Testing BSA’s 2X20 pistol scope: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Beeman P1 pistol with a BSA 2×20 pistol scope mounted on BKL risers.

Once again, it’s time for me to fasten ice skates to the bottom of a stepladder, then try to skate across bumpy ice while carrying a flask of nitroglycerin. Seriously, that is how it feels to trust in something that all your life you’ve avoided because you felt it was too imprecise. Pistols and scopes just don’t mix in B.B. Pelletier’s world. But, today’s Part 2 of the test of BSA’s 2×20 pistol scope. It’s mounted on my Beeman P1 pistol, and I’m using BKL’s new 556 riser blocks to clamp to the P1 dovetail. I selected a pair of nondescript Weaver rings to hold the scope. They’re matte silver, so they don’t even match the finish on the pistol and the scope, but they work perfectly. You could use Hawke Weaver rings and do very well.

Last time, I was at 10 meters and wondering whether I would put a round through the wall behind the target trap. This time, I backed up to 25 yards — three rooms away from the target and wondered what damage I would wreak upon our house. Normally, I shoot handguns at this distance on a range, so this was a first. Even when I’ve tested other air pistols at long range, I’ve always shot out the bedroom window, but now I was trusting myself to keep them all on the target paper 75 feet away. Spooky!

No noticeable parallax
One reader asked me about parallax, but I was too busy not shooting the walls in the first test to notice whether or not the crosshairs moved when you move your head.

They don’t. Instead the entire image goes black. So, if you can see the image, no amount of head movement will make the crosshairs move on the target. If the image goes black, you’re done, anyway. Time to reposition the gun.

Parallax, of course, is the apparent movement of the crosshairs against the target; if your head is not always in exactly the same place, you’ll aim at different places on the target. With a rifle, you have a stock into which you press your cheek; but with a pistol, there’s no similar cue, so this was a good question. It appears the scope manufacturers have figured it correctly. At least BSA Optics has.

I was genuinely afraid that the pellet would not hit the target from 25 yards. After the first shot, I trained binoculars on the target to see where the pellet had gone. Because I was still shooting Crosman Premier lite pellets, I could not see the small ragged hole even through the binoculars, so I walked down and checked the target. Surprise! Even though the crosshairs had been moving all around the bull, there was a neat hole cutting the nine ring at one o’clock.

The next nine pellets also hit the target paper and gave me a group that measures 2.92 inches. I’ll be the first to admit this groups does not look that good, but please take into account that it was shot by a handgun at 25 yards. If I did this well with a .45 ACP, I’d be smiling. Of course, the big holes left by the bullets would make the group seem proportionately smaller.

Doesn’t look like a good group until you realize that it was shot at 25 yards! I’m just happy all the shots hit the paper.

I wasn’t satisfied with that group — other than all shots hit the paper. I modified my hold by holding the butt of the gun just in front of the sandbag rest, where before the gun had been six inches in front of the bag.

Group two was only slightly smaller, at 2.675 inches. If you look at it, eight of the shots made a group measuring just 1.743 inches. That seems a lot better to me.

A little better group came from a different hold. But eight of those ten shots are grouped much closer.

Next, I put the actual butt of the pistol on the bag and held it there. The crosshairs grew rock-steady in this hold, and I thought I was on to something. But group three measures 3.467 inches — the largest to this point, and the largest group of the day, as it turned out. Apparently pistols need the artillery hold in the same way rifles do.

Oops! Can’t rest air pistols on sandbags, either.

For the final group, I reverted to the hold in which the butt of the gun was just in front of the bag but not touching it. I was getting tired by this time, but I still managed to shoot a 2.311-inch group to end the session.

What do you know? I went back to the former hold and it worked, again!

Forty shots and all of them on the paper at 25 yards. I’d call that success.

The scope is actually easy to use once you learn to trust it. I wasn’t used to seeing how much my hands shake and the scope really brings that out, so be prepared if you decide to get a pistol scope. I also find it difficult to believe that there’s any magnification at all. To me, it just looks like I am peering though a very clear window at the target about 40 feet away

I’m not finished with this test, because I still have to try the pistol with other pellets. I spent extra time trying to discover a good hold, and so far I’m satisfied. I’ll continue to experiment. For now, I think I know the best way to hold the gun for good groups. It just seems like those dang crosshairs are jumping all over the place!

Testing BSA’s 2X20 pistol scope: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Pyramyd Air has marked down their line of Falcon PCP rifles. Save up to $190 on some models. Check ’em out. Now, on today’s blog.

It took a long time to get me to this point. As a handgun shooter I’ve always had great disdain for scoped pistols, because I couldn’t see what purpose they served. But, like many other things about which I have a strong opinion, I was in the minority. I finally broke down and took the plunge. Today, I’ll begin a report on BSA’s 2×20 pistol scope mounted on a Beeman P1 pistol. There’s more. To mount the scope, I had the use BKL’s 566 riser blocks that clamp to the P1’s 11mm dovetail rail and offer a Weaver base on top. Because this is a BKL product, we know that it isn’t going to move on the gun, and the Weaver base assures us that the scope rings are not going to move, either. That makes this a perfect scope-mounting solution for the P1, whose recoil has always presented a problem for scopes in the past.

Speaking of problems…
In fact, I was going to use the new BKL adjustable scope mount that I reported on back in July. There was only one problem with that. When I tried that mount on the P1, the recoil went in the wrong direction and the adjustable legs of the mount lifted out of their adjustment yoke. When I checked with BKL, I found that I’d gotten my wires crossed and they never intended that mount to be used on the P1. I’ll continue that report by selecting an appropriate air rifle on which to test the mount, and today I’ll start the report on the correct mount solution for the P1.

Installation of these two BKL risers on the P1 couldn’t be much easier. Remove the clamping screws so the front sight blade will clear and just slide the risers onto the rail. Then, install the screw and screw them in until the risers are tight. The P1 has a very wide dovetail of nearly 14mm, so these risers are machined especially for it and other guns of equal width.

I located the risers forward, close to the front sight because I knew I needed clearance for my hand to cock the pistol. And where they wound up was perfect. The scope does not intrude on my grip when cocking the pistol, which on a P1 means lifting the topstrap and rotating it forward.

The BKL risers allowed me to position the BSA scope in the right position for cocking the gun.

Because the BKL risers have Weaver bases on top, I was able to select some low Weaver rings to complete the installation. The BKL risers give more than enough clearance for the BSA 2×20 scope, which doesn’t have a very large ocular bell. The cross keys in each of the rings mean they’re not going anywhere.

The moment of truth approaches
Because the scope installation went so fast, I was now ready to begin testing, and this is where I faced my greatest fear. I’ve tested thousands of airguns throughout the years, but most of them have been rifles; and of the pistols I’ve tested, none of them ever wore a scope. This was my very first time. I felt like a unicycle rider who had agreed to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls. Sure, I had good balance, but this was entirely new.

I think I felt like a new airgunner approaching a breakbarrel for the first time. What would keep the people from pulling back on the curtain and exposing me to all of Oz, when it became apparent that I couldn’t shoot this scoped pistol? Heck — I knew so little about shooting scoped handguns that I wouldn’t even know whether it was the gun or me that was putting the pellets into the drywall behind the trap.

The only thing that kept me on track was the knowledge that hundreds of other people have done this before. Surely if the emperor was truly naked, one of them would have spoken up by now? Then, the thought of present-day politics flooded my mind with doubt again.

Riding this turbulent sea of doubt, I addressed the target from 10 feet and let the first round fly. Wonder of wonders, the pellet went through the target paper! Not exactly where I’d aimed, of course, but close enough that I knew the danger of shooting out the house lights was over for the moment.

I backed up to 20 feet and loosed a second round. Again, the paper was hit and not that far from the first shot. Thus assured, I moved back to my rested position at 10 meters and started testing the gun and scope in earnest.

Today’s report is not going to end this test. Today, I’ll get the pistol zeroed for the accuracy test. I need the extra time to become familiar with holding a scoped pistol.

The Beeman P1 has two power levels, but I use high power because it’s more accurate than low power.

Finishing the zero
Back at 10 meters, it was time to adjust the scope. The caps come off and the knobs required either a coin or a screwdriver to turn. They have crisp click detents, so you know how far you’ve gone.

The reticles move in half-minute steps, but at only 11 yards there are still a lot of them required to move the strike of the pellet noticeably. After seeing the pellet move in the intended direction, I lost another fear that this scope would somehow not work as all other scopes had. It took about 10 pellets to get a reasonable zero. Then, I was ready to prove it.

Proving the zero meant a group of 10 shots, just like any air rifle would get. For me, it also meant learning how to hold the pistol to get the best results. I’m so used to holding handguns with one hand that any two-handed hold seems disturbingly complex to me. I know lots of people do it, and it can be very accurate.

I decided to use Crosman Premier lites for the sight-in, because I knew they worked well in my P1. They won’t cut a good hole in the target, but I’ll cross that bridge later.

I soon discovered that I should pull back with my left hand and push forward with my right, but I still need some practice. So the group below shows both potential as well as my not-yet-coming-to-grips with the hold, so to speak.

Ten Crosman Premier lites went into this target at 10 meters from the scoped Beeman P1 pistol. While this is not the best 10-meter pistol target I’ve ever shot, the group of five together under the 10-ring indicates this arrangement can work. The shots outside that group indicate that I still need to work on my hold.

What comes next?
This is a test of the BSA pistol scope, so that’s what I have to test. This first step taken today just got the scope mounted and started my education in using a scoped air pistol. I see that the hold is very important and also that it’s possible to do good work with the gun once you understand how to use the scope correctly.

I’ll also test the pistol with different pellets to see if I can find some good ones. In the past, I’ve used Premier lites in a P1, but I haven’t paid much attention to a P1 as anything other than a 10-meter target shooter. The scope will allow me to stretch out farther, once I learn how to hold it.