Friday, 28 April 2017

.177 BSA Cadet, A Review and Other Bits and Bobs

For an old air rifle that i always thought a bit of a smallish youth rifle, i was pleasently surprised to find it both considerably larger and heftier when i first laid my hands on one. 

109 cm from tip too tail

The very first thing i did though was to put her over the chronoghraph to get 4.56 ft/lbs with JSB Exacts, she was old, complete and in fairly good nick and i reckoned things could only improve from here on in.

This has the look of a sporting rifle in the 50's

 BSA was responsible for the production of over 50% of all British small arms produced during WWII, so roll on 1945 and they decide to go back to an increase in thier Air rifle production and the introduction of thier new Cadet air rifle. Capable of putting out 8 ft/lb and advertised as being able to take rabbits out to 50 yards this rifle was popular amongst young adults and adults alike, trade description was not an issue in those days. Maybe if you could throw the thing 50 yards you could possibly concuss a rabbit, with a full wooden stock and heavily engineered steel construction the rifle had some interesting early BSA design features and had to be one of the prettier looking break barrel air rifles for it's time.

The prefix of CC tells me the rifle is made in the later half of the 1950's

The Cadet has a leather piston seal which in this case needed no oil to improve velocity, from what i remember from the chrony test there was no more the 25 FPS spread with any of the pellets i tested. From what i could see through the cocking slot both spring and piston appeared to be lightly lubricated, or at least it wasn't all dry and dusty. 

The Cadet has a one peice trigger and sear that hooks on to a central piston rod in the piston, how much of the sear that holds the piston rod can be adjusted by a screw in the slope at the rear of the action.

Without dimantling the rifle i had to looke at the plans on Chambers web site too find out this adjusted sear engagement.

 The stock is a one piece beechwood affair with a very long cocking slot, because it has a single piece cocking rod that is, like the rest of the rifle, very well made and solid.

Considering the length of the cocking slot, there was no movement in the stock, not one bit, non at all, zero, zilch.

The stock fits well to the action and is fixed with two screws at a 60 degree angle at the front of the action,

Screws made the old fashioned way, roled on the thighs of dusky Brummies.

and like the later Airsporter and Mercury the rear is a bolt that runs through the pistol grip and screws into the rear section of the action. 

The reat bolt. Like it say's on the tin, bolts the rear on.

The Cadet has some weight to it for its size as i said before and although it is pretty old there is no movement between the forks, or anywhere at all come to think of it, from wear over the years.

I have no idea if a pin or a bolt holds the forks around the breech, it's still a solid fit though.

There are only open sights on this rifle and has no scope rail, because scopes just weren't commonly used in the 50's. The front sight is a bead on top of a concave ramp that sits in a dovetail on the tip of the barrel, left to right adjustment could be achieved by tapping the sight along the dovetail.

The front sight had already been adjusted and was fine, notice it hangs over too the right.

From this angle the dove tail is more noticable.

The rear sights that sit on top of the breech block are real old school and tend to be found on most early 1900's air rifles, they adjust up and down only by spinning a firm horizontal thumb wheel. This allows a plate with a V notch on top to move vertically in its frame, score marks on the side of the frame and plate help keep track of adjustments

These sights were perfectly fine in the 50's and still perform well today.

The trigger and guard are very slim but also pretty solid due to the fine quality of the metal used to build it. The trigger appears to have a light too mediun release and along with the angle of the pistol grip and the low combe on the buttstock, found it very comfortable too shoot with satisfying results.

The trigger guard design is a tried and tested BSA design and can be found on later Meteors

Low recoil, trigger release, weight, and pretty nifty old school sights all added up to some good off hand accuracy. 7 out of 9 Geco wadcutters made one impressive one cm ragged hole and JSB Exacts appeared to spred vertically, however they were the only two pellets i tried at the time.

I reckon Superdomes would do well in this air rifle, should get some really.

When all is said and done, the BSA Cadet is an awesome back yard plinker that reeks of nostalgia from a time we can only imagine and most likely never happened.

This rifle came to me in good condition internally and out, and as a plinker did not need any attention apart from a little oil and wire wool for the matal work. It's fun and definately gets a thumbs up.

All the best,

Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Lee's Mk II .177 Innova

Lee's .177 Innova

It would appear that i'm getting myself a bit of a rep for fixing up old Innova's for people and each time i find something new that i've not come across before. Lee got in touch with me saying that he could not get any power out of his .177 MkII Innova after trying to follow some of my guidelines, i offered to take a look at it and a few days later a rather splendid looking example of an Innova came through the post.

exciting, what's in the box.

Oh, it's an Innova in bits.

It was in many bits where he had tried to fix it and a few of the parts were damaged through wear and tear with the odd part missing, the arms of the front sight post had snapped off

This is not good, but will do for now.

 and the circlip for holding the pump arm pin was missing. 

I'm gonna have to make a circlip for this.

Originally this was Lee's rifle and he had let a friend have it and from then on it had passed on through a few other people till it came back to Lee, it would appear that a few of these people have been messing about with it in a not to kind of manner since then.

Still the same Innova

Lets face it  the Innova is mostly polymer/plastic and after 25 odd years things are going to wear out, get stressed, chip and snap off, work loose and bend. Especially if a few off those people think it's a cool idea to ramp the power up, when really it will recieve a hell of a lot less sress if you only pump it 8/9 times to get 12 ft/lb and not 15 times to get 16 ft/lb. 

The tension on that spring will decide if it's under power, just leagal, or over the top.

It's certainly not the same gun Lee remembers from his youth, but with a bit of TLC and some crafty bodging it could be pretty damded close

There you go, MkII Innova.

MkII's have the safety catch.

MkII's also have a butt pad.

The power was no problem to fix as i adjusted the pump rod to the maximum reach. oiled the pump head, and with five pumps it was letting out a satisfyingly loud crack, however i could still put in 15 pumps without the blow off valve kicking in. I also left three pumps of air in the rifle overnight which had leaked out come the morning time, so looks like a good old fashioned overhaul is required.

When i stripped it again i noticed that oil had leaked past the exhaust valve body O ring so that one needed replacing, 

Yep, had to replace some O rings here.

i also stripped the valve and replaced the O ring between the Valve and firing pin housings thinking that that could be the cause of the slow leak. Everything else inside looked fine which was what Lee had done himself, there was still a leak on putting it back together but much, much slower.

Seeing as i had a set of firing pin seals i removed the firing pin,

Bolt assembly.

so replacing the seals would let me know that all the power from pumping was hitting behind the pellets.
New seals fitted.

Using a pipe wench, 10 and 14 mm spanners, and some pliers i unscrewed the housing and pump head off the blow off valve, 

If you have to do this it's usually only the once, after that finger adjustment is all that's needed

out came the spring  and valve pin was removed easily with a small pair of needle nose pliers. 

Someone else has been messing about here, looks like somethings missing.

Inside the valve housing was a brass sleeve which screwed into the inner wall and held the blow off valve seal in place tightly, lining up with the underside of the pumphead there were two knotches so i could cut and shape a flat bit of metal to act as a screwdriver. It all came out with years of crap and oil and gunk but looked in good knick all the same, and sure enough when it went back together it worked which in my opinon was a result, praise be Saint Jezzer.
Down to all the basic bits

The head of the valve pin has a cup shape which looks like it would seat a 4.5 mm ball bearing,

Reckon a ball bearing should fit in there, but some sad hat must of lost it way back.

so i added a ball bearing as it would seat better against the blow off seal and the air pressure would blow off at pretty much the same each time.

Now that looks like it should work better.

Putting the pump arm back together now left me with getting the the blow off valve to release around 11.5 ft/lb, minute adjustments on the spring pressure where needed.First adjust the tension on the blow off valve spring,

!001 minute adjustments.

then adjust the slack on the other end of the valve

1001 minute corrections

 198 mm seems the ideal length for the whole pump rod assembly.

I really couldn't be arsed to check this a 1001 times.

If it's too short the the pump arm doesn't lock in place and hangs down,
So sometimes this happened.

if its close to right then it will lock in place.
But mostly not.

It sort of went too low, too low , too low, shit too high, still too high all the first afternoon.

Why did it take so long that afternoon?

But for some reason on the second afternoon it took no time at all, sure had me puzzled.

2nd afternoon took no time at all.

So there you go, one MkII Innova fixed to the best of my abilities. To get it nearer perfect Lee will have to invest in a new front sight unit and a stock screw and brass collar as they are fairly worn, but for now i got the stock on tight with the use of a small washer.

With the aid of a little washer the action sat firmly in the stock.

Remember boys and girls, old Innova's never die they just get sent to me to bodge, fix, and generally get loving treatment.


Best wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington/Smythe. 

 P.S. Remember to remove all and any burrs from the inside of the compression tube as not only do they ruin seals, but they can make the pump rod awkward to to remove and replace.

It's boring work but it saves you so much hassle in the long run.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

DIY Air Gun Targets With a Twist

Shootin' shit is fun.

Paper targets are great for seeing how close a grouping you can get from whatever distance they are set up, also good for zeroing in a new scope and finding the hold over/under you need on different air rifles. They don't cost a great deal of money but i tend to just knock some up fom a few peices of A4 scrap paper, also a pellet tends to rip a rough hole through this paper unless it's backed by a piece of cardboard and that does for me. 

Shooting at the dot is fine for sighting in

A simple 5 mm dot works fine for setting up a scope and working out pellet trajectory, though i  tend to draw a circle with a diagonal cross for groupings and general target practice.

Concentric circles and cross hairs gives you a better idea of how you're fairing.

This is all well and good but sometimes more often than not i want a target with a little more oomf to it, not quite one that lets off fireworks and streamers while playing the Can Can but some thing that's a little bit interactive. Knockdown targets that are reset by pulling a piece of string like the ones used in HFT are great, i have one with a resetable paddle with four different size target holes. You can pick them up for 15 to 20 quid but i got mine for a fiver with a few pellet dinks in it, it's not a problem as they all need a respray eventually.

Hoers of fun can be had by shooting and resetting a steel HFT target.

Once i've practiced with paper targets and the knockdown target i place the lids of plastic milk bottles balanced on top of sticks or wire at various distances out to 50 yards, 

Pill and milk bottle tops are plentiful and ping off to the side when you hit them.

then i try to estimate the holdover or under and try to shoot them off the sticks. It really is a crack and fairly challenging with my .22 s410 or .177 Shamal PCP, 

The AA Shamal is single shot but soooo satisfying to use.

it's even more taxing when using one of my springers but such a buzz to see them go flying off to the side when hit. Round mints are challenge to shoot at and explode in a ball of dust, and if you're really shit hot you could always shoot through the center of a polo mint.

Small pill bottles or alcohol minitures filled with parafin with a burning wick on top make a good ball of flame when hit (90 percent of the time), but you have to be careful where you set that one up as you don't want to piss of your neighbours or start major fires. Failing that there is always an inflated balloon with flour in it, an easy target but very effective all the same. A ballon filled with lighter gas with a lit night light behind it goes up a treat and is far less of a fire hazard, it is a bitch to get the gas into the balloon without an adaptor but it is possible and well worth it.

Recently i've been going down the woods with my blow back BB pistols and shooting a energy drick cans, which is great fun in itself but i felt i had to step up the anti. So i got to cutting out some metal plates of various sizes and seeing how quick i could shoot the lot while hanging them from tree branches.

DVD casings are great targets for low powered steel plate shooting, but the BB's still rebound with a vengence.

 The plates were made from the cases of old car cassette players, VCR cases, and radiator heat shields all cut down to handy sizes with tinsnips. By putting a right angle fold at the top of the plate and and hanging the wire from edge of the short length, the plate hangs at an angle so the BB's rebound to the floor (usually). 

By hanging the plate from the back of a 90 degree bend i have found the BB's rebound safely to the floor in front. Tried and tested.

Recently i have started to hang a larger plate below a smaller plate and taking two shots at the larger plate and one at the upper smaller plate. It would appear i have been watching too many Navy Seal's shooting technique You Tube videos, and to those people who may call this childish all i can say is that your granny does it better when she takes her false teeth out.

A cardboard box backed with a piece of carpet to deaden the rebound of a BB is pretty cheap and handy. and if you tape a piece of paper to the front with a target stops any rebounding bb's. Toy soldiers, plastic pill bottles, plastic lids to Monster drink cans amongst other things make cool targets when set up in front of the box. Or you could buy one ready made but that will set you back 15 odd quid, besides it's not really DIY is it.

And remember most importantly of all is always wear your safety glasses, as a BB in the eye is a sure fire way to really crap on your day. These you will have to buy as i can' t think of a DIY way to knock up a pair of these.


Best wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe.

Sunday, 12 June 2016


Got a voucher for four free sessions at Old Down Pursuits rifle club off the Wifey Christmas just gone, so due to the fact that sessions are every second sunday and crap weather in general, i finally got to go. Its the other side of Cirencester from where i live, so 1st sunny sunday found me being dropped off by the wifey.(Two weeks later it's pissing down with rain again)

There is a lot of clay shooting going on which i ignored, but the 30 lane HFT course did take my fancy.

Some one with a HW100 using the HFT course at Old Downs Pursuits.

Though i didn't take advantage of this i did of the sighting and plinking range, with it's many spinning targets, knockdown targets out to 45 yards , and a large board for sighting with a couple of once used Shoot N C targets on it.

Two lanes and four spaces at the sighting and practice range.

Having brought a selection of rifles, a Hills pump and a small bag with some tools and pellets in it i was content to sit at the double bench and seats and plink away, next time i'll take less rifles and some target paper for fine tuning of sighting.

All set up and ready to rock and roll.

I started off using the Air Arms Shamal in .177 with 4.52 AA field diablo pellets, this rifle is heavy, incredibly accurate, but accuracy goes tits up if it's canted.

I get a boner just thinking about my Shamal.

I could not top up on air as i forgot to bring a 14 mm spanner to remove the forster fitting on the pump as the rifle dates from 1989 when diver's bottles where a screw fit, so i had no idea how much air i had in it.

It's a good job the air cylinder is this big on the .177 Air Arms Shamal,it's annoying if you forget the spanner to attach the refill hose.

Fair enough i must of got over 80 shots out of the Shamal so i could of used it, however i had topped it up on air over a year ago so it's nice to know the old girl is still air tight.

The .22 Air Arms s410 for which i did have an adaptor fitting for shot very accurately as well using H&N field target trophy pellets, I did have trouble hitting accurately past 40 yards as i had forgotten how much hold over i needed. I used clip after clip on the s410 and refilled the resevior twice, as i did have the adaptor fitted to the pump for this one.

.22 Air Arms s410 is also a bloody cool bunny basher

Later in the session i did use the ASI Sniper which has proven to be an accurate little springer shooting AA diablo's at around 7 ft/lb, annoyingly this one didn't hit a dickie bird as the sighting was out.

The ASI Sniper is not too bad for an old Gamo.

I met about three pairs using the HFT course who were very affable and friendly, they had rifles such as a BSA Ultra, a HW 100, and one of those Evanix tactical jobs. Also a father and son with a under lever and one of those 715 Dan Wesson rifled barrel co2 pistols which they kindly let me have a go with, i really was impressed with the pistol even if the trigger pull in double action was a little on the heavy side.

I was having so much fun i didn't even notice the clay shooters banging around and was saddened when the wifey informed me by phone she was on her way to pick me up, after all i would look a trifle dodgey walking through Cirencester with three gun baps on my shoulders. Any way that's it for now.


Best wishes, Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe.