BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSF S54
BSF S54 target rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Insert
  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • H&N Match Green
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Why so much better?
  • Finale Match Light again
  • One last time
  • 10-meter rifle?
  • Summary

I said the next step with this BSF S54 was a teardown and lube tune with Tune in a Tube, but I changed my mind. The front sight insert I bought from Chambers arrived and I wanted to give it a go first. I’m glad I did, as you will learn later on.

Insert

Remember, I told you that T.W. Chambers in the UK has some front sight inserts for the S54? RidgeRunner wondered if there was an aperture or ring insert for the front and I thought there might have been, so I looked. Sure enough there was and I ordered one.

BSF S54 sight inserts
The new ring insert, left, will circle the black bull and hopefully give a more precise aim point.

The test

I shot 5-shot groups at 10 meters on a sandbag rest from the bench. I used the artillery hold with my off hand resting under the rear of the very short cocking slot. This time I noticed that the butt of the rifle slides down off my shoulder when I’m in in this position and I had to reposition the rifle many times. I may have to fashion a suede cover for the butt to stop this. Fortunately I know someone who works with leather.

Sight-in

The rifle was shooting high with the new insert. It took 5 shots to get on target. I’m pleased to announce that new/old target peep I got works beautifully!

H&N Finale Match Light

First up were Finale Match Light pellets with 4.50mm heads. Five pellets went into a group that measures 0.305-inches between centers at 10 meters. The group is fairly well centered on the target but a little too large to get excited.

BSF S54 Finale Match Light group 1
The BSF S54 put 5 H&N Finale Match Light pellets in a 0.305-inch group at 10 meters.

H&N Match Green

Next up were 5 H&N Match Green pellets. They hit an inch below the aim point, but I didn’t adjust the sights because I knew I was coming back to Finale Match Lights. Five H&N Match Greens made a 0.331-inch group at 10 meters. As you can see, I had to leave the target taped to the backer board to measure this group.

BSF S54 Match Green group
Five H&N Match Green pellets made a 0.331-inch group at 10 meters.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Even though they didn’t do so well in Part 3 I had to try Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets with the new sight insert. They also grouped an inch low on the target and this time they made the best group of the test. Five went into 0.242-inches at 10 meters.

BSF S54 Sig Match group
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets made this 0.242-inch group at 10 meters.

Why so much better?

In Part 3 I shot 5 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets into 0.792-inches at 10 meters. That group was so large that I didn’t bother testing them again in Part 4. I only tested them today because I thought they might be better than that — which they were.

However — more is going on than just the new sights! This BSF S54 rifle is so hard to cock (for a 10-meter target rifle) that’s it’s starting to get to me. It took the sight-in and the first two groups to get settled in, which is one reason this Sig group is so small. But I’m also getting tired.

The cocking is harder than it needs to be, but it isn’t what I’m having the problem with. It’s the trigger. The trigger is variable and sometimes stops at stage two positively and other times just goes off as though it was a single-stage trigger. It’s hard to shoot my best when that is happening. The extra concentration that I need to get the perfect sight alignment before I start pulling the trigger seriously is what’s really wearing me out.

I need to try to get this trigger more uniform in its release. If it wasn’t a BSF trigger that might be easy, but as I have mentioned, the BSF trigger is variable. I will lubricate it when I tune the rifle and hopefully that will straighten things out.

Now, given the group you just saw, I’m sure many folks think I should adjust the sights and keep shooting the Sig pellets. But those H&N Finale Match Light pellets did so well last time that I wanted to continue with them.

Finale Match Light again

The next group is a heartbreaker. Four Finale Match pellets went into 0.147-inches at 10 meters. It looked like trime-time — EXCEPT! Shot number 4 landed high and right, opening the group to 0.862-inches! Whaaaat???

BSF S54 Finale Light group 2
Four H&N Finale Match Light pellets went into 0.147-inches at 10 meters and one pellet opened the group to 0.862-inches. What a heartbreaker!

I swear I was holding all shots to the best of my ability! The rifle must have touched something that caused it to recoil in a different direction for that one shot because shot number five went back into the same small group as shots 1 through 3.

One last time

I was pretty tired by this point from all the concentration on the trigger. But I gave it one final go. And my target shows how I was feeling. Five are in 0.616-inches, with 4 in 0.292-inches. It’s official — I’m done!

BSF S54 Finale Light group 3
Five Finale Match Light pellets went into 0.616-inches at 10 meters, with 4 in 0.292-inches.

10-meter rifle?

I don’t have the proof yet, but I’m starting to think this BSF S54 might be able to hold its own against the other top 10-meter spring-piston target rifles of its day — guns like the HW55M, the FWB 300 and the Walther LGV. It might be that the S54 is just harder to shoot well because it’s so powerful and it vibrates a lot when shot. Well, I’m planning on fixing that! So we shall see.

That’s so strange, because I never gave this rifle that much credit. The loading tap and what I thought was a loose front sight element (turned out to be just the hood over the sight) were two good reasons I thought an S54 wasn’t in the same class as the besties. But maybe it was/is. I hope to find out.

Summary

I have learned a lot about this rifle since I decided to spend some time with it. And, thanks to Chambers for having the parts I needed to make the rifle perform its best. I have a little comparison test planned for the future where the S54 gets pitted against my other vintage target rifles in a great shootoff. But first I have some things to do.

54 thoughts on “BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 5

  1. BB—-If you want to keep the butt from slipping off your shoulder, go to a hardware store and get a piece of self stick sandpaper. It is used on stairs and skate boards. I use it on rifles that have smooth, slick buttplates ( like the Diana Mauser 98k). If you ever want to remove the sandpaper, it peels off the buttplate without leaving any sticky adhesive behind. It is a simple, cheap and effective way to keep your buttplate from sliding off. ——-Ed


  2. B.B.,

    This seems to be a good example of how much accuracy can be gained after tuning. Especially once the trigger has been lubricated to be more consistent and the slipping buttplate problem has been remedied.

    Siraniko

    PS Section 10-meter rifle? Second paragraph Second sentence: “The loading tap and what I thought was a loose front sight element (turned out to be just the hood over the sight) were two good reasons I though (thought?) an S54 wasn’t in the same class as the besties.



  3. B.B.,
    What a neat rifle! One of the DIanas has a little adhesive “nubbie” stuck toward the top of the butt, to keep the butt from sliding when tucked into your shoulder. I thought it was a really cheap way to get the job done, but it might be effective and all this rifle needs, too.


    • Will S.,

      I need a replacement “nub” for my Diana. Someone here mentioned where to buy a replacement, but I don’t remember what it was. It might have been something available from home improvement stores.

      Michael


      • Michael,

        You can indeed find a good replacement for what you are looking for at such a place. They usually carry all sorts of stick’em on nubs, pads, feet, etc.


      • Michael,

        I mentioned in one of B.B.’s articles related to reviving your 427 where to find a replacement for a “pimple on the buttstock”.

        Here’s the quote:

        Kevin
        December 17, 2018 at 10:13 am
        Michael,

        I predict you’re going to really enjoy this little rifle when it returns. The diana model 27 is the complete spring gun package IMHO.

        You don’t have to fabricate or re-invent the missing “pimple on the butt” of your 427. They’re still made. A good hardware store will have them complete with the impregnated nail that allows it to be hammered into the hole in your buttstock. If you can’t find the hole, pre-drill a hole one size smaller than the nail that comes molded into the new pimple. When googling or shopping in your hardware store you’re looking for RUBBER HALF ROUNDS. See here:

        http://www.acmerubber.com/round.htm



  4. OK, I have decided which antique 10 meter air rifle I am rooting for. It is the 1906 BSA. Yeah, I know that technically it is a 10 yard air rifle, but hey… 🙂




  5. BB

    Your future shootoff between the oldies is my cup of tea. If your guns perform like mine I think I can predict the 25 yard winner but it won’t win everytime, just most of the time. I frequently have competitions with my FWB300S, LGV Olympia and LG 55 all using their standard peeps with globe fronts. These contests are so close they all have won on a given day. I prefer 25 yards which makes 10 shot group measurements easier. Just shoot inside or on a calm day.

    Oh, my oldies prefer a rested artillery hold, even the recoiless Feinwerkbau.

    Deck


  6. Gunfun1

    I do prefer resting direct on a bag and do so with all my single stroke and multi pump pneumatics. Also with my somewhat powerful Hatsun 95 Vortex (figure that). Even my HW30s and Diana 34 steel springers are at their best when rested directly on a bag.

    I don’t know why my oldies like the rested artillery hold. Perhaps their weight and comfortable fit negates my old quivering nerves. I should add its hard to hold a FWB300S wrong.

    Have a good day.

    Deck


    • Deck
      My question is why the artillery hold for the FWB 300.

      As you say it shoots good no matter how you hold it. I for sure wouldn’t go through the trouble of the artillery hold on a 300. To me the artillery hold is not comfortable. Especially off a bag.


      • Gunfun1

        I shoot airguns from a deck railing corner. Bag is on the railing and either one or both arms are free to hang down depending on what I’m shooting. Distance from eye to rear sight or scope is easy to adjust as needed. Loosely cupped palm comfortably fits between bag and rifle. This is harder for me to do shooting at the range on a table.

        You wrote FWB300. Mine is an “S”. You know the difference and think you meant FWB300S.

        I will do some more testing artillery vs rested.

        Deck


        • Deck
          Mine was actually a 300m supposedly the M stood for match. And my other one I had was a Junior. And I believe that that the S model had a different stock than the Junior or the Match if I’m remembering right.

          And I shoot from a end table that I raised so I set up straight when I shoot. I don’t lean forward. Then I use a 2×4 under my bag if needed for different height guns. So I think my shooting position is pretty much the same as yours shooting off the deck rail. I just don’t like my hand under the gun on a bag. Funny thing is though when I’m out in the woods shooting I do lay my fore hand on a branch then hold the gun in the palm of my hand no problem. I think it’s about how I got use to shooting.


          • Gunfun1

            So glad we had this discussion. I thought the best way to find out which hold is best for my FWB300S was to remove as many variables as possible. Wind is usually a problem this time of year and there was enough to make me shoot at 10 meters instead of 25 yards. I decided to use the military accuracy test. The target was the 10 meter air rifle target (NC-AR10) which has 12 bulls on each sheet. This test calls for five 5 shot groups. After several warmup shots I alternated from rested on bag to artillery hold every 5 shot group. Just trying to make this as fair as I could by ruling out fatigue, changing shadows, focus, etc. I had no idea which method was winning while shooting.

            My goodness, rested on bag beat the artillery hold averaging less than half the group size. Here are the numbers:

            Rested on bag scored .07″, .00″, .05″, .04″ and .01″ averaging .034″
            Artillery hold rested scored .07″, .10″, .05″, .07″ and .14″ averaging .086″

            Conclusion: We can quibble about my measuring and the same hole group but my method is at least consistent and 4 of 5 of first set of groups are equal or better than any of the last set. Clearly direct resting is best for this rifle

            I’m guessing I had a day when the artillery hold won and I too quickly assumed it was best. Know I know better.

            Thanks for questioning my wrong assumption.

            Deck


            • Deck
              Not really questioning you. Just thinking how one person likes to shoot one way and another person likes shooting another way.

              And thanks for the test and the info. Now the next thing is see if you can get similar results on another day. And no you don’t have to worry about doing all that work again. Just for conversation purpose is why I mentioned it.




                  • Gunfun1

                    Walther LGV Olympia and military test comparing five 5 shot groups performed same way as above FWB300S test.

                    Rested on bag scored .07, .05, .07, .10 and .10 averaging .078”
                    Artillery rested scored .12, .07, .01, .14 and .04 averaging .076”

                    No winner but 10 shot groups would favor direct on bag I think. One poor shot on my part ruins a 10 shot group. Not so much with the military test but it requires 25 shots vs 10. As BB said, more is better. Conversely the artillery hold gave the two best 5 shot groups so except for shooter error it may give best accuracy.

                    Deck


                    • Deck
                      Always different variables involved from day to day.

                      But yep on 2 groups it looks like the artillery hold won out.

                      My problem with this test is only one day. If the results repeat from day to day or they don’t that’s when more of the truth is told.

                      Just like shooting 5 shot groups verses 10 shot groups. We can not count on 1 days group giving accurate info. I say at least 3 days if not 5 days with each gun you tested. As it goes.The more you shoot the better. Just the way it is.

                      But thanks for the quick follow-up report with your shooting results.


  7. B.B.,

    For the best concentration we are capable of there are some SAFE proven things we can do:
    Get the best night’s sleep we can.
    Drink adequate amount of water throughout the day.
    Caffeine; unfortunately it is the best nonprescription aid that is disqualified for most shooters since it may cause muscle trembles.
    Beets and Beet juice are two recent additions for athletes; increased blood flow and oxygenation by dialating blood vessels.
    Bananas
    Blueberries.
    B vitamins
    Creatine

    shootski


  8. Just got freaked out.

    Every weapon of war has been rendered obsolete. Including soldiers. There is a u-tube out on an AI drone that fits in the palm of your hand. It thinks, or calculates as fast as a human and will use every data base on line, including facial recognition, to find and exterminate you. Unstoppable ! It can even organize in groups to penetrate walls.
    7 min. Stage presentation video – autonomousweapons.org-anization.

    AI will severely change our world. AI Airguns?


    • Bob M,

      I wouldn’t panic right now. In regards to power to weight ratio that one is full of crock. There is a limit to the range of those ultralight drones and their carrying capacity is also extremely limited. So a flying assassin right now is going to have an extremely short range and would be more efficient to be under human control rather than under an AI. The closest equivalent that actually works is from the Russian who mounted an AK to a gas powered drone under manual control.

      Siraniko



      • Siraniko
        Here’s a thought.

        I have flown RC airplanes for some time. Electric and fuel. The props on them are very dangerous especially when doing 100mph. They are like misses with a lawnmower blade attached.

        Get a bunch of those mini drones flying at you with all 4 props unshrouded. That wouldn’t be no fun if one hit you. But imagine if a hundred or more hit you. I would say it would be deadly. Or at least enough to put you in shock and wondering where the nearest ER is.


  9. Bob M,

    I’m going to ask a series of questions:
    AI has certainly made some strides in the past three years to reach a point that was promised by the industry but that is in fact decades later than was initial adverised. So IF the autonomous automobiles can’t hack it on the highways with all manner of RF (Radio Frequency) connectedness how will these really small drones?
    They need some navigational input…GPS/GLONASS both of which can be denied to various users and levels of users. So how will it/they know present location?
    Group organization. How does the SWARM communicate with each other that is not vulnerable to countermeasures?
    Most every electronic device has nonlinear circuits and they can be disrupted in almost all instances. How will that be fixed and the unit still be palm sized?
    If it is a flying drone then it has impellers of some sort. How can they be protected from direct physical attack with Mylar or other chaff.
    Lots of other issues that fall outside an UNCLASSIFIED Blog.

    Sleep well (better) tonight….that Hum you hear is just the A/C!!!!!

    shootski



  10. What will they be like in 12 years? That’s how long ago the iphones were introduced. If we can immagine something we can build it–and a lot sooner than people think. We will also have ways to misuse, hack, and destroy it.


  11. Well, I’m a messed up rookie. I bought a used Beeman RX2, lowered the gas pressure so it shot .22 at 793 fps, watched BB’s video on how to shoot a springer, and proceeded to shoot the dots off the paper! I mean punch out magic marker dots at 20 yards! Got the Sidewinder scope all dialed in… I was just ectatic! That was yesterday. Today I discover that the sporter class of air rifle silhouette limits the total weight of the gun, scope, etc. to 11 pounds. This gun, with scope, weighs 12.16 lbs. I’m sad. Is there such a thing as a 1 lb scope that will work for silhouette?? any suggestions I really hate to turn loose of this gun, but what is my best sporter alternative?
    Ed in Arkansas


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