The RWS Model 34BC Magnum Air Rifle (Revised 2/21/98)
This review is based on a piece that I posted on the AIRGUN mailing list on 4/30/97 after I received my rifle. It's been updated since then based on my observations shooting the rifle in a few field-target matches and informally.
I received my new RWS M34BC from Airgun Express on 4/29/97. Delivery took about a week via UPS Ground. The lady who took my order was courteous and very helpful in answering a few questions I had before I ordered. The rifle cost $275 + $9 for shipping.
The M34 is a barrel-cocking spring-piston rifle. RWS advertises it giving 1000 FPS with 6.9 grain Hobbies in .177 caliber. Even allowing for 10-15% hype, this still rates as a "magnum" air rifle.
The BC variant of the M34 comes with a hardwood, black epoxy-coated stock (no buttplate), matte black finish on the metal, 2-piece RWS C Mount, and 4x32mm RWS M350 scope. Airgun Express had some with Tasco 2-7x scopes, but I felt that in this price range, a variable is less likely to last under airgun recoil. In the picture above, the rifle is shown with the Tasco variable. The rifle comes w/o iron sights, and the barrel sports a muzzle break, which adds a little weight and covers the dovetail slots where the front sight would be. The overall effect is quite nice, especially if you like guns with the "tactical" look.
This outfit weighs a bit over 8 pounds, and is slightly muzzle-heavy. To faciliate carrying it around at matches, I put a simple sling on it. Using sling swivels and studs from Uncle Mike's, it attaches to the stock and a split barrel band. The sling itself is nothing more than a piece of 1"-wide flat nylon webbing which I bought from REI, along with a couple of their hard nylon buckles intended for fixing back packs. It's simple but serves perfectly for use as a carrying strap.
The rifle hangs nicely for offhand shooting. However, the comb of the stock is definitely designed for use with iron sights. For scope use it should be higher.
Out of the box the trigger was terrible. Luckily, this was the result of it being adjusted for a heavy pull at the factory. With a screwdriver I was able to get it down to a reasonable weight. It's no Rekord trigger, but I can live with it.
The Korean-made M350 scope has decently clear optics. However, the scope's narrow range of eye relief and a small exit pupil, making head placement critical. This is understandable on a scope with higher magnification, but I found it unacceptable on a 4x scope. I did have to move the scope a little forward in the mounts from where A.E. had positioned it. Adjustments are in 1/4 minute clicks via a coin-slotted screw. (Nickels fit best, btw.)
At the last match I attended in 1997, the scope started "walking" off the back of the mounting rail under recoil. As you can imagine, I was not a happy camper -- I wasn't able to finish the match.
Because I was dissatisfied with the RWS scope, I bought a used Bushnell Trophy 6-18x40mm scope. It's mounted in the same 2-piece RWS C-Mount that came witht he gun, but I also added a Burris scope-stop, on which a pin extends into a hole in the scope rail on the receiver, to prevent scope creep. I haven't yet shot it with this setup in a match, but I am optimisitc that the increased magnifaction and the ability to use the adjustable objective as a range finder will improve my scores.
Airgun Express provided a test target shot the day after I ordered. Four Crosman Premiers went into one hole at 10 meters, with a flyer opening up the group just a tad. So far, my firing has been limited to Beeman Silver Sting pointed pellets, and RWS Superdome roundnose pellets. At 25', both go *exactly* where you point the rifle. At 50 yards, it is no problem to keep all your shots on the end of a soda can, from a benchrest. This "test" was done when the rifle still had the RWS 4x scope on it. Now that it is wearing the higher-powered Bushnell I'll have to think of a smaller target.
Over the course of the past 8 months I've put about 500 rounds through my RWS 34BC. In that time I've really come to like it. I may fiddle with my set up some more, e.g., put dampening gel on the mainspring to reduce the twang when it's fired and I may go to a different scope mount. However, the RWS 34 is a great rifle out of the box and I recommend to to anyone seeking a high-power air rifle.
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