In the world of air rifles, there are very few names that are as evocative as BSA. This company has been part of British history for over 150 years and the free world owes it a massive debt of gratitude.
BSA started its life as a collection of arms manufacturers; who in 1854 were tasked with supplying weapons for British soldiers to use during the Crimean war. Then, in June 1861, this group took the decision to become a public company and The Birmingham Small Arms -or BSA as it is better known- came into being.
This military contract started a long line of service to the British Crown and BSA’s military rifles were carried throughout the first and second world war. During WWII, BSA produced over 500,000 Browning machine guns and over 1,250,000 Lee Enfield rifles.
As many will know, BSA did not just supply weapons, they supplied everything from the Bantam motorcycle to the world’s first folding bicycle – which was issued to troops in WW1.
BSA though has always been a huge supporter of air rifle manufacture. In 1905, the very first Lincoln Jefferies air rifle was manufactured. This became such a hit with the public, that by the end of 1907, BSA had produced over 10,000.
Over the next 25 years, the company grew and grew and at one point they were producing 10,000 rifles a week, then, in 1933 BSA launched its first break barrel air rifle. The .177 Breakdown was a massive hit with plinkers and hunters alike. This rifle was the true forerunner to iconic airguns like the Meteor, the Cadet, the Airsporter and the stunningly beautiful Stutzen.
BSA continued to refine and develop their spring rifles until they were creating some of the best in the world and then in 1996, they took the leap into the world of Pre-Charged Pneumatics (PCPs) and the Super 10 was born. This rifle took BSA into a whole new world; for the first time, you could by a British air rifle that could be run at FAC power levels, but also have a high shot count and zero recoil.
Consequently, in 2014 their future has never looked so bright. The Super 10 may have gone, but the R10mk2 has taken its place. This rifle has become a firm favourite with both hunters and target shooters alike as it boasts a shot count of 160+ and extreme accuracy; it is used to great effect by tournament shooters like Jill Cochrane and Matt Rawlings and has racked up many victories since its introduction in 2008.
BSA has never forgotten its roots however, as spring rifles and Gas rams are still a massive part of the BSA world. Rifles like the Lightning, Supersport and XL are firm favourites amongst spring gun shooters, but, if you want a bit of nostalgia then, the Meteor, - the rifle that most of us learnt to shoot with-, is still available.
BSA also produces one of the most compact and accurate PCP’s available in the UK. The Ultra was released in 2005 and measuring just 32” and weighting in at a miniscule 5.7lbs, it is a favourite with younger shooters and hunters as it can be carried and manipulated with ease. This small rifle will still give you 40 shots at 12 ftlbs and is as accurate as many larger rifles.
Finally, there is the Scorpion SE, this rifle is the competition flagship from BSA and it is soon to be adorned with a brand new target style stock. The Scorpion embodies over 150 years of design and technology and is fast becoming a world class air rifle. In the 2014 World Championships, the new prototype Scorpion FT took 12th place in the open class and 2nd place in .22 in its very first outing.
In the world of shooting, many manufacturers can claim a pedigree, but how many can claim that they supplied the rifles for the charge of the light brigade or the weapons that stormed the beaches of Normandy? With BSA, you are not just buying a rifle, you are joining 150 years of history.