BSA Scorpion (Late Variant) (1985 to 1992)

Finally! A superb example of the BSA Scorpion to add to the collection! This is the later model in .22 and is complete with the case, all the paperwork and accessories.

The BSA Scorpion was first introduced in 1973 although according to the Encyclopedia of Spring Air Pistols, full-scale production did not start until 1977. Controversially, some early .22 models were recalled as it was discovered that they were producing more power than the UK  6ft/lb legal limit for air pistols.

BSA Scorpion Patent Drawing

The pistol was available in both .177 and .22 calibres whilst some early pistols had smoothbore barrels. The serial number was prefixed with PA for .177 calibre pistols and RA for .22 pistols. Following the recall, .22 calibre pistols were given the prefix RB. Both the barrel and chamber are steel whilst the combined grip and frame is made from black plastic with the BSA logo embossed on the base of the grip. 

In about 1985, the later variant was produced which had a dovetail rail machined into the top of the chamber. Production ceased in 1992.

BSA Patented Automatic Trigger Safety Design

The patented safety catch, British Patent 1,423,153, is automatically applied each time the pistol is cocked. Cocking is quite difficult hence a plastic cocking aid was supplied with the pistol by the manufacturer. In the box was supplied a tube of pellets, BSA gun oil in a tube, a set of BSA target cards and a BSA target holder. A removable front sight shroud is also supplied in the box.

At 1.5kg / 3.3lbs, the pistol is quite a heavy beast. Combined with a length of 40cm / 16″ it must have taken some effort to shoot accurately. Although the trigger is very crisp, I was only able to achieve rested groups of 2 inches! Mind you, the pellets landed mainly in a vertical line and I can expect that with some practice it would be possible to reduce the group size to something more respectable.

Running the pistol over a chronograph explains why the vertical point of impact was so variable. On average, the power was consistent at just under 3.5 ft/lbs. However, there was the odd significant rise and drop in power of about 1 ft/lb. That’s a 30% increase or drop in power! Perhaps a service is in order.

It would seem that air pistols were never BSA’s forte. They only produced two air pistols, the Scorpion and the Magnum. Whilst BSA designed some other pistols and went to the expense of raising patents for them, they were never manufactured for general sale. It has been mentioned to me by a reputable source that BSA had tried to become the UK distributor for Hy-Score air pistols. For some reason that was never to be.

To sign off, the Scorpion has a small claim to fame by appearing in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy as a tranquilliser gun used by Octopussy and her agents.

Until next time, happy shooting!

Jimmie Dee

14 thoughts on “BSA Scorpion (Late Variant) (1985 to 1992)

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  1. Hi I have to ask. I would like my bsa scorpion 22 cal pistol serviced. Is this something you would consider. Figure one good service every 45 years if it needs it or not. Cheers Paul

  2. Hello mate can you help me out with my Webley and Scott xocet Birmingham .22 air rifle please I’ve been trying to find a strip down and rebuild guide I’ve been on chambers but it is not clear enough. Also can you recommend a pump up pellet pistol because I’m looking to buy one (Webley hurricane/senior) or something similar thanks mate.?

    1. I can’t help you with the rifle as I’ve never had one myself. The two pistols you mention are not pump ups. They springers. If you want a pump up, Crosman do one or there’s the vintage Benjamins that aren’t so easy to find.

  3. Just been through your site, very informative, i would like to add though that i was given one of these by my brother in the 70’s, second hand which i still have and it has the rails for scope machined in the top of the cylinder.

  4. Hello Ian. This is very interesting to hear and has caused me to revisit my sources. I have to admit that there is some contradictory information on the matter of MKI and MKII variants. John Knibbs’ book “The Golden Century” states that .177 models were manufactured from 1979-1994. That’s quite some years since the .22 start of manufacture in 1972 also indicated in his book. On the Vintage Airgun Forum, there is an example of a .177 Scorpion without scope rails, serial number PA 151. This would contradict the information that MKI pistols would be early variants. Could you tell me what the serial number and prefix code of your Scorpion is please?

    1. Hello Jimmie, yes it is RB14243 .22 A little bit of history, my brother gave me this i think in 1977-1978 I know it was about this date as he got married in 79 and it was before that he gave me it and he died in 1980 so there is no way it was after that. Hope this helps.

  5. Hi Jimmy,
    I bought my Scorpion on 29/7/76.
    Rifled barrel, .22 and scope rails. S/n RB20621.
    Just about to strip and service for its first time.

  6. Está mañana le he hecho el mantenimiento a una Scorpion que he heredado de mi padre,y acabo de ver que tiene un tutorial muy interesante,yo me he encontrado la arandela amortiguador de la cabeza del pistón echa tierra y la he sustituido por una de goma y estoy a la espera de la junta de cierre del cañón que estaba …..bueno mejor dicho ya casi no estaba,un saludo.

  7. thanks Jimmie, i’ll use your service instructions to rejuvenate my.177 I had this new since late 80s still with the same as you have pictured, think that the piston shock washer is crumbling as you described. many thanks Martyn.

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