B.S.A Lightning .177"
Added to the collection late last year, I wanted to try a Lightning for myself after much talk on the web' about them. I have had a few shots with a .22" Lightning a couple years ago, but I wanted a try one in .177". I have a .177" Supersport, which is very similar and about as harsh as springers can get, so when this one came up second hand at my local shop I had a bit of a play and I was surprised just how smooth the rifle shot and the trigger wasn't bad for a B.S.A springer. Then I was told that the rifle was only putting out about 6ft.lb!
A few weeks later the spring had been changed (the original was in three pieces) and the piston seal was changed.
A deal was reached on the price and then rifle was added to the "to do" queue in the collection.
As you can see in the above photographs, the rifle has several minor marks in the stock and some on the moderator and barrel, but is in decent usable nick and very pointable and balanced. I'm quite used to the feel of the rifle from using a B.S.A Spitfire that was in the collection a couple of years ago.Specification
The Lightning has been around for something like 20 years now and apart from the differences between the stocks and moderators of the different models they haven't changed much. They are still available new. You should find that older models may well have a plastic trigger blade.
Overall Length: 95cm/37.25 in
M/E: 12ft.lbs (but don't be surprised if they run at around 10.5ft.lb).
Moderator: B.S.A Volumetric.
Scope rail: Rubber insulated "Maxigrip" scope rail (14.5mm wide), fitted with scope mount arrestor bolt.
Trigger: Two stage with adjustable second stage.
The next job is to pull the bore through and fit a scope, probably a Nikko Sterling 3-9 x 40AO.TLC
Before attempting to pull the bore through, to save messing around with drinking straws and feeding in the pull through from the muzzle end of the moderator, removing the moderator from a early Lightning is usually straight forward. See photograph below.Undoing moderator grub screw (2.5mm allen key).
As you can see in the above photograph, access to the moderator grub screw is provided by just turning the rifle upside down. With the rifle secured in a suitable gun rest, undo the grub screw and to save any damage from the grub screw scratching the outer surface of the barrel, completely remove the grub screw and store it in a safe place as it usually makes a break for freedom!Removing the moderator.
Once the grub screw has been removed, grab hold of the moderator with one hand and grab hold of the action with the other. If you are lucky, the moderator may well just slide off the barrel without too much effort. However, older rifles may have had the moderator removed and refitted several times in the rifle's lifetime, or just had the grub screw tightened up on occations when it has come lose during prolonged use, and thus a bur of metal from the surface of the barrel can stop the moderator from being removed easily. I had this on my B.S.A Spitfire. You should be able to unscrew the front of the moderator, then unscrew the alluminium baffle and outer tube. This should allow you to push the cone of the moderator towards the action and allow access to the bur, but the bur may be sufficiant enough to stop you moving the cone enough either way to allow you to gain sufficiant access to remove the bur. The moderator on later models, especially the XL and tactical models, may well be bonded together and bonded to the barrel as well, which makes them even more difficult to remove. If you can't remove the bur as described above you could try applying heat with a hair dryer or a rag soaked in hot water (be careful) to the cone area as the expansion in the cone may well provide just enough play to clear the bur. Don't apply too much heat with the hair dryer though as this may well damage the finish of the barrel and the cone of the moderator. If this fails just grab hold of the moderator and action as mentioned above and by pulling and turning the moderator clockwise and anticlockwise you should be able to remove the moderator, albeit with a few scratches to the barrel. See above photograph.Barrel with moderator removed showing bur and alluminium particles.Removing bur with a small file.
To remove the bur I used a couple of small files, (see above), and worked very carefully so as to remove as little of the barrels finish as possible. Bur and surrounding area cleaned up using small files.
With the bur removed and the surrounding area cleaned up, the remaining minor "dink" on the outside surface of the barrel will provide a suitable locating recess for the grub screw when the moderator is refitted. As you can see in the above photograph there is now a small amount of bare metal showing. I'll cover this later, before refitting the moderator.
Now we can get on with pulling the bore through. First turn the rifle back upright in the gun rest. Crack open the barrel, but don't cock the rifle. I used a simple home made pull through, (thanks ONE ROUND), and small squares of clean lint free cloth. Thread the shuttle end of the pull through through to the muzzle end of the barrel and with a cloth patch in place at the loop end, pull it through. In springers, unless the barrel is well and truely grubby, I use these pieces of cloth dry, so as to prevent excessive dieselling later on if using such things as WD40. I inspected the bore before pulling it through and there was just one or two particles of grime that I could see, but it still took around ten pull throughs to clean it properly.Pulling the bore through with a simple home made pull through and small cloth patches.Breech seal. Not perfect, but should be o.k for a while.
Here's a simple tuning tip. Try replacing the B.S.A -
seal with a HW type. Can make quite a difference to -
the performance.Removing the action from the stock.
With the bore cleaned now we can move onto the rest of the action. At first, as the spring and pistol seal had been replaced only a few months ago, I wasn't going to look at the action, but it's only three bolts to remove the action from the stock, so I went ahead and removed it. Before removing any of the bolts, turn the rifle upside down again and make sure you put something between the action and the gun rest to prevent the action from dropping out of the stock once the bolts are removed.Removing the main stock bolt. This also holds the trigger guard in place.
Some rifles may well have a slotted head bolt here and it's a right game -
trying to get a screwdriver with a large enough blade to fit the head -
correctly, yet still be small enough to turn within the slot of the trigger -
guard. An allan bolt is far more suitable here.
Remove the front stock bolts, one each side of the stock, then lift the action out of the stock.Removing front stock bolts.Lightning action and stock.Lightning action. There's some marks on the action so the rifle has seen some use. Keep an eye on the pivot pins that hold the trigger mechanism together. These can fall out. A quick look at the trigger shows it to be bone dry, so I will add just a few drops of 3 in 1 to it at a later stage.Lubing the action
In the photograph of the trigger mechanism below, the black line points out the location of the trigger pull weight adjusting screw. More on this later. As you can see the mechanism is very basic and has been used on many models from the Meteor (in a slightly more simplifyed version) upwards. Trigger mechanism Lubing the trigger pivot points. Be sparing with your application of lube on the trigger mechanism. I used the blade of a small screwdriver to apply a small amount of 3 in 1 oil. I also added one or two drops to the inside of the mechanism.The action lubed with gun oil and an oily rag. The "*" marks pivot points that should be lubed with just a drop of light oil. Also, apply a small amount of lube to the breech locking pin (not shown), and a smear of oil or grease to the slide protecting the compression tube from the cocking arm.Next up
The next stage will be to polish the stock, refit the action into the stock, patch up the damage to the barrel caused by the moderator grub screw, refit the moderator and give the rifle a final rub down with an oily rag. After this a scope will be fitted and initial testing will take place.OUCH! (understatement)I was hoping to show you the Lightning all back together by now, but after putting the action back in the stock I found the trigger was faulty. I removed the action to find one of the pins missing, which I found quite easily for once. However, I didn't know how the trigger spring fitted and at that time I couldn't get on the web' to check the diagram on the Chambers website. By checking the trigger on a Meteor, which is almost the same, and a lot of fiddling around I got the trigger working again. The short story is, whilst decocking the rifle, with the barrel held with my left hand I managed, although I don't know how exactly, to split my left thumbnail from left to right at approx' 45 degrees. Oh the pain, the flipping pain of it all! It doesn't half throb! Looks like no shooting or messing for a week or so sad0049 sad0049 sad0049.Once more into the bree..., err, workshop (read kitchen)
Well, extreamly sore left thumb or not it's back together again. It took a while as the same bleedin' pin that dropped out and caused all the bother in the first place fell out again and I had to resort to taking my Supersport action out of its stock (it's overdue a bit of TLC anyway) to check the location of the spring. It was a fiddly job to keep the spring in place on the trigger whilst inserting the trigger pivot pin, but I got there in the end. I've put ten pellets through the rifle to check the operation of the trigger (the rifle diesels a little). From this I can concur that my sore thumb was caused by the trigger spring not being fitted in the correct location and although I was holding the barrel, when I released the safety catch I wasn't quite ready, WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN!!! I hope this is a lesson that will not only serve as a great reminder to me, but hopefully, with the thought of the pain in my left thumb, and the blood everywhere, lets hope this gives everyone a pointer to think, think and think again when doing such work. Anyway, looking on the bright side, the rifle isn't damaged at all, which is a surprise as it very nearly got lamped up the wall
A couple of tips about refitting the action into the stock. To fit the trigger guard, first insert the main rear trigger bolt and turn it in a few turns. Then slide the rear of the trigger guard underneath the bolt head whilst at the same time feeding the front "tongue" of the trigger guard between the action and the stock. Screw in the main stock bolt some more but do not tighten it. Next screw in the front stock bolts, but again do not tighten them fully. Once the front stock screws are fitted losely, fully tighten the rear bolt, then the front bolts, making sure you tighten them so that the action sits in between the stock as centrally as possible. If you find the breech block rubbing on the stock when cocking the rifle, fit a thin spacer on the front stock bolt between the stock and the action on the side that is rubbing.
Back to the trigger. Well, as expected really, it's not fantastic. It does the job and hopefully will be a little better once it is adjusted, but a Air Arms TX trigger it ain't, but I think most of us knew that was going to be the case.
Later I hope to fill you in on the barrel bluing damage repair, then start to get around to fitting the scope. I'm off now to suck my thumb sad0049.Barrel finish patch up and refitting the moderator
Just to protect the outer surface of the barrel from the elliments, damaged over the years by the moderator grub screw, (see begining of thread), I used a permanent ink marker, see photograph below. I don't have any sort of re-bluing kit, and as it will be out of sight, under the moderator cone, on this, a simple, usable rifle, I wasn't going to go to the expense of buying a kit, so had the choice of touching up the damaged area with paint or the marker, which I used. Before using either of the above, degrease the area to be covered with a suitable degreaser. I used a drop of meth's on a piece of kitchen roll. Once the area had dried I carefully applied the ink from the marker.Permanent ink covering damaged barrel surface.
Give the barrel a light rub down with an oily rag and remove any roughness and debri from the inside the cone area of the moderator as you don't want to scratch the surface of the barrel any further. If it is rough inside the cone, remove this by gently working some fine wet and dry paper, wrapped around a small file, in careful circular motions. Remove any debri by gently tapping the end of the cone and finally, check visually that the debri has been removed. DON'T HOLD IT UPRIGHT LIKE A TELESCOPE TO CHECK THIS OR METAL PARTICALS MAY GET INTO YOUR EYE!All back together and no bits left over, honest!Lightning fitted with a Nikko Stirling 3-9 x 40AO Mountmaster scope.
Normally I would degrease the dovetail rails before fitting a scope to help provide extra grip, especially on springers, but as the Lightning has an adjustable stop screw at the end of the scope rail, this was not neccessary. If fitting two piece scope mounts on springers, always fit the mounts as far apart as possible as this helps combat any movement of the scope/mounts. Remember, not all springers are as smooth as Air Arms TX's and Prosports. B.S.A Supersports are just about as harsh as a springer gets and Lightnings are probably not that far behind. Time will tell of course.
That's it for now. Testing will commence after 50 pellets have been put through the rifle, as long as it doesn't diesel too much.Update 1, March 21st 2010, Running in
Just put 40 assorted pellets throught the Lightning and yes, it's not the smoothest springer I've shot, but a lot better than my Supersport. I've only been testing at about 8m, but even I've managed to get a few pellets through the same hole, so it can't be too bad! I have noticed that the front stock bolts are so long that they touch the barrel when it's closed! So I am now in search of a couple of small washers before a little more running in and chrono' testing.Update 2, March 25th 2010
After much searching around for a couple of suitable washers to reduce the length of the fore end stock bolts, without success, I made a couple of spacers by cutting down some windscreen washer tube. The spacers measure around 2mm in depth and shorten the reach of the fore end stock bolts sufficiantly to clear the barrel when it is closed. Also, as the tube that the spacers are made from is firm, but not quite solid, they may help to reduce the vibrations of the rifle a little.
Earlier this evening I managed to chrono' test the rifle using several brands/head sizes of pellets. All pellets were individually weighed and twenty warm up shots were taken before commencing the chrono' test.Chrono' Test 1, Webley Mosquito Express 4.52's, 7.9 grainShot no./fps
10, 792.Low = 792/11.006098ft.lb.
High = 803/11.313946ft.lb.
Diff' = 11/0.307848ft.lb.
Avr' = 798.5/11.187495ft.lb.Chrono' Test 2, JSB Exact 4.52's, 8.3 grainShot no./fps
10, 768.Low = 757/10.563936ft.lb.
High = 768/10.873177ft.lb.
Diff' = 11/0.309241ft.lb.
Avr' = 762/10.703947ft.lb.Chrono' Test 3, Air Arms Field 4.51's, 8.5 grainShot no./fps
10, 759.Low = 744/10.450107ft.lb.
High = 760/10.904407ft.lb.
Diff' = 16/0.4543ft.lb.
Avr' = 753.1/10.707304ft.lb.Chrono' Test 4, Air Arms Field 4.52's, 8.5 grainShot no./fps
10, 753.Low = 749/10.591037ft.lb.
High = 761/10.933121ft.lb.
Diff' = 12/0.342084ft.lb.
Avr' = 754.5/10.747151ft.lb.
The next chrono' test was supposed to be ten shots with Bisley Magnum pellets at 10.3 grain, but after only two shots I had three "bad" readings on the chrono', which I traced to the fact that the chrono's mount had a crack in it. The two readings I did get equated to 9.6 and 8.79ft.lbs, which proved the obvious, that 10.3 grain pellets are a tad too heavy for a sub' 12lb.ft springer.
Looking at the results, there isn't much between the Webley Mosquito's and the JSB Exact's on consistantcy, but on power the Mosquito's win by around 0.4ft.lb on average, so I will be sticking with the Mosquito's in the Lightning. However, the main reason for sticking with the Mosquitoes is not due to the power attained whilst using these. The Lightning, having a short action and short barrel, means that, especially in .177", a stiffer spring is fitted, which in turn means that the rifle is quite harsh. During the above chrono' tests it was noticed that the heavier the pellet the more harsh the rifle seemed to get, but with the Mosquito's there seemed to be quite an improvement over the other pellets that were tested. I may try Falcon A.P pellets to see if they make more of an improvement in the operation of the rifle over the Mosquito's, but the grouping of the Falcon pellets at 40 yards is quite erratic, so may not be suitable.
I will adjust the trigger to make it a little lighter shortly, but overall I am quite pleased with the performance of the Lightning. I was expecting it to be a little harsh, but it's a fair bit better than my Supersport, which has virtually the same action except for a longer barrel and no Maxigrip scope rail.
All being well I may get chance to go round Furnace Mill with the rifle this Sunday, if the weather improves.Shots up to;-
20/03/10 = 10 shots (Falcon A.P).
21/03/10 = 50 shots (Assorted).
22/03/10 = 75 shots (Air Arms Field 4.51's).
25/03/10 = 140 shots (Assorted, see update 2).April 2010;- rifle sold.