by Tom Gaylord
Today, we’ll take our third look at the BSF 55N. You know there was one on the American Airguns web site for sale last week, so these things are still available.
A couple readers asked specific questions about the gun, so I’d like to address those first.
Does the 55N have an articulated cocking link? Yes, it does. Articulated links aren’t discussed much these days but in the heyday of this rifle they were among the most important features. Because all spring guns buzz, makers used to try to keep the cocking slot in the forearm as short as possible to prevent the stock from vibrating. An articulated cocking slot lets the breaking barrel push the piston back without needing a long, straight link in between. That allows for a much shorter cocking slot in the stock, which dampens vibration. It also allows a sling to be attached to the underside of the forearm.
Is the scope base on the 55N similar to the one on all RWS Diana rifles today? Again, the answer is yes. The BSF had the same problem of excessive barrel droop as the Diana breakbarrels still have today. You see, in the era when these guns were designed, scope use wasn’t considered. That base is really there to accept a peep sight – not a scope. The ARH catalog states that 82 percent of the rifles will not be suitable for scope mounting! That wouldn’t fly today, so the retail side of the industry has turned inside-out making accommodations for Diana rifles that have never been redesigned to accept scopes. In a month or two, I’ll have a new scope base for RWS Diana guns that will solve all these problems, but it’s taken more than half a century for the solution to be found!
BSF, however, did do one thing that Diana has yet to do. They included a scope stop (actually a peep sight stop) in their base. A tiny Allen screw can be raised on the left rear side of the base dovetail, so the rear of the scope ring has something to bear against. Mine is missing.
On to shooting
Since Air Rifle Headquarters used 25 feet as their test distance for the rifle, I used 10 meters, which is close to 33 feet. I shot the gun with Gamo Match, RWS Hobbys, H&N Finale Match and 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers.
The trigger is a delight to use, now that I’ve adjusted it for safety. The trigger has a positive two-stage pull with a light, crisp second stage. I couldn’t ask for more.
Open sights only
The sights, on the other hand, are seriously inadequate for precision shooting. They are a post-and-bead front and a rear u-shaped notch. The rear sight adjusts for elevation only, but the rifle seems to be right on horizontally. This kind of sight is made for plinking and for close-range hunting. It does not offer a precise sight picture. Unfortunately, when I tried to add both a peep and a scope, I found out I can’t. The sight base is loose on the gun, and I see now that it’s held on by a single screw that the former owner stripped out once. That’s why the rifle had to go back for maintenance. ARH installed a larger screw that now feels like it wants to strip out as well, so I left it alone and will not use the base.
Using the open sights, I got groups with little lateral dispersion, but I couldn’t control the vertical. The accuracy is there, but these sights don’t let it come out.
So, it’s a vintage gun
This is a vintage airgun and not an everyday shooter. The Gamo Whisper is as easy to cock, just as light, just as accurate and more powerful. With a GRT III trigger installed, the trigger is just as good, too. You wouldn’t commute to work every day in an MGTD, and neither would you make a BSF 55N your everyday air rifle. But, now and then, it’s nice to let the years roll back by shooting something a little simpler.