BSA Air Rifles Review & History
The Birmingham Small Arms Factory, known as BSA are one of the top air rifle producers in the world and have been making guns since 1861. Throughout their time, they have been responsible for making some of the best guns ever made. In this article, we are going to go over a brief history of BSA as a company and give a short review of some of their top selling air rifles.
In June 1861 encouraged by the war office, a group of gunsmith members from the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association formed the Birmingham Small Arms company. Initially to supply arms to the British government during the Crimean war. They imported innovative machinery from the USA which meant they were able to develop guns with interchangeable parts.
BSA agreed their first contract with the war office in 1868. This contract lasted until 1879, when they were forced to shut down for a year due to a lack of work (as there’s not much demand for guns in peace time).
A new direction had to be found and in the following year (1880), BSA started to manufacture bicycles. The gun factory was ideal for the manufacture of bicycle parts. It involved producing accurately machined standard parts in large numbers but at low prices.
They started off making the Otto Dicycle and during the 1880s they started to produce safety bicycles. Bicycle production was halted in 1887 because BSA concentrated on the manufacture of the Lee-Metford magazine loading rifle under contract to the war office. They were supplying 1,200 rifles per week which eventually re-equipped the entire British army.
In 1905, BSA made their first experimental motorcycle. Then in 1908 they went back to manufacturing bicycles for their own company. BSA cycles Ltd. was set up in 1919 to manufacture bicycles and motorcycles. In 1953, they separated the bicycle and motorcycle business and then in 1957 they sold the bicycle business to Raleigh.
By the start of the Second World War, BSA Guns Ltd. were the only factory in the UK manufacturing rifles. They were also producing .303 Browning machine guns to the tune of 600 a week in March 1939 and at its peak they were producing 16,390 a month by 1942.
The British armed forces chose the BSA M20 motorcycle as their motorcycle of choice. At the onset of war, the British government requisitioned all 690 M20s BSA had in stock, and ordered an additional 8,000 motorcycles. Other countries including the Netherlands, Sweden, India, South Africa and Ireland also ordered the M20.
The war office asked BSA to manufacture a new pedal bicycle in 1941. This bicycle had to have a maximum weight of 22lb to be used for airborne objectives. The boffins at BSA created a new bicycle frame which weighed in at 21lb, one pound less than the government required.
Another part of the specification was that the bicycle needed to last for a minimum of 50 miles. As a result of this, BSA produced bicycles that surpassed this by at least 400% – they were a true success and more than 60,000 folding bicycles were produced. This equates to half of all the military bicycles produced during WW2.
BSA Air Rifles
In 1905 BSA manufactured the first Lincoln Jeffries air rifle, and in just 2 short years the 10,000th Lincoln Jeffries air rifle was completed. This shows just how skilled and competent BSA were.
During the first world war, BSA produced 10,000 rifles each week and also manufactured the Lewis gun. BSA were even busier during the second world war, manufacturing more than half of all of the small arms used by British forces.
After the war ended, BSA went back into manufacturing air guns – applying all their years’ of wisdom into the design and manufacturing of their new guns.
Let’s take a look at the range of rifles BSA have on offer today.
BSA Spring Air Rifles
We stock a wide variety of BSA spring air rifles at The Airgun Centre, all of which feature the cold hammer forged barrel that BSA are world famous for. This barrel design is responsible for BSA rifles’ amazing accuracy.
BSA Supersport SE
This is a totally practical no nonsense break barrel rifle delivering full power and accuracy. This is a top performing rifle, at an exceptionally affordable price. The BSA Supersport SE has an adjustable open sight and a full length scope mounting rail with a two stage adjustable trigger.
With it’s practical stock, high quality barrel,specially calibrated main spring and weighted piston you can always be sure of consistent power when firing this air rifle.
The Supersport SE may be an entry level spring rifle from BSA, but there is nothing entry level about its performance. The Supersport is a full powered air rifle and its clean, simple lines are a favourite with plinkers, hunters and target shooters. The long barrel makes this break barrel rifle a pleasure to cock and fire, the trigger is 2 stage adjustable and the open sights are simple and efficient.
BSA Lightning XL SE
This model is the latest in a long line of sporting guns and provides all the power and accuracy needed with it’s world famous cold hammer forged barrel, which has been developed and refined for over 150 years. The beechwood stock is fully chequered for better grip in all weathers. Plus, the fully ventilated butt pad ensures the greatest recoil absorption.
If you’re looking for top class performance and style – this is the rifle for you.
The Lightning is probably BSA’s bestselling spring rifle. It boasts all the things that make a truly great gun; a fully adjustable trigger, quality, ambidextrous beech stock, great accuracy and build quality. Then, when you couple all of these things with the legendary cold hammer forged barrels that BSA are famous for, you get a superior spring rifle.
BSA PCP Guns
We stock a number of BSA PCP air rifles (pre charged pneumatics), and have listed below some of our more popular models. PCPs work by prefilling the gun with air. Then every time you pull the trigger air is forced behind the pellet and with nowhere else to go it fires from the barrel. So on to some of the models we stock.
BSA Ultra SE
Everything you’ve come to expect from a top manufacturer is what you get with this gun. Plus it’s a multishot, bolt action rifle with an ambidextrous stock that is ergonomically designed for your comfort. The BSA Ultra SE is lightweight, comes with BSAs fully integrated pressure gauge, which is easy to read and makes for easy power management.
The ultra is also available as a single shot rifle.
The multi shot variant of the Ultra is a hunter’s dream; in .177, the 10 shot index numbered magazine is a joy to use. Combine this with a fully adjustable trigger, a high quality ambidextrous stock, and slick bolt action and you have a rifle to be reckoned with. It may be small but do not underestimate this rifle, as it is every bit as accurate as any rifle on the rack. The Ultra is…
The BSA Defiant bullpup is a “next generation” sports gun equipped with an ergonomic spring assisted side lever, 2 x 10 shot magazines, integrated shroud, and silencer. The BSA Defiant achieves consistent accuracy, has a soft touch cheek piece, as well as an “on rifle” quick fill system. Plus much more.
BSA Scorpion SE
The BSA Scorpion SE takes hunting and sports shooting to the next level. With its lightweight “fast strike” hammer system to give greater efficiency, and enhanced trigger function for total shot control – the BSA Scorpion allows you to achieve your full sporting potential.
The SE tactical is a must for all shooters who like to shoot in bad weather. The synthetic polymer coating makes the Scorpion SE Tactical easy to grip and a joy to shoot.The SE itself is a no-nonsense, high quality, accurate PCP. It is classic in its design and draws deep from the experience and history of BSA. It boasts all the usual refinements, such as a fully adjustable trigger, a match quality, fully floated…
BSA GRT rifles
Air rifles are traditionally powered by using a compressed spring which when released provides the energy to propel the pellet from the barrel. BSA have taken their top selling models and instead of using compressed air as in the PCP system, they’ve used inert nitrogen to fill the pneumatic ram. This system is known as GRT or Gas Ram Technology.
BSA Gas Ram Rifles
BSA have upgraded the following models with gas ram technology:
- GRT Lightning XL SE
- GRT Lightning SE
- Supersport SE GRT
For more on BSA GRT Rifles, visit their GRT page.
Where Can I Buy BSA Air Rifles?
You are able to buy BSA air rifles from The Airgun Centre, either online or in store. We stock a wide range of BSA guns that have been personally tested in store by us to ensure your rifle is ready for competitive shooting straight out the box.
We also have our unique lifetime guarantee on all BSA air rifles which means that as long as you are the original owner of the rifle, we will repair it free of charge. If you have any problems with your gun (at all), you can bring it down to the shop and we will get it fixed with no questions asked. This covers both parts and labour, meaning you only have your initial outlay and the gun will last you a lifetime.
And what’s more, we will also service your BSA air gun whenever you feel it needs it free of charge to ensure it stays shooting at a professional standard for as long as you have it.
The Airgun Centre in Rayleigh
If you’re looking for an air rifle shop with hundreds of rifles on display, come and visit our store in Rayleigh. We’ve got a vast selection of air rifles from all of the top manufacturers, such as: BSA, Brocock, Daystate, Weihrauch, Air Arms, FX Guns, Walther & more. Alternatively, if you would like to talk to our in-house staff about BSA air rifles, call us on 01268 780 730 today