crosman Premier pellets with sorted heads went into 0.28-inches at 10 meters.

Trigger

A reader asked me whether the Supergrade trigger gets heavier with more pumps. It does not. It has am impact-type striker system that remains constant at all times. This two-stage trigger is not adjustable, and breaks at 2 lbs. 9 oz. The blade is wide, so the trigger finger has something solid to pull.

Results

I think this test demonstrates that the Sheridan Supergrade is capable of fantastic accuracy when the right pellets are used and when the gun is shooting at its best. The test rifle has some valve issues that can be overcome by certain operational means that I have shown.

But a Sheridan Supergrade is not a day-in-day-out airgun. It’s a rifle to treasure and shoot occasionally. If you want a solid shooter, I recommend getting a Blue or Silver Streak with the rocker safety. That you can shoot to your heart’s content.