by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSF S54
BSF S54 target rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Resting on the sandbag
  • Artillery hold off hand extended
  • Discussion
  • Adjusted the rear sight
  • Falcon pellets
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • JSB Exact RS domes
  • H&N Finale Match High Speed target pellet
  • Something extra
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the BSF S54 Match rifle. Now, while this rifle is called a Match rifle and did come with a large aperture sight, it’s not a serious match rifle and never was. Sometimes I have guys ask me questions like, “Could it be used in a match?” and I have to answer, “Yes” but they don’t let me finish by saying, “… but it will never win!” You see, some guys are so enraptured by the design of the S54 Match (and that huge rear aperture!) that they want it to be a real match rifle. Other guys own one and don’t want to spend the money for something different. The bottom line is — The BSF S54 Match rifle is not for formal competition! I think you will see that today.

The test

I shot from 10 meters and used both the artillery hold and a sandbag rest. I will tell you which I did for each target.

The rear sight doesn’t adjust easily, plus the adjustments are coarse, so I only adjusted once and then stopped. I will tell you as we go.

I shot 5-shot groups for the most part. Because this is an underlever and also a taploader it takes a long time to get ready for each shot. I told myself if a pellet seemed to show promise I would shoot a 10-shot group, and that happened one time. Let’s get started.

RWS Hobby

I had tested the rifle in 2015, so I looked at those targets as a starting point. That test suggested two pellets that were good, so I selected one of them — the RWS Hobby. I shot this first target using the artillery hold with my off hand back by the triggerguard. Five pellets went into 0.673-inches at 10 meters — hardly a good group!

Hobby group 1
This first group of 5 RWS Hobbys was shot at 10 meters using the artillery hold, with the off hand back by the triggerguard. The group measures 0.673-inches between centers.

Okay, that wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Maybe the rifle wants to rest on the bag, so I tried that next. Same Hobby pellet was shot.

Resting on the sandbag

This time 5 Hobbys went into 0.702-inches at 10 meters They are close to the same place, but a little lower. From the looks of this group, resting on the sandbag is not the way to go.

Hobby group 2
Resting the rifle on the sandbag doesn’t seem to be right, either. Five Hobbys are in 0.702-inches between centers at 10 meters.

Artillery hold off hand extended

Still shooting Hobby pellets I tried another version of the artillery hold for the third group. My off hand is out by the rear of the cocking slot. This time the group was a little smaller, with 5 shots going into 0.539-inches at 10 meters. It’s still not a good group, though it is the best group of Hobbys so far. This is how I will shoot the rest of the test, unless I tell you otherwise.

Hobby group 3
When I held my off hand under the rear of the cocking slot things tightened just a little. Five Hobbys are in 0.539-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion

In 2015 I put five Hobbys into a 0.408-inch group at 10 meters. Today I’m struggling to group them in a tenth of an inch larger. I know I’m human, but this is more than I expected. However — I had a total retina detachment in my sighting eye since that first group. I have also had my natural lenses removed from both eyes during cataract surgery, and what’s in there now are man-made lenses. Maybe I’m doing the best I can. Or maybe this was just not my day. More groups might tell us.

Adjusted the rear sight

The first three groups were a little low, so I elevated the rear sight leaf. It goes up in steps and I added just one step this time.

Falcon pellets

The next group was shot with Falcon domed pellets from Air Arms. I shot with the artillery hold with my off hand at the back of the cocking slot. These 5 pellets went high above the bull, and in line with the center. Five pellets went into 0.71-inches at 10 meters. The group is vertical and not very good.

Falcon group
Five Falcon pellets went into 0.71-inches at 10 meters.

Well, raising the rear sight didn’t seem to help. So I put it back to where it was.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

I was really looking forward to trying Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets in the rifle, because in the velocity test they only had a spread of 6 f.p.s. I felt sure they would be accurate. But they weren’t. Five went into 0.792-inches at 10 meters — the largest group to this point in the test and ultimately the largest in the entire test. They also shot considerably lower, as you can see. But faster projectiles nearly always shoot lower than slower ones, due to the lack of recoil influence. They are out the barrel before the muzzle has a chance to rise. And I am still shooting with the artillery hold.

Sig group
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 0.792-inches at 10 meters. This is the largest group of the test.

JSB Exact RS domes

The next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. They are often quite accurate in lower-powered airguns, and, while the S54 isn’t exactly weak, it isn’t a magnum, either. Five of these went into 0.718-inches at 10 meters, which is no big thing, except 4 of them are in 0.30-inches. That IS a big thing. Had I finally found the right pellet? Artillery hold used for this pellet.

JSB RS group
Five JSB Exact RS pellets are not so good, at 0.718 inches at ten meters, but 4 of them in just three tenths of an inch are!

Now that I thought I was onto something, I had to try these pellets again. So this time I rested the rifle directly on the sandbag, instead of using the artillery hold. This time five JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.583-inches at 10 meters. It’s not a screamer, but for this rifle, the way I’m shooting it today, it’s not that bad. At least they are all together!

JSB RS group 2
When the rifle was laid directly on the sandbag, 5 JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.583-inches at 10 meters.

At this point I was starting to get tired, because the S54 isn’t an easy rifle to shoot. There are a lot of steps to get it ready, plus the cocking effort is over 30 pounds. But there was one more thing I wanted to try. Remember the H&N Finale Match High Speed pellet that varied in velocity by 55 f.p.s. in Part 2? I even said at the time that it was, “…too much to hope for any accuracy. Maybe at 10 meters; I’ll have to see.” It was now time to find out.

H&N Finale Match High Speed target pellet

I knew by this point in the test that the artillery hold with the off hand out by the rear of the cocking slot was giving the best results, so that’s how I held the rifle for this group. Five pellets went into 0.232-inches at 10 meters. Well, you can just forget what I said about my eyes — I can still shoot!

H&&N Finale Match High Speed group
Five H&N Finale Match High Speed pellets went into 0.232-inches at 10 meters. That’s about as tight as the S54 can shoot.

I wanted to do something more with the Finale Match pellet. I was tired from all the concentration, but I shot one final group with these pellets. Same artillery hold, only this time I fired 10 rounds at the same bull. I expected the group to be larger because I shot twice as many shots. But if the Finale Match was a good pellet it would stand out. And it did! Ten pellets went into 0.489-inches at 10 meters. That’s the second-smallest group of this test; smaller than any other 5-shot group. Ladies and gentlemen, we have the pellet!

H&&N Finale Match High Speed group 2
Ten H&N Finale Match High Sped pellets made this 0.489-inch group at 10 meters.

Something extra

I didn’t tell you but for this test I put aluminum tape on the back of all my targets today, to keep the pellet holes open and round. I can tell you that it really works! My thanks to whoever suggested it.

Summary

Well, I have become reacquainted with an old friend in this series. The BSF S54 Match rifle is certainly a different kind of airgun to shoot. Now I think I would like to go inside, to see what I can do to tame the vibration. There is plenty of spare velocity, so I’m not concerned about that. I’m thinking I’ll use Tune in a Tube, since I know exactly what it will do. Stay tuned!