The current gain (b) of 4H-SiC BJTs as function of collector current (IC) has been investigated by DC and pulsed measurements and by device simulations. A measured monotonic increase of b with IC agrees well with simulations using a constant distribution of interface states at the 4H-SiC/SiO2 interface along the etched side-wall of the base-emitter junction. Simulations using only bulk recombination, on the other hand, are in poor agreement with the measurements. The interface states degrade the simulated current gain by combined effects of localized recombination and trapped charge that influence the surface potential. Additionally, bandgap narrowing has a significant impact by reducing the peak current gain by about 50 % in simulations.