Diana 25 air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Diana 25
The Diana 25 (this one says Winchester 425) was made for decades. It’s at the top of the youth line of air rifles from the ’50s through ’70s.

Before we begin, I owe you an explanation. Although the title of this report says the Diana model 25, the rifle we’ll look at is actually a Winchester model 425 — Winchester’s branding of the model from the 1970s. I used the Diana 25 model name because there are many times more Diana 25 air rifles than just the few thousand that carry the Winchester name. That way, all who read this will know the root airgun. If they ever need parts, they’ll know what to look for.

At most airgun shows, I buy and sell as much from/to the other dealers as I do to the public. I’ll often sit at my table with my eye on a certain gun for almost the entire show before making my move. I bought David Enoch’s Gamo 68 as we were packing up to leave the Malvern show. I’d wanted it all show long and hoped it would still be there when I sold something and had the money to buy it. When I did have the money, I found my self unable to open my wallet until David started packing it up to go.

The Fast Deer I bought at Roanoke this year is another example of the same thing. I had the money, but still I putzed around for no reason, arguing with myself over a $40 purchase!

And all the while we were at this show, I watched Mac’s Winchester 425 (Diana 25) sitting on the table next to me. He had it marked at $200, which is a very good price, because this is the model 25 that has the three-ball trigger. I had a Winchester model 427 (a Diana 27) for sale for $225, which is also a good price for that model, but people were overlooking my gun and focusing on Mac’s 25. His rifle is even cleaner than mine and frankly, at $25 less, it looked like a better deal.

Finally, after much agonizing and hand-wringing, I either bought Mac’s rifle or traded for it. I think we traded, which is always better, because then you never know for sure who got the better deal. It’s the old two $2,500 dogs for a $5,000 cat routine.

Every time I buy an airgun, I’m always justifying it by thinking that I’ll write a blog about it, which I almost always do. Sometimes, like the case of my Falke 90, I get so involved in the gun that I start investing even more time and money just because I get caught up in the story and want to see how it turns out. And, FYI, the Falke stock is on its way to the refinisher to get a new lease on life. The results of that will be coming in a separate report some time in the future.

Back to my report. So, I acquired this Diana 25, and now I want to share it with you. For years, Mac has told me that the 25 is just a 27 that’s a little shorter. I wanted to test that. Mac has had a whole collection of these guns, including several 27 and 25 airguns. He sold a 27 at the Roanoke show the year before, and I was sad to see it go — even though I have two of them myself and do not need another. Mac’s had more of these rifles than I, so I listen to what he has to say about them.

Diana 25 and 27
Diana 27 (top) was just slightly larger and more powerful than the 25.

The 25 stands out because there were several different versions of the same gun, built over the decades the model was being manufactured. There’s the 25 that has a more or less simplistic trigger with a direct sear. That one isn’t adjustable, as far as I know. It’s not a bad trigger, but it doesn’t compare to the model we’re examining here.

Then, there’s the model I’m testing for you that has two adjustment screws for the trigger — only one of which actually adjusts the pull. The other screw is nothing but a lock screw that holds the adjustment in place. People who are not familiar with the trigger adjustment process of the 25/27/35 will invariably mess up the adjustment and get a trigger-pull that’s single-stage, long, creepy and vague as to the let-off point. They’ll declare the trigger to be junk and get rid of the rifle when it could so easily be adjusted to a very fine pull if they only knew the secret.

Diana 25 trigger screwsThe presence of two screws on a Diana 25 air rifle trigger signifies a ball-bearing sear trigger. The front screw (left) is just a locking screw.

Adjusting a two-screw, three ball-bearing sear Diana trigger
Here are simple instructions for adjusting the Diana 25/27/35 triggers that have two screws. The front screw is just a lock screw. Loosen it and then screw the rear screw in as far as it will go (that’s clockwise). Then, turn it back out two full turns and try cocking the rifle. Be careful not to let go of the barrel, because some guns may be adjusted to the razor’s edge this way. If yours is and you need a little more sear engagement, try turning the screw in or out just a quarter turn until the sear holds well. Next, tighten the front screw, and the job is done. You’ll have a long first stage followed by a definite stop and crisp stage-two break when the gun fires. You only have to experience one of these triggers adjusted correctly to know how nice they all are.

Diana 35 trigger
This trigger assembly from a Diana 35 is identical to the one found in the model 27 and the model 25 we’re examining. These parts are held together inside the gun by the spring tube. Assembly requires a lot of tacky grease to hold these parts together until they’re safely contained inside the spring tube.

There’s one more variation of the 25, and that’s a rifle with just a single trigger screw. It’s a later design that did away with the need for a locking screw by virtue of having the adjustment screw pass through more metal and be less resistant to movement. This one is much easier to adjust because there’s no chance of making a mistake with the locking screw since it isn’t there.

The rifle is small, being made primarily for youth. At just 37-3/4 inches overall, it’s sized like a carbine, though the proportions look more like those of a rifle. The pull is just 12-7/8 inches, which is short for an adult but about right for a teenager. Today, these rifles are more often used by older shooters than their builders intended. As Mac stated, they’re viewed as smaller model 27 air rifles — especially when they have the ball-bearing sear. The barrel is shorter than the one on the model 27, at 14-1/2 inches. The rifle still cocks easily because the mainspring isn’t that strong.

The stock is beech, which is stained very differently than the darker model 427 shown for comparison. There’s actually a pleasing grain that isn’t common to beech. The butt has a single rubber “button” at the top that confuses airgunners all the time. It’s there to keep the wooden butt from sliding across the floor when the rifle is stood in the corner. There’s a slab-sided profile to this 25 stock that isn’t seen on the 427. It just means they started with a thinner blank.

The metal parts are all well-polished and deeply blued. Today, the finish looks exceptional; but when this rifle was made, it was considered standard for the time.

The rifle weighs 5-1/2 lbs. on the nose. It feels like a gun you could carry and shoot all day.

This model came in both .177 and .22 caliber, though all the Winchesters I’ve seen were in .22 caliber. That’s a pretty large pellet for such a small powerplant, and you can expect velocities somewhere in the 400s with light- and medium-weight pellets. That sounds pretty anemic to those who are accustomed to supersonic velocities, but the fact is that these are pretty accurate at close range and a lot of fun to shoot.

Sights
The 25 and 27 air rifles have fully adjustable rear sights and hooded front posts that are fixed. There’s also a serrated ramp on the back of the spring tube that accepts a Diana peep sight, should you be fortunate enough to find one.

Diana 25 rear sight
The rear sight adjusts in both directions. It’s crisp, clear and an example to all airgun makers today.

I’m testing this rifle because Mac has piqued my interest over the years. Normally, I would say the Diana 27 is the epitome of lightweight spring guns, but there might be something here that I haven’t yet seen. At any rate, it’ll be fun to find out!

41 thoughts on “Diana 25 air rifle: Part 1

  1. Finally, after much agonizing and hand-wringing, I either bought Mac’s rifle or traded for it. I think we traded, which is always better, because then you never know for sure who got the better deal. It’s the old two $2,500 dogs for a $5,000 cat routine.

    I’ll take the two dogs…

    Dogs want to please their owner — cats want the owner to please them..

    this is the model 25 that has the three-ball trigger.

    Hmmm… Isn’t the T01 a three-ball lock-up? Though possibly different points for the balls… Maybe a comparison is justified (heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t get a two or three part blog out of just the variant Diana triggers!) I will have to concede that looking that the exposed trigger, this one looks lovely — pivot point above the blade, not an inch in front of the blade.

    Based on the photo, the rear sight also has a choice of four notches (or maybe just two if the side “notches” are just indexing grooves). Either way — I adore the build of the sight…


  2. I am the proud owner of not one, but two air rifles. One for plinking and possibly for my grandson to use/have when he is older if he desires to try 3P and one for long range plinking/vermin elimination should I feel the need to do such. I also have 46M for when I wish to plink with pistol and yes, if the grandson wants to borrow it, well…

    I am an accuracy freak. When you guys see a sproinger produce sub 1 inch groups at 25 yards, you laud it’s merits and rush out and add one to your collection. Now should that said sproinger produce sub 1 inch groups at 50 yards, I would give it more serious consideration.

    I shot my CFX for two years. In that time I was able to produce groups that would amaze most shooters, but not consistent enough for me. When an unnoticeable variance in the amount of pressure my thumb is applying can throw my group off two inches, this is not fun and it is totally unacceptable to me.

    Now who knows what the future holds. Perhaps, when and if I retire, I may acquire a few quality sproingers such as this 25 to play with. I am not a collector, although it is tempting sometimes. I am a boy and like any boy, I want a lot of toys to play with. I just wish some other boy nearby had a bunch of these toys and would let me play with them.

    Whew, that was long winded.


  3. For those who shoot Exact RS…

    The last two tins I got are a bit different than the previous. Both batches were in the red/white tins.
    There is a bit of shape difference in the heads. The newest ones seem to be a little sharper around the outside edge of the heads. Seem to shoot O.K.

    twotalon



  4. B.B.,

    Nice to see a writeup on the Win. 425. I have the exact same model, also purchased from Mac at last year’s Roanoke show. These airguns are a joy to shoot and it is a shame that there is no equivalent sold in the USA these days. There are a number of low-power .177′s but finding one in .22 is almost impossible.

    The trigger on my rifle is different from yours – it is plastic with a single adjusting screw and it is grooved instead of smooth. The rest of the trigger/sear assembly is the same.

    Mine is a little picky on ammo – Premier Hollow Points, JSB 16gr, and JSB wadcutters do the best. The JSB RS and 14.9gr pellets do noticeably worse. It is also my only .22 that will not shoot FTS/FTT pellets well. Looking forward to the rest of the test.

    Paul in Liberty County


  5. I love little guns and the Diana 25D is one of my favorites. One time I bought a box of 6 non functioning Diana 25s. Most were Winchesters. I thought I would be able to do more with them but I found that out of 6 guns, I had 4 variants with different sized parts that would not interchange. I didn’t pay but about $60 for the box and I got one or two poor condition working guns out of the box so I was ok but somewhat disappointed. I guess the point here is not to assume you can swap parts on these guns. It may not work.

    BB, I noticed in the picture that the loose spring in the trigger group seems to have a guide inside it. Is that a guide or a screw? Is that the spring that goes up top at the rear when you put the gun back together that holds tension on the two sleeves? I don’t remember seeing a guide like that. I can see that a guide at that place would be helpful because that spring always wants to bend as you put it back together. I usually put a twist tie around that spring to keep it straight as I start to compress the assembly back together and undo the twist tie when part of the spring is in the action.

    I look forward to the rest of the report.

    David Enoch


  6. I think my Diana 24 (it’s similar to the now called 240) is my only springer that’s superior to the Bronco, and not by much!
    I would have a hard time choosing between the two, I would probably keep the Bronco because it’s more unique…

    J-F



    • Jan,

      The HW55T DST that is being discussed on the yellow came from carel in the netherlands. One of my airgun friends here in Colorado thought about buying it and forwarded the pictures to me and asked my opinion since I own a few dst’s. That gun is in rough shape and I’m 99% sure that the stock isn’t original nor are the sights.

      I own walthers and weihrauchs with double set triggers. Here’s one of mine that I recently posted about:

      http://www.network54.com/Forum/405945/thread/1349056087/Walther+LG55+DST+Tyrolean

      kevin


      • Kevin,

        Spectacular! Wow!

        How do you like the set triggers? How do they compare to newer match triggers, if that’s even a valid comparison?

        Thanks,
        Jan


        • Jan,

          Thanks. It’s a fun gun with stunning accuracy.

          I like single set and double set triggers. They’re single-stage with very light pull weights. That LG55 DST is set to a 2 ounce pull. You must have your crosshairs on target before you even touch that trigger. When B.B. talked about his recent acquistion of that wonderful Winchester High Wall with the single set trigger he was spot on with his description of these triggers.

          Comparing a good sst or dst to “newer match triggers” would cover a lot of ground. Hopefully B.B. will address this in Part 3 of his “Trigger Happy” series.

          kevin


          • Kevin,

            Hmmm. Part three of Trigger Happy?

            I had something else scheduled for tomorrow, but since I blew it today by posting a Friday blog on Thursday, you talked me into it.

            Trigger Happy Part 3 it shall be.

            I have something way cool to show all of you.

            B.B.


  7. I too look forward to the rest of this report. I also purchased a 425 at Roanoke this year. My example has a box, instructions and a warranty card. It is in near perfect condition. It was marked at $225 but did not sell for most of the show. I walked between it and Mac’s several times Saturday morning. I think Mac would have taken $175 and I bought mine for $200. I thought the price was a bit steep but after traveling a long way to the show I wanted to bring something home. I also thought the extra $25 was worth it for the box and paper work so I ended up not buying Mac’s.

    For what it’s worth mine is shooting 14.3 JSB Exacts around 420fps. It does not seem to be picky about pellets although I have not shot it a great deal. I really prefer .22 caliber despite the lower velocity.

    I find mine to be such a looker that I am probably going to have to find a few more Winchester marked Dianas to add to my growing collection.


    • I think you got a great deal on that rifle. When the time comes to sell it, if it ever does, you should have no trouble making money.

      B.B.


      • BB/Tom

        Thanks, I have no regrets. After posting I put a few through the rifle and have a further note: for some reason my stock screws tend to come loose as the rifle is shot. Just the front ones and the left more quickly than the right. I realize that this is not uncommon with springers but I find it surprising in this one. The shot cycle is very smooth but still the screws come loose. Something to watch if your groups start wandering.


  8. Dianas have such a great reputation I’m always tempted to take the plunge, but two things stop me; I can’t shoot a springer worth a darn, and the weight. While most people claim they like a heavier rifle for stability reasons, I’ve found over the years I can shoot much better with a lighter gun. You mention the 27 as the epitome of light spring guns but I don’t see that listed at PA…is it no longer being made?


    • dangerdongle,

      Never met anyone that didn’t like shooting my late model Diana 27. It makes an R7 look and feel huge. I think you would like it. Unfortunately production of the diana 27 ceased around 1987. You can find them if you search a bit.

      Be aware the Diana 27 was also badged a Beeman 100, Hy-Score 807 and Winchester 427. Same gun.

      Also be aware that the Diana Model 27L, 27A, 27E and 27S are similar to the Model 27 but are completely unrelated with virtually no common parts.

      kevin


  9. Does anyone else have the problem of their middle finger hurting after shooting a Diana 25 or 27 for awhile? When my trigger finger is on the trigger, the last joint of my middle finger is against the back of the trigger guard. After shooting for awhile, my middle finger gets pretty sore. I have tried using the middle finger on the trigger and that works but it is just weird.

    David Enoch


    • David,

      I have that problem when shooting a powerful Thompson Center Contender. The recoil drives the triggerguard back against my middle finger.

      B.B.


      • Try shooting the first generation Contender with original “target” grip…

        Took me one session with the .357mag Contender, back in ’79/’80 before I picked up a Pachmayr rubber grip for it. (Good thing I didn’t take the .30-30 model — only reason I went with the .357 was that the .30-30 action was too tight to open safely)

        The original grip would be great with .22LR and maybe .22WMR — but anything bigger just resulted in trying to separate one’s thumb at the base joint.


  10. A question about setting the trigger. BB you mention holding onto the barrel. Do you make an adjustment and then test the trigger with the barrel broken, thus the need to hold the barrel? Or, do you adjust the trigger, break the barrel, load and shoot, where the warning is just in case the trigger is too light?


    • David,

      What I meant is the sear may slip off if it is set too light. So NEVER let go of the barrel when you cock the gun. You shouldn’t let go of it anyway, because you never know when a breakbarrel is going to fire3 on its own.

      Did that answer your question?

      B.B.


      • Thanks B.B.,

        Yes it did. Can you test the trigger with the barrel broken, as long as you are holding the barrel? For someone who doesn’t have much experience with shooting and the feel of triggers, would this make for quick, rough setting? Then fine tuning by firing?

        David


        • In general that’s not a good idea. First of all, any time you intentionally fire the gun with the barrel open is an opportunity for disaster. Best not to make a habit out of it. Second: with many trigger mechanisms the pull weight is partially dependent on the spring load on the trigger assembly. When you release an open barrel this way you should pull the barrel all the way back, pull the trigger, then let the barrel forward. This means the sear is unloaded when pulling the trigger which can give a false feel.

          And there’s the “anti-beartrap” issue – many guns simply won’t let you pull the trigger while the barrel is open.


        • David,

          Yes, you can test the trigger while holding the barrel. You cannot feel how fine it is, but you can get a general idea of whether it feels safe that way.

          B.B.



  11. Wow this is all strange to me. So here goes. I can only guess it was around 1975 when i found this old rusted pellet rifle in a barn we were tearing down. At the time I was building black powder guns and learning how to blue and refinish so thought what a perfect gun to practice on. Well long story shortened , got married, divorced remarried and forgot about it. Now the grandson is getting into shooting so i found the old thing and discovered it is actually a Diana mod. 25. it is in as bad a shape as i found it on the outside. I did have the sense to oil it down b efore putting it away though. so now I am wondering if it is worth rebuilding and how to find parts. Never would have found anything without internet. Is there any help out there?
    Thanks,
    Dennis


  12. Hi BB,
    Thank you for a great site and a valuable resource. I used to have a RWS Diana Model 27 .22 caliber, open iron ‘U’ rear sight with a wedge type unprotected blade foresight, back when I was in my teens. This was given to me by a friend of my dad (they were both officers in the army). That rifle went everywhere with me, even to bed! And you are absolutely right – it was deadly accurate! I got so proficient with it I could actually take out birds on the wing, since I knew the pellet travel time to the target – usually 30-40 yards.

    I remember the first time I took it apart to clean it, and springs, ballbearings and metal tubes flew all over the place, but I managed to figure out how it all fit together. Sadly, I had to leave it behind when I moved, but only hope the guys I left it with were able to take care of it.

    I am now waiting for delivery of another Model 27, but in .177 caliber, and cannot wait to see if it is as I remember.

    Again, thank you for this great site and all the historical information about this great little rifle. It rocks!!!


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