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Bsa Lightening Xl Improving Accuracy & Performance

Discussion in 'Technical' started by DFisherman, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    Hi guys, looking for some advice on getting the best out of my .22 BSA Lightening XL - and before you say it I know what you're thinking, but getting the best out of it doesn't include using it as a fire poker/mallet/door stop/ornamental wall hanger etc, just trying to make the most of a bad situation... :facepalm: haha!

    It was bought new 10+ years ago (don't quite remember when!) and was an ideal little starter gun for me to learn with as a young lad and more than accurate for anything I needed it to do back then.
    Having left the gun unused with my parents for a number of years I finally got round to getting myself licensed to bring it to my new home in Northern Ireland and have found it hopelessly and wildly inaccurate.
    It has not been serviced or pulled apart in any way from new so I imagine this is to be expected, but now I'm just looking for advice on what my best options are?

    Having done a bit of reading through the forum I'd be interested in putting a gas ram in.

    With it now being licensed in NI I'm not concerned about staying below the 12ft/lbs threshold, nor am I actively seeking to take it above (though if you guys think it can take the extra juice I wouldn't mind flattening the trajectory with a bit more power - if it even works that way!? :confused:).

    Primarily though I just want to get the best performance out of this little gun and have a workable machine for taking rabbits and corvids out to sensible (25-35yds) ranges.

    Happy to try my hand at undertaking the work myself.

    Apologies for the essay, first post so be kind! :D


     
    hairyarms and That hurts like this.
  2. That hurts

    That hurts Barely Active

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    Welcome along ... first I'd do is strip it down for a complete degunk, polish and light relube. The newer XLs are truly horrible as you are aware, but yours hopefully is better ... personally wouldn't bother with a ram as it will make it far too harsh, so better off with a replacement spring if the old one is Donald Ducked.
     
  3. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    Thanks for the reply! I guess that's probably as good a place to start as any. Perhaps a bit of a newbie question but how will I know if a new spring is called for?
    In terms of rams being too harsh, does that just make the gun less pleasant to shoot or would it actually make the gun less accurate?
     
  4. Simonsays

    Simonsays Donator

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I'm not sure how good these rifles can be; my own was, in retrospect, not very good at all. If you want to persist with the Lightning I would suggest:

    Trying a range of different pellets of reputable quality. Air arms diablos or express would be a good starting point and see if there is a preference for a certain pellet in terms of accuracy. Start close and work back in distance if you get something that is consistent.

    Next is to check the muzzle energy with a chrono to see if its up to scratch and consistent. Note that different pellets perform differently so try a selection. The best pellet is not the most efficient but the most consistent in terms of accuracy.

    If power is low it will need a spring or more preload depending on the "shortfall". It'll work best at modest levels around 10ftlbs I would suggest.

    From there you could carry out a strip, clean and rebuild. The trigger may be worth attention too. If you want to spend money (probably not worth it) get a drop in kit to smooth things out

    I'd forget the gas ram idea, if it doesn't work with a spring it wont work with a gas ram either in my view. It wont significantly improve accuracy at all I suspect.

    Or just side step all this, sell it or put it to one side and get a better platform to build upon. This is what I did with my Lightning.
     
  5. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    Thanks for the input, thinking I may be fighting a lost cause with this one then. As you suggest, think I'll start off by just giving it a bit of TLC but once it starts asking for a few pennies I may start thinking a bit more seriously about what I can sell it for and what its replacement may be...
     
  6. PumpnGun

    PumpnGun Donator

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    Good choice ;)

    Ray
     
  7. hughwp

    hughwp Busy Member

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    I had a supersport (same rifle with sights) with a Vmach kit fitted and it was really good think the kits are about £80
     
  8. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    Ooh, that sounds more promising! Thanks Hugh, there may be hope for it yet!
     
  9. robs5230

    robs5230 Oversprung

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    I briefly had a lightning some years ago. I'd start by emailing BSA and ask where it was made. The brummie made ones are better quality. V-Mach do supply kits but only for the older ones (brummie made).
    The lighting barrels are known to have issues. I'd get a suitable rod and push a pellet through the barrel from breech to muzzle. Hopefully you won't have a succession of loose and tight spots. It should be even pressure all the way through with the exception of the breech when you chamber the pellet and the muzzle where there may be some choke. If there are any noticeable tight spots or the muzzle is noticeably tight I'd be thinking of getting someone to have a go at accurising the barrel. Big Al on here may be able to help you.
    If / once all is good with the barrel, a simple strip, clean, relube and the installation of a new spring and delrin kit should make the rifle a whole lot nicer to shoot.
    Kits are available from a variety of sources:
    TBT
    V-Mach (only the british made ones)
    Welsh Willy (Woodfield gun care)

    You'l need to have the ability to be able to cut and refinish a spring and check power with a chrono. Its a tricky job getting the power where you need it and utilising all the energy from the spring and may need several cuts and refinishes. Best in my mind at around 11 ft/lbs. Any higher than that and it will be harsh.

    The gas ram ain't the way to go. It will make what is a snappy little rifle rather harsher.
     
    DFisherman likes this.
  10. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    Thank you so much Rob, that’s exactly what I was looking for. Seems like some pretty sound advice and I’ll definitely be following up on that!

    I must say, I’m really pleased I joined this forum. Of all the forums I’ve been a member of for my various different hobbies this has definitely been the most welcoming, positive and well informed experience I’ve had, with people genuinely interested in helping others get the best experience with their sport!

    Thanks all for the great input. It’s much appreciated!
     
    That hurts, PumpnGun and robs5230 like this.
  11. robs5230

    robs5230 Oversprung

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    Stripping the lightning is a simple job but you'll need to make a little tool to take the pressure off the mainspring. I used part of a broom handle with a slot cut into it. The scope rail has to be removed. After removing the screws the rail needs to be tapped (forward I think) to unseat the lugs that hold it (only about 10mm ish). You can't get the piston out without taking the rail off. Don't hit the rail directly with a hammer / punch as its alloy. Use a block of wood.
    Search on here or google BSA LIGHTNING STRIPDOWN for a guide.

    As for pellet choice - I'd set power for JSB RS. They are light and make good power and fly quickly. Set at 11 for RS you should need less spring energy to make power so it should shoot a whole lot softer.
     
  12. telephonepete

    telephonepete Donator

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    i,d wait for your birthday. have a word with your wife if you are married. take the gun to a gunshop and part ex it for a second hand weihrauch. start with a good gun and go on from there. sorry but if you are getting interested in getting into shooting its probably the best and cheapest option. my brother has a lighting and when i shoot it next to my weihrauch,s its frankly a joke.
     
    PumpnGun likes this.
  13. robs5230

    robs5230 Oversprung

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    Personally I think the lightning is at least worth a shot at sorting. When I had mine, I was in a different position financially to what I am now at at that time it was my only rifle. I couldn't justify having it in bits for an extended period.

    If I came across one now at the right price I'd be all over it as a project. I'd bank on this one being brummie made.

    not many rifles (excepting the Feman) put up like the lightning. Weight is negligible and balance is great. For the sake of a little time and a drop in kit, I reckon the lightning can be made good. Limited in the trigger department but I've shot worse.
    Spring length will be the key. Not having any more preload than needed.

    If the barrel was no good, a replacement can be had from the meteor / supersport range and earlier barrels are of better quality.

    Maybe I just like to tinker ;)
     
    DFisherman and sidney like this.
  14. That hurts

    That hurts Barely Active

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    The 'S' prefix suggests that it is a rifle made under Gamo (see http://www.airgunspares.com/store/content/87/BSA/). It would certainly be worth giving this one the time of day by giving it a thorough clean/polish/relube and then putting over a chrono to see what the power output is like ... if it turns out to be a bit of a turd, it's still a good basis for the OP to tinker with and gain experience in springer operation and internals.
     
    DFisherman and sidney like this.
  15. robs5230

    robs5230 Oversprung

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    Do you know what, I'm not sure about this one being spanish. When I had mine I emailed BSA direct. The info on that link isn't that reliable. Thats a pretty early stock. If I were the op I'd email BSA for sure. Only a couple of days before they'll reply and confirm.
     
  16. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    Emailed BSA this morning, will let you all know the outcome!

    The more I consider it the more I’m realising that the reason I’m following this up isn’t because I particularly need or want to do any air rifle shooting, I already do plenty of other shooting, it’s the fact that I already have this rifle, it frustrates me that the accuracy has declined so significantly from how it used to be back in the day, it was my first gun and the one I learnt to shoot with and so with all that I guess I just want to give the gun a bit of something back and hopefully finish up with a respectable hunting tool at the end of it.

    In that sense I’m not really in a massive rush and will probably be quite content to spend a bit of money getting it right, even if I could get a ‘better’ gun for not much more than I will end up spending.

    Definitely going to follow Robs advice and will do my best to let you all know how my springer tinkering cherry popping goes! I do have a feeling though that this may be the start of a very bad habit... I can already feel all of your cold sharp claws dragging me into the dark world of tinkering!
     
    That hurts and PumpnGun like this.
  17. robs5230

    robs5230 Oversprung

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    When you do strip this, make sure everything is scrupulously clean. Degrease the cylinder and compression chamber (brake cleaner / carb cleaner should be fine). If any undue wear or damage to piston seal, I'd replace that too. I'd also degrease the trigger unit. Relube the trigger unit with light oil sparingly. A few drops around the sears will be enough.
    As for lubing the guides / spring, if you fit delrin guide and top hat, only a smear on the guide and top hat should be needed. If there's room i'd also fit a ptfe piston sleeve.
    Make sure on assembly that no lube gets forward of the piston seal or you'll get dieselling (combustion of lube).
    Keep us informed
     
    DFisherman likes this.
  18. DFisherman

    DFisherman Member

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    I've read about people polishing the sears etc on lightnings, is this worth doing? Are there any other upgrades/mods you think would be worth looking into whilst I'm in there? I just want to get home and get stuck into it now! I'm excited at the prospect of how it's going to turn out and I've not even pulled it out the cabinet yet. This is going to be a long few hours at work daydreaming about guns!

    Perhaps jumping ahead of myself a little and going off topic but what scopes and mounts would you suggest to pair with this gun once it's up and running? I'm thinking something along the lines of the Hawke Vantage 3-9x50 or similarly priced (<£100). I'm a fan of the hawke range and use them regularly on both rimfires and centrefires.
     
  19. TORNADOS7

    TORNADOS7 Top Poster

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    Good little rifles if you're capable of extracting the best from them which is very difficult with these rifles, very snappy, H&N Ftt's worked best through mine but it took several hundred pellet through it before it come good...

    What I found was that the scope took a bit of a beating and consequently struggled to hold a zero until I fitted a 'Dampa-mount' which softened the blow enough to help the scope maintain a zero...

    Sorry I can't offer anymore advice but I got rid of mine in favour of a PCP...
     
  20. TORNADOS7

    TORNADOS7 Top Poster

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    Ps, what the rifle lacks is weight !...
     

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