BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSF S54
BSF S54 target rifle.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • A little more of the BSF Story
  • Today
  • Front sight
  • BINK!
  • Velocity
  • Superpoints for the proof
  • Firing behavior
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

A little more of the BSF Story

Bayerische Sportwaffen Fabrik (BSF) was established in 1935. They made some airguns before WW II, but after the war is when they really got going. They were located in Erlangen, a town that’s about 15 kilometers from Nuremberg, but today is more like a suburb.

BSF airgun models ranged from youth guns to serious adult guns. Their lowest model was called the Junior that was a plain-Jane youth breakbarrel. Above that the Media came next. It shared a few parts with the Junior like the trigger but it was longer, heavier and more powerful. Think of them as the Diana 23/25.

BSF also made a pistol called the S20 that, at first sight, appears to be nothing more than a youth rifle with a shorter barrel, sitting in a one-piece pistol grip stock. But when we tested one several years ago we discovered that it is really quite well developed and tame to shoot.

The Wischo KG Wilsker Und Co sporting goods distributing and export company was also situated in Erlangen, and many BSF airguns left Germany under their Wischo brand name. In the U.S., BSF airguns were imported and sold by Air Rifle Headquarters and Beeman, sometimes acquiring an association with them in the process, though ARH sold them as Wischo models. In the literature that I have, the BSF name isn’t mentioned, though they did mention Bayerische and the city of Erlangen.

Moving up the food chain the model 20 rifle was next, followed by the models 30, 35, 45,50, 55, 60, 70 and 80. Models 55 through 80 are all based on the same powerplant but get upgrades as the numbers rise. There are several variations of most of these models that have different stocks, sights and accessories.

Comparing the S55 to Weihrauch airguns in the ARH catalog from 1979, the S55 retailed in the U.S. for $174.50, while the HW30S sold for $114.50 and the HW35 Standard and the FWB 124 Sport went for the same $174.50. The model 70 that had a more refined stock cost $209.50 in the same catalog — same as the FWB 124 Deluxe.

That only leaves the model S54 that I have told you was the high water mark for BSF. Reader Lain from the UK pointed me to John Walter’s first edition of The Airgun Book that was published in the U.S. in 1981, and it mentions four variations — a plain S54 sporter, the same sporter with a walnut stock, the Bayern and the S54 Match. He also mentioned a fifth variation called the Sport that was produced just before the company ceased doing business in the 1980s. That one was similar to the Bayern but had a deeper pistol grip and forearm and no checkering. This is the first I have heard of that model and I think they must be pretty rare in this country, if not in Europe.

Today

Today we look at the velocity of the rifle. I already have some good data from the test I did back in 2015. I know that RWS Superpoints average 679 f.p.s. with a 18 f.p.s. spread. Falcon pellets from Air Arms average 715 f.p.s. with a 22 f.p.s. spread. RWS Diabolo Basic pellets average 711 f.p.s. which is slower than the 7.33 grain Falcons. I put that down to the loading tap. If a pellet is too light the air blast through the tap will blow it into the barrel and out of the gun before the skirt has time to expand and seal the bore.

Today I will test the velocity with a few different pellets. I’ll also fire a couple shots with one of the previous pellets, probably the Superpoints, to see if the gun is still performing where it was 4 years ago. Before I do, though, there is something I want to show you.

Front sight

Let’s look at the front sight. On the S54 it’s both different and a little complex. It screams 1950s technology and suggests interchangeability, To show it to you I had to disassemble it.

BINK!

That’s a sound you never want to hear while working on a vintage airgun. It means that a spring you had not anticipated has seen its chance for freedom and gone over the wall. Where there are springs there are parts in front of them, so they go, too — so fast you never see them. You only hear the dreaded BINK!

I said a quick prayer and got on my hands and knees with a powerful flashlight and a powerful magnet. The magnet will attract the small parts and the flashlight will show them when it is shined at a grazing angle across the floor. Fortunately this happened in my kitchen where the floor is tile and, despite what you might imagine, relatively clean.

I found the plunger that holds the sight element in less than 5 minutes. The little spring that I never saw but knew had to be there was harder to locate. Remember how I said God sometimes laughs? Well, this time He probably gathered a crowd to watch me scoot around the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. So — where was that little spring? In the last place I looked (of course) — sitting in the middle of the chair next to where I was standing! I mean dead center! I found it with my eyes! Couldn’t believe it, so I took a picture for you. I’ve had springs and parts pop into the pockets of my work apron before, but never land on the chair next to me!

S54 spring
Yep, there it is. That’s a black cat hair above it that I left in the picture for scale.

S54 sight frame
The front sight with everything off.

S54 sight plunger
The plunger (arrow) has the little spring underneath. You can see the step in the plunger that stops the front sight insert from coming out.

S54 sight plunger installed
The plunger is correctly installed with the step to prevent the sight insert from walking forward.

S54 front sight insert
Here we see the underside of the front sight insert. It’s perfectly flat to slide into the sight base and the stepped plunger butts agains the flat end to hold it in.

S54 front sight insert installed
The sight insert is installed and the plunger holds it tight.

S54 front sight complete
With the hood on the front sight is complete.

Reader Ridge Runner said he thought this front sight had interchangeable inserts, and, looking at the construction, I think he’s right. Why else make the sight element so easy to remove?

Velocity

Okay, let’s look at the velocity. First up is the H&N Finale Match High Speed, a 7-grain pellet that’s no longer made. Ten of them averaged 717 f.p.s., but the spread went from 697 to 752 f.p.s. That’s a range of 55 f.p.s. — too much to hope for any accuracy. Maybe at 10 meters; I’ll have to see.

Next I tried 10 JSB Exact RS pellets. Though they weigh 7.33 grains, they are almost as fast as the lighter Finale Match High Speed They averaged 714 f.p.s. with a spread that went from 707 to 722 f.p.s. That’s just 15 f.p.s. between the low and the high, which is a lot more like what we’re after!

The final pellet I tested was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet that wasn’t around the last time I tested this rifle. We know from past tests that this lead-free target pellet can be astonishingly accurate. Being made from pure tin, it is also light, at just 5.25 grains in .177 caliber. Ten of them averaged 857 f.p.s. in the S54, but get this — the spread went from 854 to 860 f.p.s. — only 6 f.p.s.! That is incredible. I have to test this pellet for accuracy!

Superpoints for the proof

In 2015 RWS Superpoints averaged 679 f.p.s. After the regular velocity testing this time I fired two Superpoints and got 680 and 683 f.p.s. I’d call that right on the money.

Firing behavior

For a spring gun of the 1950s to ’80s this S54 Match is relatively smooth. However — in a world where Tune in a Tube exists, it’s a buzzing jackhammer! Sorry, guys, but the memory of Michael’s Diana 27 is still with me. I probably need to look inside this rifle at some point.

Cocking effort

When I tested the cocking effort in 2015 it was 37 lbs. This time it was 32 lbs. The only thing I can think of to explain the difference is the gun is new and has broken in just a bit from all the testing.

Trigger pull

In 2015 I adjusted the heavy two-stage trigger to 3 lbs. 15 oz. This time it broke at 3 lbs. 12 oz., which is close enough for me.

Summary

I’m actually looking forward to testing this rifle again, to see whether new pellets will improve the accuracy. It’s not an airgun I shoot every day, but she’s a fine old lady who deserves my attention from time to time.

42 thoughts on “BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 2



  1. BB
    I thought the BSF sounded familiar for some reason. Then I realized why when you mentioned Wischo today.

    I have a early 70’s ARH catalog from when I was a kid and it has some Wischo models in it now that I remember. I’ll have to check out the catalog tommorow and see what ones.

    I don’t know why it didn’t register at first when you started this report. Heck thinking about it I believe the catalog I have even has the BSF pistol in it.


  2. BB,

    LOL! I so hate crawling around looking for small bits and pieces! I am glad that you found them.

    By all means have a look inside. We eagerly await the glimpses of the technology involved in making these lovely ladies dance. Watch out for the bink. 😉

    As an aside, I have been digging around, trying to find out more about my FLZ Original V Millitia and I came across a small bit of information about it on another site. It seems the barrel lock mechanism was patented in England in 1905. I really would like to nail down this old gal’s age a little better. She still dances divinely.


  3. B.B.,

    Looking forwards to more testing with the newer pellets. Thank you for sharing your “BINK” moment. I had a small spring land on (top) of the kitchen cabinets one time and a (very) small detent bearing land on/in the carpet in the living room. Thankfully,….. shag carpet is no longer in fashion! 🙂

    Good Day to you and to all,………… Chris


  4. B.B.

    Off hand, do you know the (approximate) cocking force on the Wischo 55?

    Way back when I used to go out shooting with a friend from work – he with his Wischo 55 and me with my FWB 124. I shot the 55 a bit but found the cocking to be heavy but then “heavy” was relative to my 124 which can be cocked with two fingers on the barrel.

    Bink – I know Bink TOO well. I think that he steals parts and hides them in another dimension LOL!

    Happy Friday all!!
    Hank


  5. That is a handsome air rifle, in my book, and in many others.’

    As for the dreaded “bink-bink,” experienced the dreaded “bink effect” a couple years ago while shooting my ’66-manufacture P-38; was using 9mm reloads at the time. The pistol had given no trouble in 47 years’ ownership. One round went off which sounded louder than normal and then, pieces of the pistol went flying, including the rear sight!

    The firing pin/rod was bent. Fortunately, being my buddy and I were in an indoor range, managed to find the flying pieces, which included a small spring.

    Now just have to get me that proverbial Round-To-It and a competent gunsmith, and Walther shall come back again.
    Glad you found your gun parts, B.B.!


    • I had a very similar experience with the P1 aluminum frame post war P-38. I was shooting reloads that should not have blown the top off. The distributor repaired it but I later sold it to a gunsmith who was made aware of it. I don’t think you will have any such problems with a steel frame Walther P-38 WW2 pistol.

      Deck



      • And yet, one reads and hears it is not a good idea to put too many rounds thru a late-war P-38 due to the lower quality of materials and workmanship in ’44-’45, but will do a shooting session with a Spree-Werke ’44 model I’ve had for a while, and keep the old fingers crossed…well, not the trigger finger. Thanks for commiserating, Decksniper.

        Getting back on topic, somewhat, I’ve wondered for some time if the Wehrmacht ever used any airguns for training purposes, though that does not seem to be the case. While researching the topic, found this interesting book which may just have to be added to FM’s library. After all, he has learned many things from a book.

        https://www.forgottenweapons.com/book-review-training-rifles-of-third-reich-germany/


        • If your Spree Werke 1944 P-38 tests okay I would stay with it and sell the other making sure buyer knows what happened. The sight, spring, etc blowing off was not something I wanted to revisit. I am very sure my ammo was not hot or too reduced and was not showing any brass issues.

          For whatever it’s worth.

          Deck


  6. B.B.,

    Ugh. The dreaded “BINK.” I know it too well from working on electric guitars. Electric guitars often have tiny but strong springs inside them. Sometimes I have thought enough ahead to loosen a guitar’s pick-guard with a large towel over it to catch the springs I know are inside there. I also bought a magnet on an extension rod with a flashlight attached to it.

    Finally, (you probably already have one) I got a magnetic bowl to hold springs, fasteners, ball bearings, and any other small metal parts immediately after I remove them from something. My only regret was not buying it ten or so years earlier. Anyone who lacks one of these really should get one. The first time I worked on something after I bought my magnetic bowl, I knocked it off the workbench, and It landed on the floor upside down. But when I picked it up, every small metal part in it was still stuck inside the bowl except for one. That’s my sales pitch to anyone who doesn’t have one. :^)

    Michael



      • B.B.,

        I’m glad I mentioned them then. I recall I overpaid a little for mine, but it was so immediately handy, that never bothered me.

        You will quickly begin to like the sound of “KLINK” each time you drop a small metal part into it. I no longer have to worry and think about misplacing such items or having them migrate from one area to another. As soon as it’s off or out and in my hand, KLINK, it goes into the bowl. I have it at an arm’s length with double-sided tape on my workbench. Peripheral vision plus a little “muscle-memory” usually are enough for me to keep my eyes on the work as I drop a part into the bowl.

        Michael


  7. B.B, Dont know if he’s laughing or showing you the way? I see the family lines as far as the BSF stock and the R series of Weirauch spring guns, mostly around the pistol grip. Still waiting for a two stage breakbarrel, so I can have both two finger cocking, or full power. Changing out springs is easy on the R1/R10, I guess I cant have everything. Do you think the makers just want to sell me a whole new gun instead of doing the right thing,
    and making a few properly, so I can stop searching too?
    I am learning about regulators now and what will happen if I replace two more.032 springs with .044 bellville washers in the stack. Regulators creep, but how much is normal, and how many shims does one really need,
    using a chrono and known velocity/pressure numbers Ive gathered for my rig over the years. So, I hope to be able to control my regulator better soon. In the mean time, Stratocasters are fun to mess with too. Overdrive, yea!
    Have a nice weekend folks, Rob


  8. “Remember how I said God sometimes laughs?
    Well, this time He probably gathered a crowd
    to watch me scoot around the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.”

    Sorry B.B.! I feel for you, but I needed a good laugh today, and this brought a smile to my face. =>

    Looking at this rifle made me do a little more research on tap loaders,
    and I found this cool piece below, “Ways of the wily loading tap”:

    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thedianawerkcollective/ways-of-the-wily-loading-tap-t12713.html

    The most interesting part of the article was this bit:
    “If you are a fan of Tom Gaylord’s Pyramyd blog, you may recall one of the very smallest groups he’s ever fired was with a Haenel 311, a tap-loadeing target rifle from old East Germany.”

    Well, we are fans, hahaha!
    Have a good one! =>
    dave


  9. So, did anyone ever wonder why the last place you look is where you find that missing part? Because after you find it, you stop looking! LOL – Happy weekend to all.

    Fred formerly of the DPRoNJ now happily in Georgia



    • Geezer,

      No way. That is no more than 2.2 pounds per foot. 😉

      It was not until relatively recent years that airguns started the velocity and power race. Most air rifles, most especially sproingers were meant for target shooting. With available space being another limiting factor, the range was not great so power was not needed. With us on this side of the pond becoming more interested in airguns and not having a legal limit on power, the race was on.


  10. Given the topic here involves a German air rifle, the history buff inside FM has been wondering for some time if the Wehrmacht ever used airguns for training purposes; have done some research on the subject, but found nothing relevant. FM did find this interesting book which seems a must-have for his library. After all, FM has learned many things from a book!

    https://www.forgottenweapons.com/book-review-training-rifles-of-third-reich-germany/


  11. Good day to all,

    This is completely off topic today but I believe I’ve found another use for Balistol.

    Had to thread some aluminum rod this afternoon and didn’t have any cutting fluid other than Brownells Do-Drill. As I didn’t want to waste the ” GOOD STUFF ” on non ferrous metal I went to the old standby kerosene. While threading the second rod I looked across the workbench and there staring me in the face is a spray bottle of Balistol.

    To make a long story short, I think the Balistol actually cut smoother than either kerosene or lard! I know it smells a whole lot better. Balistol isn’t going to replace a high grade non ferrous cutting oil, but in a pinch it got the job done with no wear and tear on the cutting dies or the operator.

    Bob F



    • Zimbabweed,

      Ed, I’ll need to remember that next time I’m breaking into someone’s airgun vault! I’ll need to do thumb and some other fingers too!

      shootski


  12. They’re killin’ me, man! They’re killin’ me!

    I have spent considerable time and mental energy over the last few months trying to decide what new air rifle would be allowed to move into RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns. Just when I had worked it down to two possibilities, Stephen Archer comes out with his IWA reports and scrambles the mix all over again.

    I guess it is a good thing it is going to take me a bit to get funding together anyway, no matter what I decide.


  13. RR,

    Yea,… ain’t it something. I see the RW coming out in 2 new stocks (blue lam. and a textured grain wood) and a new, more powerful GCU (gun control unit) capable of 20% more power and new polygonal barrels,… which mine being a .25,… I believe already has, but not the new GCU.

    The rate of new offerings is mind numbing. I see JSB has some (galvanized) pellets coming about. Interesting. I wonder the purported benefit of galvanizing a pellet?

    Lucky for you, you do not have adequate coin in hand and will get to play the “wait and see how they do” game for awhile more. Not a bad position, really. Then, by this time next year,… after you have all of your choices (again) narrowed down to just 2 or 3,…. there will be another SHOT show and IWA and you will get to start (all over) again! 😉

    As they say,… at some point you have to * or get off the pot. Rest assured,… there will be something coming down the road that will be a moment for reflection. But hey,…. if we all waited for the next best thing,.. we never would have started to begin with.

    I like the direction FX is taking,…. but you know those swaps and switch-over goodies won’t be $29.99 either. 🙂

    Chris


    • Chris,

      I had pretty much settled on either a Brocock Compatto or a FX Dreamlite. I was starting to lean toward the Compatto. Now the FX Dreamlite Compact has my attention. I am wanting something compact, but the flexibility of the FX system allows for so many options. The new Impact is even available in .35 now. I would not be surprised if that can be put on the Dreamlite.

      AAAAAAAHHHHH!


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