By B.B. Pelletier
What IS a serious springer? With precharged guns selling so well these days, can any springer be a serious contender?
I think so. Spring guns may not be as powerful as precharged guns, and they do require more technique to shoot accurately, but they also need less in the way of support. You aren’t tethered to a scuba tank or pump for your power. The spring has all the power you need for thousands of shots.
RWS Diana model 52 is a hard gun to beat!
Now, I’m not saying this is the absolute BEST spring air rifle out there, but the RWS Diana model 52 is a hard gun to beat. It’s been around for about two decades. When it first appeared, it set velocity records in .177. It was the world’s first 1,100 f.p.s. air rifle.
Most shooters don’t want supersonic velocities in their pellet rifles, but the 52 and its somewhat cheaper cousin, the model 48, can launch heavy .177 Beeman Kodiak or Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets at a respectable speed in the 900s. But, .177 isn’t my choice for this gun. I think .22 is where it’s at.
How to send pellets screamin’ downrange!
A model 52 in .22 caliber gets up to about 23 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy, which is a screamin’ medium-weight pellet or a heavy Kodiak clippin’ along smartly in the low 700s. Hunters love that kind of power. So do plinkers, ’cause that big pellet slams into a can and sends it flying!
Two things you may not know about the 52. It’s very easy to cock for its power, and it has very little vibration when it fires. Once it’s broken-in after several hundred shots, the 52 is smooth and crisp.
Some powerful springers are very sensitive as to how they’re held, but the 52 is not. Oh, it responds best to a light, soft hold, but it isn’t as touchy as some others about where you place your hands.
Kick it up a notch with a .25-caliber 52
Did I mention that it’s also available in .25 caliber? It has enough power for the quarter-inch bore, though not much is lost when you shoot a .22 with heavy pellets. My pick for a .25-caliber pellet is the mid-weight Diana Magnum. It’s uniform and weighs 21 grains, giving you good velocity from spring guns like the model 52.
In the .22-caliber rifle, the Beeman Kodiak is best. It weighs the same as the Diana Magnum and produces just about the same power. Shooting .177? Use Kodiaks or Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets. You can use the lighter 7.9-grain Premier, too, but with the higher velocity it will get in a model 52, you’ll be flirting with the sound barrier.
What NOT to do with your spring gun
Don’t over-lubricate your compression chamber. With some spring guns you can get away with lubricating every 1,000 shots or so, but Diana uses a special synthetic piston seal material that hardly needs any lubricant at all. Maybe put a drop of silicone chamber oil in the transfer port every two years.
Don’t adjust the trigger down to a half-pound pull weight. Diana has made the trigger as safe as they possibly can, but it needs more resistance to be dependable. I would keep it above two pounds.
Don’t shoot ultra-light .177 pellets in an attempt to break the sound barrier. Yes, the gun will do it, but a lightweight pellet won’t slow the piston enough to protect it from slamming into the end of the compression chamber. You risk breaking the mainspring when you shoot pellets that are too light.
The RWS Diana model 52 sidelever is a classic air rifle that has been proven through decades of use. It represents great value for the money and is still a very innovative design, even today.