by B.B. Pelletier
When I was stationed in Germany from 1974 through 1977, I was primarily interested in clocks – both wall and tall case (grandfather/grandmother). My apartment was full of them! I had a favorite antique store in Fürth, a suberb of Nürnberg, where I bought most of them. One day, I spotted a strange air pistol in the store. It looked for all the world like someone had shortened a breakbarrel spring rifle and fashioned a wood pistol-grip stock for it. At the time, I was unaware that Erlangen, the city I was living in, was also the home of the Bayerische Sportwaffenfabrik (Bavarian Sporting Arms Manufacturer) or BSF. That pistol was a BSF S20.
In the middle of my tour, I purchased a Diana model 10 target pistol and became reacquainted with pellet guns. Robert Beeman’s Air Gun Digest was published in 1976, and I bought a copy in the Stars & Stripes bookstore at my Kaserne. Reading that book kindled a desire to obtain an FWB 124 breakbarrel spring rifle, which I did just as soon as I returned to San Jose, California.
It’s as if I had been living in Golconda for four years and suddenly became interested in diamonds after learning about Tiffany’s. What I could have done if only I had known then what I know today!
The BSF S20 is an acquired taste. It looks grotesque at first glance. Well, actually, it still looks grotesque to me, even today. It still resembles a youth model breakbarrel that was chopped and channeled into a “pistol” that only the inventor or his mother could love. To my eye, it looks oversized and unbalanced, but that goes away when I hold the gun in my hands. It feels lighter than it appears, and the balance is nearly perfect. That huge stock actually fits my average-sized hand quite well.
Another drawback to a breakbarrel air pistol is the large effort needed to cock the gun. Owners of Diana models 5, 6 and 10 pistols will know what I’m talking about. My Diana model 10 required 35 lbs. of effort to cock, which was very hard until I got used to it. This larger, rougher-looking BSF pistol must be even harder. Right? Not even close! The cocking is light and butter-smooth. A Mercedes among spring-piston pistols.
Watch that trigger
A real key to smoothness in a BSF spring gun is use. These guns wear in, not out, as the advertising from both Air Rifle Headquarters (the original one, not Jim Maccari’s website) and the Beeman company both touted. I mentioned that in the report I made about the BSF 55N several months ago. In that report, I mentioned that the trigger was set so light that it slipped when I shut the barrel the first time, putting a hole in the ceiling of my office. I adjusted it much harder, but it’s still only 38 oz. Advanced collector Don Raitzer tells me he thinks all BSF triggers are “twitchy,” as he puts it. I think they have to be watched closely, because they have a tendency to become more sensitive over time.
The trigger on my well-used pistol was breaking at about 8 oz. when I got it, so I immediately cranked it up to 18 oz., which is the MOST I can get out of it! That’s somewhat scary, following the hole in the ceiling, so I’m extremely careful where the muzzle points when the barrel is closed. The trigger adjustment screw is in the bottom of the grip, behind where the pistol is held. I accidently removed the adjusting screw and saw that it affects the amount of bite the sear takes, which is a dangerous kind of adjustment. On other airguns, this screw would be the one they warn you not to touch!
A completely unnecessary trigger shoe makes it all the easier to apply enough pressure to break the sear before you’re ready. I like the look and feel of this option, but given the light pull, plus the fact that it’s a single-stage trigger, means I have to be fully ready to fire before my finger touches it.
The sights are a strange post-and-bead front and a U-notch rear. They belong on a .22 rimfire rifle, not a target air pistol. The front sight is covered by a large steel hood, giving you a place to grab when cocking the pistol. The rear sight adjusts for both windage and elevation. The elevation is a somewhat mushy click detent system, while the windage is a sliding sheet metal notch with a jam screw to lock it. Sort of an IZH 46 meets a 1950 Crosman 106 arrangement.
It’s a big ‘un
The weight of 43.5 oz. feels surprisingly light, probably because of the gun’s size. This is no pocket pistol! At 15-3/4″ long, it rivals the other massive air pistols, such as the BSA Scorpion and the Diana model 5. The barrel and action sit very high in the hand, leading to a lot of wobble when held on target. Hence, this target pistol is anything but! It’s fine for informal targets, but they used that title to differentiate between this one with the adjustable sights and the plain old S20 that lacks them.
With all this criticism, you probably think I hate this pistol, but I don’t. It just has quirks, like its 55N rifle sibling. Many older airguns have similar quirks that have to be learned and watched. Because safety is involved, I would pay extra attention to the orientation of the muzzle every time you make the gun ready to fire.
46 thoughts on “BSF S20 Match – Part 1 Germany’s rifle-pistol”
Completely unrelated to this morning’s article…
I received the Daisy Model 25 that I won on gunbroker this morning, one that was advertised as being in ‘good working condition’. NEWS FLASH: If a BB gun DOES NOT HAVE A BARREL, IT CANNOT BE IN ‘GOOD WORKING CONDITION’!!!
I ran this concept by the seller… he apologized but offered no explanation for the nonsensical listing. He will take it back, but I suspect I’ll lose at least the return shipping charges.
I am really sorry for you. What a jerk, to have mislead you like that. One reason for not having a shot tube (what you call the barrel) is because you cannot really test the gun to see if it works. It may fire but still not be able to shoot a BB. But without the shot tube, there is no way of finding out.
When things like this happen you feel like it must have been partly your fault, and these predators are counting on that.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of fine Number 25s around, and I’m sure you will find a nice one.
Good morning B.B. Another unrelated couple of comments. Finally got weaver style rings from PA and mounted new scope on Diania 350 Magnum with your well designed base. Very solid, no more wandering scope or mount since everything is physically locked together. Gun was shooting 13.5″ high at 22 yards, should I have shimmed the scope somehow rather than used the elevation adjustment? Didn’t optically center the scope but it was new when I mounted it on a Benjamin Discovery.
Van says hello to you. What an interesting man to talk with. Ordered the TalonSS, 24″ barrel and the Condor bloop tube. Van said it’ll be quieter than the SS because his bloop tube has baffels. I’ll let you know. Again thank you B.B.
We are discovering that out of all Diana rifles, the 350 Magnum has very little scope droop. So Leapers is coming out with a new version of the base that will have much less droop.
I’m sorry if this causes you inconvenience, but you should still be able to lower your reticle by the adjustments and be on target with the base you have. You’ll never need to adjust down after that, so the base should work fine for you.
Keep me posted on this, please.
b.b., I’ve done some research and now wish to try pistol. I’m down to the Diana 5G and the Avanti (Daisy) 747. I have the 853C and am very pleased with it which leads me to slightly favour the 747. The Diana is twice the price…in your opinion is there any outstanding features that should sway me one way or the other?
For target shooting the 747 is best. For all other types of shooting, the 5G is best.
The 5G can also be used for target shooting, but the recoil makes it harder to do well with.
B.B.–SDcott298–a little off track here but my last batch of CPH in .177 have been difficult insertint into the barrell. They Go in about 90% of the way then they need a good push to get them in deep enough to close my rws 350. The fact that they fit sooo tight -could this be affecting their accuracy?-As ever thanks for everrything, I have a new Leapers scope due in tomorrow and as always tell “mom” I was asking for her-Thanks again, Scott298
If you like the Lothar Walther barrel on your 853, you will love the 747. I’m astonished at how accurate the pistol can be if I don’t throw the shot off.
B.B., I was thinking of reducing the trigger weight on my 747 and maybe even my 1911 at some point, but after this blog, I think I will leave them as is. Having a pistol go off unexpectedly is the worse scenario for me.
My obsessive firing of snap caps is raising up an old question about firing pins. I understand that dry firing is hard on the firing pin because the hammer strikes it. (On my high school rifle team, we dry-fired our Anschutz 1407s all the time and stored them with the bolt out in the cocked position.) The solution is supposed to be having the firing pin strike a snap cap or an old case. But the hammer is still hitting the firing pin, and how can the additional impact of hitting a snap cap be better for the firing pin than hitting air?
After having a lot of pistols including a couple P1s, a P3, Tempest,and C02 pistols, I bought a BSA Scorpion pistol at the last Little Rock Airgun show. It has become my favorite air pistol ever! With the cocking assist, it is very easy to cock and seems a much more normal cocking motion than eiter the P1 or P3. And, I can shoot it more accurately than any of the other spring pistols I have owned. Plinking at a 2″ spinner at 25 yards is pretty easy with a 2.5 power scope attached.
If you ever want to review the Scorpion, I live in Dallas and have three of them.
Off topic Crosman update.
Some may remember the problem I had with having a pistol shipped to RI from the Crosman Custom shop. I heard back from Crosman and there are enough towns that have an issue with air guns to make it not worth Crosman’s time to change their policy.
My father in law ordered the pistol for me and it is being shipped to his home in MA.
I contacted Ron Sauls and he was willing to help as long as he could find out the reason for the RI policy from Crosman. I got farther than he did.
Thanks for all the tips and advice.
Mom says, “Hi” right back.
I don’t know why those Premiers would be so tight to seat, but it may be time to clean that barrel with JB Paste. Tight-fitting pellets usually shoot good, but not if the barrel is dirty.
Hello B.B.,I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 years now and can’t believe how much we have in common.I to was a tanker in Germany at Montieth Barracks not far from Furth and the Trolly turn around from November 1962 to May 1965. I purchased a couple of antique wall clocks while I was there but sold them before I left.My proudest moment was when I hit a moving target with a 105m.m. Cannon at T.C.P.C.. And I enjoy my airgus,firearms as well as photography,and cycling. I do have a question for you about my P1 in .20 cal.. Recently it seemed like it had excessive drag when I would cock it. I took out the pivot pins for the cocking lever and cleaned and greased with some Phil Woods grease and put it back together and when I cock it now it pivots smoothly till I start to close the lever and about half way closed it feels like it hits some resitance and then is smooth after what I call the bump. Could I have a problem with the main spring? Thanks, Ron
When I was in the Army, my squadron commander taught me how to shoot the .45. When I let him shoot mine that had a 1-pound trigger, he freaked out. I got a lecture on how the 1911 trigger isn’t safe at that level.
I now have two different gunsmithing courses on the 1911 from the American Gunsmithing Institute and I have seen the actually sear/hammer contact under a microscope. Three pounds is the least you really want – for reliability and safety.
I saw that Scorpion at Little Rock and wondered who got it. I may take you up on that.
Interesting pistol. I would have thought it was a bear to cock, but I guess not.
Another tanker! So I’m not alone.
The P1 has a cocking link that is supposed to glide over the mainspring after cocking. If it doesn’t, your spring may be kinked. If you have shot more than about 5,000 times, it’s time to install a new spring. When you do, coat the outside of the spring with moly to lube that link.
I feel your pain on the Daisy 25. My luck runs about 75% when ordering from gunbroker. This may just be coincidence, but my issues are usually with domestic BB guns. Higher end Springer’s are mostly as described, but the old daisy’s are a shot in the dark.
My guess would be rather than a collector or shooter, some of the Daisy’s are acquired at yard sales, etc – and these folks just want to turn them as quickly as possible and make a buck.
I am sure there are exceptions, but that has been my experience.
In order to not be disappointed, I have started to limit myself to only LN examples. They run 2 to 3+ times more, but in the end I think it is worth it. (I got the idea from I guy who advised if you want something new go to Wal-Mart, I adapted this to only bid on LN items since Wal-mart doesn’t carry many classics and often one fuzzy photo with an exaggerated description is less than a perfect resource to make sound decisions.)
I have been chasing the 100 anniversary Daisy number 25, but have lost the last 3 auctions. What do you think a fair price is for one LNIB? I have gone up to $250-$265.
What do you see at the shows you go to?
Thanks Matt and b.b.
A local dealer has both, so I think I’ll head down their and have a look and just see what feels better in the hand.
Allout knock-down power is not important so I think either one will work…I’ll just try them in hand.
Do you know if Pyramid can ship guns to Canada if they are under the 500fps limit for needing an FAC (FireArmsCert). As both these guns are under the limit I would really like to support Pyramid just so in a round-about way I can thank you for all the advice you’ve given.
You speak real nice to me! Seriously, I have a 100th anniversary that is straight as an arrow (in the box with everything and no blemishes). I can’t take it with me, so be nice.
I can also be kind to Vince, but my stuff is collectible – not Rogers painted guns.
Pyramyd Air can sell to Canada, but I don’t know if they have the models you need. The 747 is no problem, but the RWS Diana pistol may be. That gun is touted to shoot 700 f.p.s. It doesn’t, but if the RCMP testing station thinks it does, it doesn’t matter. Customs listens to them.
A call to Pyramyd Air is in order, if that’s what you want to do.
However, that brick-and-mortar dealer deserves some consideration, too. After all, he is letting you handle the gun.
I bought a Predom rifle off of Gunbroker advertised as “This airgun will require some work and TLC”. Which translated to mean “there is no piston”.
Caveat Emptor. For every bad airgun I’ve bought cheap, I found several good ones on Gunbroker and the Yellow Classifieds. It averages out after a while.
I think a lot of people who sell on Gunbroker don’t know what exactly to check when describing airguns.
“I can’t take it with me”….
You goin’ somewhere???
We all are – and no, there is no hidden meaning there. Just changing the scenery in my gun cabinet. Everyone does it, sooner or later.
B.B. was nice to me, I have the 25 set you saw on the blog coming to me.. I’m the happiest camper of all.. I say get em while you can.. the price is way better than gunbroker, and the infamous Tom G has owned them. How can you loose?
Ashland Air Rifle Range
Good evening B.B. I’ll have to get back to you on the leapers base for the Diania 350, since my leapers scope has decided not to focus anymore. Got e-mail into their customer service, bought scope 05/2008, don’t expect any problems, but don’t have another one to replace it. Such is life. Mr B
Does anyone know the barrel thread measure on IZH/Baikal guns? I’m guessing it’s 1/2″ x 28, but haven’t seriously looked into it. Would make a “solid” barrel sleeve/weight an easier proposition if I knew for sure. I found a site thru Google for the IZH 62 (more powerful version of the 61) and it also showed some somewhat custom 61’s with wood stocks. I forgot to bookmark it, but it came up early when I put in “IZH/Baikal 62.” Kevin’s input to Wayne about DaveG’s stock site gave me some great direction for my Webley Typhoon carbine project. His treatment of an IZH 46 is absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing Kevin.
Found that site:
they are not custom, rather earlier versions – still pretty cool for IZH fans.
b.b., again, thanks.
Maybe Canada is shipped a different version of the 5g as it is rated at 495fps at most Canadian retailers.
I appreciate your call on the ‘bricks and mortar’ store…I work in the retail photo industry and deal with that all the time.
In this case I wouldn’t feel too guilty. I know he had both guns in stock. I have been in the store twice. It is a major sporting goods retailer and both times I was there (both times for pellets and targets), it was busy and I got the definite feeling that I was getting rush service while he was having long discussions with people buying ‘real’ ammo and guns.
On the second occassion he told me I was one of the few customers he had still buying these ‘toys’.
Nope…no problem giving my business to Pyramid.
If you are firing a rimfire gun then there is a good chance that your firing pin is not hitting air, it will hit the edge of the chamber and raise a burr, eventually making it difficult to chamber the a round. If you are talking about a centerfire, when the hammer hits the firing pin it will drive it forward until the shoulder on the pin hits the inside of the frame and will burr either the pin or the frame and the firing pin may start to stick in the forward position. A plastic or brass snap cap actually cushions the pin, which is why they are made of soft material.
IZH/Baikal barrel question:
All their stuff is metric. So a 13x1mm would be really close to your 1/2″x28 TPI estimate.
BB or anyone
When you ship a firearm do you just ship it like an airgun or is their more to it? Do you have to ship it to someone with an FFL or a dealer?
Gunsmithing Institute eh? I had a look at their site and couldn’t really say if they are the greatest deal or a web ripoff. I take it you were pleased with their work.
I had figured that I wouldn’t even bother asking about the prospects for getting the higher powered IZH 62 given the difficulties of getting the 61. Is there any chance at all?
Jeff, I was curious myself about mailing policies, and I found that they are highly confusing and not enforced consistently. As far as I can tell from web research, you do not want to send any firearms through the U.S. mail. I think handguns are prohibited and rifles are a major hassle. Fedex claims to require that the firearm be made inoperable by, for example, removing the firing pin and that one party of the transaction needs an FFL. UPS appears to be the most attractive option. They will ship handguns and rifles, but you need to send them from a shipping center, not the smaller outlets, and one party of the transaction needs to have an FFL. I was also told that they’re more reliable about pursuing claims than Fedex.
In practice, I sent both a Winchester 94 rifle and an M1 Garand through Fedex to gunsmiths in a state of total ignorance, and no one checked about FFLs or the guns’ operation. Clint Fowler is sending the M1 back to me through Fedex, and he claimed that the shipping restrictions only apply if the gun is sent for sale but not for gunsmithing work. This is not the letter of the rules, but he sends guns for his business.
Sam, you’re the man with the firearms info. Thanks. So, it’s not unlike the dry firing of spring guns where the lack of a cartridge will cause parts to pound against each other in a way that they weren’t designed for.
You were right again, I love the little BSA Meteor, It has a nice stock, cocks with about 15lbs, and feels like it weighs about 5 lbs. It is a .22 cal, which seems strange for such a light gun. It only shoots the .22 cal hobby at 411fps to 462fps with the average at 443fps
It has a nice metal trigger, but the pull is 4 or 5 lbs.
The plastic rear sights are loose, but it has a nice scope rail.. I think I’ll put a 3x9x40AO leapers on it..
It’s just my style, brings back memories… does anyone know what time frame they were made.. it looks like the 50 or 60s, it says BSA guns LTD England on top.
Well this was a good gun broker.com deal anyway ( at least I got a barrel, right Vince)..I paid $135 (probably too much) wasn’t it?
Ashland Air Rifle Range
I picked up a pre WWII Diana 25 along the same lines as your Meteor. Sometimes a light, easy to cocks rifle just fills the bill. If nothing needs kill’n – why come loaded for Bear?
Did you receive the HY Score yet? We were both bidding on that one also. I tend to keep the Blue Book on hand and throw in the towel fairly earlier.
But one of these days we’ll meet at High Noon on Gunbroker, and Miss Kitty better stay out of the way.
The Daisy 25 sounds nice, I’ll have to figure out some first-rate reasons for you to want to send it to Ohio.
I have never shot one yet, but if they are fairly easy to cock it could be my youngest daughters next BB gun. Before you named me “Volvo” I was “Dad” – looking for a BB gun she could shoot – and you recommended the 499, which she loves. (Turns out the 15 year old who would never even touch an air rifle is even better with it, a natural shooter like her old man)
I know it’s a collectable, but I have to believe it’s that BB guns dream to be held by a child and used as it was intended. When she is done with it I have a Grandson that I’m sure would like to hear the tale of how Uncle Tom supplied the fine model 25…………..
Not the Hy Score or the Crosman 2200 magnum that the seller had as well… I thought I’d save on shipping.. haven’t heard anything by email either.. not to worry, right?
Ok, I’ll watch for who I’m bidding against, it didn’t occur to me. This is the second or third “hint” I have missed you gave..
Did you see the 1913 -1917 Pat. Benjamin Pump I got for under $100
And I know nothing of these old guns I’m buying, they just look cool or bring back a memory or something… I hope someone at the range agrees someday… What is this thing you call a “Blue Book” isn’t that like shooting fish in a barrel?
Yes it is funny how closets change.
Last winter mine was empty of guns except for my dads old rem .22 that I shot not so often.
But now I need a very big closet. Good thing I can do that.. but it will be at the range shop instead of my office..
Ashland Air Rifle Range
The law governing the shipping of firearms states that you can send a long arm through the post office or by any public carrier (UPS, etc.). The public carrier companies don’t know the law and often the clerks will make their own interpretations.
You must be sending to an FFL, or the manufacturer or to a repair facility. Other recipients are not permitted.
Handguns including air pistols may not be sent by mail. But there are no other restrictions on them beyond those of long guns. So a public carrier is permitted.
One thing to watch about BSA rifles is they have a very broad scope rail. B-Square used to make rings just for BSA. Know this before buying scope bases.
Please contact me via the firstname.lastname@example.org address, to discuss the Number 25 Centennial.
Dynamite is way more efficient for fishing.
Not a hint on the Gunbroker, just interesting to see whom the rivals are.
You should order one of these, especially if you are trying to pick up the older guns. It is not 100% – but a valuable tool.
I’ve never seen that lure before, what dept is it in? I’ll just have to ask the clerk…where do you keep the dynamite lures?
OK, meet you in the street, at high noon…. and clean your paypal sixshooter real good before we meet…
The link didn’t work, but I’ll just ask on my next order…
Matt61 and BB
Thanks for the info.
Based on my research, it's extremely difficult to find any information on an old BSF S20 Match. You are most knowledgable (read your article 9/11/08 about it and I respectfully request any info you can give me on how to determine its year, worth, web sites dedicated to BSF, etc. (found none). Also, have a Daisy No.111 Model 40 which is missing its front grip, so don't know if its plastic or wood. It's definitely 1947-1952, but can I find its date through its Serial Number somewhere? Thank you, email@example.com
I'm going to send you to two different places for answers. For the BSF go here and ask:
For the Red Ryder, go here:
I have this exact same one as in the pic above. Actually it was left here by my uncle who passed away. I was going to sell it, I was going to put it on Craigslist for $10. I researched it and it seems to be selling way higher than $10. I'm not looking to sell for ridiculous amt- I'd rather sell to someone who really wants it. Any suggestions where to sell this? As I think about it, I don't know if CL will allow me to sell this? I thought is was a BB gun at first, but after I felt compelled to dig deeper as it is very detailed and the solid wood made it seem like it was something special. Take it easy on me, ima girl 🙂
I would be interested in your gun, and I would give you a fair price for it.
If you really are an RN I have a lot of respect for you, having spent a number of months in the hospital a couple years ago.
Contact me by writing to me at
My name is Tom.
I have this gun also. It is missing the front sight. Do you have any idea of the size of the dovetail?
No, I don’t. But if you own one, why don’t you just measure the dovetail yourself?