Diana 25 air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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

On Friday, I tested the Chinese Fast Deer sidelever rifle at 25 yards, and in doing so I started the juices flowing again for the vintage airguns. One remark I made in the report was that I thought the Fast Deer might be more accurate if I fitted a peep sight in place of the open sights that are on it now. That got me thinking about other low-powered spring guns I’ve recently tested — including the Winchester 425, which is a Diana 25 by another name.

I tested the 425 at 10 meters because it has open sights and also because of the low power level. It’s a .22-caliber spring rifle that shoots in the low- to mid-400s, and long-range accuracy is not its strong suit. But after seeing the Fast Deer perform, I began to wonder how the 425 might do if I tried it with a peep sight. Kevin recommended trying it, and I was happy to take his suggestion. We always talk about how peep sights improve the aiming situation, so a peep sight ought to have some impact on even a rifle like this one.

As it happens, I have a peep sight that attaches to the rear sight base on many vintage Diana air rifles, including this 425, so it was easy to remove the open rear sight and attach the peep. I left the open sight in place until the peep was firmly anchored to the base, then I looked through the peep and adjusted it until the open sight picture looked perfect through the peephole. That told me the peep was looking at the same place as the open sight, so no special sight-in procedure was required.

Diana 25 peep sight
The Diana peep sight fits the model 25 as well as many of the larger models. It looks simple but delivers on target!

The Diana peep sight is vintage and appears less sophisticated than the target peeps we see today; but when you use it, you soon learn that it’s as nice as any of them. It has crisp detents with very visible scales for both adjustments plus the directions are also on the adjustment knobs. They’re in German, though, so they’re the reverse of American adjustments. The sight sits low on the spring tube and is shaped to conform to the contours of all Diana rifles, so there’s very little clearance between the sight and the gun. The sight does extend back, which is helpful, but as small as the 425 is, I still found it difficult to get as close to the eyepiece as I would have liked. That’s because the stock’s pull is a sporting length instead of a target length that would be several inches shorter.

JSB Exact RS
Since JSB Exact RS domes had proved to be very good at 10 meters, they were the first pellet I tried at 25 yards. I trusted that the pellet would go to the point of aim and it did. The first shot was right on target, but there was a small problem because I was trying to use 10-meter rifle targets and the bull is too small for me at 25 yards. So, I replaced the target with a 10-meter pistol target and afterward everything was fine.

The first group of 10 pellets measures 1.059 inches between centers. Now, that sounds like a big group; but if you look at the target, I think you’ll see that it really isn’t so bad. Seven of the 10 pellets landed in 0.545 inches and that’s good.

Diana 25 RS target
The JSB Exact RS pellet made a large group, but there’s a much smaller group within. This shows promise.

RWS Superdomes
Another pellet that did relatively well in the 10-meter test was the RWS Superdome. And this is where the difference between 10 meters (11 yards) and 25 yards really shows! Ten Superdomes went into 1.349 inches, and the group appears scattered left and right. This is not a pellet I’d use in this rifle at this distance.

Diana 25 Superdome target
RWS Superdomes were generally scattered left and right. Not a pellet to pursue.

Here is another example of why a 10-shot group is so much more valuable than several 5-shot groups. You could get lucky with several 5-shot groups and never know how well the rifle really shoots, but a single 10-shot group tells the tale very clearly. In the end, it saves time and pellets.

Notice that Superdomes struck the target lower than the JSB RS that preceeded them. So, I adjusted the rear sight to hit higher on the target following this test.

JSB Exact 14.3-grain domes
Next, I tried some JSB Exact Jumbo Express 14.3-grain domes. Since the RS pellets had done so well, I thought these might do well, too, even thought this pellet has disappointed me very often in the past. For some reason, the RS and 15.9-grain pellets shoot rings around this one, and I don’t quite know why.

The Diana 25 doesn’t like them, either. Though the group is well-rounded, the shots seem scattered within it. The group measures 1.288inches between centers and there is nothing to give much hope of any better performance.

Diana 25 JSB Jumbo Express target
JSB Jumbo Express group is even more scattered than the one made by the Superdomes. Another pellet to remove from the list.

At this point in the test, I was starting to lose confidence in the rifle. True, the RS pellets had shown some promise and deserved another chance, but instead I had a thought. What about Crosman Premiers? I normally don’t shoot Premiers in vintage Dianas because I like to use¬†only pure lead pellets, but it sounded like it was worth a try.

The pellets loaded snugly into the breech, but they weren’t quite what I would call tight. The firing behavior, though, was quite different from all the other pellets I’d shot in the gun. It was harsh and a bit buzzy, which tells me the powerplant isn’t being cushioned sufficiently by this pellet.

Down at the target, though, the story was quite different. Premiers made the second-tightest group of the test and were so good that they looked like they warranted a test all their own. The vertical dispersion was 1.09 inches between centers, which is slightly larger than the group made by the JSB RS pellets. The lateral dispersion was only 0.491 inches! And the group was way below the bull, meaning that this pellet dropped many inches from the impact point of all the others. In fact, I’m not certain that all 10 shots landed on the paper because the ragged hole they tore doesn’t tell me how many pellets passed through. It just looks like they all went there.

Diana 25 Crosman Premier target
Crosman Premiers also made a large group, but they were tight side-to-side. This is a pellet to consider further! Sideways dispersion is the gun’s fault. Vertical error is more of an aiming issue or perhaps a wild velocity variation.

Premiers struck the target much lower than the JSB pellets before them, so the feeling upon firing is also evidenced in the velocity. Remember, I’d already adjusted the rear sight higher to compensate for the Superdomes, so this second adjustment jacked it up a lot from where we started.

Observation thus far
The addition of a peep sight to the Winchester 425 was a great idea. It took an accurate and easy-shooting rifle and stretched the useful range many times. I don’t know that a scope would give results that are any better, though it might be fun to try!

40 thoughts on “Diana 25 air rifle: Part 4



    • CSD,

      Unfortunately, the Santa that visits my house thinks I already have enough toys and isn’t very likely to bring me more. The “practical” Santa comes here, not the fun one… So, I’ll wait for the end of year sales and get my own. :-)

      Have a Merry Christmas!
      /Dave


      • /Dave,

        You remind me of the scene in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphy and his brother both get sox as presents. ;)

        Merry Christmas,

        B.B.


      • /Dave,
        I remember one Xmas I was ready to request a Discovery or other PCP, and then the Water Heater smoked/steamed itself; all of us who are married know that hot water is one of the principal goods required for domestic bliss. Practically, it probably didn’t matter as much as I thought, but that was enough to make me cautious. Probably saved me from PCP madness, making do with springers another year. Now I can’t even believe that I was thinking about a PCP :)! I did a fair impression of the old man and the furnace, though …


  1. B.B.,

    Interesting groups at 25 yards. My 425 also hates the JSB 14.3gr pellets; groups with the 15.9gr Exacts are a third the size. Oddly enough my 425 does not group well with Premiers. The best accuracy at 25 yards has been with the JSB 15.9, JSB Wadcutters, Superdomes, Hobbys, and Silver Bears.

    Just for grins I tried a couple of groups at 50 yards on a still day. Nothing smaller than 2 to 3 inches and that was with using a 4-power scope.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    Paul in Liberty County


    • Paul,

      Thank you for your feedback. I always feel somewhat vindicated when a result I got jibes with what others are experiencing.

      Merry Christmas!

      B.B.



  2. Yep,

    I tried to get on the blog this morning and get on getting failure messages. Just chalked it up to interference from the NORAD trying to track Santy Clause!

    Fred DPRoNJ


  3. OOh, boy. Lot’s of typos there. Let me try again: Yep, I tried to get the blog this morning but kept on getting failure messages. Just chalked it up to interference from NORAD’s trying to track Santy Claus. As it turns out, I just installed a peep onto my RWS 46 since I took it’s scope off to put on th Talon. Looks like Santy needs to bring me another scope.

    Fred DPRoNJ


  4. Interesting and timely – I am trying to mount a good peep sight on my fairly new HW-30S with same kind of goals, and for shooting at the same kind of distances.

    I called PA for their thoughts, and their recommendation was the Daisy Avanti Precision Diopter sight, so that is what I ordered. But I’m not so sure about it for some of the reasons that you mention here. I can’t get it close enough to my eye to work comfortably, and the peep hole is really sized for 10 meter shooting with a close fit to the eye – so if I back off my eye comfort the hole pretty much closes up, and even if I crane my neck forward to get a good sight picture, I need a lot of light on the target to see it well.

    I may have to return this sight and try something else. Has anyone tried anything else that has worked well for shooting out to around 20 or 25 yards on an HW-30 or an R7?

    Alan in MI


    • I have successfully used a Williams FP-AG-TK rear receiver aperature sight on my older Beeman R-7 (I.e. Weihrauch HW 30S Deluxe with globe front interchangeagble sights). I also purchased a set of replaceable Weihrauch front sights. It so much easier and accurate to use than standard open sights. I also use a Daisy Avanti Rear Dioper Sight on my IZH/Baikal 61 with replaceable front target sights which works well.


      • Thanks Chuck,

        I’ll have to order up one of those . . . .

        Just curious – do you know the size of the peep hole aperture you are using? I think the 0.050″ is probably too small for any distance beyond 10M, or any target that is not very well illuminated.

        Alan in MI


        • Alan,
          I have the Beeman Sport Aperture sight on mine. I just have the one that came with the sight and I don’t know the size of the aperture. PA doesn’t sell them anymore. They have a Williams that is similar but it has issues with the Bronco, re: BB’s article on that. Mine still has plenty of downward adjustment left. I have it mounted as far back as it will go on the scope rail so that it is resting against the raised part of the back of the spring tube. No slippage possible that way.
          -Chuckj


        • Alan,
          The Williams FP-AG-TK aperature sight comes with standard 0.093 aperature. The 0.093 aperature works well for general target shooting and plinking. Williams also offers other replacement aperatures in 0.050, 0.125, and 0.150. I use the 0.050 aperature when shooting 10 meter targets. I also have a Williams adjustable open target sight on a Crosman 2300S CO2 target pistol which is very good. Williams offers a wide variety of front and rear sights for air rifles and various firearms. The Williams sights are very good quality, made from aluminum, brass, and steel.


    • I used the Air Venturi sight they use on the 60/61 on my HW30s (It looks to be the same as the Daisy branded one to me). I couldn’t get it to stay on so I used a leapers 11mm to Weaver adapter and bolted the sight on. It holds on just fine now and when they get more in I’ll retro fit my Bakail 61 as well.

      http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Air_Venturi_Rear_Sight_Micrometer_Adjustable/3191

      http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/UTG_11mm_to_Weaver_Adapter_Vertical_Scope_Stop_Pin/2401

      https://picasaweb.google.com/105582855711747336970/HW30sPeepMount1042012?authkey=Gv1sRgCL2b08KlpqvoOw#5795644429456798482


      • Mark,

        That is a brilliant and very well executed solution! Thanks for sharing it.

        I am leaning to the Williams sight, since I can return the Daisy and apply the money to it, and then have the option of swithing apertures out if I want too. But I do like your solution, and I agree that the Air Venturi and Daisy sights look to be about the same.

        Alan


  5. I’m just so happy with my Bronco. I wish I had 25yds to see if I could be happier. Regardless, I’d not be unhappier no matter the results. I don’t think Santa is going to bring me a TX200 this year. But! I think I’m on better terms with the Easter Bunny.
    -Chuckj


  6. I wish that I had the youth to handle the TX200. Ah, but time marches on..Weight becomes an issue. Now, a SideBar Alert. Can not pump the 397 any longer up to 6 pumps but they have my favorite handling qualitys. What, everyone, what CO 2 air rifle has the nearest carbine size and fit that the 397 offers ? Blue Streak replica ? So to speak.
    Thank you very much ! Santa is coming soon !
    Pete
    California


    • Pete,

      A Benjamin Discovery operating on CO2 is a wonderful gun for you. It is light, accurate and powerful — even in CO2. If Crosman still made the 2260, that would be your gun. The Discovery is a 2260 with a better build quality.

      Merry Christmas,

      B.B.


      • B.B. Thank you ! The best part about the Discovery is the dual “fuel” choices..Winter, pump it up, Hot summers , like in California, CO2 is another option to maintain best fps.
        Merry Christmas to you and Edith !
        Pete


  7. Merry Christmas everyone, may your homes be full of love, health and prosperity!

    I’ve got some good news!
    I installed an old Leapers 3-12×44 scope on my rifle. I didn’t remember exactly why I discarded it and why it was in the very back of my closet (truth will come up like oil on water) and was able to make 2 very good groups from a soft rest – all pellet holes were intersecting in a square pattern so I measured it to be 16 mm at its widest. I used wadcutters, so I think they were not the best choice for 25 m but they punched a visible holes. Domed pellets could do better…

    And then I decided to do some turret turning to make POI to be right on crosshairs – well, THAT I should not do :) I instantly understood why I took off that scope and left it for spares… Its adjustment system was dead, or, rather zombified – POI started to bounce and travel where it wanted.
    Oh my… I said a lot of ungentlemanly words and phrases then.

    All right, the shoemaker is always barefooted – so I’m waiting for a new scope and a new test. Anyway, troubles seem to be gone and DWR approaching to what I call a decent airgun.

    duskwight


    • duskwight,

      You’re incredible! To make jokes in another language by referencing a fairy tale is remarkable.

      Good news on the gun, though. I bet it is very accurate!

      Good on you, and Merry Christmas,

      B.B.


  8. Since I just picked up an Edge and a Talon SS (which I have not had the chance to even shoot yet!) I doubt I will find an airgun under the tree this year. Oh well, these will likely keep me busy for quite awhile. Maybe next year I will give sproingers another go.

    For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

    Merry Christmas!


  9. Pete Hallock,

    The Benjamin Discovery on CO2 will put a smile on your face, a song in your heart and stack 10 pellets on top of each other at 16 yards. I bought the Discovery with the HPA pump, the degasser tool and the Benjamin CO2 and air fill adapter. I shoot it a lot more as a bulk fill CO2 rifle rather than running it on HPA. Am getting lazy. The only time I’m using the HPA pump is when I’m hunting.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL OF YOU WONDERFUL PEOPLE.

    Bruce


  10. Based on BB’s favorable reviews, I also recently purchased a Winchester 425 .22 at a gun show. Unfortunately, the front globe sight was missing and rear sight was broken but the price was only $25 and I decided to take a chance. I put a small simple fixed 2.5X scope on it which works great in lieu of the original sights. The trigger pull is super light, the rifle is very accurate at 10-20 meters, and the piston seal is working well. Based on a airgunner friend, I used a few drops of of RWS Chamber Oil in the air chamber. My rifle likes the RWS Hobby pellets (11.9 gr) which fits and shoot well. The cocking effort is so incredibly light.

    The rifle has been a delight to shoot and especially thank BB for his review of this “goldern oldie” model!


    • AZ Chuck,

      Good for you! I think you did very well with your buy and it’s obvious you got a 25 that has the ball-bearing trigger. Now you see what all the shouting is about.

      Merry Christmas,

      B.B.


  11. I’ve learned a lot about airguns from your blogs over the years. Long before I came across any airgun literature, I tampered with a friend’s Diana Model 25 (with the ramp type rear sight and fixed fore sight). I filed off about .25″ of the trigger housing and used a mainspring that was two coils longer, The power increased and the pellet fired at a steel plate from 30 feet was completely flattened. I guess if I had used spacers over the spring guide, the results could be the same. But that was my ignorance!


  12. I recently aquired the same diopter used above on your diana 25. However, the fit is impossibly tight getting over the cap at the back of the sprng chamber… (Please excuse my terminology). Because of the cap the diopter slides onto the rail at a slight angle. Did you have the same issue and if so, how did you address it?






  13. On a somewhat related note… This same winchester 425 is missing the set screw for the trigger. I spoke with a technician at rws and he talked me into buying a t01 trigger assembly, saying that he thought one of its screws would work. So I ordered it but neither screw fit the 425. I then contacted Chambers Spares in England and they told me that they have the tigger assembly, but it only comes with the adjusting screw. Does anybody know who might carry this part?
    E.


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