Finding a Diana 5V air pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

A few weeks ago, blog regular Fred PRoNJ told us about a great find he made. Today, he’s going to tell us more about it.

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

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Take it away, Fred!

by Fred Nemiroff, aka Fred PRoNJ


You can find airguns in the most unlikely places!

Say hello to Murray and Tom. In the image above, Tom, the gentleman on the left, is a retired accountant, Vietnam vet and a once-avid hunter and target shooter. The owner, Murray, is being shielded from a customer, on is the far right of the building.

The day before I left for the Roanoke Airgun show, I bid good-bye to Tom and Murray. When I told Tom where I was going, he told me he had an airgun he inherited from his father. I asked him if he was interested in selling it, and he said he’d think about it. Two weeks after I returned from Roanoke, Tom told me he’d sell me the airgun.

The next Saturday, Tom stopped by my house with a wooden box that held the pistol, a holster, pellets and more.


This wooden box holds my newest prize…a Diana 5V air pistol.


Lots of goodies came with the gun, including a holster. The holster is a lefty and is face down when the gun is properly inserted. The gun and holster were flipped around to give you a better view of them in the box. Those feathered things are darts, which came with the gun originally.

In addition to the Diana Model 5V in the 1905 Rock Island Arsenal holster, there were a bunch of oxidized pellets in the little box and in the unmarked tin, and some darts.


Left view of the gun showing hand-checkering on the grip.


The unmarked tin contains oxidized wadcutter pellets.

The gun is a spring-piston breakbarrel with a fixed barrel sight and a breech mounted sight that’s adjustable for elevation. A screw that goes through a threaded hole in the sight is how the rear sight adjusts up and down.


Note the capital “D” and arrow. That makes this a rare gun!

The Blue Book of Airguns states that this may be the only example of any of the guns manufactured by Diana that used the circle “D” trademark. The gun was manufactured from 1933 to 1945. I’ve looked all over the gun and find no serial number. I haven’t removed the grips to check underneath, not wanting to be the first one to take the gun apart. Looking closely at the various screws, there’s no evidence that this gun has ever been opened since it left the factory. The Blue Book goes on to say that the gun was made with a smoothbore as well as a rifled barrel. This example has a rifled barrel.


My gun is a .22, yet the Blue Book mentions only .177 cal. guns.

One other item of interest. The Blue Book only lists this gun as being made in .177 caliber. This model is a .22!



Some rust, although it looks worse in the pictures than in person.

There’s a moderate amount of surface rust along the barrel where it’s grabbed to cock the gun. The wood grip appears to be in very good condition. I don’t know what type of wood this is. Anyone out there reading this blog care to hazard a guess?

Being a man of limited patience, I cocked the gun and inserted an RWS Hobby pellet. From 10 feet away, I bounced a pellet off the paper target that was resting on a piece of cardboard. The impact was so light that I couldn’t tell where the pellet hit the paper.

The breech seal is leather, as you’d expect and as you can see going back to the photo of the rifled barrel. The piston seal is probably leather also. I took out my container of 30-weight motor oil and put an ample amount on the breech seal and poured some down the transfer port. The gun then sat on its butt for two days.

After two days of allowing the seals to soak up the motor oil, I repeated my firing test 10 feet away from my target. This time, the pellet penetrated paper and cardboard. Now, it was time for a session with my Shooting Chrony. The average velocity of the .22 cal. Hobby pellets (11.9 gr.) was 208 fps. I recorded a high of 216.9 fps and low of 200 fps.

Finally, I needed to find out what level of accuracy this old feller was capable of. From 25 feet away, I launched a pellet right into the wall some 2 feet above the target. While the gun is not powerful enough to penetrate sheetrock, it did leave a nice mark. I lowered the rear sight as far as it would go and, from 10 feet away, confirmed the pellet was hitting paper. Backing up to 25 feet, I giggled as I found out I could actually watch the pellets trundling their way through the air to strike the target.

I used a two-handed stance, shooting 5 Hobby pellets and 5 RWS Superpoints. The accuracy, I think, is pretty good, and I’m sure if I’d tried to shoot from a semi-rest or if a better shooter was available, the groups would have been much smaller.


RWS Superpoints, although not the most accurate of pellets in my experience, would at least penetrate this sheet of paper.


Hobbys produced a slightly better grouping. The target is compressed because I shrank it to take up less space in the blog.

I estimate that this gun is 80-90% condition due to the rust. Since this is a rifled, .22 cal. example and is probably a very limited gun, I’m not sure what it’s worth. I’ll enjoy owning it and eventually will take it to Roanoke or Baldwinsville and offer it for sale to someone else who would love to have this rare gun in their collection.

59 thoughts on “Finding a Diana 5V air pistol


    • Desertdweller,

      when I first told BB and Edith about my find, BB thought the velocity would be around 100 fps. Keeping in mind the pistol is very easy to cock and has a very small compression chamber and obviously short spring, I don’t think it could get up to 300 fps but I’m guessing. Perhaps I’ll send an e-mail off to Diana (they do respond to e-mails) and ask them if they retained any records or specifications for the manufacture of this pistol. With the war damage and then the pillaging of the plant by the Bristish, they may have lost all of this information. I’ll let the blog know if I hear anything from them.

      Fred PRoNJ


  1. Fred,
    Thanks for the write up. That is a nice find. I don’t usually like pistols, but that one appeals to me in an odd sort of way. If you keep it, it should be great for parlor shooting. You did fine shooting it, probably due in part to what looks like excellent, though simple, sights. I would guess beech is the wood used, but that’s just a guess.


  2. Fred Nice find and excellent article. The .22 cal is an oddity, at least for the Blue Book listing. Do you know what it’s factory velocity rating was or velocity expectation as new? I’m guessing 350 fps max in .22?



    • PCP4me,

      I haven’t the slightest idea of what this is worth in .22 cal as my Blue Book doesn’t list it. I would think it depends how rare it is and the condition of any others that may exist. Most importantly, it’s how much someone is willing to pay to own it.

      Regarding the holster, I was very excited when I first saw it on the gun. Further research did confirm what Mr. B said. While I didn’t include the pictures of the holster, it is stamped “1905 Rock Island Arsenal” on the back and it did indeed used to have a flap that held the pistol in place. Someone along the way cut the flap off the holster and that really destroyed any value it might have had for a collector. E-Bay showed these holsters going from $10 to $100 but with that darn flap attached.

      Fred PRoNJ


  3. Fred: Interesting pistol , thanks for telling us about it and how you aquired it. The holster that came with your pistol looks like a military holster for a Colt .38 cal revolver, circa about 1900,Robert.



  4. Fred,

    Way cool with the D and arrow especially being .22 and possibly the only one in existence. There is a collector(s) some where reading your blog getting drool over over their key boards. The holster looks like it once Had a flap on it, brass stud held it closed. My guess for the holster would be for a German Luger, but that for sure is a guess. I’m agreeing with BG_Farmer cause the wood looks like beech to me also.

    Now for a question to you and the collectors out there. Should the metal be cleaned with something like Ballistol and the bore with J-B non-embedding bore cleaning compound?

    Bruce


    • Mr B & Fred : A reproduction of a similar holster can be purchased at http://www.iam -usa.com. It is definately a holster for the .38 revolver. It had a partial flap ,not a full flap. The issue revolver for the U.S. army at the tail end of the 19th century was a Colt .38 long , which was issued around the time of the Philippine insurection. You will remember that mistake as being the catalyst for the adoption of the Colt 1911 , due to the miserable stopping power of the .38 long on the Moro’s. This holster was also used with the .38 S&W and Colt Victory revolvers during WW 2, by both british and American forces. It is /was a common surplus item. It is not a holster for a Luger pistol . I know,as I have an original copy of that one,Robert.


  5. Fred PRoNJ,

    Congratulations! That seems to be a very rare pistol indeed.

    Couple questions when you have a spare moment if you don’t mind.

    1-Why is your article titled “RWS 5V air pistol”? Wouldn’t a more accurate title be “Diana 5 (“V”) air pistol”?

    2-Does your pistol have the “DRP” stamp anywhere on the gun? Maybe on the left rear receiver?

    3-Does your pistol have the Diana date stamp anywhere? Maybe on the left rear receiver just above the wood in VERY SMALL numbers? You may need a magnifying glass.

    Thanks for sharing this terrific find.

    kevin



  6. twotalon/Kevin,
    The Iberville duct seal I have, the harder stuff, I got mail order. It’s made by Thompson & Betts of Canada. The Ideal is made in Sycamore, Illinois. I got it a Menards, Lowes and Home Depot.
    -Chuck


  7. Fred, what an acquisition. Sounds like the pursuit was half the fun. I had a similar experience with dry seals. All of a sudden, my Daisy 747 could barely reach the paper at 5 yards, and there was no resistance at all in the cocking lever. I dumped pellgunoil into the mechanism as advised by B.B. and Vince, and the pistol recovered almost instantly.

    BG_Farmer, I meant to say that dimpling is the reverse of carbuncles in the physical sense of an inversion–going toward the center of the ball rather than away–but the effect on airflow would be similar if not identical.

    Chuck, I’ve heard that the Kimber customer service can be erratic. I asked one of their dealers how the service was and he said it was fine. What else would he say. But his behavior did not reassure me. He was a very pale fellow, silent and very unhelpful behind the gunstore counter and attired in a black outfit with a sort of stormtrooper’s cap. Just about normal at this particular gunstore. Don’t rule out the Smith & Wesson 1911, a semi-custom job at a low price with fabulous customer service as I’ve had reason to know.

    Matt61


  8. I have a question, My brother has a Crosman Raven and the thing that holds the barrel up when you are ready to shoot broke.(I don’t know the name of the part…if there is one;-) So basically, he’s got a gun that can shoot just as good but he has to hold up the barrel when he shoots or it will just fall open like he broke it to load a pellet in.

    My question was, is there a replacement barrel I can get somewhere to fix it?

    Thanks,
    Conor


  9. Fred,

    Funny you should be blogging on a Diana 5.

    In going though my collection… getting ready to sell/trade items I have.. for more field target equipment… I ran across one I have too.

    It’s a .177 cal with a rifled barrel that appears longer than your .22 cal. The step down part looks longer than yours.

    Kevin,

    Mine does say “D.R.P.” but I can’t find any serial numbers either on the exposed metal. The screws all look very good, so I don’t want to be the one to open her up either on this one. The sights and Diana trademark looks the same as yours.

    I didn’t run it across the crony, but it feels like about 350-400 with a 7.34 gr. shoots real smooth and a great trigger for a spring gun… I can’t remember if I had Vince work on it or not.. Vince, do you remember?

    I’m so glad your article was posted today.. I might not have considered it’s real value when pricing it for sale/trade. HHHmmmm now.. what is that value???

    Wacky Wayne,
    Match Director,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range


    • Wayne,

      You crack me up. Many airgun folks would have that pistol in a glass case and you forgot you even had one!

      You’re not looking for serial numbers in order to determine value you’re looking for the manufacturing date. 3 or 4 very small numbers with a space between them. Usually along the left rear receiver just above the wood. The numbers will be 1/4 the size of this type. Get a strong light and magnifying glass.

      As for value, go to the vintage forum, post good pictures (let me know if I can help with this) and ask the value then add 25%-30% to their average estimate.

      kevin


      • Wayne,

        One other thing. Since you said that your Diana Model 5 barrel is longer than Freds you may have the later model 5. Does your pistol have a hooded front sight and a knurled knob at the rear?

        kevin


        • Kevin,

          No the front sight is not hooded. The knob on the rear of the spring tube has lines around the outside just like Fred’s in his picture above. The only difference I can see between mine and Fred’s is the length of the barrel at the stepping down section.

          Well, I’ll have to get a better magnifying glass and more light.. cause I just can’t see any date… yet:-)

          Wacky Wayne



          • Wayne, I’m in RI now on a business trip but as I recall, my pistol does not say Model 5, does not say DRP and has no date or serial number on it. Other than the circle D logo with the arrow and the caliber marking on the underside of the barrel, I think (?) there is a “made in Germany” marking at the rear of the spring chamber but I have to look again. Definitely no model marking on it.

            Fred PRoNJ



  10. I would like to thank Frank B and Kevin for their help full hints with my fwb 124.I don’t know if I am suppose to jump in here or not. Please inform me if I am butting in the wrong place.
    I have tried a different pellet and they tightened my group to half what it was. I have the FTS pellets and the one piece mount on order.I was looking for another gun, but I think I want to work with the fwb till I get it right.
    A friend gave me his grandsons cross-man 760 BB gun to fix. It will not hold air.Is it repairable?


    • john r,

      You can ask anything on any blog page you like. Asking on the current page lets the greatest number of people see what you have asked.

      Yes, the Crosman 760 is repairable, but at a cost of $35-45, and add shipping to that. That’s when it is fixed by a reputable airgunsmith. So unless there is a lot of nostalgic value placed on the gun, most people only repair the more collectible versions.

      Here is a good repair station:

      Rick Willnecker in PA. Contact him at http://www.airgunshop.net/ or call 717-382-1481.

      Some people might find a 760 easy to repair with the right parts. I’m sending you to the Crosman forum to ask them where to buy just the right parts.

      http://www.network54.com/Forum/275684/

      B.B.


    • john r,

      That’s great news on your FWB 124! Really appreciate you giving us an update. I’m hopeful that your one piece mount that is one the way is the correct one with the cross bars that marry with the cross slots on top of your action? If so, with the correct mount in place and shooting FTS pellets I’m going to speculate that your groups will shrink even further. Keep us posted. Thanks!

      kevin




  11. Fred,

    I just purchased a Diana V that is identical to yours. It has the same markings Diana and the D inside the arrow and “made in Germany” near the receiver end just above the wood grips. It also is a .22 cal, the same step down on the barrel, same checked grips, same sights both front as back, same leather breech seal, and also rifled barrel. Mine is pristine with no rust or wear with intact bluing. Velocity of around 250 with Crosman Premiers and about 275 with Old Benjamin HC pellets. The top velocity was 285. I could not find any serial numbers or date of manufacture I only tested at about 12 feet but the gun shot just a little high but accuracy was 1/2 in. If I used a lighter pellet I this this gun would top 325 maybe 350.

    If any one has information on how I would obtain a Owner’s manual or other information on this gun it would be appreciated.


  12. Congratulations, Rob. Yours definitely is more powerful than mine. I had contacted Diana Gmbh asking for any data but they responded they had no records from before the end of WW II. Wonder if Millbro is still around? Anyway, as BB suggested, a search on the Yellow for a catalogue collector is probably the next place to look for info on this pistol. Hopefully, you and I have a very rare pistol. Now if someone else chimes in with another .22, well, maybe it isn’t that rare!

    Fred PRoNJ


    • I don’t know very much about spring guns and since this looks as if is almost new, does it take a number of shots before these guns are broken in? What maintenance do I have to do with this pistol? I have have shot it about a hundred times now with a variety of pellets but they are all around 13 to 15 grain. Accuracy seems to be best with Crosman Premiers or old Benjamins HC’s. If you find any more info on this guns please let me know. I will check this page occasionally. I also tried some gammo 22 rounds. They fit snugly, but bounced around some much I was afraid to test them inside anymore. I will have to get my pellet trap out of the closet an do a more thorough test. I will chronograph various pellets and report it on this page.

      Sincerely,

      Rob K


  13. Hello Fred,

    I chronograph my Diana today to get a better idea of the velocity possible. Here are the figures below:

    Entry Diana 5
    Ammo Benjamin HC
    pumps 1
    low 229
    high 296
    ave 255
    spread 67
    SD 21.09
    1 272
    2 234
    3 296
    4 247
    5 246
    6 261
    7 269
    8 234
    9 229
    10 265
    I did get a high velocity of 296 fps and an average of 255 fps with old Benjamin HC’s pellets. Seems to be a high standard deviation with this gun.

    Sincerely,

    Rob K


    • Rob,

      Why do you mention pumping your pistol? The Diana 5 is a spring gun that gets cocked. Nothing is pumped.

      To lower the SD try oiling the air transfer port with household oil like 3-in-One. Also, if you weigh and sort the pellets into groups that do not deviate by more than one-tenth grain, the velocity will be tighter. And Benjamin High Compression pellets are vintage and very close to junk pellets by today’s standards. They are also collectible.

      Buy some RWS Superdome pellets from Pyramyd Air for your gun and see how much difference there is when using modern ammunition.

      B.B.


  14. Hello Fred,

    Sorry about the confusion. I copy and pasted the statistic from a spreadsheet where I am keeping record of Benjamin pump rifles and pistols. The no of pumps was being recorded for those guns and did not get changed. My Diana is not a pump as it is identical to your in all respects and is cocked.

    I will get some RWS Superdomes and check out the difference.

    Sincerely,

    Rob K



    • Not to worry, Rob K. I know the 5V is a single stroke spring piston pistol and number of pumps was not appropriate. I figured you either didn’t change a form your were using for your data collections or when you were proof reading your comment, you just missed it. Easy to do. I do it all the time – comments and blogs!

      Fred PRoNJ


  15. Dear Sirs, I live in Brazil, have a pressure gun Diana modell 5, DRP, 4.5, it was given to me by my grandfather brought from Europe in the late 50’s, I did not find any information about it, I believe it is a rare model, could you help me? what is the average price for the sale of the gun? There are spare parts for this model? Thank You very much!
    Marco Mendes


    • Marcos,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Your Diana model 5 is a compressed air gun. That’s what Pressluft translates to in English. If just means the gun propells the pellet with compressed air, which it generates with a spring-powered piston.

      The D.R.P. stands for Deutsches Reichspatent, which means your gun was made before World War II.

      They are not exactly rare, but they are hard to find these days.In good condition they bring $125-175, here in the U.S.

      There are very few parts available for these guns, but they don’t need much. The seals can be made by hand and a mainspring can be cut down from something else. That’s about all it takes to keep one running.

      Come to our current web page where 50,000 readers can see your comments, including several Brazilians.

      http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/

      B.B.


  16. I am sorry it took so long for me to get back to this thread. I have two Diana 5 pistols, one is the gun is a .22 noted in this thread. I got some rws Superdomes and the results averaged about 220fps. Since it had been so long I put a little 3 in 1 oil down the transfer port and tried the next day with better results at 250fps. I started experimenting with the grip when firing this gun and I noticed that the looser I held the pistol the higher the velocity. With a looser grip the velocity jumped to over 300fps. I thought this was rather weird so I did the same with the .177 caliber Diana 5 and the velocity jumped from 330fps to over 400mps. Anybody have an explanation for me?


    • Mrcommem,

      Welcome to the blog. I have experienced a similar thing with spring pistol rifles. Different velocities, depending on how loose or tight the stock is held. I assume it has to do with the piston being able to be anchored by the hold to get better compression.

      B.B.


  17. A few other issues that just came to me. The .22 Diana 5 seems to shoot very high compared to the .177. Even if I lower the rear sight all the way it still shoots too high. At about 15 ft it is shooting a good 2 inches high with Crossman Premiers and about the same with Superdomes, Benjamin HP’s. Doesn’t seem to matter. What can be done? At what range were these pistols intended to shoot?




  18. Hello BB,

    I acquired some of the o-ring seals for a later Diana pistol model. It seems to have done the trick as the gun no longer shoots high and the velocity is pretty consistent at about 325 to 330fps using crosman premiers. A vast improvement over the sub 200fps. I might just change out the leather seal in the .177 and see if it makes any difference. I was grouping about 1inch at 15 feet shooting off-hand, but I am a lousy shot and not very steady. I will try a variety of pellets and see if I can improve my accuracy. I am rather satisfied with the results of my 70 year old pistol.


    • Mrcommem,

      From what you say I sounds like you have replaced the breech seal? That would make a big difference if it had been leaking.

      Do you know how to make a new leather breech seal? There are several blogs that address it.

      B.B.



    • Mrcommem,

      The o-ring will flatten with time, too. You can put a thin shim under the leather or the o-ring and raise it, you know.

      Also, a flat seal doesn’t always leak. If you keep the leather soaked with oil it may continued to work for years.

      You can substitute an o-ring for the leather seal as long as it fits the groove well.

      B.B.


  19. Hey. I have the exact same Diana model .22 with the big d in the arrow. It was my fathers and as a kid I spent many hours in the basement of my home knocking over wood blocks well after many years of use and fun I broke the grip. It’s in a door that is not repairable. Im not a very handy woodworker so I was hopping for some suggestions on how to find a replacement or guidance on trying to make a new one. Any and all thoughts opinions and comments appreciated. Thx


  20. Hey. I have the exact same Diana model .22 with the big d in the arrow. It was my fathers and as a kid I spent many hours in the basement of my home knocking over wood blocks. well after many years of use and fun I broke the grip. It’s in a spot that is not repairable. Im not a very handy woodworker so I was hopeing for some suggestions on how to find a replacement or guidance on trying to make a new one. Any and all thoughts opinions and comments appreciated. Thx


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