Pneumatic Pnews

Monday, March 27, 2006

How good is the BS4 target rifle?

by Tex Force

Tech Force BS4 is a sidelever spring air rifle with a Chinese copy of German engineering that removes all felt recoil. It's an intriguing air rifle, but is it a good one?

If you're a target shooter, you've probably wondered about the Tech Force BS4 target rifle (last rifle on the page) from Compasseco. You know it's made in China, but the price tells you it's not a standard Chinese air rifle. So what is it, and how good can it be?

If you're gonna copy an airgun, copy the best!
The BS4 is an almost exact copy of Feinwerkbau's classic model 300 target rifle. Feinwekbau spent more than a decade perfecting this model, which progressed through the models 110 and 150 before arriving at what the company felt was the pinnacle of design. It remained at the top for the better part of two more decades, the standard against which all other target air rifles were compared. The 300 has a unique system that allows the rifle's action to recoil inside the stock in isolation from the shooter. Each time the gun is cocked, the action moves forward into position. When the gun fires, the action is free to slide rearward in the stock. It rides on steel rails in the stock, and the shooter feels no recoil. This works best when the rifle is held level, which it is during a shooting match.

Can a Chinese copy really be any good?
When the Chinese copy an air rifle, they often get the general look of the gun they are copying but not the function. Not so with the BS4! With this rifle, they got almost everything correct. For starters, the trigger on the BS4 is light, fully adjustable and can be set to be as nice as an FWB 300 trigger. It has the same vertical target profile and feels just as nice as the German trigger. The rifle also cocks as easily as the FWB 300 - which is legendary for how easy it cocks. Though the sidelever is short, the effort needed to cock the rifle is easy enough that it can be cocked from all three shooting positions in a 10-meter match (standing/sitting or kneeling and prone). The shape of the stock is also nearly identical to the one on the German rifle. It's big, thick and squared off, like target shooters demand. There is a rail on the bottom of the forearm for a hand stop and sling swivel. The curved rubber buttpad is adjustable up and down to suit the individual shooter's taste.

The front sight on the BS4 is a globe-type that accepts different inserts, just like the German sights. And, the rear aperture sight on the BS4 (third item from the bottom) is such a good copy of the FWB 300 sight that people have been buying it when they need a replacement for their FWB aperture sight. In the 1970s and '80s, a lot of FWB 300s were sold for a lower price without sights to shooters who wanted to mount scopes on them. Therefore, it's not uncommon to find the gun without sights today. Fortunately, the BS4 sights are every bit as good and sell for a lot less money!

All the fine little touches mean nothing if the rifle isn't deadly accurate, and the BS4 is! Surprisingly it shoots just as accurately as the FWB 300 - a real feat, considering that rifle was at one time the world standard for 10-meter air rifles. The BS4 will never cost you a single point in a match. As long as you do your part, you might as well be shooting an FWB 300! I used to use Tech Force Chinese wadcutter match pellets, but they don't seem to be available any longer, so I would recommend trying the Beeman H&N High-Speed Match pellet. You must use wadcutter pellets when shooting target, because they are the only pellets that leave a crisp hole for scoring. Of course, you can use any shape pellet in this rifle if you want to plink at things. I would recommend using lighter weight pellets, though, to match the lower velocity of the rifle.

It comes in a special hard case!
When you receive the rifle, it's in its own special hard case that looks like luggage. It shocked me to see how nicely this rifle is presented - especially when the FWB 300, which costs three times as much, came only in a cardboard box!

Where are the drawbacks?
I said earlier the Chinese got ALMOST everything correct - what did they forget? I can sum it all up in a single word: finish. The wood is not finished as nicely as the wood stock on an FWB 300. The stippling (rough areas around the pistol grip and forearm) are cruder on the BS4, and they do not grip your hands like the FWB stock does. The metal preparation before bluing isn't as fine as the metal prep on an FWB 300. Even though the metal is equally dark and even, it looks less smooth and shiny on the BS4. The rear aperture sight seems rough on the outside, though it adjusts and returns to zero just as accurately as the FWB's sight. So, finish is the great separator between the German and Chinese target rifles. Finish and price. The FWB hasn't been made for many years, so now it is only sold used. It's starting to pick up some collectable status, which will surely drive the price higher. The BS4 is still being made - for now.

Is the BS4 worth it?
The BS4 is one of the best values on the airgun market today. Twenty years from now, people will lament its passing and wish they had bought one. Unless you just have to have an FWB 300, this is the target rifle for you!


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