Diana 25 air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

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 the ’70s.

Today, we’ll learn how accurate a vintage Diana model 25 breakbarrel air rifle, in the form of a Winchester model 425, can be. I have to tell you, days like this are pure candy to me! Shooting a smooth vintage air rifle is so relaxing. Since they’re no longer sold, I don’t have to scramble to shoot my best, because only a collector will ever buy one. On the other hand, these lower-powered spring guns mostly out-shoot the modern guns anyway, at least at short distances, so even shooting relaxed I do pretty well.

We all agreed that the model 25 is a close-range plinker, so I shot from 10 meters. I used a 10-meter pistol bull since I was using the open sights that come with the rifle. By strongly lighting the target and keeping the room I’m shooting in dark, the sights appear sharp against the target. I normally don’t like the German Dachkorn-type front sight, which is a V-shaped post; but under these circumstances, it worked very well. Incidentally, I’ve always referred to this as a Perlkorn; but while researching this report I discovered that the Perlkorn has a bead on top of the tapered post.

Sitting down at the bench to shoot reminded me of just how easy this little rifle is to cock. The barrel goes down butter-smooth, and it takes only¬†about 14 lbs. of force to do it. But when I brought it back up after loading, I discovered that the pivot bolt was a little loose. The barrel wouldn’t stay in one position after the rifle was cocked. It flopped back down again. That’s a sign that the pivot is too loose, which leads to a loss of air at the breech. I decided to tighten it, and that lead me to another wonderful feature of the Diana 25 — the pivot bolt has a locking screw!

Diana 25 barrel pivot bolt locking screw
The head of the barrel pivot bolt (larger slotted head in the photo) is cut out around its edge to receive the smaller head of the locking screw. Once set, this bolt will not get out of adjustment.

The pivot bolt has cutouts around its edge to accept the head of a smaller locking screw. Once you set the bolt where you want it, put the locking screw in and the setting will never move. This is one of those seemingly insignificant features that we overlooked when rifles like this were new, yet ¬†today even the most expensive pellet rifles don’t have it! In fact, a good number of the current guns don’t even have a pivot bolt — they use a plain pin that can never be tightened.

RWS Superpoints
The first pellet I shot was the .22-caliber RWS Superpoint. I mentioned in an earlier report that I like the Superpoint for its thin skirt that gets blown out into the sides of the bore when the rifle fires. Other pellets are either too hard, or their skirts are too thick to deform with the relatively light puff of air from the model 25′s piston. The Superpoint, though, should work well in a gun like this.

The distance was 10 meters and I shot from a rest, so this report is about the rifle’s capability and not the shooter’s. That crisp ball-bearing sear was a real pleasure to use, and I didn’t waste a lot of time setting up each shot.

I used the sights exactly as they were set when I got the rifle. Remember that my friend Mac was the former owner, so it came as no surprise when the pellet landed exactly at the aim point — a 6 o’clock hold on the bullseye. After seeing the first pellet was where it needed to be, I didn’t look at the target again until the 10th shot had been fired. What I saw then was a surprise — even when I had been expecting good results. Ten RWS Superpoints went into a group that measures 0.613 inches between centers. It’s a one-hole group that looks smaller than it really is because the pointed pellets allowed the paper to return to its normal dimensions after they pass through. This is the same kind of accuracy I used to get from the Hakim trainers at the same 10 meters.

Diana 25 breakbarrel spring-piston rifle--RWS Superpoint pellets

Ten RWS Superpoints made this 0.613-inch group at 10 meters. It’s larger than it looks because the paper flapped back after the pellet passed through.

The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. This is another pellet that’s often very good in rifles that shoot at lower power. And by being fairly light, at 11.9 grains, it has the advantage of traveling faster than most other pellets. Ten Hobbys grouped in 0.538 inches between centers. It was another one-hole group. Nothing to do but to smile and hope the rifle continues to shoot like this!

Diana 25 TWS Hobby target
Ten RWS Hobbys are even tighter, making this 0.538-inch group.

The last pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome that weighs 13.4 grains. I hoped that this pellet might shine in the little 25 in the same way the .177 version does in my Beeman R8. Well, shine it did, putting 10 of them into a group that only measures 0.38 inches between centers. Does that explain why I like shooting these little vintage spring guns so much?

Diana 25 JSB Exact RS target
The JSB Exact RS dome was the best pellet of all. Ten made this 0.38-inch group at 10 meters.

Deformed pellets?
The Diana breakbarrels all have slanted breech faces; and when the barrel is closed, if the pellet isn’t seated flush all the way around the skirt, it can catch on the action and slightly bend the rim of the skirt when the barrel’s closed. This was happening with all three pellets used in this test. So I shot a fourth group of 10 with the most accurate pellets (JSB Exact RS) seated deep in the breech. I wanted to see what effect this would have, if any.

Diana 25 pellet in breech
Because the breech face is slanted, the tip of the pellet skirt sticks out like this when the pellet is seated.

Diana 25 deformed pellet
When the breech is closed, this is what happens to the pellet. It doesn’t seem to hurt accuracy.

Diana 25 JSB Exact RS target pellet seated deep
Seating pellets deep in the breech (JSB Exact RS used) opened the group up and also dropped the point of impact about one inch at 10 meters.

Deep-seating didn’t work this time. The group of 10 JSB Exact RS pellets opened to 0.615 inches. It also dropped the point of impact about one inch at 10 meters. Doesn’t seem like it’s worthwhile.

The end?
I sure hope this isn’t the last report I get to do on this air rifle. What a joy it is to shoot something that’s accurate, has a great trigger, is quiet and is easy to cock. I know you have to buy these used, but it’s worth the effort, in my opinion. It doesn’t replace your modern magnum air rifles, but it gives you something to do when you just want to shoot without a lot of fuss. If you’ve enjoyed reading this report, remember that there are three different models of the Diana 25. Only two of them have the ball bearing sear, so be careful when you look for one.

60 Responses to “Diana 25 air rifle: Part 3”

  • nowhere Says:

    Interesting to see the effect that deep seating the pellets had. I’ve actually found the same effect with my Webley Hurricane. Most pellets seem to fit a little loose in the breech of mine and I tried seating them with the assumption that this would improve the accuracy. Instead it had the same effect you found with the Diana!

    I also think a comparison between the Diana 25 and the closest current model Diana (and perhaps the Weihrauch HW-30S/HW-50S) would be interesting. Even after getting an FWB 602 I still find myself doing a lot of shooting with my HW-30S. I like it for many of the same reasons you liked the 25.

  • RidgeRunner Says:

    You don’t have to report on it to shoot it some more. If you feel like you just have to talk about it, do like nowhere says and compare it to some other vintage low power rifles.

  • duskwight Says:

    All right, enough polishing, I guess it’s time to make holes.
    The action will be held in place by 5 M5 bolts through 10 mm sleeve bushings. Two in front coupling and three in trigger housing. I think that this Sunday I will be able to show you the rifle all assembled and ready for tests.

    duskwight

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Kevin et al,

    I have heard from Doug Phillips, who is restoring the stock of my Falke 90 air rifle. I had told him that I wanted to use this restoration as material for this blog and perhaps even a feature article for “Shotgun News.” He has just sent me several photos of the work in-progress, and there is far more to be done than I ever imagined. Of course I wouldn’t have done it — not knowing that it needed to be done, and my results would have looked like something made by the fat kid who had no friends at summer camp.

    Best of all, we will all get a look into stock work done by a highly skilled artisan. Like watching Monday Night Football, we don’t actually need to play to be interested in the game. I prefer to watch my reality shows from the comfort of my sofa, with a soda in my hand.

    I can tell from the pictures that the Falke 90 is in good hands. Thank you for recommending Doug to me and please forgive me for writing about him and making the waiting list grow. He is just too good a resource to be hidden under a basket!

    B.B.

    • kevin Says:

      Tom,

      Thanks for the update on the Falke stock. That stock is definately a highly advanced restoration project and to get the finish correct a difficult refinish project. You made the right decision sending that one off IMHO. Wait for a gun without stock damage and that lacks quality checkering to perfect your stock refinishing skills ;-)

      After your future articles the wait times for Dougs’ stock work will undoubtedly increase. Good for Doug.

      Back on topic…..Don’t you have a spare Diana 75 rear target peep sight that also fits the rail on your Diana 27 ? Does that peep sight also fit the rail on your Winchester 425?

      kevin

      • B.B. Pelletier Says:

        Kevin,

        I did have such a sight. Several years ago I gave it to Mac, because he had been searching for one for many years without success. It was hard to let go of, which is how I knew it was a good gift for a deserving friend.

        Since then I have looked for another one like it, but like Mac I discovered how hard they are to pry from their owner’s hands.

        B.B.

        • kevin Says:

          Tom,

          No such thing as being too good a friend but there’s a price to pay for it sometimes :-)

          kevin

        • kevin Says:

          Tom,

          IF you really want to find another Diana 75 rear diopter sight that will fit your 425 (and all other diana’s with the rail) I’ll tell you how I found two on ebay.

          The only markings on that Diana 75 rear peep sight are 3 letters on the bottom of the sight. I think they’re “AOW”. You need to check with Mac about that since I’m almost sure I’m wrong about the letters but they’re easily spotted on the bottom of the sight and are contained in a diamond that is impressed in the metal.

          Since even knowledgable gun dealers/traders don’t recognize this sight they can sell cheap if you can find them. When I found these rears ago it was because I created several saved searches on ebay using the 3 letters found on the bottom of the diana sight and then using a search for, peep sight aow, peep site aow, rear site aow, rear sight aow, diopter site aow, diopter sight aow.

          kevin

  • twotalon Says:

    B.B.

    That’s a good working barn gun you have there. Up until the time that I got my second 1400 I would have loved it.

    twotalon

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    It looks like Umarex doesn’t import the 240 (etc.) w/T06 — too bad, as I would bet it might give the old ones a run for their money. The previous one (Meistersomethingsomething) with the harsh trigger seemed like a half-hearted (at best) attempt to serve this market segment given it was 2x what many similar (“youth”) rifles cost, but with the new trigger, it should get some respect. Then there would be the even more tempting (to me at least) models between that and the 34… I guess it is basically either 500 or 1000 fps these days. I wouldn’t care, as even 1000fps is OK with me (as I know they don’t really go that fast with pellets I use), but I was reminded the other day that cocking effort toleration varies by individual, and you give up a lot of comfort for velocity you don’t want at times. My little Hammerli 490 cocks about the same (~12lbs. or so?) and it is no problem to shoot for hours on end.

    • BG_Farmer Says:

      Wait, Umarex list a “Schutze” (I thought there was more bombast to its name, but that sounds like it now) with “two-stage adjustable trigger”. Is that the 240 w/TO6 or something else? Will PA get them or is it an old listing? The 19 lb. cocking effort for 580fps sounds wrong, but if true maybe Diana should get an articulated cocking link going, like the clones.

    • J-F Says:

      Maybe you can order one from up north? We have them in almost every online airgun store here (at around 200$ depending on the store and the model).
      We have the 240 and the Panther 21 which is the same but with a synthetic stock.

      J-F

  • Jim in KS Says:

    B.B. -
    Forty years ago, a Winchester 425 in .22 caliber was my first “real” air rifle. Sadly, I sold it at a gun show after our first child was born. Today’s blog is really bringing back some good memories. You’re right that they are hard to locate now. In an effort to find a rifle that would provide a similar shooting experience, I recently ordered an HW30s… this time in .177 caliber. I just checked, and it’s on the truck, out for delivery today. I hope that it lives up to the standard set by the 425.
    - Jim

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Jim,

      I think that same experience is shared by a lot of readers, so make sure you give us your observations as you get used to the new gun.

      The 425 is not quite as powerful as the 30S, so there will be some difference, but I think everyone would like to know there are still some fine “vintage” or classic airguns available.

      B.B.

    • Vince Says:

      Will it live up to the standard? Yes! Will it live up to the memory??? That’s another kettle o’ cabbage entirely…

    • Anonymous Says:

      Jim,

      There is a nice 425 for sale on the yellow classifieds.

      http://www.network54.com/Forum/79574/thread/1354042600/FOR+SALE……….several+nice+airguns…….

      I would like to buy it and the D27 but I have bought too many this year and and just got a nice 425 at Roanoke. My 425 has been a joy.

      HTH

      • B.B. Pelletier Says:

        HTH,

        I saw the 25 you bought at Roanoke. It was the best-looking one at the show. And because you bought that one, I was able to get this one from Mac.

        So thanks,

        B.B.

  • chuckj Says:

    This rifle shoots!

    I have intentionally bent/mashed pellet skirts that might be similar to what you show going on here to see if there is any effect on accuracy at 10m and found nothing noticeable. I’m thinking the barrel reforms the skirts. I haven’t tried cutting notches or removing skirts, I’ve just experimented with bent ones.
    Chuckj

  • Mike Says:

    My Diana 34 shoots Superpoints very well. It didn’t like Crosman Premiers but the Diana 52 did. Next I’ll be giving Superdomes a try in both guns. JSB is also on the list.

    Mike

  • Anonymous Says:

    Has anyone seen this offering from Crosman? It’s a low powered gas piston .177 springer.

    http://www.crosman.com/airguns/rifles/break-barrel/BW7M77NP

    At $71.00 this appears to be a heck of a deal. If it is anything like my Titan GP (Lower Power) in .22 caliber it would be outstanding. Maybe it’s a misprint.

    Anyone?

    • Anonymous Says:

      I guess I’m going to find out. Just ordered one. Couldn’t stand it. 82 bucks shipped to my door.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Thank you for pointing that rifle out. I wasn’t aware they made one like that. It could be as nice as the .22s I’m always going on about.

      B.B.

      • Anonymous Says:

        BB,

        I bought the .22 largely based on your recommendation. It is a joy. I subsequently bought the higher powered version and it is not so good. Hard to cock and shoot accurately. I wouldn’t sell the lower powered rifle and would like to sell the higher powered gun.

        If this .177 is what it appears to be it would be a heck of a deal. I am thinking it should make a good rifle for youngsters. With the included scope and an after market trigger under a hundred bucks.

        I’ll let you know how it turns out.

      • Anonymous Says:

        BB,

        A further note. The website says this rifle has been “detuned in accordance with Illinois state regulations”. I had missed this. The downloadable manual clearly shows the differences between the normal .22 cal Titan and the “detuned” .177 cal version in the specification section. 100 fps slower and with the smaller caliber it must be “detuned” quite a bit.

        I am even more enthused about this inexpensive offering. I suspect the “detuned” rifle will be much smoother than its’ normal untuned sibling. Time will tell.

        • J-F Says:

          If it’s anything like the detuned Benjamin Trail NP we got here (500fps in .22) it should be quite smooth.
          I love mine, it’s on the heavy side but pretty accurate in the 10M range. It’s a shame we are so far away from one another, we could meet and swap barrels to see what we come up with.

          Maybe a blog or guest blog could be made out of this? Since there’s a whole family of these very similar rifles with different stocks, power levels ranging from 500 up to 1500fps and 3 available calibers…
          There’s probably 3 different powerplants and there’s 2 barrel configurations (shrouded or muzzle break, which are probably exchangeable). Someone who has access to Crosman service could order the 3 actions and the 3 available calibers to see what can be done with them?

          J-F

        • chuckj Says:

          Anonymous,
          Detuned in accordance with Illinois state regulations means nothing in .22. You still need to go through an FFL. If it is in .177 and 700fps or less you can have it mailed to your home by state law however some cities have restricted even that. I think Chicago is one of them but don’t know (don’t care, they get what they deserve).
          -Chuckj

        • B.B. Pelletier Says:

          Now this is something really good! I doubt it’s available to dealers, because Crosman would think that dealers wouldn’t be able to sell it. And I think they would be right. I’m getting one to test!

          Thank you so much for this lead.

          b.B.

          • rich Says:

            I’m interested to know how the detuned Crosman works out, I have been interested in getting a nitro piston gun but don’t need high velocity or high cocking effort for indoor targets. I have been shooting the heck out of my Bronco, which I purchased after trying in vain to find a Diana 27, and if the Crosman is in the same league I’m in.

            • Vince Says:

              In the springer world I found that the ordinary Crosman Quest action (Storm XT et. all) could be very nicely detuned with another Crosman spring (don’t remember the part #). Gave me a gun with 24 lbs cocking force, velocity in the high 700′s and a real nice firing cycle.

            • B.B. Pelletier Says:

              rich,

              I bought one to test. But Crosman is getting rid of them, so they will be gone in a short time.

              B.B.

    • Anonymous Says:

      For what it’s worth I looked at the model number on my .22 cal Lower Power rifle to compare to this apparently new offering. My Crosman branded Titan GP in mod number C7M22NP while the new Benji is numbered BW7M77NP.

      Looks like the same model number to me only Benji and .177.

      • kenholmz Says:

        Anon, I purchased my Benjamin Titan GP .22 without having done any online research (and not much offline; it was more an obsession that built up for a few weeks). After I bought it I started looking for more information. There is gold and diamonds on the Internet if you do some patient mining and get past the dirt and pyrite. I tell you all of this because I want you to know that everything about the rifle says Benjamin, except for Crosman in smaller print, the “made in China”, and the model number: MODEL C8M22NP. This was at variance with every other report I found. It suggested to me, at the time, that there was and is likely a degree of interchangeability among sibling and cousins. Best to you, ~Ken

        • Anonymous Says:

          Interesting Ken,

          Your C8 should be a Crosman and not a Benji if I understand things correctly about the model numbers. I understand that Crosman owns Benjamin and Sheridan.

          I have both the C7 and a C8 like yours. I much prefer the C7 which was branded as “Lower Power” when new. No longer available. BB once did a blog or made a comment about a lower powered gas spring rifle from Crosman that he tested and really liked. Alas it never was produced but the Titan GP (Lower Power) (C7) is what this rifle became.

          It now appears this new offering is a .177 cal “detuned” Titan designed to shoot below 700fps. The 7 in the serial number makes me wonder if it is related to the C7 Titans in .22 cal.

          • kenholmz Says:

            Anon, we agree…I know I have a .22 Benji Titan with a C8 barrel. Far be it for me to think I understand “who’s on first”. As far as I know the .177 Crosman Titan mysteriously disappeared when the new Benjamin .177 Titan showed up. I am glad they are selling the detuned ones again. ~Ken

            • twotalon Says:

              ken….

              I hope you have better luck with it than I had with the Crosman Titan. The barrel and stock were O.K. , but the rest of it is junk. DANGEROUS junk. The scope was crummy too.

              twotalon

              • kenholmz Says:

                twotalon, I’ll take a wait and see stance on this one. I didn’t get to use the Titan as much as I wanted to before the surgery. I just started cocking it again recently and I haven’t even put 100 pellets through it yet. I have been curious about where Crosman cut corners to keep the price down. I know of four things that separate the Titan from the Trail; these are the obvious things, the shrouded barrel, the sling, the weaver rail and the scope with AO (although I have read complaints about that scope as well).
                I don’t know for sure about the things that may be far less obvious (assuming there are these less visible differences). I replaced the scope with one that I like (I also adjusted the parallax on the poor little scope and it is actually better now, not great, but better.

                I hope the detuned .177 version proves to be something some will enjoy for years.

                I just don’t know about someone who has two talons. I still need to make the drive to El Campo and hold one in my hands :) ~Ken

                • twotalon Says:

                  Ken…

                  AF guns are “different” . Some people like them and some don’t.

                  Chinese products can be pretty shakey. You never know if their QA man came in for 10 minutes once this month, or if he came in at all.

                  I have something to show you tomorrow if the Titan will cooperate.

                  twotalon

                  • kenholmz Says:

                    I look forward to it, twotalon. I am always open to information and education. ~Ken

                    • twotalon Says:

                      Ken…

                      I suggest that you put on one of those adult diapers before you look. You might need it.

                      twotalon

                    • kenholmz Says:

                      It looks like Desertdweller’s cat ate the “Reply” button. Thanks for giving me forewarning. We will see if I can handle it. ~Ken

                • kenholmz Says:

                  I replied to myself. Our thread has reached the limit it seems. Anyway, thanks for the warning. We’ll see if I can handle it. ~Ken

  • Desertdweller Says:

    B.B.

    This Model 25 reminded me a lot of the Bronco. As I explained to my neighbor’s brother: there are two really important parts to an air rifle: the barrel and the trigger. Everything else is just trim.

    Well, I guess the spring counts, too.

    Les

  • Matt61 Says:

    Yay, the RWS Hobbys come through again as they do in just about every case except for my Walther CPSport. That’s an interesting point about how pellet shape can allow paper to return to its original shape so the holes look smaller. That must be partly why my groups with the JSB Exacts are always smaller than the ones with RWS Hobbys.

    Slinging Lead, you’re a man after my own heart with your fondness for the Plano double rifle case of which I have a few. Great value.

    B.B., thanks for the tips about cleaning oil. One of my goals was to figure out how to clean oil from the chamber of firearms so that I wouldn’t build up unsafe pressures. It sounds like wiping with a dry patch will do the job.

    My Enfield gunsmith got my gun the other day, broke it down and reassembled it and will have it on its way shortly after a test firing and some coats of linseed oil for the stock. I can’t believe this guy! It gets weirder. It turns out that he imported this very gun in 2000 and knows everything there is to know about it. It was manufactured in Canada in 1950 and sent to Greece for most of its existence. Well, this goes to show that you never know what’s out there; there’s no knowing and no telling! But this alone will make my Christmas.

    Matt61

    • Mike Says:

      Made in Canada, it must be a “Long Branch” Enfield No 4 Mark 1* or Mark II. They are noted for being accurate which makes them interesting of course!

      Mike

  • Matt61 Says:

    Slinging Lead also reminds me that the S200 now has the magazine kit available for sale at PA. This gun has always slipped under the blog radar. If a report could be done with the magazine mod that would be something. :-)

    Matt61

  • kevin Says:

    The Diana Model 27

    Though the airgun is still most popular at the entry level, many an adult gun rack holds at least one pellet rifle that recalls many cherished memories. Today’s airgun development has resulted in many different pellets and means of propulsion. There are gas ram models and pre-charged pneumatics. These vie with old favorites such as the pump-up pneumatic, CO2 and spring piston.

    Selecting from such a growing variety can be absorbing. Those of us who tend to accumulate a medley of guns and novel ammo want to be good shots with them all. However, it is a hard fact of life that any time you change guns, calibers, or pellets, you are demanding that the brain remember details of different trajectories, ranges, trigger pulls and other characteristics. That is a profusion of requirements.

    Nonetheless, happiness may be a battery of sporting/plinking guns, or, more sparingly, a single, proven favorite.

    A form of idle torment I sometimes play is to ask myself, “If constrained to keep only one gun, which would it be?” The exercise helps me define my values.

    For example:

    A: Decide on one – pistol or rifle? I feel the rifle would be more useful and gratifying. Especially if age or other influence is degrading one’s level of steadiness. The pistol would be the choice only if storage space or physical handling limitations were the top priorities.

    B: Should the rifle be 177 or 22 caliber? To the less initiated, let me say this is the most provocative question in airgundom. Before I get vilified for sitting on the 22 caliber side of the fence, I declare that I can be happy shooting either caliber. But most of my air rifles are 22 caliber. The reasons for this are: (1) Better plinking effectiveness (my primary use); (2) Larger pellets are easier to handle (load); (3) the availability of 22 caliber cleaning equipment; (4) Given airgun designs are always more efficient in 22 caliber (per absolute authorities messrs. Webley and Scott); (5)Some airguns are only made in 22 caliber only, or 22 in the first production run (mostly US manufacturers); (6) A lifetime (?) supply of premium 22 caliber pellets already on hand; (7) Accuracy to equal 177 caliber.

    The foregoing statement on accuracy may sound like heresy to those sold on the 177 caliber supremacy, but remember we are talking about sporting, not match, guns. m Some years ago, in a extensive study numerous 177 caliber rifles and like 22 caliber rifles (of British, German and Swiss manufacture) were machine rest tested using available brands of pellets (British, German, Japanese and US).

    Surprisingly, and disconcertingly to 177 proponents, the two best groups were achieved in 22 caliber. Both groups were fired using round head pellets – the Eley Wasp and the Milbro Caledonian.

    Let’s look at pellets first. In any caliber, not all guns shoot all brands of pellets exactly the same way. Some guns can be quite finicky, performing their best with only one or two similar brands. Other guns many do well with many brands Possible combinations abound.

    One should prove his particular gun with a diversity of pellet types, because to the knowing airgunner second to importance to the gun itself is the pellet ammunition. A shooter may be surprised by how well he can do with “plain-Jane” pellets that prove to be well-suited to a individual gun.

    Here are a few more pellet facts to ponder: (A) Any airgun can only shoot as well as the ammo that is feed into it. The pellets should look uniform and undamaged. Avoid bend, misshapen pellets and tins with lead flake debris. (B) When experimenting with different brands of pellet, be aware that point-of-impact usually shifts with each kind. Keep from playing with sights, possibly blaming the gun and wondering what happened to your zero. Also, realize we are at the mercy of the pellet manufacturers. Batches of pellets differ. (C) Despite the airgun’s low power being the very essence of it’s safety and usefulness, there pervades a fascination with power and/or penetration. In recent years, sporting interests have focused on pellets with points, indentations, rings and even hybrid composites. Frankly, the basic round-nose Diabolo pellet is still a winner. Reinvented as an ultra-accurate round-head called the Field Target Special, this pellet is sweeping the silhouette and field target games.

    Claims are made that “grooves” on the skirt of a Diabolo pellet are for guidance, stability, or accuracy. Actually, the striations on pellet skits, when used, are only part of the manufacturing process.

    Other popular misconceptions exist when it comes to the air-rifles three basic means of propulsion – pneumatic (pump-up), CO2 and spring piston (cocked by the barrel, underlever or sidelever). There are quick to advise which is “best.” The sensible answer is that they are all successfully produced and marketed. Each has advantages that appeal to certain people for valid reasons.

    Modern materials and manufacturing methods have largely dispelled old cliches about failure-prone delicate valves and mainspring fatigue or breakage.

    By far, the intelligent care one gives his airgun is what determines the gun’s useful life. To thoroughly read, and understand and abide by manufacturer’s simple directions is much more important than most new owners realize. The man that regularly over-pumps his pneumatic for “a little more power” asks for trouble. Too much and/or to frequent oiling can be ruinous, especially with the wrong or haphazardly-chosen lubricant. Inducing diesel action in spring guns for more power is also damaging, as is dry-firing without a pellet to supply the necessary piston deceleration.

    Oftentimes, airgunners decry pumping the pneumatic as too much work. In fact this is only true when administering the final, sometimes formidable, pumps for a full power shot. Popular US multi-stroke pneumatic rifles are most useful and so designed to produce their best accuracy at their four or five pump level. In that prudent range of power, they are fully enjoyable and satisfying.

    A Benjamin model 312 was my earliest serious air rifle, lasting more years than I care to remember. Embryonic modifications consisted of adding Benjamin’s #273 peep sight and lengthening the stock. I marveled at the bronze barrel rifling and how well the gun could shoot.

    Another pneumatic jewel is my Crosman “Pumpmaster” Model 1400. A descendant of the model 140 (.22) and Model 147 (.177), the 22 caliber Model 1400 boasts adjustable trigger and bolt handle action in place of the sliding breech cover found on earlier models.

    A final thought on pump-up airgun longevity – don’t loan your gun to brawny friends bent on converting it into a big game rifle.

    In the early 1960s, Robert Law of Air Rifle Headquarters (now defunct) pioneered the sales of adult European spring piston airguns in the US. With a single, fairly stiff cocking stroke, these guns compared to the then-available CO2 and pneumatic guns. Some of my favorite spring rifles are from that era. They are relatively light, ample-powered, and I can use them by the hour without undue fatigue.

    I have misgivings about the current trend to increase power and weight of spring rifles. To me, the cocking effort of some of these dreadnoughts simply is not worth the added muzzle velocity.

    In my collection, I have pet guns, several of which could serve me as an “only” gun. I will detail a particular spring gun’s features that are probably reasons for it’s six-decade production run.

    The venerable German Diana 27, made by Dianawerk, Mayer & Gramelspacher CO., has found its way to the US under many names, such as Original, Hy-Score, Peerless, Beeman’s Original, Geco, Winchester and RWS.

    One can hardly recognize an antique Model 27, vintage 1925. it has no wooden forearm and quite elementary sights.

    But through the years, though it remained plain in appearance (no swivels, high comb, checkering, etc.), this handy “in-betweener” embodied mechanical refinements handed down from top-dollar Dianawerk guns. For example the 27′s adjustable, crisp, two stage trigger distinguished itself as excellent by any standard. Diana made generous use of ball bearings, with less reliance on lubricants to achieve low friction pressure points.

    A good example of this was in the mainspring release mechanism, where the notched spring piston shaft is ordinarily held cocked by a large claw. Here, Diana utilized a clutch consisting of annularly-positioned bearings around the grooved piston shaft. In another example, an often copied Diana method of barrel-cocking action lock-up is to use a spring-loaded, large captive ball instead of the typical chisel-shaped detent.

    Long ago in his landmark airgun encyclopedia, the late W.H.B Smith pronounced the model 27 an exceptional buy in the Diana line. Another man who appreciated the gun was S.E. Laszlo, founder and for many years the head of Hy-Score Arms. His advertisement of the model 27 (Hy-Score 807) customarily described it as “hard hitting,” “classic beauty,” “real work-horse,” and “best buy.”

    My specimen of the model 27 carries the Winchester (Model 427) name. Whenever I look at the large Winchester signature, I can’t help but paraphrase an old slogan, “Gee, Ladd, it’s a Winchester!”

    For a few years, Winchester sold ten different Diana models, and obviously their quality criteria was of the highest order. This gun came impeccably detailed and packaged, with bright multi-grooved rifling, clean sharp with no faded lands at the muzzle from crowning, precise chamber size, finish and chamfer, and high polish blue.

    The heart of any barrel-cocking design is the juncture where barrel meets the standing breech of the receiver. Here, the Model 27 had large chafing washers within each side, allowing a rub-free open and close barrel movement, while maintaining a zero end-play clearance. The cocking rod, which normally is the connecting link between barrel and piston underside for cocking, had a machined box-lock joint at the barrel end. This joint was not riveted or pinned as usually done. It was bolted for easy removal should the need arise.

    The hardwood, walnut colored stock was well finished and had slender proportions that was easily adaptable to juniors and women, right or left hand. However, the 42 inch overall gun length and 5 1/2 to 6 pound weight does not feel toy-like in the hands of a man. With just a hint of barrel heaviness, shooting off-hand and handling is pleasurable.

    Despite my lessening visual acuity, none of my rifles are scoped. I relish the utter simplicity, handiness and challenge. Hence, the quality of factory iron sights is all-important to me. Obviously, for utmost stability, accuracy and reliability , barrel-cocking makers put both sights on the barrel.

    The Model 27′s rear sight is used on many other Diana guns and is one of the best, if not the best, open rear sights furnished as original equipment. It is click-adjustable with large knobs for elevation and windage. There are white line graduations for windage.

    A precise, permanently attached aperture plate insert is instantly selectable for a shallow or deep “U,” or a square notch. The Model 27′s hood covered, pointed post front sight is non-interchangable, but does not sit so high above the bore as do the changeable insert types. Thus, I like the 27′s advantageous lower sight line.

    This gun has been an all-around tack driver and reliable garden rodent eliminator. Coating the mainspring with a thixotropic silicone compound about twenty years ago has provided long-term smooth firing behavior and consistent power.

    If my enthusiasm for the 27 has stirred any buyer interest, I am sorry to say that after 61 years of production, the Model 27 lastly appeared in the 1986 RWS catalog.

    An Alternate? Be of good cheer, there are a lot of beauties to choose from out there. But remember, the fun is much the same whether the pellet is spurted by CO2 gas, compressed air, or even spring-generated air charge. And always, hitting the mark is what’s important, not if the pellet is plain, fancy, large, small or driven supersonic.

    When your spirits, the time, the place and your gun are all in tune, the relationship can be euphoric.

    Ladd Fanta Jan, 1992

    ——————————————————————————–

    Ladd Fanta was a early pioneer in airguns back in the sixties through the eighties. While some of the info in his old articles is dated, the wisdom in his thoughts about caliber choice and the laws of diminishing returns in spring gun design I still hold to today.

    • chuckj Says:

      kevin,
      If you counted the number of paragraphs you wrote in your comment you would then know the minimum number of blog articles Tom has yet to post. I’d say you covered things pretty well.
      -Chuckj

  • Galco Says:

    Found this blog on a search and glad i did as this is a very informative site.

    I have a Diana model 35 pellet gun which was purchased around 1967-1970 in Europe and brought to the US at the time by my father as a gift for two young boys. It’s been with my family since then. It appears to be in very good condition and i would like to know more about its value and suggestions of what best to do with this vintage air rife.

    I’m reachable at craiggalanti@gmail.com if anyone would like to contact me directly.

    Much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Galco

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