Slavia 634 Lux vs the BSA Meteor Mark 7
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- Last updated: 30/01/2017
The airgun market currently abounds with spring-powered airguns; with the humble break-barrel as popular as ever. It should come as no surprise, since the sheer simplicity of this age old design still has immense appeal.
Indeed, there’s surely no greater pleasure to be had than sitting down with a tin of pellets and an accurate break-barrel rifle, whiling away a few hours; and with this type of gun still accounting for a large slice of airgun sales, it’s little wonder that new models regularly surface. A word of caution here though. The current crop really is a mixed bag. OK; arguably, there’s never been such a choice before, but a fair number of the real bargain basement, entry level models can be instantly disregarded for being crude in the extreme.
With the astonishing rise of cheap imported goods, Chinese made air rifles now flood in by the container load each week. Some may carry incredibly low price tags, but the harsh reality is that I’ve yet to shoot one that could hold a decent group.
OK, they cater for low budgets, but believe me - the sheer lack of accuracy potential is just off-putting to the novice, and if finances are tight, then wait a little longer until the budget can stretch to something more worthwhile.
Having started an outdoor airgun club myself, a couple of years back, I regularly get asked to advise on rifle choice, and the two rifles on test here represent two examples of solidly made products offered to the newcomer, around the bare-minimum asking price of £150. There’s little out there these days, other than fun guns, worth looking at for less money, so let’s see how these two compare, and what they have to offer any prospective purchaser.
A British Classic Versus a Full Power East European
The BSA Meteor should need no introduction, being something of a national institution. Originally introduced in 1955, various versions have come and gone, but the basic configuration has remained remarkably similar.
We’re now on the Mk7 version, and frankly, the little Meteor has never looked so good! The classic BSA action is treated to a rather more detailed stock this time round, although let’s not get carried away - this rifle has always been about giving juniors a reliable package with which to start enjoying our sport.
Pitched against this latest version of a best-selling icon, is the Slavia 634 Lux, marketed by Edgar Brothers. This is a relative newcomer to the scene, but in my opinion has an awful lot to offer. Both rifles are similarly priced, yet the Slavia admittedly generates significantly more energy – around 11ft/lbs, as opposed to the Meteor’s 8.5ft/lbs. A bit of a mismatch? I don’t think so. Power really isn’t everything, and if these rifles are selected for juniors, with informal target practise at 30yds highly likely, then energy becomes an irrelevance, quite frankly.
The most striking visual difference between these two springers is their woodwork. As previously stated, BSA have certainly gone to town on this latest Meteor, fitting it out with an attractive beech stock, but extending the forend so that it almost wraps around the breech block. Extensive panels of chequering are applied to the sides of the pistol grip and forend, adding detail and aiding grip; although the shallow patterns suggest they’re pressed rather than cut. A standard sporter shape is on offer, with a gently defined cheek-piece, raked pistol-grip, and a chunky looking, ventilated rubber butt pad - all sealed off in an attractive thick lacquer.
The Slavia 634 offers real contrast here, with an unusual, yet appealing, semi-match stock. A deep tapered forend leaves the breech block exposed, but carries deep, full-length finger grooves, which are a real bonus in the aim. Add to this more of a drop down grip, and a deep box section forward of the trigger, and the handling starts to impress. The Slavia would have this section sewn up against the Meteor, but for the complete lack of cheek-piece, and that woefully frugal hard plastic excuse for a butt pad. Whilst there may not be much kick to contend with, the comfort of soft rubber is a pleasure us sad individuals take for granted. The smooth plastic strip slides around the shoulder too, so it’s irritating which ever way you look at it.
Action wise, the BSA takes a fairly straight forward approach, although one point of interest is the barrel recess around the breech. This sees the barrel itself sit into a groove as it locks up, thereby helping to keep everything solid and central when the breech is closed. Bear in mind that a sloppy breech lock-up can be the Achilles heel of any break-barrel design, and these sort of features make sense.
CZ, the Czechoslavakian manufacturer behind the Slavia, are world renowned for the quality of their barrels among other things, and the model 634 shows attention to detail where it matters most. An adjustment screw sits at the breech, with an all important secondary locking screw, to keep everything perfectly tensioned. This means that if any wear was to have an affect, the jaws can be adjusted to compensate. As if this wasn’t enough, the breech is fitted with a barrel lock which has to be released via the front catch. It’s a superbly machined set-up, bar the triangular shaped catch itself, which, being plastic, rather lets the side down. The catch is merely pulled forwards allowing the barrel to be cocked in the normal way - locking again automatically, as the barrel is returned.
Both these rifles come complete with traditional iron sights - a rarity these days, but most fitting, since these rifles make ideal junior starters. OK, most rifles have a scope slapped on within minutes of saying goodbye to the box, yet spending some time with open sights can be a rewarding experience, and an invaluable lesson in basic marksmanship for newcomers.
To this end, the Meteor slightly outscores its rival, since fibre optics come as standard. If you’ve never looked down these sights, it’s an eye-opener. The principle is a good one. Small fibre optic rods make up both sides of the rear notch, and also the foresight blade. Their fluorescent nature means that a bright sight picture is maintained, making use of minimal ambient light.
The Slavia, goes for traditional open sights, but having said that, they are metal, robust, and in keeping with the rest of this rifle, precisely engineered.
One area where the Meteor outscores concerns the scope rails. Whereas BSA cut deep rails into the Meteor cylinder, the dovetails on the Slavia are woefully shallow. I finally found some mounts that would connect satisfactorily, but there’s no excuse for not cutting them deeper.
Trigger wise, the Slavia claws back some points, and whilst creep is evident, the final let off was predictable, if still a little too heavy. The Meteor unit was, to be honest fairly poor, being both stiff and creepy. To be fair though, in this price bracket, triggers are an area where manufacturers regularly cut corners, to keep costs down, so what we have here is fairly par for the course.
My first port of call was the chronograph, and after firing a series of clearing shots to settle the actions, a ten shot string was recorded with each. Using Daystate pellets, the BSA kept variation to a highly respectable 13fps, whilst the Slavia was close behind on 17fps.
On the range, the differences began to show though. Cocking the Meteor felt smooth and slick, with some crisp, reassuring noises from the action. The effort required was very manageable, yet the action was fairly twangy on firing. By comparison, the Slavia 634 required minimal effort to cock, and the action was surprisingly well mannered on firing.
Over the 25yd range, whilst the Meteor was respectable, with groups of around an inch, the Slavia was exceptional - regularly tearing ragged holes of four shots, only for me to pull the last - to form half inch clusters. The Slavia reminds me of the classic, and sadly missed, Feinwerkbau Sport 124. Its lightweight action really deserves a better trigger, but a tune-up may suffice. Then source a decent butt pad, and from then on, the only way is up!
The Meteor is a no-nonsense work horse, designed as a quality junior entry level, and with a civilized package, ticks the right boxes. With well over a million Meteors of one version or another have sold over the years - it’s certainly played a significant part in encouraging new recruits into our fold.
In short, both these rifles are solid performers that will still be going strong many years from now. Both would be ideal as junior rifles, whilst the Slavia would even be suitable for a novice, looking for an intro into hunting or HFT.
High 693fps | High 774fps
Low 680 | Low 757
Ave 688 | Ave 770
Vari 13fps | Vari 17fps
PRICE: £162 | £148