Posts Tagged ‘Beeman Devastator pellets’

Testing a Diana model 23 breakbarrel rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Diana 23
This Diana 23 has led a hard life.

Today, we’ll see how accurate the Diana model 23 is. This report was supposed to be published just before the Roanoke airgun show, but so many things popped up at the last minute and got in front of it that I held off on this one til now.

Before we begin, let me give you a little update on the rifle. At Roanoke, Larry Hannush, the owner of all those beautiful ball reservoir airguns, came over to my table and handed me a brand new barrel for the model 23. He had read that I was going to refinish it with Blue Wonder and he thought a new barrel would shorten my time on the project. In fact the barrel of the gun was the only part where rust had done some more serious work. The old barrel would have either had pits in it, or I would have had to draw-file them out. This new barrel solved a problem for me, so thanks, Larry!

I decided to test accuracy at 10 meters because of the small size of the rifle. I selected 3 different pellets for this test, but none of them was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. I would like to tell you why. Crosman pellets are made from a lead alloy that’s hardened with antimony. As a result, their skirts don’t deform as easily as pellet made from pure lead. In a lower-powered rifle like the 23, that means they may not seal all the air behind the pellet.

The second reason I usually don’t select Crosman pellets for guns like the 23 is that they’re often right at or just under the required dimensions. They work very well in repeaters where their smaller size and harder lead are an advantage. In more powerful guns, their skirts can be blown out into the rifling; but in a single-shot spring-piston air rifle of low power, neither of these things is an advantage. So, I seldom select them for guns like the 23.

Now, let’s begin the test. The rifle is rested at 10 meters, and I’m using a classic artillery hold — though as light as the 23 is, it isn’t easy to hold this way. I had to grip it more than I would have liked just to control it.

RWS Hobby flush-seated
The first pellet I tried was the venerable RWS Hobby wadcutter. At just 7 grains, it seemed perfect for the power of the 23. I seated these pellets flush, but as I did something in the back of my mind sent up a red flag. After all the testing of deep-seated pellets in air rifles of lower power, I reckoned I had to come back and also try this pellet seated deep.

Ten flush-seated Hobbys went into a 0.792-inch group at 10 meters. The group looks okay, but it’s a little on the large side — even for shooting a light rifle with open sights.

RWS Hobby target
Ten flush-seated RWS Hobby pellets went into 0.792 inches at 10 meters. Not the best group for 10 meters, but a good start.

At this point, I knew I had to try seating these pellets deep in the breech. I was going to give you a link to the one report where I showed that deep-seating improves accuracy with guns of lower power, but some searching turned up about 20+ reports that all show the advantages of deep-seating! That kind of overwhelmed me. I guess I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I thought!

The next 10 pellets were seated deep into the breech, using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. Of course, you can also use a ballpoint pen to seat pellets; but this seating tool allows you to adjust the depth to which you seat the pellet, and that can be beneficial.

This time, 10 Hobbys made a group measuring 0.52 inches between centers. Not only was it significantly smaller than the first one, the point of impact shifted up about an inch and the group became very vertical. The gun was definitely shooting this pellet differently, and all that had changed was the seating depth.

RWS Hobby seated deep
Ten RWS Hobby pellets seated deep into the breech went into 0.52 inches at 10 meters. This is good proof of the need to seat pellets deep in this rifle.

After seeing the results of this test, I decided to seat the rest of the pellets deep. It seems like that’s what the 23 wants.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried the JSB Exact RS dome. In the velocity test of this rifle, you’ll remember that this pellet exceeded both the other pellets in velocity and muzzle energy. I was anxious to see how it did for accuracy. This time, I didn’t fool around with flush-seating — I just assumed deep-seating was the way to go. Ten of them went into 0.618 inches.

JSB RS seated deep
Ten deep-seated JSB Exact RS domes made this 0.618-inch group. It’s not as tight as I’d expected, but it’s still pretty good.

Shooting behavior of the Diana 23
Like I said before, the Diana 23 is a light rifle, and holding it with the artillery hold is difficult. On top of that, add a trigger that breaks at almost 7 lbs., and you can see that I was fighting the rifle’s physical characteristics for accuracy. When I break down the rifle for refinishing, I think I’ll take a look at lightening the trigger. Dropping a few pounds of pull could have a major impact on accuracy.

The rifle does discharge without much vibration. The feel of each shot is very solid and quick.

Beeman Devastator
The last pellet I tried was the Beeman Devastator hollowpoint. I’m aware that Beeman refers to this pellet at a pointed pellet, so I’m showing you an enlarged view here. It sure looks like a hollowpoint to me — and it’s designed to perform like one, too.

Beeman Devastator
I think the image speaks for itself. The Devastator is a hollowpoint that has a short point in the center. It’s not a pointed pellet.

I decided to try Devastators because of how surprising they were in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test I did back in December of 2011. They proved that vibration and not velocity alone is what destroys accuracy in a pellet. In this test, 10 deep-seated Devastators made a 0.667-inch group, which is on the high side. I don’t think this is the right pellet for this rifle.

Beeman Devastator target
Ten Beeman Devastators went into 0.667 inches at 10 meters. That’s not as good as I would like.

Overall evaluation
I guess I’m surprised by the accuracy potential of this little spring rifle. It looks so small that I thought its performance would also be small. But it wasn’t. Of course, I’ve learned that this one is shooting a bit slow, so maybe there’s even more to see. I think this rifle deserves a 25-yard test before I strip it down and begin refinishing.

Walther 1250 Dominator PCP air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Walther 1250 Dominator
Walther 1250 Dominator.

Today, we’ll test the Walther 1250 Dominator at 50 yards. I had to go out to the rifle range for this test, and we’ve been having some winds lately, so it took some time before I got a calm day. But this day was perfectly calm — I couldn’t have asked for a better day to shoot an air rifle at long range.

As you recall, the Dominator takes a 300-bar fill, which is 4,350 psi. I had to delay the test to get my carbon fiber tank refilled, and even then I didn’t have enough air for a full fill. When you fill a tank, it gets warm; and when it cools back down, you lose several hundred psi. I was able to fill to about 4,100 psi this time, but that single fill was enough air to last for the entire test, which was about 50 shots. And the needle in the pressure gauge is still in the green, which means there are more full-power shots remaining in the rifle.

I normally shoot from one of two mechanical rifle rests when I’m at this range, but for this test I decided to use my long sandbag, instead. The rifle lays in the crease on top of the bag and doesn’t move. There’s also more flexibility to reposition the rifle when required. Since this is a repeater that has to be reloaded, this flexibility was a good.

Since the circular clip holds 8 pellets, I decided to shoot 8-shot groups. It’s too much trouble to load just two pellets by themselves. So, all the groups seen today are 8-shots.

RWS Superdomes
The first pellet was the venerable RWS Superdome. They landed close enough to the bull that I didn’t bother to adjust the scope. Eight pellets made a group that measures 2.017 inches between centers. The pellets spread out horizontally, but there was no wind whatsoever. I don’t think this pellet is suited to the rifle.

Walther 1250 Dominator RWS Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes went into 2.017 inches at 50 yards.

Following this, I adjusted the scope up and to the left just a little to compensate for where the Superdomes had landed. Then, I shot a group of JSB Exact Heavy pellets.

JSB Exact Heavy
I expected the JSB Exact Heavy dome pellet to give good groups, and it did — sort of. Seven of the 8 pellets landed in a group that measures 0.753 inches between centers. But 1 shot landed apart from the group, opening it up to 1.933 inches. This shot was somewhere in the middle of the string of 8. It wasn’t the first or last shot, and there was no called flier. It’s just somewhere in the string.

When something like this happens, I’m tempted to believe that it was caused by a defective pellet or by something just as obviously wrong. I think the JSB Exact Heavy is a good pellet for this rifle.

Walther 1250 Dominator JSB Exact Heavy group
Seven JSB Exact Heavies went into 0.753 inches, but an unexplained lone shot strayed higher to increase the group size to 1.933 inches.

Beeman Devastator
I probably shouldn’t have tried Beeman Devastators because they’re essentially wadcutters in profile, and wadcutters don’t do well at long distances. But I did try them, and they strung vertically into a group that measures 3.067 inches. Obviously, they’re a non-starter for this rifle at 50 yards.

Walther 1250 Dominator Beeman Devastator group
Eight shots in 3.067 inches. Beeman Devastators were not too good. Sorry for the lines, but the Devastators overlapped another group and I had to mark them both to keep them separated.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I shot a group of JSB Exact RS domes. As light as they are, I wouldn’t normally recommend them for a precharged rifle of the Dominator’s power but had them along, so why not? Eight went into 0.945 inches, so I’m glad I tried them. This was the smallest group of the test. I do want to emphasize that the day was calm, because these light pellets do get blown around a lot.

Walther 1250 Dominator JSB Exact RS group
Eight shots in 0.945 inches. JSB Exact RS pellets were the best of the test.

Crosman Premier 10.5-grain
Next up were the heavy Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets. I expected them to do well in this rifle, and they didn’t disappoint. Eight went into a group measuring 1.19 inches between centers. While that number sounds a little large, look at the group it represents. It’s a little vertical, but it’s not a bad group.

Walther 1250 Dominator Crosman Premier Heavy group
Eight shots in 1.19 inches. Crosman Premier heavies were in the running.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
The last group I shot was with the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. Eight of them made a group measuring 1.371 inches. That’s a little large when there are other pellets that are better, but it’s not a bad showing for 8 shots at 50 yards

Walther 1250 Dominator Crosman Premier Lite group
Eight shots went into 1.371 inches. Given the other good pellets, Premier lites are probably not the pellet of choice, but this isn’t bad.

The bottom line
I was glad to finally have the chance to test the Walther 1250 Dominator. It was a good rifle, overall, but I took exception to removing the air tank to fill it, the high fill pressure and the discharge noise.

However, out at the range, the rifle was much quieter — far quieter than a rimfire. Also, the trigger that I complained about when shooting indoors was actually no problem outside. I don’t know what the difference was, except that it was a different day and I saw things differently. I must say, there are a lot of very powerful shots in the tank once you get it up to pressure.

I did get used to fiddling with the bolt handle, and the rifle fed without a problem during this test. Installing the rotary clip is easier than on most other PCP rifles.

I would have to say that the 1250 Dominator is a fine precharged air rifle, but it runs into a lot of stiff competition. Buyers will get it because they like the overall styling, the all-weather materials it is made from and the high shot count.

Walther’s new LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Walther LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle
The LGV Master Ultra with a wood stock is what readers have been asking to see. Today we shoot it at 50 yards.

This is the final installment on the Walther LGV Master Ultra. When combined with the 6-part review I did of the .22-caliber Walther LGV Challenger, that’s 12 separate reviews of the new LGV rifle. I think that’s more than enough information to help anyone make up their mind.

For this report, I took the rifle to my outdoor rifle range two different times. The first time, the wind kicked up as I was shooting the first group, so I only managed to shoot one 10-shot group that day. It took a long time because I had to wait to shoot between wind gusts. The second day at the range, the weather was perfect. It was one of those rare days where the wind never gets up to one mile per hour all day long, so I feel the rifle has gotten as fair a test as I’m able to give.

To remind you of the way it’s set up, the LGV Master Ultra is scoped with a Bushnell Banner 6-18X50 AO scope mounted in BKL 1-piece rings. Nothing special about the scope or mounts, except that they both work very well with this rifle.

Today, I’m shooting at 50 yards. Two things about this are exceptional. First, I’m shooting a spring rifle at 50 yards. If you’ve never tried it, don’t knock it. You can’t just double the size of a 25-yard group and get what it’ll look like at 50. Second, I’m shooting 10-shot groups. They’ll always be 40% larger than 5-shot groups. So, factor that in as you read my report.

Day one on the range
This first day began okay; but before the first group was finished, the wind picked up. I waited between gusts, and I’m pretty sure the wind did not account for any increase in the group size. I shot 10-shot groups, as is my custom. That way, I seldom wonder if the results are anything but representative of the rifle. Yes, it’s harder to shoot 10 shots well, rather than 5; but I find that if you start thinking that way, the next thing you know is that you’ll be looking for only the best 5-shot groups among all you’ve shot. That’s harder to do with 10-shot groups because they take so long to complete.

The shooting at 25 yards had convinced me that I needed to rest the forearm at the end of the cocking slot, instead of with my off hand touching the triggerguard. That gives the rifle a very stable hold without the normal shakes you get when you hold it the other way.

I got just one group this day. There were more shots, but the wind picked up enough that I found it impossible to say that it wasn’t influencing the size of the groups. The single group I shot was with Crosman Premier lites, the 7.9-grain pellet that had performed so well at 25 yards. At 50 yards, 10 pellets made a group that measured 1.509 inches between centers. So I brought it home, to await the perfect day for another test.

LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle Premier lite group 1
The first group of Premier lites went into 1.509 inches at 50 yards. Due to the wind rising, this was all I could shoot this day.

That day came last week. It was supposed to be raining, but the skies were dry and overcast. As mentioned, there was barely a breath of air the whole four hours I was at the range. The first group was shot with the Premier lites, for which I had so much hope. Ten went into a group measuring 1.561 inches between centers. It was time to face facts — this was the best the rifle was going to do with this pellet at 50 yards. Now, it was time to experiment.

LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle Premier lite group 2
This second group of Premier lites was shot on a perfect day. It measures 1.561 inches between centers. The first group was also the best group.

Next, I tried Beeman Devastators — a lightweight hollowpoint pellet that has no hope at 50 yards, except when the conditions are perfect, as they were this day. Ten went onto a group that measured 1.852 inches between centers. I think that’s pretty good for a hollowpoint at 50 yards, but it probably doesn’t look too good in the photo.

LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle Beeman Devastator group

Beeman Devastators did very well for hollowpoints at 50 yards. Ten went into 1.852 inches.

The day was still dead calm, so I thought I’d keep shooting. The next pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match that hadn’t done as well as I’d hoped at 25 yards. At 50 yards, 10 of them made a 1.637-inch group…but this group was strange. Six pellets landed high in a tight 0.829-inch bunch and the other four landed low, making a 0.777-inch group of their own. This result would bear some further investigation, if I owned this air rifle.

LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle H&N Baracuda group
H&N Baracuda Match pellets printed these two groups. Six on top and 4 below, for a total size of 1.637 inches between centers. There are no holes under the dime.

I can see sorting these pellets by weight and being very selective of each pellet, rather than just shooting everything straight from the tin, as I did in this test. I make no promises; but when you get results like this, there may be a good reason.

The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact heavy, a 10.34-grain dome. I had high hopes for these, as well; but when the first 6 landed in 1.586 inches, I stopped because the final 4 had no chance of tightening that.

LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle JSB Exact Heavy group
Six JSB Exact Heavy pellets went into 1.586 inches. I didn’t complete this group.

So that was the test at 50 yards. It didn’t turn out as I’d expected. The 12 foot-pound .22-caliber LGV Challenger produced better groups that hovered around one inch. The wind cannot be blamed for this, so the 12 foot-pound rifle just turns out to be more accurate at long range.

The final word
I said the Walther LGV is the TX200 of breakbarrel springers at the end of the other test, and I’ll not change that assessment. The action is incredibly well-built, the trigger is fine and the accuracy is better than average for a good spring-piston rifle. I like the barrel latch, and I no longer need the last foot-pound of power to validate an airgun’s worth. What I’m after is a wonderful shooting experience that this Walther delivers.

Walther’s new LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Walther LGV Master Ultra 177 air rifle
The LGV Master with a wood stock is what readers have been asking to see. Today, I’ll scope it!

Today is the day many of you have been waiting for. I’ll scope the Walther LGV Master Ultra and test it for accuracy at 25 yards. I used the same Bushnell Banner 6-18X50 AO scope and BKL 260 1-piece high mount that I used on the Walther LGV Challenger in .22 caliber. The scope was already in the mount and ready to install. I thought about removing the sights; but since I couldn’t see them through the scope, I decided to leave them mounted.

One shot at 12 feet told me the scope was adjusted close enough to move back to 25 yards. The first shot at 25 yards then required some more adjustment, and I was ready to begin the test.

Best hold
With the .22-caliber rifle, I rested the stock on the flat of my open palm with the heel of my hand touching the triggerguard. That gives the rifle a very muzzle-heavy balance and is usually the best way to hold a spring-piston air rifle. But not with this .177.

I had chosen to shoot 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites as the first pellet because they showed so much promise at 25 yards with open sights. The .177-caliber LGV Master Ultra strung its first 10 shots vertically in a group that measured 0.67 inches between centers. While that isn’t bad, the group was vertical, which can be caused by either loose stock screws or by resting the stock on the off hand at the wrong place.

I checked the screws, and they all did require tightening; but when I shot a second group, it was vertical as well and slightly larger, at 0.819 inches. Obviously, loose stock screws were not causing the problem. Experience then told me to slide my off hand forward until I could feel the back of the cocking slot on my palm.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Premier lite group 1 25 yards
The first group of 10 Premier lites at 25 yards was vertical. Though it measures just 0.67 inches, which isn’t too large, the verticality concerns me.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Premier lite group 2 25 yards
The second group of 10 Premier lites at 25 yards was also vertical and slightly bigger than the first. And this is after tightening the stock screws. It measures 0.819 inches across the widest centers.

Group 3 was the one I was looking for. Ten shots went into 0.326 inches at 25 yards. That’s 10 shots, not 5. Folks, that demonstrates what I thought was the case — the new Walther LGV is the TX200 of breakbarrel air rifles! Five shots in such a group might have a component of luck with it, but you don’t get lucky 10 times in a row. This rifle wants to put them all in the same place!

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Premier lite group 3 25 yards
Now, this is a group. Ten Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets went into 0.326 inches between centers. This is a great group for 10 shots.

So, the best hold is with the off hand out forward, under the back of the cocking slot. That’s going to hold true for all of these Master Ultra models, I think.

H&N FTT
Next I tried some H&N Field Target Trophy pellets because reader TwoTalon asked me to. I haven’t had good luck with FTT pellets in springers, but he likes them, though I learned that he’s shooting them only in a PCP. Still, I thought — what the heck?

Ten pellets went into a group that measured 0.683 inches between centers. While that’s not a bad group, it doesn’t look good next to the Premier lite group, so I won’t use it when I move out to 50 yards.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle H&N FTT group 25 yards
Ten H&N Field Target Trophy pellets went into this 0.683-inch group. It’s good — just not the best this rifle can do.

Beeman Devastator
The third pellet I tried was the Beeman Devastator that did so well in the 25-yard open sight test. Again, they proved their superiority by putting 10 pellets into a 0.475-inch group. That’s pretty good for such an open-nosed hollowpoint. The LGV was hot!

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Beeman Devastator group 25 yards
Ten Beeman Devastators made another tight group. This one measures 0.475 inches across.

JSB Exact Heavy
The last pellet I tested was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact heavy, which did okay in the open-sight test but with qualifications. What “qualifications” means is that I got 8 pellets in a tight group but had two unexplained fliers that opened the group considerably. This time, the results were even more bizarre.

With 10 shots, I got two extremely tight groups…one with 3 shots, and the other with 4 — and 3 wild fliers that don’t belong anywhere. The overall group measured 1.791 inches between centers of the two widest shots. I think what’s happening is that this pellet is very close to what this rifle wants, but it’s still far enough from perfection that it causes wild shots. These pellets fit the bore looser than the other three, which all seemed to fit about the same. The head size is a whopping 4.52mm, so put that into your head-size theories and see what you get. I just don’t know what’s happening, but it’s clear this isn’t a pellet for this rifle.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle JSB Exact Heavy group 25 yards
Wow — what happened? Four pellets went into the small hole at the bottom of the bull, another 3 went into the small hole at the top left and 3 pellets went off by themselves. Total group measures 1.791 inches across the two widest centers.

Overall impessions
It’s clear the .177-caliber rifle is pickier about the pellets it likes than the .22, which seems to swallow everything. Find the right pellet, though, and the game is on! The best group with this rifle is roughly half the size of the best .22-caliber group at 25 yards. Fifty yards — here we come!

Big Shot of the Month
Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Month is Brandon Syn. He’ll receive a $100 gift card. Congratulations! If you’d like a chance to be the next Big Shot, you can enter on Pyramyd Air’s Facebook page.

Big shot of the month

Brandon Syn is the Big Shot of the Month on Pyramyd Air’s facebook page.

Walther’s new LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle
The LGV Master Ultra with wood stock is what readers have been asking to see. Today, we’ll see how it shoots!

Today, you’ll see the test of the .177-caliber Walther LGV Master Ultra at 25 yards with open sights. This is for all who have an interest in a rifle that I think redefines the breakbarrel spring-piston sporter.

Twenty-five yards is not quite 2.5 times the distance at which the first test was conducted, so I expect to see the groups open up quite a lot. In fact, this is a wonderful distance at which to test an airgun because this is where the real pedigree starts to show through. Let’s see how our test rifle did.

Crosman Premier lite
The first pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite that did so well in the 10-meter test. After confirming the shot was on the bull with a spotting scope, I shot the remaining 9 shots without looking again. Shot 9 was a called pull to the left, and I knew I would see a hole to the left of the main group when I examined the target.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Premier lite target
Ten Premier lites went into 1.065 inches at 25 yards. Nine of them made a 0.742-inch group that I feel is more representative of the rifle’s actual accuracy with open sights at this range.

Crosman Premier heavies
Next, I tried 10 Crosman Premier heavies because a reader thought they might do well. They did not — giving a very open and scattered group that measures 1.549 inches between centers.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Premier heavy target
Ten Premier heavies made this 1.549-inch group at 25 yards. The group is open and scattered — showing not much hope for this pellet in this rifle.

Beeman Devastators
Next, I shot 10 Beeman Devastator pellets. These lightweight hollowpoints surprised me in the Pellet velocity versus accuracy test I did two years ago. And they fit the LGV breech very well, so I had hopes they might be accurate, as well.

Indeed they were! Ten gave a 1.154-inch group, but 9 of them were in 0.746 inches. That’s very much like the Premier lites, though there was no called shot this time.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle Beeman Devastator target
Ten Beeman Devastators made a 1.154-inch group, but 9 went into 0.746 inches. Very promising!

JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain
Next up were 10 JSB Exact heavys. The Exact RS pellets had not done well in the 10-meter test, but these heavier domes often succeed where the lighter ones don’t. This time, the outcome was very telling. Eight of the pellets made an incredibly small 0.518-inch group that’s perfectly round, then the final two shots enlarged the group to 2.147 inches. They made both the largest and smallest group of the session! That small inner group tells me that this may well be the most accurate pellet in this rifle, as it often is.

LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle JSB Exact heavy target
This group made by JSB Exact Heavy pellets will make you think! I didn’t call any shots, but I think something went wrong with the two outliers. I believe the small cluster is more representative of what this pellet can do in this rifle.

Of course, I could be wrong, but this isn’t the last time I’m going to shoot this LGV for accuracy. Next time will be at 25 yards with a scope mounted. This JSB just won a place in that test.

H&N Baracuda Match
The last pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Match, which did so-so in the 10-meter test. I thought I would give them another chance at 25 yards; but, alas, their mediocrity only continued. Ten made an open 2.121-inch group with no pattern or clustering.

Walther LGV Master Ultra .177 air rifle H&N Baracuda Match target
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets didn’t do so well in this rifle. Group size is 2.121 inches…and, yes, there are 10 shots there.

Am I satisfied?
I am very satisfied with this performance. The naysayers will probably dream up new things to say about the gun; but as far as I’m concerned, it’s on track for a spectacular test.

I will say that the firing behavior was quite buzzy with the Premiers, but much less so with the Baracudas and the heavy JSBs. I think those JSBs are going to turn out to be the pellets of choice in this rifle. I’ll also comment that the trigger now seems as good as a well-adjusted Rekord. It’s not as light, but the wide blade makes the release feel very crisp.

Diana 25 smoothbore pellet gun: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Diana 25 smoothbore
This Diana 25 smoothbore was made in World War II.

Today’s blog falls under the heading, “It’s not always a good idea to try everything.” Back when we were exploring the Diana 25 smoothbore airgun, we saw how incredibly accurate it was with certain pellets at 10 meters.

Diana 25 smoothbore JSB Exact RS deep-seated group
This 10-shot group of JSB Exact RS pellets was shot at 10 meters. The extreme spread measures just 0.337 inches between centers! It made us all wonder just how accurate a smoothbore pellet gun can be.

When I backed up to 25 yards, however, the groups opened up to between 2.5 and 3+ inches for the same pellet. Obviously, the pellet needs to be stabilized by both the high drag of its diabolo shape and by the spin introduced by rifling. Drag, alone, is not enough to stabilize the pellet.

One reader then asked me to try shooting round lead balls in the gun. Today, I’ll conduct that test for you.

Beeman Perfect Rounds
I shot Beeman Perfect Rounds, which are H&N Rundkugel but under the Beeman label. They weigh 7.7 grains, which is the weight of a medium-weight diabolo pellet.

The balls fit the Diana’s breech quite well, though one was slightly larger than the others. But the rest would not drop into the breech and had to be seated with the thumb — just as a pellet would. They did seat easily, however, and I noticed the gun’s powerplant seemed harsher than it is with pellets. I suspect the balls had less resistance than a pellet since they only touched the bore at their circumference, and there’s no rifling to engrave them.

Diana 25 smoothbore pellet gun round ball in breech
Except for one, each round ball fit the gun’s breech very well. Most stopped like this and had to be gently pressed into the bore with the thumb.

Testing at 10 meters
I began the test at 10 meters, thinking the gun was accurate at that distance with diabolos, so it should be accurate with round balls. I’m sure the reader who asked me to test round balls must have thought the same thing. But when I fired the first shot and could not find the hole on the target paper, I stopped shooting. Fortunately there were no new holes in the wall!

I then moved up to 12 feet and shot again — this time standing and using the door jamb as a brace. The shots now went to the bull at which I was aiming. But the group is hardly worth celebrating. Ten shots went into 1.166 inches at this distance. I’ve shot many BB guns that could do so much better than this that it’s embarrassing to consider.

Diana 25 smoothbore pellet gun 12 foot group round balls
Ten shots from 12 feet did make a group on the target, but that’s way too close for a gun like this! Group measures 1.166 inches between centers.

I guess the Diana 25 isn’t made to shoot round balls. If there was any doubt before, I hope this clears it up. I didn’t shoot any more groups because of how harsh the powerplant seemed to be. I didn’t see any reason to strees the mechanism more than I already had.

Darts?
Shooting round balls got me thinking about other types of non-pellet projectiles, and of course darts came to mind. I decided not to try them in this gun,as the powerplant is too powerful for them. It would bury a dart deep in wood, causing its destruction upon extraction. But that did give me another idea.

I was recently asked to conduct a retest of a gun I tested some time ago. Apparently, a blog reader felt my results were not typical of the gun I tested, so he called the manufacturer and they contacted me. That gun in question is a smoothbore, as well, and it’s a multi-pump, so the velocity can be controlled. I plan on testing darts when I test that gun for you.

Diana 25 smoothbore pellet gun: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Diana 25 smoothbore
This Diana 25 smoothbore was made in World War II.

One thing that I really like about this blog is the fact that it affords me the opportunity to test certain things thoroughly. In fact, it somewhat forces me to test them thoroughly; because as I test and write, I think about you readers and all the questions you’ll have for me. So, I test to be able to tell you as much as I can about our mutual interests.

This Diana 25 smoothbore airgun that I’m reporting on today is one such subject. I get to work with a vintage airgun that’s very enjoyable, plus I get to test how well diabolo pellets stabilize and how accurate they are when they don’t spin. In turn, that reflects on the test of how the rifling twist rate affects accuracy.

I tested this airgun at 25 yards — a serious distance at which any and all airguns will show their true colors. And I used 10-shot groups, another tool in our growing bag of diagnostic accuracy tricks. Just one group can reveal significant findings, instead of five 5-shot groups or, worse yet, I shoot a bunch of 5-shot groups and show only the best one.

I was on the rifle range last week with a young man who was shooting a .257 Weatherby Magnum and trying to get it to group. He obviously knew what accuracy is because he wanted groups that measured under .75 inches at 100 yards. But he was shooting only 3-shot groups! That isn’t enough shots to make more than a good guess about a rifle’s potential accuracy. When I called him on it, he pointed out that he was pasting his targets to a backer at the same place every time, so all his shots would overlap on the backer as he changed targets. That told me he’s afraid of shooting large groups in case he makes a mistake. I’ve been there and done that, too!

Today’s test frankly frightened me, as I wasn’t sure the gun was accurate enough to hit the pellet trap all the time. I decided to use the JSB Exact RS pellets that performed so well at 10 meters. I seated each pellet deep in the bore with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater because the 10-meter test showed that was the way the gun likes it best. Let’s look at the two targets from that test before I continue.

Diana 25 smoothbore Beeman Devastator flush-seated group
The flush-seated JSB Exact RS pellets made a 10-meter group that measures 1.158 inches between centers.

Diana 25 smoothbore JSB Exact RS deep-seated group
The same pellets seated deep made this 0.337-inch group at 10 meters. It looks significantly smaller!

The test
The first shot at 25 yards did hit the target paper, but it was high and outside the bull. I checked it with a spotting scope immediately after shooting it. I also checked after the second shot, just to make sure it was also on the paper. It was, so after that I settled down and put 8 more shots into the target. In the end, they were all high and formed a group that measures 3.879 inches between the centers of the two widest shots. So that’s what the gun seems to be capable of, but I wanted another 10-shot group, just to confirm it.

Diana 25 smoothbore JSB Exact RS deep-seated group1 25 yards
The first 25-yard group of deep-seated JSB Exact RS pellets measures 3.879 inches between centers.

I lowered the simple rear sight elevator for the second group and fired 10 more JSB Exact RS pellets. The first shot hit the target in the black, so I knew I was okay to complete the 10 shots without looking. At the end, I had 10 shots in a 3.168-inch group. As far as I was concerned, those two targets demonstrated the accuracy potential of this smoothbore pellet gun at 25 yards with deep-seated JSB Exact RS pellets. But something nagged at me.

Diana 25 smoothbore JSB Exact RS deep-seated group2 25 yards
The second group of deep-seated JSB Exact RS pellets measures 3.168 inches between centers. It’s better than the first group, but it’s in the same general neighborhood.

How much worse would this gun shoot pellets that were only seated flush with the breech — in other words, loaded in the normal way? I had to test it. Once more, I shot 10 shots at 25 yards. This time, I was really scared because it looked from the 10-meter test that these pellets might not all hit the paper. Would this group be over twice as large as the other two — like the 10-meter group was? But the first shot went into the bull and the second one landed very close, so I calmed down and shot the other 8 shots without looking again. In the end, I had a 10-shot group that measures 2.421 inches between centers — the smallest group yet at 25 yards!

Diana 25 smoothbore JSB Exact RS flush-seated group2 25 yards
The first group of flush-seated pellets measures 2.421 inches between centers — the best group of the test!

What had happened? The gun was shooting more accurately at 25 yards with pellets seated flush, when it had clearly shot deep-seated pellets best at 10 meters? Not knowing what else to do, I shot a second group with the pellets seated flush. This time the group was larger, but at 2.957 inches it’s still the second-best group of the test.

Diana 25 smoothbore JSB Exact RS flush-seated group2 25 yards
The second group of flush-seated pellets measures 2.957 inches.

What have we learned?
This test demonstrates that diabolo pellets do stabilize from their high drag, alone. They do not require a spin to stabilize them because they all hit the target nose-first. But they’re not as accurate as they would be if shot from a rifled barrel. The spin introduced by rifling is important for accuracy, if not for stability.

A second lesson is this: Even though I shoot and record 10-shot groups, a single group may not be enough data. The difference in accuracy at 10 meters and 25 yards between deep-seated pellets and flush-seated pellets would seem to indicate that. Or it could just be that deep-seated pellets are more accurate at 10 meters, but flush-seated pellets are more accurate at 25 yards. If that’s the case (and I don’t know that it is), I have no idea of why it would be that way.

I think I need to test this gun once more and shoot 3 10-shot groups with each type of seating at each distance before we’ll know anything for sure.

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