BSA Scorpion SE: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is Part 2 of the guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s finishing his report of a BSA Scorpion SE, and today’s blog is all about accuracy.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, Tyler.

by Tyler Patner

Part 1

This report covers:

• Accuracy at 20 yards
• Accuracy at 40 yards
• Trigger and safety
• How loud is it?
• Final thoughts

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock
BSA Scorpion with beech stock.

In the first report, we used a chronograph to measure the velocity of the .25-caliber BSA Scorpion SE. Just looking at the chrony numbers, I would guess that .22 caliber is really optimal for the Scorpion SE. I’d bet a rifle in that caliber could put out the same energy as the .25 and maintain the same or better shot count. But don’t discount the .25-caliber Scorpion SE. While clearly underpowered, today’s accuracy testing will show just why the this rifle should be on your short list.

Accuracy testing was done at 20 and 40 yards. Normally, I would do 25 and 50 yards, but my current range has a max of 40 yards. The Bushnell Elite 8-32X40 scope was set on 16X, and the shooting began. I should note, I was using only a front bag rest and shooting off a very wobbly plastic table, but even those hindrances could not keep the Scorpion SE from impressing me! A .25-caliber hole is a bit bigger than I’m used to seeing. I shot 3 groups to warm up and then refilled for the 20-yard test.

Accuracy at 20 yards
The first pellet shot at 20 yards was the JSB King. They stacked 5 into a tight 0.43-inch group, starting things out nicely.

BSA Scorpion SE  JSB King 20 yards
Five JSB Kings went into this 0.43-inch group at 20 yards. This is a good start.

Next was the Benjamin Destroyer pellet at 27.8 grains. This is shaped similarly to their Destroyer in .177 and .22 calibers. Four shots went into a 1.30-inch group, with the fifth shot flying high about 2 inches. The overall size came to 2.60 inches for 5 shots, which is beyond poor. The Benjamins were not included in the 40-yard test for that reason.

BSA Scorpion SE  Benjamin Destroyer 20 yards
Five Benjamin Destroyers went into 2.60 inches at 20 yards, with 4 in 1.30 inches. This isn’t the pellet for this rifle.

The Predator Polymags did surprise me a bit. Not only did they just barely squeeze into the magazine, but they actually grouped pretty well. A 0.54-inch group of 5 at 20 yards made a nice-sized hole that would certainly be adequate for small game. The Polymags have proven, time and time again, that they’re the premier hunting-specific pellet and can smack small game with devastating results.

BSA Scorpion SE  Predator Polymags 20 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.54 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

The lighter-weight H&N Field Target Trophy grouped decently, with 5 in 0.79 inches. I pulled the fourth shot a bit, as my wobbly table wasn’t quite stable. I did shoot them at 40 yards, as well, but the results were not worthy of showing here.

BSA Scorpion SE  H&N Field Target Trophy 20 yards
Five H&N Field Target Trophys went into 0.79 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

The pellet that surprised me the most was the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme. With a cross cut on the head of the pellet, it’s certainly eye-catching, with major accuracy to back it up! A 0.35-inch, 5-shot group (basically one single hole) was more than enough to get my attention. Twenty yards is not a long distance for PCP guns; but when you lace 5 shots in a row through a single hole, it immediately gets your attention!

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 20 yards
This is what I wanted to see — 5 H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes went into 0.30 inches at 20 yards.

Next up were the Beeman Kodiaks. Being made by H&N, I was pretty confident they’d group similarly to the Baracuda Hunter Extremes, and they did. A 0.32-inch group of 5 bettered the mark set by the Hunter Extremes at 20 yards. The two pellets are very similar in terms of shape; and aside from the cut out in the head of the Hunter Extreme, they showed little difference in accuracy at 20 yards.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 20 yards
Beeman Kodiak pellets put 5 into 0.32 inches at 20 yards.

Accuracy at 40 yards
I chose to go with the Kodiaks, Hunter Extremes, Predator Polymags and JSB Kings for 40-yard testing. The results were all very good, which shows the versatility of the BSA barrel. This is something I’ve come to appreciate about the BSA guns I’ve owned. They all seem to be very even-tempered in terms of pellet selection. All too often, I test guns that will shoot only one pellet, and everything else groups horribly. That’s all well and good, but only if the pellet the barrel likes is accessible, consistent from die to die and not too far on either side of the weight spectrum so your trajectory is reasonable. For testing at 40 yards, I shot two groups just to try to remove the potential for human error because we all know the gun is rarely the problem. It’s the jerk behind the trigger!

First up were the Beeman Kodiaks, and they did not disappoint — giving a 0.50-inch group. Bear in mind the pellet is half the size of the group, so you are looking at two holes at the end of the day.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 40 yards
At 40 yards, 5 Beeman Kodiaks went into 0.50 inches.

The Predator Polymags at 26 grains grouped very well at 40 yards, making a 5-shot group that measured 0.65 inches. I would be very confident with a magazine of these in the Scorpion SE if I was going out after squirrels or pest birds. Raccoons and opossums would also be well within the Scorpion SE’s game menu. Accuracy like this will pretty much assure you of a clean head shot or vital organ shot if you do your part. The extra bit of expansion the Predators offer would also come in handy.

BSA Scorpion SE Predator Polymag 40 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.65 inches at 40 yards.

The overall best group of the day (and not just at 40 yards) was made with JSB Kings. After looking like the H&N/Beeman pellets would run away with the accuracy testing, the Kings came back in a big way. I managed to put 5 shots into a single hole measuring 0.27 inches. Basically, that’s the size of the pellet. The next group opened up ever so slightly, but it was clear that the Kings are the way to go.

BSA Scorpion SE JSB King 40 yards
JSB Exact Kings made the best group of the day, with 5 in just 0.27 inches! This is great for 40-yard accuracy.

The Baracuda Hunter Extreme was the last pellet tested at 40 yards, and they grouped well also at 0.42 inches for 5. That was the best I could manage; and if the expansion of the Hunter Extremes is better than the average domed pellet, then I would say they’re the most accurate hollowpoint I’ve ever shot in any gun past 10 yards. Generally, hollowpoints suffer a bit in the accuracy department; but I think that because the Hunter Extremes are not a complete hollowpoint, they fly just a bit better. Either way, these pellets work well, so H&N has a definite winner with them.

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40 yards
Five H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes made the best group of the day for hollowpoints, with 5 in just 0.42 inches!

Trigger and safety
The trigger on the BSA Scorpion SE was unadjusted since it came out of the box crisp and relatively light for a hunting trigger. It measures an average of 2 lbs., 2 oz. over five pulls. I know the trigger can be adjusted much lighter than this; but for the hunting crowd, that won’t be necessary.

The manual hunter-style safety is located on the left side of the action. I’ve seen the triggers adjusted so light that an engaged safety won’t stop the gun from firing when the trigger’s pulled. So, be careful when adjusting this trigger — or any trigger for that matter. Test it before you load the gun and make sure the safety still stops the gun from firing after adjustments are made.

BSA Scorpion SE safety
Manual safety

How loud is it?
On the subject of noise, the Scorpion SE is pretty loud. It’s not backyard friendly, and I would rate it a 7 out of 10 (10 being the loudest). If this were a 45-50 foot-pound gun, then the noise would be up in the 9-10 range; but at 30 foot-pounds, it’s fairly tame for an unshrouded gun. That said, the air stripper on the muzzle also doubles as a thread protector covering the 1/2-inch UNF threading that could accept a more useful air stripper or muzzlebrake if you choose to add one.  [Editor’s note: Silencers are subject to federal legislation. If an airgun silencer can be attached to a firearm and quiet the report, it must be licensed.]

BSA Scorpion SE air stripper
The air stripper/muzzlebrake covers 1/2X20 threads.

Final Thoughts
The Scorpion SE represents a step forward for BSA airguns. The new features like the redesigned magazine and gauge show that they’re listening to what their customers want and need. All the while, they’re not changing the things they know are proven to work. Their barrels are still some of the best out there, and their overall quality and precision shines through.

There are a lot of options in the mid-priced PCP realm, and the BSA may be overlooked because of its relatively low power level; but if you’re looking for a precision shooter with adequate power for small game, then I would highly recommend taking a look at the BSA Scorpion SE. My experience with BSA products has been stellar over the course of many years, and I’m confident you’ll come to the same conclusion after just a few shots behind the trigger of their PCP works of art!

Silencing an AirForce Condor

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today, blog reader John shares his experience getting his AirForce Condor to shoot quieter. I asked him for this report because he’s written many comments about it. We all know that John is a pest hunter, so let’s look over his shoulder and see what works for him.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Okay, John, the floor is yours.

Noisy gun goes quiet
Before I begin the report, I want to show you a piece of my past. It’s a Remington 514 made somewhere between 1948 and 1968. It’s a single-shot, bolt action .22 rimfire designed by K. Lowe.

Anyone who knows me knows I have a dislike for old guns. This one is an exception, however, since it’s the only thing I have that belonged to my dad. It’s fairly primitive, but as accurate as anything I’ve seen. It puts the shot where I want it…every time.

Remington 514 rifle
Remington 514 single-shot .22 rimfire.

Remington 514 rifle
It may not look like much, but it means a lot to me. And it shoots!

Now, on to the report.

I was thinking about how to make a noisy gun become not so noisy since noise tends to alert the pests you hunt, making your day very boring. I like to hunt with my AirForce Condor, which I lovingly call “Marvelous Magnificent Mad Madam Mim,” due to the fact that she can change just like that wacky Disney villain.

Remington 514 rifle with Condor
My Condor — Madam Mim — with the 514.

AirForce Airguns Condor PCP air rifle
Condor on bipod, with the bloop tube and forearm removed.

I took off the forearm and left it off just to make my work a bit easier today since I was going to be swapping things around. I think I should warn you that this is going to be an unusual report since I’m not using anything fancy like noise meters, showing accuracy targets or running shots through a chrony. All I’m concerned with is taking a loud gun and making it backyard friendly. So, I’m going to be using the tools we all have…ears.

Let’s begin
For this test, I’m out on a little private island with a one-room guest cabin on 15 acres of land. It’s fairly dense, with trees and brush surrounding my work area. The cabin is about 10 feet to my right, where I normally set up for muskrat. We’re located in one of my actual hunting areas.

The first thing I did was test the Condor against my Remington 514 to compare how loud it sounds to me. I found that the Condor set at maximum power, with no barrel shrouds or anything to quiet it down, sounds louder than the Remington 514 shooting a .22 long rifle cartridge. It sounded about like a .30-caliber rifle to me.

I wanted to make it quiet, so I put on a Bullseye Bill frame extender (bloop tube) and tried it at full power with the standard Condor 24-inch .22-caliber barrel. Since the pellet was breaking the sound barrier, it sounded about like the Remington. It was quieter than before, but not quiet enough.

I wondered if stopping more air from escaping the gun would help, so I installed an optional 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and the Bullseye Bill frame extender. Now, the barrel was buried deep inside the frame extender. Since the shorter 12″ barrel wastes air at full power, I dialed down the power setting to about the middle of the scale. I figured that was about the top performance I could get out of the shorter barrel.

The rifle was now definitely quieter, but no quieter than if I’d just used the AirForce end cap on the frame of the gun and left off the frame extender. The report was now about as loud as a loud hand clap. Either way (with the end cap on or with the frame extender installed), it was equally quiet. I still wasn’t satisfied with how quiet it was. I knew I could do better and retain much more power than with a 12-inch barrel.

AirForce Condor PCP air rifle

The 12-inch barrel and Talon SS end cap are just as quiet as the rifle with the frame extender installed.

Condor with frame extender installed
Here’s the Condor with the 12-inch barrel and the frame extender installed.

Here comes the band
I heard B.B. talk about how they used to use rubber bands to quiet the sound of the striker, so I figured that was worth a try to quiet down the gun a bit more. Before trying this, I dialed down the gun’s power to about level 2 with a 12″ barrel and the end cap. Voila…a Condor became a Talon SS! This definitely made the gun as quiet as it could be. Then, I tried it with the rubber band installed.

Condor with rubber band
The rubber band prevented the rifle from firing.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the gun to fire with a piece of rubber band on the end of the top hat. That rubber band was acting like a shock absorber — not letting the striker hit the top hat hard enough to fire the gun. So, that was a total failure. Let’s try something else.

Looking for the best performance
We all know that performance is everything in airguns. You want a hunting gun to hit hard and accurately. I needed to get the most performance out of the gun. So, the 24″ barrel went back in the gun, and the frame extender went back on. If I correctly use that combination, the only sound the gun will make is the clunk of the striker and impact of the pellet. In other words, nobody’s going to know I took the shot but me and whatever I was shooting at. Now, it’s on to pushing the envelope.

Which of my available ammo types will get me the best performance, while not telling everybody around me what I’m doing? First up is my standard go-to pellet, the Crosman Premier Ultra Magnum hunting pellet. I like these because they’re available everywhere, and I get fairly good results with them. So, let’s see just where the upper power limit is for these while making as little noise as possible. I’m firing at a target 75 yards out, which is the longest distance I’ve ever taken a muskrat with this gun. The cabin is just close enough that I should hear any significant echo that a backyard shooter would also have.

I fired shots using the highest setting I thought I could and get just the clunk of the striker and slap of the pellet. Then, I’d inch up until it began to return an echo off the cabin wall. That told me I’d crossed the boundary, so I backed off to the last quiet setting for Premiers. The rifle stayed quiet up to 7.45 on the AirForce power wheel. This is the setting I’d use in the city for backyard target practice without anybody knowing what I was doing…and the setting I want to use if I do not want to alert critters to the fact I’m hunting.

AirForce Condor PCP air rifle
With Crosman Premier Ultra Magnums, the rifle is still quiet when the power wheel is set no higher than 7.45. The major power setting (7) is indicated by the center of the screw head in the oval window on the right. The fractional power setting (.45) is indicated by the power wheel on the left.

Predator Polymag
Next, I dug out some Predator Polymags. I found these would give me slightly better performance, fly a bit faster and hit a bit harder while still not alerting anyone or anything to what I was doing. This is with a 24″ barrel and a frame extender — like a Condor SS on steroids. I got them to hit my 75-yard target with the dial set to a maximum of 7.10 [about 3/4 of the way toward power setting 8] as the outside power without advertising to everything around what I am doing. This gave me the slap of the striker and the thud of a pellet hitting the target 75 yards away.

AirForce Airguns Condor PCP air rifle
The power wheel can be set slightly higher with Predator Polymag pellets.

Baracuda Hunter Extreme
I like the cross-hatch pattern on the nose of these Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets for hunting, which is my primary use for air rifles. Surprisingly, with them, the power wheel went up. I thought the Polymags, with their nice sharp point, would cut through the air and give the quietest and most powerful shots of the day. But I was surprised. With these Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, the power wheel climbed up to 8.9 before anybody knew what I was doing. Birds kept on doing bird things. The Canadian geese kept swimming, totally unaware that a shot just landed in the target 10 yards to their left. Even the mallard ducks didn’t take off. That’s what I wanted.

AirForce Airguns Condor precharged pneumatic air rifle
H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets allowed the highest setting of the power wheel, with the rifle remaining quiet.

This is important since, in the places where I hunt pests, we also have some very shy animals. I have to try my best not to disturb them. It’s spring, and the geese and ducks are nesting. I don’t want to scare them off their nests. It’s all about being a good steward of nature.

Gamo round balls
Last up was the .22-caliber Gamo round ball. I got these as a freebie with a Gamo gun, so I figured I might as well see what a “musket ball” would do. This one was the worst of the bunch. To keep the gun quiet with round balls, I had to dial the power down to 4.7. All the birds in the area took off and hid when I put one of these in the target at 8.9 on the power scale. I don’t think I’ll be using those again when I’m hunting at a sensitive time of the season.

AirForce Airguns Condor precharged pneumatic air rifle
Gamo round balls were not a good projectile for quiet shooting.

What did I learn?
There’s plenty to take away from this that has nothing to do with the speed of the pellet. A PCP gun like the Condor can be accurate, powerful and quiet depending on how it is set up and which pellet is used. A shorter barrel robs power, but it also quiets down a gun. However, it can only do so much — even if you give it a massive space in which to allow the air to expand. My best bet was to leave the 24″ barrel on the Condor and put the frame extender on the barrel, leaving the end of the extender about 3 inches past the muzzle. This setup trapped spent air well due to the fact the pellet was blocking the end of the shroud at about the ideal time to minimize the muzzle blast. It’s kind of how a car muffler works.

This made my Condor about as quiet as a loud whisper. Just a thud of the striker and the slap of the pellet hitting the target. Very little echo, if any at all. Adjusting the power of the gun had quite a bit to do with this. If you throw too much power behind the pellet, you’ll hear something like a .22 rimfire bullet, which is not what you want to hear if you’re hunting pests in an environmentally sound-sensitive area or doing some backyard plinking and don’t want the police responding to reports of small-to-medium caliber gunfire in your neighborhood.

I tested a Condor only in .22 caliber since that’s all I had, and this is my primary pest hunting gun. I also used several pellets that I normally use for target shooting and hunting to compare their results. This is in no way a scientific study with high-tech instruments. Just one man with a good pair of ears. I did what I could to recreate a backyard shooting environment in an actual hunting environment. The intention was to gather some good information to help keep your shooting as quiet as possible so you don’t disturb the animals or people around you.

P.S. My day on the range ended on a high note when I took an opposum that was on my list of pest critters. It was a perfect shot with my dad’s old Remington 514.