Marksman model 70
Marksman model 70 breakbarrel rifle.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • What is a Marksman spring-piston air rifle?
  • The great reveal
  • Buying companies costs money
  • BSF S70
  • The back story
  • Marked Marksman
  • BSF tooling
  • Rekord trigger
  • However
  • Transfer port block is not swaged in the spring tube
  • Scope base
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today’s report breaks ground in the history of airguns. Get ready for a download! There is so much to tell that this report will take many more than three parts. Yippie!

What is a Marksman spring-piston air rifle?

Well, this is where things get iffy. I scoured the internet for information and when it came to the Marksman breakbarrel spring-piston rifles we are going to explore today, most “facts” began with, “I’ve always heard…” or, It seems to me…” or, “I’m not certain, but…”

The great reveal

Today I’m going to brush away much of that temporization and give you some solid facts. And I am going to weave the airgun companies of BSF, Weihrauch, Marksman and Beeman together and then separate them to the best of my ability.

Some have said the Marksman 70 was the progenitor of the Beeman R9. Well, it isn’t. If anything, it’s closer to the Beeman R 10 that proceeded the R9 by several years.

The simple story many have heard goes like this — BSF, an airgun maker from Erlangen, Germany, went out of business in the late 1980s and Weihrauch either bought the company, or they bought the pieces of the company after it folded. The latter approach is often the cheapest and exposes your company to the least liability from the company that’s going out of business. The former approach gives you more control over what you get.

But here is the deal. This couldn’t have taken place in the late 1980s if one of the outcomes was the Beeman R10. Because that rifle is shown in a Beeman catalog from 1986. It takes several months to put together a catalog the size of the Beeman catalog, so the parts that became the R10 had to be under Weihrauch’s control sometime no later than 1985. Now, when one company buys another, the two parties talk for a time before the deal. In this instance that could have given Weihrauch’s engineers time to examine BFS’s models and determine what could be done with them.

Buying companies costs money

Buying a company costs money, and it often costs more than the purchased company is worth. If the company being purchased has outstanding debts, the purchaser has to service them up front and assume the payments for ongoing debts. They either do that or risk liens against their company or other legal actions. So it would seem (and I am the one who is guessing now) that this transfer had to take place in the first part of the 1980s.

BSF S70

At that time the BSF S55, S60, S70 and S80 rifles were being produced. The S70 was close to the top of this line and it weighed 7 pounds. The S80 was the top model and weighed 8.25 pounds, so it must have been larger than the S70 in some way. I think that it became the basis for the Marksman models 70 and 72.

I have reported on the BSF S70 many times, most recently in 2017. I know that rifle pretty well, so I will use it to support what I am about to tell you.

Before you engineering types ask me to start measuring things on the Marksman rifle, I have to tell you — there are some significant differences in these rifles and you are going to see a Rekord trigger today that I had no idea ever existed!

BSF S70
The BSF S70 was near the top of the BSF sporting rifle line. The BSF S80 was the very top and was a larger rifle. I have never seen one of them, but I do currently own an S70.

The back story

This rifle we are looking at was offered to me several months ago. A man had a Marksman model 72 in .177 caliber and this model 70 in .22 caliber, and he asked my advice on where best to sell them. Both were new in the box. So I told him I would like to buy one of them. I had bought a number of things at the time and couldn’t afford both rifles, so I offered what I thought was fair and he accepted. I bought the .22-caliber model 70. It arrived a couple weeks later. It and was/is as advertised — brand new in the box. But it is different from what I have heard and some of the differences I believe you will find interesting.

Marksman model 70 box
The Marksman model 70 is new in the box.

Marked Marksman

On page 716 of the current edition of the Blue Book of Airguns, it says that many of the airguns that Marksman imported from Milbro, BSA, Diana and Weihrauch are not marked with the Marksman name. Well, this one is. On the left side of the base block it says MARKSMAN, MOD 70, Cal 5.5 mm / .22″. Under that there are two pellets shown — a pointed pellet and a wadcutter.

Marksman model 70 left
The rifle is clearly marked with the Marksman name.

On the right side of the base block the address of Marksman in Huntington Beach, California is given. They even gave the Zip code.

BSF tooling

The Blue Book mentioned that these Marksman models and others were assembled using BSF tooling. I found a second trigger in the box with my new-old rifle. While it isn’t a BSF trigger that I recognize, it also isn’t anything else I recognize. It’s certainly not a Rekord, though it does have the same piston catch in front.

Marksman model 70 trigger
This second trigger came separate in the box with the Marksman 70. As you can see, it is a unitized model, but it doesn’t look like a BSF trigger that I know. The bits and pieces are to make it fit in this stock. Take note of the safety.

Rekord trigger

Someone on a forum said he doubted that Marksman model 70 rifles ever came with Rekord triggers. Well, this one does.

Marksman model 70 Rekord trigger
Yes, this Marksman model 70 does have a Rekord trigger installed.

However

This may not be the Rekord that we all know. Because on the right side of the rifle there is a safety unlike the cross button Rekord safety with which we are all familiar. Remember that safety on the extra trigger that came with the rifle? It’s the same as this one. Until I get the rifle out of the stock, we won’t know how this Rekord interacts with that safety.

Marksman model 70 safety
The safety on this Rekord trigger is identical to the one that’s on the extra trigger that came with the rifle. Is this Record made different to accommodate it?

Transfer port block is not swaged in the spring tube

If you look at the BSF S55 spring tube that reader Paul  Fitzgibbon shared with us this month, you’ll see that the steel block that holds the air transfer port  is swaged into the front of the spring tube to form the end of the compression chamber. These two swages are characteristic of BSF sporting rifles. The BSF S70 shown above has those same swages, but they don’t show up in the picture.

Marksman model 70 BFS S55 swages
Those two swages (arrows) clamp the steel block with the air transfer port to the spring tube — forming the end of the compression chamber.

On the other hand, the Marksman model 70 has no swages. The steel block is attached to the spring tube by some other means.

Scope base

The Marksman model 70 has a raised dovetail scope base that’s attached to the back of the spring tube by a screw. That’s because the spring tube is too thin to accept dovetails cut directly into it.

Marksman model 70 scope base
The Marksman model 70 scope base is attached to the spring tube by a screw. Note the two vertical scope stop holes.

Now let’s take a look at the Weihrauch HW 85 scope stop. Remember, the HW 85 is the same model as the Beeman R10, when a different stock is added.

R10 scope rail
Here is the Beeman R10/HW 85 scope rail. Notice that it has two screws instead of one. It also has two scope stop holes.

Discussion

I have a lot more to show you on this Marksman model 70. But at this point I have developed an early opinion. I believe that when the Marksman model 70 was developed by Weihrauch there was a lot happening in the company at the same time. If I’m right about their acquiring BSF before the middle of the 1980s, and I believe they did buy the whole company and not just the pieces after the company folded, then they had just developed the Beeman R1/HW 80, with the guidance of Robert Beeman. That was perhaps the first computer-modeled spring-piston air rifle, and for Weihrauch it represented a leap past their HW 35 that was stifled in power by a short piston stroke.

Weihrauch had just closed the deal to purchase BSF (this is my supposition). A lot was happening in Mellrichstadt, Weihrauch’s hometown. So, yes, I believe that the Marksman spring rifles were made with BSF tooling. But I also believe that they were made with other stuff that Weihrauch had on hand at the time. We may never sort it out completely, but I think we will end this series knowing a lot more about the BSF/Weihrauch connection than we have known up to now.

Summary

I have at least one more report to make on the general rifle before any testing begins. I have a test target to show you and the sights and some other stuff to occupy your thoughts.

As I said in the beginning, we are all going to learn a lot about this chapter in Weihrauch’s airgun development. In the end we should know more that has been said over the years — including the things written by yours truly.