FWB 300S vintage target air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The FWB 300S is considered the gold standard of vintage target air rifles.

Some more history
The first part of this report was certainly met with a lot of enthusiasm, so I think I’ll add some more history today. In the comments to Part 1, we had a discussion of the sport called Running Target. Some called it Running Boar, which it was for several decades, and long before that it was called Running Stag.

The sport originated in Germany, I believe, though it was probably popular in Austria and perhaps even in Switzerland. It existed at least as far back as the mid-19th century and was shot outdoors at a target pulled on tracks by human power. The original target was a male chamois made of wood with a target where the heart of the animal would be. But that target evolved into a male red deer, called a stag. The stag was exposed to the shooter for a specific number of seconds.

In time, the stag was replaced by a running boar, because the stag was thought to be a noble animal and the boar wasn’t so highly regarded…though in England they did have a similar sport called Running Deer.

As the match evolved, it picked up rules. There was a slow presentation of the target (5 seconds) and a fast presentation (2.5 seconds), and the shooter was supposed to shoot one shot on each pass. The target was engaged in both directions during the match. It wasn’t long before the wooden animals were switched for paper targets that were both cheaper and easier to score.

The Running Boar target was double-ended so it could be used in both directions on the same track.

The aim point was usually the animal’s nose, but that was the choice of each shooter.

Over the years, the rifles they used changed from muzzleloaders to centerfires, and eventually to rimfires and airguns, because of the increased opportunities for range safety. Today, both rimfires and airguns are still being used at the World Cup level.

The guns have traditionally used sights that account for the movement of the target and allow the correct amount of lead. When scopes came into the event, they were specialized with reticles that allowed for the lead to be dialed in. Anyone who owns an FWB 300S Running Target rifle with the correct scope has something to prize.

Gary Anderson brought a running target range to the Roanoke Airgun Expo back in the late 1990s, giving many airgunners the opportunity to closely examine the target setup. By the 1970s, the sport had become Running Target — to assuage those who felt shooting at boars was not politically correct. The sport was part of the 1992 Olympics, but was dropped after the 2004 games. It’s a sport that goes in and out of fashion as the years pass; but it’s still a World Cup event, so we may see more of it in time.

When the change was made to Running Target, the target was changed to a target with one central aim point and two bulls — one for each direction.

Velocity of the FWB 300S
Today is the day we check the velocity of this FWB 300S, so let’s get to it. When it was new, the 300S was advertised with a velocity of 640 f.p.s., though the pellet they was used to get that number was never specified. I will use a range of pellets I believe are appropriate to the power level of a spring gun like this. And, in a departure for me, one of the pellets I test will be domed.

Air Arms Falcon
I tested the Air Arms Falcon pellet even though it’s a domed pellet that’s not appropriate for target shooting, because many readers use these rifles with scopes for plinking and other pursuits. So, I’ll also shoot this pellet for accuracy — just to see what it can do.

This was the first pellet I tested, and I’m so glad I own a chronograph, because I learned something valuable about the 300S in this test. This rifle needs to warm up before it’ll shoot with stable velocity. Think of an older car from the 1950s that had to be warmed up for a minute or so and then driven slowly for the first mile to allow the parts to expand and start sealing as they should. Heck — most car engines from that era developed leaks pretty quickly, and you did whatever was necessary to keep them from wearing faster than they should. Well, this FWB 300S needs the same kind of warmup. Let me show you the first 9 shots.

Shot Velocity

So, if you shoot a 300S — or any of its derivatives — for score, maybe you better shoot about 10 shots just to warm the action before expecting the rifle to do its best.

After shot 9, the rifle became very stable and averaged 658 f.p.s. with the Falcon pellet. The low was 655, and the high was 671 f.p.s. At that speed, this pellet generates 7.05 foot-pounds. That’s pretty brisk for a 300S; but Mac, who traded the rifle to me, said it had just been sealed and overhauled by Randy Bimrose, so it’s performing at its best.

A couple observations
Before I move to the next pellet, I’d like to make a few observations. First, I said in Part 1 that the 300S action doesn’t need to be levered forward at the end of the cocking strike like the action of an RWS Diana model 54 Air King, but that was incorrect. It does have to be levered forward into lockup in just the same way, but the 300S action is so smooth that I didn’t notice it until now. With a Diana 54, you always notice it.

I mention this because, like the Diana 54, the 300S uses the sledge-type anti-recoil system; and even though it’s a gentle rifle, it has to operate in the same way as the more powerful Diana. Moving the action forward into lockup prepares the action to release when the gun fires and to move on the steel rails in the stock just a fraction of an inch, canceling the feel of recoil.

The second thing I noticed this time is that I can feel the cocking link bump over the mainspring coils as the cocking lever moves back to the stored position. I sometimes feel that same roughness in other spring rifles, where the tolerances are tight, and I thought I’d mention that this one does the same thing.

RWS R-10 Pistol pellets
Next, I tried the RWS R-10 Pistol pellet, which weigh 7 grains, even. I tried them because of their weight — not because I think they’ll be the most accurate pellet. I just want to show the rifle’s velocity with a reasonable range of pellet weights.

This pellet averaged 658 f.p.s. with a low of 640 and a high of 664 f.p.s. The low shot was the only one that went slower than 656 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 6.73 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets
The final pellet I tested was the 8.18-grain H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet. It averaged 609 f.p.s. and ranged from 597 to 616 f.p.s. The average velocity generated a muzzle energy of 6.74 foot-pounds

There you have it. This 300S is extremely healthy and ready to go target shooting in the next report! It’s still a joy to shoot and is a rifle that you should continue to covet if you’re so inclined.

One additional thing. There has been some talk of how accurate these rifles are at longer range. If you want, I’ll schedule a special fourth report in which I shoot this rifle outdoors at 50 yards. I’ll have to wait for a calm day, of course, but wouldn’t it be fun to see how this rifle shoots at that range?

FWB 300S vintage target air rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

The FWB 300s is considered the gold standard of vintage target air rifles.

I’ve danced around writing this report for the better part of a year, and some of you have asked me when I was going to get around to it. Well, today is the day we’ll begin looking at Feinwerkbau’s fabulous 300S — considered by many airgunners to be the gold standard of vintage 10-meter target air rifles.

Today’s blog is an important resource for those who are interested in fine vintage 10-meter target rifles, because I’m going to give you the links to all the other reports I’ve done.

FWB 150
Haenel 311
Walther LGV Olympia
HW 55 Tyrolean
Diana model 60

There are plenty of vintage 10-meter rifles that I haven’t tested for you yet. The Diana 75, the Anschutz 380, the Walther LGR, the Anschutz 250 and the Gamo 126 all come to mind; but if you want to split hairs, there are numerous similar models like the Walther LG55 and the Diana 65 that also belong to a very long list of classic oldies. But the guns we’ve looked at thus far are a fair representation of the classic era of target air rifles. Today, we’ll look at the rifle many consider to be the pinnacle of achievement during that period.

You probably know the history, but if you don’t — first there was the FWB 110, a sidelever target rifle that recoiled! Yes, it recoiled. What’s more, Feinwertkbau didn’t make too many of them. The 110 is considered to be a very desirable airgun collectible today, and many advanced airgunners, including me, have never even seen one. According to the Blue Book of Airguns, fewer than 200 were made from 1962-1964.

The FWB 150 followed the 110 and introduced Feinwerkbau’s anti-recoil system. I reviewed the FWB 150 for you last June. I found it to be easy to shoot and compellingly accurate, but it wasn’t everything it could be. That honor awaited the 300S that I’m reviewing for you today.

The FWB 150 is the predecessor of the 300S. It shares a more sporterized stock profile with the interim FWB 300.

A footnote deserves to be inserted here, as the first edition of the Beeman catalog, a collectible in its own right, also mentioned an FWB 200 model, existing at the same time as the 300. A short line in the Blue Book says the model 200 was similar to the model 300 but lacked the recoil-compensation system. Until I researched today’s report, the model 200 was unknown to me and I’ve certainly never seen one. Is it as rare as the model 110? Has anyone ever seen one? These are the curious things that pop up as we research this fascinating hobby, and they’re what keeps the collector in me in a permanent state of anticipation.

The model 300 was much like the 150, in that it has a single coiled, steel mainspring and a thinner, more sporterized stock, yet it was definitely labeled a 300, rather than the 150. You don’t see as many straight 300 rifles as you do 150 rifles these days. Perhaps that’s because when the 300S came out it overshadowed the 300 and drove it from the marketplace in fairly short order. The 300S was a very different gun.

If you’re like me, you never paid much attention to the difference between a 300 and the 300S. What’s in a letter designation, after all? A lot of things, as it turns out.

Let’s start with the mainspring. The 300S has two coiled steel springs that are wound in opposite directions. It’s said they cancel the slight amount of torque at firing, though I cannot say that I’ve ever noticed any torque in my 150. The RWS Diana 48 sidelever does have noticeable torque upon firing, and you’ll feel a definite rocking to the right after the trigger is pulled. Since the sidelever already unbalances that rifle, the feeling is magnified; but the 150 doesn’t have the same feeling. At least — my rifle, which was recently tuned by Randy Bimrose, doesn’t.

The 300S stock is shorter than the stock on the 300/150. It also has a more vertical pistol grip to enhance the offhand hold. A slight flare at the bottom might go unnoticed in the catalog photos; but when you hold the rifle, the pistol grip grabs you right back.

Anti-recoil mechanism
So, how does this rifle block the recoil? Well, for starters, it actually doesn’t! All the FWB spring-piston target rifles do recoil; but in the 150 models and the 300-series there’s a special system in the stock that isolates the shooter from the movement. A set of steel rails set into the stock allows the action to move while the stock remains still. The shooter doesn’t feel any recoil and only the slightest vibration in some guns. But you do notice the movement of the action, because of the eyepiece that’s close to your sighting eye. The movement is very short — on the order of a quarter-inch or so — but if you’re close to the rear sight you’ll notice it. A rubber eyecup helps take up the shock and prevent your eye from banging into the rear sight disk, and I find it necessary to use this accessory with this model rifle.

This system is called the sledge system, after the name for a dry-land type of sled whose runners make it easy to drag heavy loads. It’s completely different from the Giss anti-recoil system, in which a counterweighted piston actually has no discernible recoil.

This mechanism is very refined compared to a similar system found on the RWS Diana model 54 Air King. Of course, that magnum spring-piston rifle has to deal with three times the power in a rifle of similar weight, so it’s actually doing quite a good job of canceling the recoil. Still, when the 300S lever is retracted, there’s no “levering” of the action required at the end of the cocking stroke like you have with the Diana 54. The ratcheting anti-beartrap safety that prevents the sliding compression chamber from smashing your thumb during loading does not need a separate button to release the cocking lever after you’ve loaded. The only extra step the 300S does have is a small locking latch on the sidelever that unlocks the lever at the start of the cocking stroke. The 150 and 300 cocking levers both have an end section that pivots outward to unlock the cocking lever and achieve the same thing.

Press down on the cocking lever latch to release the lever for cocking and loading.

The sidelever on a 300S is also much shorter than the one on the 150, yet the cocking effort remains as light. Obviously, some geometry was changed when the model was updated.

Daisy gun
My 300S is a Daisy gun. While many were imported and sold by Beeman, many more came into the U.S. through Daisy when the company was trying to establish itself as a target gun company. The FWB name trumped the Daisy name, however, and a Daisy FWB is exactly the same as one from Beeman or one imported directly from Europe.

This 300S came from Daisy.

No piston seal
Another odd but not unique feature of these rifles is the lack of a conventional piston seal. Instead of a traditional seal, they use a metal ring much like those found on an automobile engine’s piston. These rings will last for millions of cycles, as some club guns have demonstrated, though other parts like the breech seal will eventually have to be replaced. And the coiled steel mainspring set needs occasional replacement, as well.

Many Webley pistols and a couple of the older Webley rifles have the same design, so piston rings are not unique in the airgun world. They are, however, features that are found only on guns of quality.

When the 150/300 was new, American airgunners were not used to light target triggers as a rule. They were accustomed to a 3-lb. pull being considered light. So, when they encountered the FWB trigger that releases at ounces rather than pounds, they were astounded. In fact, if they’d been accustomed to shooting the older target rifles from the 19th century, like Ballards, Maynards and Winchesters, all of which had fine double-set triggers, they would have been less impressed.

The 300S trigger has a nominal pull weight ranging from 3.5 oz. to 17.7 oz. (an optional trigger spring boosts that range from 10.6 oz. to 52.8 oz.). In target rifle terms, even the lighter range is not very light, though I find it just right for me. The trigger on my rifle releases at a satisfying 4.4 oz. It’s a two-stage pull with stage two being very definite. With practice, you can get on target and “think” the trigger off as the sight picture becomes perfect.

The 300S trigger also adjusts for position, cant and first-stage travel — all things that the 150 trigger does not do. Although the 150 trigger is just as light and crisp as the one on the 300S, you can’t reposition it. It’s also curved like a sporting trigger instead of straight like the target trigger found on the 300S.

The trigger of a target air rifle has no lower limit, the way a target air pistol does. In the ISSF rules for air pistols, a match pistol trigger must break at more than 500 grams (17.64 oz.). This is done in the interest of safety, as the muzzle of a pistol is too easy to move while on a firing line. But a rifle like the 300S is more obvious and easier to control, so there’s no lower limit. Some target air rifles today are releasing at less than 50 grams (1.76 oz.) of force.

Stock configuration
The stocks of the vintage target air rifles show a fairly broad latitude of design, but they stop short in a few important areas. Tyrolean stocks are not permitted in World Cup and Olympic matches, nor are butt hooks. Today’s rifles are studies in ergonomics applied against these rules. Today, a 300S looks fairly normal to eyes that are accustomed to wild aluminum stocks with numerous adjustments; but when it was new, it seemed to push the envelope of possibility. I suppose it’s equivalent to how the finned cars of the late 1950s appeared when they were new compared to how we see them today.

Another drastic measure was taken at the World Cup level in the realm of target sights. For a brief time, the tube-type rear aperture sight was used, but complaints that it gave an unfair advantage caused a ruling that it was no longer permitted. This is very odd, since tube-type sights have been in use since at least 1776 and were in widespread use in target matches throughout the 19th century. But the ruling was made, and today’s rear sights cannot use tubes to enhance the sharpness of the sight picture.

FWB target rear sights looked as exotic as a Rolex watch when they were new in the 1970s. Today, they seem almost simple, but they still do the job. The click detents are nowhere close to the thousandth-inch measurements of the Vernier scale peep sights I showed you recently; but since you’re shooting 10 meters instead of 1,000 yards, they’re more than adequate for the job.

Unfortunately, these rifles were also sold without sights for a slightly reduced price, and many buyers mounted short scopes on their 11mm sight dovetails. While they may have been pleased with the gun that way, they created a shortage of sights for the future that is difficult to resolve. Until five years ago, you either had to install a hoplessly crude rear sight made either in Spain or China and live with the problems of adjustment backlash, or you had to pony up almost as much money as you paid for the entire rifle just to buy a set of precision sights.

AirForce corrected that lack for you with their adaptive rear target sight that fits most 10-meter guns. For about a third of what a German rear sight costs, you get a unit that’s the equivalent of the vintage FWB rear sight; and as a bonus, it looks at home on any rifle. An additional feature that never seems to get mentioned is this sight can be removed from its base and installed in a standard one-inch scope ring — multiplying the possible applications greatly.

The front sight looks more conventional and is of the globe design with replaceable inserts. On the 300S, it’s part of a larger aluminum barrel sleeve that makes it proprietary. When the globe on an Anschütz or Weihrauch target rifle slides onto a dovetail, this globe actually fits only the 300S barrel.

The front sight on this HW55 attaches to two dovetails of standard width. All Weihrauch rifles that have dovetails can use this sight.

The FWB 300S front sight globe is integral with an aluminum sleeve that fits over the barrel. It’s either this or nothing!

The front sight is pinned to the barrel through the sight base. On some versions of the 300S, like the Universal and the later Match, this pin is at the bottom of the barrel. On my rifle it’s located at the top.

You may have also noticed that the 300S has a blued barrel sleeve that’s slenderer than the one on the 150. Only toward the end of the barrel does it swell a bit. That’s because the 300S barrel is longer than the one on the 150, so there has to be less sleeve material to balance the weight correctly.

But the real test of this airgun comes with shooting. I’ve already shot this rifle several times, so I know what’s in store. You should feel eager expectation for the next two installments, because this rifle wants to shoot!

BSF S70: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The BSF S70 was the deluxe version of the BSF 55-series of spring-piston air rifles. It’s the grandfather of the Beeman R9.

First, I want to wish all my U.S. readers a Happy Memorial Day. Please take a moment to remember the friends and family members who gave their lives for our sake.

Today’s report will have some of you talking and thinking for weeks! Kevin will find that he is in a love-hate relationship with my BSF S70 rifle, and Herb will postulate three alternative universes from the data I’ve collected. Rikib will attempt to occupy one of them!

In other words, folks, today is not your ordinary velocity test day.

You will recall that I went into a lot of detail in Part 1, explaining that this could either be a powerful 800+ f.p.s. breakbarrel from the olden days, when 800 f.p.s. was the magnum threshold, or it could be a weak 7.5-joule German version of the same gun. Since this one has the Freimark that indicates the German power level, I thought it was probably the latter. Read Part 1 to find out what that means.

The first pellet I’ll send through the chronograph is going to tell us which it is. For that, I selected the JSB Exact RS, a 7.3-grain lightweight dome that seemed to me to be perfectly suited to this rifle. Here, now, is the first shot string:


Well, we can stop right there, can’t we? I mean that shot tells all, doesn’t it? However, in the interest of science and our morbid curiosity, I continued:


Well, that was probably a diesel, right? You have to expect them with the leather seals in this rifle:


I shot 14 rounds simply because I was fascinated by what the gun was doing. I just couldn’t stop.

The average velocity was 616 f.p.s., which, as you can see, was only close to one actual recorded velocity. It’s pretty obvious that what we’re seeing is a bimodal distribution.

Thank goodness I’m old
If I were a new airgunner I would not know what to make of this shot string. But years of playing with vintage springers has taught me that the ones with leather piston seals perform differently than those with modern synthetic seals. At this point, I oiled the piston seal with several drops of synthetic-based RWS Chamber Lube, administered through the air transfer port. I did not allow the seal to absorb the oil as I was on a tight schedule, so I expected the two loud detonations that came with the next two shots.

RWS Hobby
The old favorite RWS Hobby is the standard candle for velocity testing in spring airguns:

1……….1094 detonation
2…………858 detonation

The average for this string was 866 f.p.s., and that’s a lot closer to the real average than the average of the first string. If you throw out the high and low shots, you get a 12-shot average of 868 f.p.s., so it’s pretty close. By the way, that gives a muzzle energy of 11.71 foot-pounds. Interesting.

What’s going on? The rifle is now behaving like a U.S.-powered magnum. Let’s try another pellet.

H&N Match Rifle
The H&N Match Rifle pellet is a heavyweight wadcutter. It weighs 8.2 grains. Let’s see what the shot string looks like:


The average for this string was 803 f.p.s., and this was the tightest string fired in the entire test. The total velocity spread is 30 f.p.s., which is what I’m used to seeing from a vintage springer in good condition. It works out to a muzzle energy of 11.74 foot-pounds.

What’s happening? Before I tell you what I think, I ran a short second string of the JSB RS domes. They went like this:


The average for that string was 687 f.p.s., which as you can see isn’t close to any actual velocity recorded. What’s happening?

For starters, this rifle DEFINITELY does not like JSB Exact RS pellets. It could not be any clearer than what you see here. Both before and after oiling the piston seal, we get a bimodal velocity distribution. And, only with a chronograph would you even suspect what was happening, because all the shots felt similar.

With the other two pellets, the rifle is near the 12-foot-pound region where magnum air rifles were in the late 1970s. This is exactly what I would expect a BSF S70 from the old Air Rifle Headquarters to do right out of the box.

Trigger-pull and cocking effort
The trigger is single-stage, and the pull is very long. It’s possible to adjust, as I showed back in Part 1, but as it is set now it breaks at 3 lbs., 14 ozs. As you pull through the long arc, the trigger hesitates at the end of the pull, telling you the rifle is ready to fire. It’s not a bad feeling at all, and I know that BSF triggers wear in with use.

It takes 34 lbs. of effort to cock this rifle. That’s in the same neighborhood as the Beeman R1, a spring-piston breakbarrel we all know to be far more powerful, but the BSF S70 is from a generation before the R1. True, they were both in production at the same time for a while, but the S70 is old-school and the R1 was the future back then.

Without question, my rifle is a full-power S70, which was a 12 foot-pound airgun in its day. I was completely mistaken when I guessed it would be a European-powered rifle. Kevin will both love and hate it because it represents the best of what Europe was making back in its day, and yet the power is the most upgraded version you could buy. I am glad that it’s more powerful, because a 34-lb. cocking effort ought to be rewarded with something!

The thing for you newer airgunners to carry away from this test is that air rifles and air pistols with leather seals behave differently than those with synthetic seals. Lubrication is so important for them.

A second lesson is that sometimes you encounter an anomaly like the performance of the JSB RS pellet. You have to find the ammunition your airgun likes, which is why discount-store pellets are no good unless you’ve also tested the finest premium pellets and actually proven that the ones from Wal-Mart are best in your airgun. Don’t shoot with your wallet. It just wastes money.

How to upload an avatar for this blog
This section is from Edith. We now allow avatars on the Pyramyd Air blog. If you have a favorite image or graphic you’d like to use, follow the directions below. In order to use the avatar, you must have an account on this blog. If you’re listed as anonymous or type in your name every time so you don’t have to register, then an avatar association can’t be made for you.

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BSF S70: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Here’s this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 gift card.

Christopher Schaefer holds his favorite target pistol — a Crosman Mark I in .22 caliber.

Today’s report begins with a bucketload of irony.

I told you about acquiring this BSF S70 breakbarrel air rifle at the Malvern airgun show about a month ago, Today, I’ll start a three-part report on it. Those of you who are interested in BSF air rifles might also wish to read the report on the BSF 55N I did three years ago.

The BSF S70 was the deluxe version of the BSF 55-series of spring-piston air rifles. It’s the grandfather of the Beeman R9.

BSF stands for Bayerische Sportwaffenfabrik (Bavarian Sporting Arms Manufacturer). They operated in Erlangen, Germany, until some time in the late 1980s, when they closed down and sold their tools, parts and equipment to Weihrauch. The extreme irony of that fact is that I was stationed in Erlangen for nearly four years in the mid-1970s, during which time Robert Beeman of America got me interested in precision adult airguns after I found and bought a Diana model 10 target pistol in Rothenberg ob der Tauber, a walled historic city I visited often. The fact that I lived in the same city where BSF airguns were made did not dawn on me until I began writing about airguns in the 1990s.

I actually saw a used BSF S-20 air pistol for sale in my favorite antique shop in Nuremberg (talk about leading a horse to water!) and passed on it because it looked to me as if old Hans had taken a breakbarrel air rifle and cut it down to fit into a pistol stock. Of course, that was actually what happened, only “old Hans” was a group of engineers at BSF. Today, I own a BSF S-20 Match pistol, as well. That report can be found here.

Back to the main story. So, three years ago I’m at the 2008 Little Rock Airgun Expo, poised to buy this beautiful BSF S70 rifle, and a young man swoops in and buys it out from under me. If you follow the link I provided, scroll down to the final two paragraphs and read the lamentations of a collector who has just lost a treasure. It’s under the title “The one that got away.” I didn’t tell the story about having the money for the gun back then because I guess I didn’t want to feel worse about it than I did. Read those paragraphs; you’ll understand.

Things change
Time has a way of bringing change, however; and though I’ve never been very patient, there are situations where I can’t do anything but wait. Like last year, when I missed the first Malvern show because I was in the hospital. The owner of this S70 went to that show, also trying to sell his gun but he didn’t connect with anybody.

Oh, here’s another important point. He’s not 14 anymore. He’s now 17, a lot larger and the look in his eye tells me he’s interested in things other than airguns.

I, on the other hand, am a wizened, shriveled-up old raisin with little to look forward to but the dust of my fast-fading dreams. Oh, and I also have a little extra money to spend. In other words, I’m the perfect airgun collector. On the other hand, Don Juan is focused on his next tank of four-dollar gas.

He came by our table at this year’s show and Mac, remembering how I had whined about this rifle, transfixed the youth with several of his engaging but pointless stories until I could return. Ten minutes later, I became the next owner of this nearly new vintage German breakbarrel.

But wait — there’s more!
However, the irony in this tale doesn’t even end there. After Weihrauch bought BSF in the late 1980s, the first thing they did was assemble the parts they had just purchased into new models of airguns. For example, they took the S70, found a way to put a Rekord trigger in it and re-named it the Marksman model 70. How about that? After Beeman shooed Marksman out of the high-end airgun business, they changed the name once more to the Beeman R-10 to please their No. 1 U.S. customer.

I am taking extraordinary license with this story, because Hans Weihrauch, Jr., didn’t tell it to me. I pieced it together over many years of collecting catalogs and connecting the dots. If I’ve made some erroneous assumptions, I apologize, but my main point still stands — that BSF was absorbed into Weihrauch and some of their guns eventually morphed into some Beeman R-series guns. I’m not saying that the BSF S70 parts will interchange with those of the Beeman R-10, or that you can remove an S70 trigger and drop a Rekord in its place, but if you had the parts to build 5,000 rifles, you would find a way. How’s THAT for a lead-in?

The BSF S70 general description
This is what used to be considered a large air rifle in its day, but in the shadow of the Walther Talon Magnum and the Benjamin Trail NP XL, it’s more medium-sized today.

The rifle is just less than 43-1/2 inches long with a 19-inch barrel, and it weighs 7 lbs., 4 oz. That puts it into the same physical category as the Beeman R9, which descended from the R10, so the bloodline still runs strong.

The beech stock is stained medium brown with impressed checkering on the forearm and pistol grip. A plain dark-brown rubber buttpad is separated from the buttstock by a white line spacer. The overall shape of the stock with its Monte Carlo butt, straight comb and raised cheekpiece is very American.

There’s no plastic on the gun anywhere, and all the barreled action parts are finished in a deep semi-gloss black. The finish on this particular gun is as close to 100 percent as it gets. The two pieces of aluminum I can find on the gun, besides the optional Williams sporting aperture sight, are the trigger blade and the scope base.

My rifle has no factory-installed sporting rear sight. Instead, it has a Williams aperture sight that was obviously made for this model. I searched in both the Air Rifle Headquarters catalogs and the early Beeman catalogs to see if either of them offered this sight, but neither did. At least, they don’t show a picture of it anywhere. While searching, I did discover that when Beeman sold the S70 in the company’s first few years of operation, it was actually marked as the BSF 55D. They mention in the description that the same gun is called the S70 in Europe. There’s a bit of trivia for you serious collectors.

My rifle came with this beautiful Williams aperture rear sight that fits the receiver profile perfectly.

The front sight is a tall post and bead surrounded by a huge sheetmetal globe that’s removable. Most sporting BSF rifles and pistols have this same globe.

The trigger on the S70 is two-stage and adjustable for release weight. In both the ARH and Beeman catalogs, they describe it as “wearing-in” over time, but I would put a caveat on that. What this trigger actually does is get lighter and smoother the more it is used. Older Gamo sporting triggers and the triggers in vintage Webley airguns did the same thing with one important difference. They eventually settled into a fine pull, where the BSF triggers do not. They keep right on wearing-in until they become unsafe. When that happens, it’s possible to adjust them back to a safe level, but usually the unsuspecting owner will just let the trigger go, thinking it’s getting real nice — until the gun fires on its own. You’ve now been warned by the man who has a pellet hole in his office ceiling.

Turn the screw toward the + to increase trigger-pull.

One other curious thing about BSF triggers is that they’re all made from multiple plates of steel sandwiched together. Then, the metal parts are formed to their final shape. It is a construction method that obviously reduces the cost of materials, but it works far better than it sounds or appears.

Instead of using one piece of steel, they sandwiched four thinner plates together to make the same part. It looks crude but works surprisingly well.

Unusual features
I may have a straight European airgun because there is no importer’s name anywhere on it. However, Air Rifle Headquarters didn’t put their name on either the BSF S20 Match pistol or the BSF S55 rifle I have. Since I have the boxes they both came in as well as some of the sales paperwork, I know their pedigrees. This could be an ARH gun, however, I don’t think it is because there’s a German Freimark on the left side of the baseblock. The letter “F” inside a pentagon signifies the gun is limited to a power level of below 7.5 joules, making it legal to own as an airgun in Germany.

The letter “F” inside the pentagon is the German Freimark, designating this airgun as having less than 7.5 joules of muzzle energy. It’s put only on airguns that meet this legal definition.

If this is a real Freimark gun, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise, the velocity of light .177 pellets should be in the high 500 to almost 600 foot-second range. If it were an airgun made for the unrestricted U.S. market, the velocity would be closer to 800 f.p.s. with the same pellets. A Freimark gun will have the piston stroke shortened, because simply changing mainsprings does not limit power that much.

Either way, I still love the gun, though the heavy cocking effort won’t be as much fun if the velocity doesn’t match. My BSF S55N rifle averages 773 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets, which is about where it should be for a rifle intended for the U.S. That rifle does not have a Freimark. Knowing what sticklers the Germans are for marking things correctly, I’d be willing to bet this is a lower-powered rifle. I haven’t chronographed it, yet, so I’m just as curious as you are right now.

A second unusual thing is something I’ve seen many times before, but maybe it’ll be new to you. When World War II ended and the Allies divided Germany into different sectors, they named them East and West Germany. From that time forward until 1990, there was no Germany per se; there was East Germany or West Germany. I’m not dredging up bad memories to insult anyone here, but you do need to know that there were two distinct countries.

The items manufactured in those countries had to reflect where they were made. The stamps that said Made in Germany before the war were no longer correct. In many instances, the word West was simply added after the country name for West German goods, so the stamping would read Made in Germany West. If you examine these stamp marks on various articles, you even see that the word West has been added after the main stamp was produced because it doesn’t appear the same as the other letters in the stamp. And, so it is on this rifle.

The word “WEST” is clearly different than the rest of the stamp. It was added later.

The company was founded in 1935 and continued after the war until the remains were sold to Weihrauch in the late 1980s, so they would have used a Made in Germany stamp before the war. The gun exporter Wischo, also based in Erlangen, put their name on many of the guns that were exported, in the same way that RWS does with Dianawerke airguns. The Wischo name is missing from this one, leading me to conclude that the rifle was made for the German market. That makes the Freimark correct.

Articulated cocking link
Instead of a single steel link between the barrel and piston, the S70 has a two-piece link that’s hinged toward the front. That allows the link to be long but the cocking slot in the forearm to be short. A short cocking slot helps dampen any spring vibration, making the rifle seem smoother than it would if the cocking slot were long.

This two-piece articulated cocking link allows the stock’s cocking slot to be short, thus reducing vibration.

Final thoughts
At this point, I believe that what I have is a German-power BSF S70. I also believe that fact is what has preserved the rifle in near-new condition for all these years. According to the latest Blue Book of Airguns, 9th Edition, my rifle probably shoots around 600 f.p.s., where a U.S.-spec. rifle would shoot near or even over 800 f.p.s. We’ll all find out together in Part 2.

Beeman GT600 air rifle – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Yesterday, Vince regaled us with one of his recent purchases…a Beeman GT600 air rifle. Today, he’ll show us what he found when he pulled it apart and made it better than new.

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Here we go!

Part 1

by Vince

The GT600 is about as plain-jane a rifle as you’ll find. Dollars to donuts, the same basic design continues on in the more recent Young model 56 and 90 rifles currently available. Many guns have their own quirks when dealing with the rear spring retainer and trigger assembly, and the Norica is no exception.

Disassembly starts with the typical screws (like umpteen other rifles)…

…at which point the action pops out real easy.

The next step is to knock out the retaining pins. Yes, I said knock them out. No sticking it in a spring compressor. Even with the pins out, the spring isn’t going nowhere (which will become evident momentarily).

I used a punch to start tapping them out.

Next, I tapped them back IN and — and tapped them out the RIGHT way.

As you might be able to see in the picture, the pins are knurled on one side and should be punched out from the side opposite the knurls.

After you’ve tapped out the second pin, the spring will push against and trap the punch, which, of course, is now in the hole where the pin used to be. Push in the trigger assembly a little bit to relieve the pressure on the punch and pull it out.

Release the trigger assembly, and the punch jumps back a bit and stops.

This is where a special tool comes into play. Someday, I’ll make a good one, but this works for now. I quickly hacked it out of a 1-inch diameter piece of aluminum tubing some years ago when I got my first AR1000. It goes into the rear of the compression tube.

My special tool…necessity is the mother of invention.

The forks reach around the trigger assembly and push directly on the rear spring guide. Compress the spring, pull the trigger mechanism out through the opening and completely release the spring pressure. I can’t show you this step because I don’t use a spring compressor and have already become something of a pariah on another forum partly because I had the nerve to describe how I do it. So, let’s just say I use my SUPERPOWERS (and my, uh, above-average weight) to compress the spring. After the spring pressure is released, the spring and the rear guide can be removed.

The pivot bolt simply unscrews.

The barrel assembly separates from the rest of the gun.

Remove the pivot washers, clean everything up and moly paste it before putting it back together.

The barrel is then set aside for reassembly later. The piston that came out of the gun should look familiar to anyone who’s disassembled an AR1000 or Hämmerli 490.

The Beeman GT600 has a one-piece seal that’s held in place with a single screw.

The seal looks in good enough shape, so I’ll just reuse it. But, I’ve got visions of that middle screw backing out while shooting, which would probably cause me to say a bad word and flush the gun down the toilet. So, I took the screw out.

The screw was removed and given a good coat of Vibra-tite VC3. This reddish-orange goop gets put on a clean screw, as shown above.

Let it dry for 20 minutes or so BEFORE reassembling the parts. That solidified red gunk causes something of a friction fit between the inner and outer threads, which then resists loosening. Unlike Locktite, it doesn’t try to adhere to the inside threads, so I really think it works better when those inside threads aren’t entirely clean.

Next, I turned my attention to the compression tube. First thing to do is wad up half a paper towel and cram it down inside the tube. Then, I took a small file and broke the edge of the slots and holes in the tube.

Removing sharp edges with a file.

I don’t have to go nuts (well, over this anyway). All I’m doing is getting rid of the very sharp edges that might slice chunks out of a seal as I’m reinstalling it. I wish manufacturers would do this, as it’s not too uncommon to find factory piston seals that have pieces missing because of those edges.

After filing, extracting the paper towel, and cleaning the tube, I can start putting all the pieces back together. For this gun, I’m trying out a proprietary airgun grease some guy was selling on one of the forums. Never really tried it before (I have no idea if it’s any good), so I decided to use it here.

The subject of proper lubricants for springer guts is one that could easily take up waaaaay more space than I’ve got. As a side note, I’ll delve into it a bit. There are two major areas of concern, and the desired lubricant properties of each is a bit different.

Everyone knows about spring tar. This lubricant really has to do two things: stay put and dampen vibration. It has to be sticky and thick (like the guy writing this blog). But it can’t be too sticky or too thick because it’ll slow down things too much if it is. High-powered guns with their monster springs are less prone to suffering from tar-itis, so they can tolerate something heavier. Rich in Michigan’s stuff might not drag a RWS Diana 350 or Gamo Hunter Extreme down too much, but try it on a Slavia 618 and you’ll get stuck in slow-mo. And, Maccari’s tar, which is thinner, might work well on an RM-200 but be less effective on, say, a super-buzzy Diana 46 Stutzen. So, there’s some point in trying to match the tar to the gun.

The second lube needed is a spring cylinder lube. This is where it gets real tricky. You want something with good resistance to wear under heavy and low-speed loading so the cylinder wall isn’t gouged by all that piston side load during the cocking stroke. But, you don’t want something too thick that’ll get scraped out of the way after a couple of cycles and never come back. You don’t want something too thick because the drag from shear forces between the piston and the cylinder wall will really slow things down when the piston tries to spring forward.

You want something that won’t easily get past the piston seal. Anything that does, of course, runs the risk of going BOOM when the gun is fired. A little of this is tolerable (and not entirely avoidable), but a lot of it isn’t going to brighten your day. You want something that isn’t so thin that it flows right past the seal, and you don’t want it so sticky and thick that the seal can’t scrape it out of the way. Since some of it WILL end up in the chamber, you want a lube that’ll be sticky enough to stay on the chamber walls, where it can’t really burn, and not get atomized into the compressed air — where it burns very enthusiastically.

So, silicone is out. It just doesn’t hack it as a high-load, metal-to-metal lubricant. We need something thick that’s also thin, and sticky without all that awkward stickiness. That explains the plethora of lubes out there, many of which are homebrews with their formulations more closely guarded than our bank account data ever will be.

It’s one of these homebrews that I’m trying out. Since this gun isn’t a magnum springer, I can make do with something lighter on the spring. I’m using this same grease there as well. There’s a real advantage to doing so if it’s feasible: It doesn’t matter if the stuff on the spring gets slung off or if the stuff on the cylinder walls gets on the spring. There’s no intermixing of different lubes; it’s all the same goo.

The front guide…

the rear guide…

and the spring get all gooped up with this stuff.

I probably overdid it. But that’s actually one good test of a lube — to see if it gets in the chamber and diesel — or not — when there’s a lot of it to go around.

The piston gets a good coating as well and then goes in.

Now is the proper time to reinstall the barrel. Don’t forget to fit the cocking link back into the slot in the piston and cylinder! If you try to reassemble the barrel pivot AFTER the spring is reinstalled, you’ll find that the tension on the piston prevents everything from lining up and the bolt won’t go back in!

Okay, so I forgot.

If you forget and find yourself trying to reinstall the barrel after the fact (uh, like I did), there’s a way around it. The holes will not align perfectly but will overlap enough to get the round shank of a #1 or #2 phillips head screwdriver where the pivot bolt goes.

Did it wrong? A phillips head screwdriver to the rescue.

The gun can be cocked like this, which will take the tension off the pivot and allow the holes to line up and the screw reinstalled. But, if the sear lets go before you get the screw in, well, you’ve got a bit of a mess on your hands. So, this procedure isn’t really recommended. Just do it in the right order so you may live long and prosper in the land.

Anyway, this pivot bolt doesn’t have a locking mechanism of any sort, so some of the same red goop as used on the piston seal bolt might not be a bad idea.

After the barrel is installed, the front guide, spring and rear guide get installed — in that order. Putting the trigger back in is a matter of compressing the spring with the special tool and putting it in the way it came out.

It goes in about the same way it came out…but in reverse order.

Compress the spring a bit more (without the tool) and slide the pins back in. Voila! Your action is ready for action.

You’ll notice that I didn’t do anything with the trigger, and there’s a good reason for that. I’ve had a LOT of luck re-angling the mating faces to reduce friction and lighten the trigger-pull. Unfortunately, however, that luck’s been all bad. I’ve found that it’s a tightrope walking the line between nice feel and auto-fire. And, if you DO get on the right side of that line and the trigger wears a bit, be prepared for your sear to go on strike. I know that some guys have had good luck with improving direct-sear triggers, but for now I don’t mess with ’em.

So the action goes back in the stock, and I tend to the last major issue for this gun. Don’t know how it happened, but it came out of the seemingly undamaged box that way.

The rear sight is slightly bent.

This always scares me, because I’ve had NO success straightening these out when this happens. I always seem to break the shaft. Anyhow, I contacted the seller, who insisted that it probably happened during shipping. I’m a bit doubtful about that, but no matter. I can’t use it as is. So, I might as well try to straighten it.

Miracles happen…I fixed the bent rear sight.

Dunno WHY I didn’t break it this time. Maybe, being extra careful to bend it JUST far enough was the key. Glad I was able to salvage that sight, as it’s actually a pretty decent one with not much play and a decent sight picture. With the sight back together, Bee (I’ll call her that just to make her feel better) is ready to spit.

Over at the crony, I tried pumping one of my standard test pellets through it — Crosman Premier Super Points. But not the Premiers I usually use. I’m using Premier pointed pellets that were thrown in with another gun purchase I recently made. Since experience tells me these pellets are useless for accuracy, I decided to use them for chrony testing instead. I don’t want them to go to waste, and they weigh the same as the domed Premiers. When I saw an almost 50 fps spread over 10 shots, I switched to Crosman Premier hollowpoints, and the results were a lot better: 549, 549, 549, 550, 549, 550, 551, 560, 557 and 553.

Eleven fps separate high from low. I can live with that! Now, I have yet another reason to hate those pointed pellets.

Firing cycle is improved and cocking is a nice, smooth 20 lbs., including latching the sear. Trigger-pull, incidentally, comes out to about 5 lbs. of creep-free snap. Well, creep-free except for the shooter, that is, who can be something of a creep at times.

Let’s look at what REALLY counts — making holes in stuff. At 10 meters, I tried 5-shot groups with Daisy Wadcutters, Gamo Match, and (one of my favorite cheapies) RWS Diabolo Basic pellets, all with so-so results.

Then came the Premiers – I went to cardboard-boxed Premiers (7.9 grains). Results were somewhat better until I loosened up my grip on the gun…and she threw a great group of 5.

Bee has stepped up to the plate!

Oh. OK. I think I understand. Bee ain’t foolin’ around! Hard to measure exactly, but my best guess is about .32″ ctc, although it might actually be less. I think we have a pretty good overall picture of the GT600. It’s a crude gun that certainly doesn’t live up to the Beeman reputation – or, at least, the old Beeman reputation – of combining superior design, almost hand-crafted workmanship and high-quality machining together in one piece of airgun art. No, “Bee” only gets one out of the three right.

But it’s the one that really counts. With the poor trigger and overall lower quality of workmanship, the GT600 wasn’t going to bring new glory and prestige to the Beeman line. But it wasn’t meant to at its price point. But, with this kind of accuracy and consistent velocity, it’s sure not going to drag down the Beeman name. It’s a cheap rifle, but a good cheap rifle. Which really makes it a good rifle, period.

Beeman GT600 vital stats:
Weight: 5 lbs., 13 oz.
Overall length: 41″
Pull length: 14.5″
Butt center of gravity: 18″
Trigger-pull: 5 lbs.
Cocking effort: 20 lbs.
Average velocity: 552 fps (with 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers)
Muzzle energy: 5.34 ft-lbs. (with 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers)

Beeman GT600 air rifle – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Vince is back with another fantastic tale of gunsmithing, gun renovation and making parts. No matter who you are, you just can’t help but learn something new from him. Settle back and have a good read about the Beeman GT600 Vince bought.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Take it away, Vince!

by Vince

Once upon a time, there was a highly educated airgun enthusiast and business man named Dr. Robert Beeman. He imported airguns and was determined to import nothing but the finest mass-produced guns he could obtain. He eventually associated himself with, perhaps, the premier airgun factory in Germany for the sole purpose of developing and bringing the best of the best to the blessed U.S. shores. After some years of success, he took a well-deserved retirement and sold his business to a large conglomerate of sporting goods.

The End.

Well, not quite. The large conglomerate knew that there was considerable marketing value – and, let’s admit it, snobbishness – attached to the Beeman name. Since making a little money lots of times can be more profitable than making lots of money little times, increasing the volume of Beeman sales via popularly priced models became something of a corporate priority. To their credit, the original Beeman models were kept, but the line would have to be expanded to include guns priced well under the level of the famed R-series that built the Beeman reputation. While Robert Beeman also imported some moderately priced non-German guns, the new owner of the Beeman company expanded the selection immensely.

Enter Norica
Norica had a respectable name in airgunning, with a reputation for reasonable build quality and longevity. No, they weren’t Weihrach, but they certainly weren’t junk. The large conglomerate, still paying some due respect to the Beeman reputation, started bringing in a number of Norica models to round out the line and appeal to a more cost-conscious clientele without totally trashing the Beeman name.

Thus, the Spanish Beemans came into being: the S1, GS, GH and GT series along with some others that I don’t know about. After all, I’m no Beeman expert. These guns generally seemed to be well accepted by even semi-serious shooters although, you know, they weren’t REAL Beemans (just like the 914s and 924s of the 1970s weren’t REAL Porsches). But, it was acknowledged that they weren’t too out of place in the Beeman lineup.

What were they like? My first Norica Beeman was an S1, the predecessor to the GS950/1000 series that eventually got cloned in China as the AR1000 (that’s a whole ‘nuther story). I found that the S1 was pretty accurate, had fair power, a REALLY NICE trigger and some rather unfortunate wood shaping. Wavy is the best way to describe it. Even though Beeman was inscribed on the compression tube, that stock (which made a Gamo 440 stock look like a custom piece of craftsmanship) just killed the whole effect. A real Beeman it obviously wasn’t.

That S1 stuck around for a while before I decided to sell it off and move on. I was young (45!), silly and all hung up on velocity. That S1 had the nerve to shoot 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellets at under 900 fps. I’ve matured considerably since then (Yes! Really!). Since moving, I find that I have to do all my shooting indoors. I’m more interested in moderately powered guns, and I started hanging around the classifieds a lot more than is generally healthy. Worse than smoking? Harder to quit? Perhaps. I foolishly passed on a reasonably priced Gamo Gamatic (waited too long), but a Beeman GT600 caught my eye.

The Beeman GT600 is dressed better than my old S1. Maybe they’re just trying to boost its self-esteem!

Beeman logo on the Norica air rifle.

The GT600 is a relatively lightweight rifle and is in the R7 or TF49 category for weight and power. Not quite a youth rifle, but certainly suitable for mid-teens as well as adults. Right off the bat, I could recognize one aspect of the Norica design — from the shape of the stock around the triggerguard, it was obvious that the GT600 had that Norica trigger. As opposed to the Norica trigger. You see, the trigger (the one that Shanghai cloned for the AR1000) is a fairly involved 4-lever affair that, with proper adjustment (and maybe a little stoning), can be tuned into the sweetest pullin’ thing this side of a Rekord. That trigger, on the other hand, is as bad as the trigger is good. It’s a direct-sear — and without an awful lot of leverage, I might add. It’s the same trigger that shamed the Shanghai-built Beeman SS1000H and dragged down the Hämmerli Storm (also a Norica product).

GT600-style trigger above, GS-style trigger below.

But the price was certainly tempting. The seller was getting rid of it for $100 shipped, and that included a soft case and a 3-12x40AO Barska airgun scope. Besides, with the lower spring pressures of the GT600, maybe the direct sear wouldn’t be too bad. So PayPal went out, UPS came in and I got my GT600.

Yup. Those classifieds can be as bad as smoking. Especially, when you buy a gun from an avid smoker. The stench made it real annoying to shoot that first evening…heck, even the scope smelled! I figured the soft case is a lost cause; I’ll leave it hanging up for about 5 years and see if it gets any better. But, I hoped that metal, finished wood and glass wouldn’t be real tenacious when it came to holding onto that Marlboro Man smell.

In any event, smell or no smell, those first few shots revealed plenty of that endearing Spanish buzziness. While I’m waiting for the gun to de-odify, I’ll tear it down and give it the usual going over.

Stay tuned for part 2, which you’ll see tomorrow, for an in-depth look at the innards of the GT600.

A brief history of Beeman and Air Rifle Headquarters – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

There wasn’t supposed to be a Part 3 to this report, but two things happened after Part 2 was published. First, one of our readers sent me a very interesting Beeman pamphlet that firmly establishes the relationship between Beeman and Air Rifle Headquarters. Apparently, he is an advanced airgunner who had dealings with Beeman for a very long time. And two, another reader named larspawn asked me if it was possible to document the years Beeman was located at certain addresses such as San Rafael and Santa Rosa. I told him I would have to dig into the literature, but I possibly could establish those dates.

These two things are actually linked, because the early (very early) Beeman pamphlet is sent from their first address in San Anselmo. In those days, they were operating out of their house, and the address was P.O. Box 542. The pamphlet is the Rosetta Stone to the early Beeman years. In it, Robert speaks of distributing the ARH catalog and that they (Beeman) were an ARH dealer. But, he says, until our first Beeman catalog is published, you can read about our other guns in our article in the 1974 Guns Illustrated. That volume was written in 1973, so this pamphlet dates from approximately that timeframe. Also, the first Beeman catalog was published in 1974.

Two more interesting things in the pamphlet. First, at the top of the page they announce their return from their “airfun safari” to Europe, and that Beeman’s Precision Airguns is open for business again. Second, Dr. Beeman mentions that since their line now differs so much from the ARH line, it would no longer be fair to continue as ARH dealers, so they severed that relationship.

From all of this, we may deduce the following. Beeman was initially an ARH dealer and were very closely associated with Robert Law at one time. In 1973, they were still too small to have a staff to run the office while they were out of the country. But since their first catalog was to be published in 1974 (to coincide with the article appearing in Guns Illustrated that year), they were already poised to expand.

San Anselmo was first
And so, larspawn, I can tell you that anything that has the San Anselmo address and the Beeman name on it is among the absolute earliest of all Beeman products. And now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you Exhibit 1: my Feinwerkbau 124 with Beeman’s San Anselmo address stamped into the spring tube!

And there it is! The first Beeman address. No doubt that Beeman sold many guns from this address, but since they were connected with ARH all the time they were here, you won’t find that many items with the San Anselmo address on them — especially guns.

Jim Maccari said my 124 was shooting slow because all the early ones did. And now I know how early mine is. If Beeman brought it into the country with the San Anselmo address stamped into the side, they ordered it in 1973 or earlier. It might have been unsold until they moved to their next address, because they wouldn’t have messed with the metal stamping on the gun, but it proves that mine is a very early 124. Just prior to this time, there were no 124 rifles. There were only 121 rifles of various flavors. The 124 didn’t come out until about this very time.

I had a communication from Robert Beeman when I first published the story of my entombed 124 in The Airgun letter. He noted the San Anselmo address and said it was one of the very first 124 rifles sold by Beeman’s. He was actually surprised by the fact that the address was stamped on the gun, because he didn’t remember any that were.

San Rafael was second
My special revised 1975 Beeman’s catalog (the second catalog to be published) was published with the address 47 Paul Drive, San Rafael. If you’re a Beeman collector, the San Rafael address is considered the early one. San Anselmo seldom comes up at all, unless the collector is really aware of the Beeman history.

San Rafael and San Anselmo are very close to one another. San Rafael was located just over the Golden Gate bridge and up the northern peninsula about 10 miles or so. That’s where the Beeman shop was when I returned from my tour in Germany in late 1977 and went up to buy a 124 (not this one) from them. So, I put them into the store some time in 1974, and they remained there until about 1987.

Santa Rosa
The 14th edition of the Beeman catalog was published from San Rafael in 1986, while the 15th edition was published from Santa Rosa in 1988. The move had to occur between those bracket years. And, from 1988 until the company was sold in April 1994, the Santa Rosa store was their home. Santa Rosa is quite a few (50?) more miles north, up Redwood Highway (Hwy. 101) and into what is known as the California wine country. It’s a lush, hilly part of California that attracts visitors year long for the wine and scenery.

So Beeman was located here during these years:

San Anselmo
Beginning to 1974

San Rafael
1974 to 1987

Santa Rosa
1987 to 1994

Huntington Beach
1994 to 2009

In 2009, Beeman was purchased by the Shanghai Industrial Company, who wanted the U.S. distribution outlets the company had built up (read that as Wal-Mart, et al). They sold the rights to import, distribute and service the high-end Beeman airguns and products to Air Venturi.

Not what it appears
Now, everything with one of these addresses stamped or printed on them may not have been sold from the address stamped or printed on the product. Airguns, especially the most popular ones, were commonly purchased in the hundreds at one time, and undoubtedly some would have been moved to a new address when the company moved. However, the reverse is not true. A gun or product will not have an earlier address than when it was brought into the company.

You cannot use this information to parse months, but it works quite well for years. For month, you can research the serial numbers of many airguns. The Weihrauch company, for example, is very accommodating about dating their products by serial number. And when you get stuck, my default is to ask on the Vintage Airgun Forum, which is the finest research place on the internet for collectible airguns.

I believe this is all I can do on the Beeman history.