BSF 55N – Part 1

by Tom Gaylord

RETRACTION
I made a mistake in Friday’s report that must be corrected. I reported that I got an FWB 124 up to 960 f.p.s. with a modern tune, and the truth is, the number should have been 860 f.p.s. A reader named Lance caught it and told me he found where I had reported it in The Airgun Letter. Sure enough, in the November 1997 issue, I did a large report on several different tunes for the 124. The winner was a seal and mainspring from Jim Maccari that produced an average of 861 f.p.s. with Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers. In fact, the rifle I tuned from ARH was also mentioned in that report. It averaged 871 f.p.s. after the tune, but because that wasn’t part of the overall test, I didn’t report that velocity.

I’m sorry for any confusion this mistake may have caused.

Friday’s post about accurization was a set-up for today. You may recall the estate sale I directed you to last week. One of the guns was a Whisco 55N, which I bought. Today, I’ll tell you more about it.

BSF
Herman Wilsker founded the Wischo company, a German exporter of various airguns. Like RWS, Wischo never made anything. They simply put their name on various airguns that were then exported around the world. The company that actually made the rifle we’re looking at today was Bayerische Sportwaffenfabrik (Bavarian sporting arms manufacturer) or BSF.

Under my nose
I’m especially interested in BSF because their plant was located in Erlangen, Germany, a neighboring town of Nuremberg. I lived there for four years in the 1970s while stationed with the First Armored Division. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of adult air rifles until fairly late in my tour, when I purchased a Diana model 10 target pistol. Even then my focus was on the Beeman company, and I just couldn’t wait to get back to California so I could drive up the peninsula and visit their store in Santa Rosa. All the while I lived within a few miles of one of Germany’s most significant airgun manufacturers. Such is life!

I bought a Beeman
When I returned from Germany in 1978, I got catalogs from both Beeman and eventually from Air Rifle Headquarters. ARH was focused on four major models – the HW35, Diana 45, BSF 55/70 and the Feinwerkbau 124. In 1978, these were the four air rifles that could top 800 f.p.s. with a lighweight .177 pellet. I bought a 124 from the Beeman store and got back into airgunning in a big way.

Why we buy
The FWB was the most modern of the four. The HW 35 was the largest and had the best trigger. The Diana 45 was potentially the most powerful, though it was virtually tied with the smallest and lightest of the four – the BSF 55. I probably wouldn’t have bought a 55, because Robert Beeman was really stressing the FWB 124, and I wanted to own the fairest in the land. Anyone who has frozen on guard duty or been on manuvers for months at a time knows the sort of promises people make to themselves, “When I get back.”

Years passed, I sold the 124 and nothing more happened. Then my wife suggested I write an airgun newsletter and everything airgun increased in interest. At the Baldwinsville airgun show (in 1998…I think), I bought a BSF 55 and tried to incorporate it into my collection. It was small, lightweight and completely the opposite of the guns I was testing every day, which were powerful spring guns and PCPs. Before long, I said goodbye to it.

The lights came on
About four years ago, however, I had an epiphany at the Roanoke airgun show. Up to that point I had been exposed to exotic airguns of all kinds with no end in sight. Want a genuine Austrian Girandoni? I saw one sell for $3500 at that show. Want a supergrade Sheridan? $400 bought a nice early one. Do you like the S&W 78G – the early one with the adjustable trigger? How many do you want? A guy had about 25 – all new in the box. Want a 1924 Crosman pump gun. I could have bought 15 from the Crosman house-cleaning sale. Do you see what I’m saying?

Well, at this particular Roanoke show I didn’t see as many of the good old juicy guns. A lot of new stuff, but not so much of the old. Then I turned around and supergrade Sheridans were suddenly bringing $1500 and a Girandoni may now fetch $80,000! Apparently there was a very large boat that I had somehow missed. I was standing on the dock waving goodbye to the people on board, and then they were gone.

This past January, I saw the Hart estate auction online and another chance to buy a vintage BSF 55N. The N stands for Nussbaum – the German word for walnut. And this particular one had originally been sold by ARH. I bought it without blinking – something I have learned to do as the result of missing lots of boats.

Who’s your grandfather?
The 55N is a real carbine-sized breakbarrel rifle. It’s only 40.5″ long and weighs just 6.5 lbs. It’s even shorter than the Diana 27 and just about the same weight. Hold them next to each other, and you’ll quickly see that the 55N is larger and beefier. It cocks with just 26 lbs. of force – practically nothing for what was at one time one of the two most powerful spring rifles around! And, the BSF 55 is the grandfather of the Beeman R9!

The begats
You heard me right. All those airgunners who say they don’t like old airguns would do well to study a few of them, because some of the old guns led the way to the guns they revere today. The BSF 55 is the older brother of the BSF S70. Same action in a nicer, larger stock. When Weihrauch purchased BSF in the late 1980s, they took the S70 and married it to their Rekord trigger, producing what was sold in the U.S. as the Marksman 55 and the Marksman 70. Weihrauch then went a little further and turned the model 70 into the Beeman R10. Oh, oh – maybe they went too far!

And the winner is…
It was decided that the R10 was “too expensive to produce” (and was actually capable of the same power as the much larger, heavier and more expensive R1), so it was redesigned into the R9. From BSF 55/70 to the R10 to the R9. At its heart is a powerplant much smaller and lighter but still capable of the same power as the R1 Supermagnum, to use its full model name.

Are you intrigued? I know I am. Can’t wait for part 2, when we’ll take a closer look at the rifle!

27 Responses to “BSF 55N – Part 1”

  • Anonymous Says:

    I’m not sure exactly what went wrong, but my question about the Big Cat’s scope stop features did not go to the “Accurized” posting. Can you give the link where you posted your answers? It appeared that my question went to your last comment post for some reason.

    14 in Fla

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB – If I have a new airgun in the box that I want to keep unused for up to 10 years in hopes of then selling it, is there anything that should be done to keep it in tip-top condition? The airgun in question is an IZH 514K; I bought three of them when I heard that they were going to be discontinued due to liability issues. I understand I’ll be lucky if it keeps its value, but I’m curious about the issue in general. Thanks.
    Airdog

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    14 in Fla,

    Your comment DID get posted, but something strange is happening in the blog today. Quit your browser, dump your cache and history and then look again. It’s there.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Airdog,

    If you only want to keep it for 10-20 years, just keep it cool and dry. By cool I mean in a place under 90 degrees F.

    You might rub down the outside with a silicone-impregnated cloth. Whatever you do, DO NOT USE WD-40! It will yellow into a varnish that’s very hard to remove.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for retraction on the 124! I recently got mine tuned after 22 years, and was only getting 850, or so.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB, the number “55″ turns up a lot in airgunning, especially in the old 10 meterrifles. Is there any special reason for this number to be so common?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ah! A numerologist!

    Well, there was also a 25, 35, 45 and 55 at one time.

    The HW 55 is not at all like the BSF 55.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB, I have a FWB 124 that was my dad’s. It’s in .177 and seems to shoot well. I just bought a Chrono. so I’ll see what it’s doing this summer, too cold now!

    Would you recommend a tune, or just shoot it as is?

    Also, any suggestions on who to send it to?

    Thanks

    Mike

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Mike start as it is. If it shoots Premier lites at 800 you’re okay. But if it’s down below 750, maybe it’s time for a tune.

    B.B.

  • Henry Says:

    BB,

    I am not interested in old airguns. Being a “stage 4″ airgunner (referring back to the 5 stages). I don’t really think I’m in any stage. I am a hunter above all, the airguns i buy reflect that interest. the best way to kill something is to hit it, and thats were accuracy comes in. I was certainly never in any of the stages before (did not ever buy for caliber, velocity, etc.). Just went to what i wanted and stayed

  • CyberSkin Says:

    Henry,
    Thanks for siring up my interest in flashlight , knife sharpeners , and for letting me know that Theoben has nicely engineered mounts.

    BB,
    When you were in Germany did you get AAFES catalogs, and do you remember if air rifles were present.

    How much would a BSF 55 cost back then and do you think that you could have toured the factory.

  • Steve Says:

    HEY, B.B.!!!! I beat out Lance by 1:40 on the velocity gaffe; Derrick was 0:04 before Lance. We both want cookies.

    Mike – If you have an 80′s vintage 124 that has never been rebuilt – the piston seal is very likely to be bad, or go there soon. Keep a close eye on the chrony, lest you pound your classic apart with an unsealed compression chamber.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I have a BSF 60 that I bought about 30 years ago. In my youthful enthusiasm I overlubed the trigger. That lube has now congealed and what was a quality unit is now really stiff. How do you suggest I clean out the old gunk and re-lube.

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B. and all,

    Where do you sell off your airguns so quickly? Is it all done at gun shows, online? I buy airguns with a view to keeping them forever which does change the criteria a bit.

    Okay folks, I believe I have advanced the silencing technology with my latest creation designed for indoor shooting in my ultra-quiet townhouse complex. The main piece is a cardboard moving carton about 2 feet or so on a side with the flaps opened top and bottom. The shape is retained by taping smaller boxes inside to retain the right angles and the inside walls are covered with sweatpants and pillows fastened with tape. I then close the flaps to allow just enough space to shoot, and fire with the muzzle inside the box. With this set-up, the IZH 61 cannot be heard at all through a (cheap) closed door and standing outside a window, one hears only a very faint pop from the B30.

    I’m shooting into a Crosman 850 trap that’s just about filled with duct seal. The trap is backed and surrounded by 2 feet of futons and every surface nearby that could possibly be hit is covered with about 10 layers of cardboard. I piled a bunch of empty cardboard boxes against the walls as extra baffling but don’t think they do much since they didn’t mask the sound from earlier, unsuccessful prototypes of my silencer. The decor leaves something to be desired, but this is a total sniper hide. My neighbors don’t have a clue!

    On the subject of the B30, whatever else you say about it, you can’t claim it’s inconsistent. My replacement has sights that are out of alignment in exactly the same way as the first one. The elevation is too low and the gun shoots way to the right with maximum left windage. Otherwise, it’s a great-looking gun that appears to be very accurate and has only a faint buzz on firing, and the ergonomics with a scope are first rate. The alignment problems are so annoying, but the many strengths of the gun are motivating me to pursue this. I have the PA techs researching what is going on and will consult Charliedatuna when he gets back online. Confidence remains high that this will be worthwhile in the end.

    Matt61

  • Henry Says:

    BB,

    I am shamed. I shoot my airwolf all the time, got it tuned to perfection. I was shooting paintballs at 50 yards. I get them every time off the bench. Here comes the shameful part… so can a nine year old! I set up a few clays at 50 yards and he hit them every time so i told him to shoot a paintball. SPLAT – he did it, first shot! He was successful half the time after that. I suppose its not that hard but i was still shocked. I know it was 50 yards, i ranged it.

    As I said before, how is it impressive, i just sit back and watch the gun go. He did fire off a few shots into space because the triggers so light! All his friends are stuck with the daisy (probably a good thing for the neighborhood cats). Still cant get him to eat meat!

  • Dr. G. Says:

    Matt61,
    Your posts are always interesting and relevant to airgunning, and their continued advances in sophistication reflects your rapidly growing knowledge of the sport. Further, you can spell. So, I feel badly that you have to go to so much trouble to silence your airguns, as you are clearly highly motivated and yet limited by your environment. I am writing to suggest that you might consider using the internet and telephone to find some of the helpful people who can custom fabricate a proper moderator for your guns. They are out there, and I have found each of them [I have dealt with 3, because each of them has some limitations in what guns they will work on)to be honest and helpful sorts. A big part of what attracts me to air guns is their quietness, and so I can identify with your attempts at silence. However, I find that most of the more powerful guns (e.g., Shinsung 9mm) are actually way too loud for my taste without proper moderation. I know that there are some hazards involved, but it is my understanding that more people have landed on the moon than have gotten in serious trouble for owning airgun moderators. Good luck. Perseverance furthers. – Dr. G.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB

    i would really like your honest opinion here. I am looking for a scope for target shooting at ranges from 50M to 200M. The rifle is a .22-250 and i have a choice
    1. do i buy a high mag scope (X40 or even X50) that is inexpensive (Nikon for example)
    2. Do i buy an expensive scope (Leupold for example) that has a lower mag (X20 max)

    Unfortunately i cannot combine the best of both worlds and buy a X40 Leupold as they dont make one!!! Nor it seems to the other top manugacturers.

    Please assume the cost is not at all important. I am trying to see if a better scope is a better prospect ever with much lower mag?
    Just to make mu choice more difficult, the rifle had a SS barrel so i need to source a silver scope :(

    Paul

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Paul,

    200 meters is not very far. A 20-power scope will be fine for that distance, when shooting a .22-250. I used to shoot that caliber and I only had a 10-power scope. My rifles was accurate enough that I could hit hovering bumblebees at 100 yards, and the scope was powerful enough to see them..

    Airgunners use more powerful scopes than firearms shooters – not to shoot farther but to see small details better. That’s how they determine range, by adjusting the parallax ring until the view is clear, The smaller the details they can see, the more accurately they can adjust the ring. Their need for power has little to do with real distance.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    CyberSkin,

    I can’t remember seeing an AFEES catalog.

    A BSF 55N cost about $89, back in the mid-1970s. That was in the U.S. In Germany it would have cost more.

    I always wondered whether I could have visited the factory. Probably, because I had good local contacts back then.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Steve,

    You were first, but you didn’t tell me where to look to correct my faulty memory. If Lance hadn’t made that suggestion I would still think 960 was the right velocity. I get hard-headed when my memory slips a cog.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi dr. g. Thanks for your suggestions. I have plenty of motivation and took some satisfaction in my cardboard creation, but I didn’t detail the hassles which include a restricted view of the target, restriction to standing, and the difficulty of moving the set-up.

    I haven’t looked into a custom silencer because of (as you might guess) the cost and legal worries, but I will consider it. Thanks.

    Matt61

  • Henry Says:

    Matt61,

    Why do you want to silence a spring gun? I would tune it. That will make it silent. The noise comes from the slam of the main spring, not the rapid change in pressure (there isn’t one in a spring gun). A pneumatic gun benefits tremendously from a silencer because they do have a sudden change in pressure. In a spring gun the pellet my very well be slowing down by the time its at the end of the barrel. Then again, i don’t know anything you don’t.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Henry and Matt61,

    Henry has given some very good advice. Tune the gun before silencing it.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB, Hope I’m on the current page now. I meant the RWS Dianna schutze model, and no that wasn’t a crack on Germans. I’m sure they’re all quality guns. I read one of your blogs about useing “speed grease” (or somethimng like that) to quiet the spring some. Would you explain this again, and tell me how or where to have this done? Thanks, Thomas

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Thomas,

    No, this isn’t the current blog page. The date at the top of this blog is March 3rd and today is the 20th.

    Go here

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog

    You said the Diana (one N in the name) model 34 before. The Schutze is a new release of the model 24 and it is a youth model. It will fit your girlfriend but she may find it hard to cock. It probably won’t be available for a few weeks.

    I have talked about Mainspring Dampening Compound and Velocity Tar, both of which reduce spring vibration. The gun must be disassembled to apply the compound. It’s a difficult and dangerous job for a beginner, so you may want to have someone do it for you. You might send your rifle to this place:

    http://www.charliedatuna.com/

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    i just picked up a BSF 35 i know dates back to the fifties . still strong stock is cracked however. it says Bavaria and the number 35 also the word sile on top of stock above trigger.it also says made in Germany west pretty unique. any comments on it thanks

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    For more information about your BSF 35 you might want to try the Vintage Airguns Forum:

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/405945/

    BSF guns are not well-known in the United States and yours might have been brought back from Europe by a returning serviceman.

    B.B.

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