Stoeger S4000E Black Synthetic Suppressed rifle combo: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Stoeger S4000E MGS
Stoeger S4000E breakbarrel rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Good comments
  • Cleaning the barrel
  • Baffles and sights
  • Stock screws
  • Tight hold
  • Pellets, pellets…
  • The secret
  • Relax!
  • The next day
  • Other pellets
  • 10 shots
  • Discussion
  • Is this a world-beater?
  • Summary

Today I will finish testing the Stoeger S4000E rifle at 25 yards, and what a tale I have to tell you! Grab your coffee and let’s get started.

We already saw the rifle shot at 25 yards and the groups were not that impressive. But I saw a potential that I sometimes see that made me work harder with this rifle for many reasons. Today you will see why I do that and also what it sometimes takes to make an air rifle shoot.

Good comments

Several readers commented on my Part 4 report. Some commiserated with the outcome but a couple gave me good suggestions for things I ought to try next time. RidgeRunner reminded me to clean the barrel with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. I should have done that before but I missed it, and thankfully RR was there to remind me.

Cleaning the barrel

Because the S4000E has a gas piston you can cock it and leave it cocked without worrying about the mainspring. Compressed air does not take a set! That makes cleaning the barrel much easier because there is no time crunch.

I cleaned the barrel with a brass brush filled with plenty of JB Compound, but I’ll tell you, the barrel wasn’t that dirty. Sure some stuff came out, but where a brass brush will usually take a lot of force for the first 10-12 passes each way, in this rifle the barrel was smooth in just two. I still ran the brush all the way through the bore both ways 20 times and followed that by cleaning and drying the bore thoroughly. Whatever the condition of the bore was before, it wouldn’t be a factor anymore.

Baffles and sights

RidgeRunner also thought I might try mounting a dot sight to see what that would do. I did that and it did nothing. And he thought the baffles could be a problem. I examined them when I cleaned the bore and they weren’t.

Stock screws

Reader Rk reminded me to check the stock screws. The two on the forearm were tight but the one behind the triggerguard was loose. When I tightened it, the entire barreled action was sucked down into the stock. That is real bad for accuracy! After that I checked that screw about every 20 shots.

Tight hold

Reader Silentsniper gave me his special tight hold for guns with gas springs. I tried it first and shot 5 H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 5.53mm heads into 2.047-inches at 25 yards. Maybe I didn’t hold it right, but I tried doing exactly what he said. That was too bad because he had me grasping the forearm at exactly the place the rifle’s designers wanted me to hold it. It felt great; it just didn’t work.

S4000E tight hold group
When I held the rifle with a tight grip as reader Silentsniper advised, five H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 2.047-inches at 25 yards. In the picture the head of the pellet rolled into one of the pellet holes and I didn’t notice it until I ran the photo through Photoshop for this report. Sorry.

Pellets, pellets…

I tried about 12 different pellets — all without success. I also tried many variations of holds. I had the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight mounted for some of this and then I replaced it with the factory 4-power scope. Like in Part 4, I would get three pellets in a good group, then two fliers. That happened with either sight. It didn’t happen with every pellet I tried, but it happened often enough that I knew the rifle is accurate. I shot a total of 95 pellets on the second day of 25-yard testing before finding the secret.

The secret

At the end of a multi-hour session I suddenly remembered the most hold-sensitive spring-piston air rifle I ever tested. It was a Beeman Crow Magnum, which is another name for a Theoben Eliminator. When I wrote my newsletter I could not get that rifle to shoot! I changed barrels from .25 caliber to .20 caliber because many people advised me that was the way to go. I even had Ben Taylor — the Ben in Theoben — talk me through cleaning the barrel at the SHOT Show years ago! Nothing could make that pellet-shooting jackhammer work — until I found out what could. It is the most fundamental level of the artillery hold. I describe it in my videos but I seldom do it because it takes so much concentration.

Relax!

Relax — that is the big secret! Get into your hold, put the crosshairs in the center of the bull, then close your eyes and relax. Relax completely! Open your eyes, and, if the crosshairs are still within a half-inch of where you want to shoot, line them back up and take the shot. If they aren’t, adjust your hold and body until they stay there. This procedure guarantees that when the rifle recoils it won’t go in some direction that your body is spring-loaded to send it. It will always recoil the exact same way every time.

If the crosshairs move when you relax, try shifting your elbows, your feet and even the position of your hand on the rest. Don’t stop until those crosshairs stay where you want them when you relax. I did this for shots 91 to 95 with JSB Exact RS pellets and look what happened! Five pellets landed in 0.957-inches at 25 yards. I know that isn’t as tight as we would like to see, but I had been shooting for several hours to get to this point!

S4000E best hold group 1
The last group of a long shooting session netted me this. Five shots are in 0.957-inches at 25 yards. There are 6 shots on this target, but the lower left hole is from a sight-in. It doesn’t belong to this group.

By this time in the day I was very tired. Rather than shoot another group, I adjusted the scope two clicks up and two clicks to the left and put the rifle away. The next morning I would be rested and ready to do my best.

The next day

And I did great! The first two shots went where they had gone before from scope stiction (the crosshairs don’t move when the adjustments are made, but after one or two shots they are jarred loose and suddenly shift to the new location). The first group I shot was 5 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.547-inches at 25 yards. I relaxed for each shot and really concentrated on doing my best. It paid off. The S4000E rifle is accurate — just like I thought.

S4000E best hold group 2
At 25 yards the S4000E put 5 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.547-inches when I did my part.

Other pellets

I then tried to shoot two different pellets and missed the target paper completely with four shots. I started to adjust the scope for the second pellet when it dawned on me — what was I doing? I already knew a pellet that was accurate. Let’s see how accurate it is.

10 shots

This time I wanted to shoot 10 shots, to show that the 5-shot groups from the day before and this morning were not flukes. I adjusted the scope back to the previous setting, or as close as I could get and opened the JSB Exact RS tin again. I shot the same way as before — relaxing before each shot. After 5 shots I could see that it was still good, so I went downrange and photographed the group just in case I blew it with the final 5 shots. I didn’t measure this group, and when I enlarger the picture I saw that it is horribly out of focus. But it’s proof for what I’m going to show you next.

S4000E first 5 shots
The first 5 shots of a 10-shot group. Sorry for the blur.

This group was not as small as the previous 5-shot group. It was more like the group from the previous day, but somewhat larger. I was still relaxing for every shot.

On the next 5 shots, though, something remarkable happened. I could feel in my off hand when the shot was ready to go. The rifle felt dead-calm in my hand and I knew the pellet was going to the right place. As a result, the final 5 shots did not change the size of the group. Ten shots went into 1.134-inches. But look at the group. Seven of the 10 shots are in 0.725-inches.

S4000E second 5 shots
The final 5 shots did not enlarge the group. It measures 1.134-inches between centers.

Discussion

Gentlemen — the final 5 shots in this group are tighter because I am starting to learn how to shoot this rifle. That’s what happens when you have an accurate air rifle that requires a knack to shoot well. Once you learn the knack, you get consistently better.

Is the JSB RS pellet the only pellet that does well in the S4000-E? I doubt it. But each pellet goes to such a different place on the target that the scope has to be adjusted for every one. I learned that in Part 3, which you’ll see if you go back and read it again.

I did all this with a 4-power scope and I would also like to say that the scope that comes with the S4000E is extremely bright and clear at 25 yards. You will be able to use it as long as you wish. I could even see the .22 caliber pellet holes inside the black bull at 25 yards through this scope.

Is this a world-beater?

Is the Stoeger S4000E a world-beater bargain. Absolutely! Or, it’s not. You be the judge. If you want to become a better shot, this is the best value on the market today. But if you don’t like trying hard to do your best, better go with a precharged gun. I’m telling you right now, $150 buys a heck of a lot of airgun!

Summary

I have now tested the Stoeger S4000E as thoroughly as I can and I find it to be a great value. It’s powerful, accurate, has a smooth firing cycle and is easy to cock. But it’s a rifle you have to devote yourself to. It’s a rifle you have to get used to and be willing to learn how it works. I did that for you in the five parts of this report because I believe this is a rifle worth spending the time to learn. I was as transparent as I could be and showed you all my mistakes as I learned the rifle. Hopfully they will help those of you who decide to take the plunge and get one.

My thanks to Benelli USA for providing this rifle for the test. I hope they got as much out of these reports as you did.

26 thoughts on “Stoeger S4000E Black Synthetic Suppressed rifle combo: Part 5

  1. BB
    Yep natural positioning on the bag makes a difference. I figured you always do that when you shoot a gun.

    Maybe BB should go back and test some other guns and do that and see what happens with the groups. 😉



  2. B.B.,

    Glad you got it to shoot. I remember Shootski provided some links awhile back on the finer points of shooting. One thing I remember was that relaxing was very key. For example,.. when shooting prone,… you should be able to stand and the go prone and the rifle will be on the bull every time. If not,.. stand and repeat.

    I also remember doing that when I had my springers and much more time than now. When I did truly relax,… my groups were great. Having that recoil be the same (every time) was key. Any variation in body contact or rest contact could affect the results. I also believe that would be key for even shooting a gentle PCP well.

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


  3. BB,

    I am afraid I cannot take credit for suggesting cleaning the barrel or using the dot sight.

    This sounded a lot like me learning to shoot my Gamo CFX. That sproinger reminded me so much about shooting that I had forgotten over the years. I once again learned about “the zone” and how to take my mind and body there as I prepare to squeeze the trigger.

    Learning to shoot an airgun, most especially a sproinger, can teach you so much about yourself. Being able to set the entire world aside and allow yourself to experience that one particular shot, and then another, and then another… My wife does not understand how I can sometimes shoot for hours, yet she does the same with crocheting. At the end of those sessions I will sometimes be physically tired, but so refreshed in my mind.

    I am glad you were able to prove this is a decent air rifle. There are many decent airguns out there, most especially sproingers, that will not “break the bank” if you take the time to learn them and yourselves. Even an “old hand” like myself needs to be reminded of that occasionally.


    • RR,

      “Being able to set the entire world aside and allow yourself to experience that one particular shot, and then another, and then another… ” The ZEN of shooting – you summarized it in one sentence!

      For me, its relaxation of the body and intense concentration on the .050″ dot I have in the center of the bullseye. The handling of the gun and the actual shooting is a separate thing entirely.

      I’ve neglected my sproingers for too long and need to get back to them!


      • Hank,

        You do indeed need to pick up the sproinger. I have a couple of very nice PCPs, but it is the sproingers I choose for enjoyment.

        Now as for the size of the target, if I am using a scope it is an X. Aim small, miss small.


        • RR,

          You have vintage, older springers,… as I recall. “Vintage” and “older” (alone) would be reason to pick them up on a regular basis. I do hope to own a vintage springer someday.

          Chris


          • Chris,

            I have a couple of “new” ones also, but the old gals are definitely my favorites.

            Picking up an antique air rifle is a lot easier than you may think and most often a lot cheaper than you think. Three of mine I have picked up for one hundred dollars or less.

            Some of mine I have gotten from BB as he knows I will give them a good home. 😉 An airgun or gun show is another great place to get one. Place want ads on the airgun forum. Keep an eye out for them on the auction sites. Believe it or not, yard sales can get you some sweet deals.


  4. B.B.,

    In paragraph 18 you write, “On the next 5 shots, though, something remarkable happened. I could feel in my off hand when the shot was ready to go. The rifle felt dead-calm in my hand and I knew the pellet was going to the right place.” I believe you achieved the essence of being the rifle, being the pellet. It sounds hokey, I know, but by feeling and being in the moment rather than thinking and analyizing, one finds the way.

    In his Introduction for Eugen Herrigel’s “Zen in the Art of Archery,” Daisetz T. Suzuki begins, “In the case of archery, the hitter and the hit are no longer two opposing objects, but are one reality. The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bull’s-eye which confronts him. This state of consciousness is realized only when, completely empty and rid of the self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the act.” – Daisetz T. Suzuki, 1953

    For me it is parallel parking. If I think about how to do it, I will likely fail during my first attempt, but if I simply DO it, without hesitation or thinking, the car slides into place perfectly and without effort every single time.

    Michael


    • Michael,

      “Do not try. Do, or do not.”

      Good ol’ Dai had it right. Here I was having thought I had figured out what so many had taught and shown me and this feller over in Japan has done written about it before I was born.


    • Michael,

      Have this book and while I think it is a bit “heavy” reading it is a good one. I like archery and think it relates strongly to all shooting sports.

      May seem weird but I have been asked to teach quite a number of people to shoot rifles and my normal approach is to start out having them learn to shoot instinctively with a bow.

      Find that, with a bow you quickly learn the importance of a consistent stance, draw, release and follow through affects accuracy. Shooting without sights teaches eye-hand coordination and focus. Always found that anybody who can shoot half decently with a bow has the potential to become an excellent shot with a rifle.

      That, and there is a special sort of pleasure in drawing a hefty bow and watching the smooth flight of the arrow to the target. Need to do that more!

      Cheers,
      Hank


      • Vana2,

        I’m a Bowman, I certainly would never call myself an Archer, I find (found as a young boy) that the David’s Sling taught me what you found with the bow Hank. To “…quickly learn the importance of a consistent stance, [draw,] release and follow through affects accuracy. Shooting without sights teaches eye-hand coordination and focus.”
        I also believe the original Olympic Sports provide a strength of mind and body that can’t be replicated by any of the modern land sports…even Biathlon!

        shootski


        • Shootski,

          What are your definitions of Bowman and Archer? I ask because I have always thought the two terms to be interchangeable.

          Interesting that you mention the David’s Sling – they are an awesome weapon. Discovered those in my early teens. Have one in the drawer downstairs …come to think of it, I can’t remember not having one handy. I use mine most at this time of year – the crabapples make excellent ammo!

          Hank


          • Vana2,

            My opinion ONLY: A Bowman is equivalent to the trooper in the shooting ranks of black powder days, a competent rifleman but NOT a Sniper. The Archer in my mind is the Designated Marksman and the best are Snipers.

            The song can be fabricated from various animal and plan materials, is relatively easy to fashion and plentiful ammunition can be found almost anywhere!

            The David’s Sling is (in my opinion based on my experience) the longest range of simple man powered tools of the Ancients and today. I compare it to the other balistic tools available: the simple bow, shotput, hammer, discus, and Javelin.

            Got any I have overlooked Hank?

            shootski


            • Thanks Shootski,

              Since I am not practicing much I guess I would fall into the Designated Marksman category these days. When I hunted, I’d practice at least an hour a day for a month before the deer season opened.

              Used to be that I could do three consecutive 2 inch groups of three arrows at 20 yards pretty consistently with my compound bow (sights and a release) and 3 inch groups shooting a homemade bow instinctively. Didn’t like to shoot more than three arrows in a set because it damaged too many of them.

              Don’t deer hunt anymore but with the cooler weather and the deer changing their summer rust-colored coats for the winter grey ones the itch to shoot a bow is very strong. I’ll get the target butt out soon – need to make a dozen or two arrows first – I break a lot hunting rabbits.

              You have most of the “primitive” weapons covered, there is the atlatl; bolo and boomerang. I used to use an atlatl quite a bit and became fairly proficient with it but it’s a bit heavy-duty for rabbits and I wouldn’t use it for deer (it’s probably not legal to anyway).

              I used to get a lot of cottontail rabbits with a heavy throwing stick that was a cross between a “rabbit stick” and a boomerang. It was a thick-sectioned (1 1/2 to 2 inch) airfoil that produced enough lift to allow it to skim along in the ground-effect (conveniently, at about the height of a rabbits head).

              Guess of all the “primitive” weapons I like a 45-50 pound draw simple flat self bow the best – they just make meat!

              Hank


  5. B.B.
    Interesting about the rear trigger guard screw. I got rid of mine altogether. Maybe include a yoga ball instead
    of the scope? Eat more spinach and less salt, watch your pulse come down. The reticle doesn’t bounce around so much. Is it bad juju to dry fire a gas ram? Always looking for a new rackmate for the R10. Best,
    Rob


    • Rob,

      I’m not talking about the heartbeat bouncing the reticle. I have that under control. Resting pulse is less than 40 BPM.

      I’m talking about where the rifle POINTS when you relax. If it ain’t at the center of the bull, your shot will go wide.

      B.B.


  6. This is a little late, had a problem with my password, my memory, I think.

    I want to give lots of kudos for the Sept. 13 blog. You asked so many very good questions. Questions that I should have thought through before looking into airguns at all.

    No, I am NOT a shooter. Yes, life is very busy, some self imposed and some is just life. Yes, I like to hit what I shoot at. If so, there will not be a second shot. No shooting buddies, I shoot by myself since that is the nature of what I wanted to accomplish (pesting). However I have acquired a shooting buddy, our eldest Grandson. Great satisfaction in that.

    The money part is almost funny. I did some research and bought what I thought was a good mid-level airgun. To date I have about $800 in several guns, hand pumps, etc. It seems that I have to relearn the wisdom of buying the better tool at the outset, rather than buying cheap and then buying the good when the first fails or is not up to the task. The real hoot is that the chipmunk overpopulation that started my grand quest for the airgun has been resolved by a couple of feral cats, while I been learning about airgunning. I may have actually killed two ‘munks, the cats got the rest.

    I’m learning how deep the well of knowledge around airguns can be and how many variables there are. That continues to be revealed with each day’s blog and comments.

    As well, I was clueless regarding how much the level of finesse and skill of the shooter could affect the performance of the airgun. Your blog today shows that in spades. Wow! I’d have quit long ago. Shooting an airgun well can take as much skill and focus as music, maybe more.

    I do enjoy the blog, Thank you for the work that you put into each days offering. I’ll continue to lurk and learn. Perhaps become a more skilled shooter, who knows?

    Dan


    • Dan,

      I would have quit long ago too, except I have been here before. I knew this rifle could shoot and wanted find out what it took.

      There are readers who can only afford one airgun at a time, and even that comes dear. I want them to know what they are getting, so they can make that all-important decision.

      B.B.


      • BB
        So it looks like follow through wins out again.

        Learning to read follow through is what gets you headed down the right path of accuracy. (said that on the previous report).

        That then becomes what needs done to keep the gun pointed in it’s natural position to the target.

        It’s so big of a deal it ain’t funny.


        • GF1,

          Yep, it ain’t funny. Which is what I’m trying to say.

          I explained everything that is needed to keep the rifle pointed straight in this report.

          Why did I forget it until last?

          1. Because it’s hard to do and I have been known to be lazy

          2. Rifles like the TX200 and ASP20 are forgiving. And here is the really big one —

          3. I did it last because once I succeeded there wasn’t more to do. I was done. 😉

          B.B.



          • BB,
            Wouldn’t a rifle that is more forgiving inherintly be a better rifle? I can make a ragged hole with a tx200 or 97k off a bag no issue and no thinking at my 21 yard limit. If you have to really try and get get poorer results that doesn’t add up for me.


          • B.B.,

            Enjoyable read for certain. I think you proved that many an INaccurate rifle/pistol/weapon is really the fault of the shooter without the tenacity to hunker down and do the work of learning all there is to learn from a new piece.

            I have started videoing my shooting sessions with a GoPro and then watching for all the GLITCHES in my shooting routine. It has been a real eye-opening experience; a great coach can do that but can never know as well what I felt or thought when (or as each GLITCH happened I’m still learning which angles are the best for which position for rifle and pistol shot. Perhaps a really quiet drone, is called for, that follows me around for hunting to show how I blow that from time to time too!

            shootski


  7. B.B.,

    It took too much voodoo to get this Stoeger shooting straight.

    The average Joe Six-Pack shopping for a cheap, 1000 fps hunting air rifle at the big box store will be lucky to hit a baked bean tin at 25 yards with this thing, never mind clean headshots on cottontails or tree-rats.


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