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