BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSF S54
BSF S54 target rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Something else
  • Rear sight has to come off
  • 1950s design
  • Assemble the rifle again
  • Install the peep sight
  • Ordered a new target front sight insert
  • Accuracy
  • The test
  • H&N Finale High Speed
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today will be another accuracy test of the BSF S54 Match rifle. But it’s a test with a twist. In Part 3 we learned which pellet does best in this rifle — the H&N Finale Match High Speed — a 7-grain wadcutter that is no longer being offered. I have received the current Finale Match Light target pellets, so I can start testing with them today, as well.

Something else

And, there is something else. A couple weeks back reader Kevin alerted me to the fact that the seller in Bulgaria from whom I bought the Diana peep sight also had a BSF peep sight for sale. He had it advertised for Anschütz, FWB and Walther, which is why I never noticed it. The price was reasonable and, as before, the shipping was free, so I ordered it. It’s here and I would like to show it to you.

BSF S54 peep left
The BSF S54 peep sight is simple and ruggedly built. The vertical adjustment knob that’s sticking up in this view has detents.

BSF S54 peep right
The horizontal adjustment knob is on the right side. There are no detents in that adjustment.

BSF S54 peep under
The bottom of the sight has a clamp on the front, which is on the right in this picture. The two screws control the clamping pressure. There is no positive stop for recoil, and this rifle doesn’t seem to need one.

This sight is definitely a throwback to the 1950s! It’s made from mostly steel parts except its base that’s aluminum. And there isn’t a scale or index mark on it anywhere. There is no way to record where the sight is set. You have to shoot the gun and note where it hits, then adjust from there. There are also no marks to indicate which way things move when the sight is adjusted! It’s a very non-target peep sight! But this S54 is a very non-target match rifle, so the sight is well-suited to it.

Rear sight has to come off

Since the rear sight is aligned with the front sight, it’s in the way of the sight line of the peep, and has to come off. Could I lower it all the way and be able to shoot over it? Sure, but when I tried it I could see the rear sight through the peep hole and that was disconcerting.

1950s design

Here’s the thing. To get the rear sight off the rifle it has to slide all the way up the barrel and off the muzzle. So, the front sight has to come off. And the cocking lever anchor has to come off, as well, because it’s in the way, too. All of these parts have to slide off the muzzle.

BSF S54 cocking lever anchor
The cocking lever anchor has to come off to allow the rear sight to slide off the barrel.

Now, in the 1950s the Germans (and Americans) never used just one part when 27 would do. So, there is lots of work to be done!

BSF S54 front sight parts
The front sight came off the rifle. Lots of parts!

BSF S54 front sight parts bagged
After the photo I bagged the parts for security.

Next the cocking lever anchor came off. This was just the anchor and the screw that held it.

Then the rear sight came off. It was a bunch of parts, too.

BSF S54 rear sight
The rear sight and cocking lever anchor (on the left) were a lot of parts, too.

Assemble the rifle again

Now, the cocking lever anchor and front sight went back on the rifle. The rear sight is in a plastic bag and may never be reinstalled. The rifle is ready to receive the peep sight.

Install the peep sight

The peep sight slides over the peep sight base on the rear of the spring tube. It sticks off the back of the rifle several inches, which brings it close to the sighting eye. I slid mine back almost as far as it will go because the peephole is very small and I want it to be close to my eye.

BSF S54 peep sight
The peep hangs way off the back of the spring tube.

Ordered a new target front sight insert

I went to the Chambers website and discovered there is a ring or aperture front sight element available for the S54 for under $5. So I ordered one. I may tune the rifle before I test that element — I’m undecided right now.

Accuracy

I discovered something while doing this work. The front sight was not loose on the rifle after all. The hood that covers it was what was loose. The sight element and the sight base were both tight. However, the entire rear sight was slightly loose, so mounting this peep sight might actually give better accuracy right from the start. Why don’t we see?

The test

I shot at 10 meters off a sandbag rest with the artillery hold. My off hand was at the cocking slot that, on the S54, is so short that the entire slot fits in my palm.

H&N Finale Match High Speed

First to be tried were the H&N Finale Match High Speed target pellets that are no longer available. We know from the Part 3 test that they were the most accurate of the pellets that were tested.

I had to sight in first, but the first pellet landed just outside the black, and two shots later I was finished. My 5-shot group then measured 0.446-inches, which is larger than last time (0.232-inches) but good enough for today.

BSF S54 Finale Match High Speed
Five H&N Finale Match High Speed pellets went into 0.446-inches at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Light

The real test was the Finale Match Light pellet that I hadn’t tested in this gun yet. I hoped they would at least equal what the lighter High Speed pellets were doing. And they did! On the first try, five pellets went into 0.399-inches at 10 meters. I was happy with this group but knew I could do even better, so I adjusted the peep sight down by three clicks and shot a second group.

BSF S54 Finale Match Light 1
Five H&N Finale Match Light pellets made this 0.399-inch group at 10 meters.

The second group was shot with my complete concentration — the same as I would give during a match. This time 5 pellets went into 0.192-inches at 10 meters. The new pellet can shoot in the S54!

BSF S54 Finale Match Light 2
Yes, this 0.192-inch group is worthy of the trime (a 14mm American silver coin from the mid-19th century)! The H&N Finale Match Light pellets can shoot in the BSF S54!

Discussion

I’m not saying that the new H&N pellets are more accurate than the obsolete ones. I haven’t shot them enough to know that. I’m just saying they will do.

In case you are wondering why my last group is so much better, it represents what I am really capable of when I concentrate. I used to shoot that well all the time 25 years ago, but, since I don’t practice every day, I cannot maintain that level of concentration without willing it for a short period. Harry Pope, who was a former world-champion Schuetzen shooter, said, when he was older, “I can still pull a center when I have to.” That’s how I feel, as well.

The new peep sight doesn’t make this rifle any more accurate — it makes it easier for me to be accurate with it. I’m still balancing a bull on top of a bead in the “snowman” hold, which is less than optimum. However, that last group is better accuracy than I thought this rifle capable of. It’s nearly as good as a modern 10-meter rifle in my hands. Sure, it was partly luck, but I’ll be shooting this rifle again, so then perhaps we will see how much was luck and how much was the rifle.

Summary

I have a real target-type front sight coming, and I now have this nice peep on the back. The next thing to do with this rifle is a teardown and lube with Tune in a Tube to make everything super smooth. Then I will try her again.

51 thoughts on “BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 4

  1. B.B.

    You got an oldie that is a very goodie. Congratulations!!!

    What do you mean you do not practice everyday? You shoot more that anybody else I know.
    Good shooting,

    -Y


    • Yogi,

      Thanks for your compliment. Yes, I still do shoot a lot, but I don’t practice the discipline that’s needed in a match. I still remember what that was and although I no longer do it all the time, I still can when I have to.

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        Like many people, over the years I have come up with a training program that I use as a refresher and for teaching new shooters. Mine is orientated to hunting/plinking – fast shooting small targets over random distances – rather than deliberate target shooting at fixed yardages.

        Would you write a blog series on the focus and shooting training program that you would use to train (or re-train) a target shooter? I am really curious as to how you “gather your focus” for the shot. Think that your program would be of general interest.

        Hank




          • Just finished reading – an excellent series B.B.! Well worth reviewing on a regular basis.

            In “10-meter pistol shooting – Part 6”, section “Watch a winner!” I think that this paragraph is the key; it is the “DO” in Yoda’s proclamation: “There is no try. There is only do or do not.” …

            “A 10-meter air pistol champion has to focus like that before every shot in a match. They have to visualize the ten before the trigger breaks. I have talked about this before – that once you get to a certain level of excellence, >>> the trigger starts breaking without your conscious effort. You don’t have to pull it, because your finger does it before you can think to tell it to.<<>>your finger knows to hold the shot until your eye sees the perfect sight picture.<<< You cannot force this – it has to start happening on its own, and the catalyst that makes it happen is practice. Like I said, I have seen this level of concentration, but I have not devoted what it takes to make it my permanent shooting style.”

            To me, shooting is a mind game. Once the target is been positively identified, it has been determined that it is safe to shoot and taking the shot is committed to, most of what follows is controlled by the subconscious and muscle memory. I need only to focus on the intended target and “Lock-On” to it. Stepping into stance, breathing, correct tension, raising the weapon, operating the safety, welding, sighting, compensating and triggering the shot is all done by the subconscious “fire control center” once it has been authorized by the conscious thought to shoot.

            Weather is slowly improving, supposed to snow tonight but next week it will be suitable of shooting outdoors. Looking forward to getting back into that routine.

            Happy Friday!
            Hank


          • Just finished reading – an excellent series B.B.! Well worth reviewing on a regular basis.

            In “10-meter pistol shooting – Part 6”, section “Watch a winner!” I think that this paragraph is the key; it is the “DO” in Yoda’s proclamation: “There is no try. There is only do or do not.” …

            “A 10-meter air pistol champion has to focus like that before every shot in a match. They have to visualize the ten before the trigger breaks. I have talked about this before – that once you get to a certain level of excellence, the trigger starts breaking without your conscious effort. You don’t have to pull it, because your finger does it before you can think to tell it to. This is where thousands of hours of dry-fire practice come to bear on the subject. Your body is so used to the pistol that your finger knows to hold the shot until your eye sees the perfect sight picture. You cannot force this – it has to start happening on its own, and the catalyst that makes it happen is practice. Like I said, I have seen this level of concentration, but I have not devoted what it takes to make it my permanent shooting style.”

            To me, shooting is a mind game. Once the target is been positively identified, it has been determined that it is safe to shoot and taking the shot is committed to, most of what follows is controlled by the subconscious and muscle memory. I need only to focus on the intended target and “Lock-On” to it. Stepping into stance, breathing, correct tension, raising the weapon, operating the safety, welding, sighting, compensating and triggering the shot is all done by the subconscious “fire control center” once it has been authorized by the conscious thought to shoot.

            Weather is slowly improving, supposed to snow tonight but next week it will be suitable of shooting outdoors. Looking forward to getting back into that routine.

            Happy Friday!
            Hank


          • B.B.,

            To your explanation of the world class athlete’s (shooter’s) mindset in your 10 meter airpistol blog series is spot on. I would add the concept of not Over Thinking what you are doing. I believe that is the essence of what Master Yoda is speaking of with the all encompassing—- DO!

            If you trained WELL enough then the competition is just 60 more shots.

            shootski


      • B.B.,

        BRAVO ZULU (a Naval flag hoist for a Job Well Done!)

        I think I know, as do you, why that ability persists even as we get old and crumbly!

        I dredged up from the cobwebbed area of my brain a test a shooting coach administered to a bunch of us new target shooters that was numbers in rows and ranks that requires ultimate concentration to finish. Lots of grumbles about not having anything to do with shooting. The coach assigned us to training groups based on that test result and visual accuity. He was almost 100% correct in our placement. The other factor he couldn’t tell by testing; perseverance.

        shootski


      • BB
        Now that is something to talk about.

        I shoot every day too. But I don’t practice every day. Sometimes I do though. And it’s usually when I’m testing a change I made to my gun. Or if I’m trying new pellets. And especially if I get a new gun. I tend to be more serious at those times.

        But most of the time I’m plinking in one way or another. And yes I do that seriously at times too. Like for example if I’m trying to get myself more on the ball game when I’m rapid fire plinking at multiple targets one right after another.

        It just depends on the circumstance if I’m practicing or just shooting. Some days I just take it easy and let happen what’s go to happen. Sometimes that’s actually when I shoot my best. Kind of funny how that happens isn’t it.



  2. BB,

    LOL! There may be a lot of parts, but they are well made parts! Nowadays all of that stuff would likely be molded out of plastic with some glowy thingys stuck in them here or there.


  3. B.B.,

    Fine shooting. True, peeps make it easier for (me) to shoot better. I find the tap loaders fascinating, if for no other reason that it is another cool looking bobble to play with. 🙂 Looking forwards to seeing the new front sight with inserts.

    As you know, I have the 499 bb rifle that also has front inserts. I have mentioned it before, but I took a very small washer and barely pressed it into one of the ring sights. At 24′ and using the ring binder stickers as bulls, the rifle is fail proof. Having options up front is really nice for a peeper set up.

    I have said it before too… if buying a youth their first bb rifle, you can do no better than a 499. In my opinion, they can learn to use opens at a later time. The 499 is just plain jaw dropping on accuracy.

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


  4. B.B.,

    Any air gun that is Trime-worthy is worthy, period. :^) Also, that peep sight looks perfect on this air rifle, so I guess the two are, ahem, a perfect . . . match. ;^)

    Excellent shooting.

    Michael


  5. BB,

    I followed the link you provided to the H&N Finale Match Light pellets at PA. Did you use the 4.49mm heads or the 4.5mm heads and can you explain the difference between the $16.99 tin and the $12.99 tin in each of those head sizes? It isn’t apparent on the site.

    Half


    • Half,

      Yeah, I used to link to the exact pellet I used or tell you why I didn’t. Now that there are head size options for the same link I can’t do that.

      I used 4.50mm heads. I RARELY use 4.49mm heads for anything except experimenting on pellet heads versus accuracy. I have found very few guns that actually prefer 4.49mm heads.

      B.B.


    • Half,

      The only thing I can see is that the $16.99 are the Finale and the $12.99 are the (plain) Heavy or Light Match! Took me a while to see that difference too.

      shootski


  6. Tom, this is certainly off-topic, but as I recall, at one time you advised us with questions to address them in the latest blog…so, a question, with my apologies if I got that wrong! Do you have any idea when the SIG ASP20 is going to become available packaged with the Whiskey 3 scope? The last intel I had was ‘early 2019’, but we’re well past that now! Thank you!

    Vance


    • Vance,

      You never have to apologize when asking a question. That’s what we are here for.

      As for this one, I haven’t got a clue. I keep asking Sig when the synthetic stock will become available. I think the package is tied to that but it may be that the scope is taking longer than they anticipated, too.

      B.B.,


  7. Off subject too.

    Finally a calm day for this month. Good ole March winds.

    A good target shooting day. Pellets are going right to their place. Definitely letting me know my guns are still on the money.


  8. B.B.,

    Off topic as well,… but please (briefly) explain the reason for left or right hand twist in rifling. I had thought that it has something to do with being North or South of equator,.. but to be honest,… I am totally clueless.

    With that, I find it hard to believe that a worldwide manufacturer/distributer would offer 2 different twist directions, based solely on N/S hemisphere.

    Thanks,…. Chris


    • Chris,

      Left or right-hand twist makes no difference anywhere. Harry Pope rifles with a left-hand twist.

      You are thinking of Coriolis Force and rifling doesn’t begin to react to that in smallbore firearms. In larger rifles like artillery pieces and Naval cannons it does matter. But those are high-angle weapons (they shoot in a high arc) and their projectiles go for many miles.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        Thank you. That puts that myth to rest. I did see where shooting East or West did make a difference in (very) long shots regarding elevation POI at target with high power, center fire rounds,.. Coriolis effect,… as you said. 18″-24″ POI difference at 1000 yards as I recall.

        Thank you,…… Chris


        • ChrisUSA,

          How far the shot goes is not really a parameter that directly effects Coriolis impact on ballistic flight; the real variable is time of flight. I’ll try to explain: the projectile more or less leaves the Earth! Not totally since the atmosphere does move with Earth’s rotation. That rotational velocity, at the Equator, is approximately 990 MPH (460 meters per second.) Can you imagine if the lower atmosphere didn’t travel with the Earth’s surface! It sure would be windier than Kansas! East/West shots rise or drop and North South shots are effected; to the North they appear to veer left and shots to the South veer right (in both Northern and Southern Hemisphere.) Since the apparent rotational velocity decreases as you move from Equator to either Pole the actual computations are highly complex.

          So the big takeaway is time of flight is the significant variable.

          Airgun pellets with long flight times are therefore effected proportionally more than hypervelocity center-fire long-range rounds.

          shootski


          • Shootski,

            Thank you for that further clarification. Yes, time spent in flight.

            Here is the video I saw I few years ago the shows actual targets fired to the east and again to the west. 12″ was more like the difference, not the 18-24″ I mentioned above. Not only was elevation affected, but also left/right POI.

            https://nortonsafe.search.ask.com/search?chn=&cmpgn=&ctype=videos&doi=&geo=&guid=&locale=en_US&o=APN11912&p2=%5EEQ%5Ezz00us%5E&page=1&prt=&q=The+long+rangers+shooting+TV+show%2C+coriolis+effect&tpr=10&trackId=&ver=22.16.4.15&pToken=CAoQAQ&ots=1553948171849

            Worth a quick 5 minute watch for those that have never seen it.

            Thanks,….. Chris

            Edit,… well that did not quite work. It is the 2nd video shown in the column, running 5:15.


            • ChrisUSA,

              Thanks for sharing the link. I guess the explanation continues to see the bullet leaving the Earth part but that it still flys in the airmass got lost (or cut do to time constraints. I suspect that most hunters don’t move North and South far enough to see the full effect on windage (left-right) error.
              So if a pellet flys for 0.5 SECONDS to a target 50 yards away to the West you could expect about 1/3″ of error with a 450 FPS Airgun. Is that a significant error?
              Depends on if you want your first shot to count; otherwise you might only complain that your scope/rifle just doesn’t hold zero very well…imagine that! I suspect if I set up an FT course I would be very tempted toset up my sight in range North-South and my first two lanes East-West and West-East. Talk about messing with the shooters minds!!!!!

              Do you think some match director has done just that?

              shootski


              • Shootski,

                Well, that sounds like a bit of an advanced course. If not mistaken, HFT is walking a course and FT is at the range in lanes. I could see directional changes occurring in HFT. I could also see that applying to actual hunting scenarios.

                I shoot directly due North at the house all of the time from the bench.

                So, without shooting all 4 directions at 50 yards, how much will a pellet move by changing shooting directions? Does it move? If it does move,… guesstemating how much will be fine.

                One thing I do not assume is that my sight in check will be the same from day to day. I will do a known sight in at say 43 yards and then click the scope to be on for that day. Temp., humidity and other factors. I can do a plus 1~2+ clicks one day and take the 1~2+ back the next session.

                Chris


                • Chris USA,

                  I’m no expert on Field Target by any stretch of the imagination (my rifles always had to much FPS) so those with more experience with FT/HFT please chime in. As best I can tell FT doesn’t need to be at a formal shooting range as long as all the usual range safety considerations can be met for each lane. I would imagine that issue might drive folks to set up on a formal range for the convenience of oversight of the participants and liability protections. I have however seen FT done on properties that are not formal ranges. The shooting lanes were set to provide all the clear fire and backstop safety functions.

                  As far as how much:
                  “So, without shooting all 4 directions at 50 yards, how much will a pellet move by changing shooting directions? [On the West direction shot POI will drop since the Earth appears to cause the target to “rise relative to the POA and the target is moving toward the pellet by up to 460 MPS shortening the time of flight from muzzle to target” during the pellets flight; to the East the pellet Earth does the exact opposite.]
                  Does it move? [Yes, it (Point Of Impact) does! The ballistics say it must. The effect is often masked by the other External Ballistic variables. The North-South directional shots are also effected in Windage but not nearly as apparent with just a change in direction at a given latitude as opposed to the much greater change caused by moving the rifle from the Earth’s Equator to the Polar regions. Remember that the rotational velocity 460 meters per second is at the Equator at the both geographic Poles the rotational velocity is ZERO!]
                  If it does move,… guesstemating how much will be fine. [Since it does move both Elevation and Windage I’ll start with the least understood which is Elevation changes. The reason for that is that we don’t shoot in a vacuum. If we did shoot with no atmosphere and your location was the Equator shooting North or South with a 1/4 second time of flight your error on the North shot would be 115 meters to the left! Turning 180° and shooting to the South you would miss your POA by 115meters to the right. So why doesn’t that happen in reality? Because of the surface drag of the Earth causing the lower atmosphere to move, mostly, with the Earth’s rotation (thank God or we would all been blown away long ago along with everything else on Earth’s surface.) But we can’t ignore it if we have our rifle sighted in to the North at our Base of Operations located at the Equator and we are ordered on a mission to take out a target at 45°N Lat. and can only take one shot from our hide which is due South of the target. If we don’t have our data with Coriolis effect factored in I can tell you that we will miss to the Left (by 57.5 meters if in a vacuum and by some amount to the Left in normal Earth atmospherics. I can’t tell you by how much to the Left without a bit more atmospherics information.]

                  Okay forgot your estimate for Elevation! You say your sighting in to the North at 43 yards. If you turn your bench and shoot to the West at 300 meters per second with your favorite rifle your POI compared to POA would show approximately a tenth of an inch lower impact. That is a real wag! Just think of your video that rifle was shooting at least three times faster than your Airgun so flight time to 1,000 meters would be about one second your flight time to 43 yards might be say 1/23rd that time. So instead of 8′ of drop you get 1/10th inch drop…in FT that might be enough to cause a split!

                  So does that help? Can’t you tell I love this Balistics stuff!

                  shootski


                  • Shootski
                    So basically it boils down to checking your poi in a practice session wherever you will be shooting at. That is available at feild target matches. But not at 360°. Just one direction.

                    Maybe one of the retired reader’s on the blog can take a trip around the country and log some shooting data and see if it does indeed change when shooting at different directions.

                    Darn and another reason I wish I was retired. 🙂


                    • Gunfun1,

                      Someone could do that but the sniper Balistics calculators already prove what you would/will have fun doing once you retire!
                      If you sight in in that one direction you are sighted in! Your compensation comes from your shooting data log. You know that!
                      shootski


                  • Shootski
                    Sort of. Remember those are estimators not real world results.

                    They give you a idea. But not what truly happens when you shoot real world with your equipment.


                    • GF1,

                      Well there you have it!,….. You do not know for sure what will happen until you actually do it. Like Shootski said,… either you have a log (for all scenarios) or you don’t.

                      Chris


                  • Shootski,

                    LOL! 😉 I always love it when I ask you some off hand, oft (admittedly) ill researched question and you come back with enough stuff ( and oft more than one link) that sets me back in my seat, scratching my head for a week or so. 😉

                    So,…. 1/10 of an inch? I’ll guarantee that I screw up worse than that at 50 yards on regular basis,.. despite any Earth rotation!

                    Question is,.. does BB think that this is a worthy research/blog topic for airguning? I am sure that this topic has been questioned in the H/FT community of shooting multiple directions.

                    Thank You,… as always,…. Chris


          • Shootski
            I agree.

            “So the big takeaway is time of flight is the significant variable.

            Airgun pellets with long flight times are therefore effected proportionally more than hypervelocity center-fire long-range rounds.”


  9. B.B.,
    Nice shooting on your part; but my favorite take-away from today’s report is this bit:
    “Now, in the 1950s the Germans (and Americans) never used just one part when 27 would do.”
    That’s a great line; I hope you don’t mind if I borrow it for future use. =>
    take care & God bless,
    dave


  10. Rotary “magazines” have been in use for 150 years.  They work reliably.  Why has the simple cylinder been complicated by adding springs?  Magnet vs pin?  I have 2 Crosman 1077’s that use a cylinder with retaining bands that have worked for years.  My Hammerli 850 uses the same type cylinder and works great.  The KISS principle still applies.

    If the 850 had more power, I wouldn’t be writing this.  But pests cannot be trusted to stay within 30 yards.  I have been looking for a mid priced pcp with a simple cylinder.  American made is preferred, but the only one I have found is the Hatsan at44-10.  Have I missed something?  This seems like a good place to gather more info.


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