Posts Tagged ‘spring-piston rifle’

Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Diana 72
Diana 72 is a youth target rifle from the late 20th century.

This report addresses:

• More on the trigger.
• Accuracy with various pellets.
• Why 5 shots?
• Accuracy with deep-seated pellets.
• Summary.

Today is accuracy day for the Diana model 72 target rifle. We had one extra report in this series, and that was on adjusting the trigger. I want to tell you some more of what I have learned about this trigger.

More on the trigger
During the accuracy test, the trigger failed to work two times. The first time I made a small adjustment and got it running again in a matter of a minute. The second time, however, I worked on it for 15 minutes without success. I finally read Part 3 of this report, to see where the two adjustment screws had been positioned when the trigger was working. The camera angle of that photo isn’t the best, so there was still some guesswork involved; but even then I couldn’t get the rifle to fire.

Then, I thought of something. I know this rifle has a very protective anti-beartrap mechanism, and I wonderd if it was a little too over-protective. So, I cocked the gun, again (it was still cocked and loaded from when the trigger had failed). I’ve had other spring-piston air rifles — most notably Weihrauchs and a few Dianas — that would seem to cock but wouldn’t quite go all the way. How many people have I talked through cocking their RWS Diana sidelevers because they had not pulled the lever all the way back, and the gun was stuck? Even my Whiscombe has done this often enough that I’m used to it.

When it happens to the 72, the rifle is cocked from the standpoint that the piston is back and the mainspring is compressed, but it also isn’t fully cocked in that the trigger isn’t in the right position to fire the gun. It’s a sort of limbo state that some spring rifles can get into. Think of it as a disagreement between the trigger and the anti-beartrap device, and the designers have allowed the anti-beartrap device to trump the trigger for safety reasons.

All you need to do when this happens is cock the rifle a second time, making sure that the cocking linkage goes all the way back. When I did this, the 72′s trigger began working immediately. So, if you ever get one of these rifles, keep this in mind.

Accuracy
I began this test not knowing where the sights were set. After all, this rifle had been through a complete rebuild, so those sights presumably came off. And the action has been out of the stock several times over the past 2 years. So, the gun needed to be sighted-in.

As a side note, the manufacturing date on the left rear of the spring tube is November 1989. That puts it near the end of the production cycle (1979-1993, according to the Blue Book of Airguns).

Sighting-in with H&N Finale Match Pistol
I started sighting-in with H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. The first shot was lined up with the center of the bull, but it was too low. It landed at 6 o’clock. Since the sights are target apertures front and rear, I was not using a 6 o’clock hold, but centering the bull in the front aperture.

The first sight-in shot was interesting, but the second was even more so, for it would tell me if this was an accurate rifle or not. It hit above the first shot, in the same line but the 2 holes didn’t quite touch. That was good but not what I had hoped for. I had hoped to see a single hole that had barely enlarged with the second round.

Shot 3, however, went into the same hole as shot 2, and shot 4 joined them. So, the rifle was probably accurate, after all. I clicked the elevation up two clicks and proceeded to the first record target.

Shooting for the record
The first 5 shots went into a group that measures 0.221 inches between centers. It’s a group you would love to see out of most sporting rifles but not impressive coming from a 10-meter rifle. Just to make sure it wasn’t me, I shot a second group with this same Finale Match Pistol pellet. As I shot, I could hear the voices of the newer readers, asking why I only shot 5 shots. So, on just this one target, I put 10 into the next group, which measures 0.269 inches. That’s encouragingly close to what just 5 shots did, so it renewed my enthusiasm.

H&N Finale Match Pistol target 1
Five H&N Finale Match pellets went into 0.221 inches at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Pistol target 2
Ten H&N Match Targets made this 0.269-inch group. This is not that much larger than the 5-shot group.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet
Next up was the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. Five of those made a group that measures 0.244 inches. It’s in the same range as the H&N Finale Match pellet, so no cigar.

RWS R10 Match Pistol target
Five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 0.244 inches.

RWS Hobby
After that, I decided to give the RWS Hobby wadcutter pellet a try. Who knows what they might do? Well, that was a good decision this time, because 5 of them went into 0.194 inches between centers — the smallest group so far.

RWS Hobby target
Five RWS Hobby pellets went into 0.194 inches at 10 meters. This is a good group.

At this point, I’d noticed that all the groups were landing off to the left. There’s no scope involved, so I can hit the center of the target and not destroy the aim point. I dialed in 3 clicks of right adjustment into the rear sight and continued the test.

JSB Match
Next, I tried JSB Match pellets. Five went into 0.264 inches. That was the second-largest group in this test, so no joy there.

JSB Match target
Five JSB Match pellets made this 0.264-inch group. Not that good.

Why 5 shots?
Before someone asks why I shot 5-shot groups, I’ll tell you. Accuracy is the reason. Ten-meter guns are generally so accurate that there isn’t that much difference between 5 and 10 shots. You only have to look at the first 2 targets to see the truth of that.

H&N Match Pistol
Next, I shot 5 H&N Match Pistol pellets. They’re a lower-cost pellet than the Finale Match Pistol, and sometimes they produce good results. This was to be one of those times. Five pellets made a round group that measures 0.166 inches between centers. That’s the smallest group of the test; and because it was noticeably smaller, I shot a second group to see if the first was a fluke.

H&N Match Pistol target 1
Now, this is a group! Five H&N Match Pistol pellets went into 0.166 inches.

It wasn’t a fluke at all, as you can see. The second group was a little larger, at 0.196 inches, but still one of the smaller groups fired in this test.

H&N Match Pistol target 1
This second group of H&N Match Pistol pellets was shot to confirm the first one. It measures 0.196 inches, which is larger but still one of the smaller groups of this session.

Seating the pellets deep
Now that I’d tested 4 different wadcutter pellets, three of them being designated as target pellets, I thought I would take the best 2 and test them by seating them deeply in the breech to see if there was any difference. For this, I used the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater that was also used in the velocity test. We learned then that the 72 doesn’t like pellets to be seated deeply where velocity is concerned. Let’s see what it does for accuracy.

The first pellet I tested this way was the H&N Match Pistol that proved to be the most accurate in the entire test. When seated deeply, they gave a 5-shot group that measures 0.23 inches between centers. While that isn’t bad, it’s larger than either of the two groups that were seated flush. They measured 0.166 inches and 0.196 inches, respectively.

H&N Match Pistol target seated deep
When they were seated deeply, 5 H&N Match Pistol pellets went into 0.23 inches. It’s larger than either of the 2 groups made with the same pellet seated flush.

And the last pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. When seated deeply, Hobbys group in 0.252 inches. Again, this was not as small as the one group of flush-seated Hobbys that went into 0.194 inches. That leads me to believe that this rifle likes its pellet seated flush much better.

RWS Hobbys seated deep
Five deep-seated RWS Hobby pellets went into 0.252 inches. This group appears smaller than it really is because some of the target paper has closed around the holes.

Summary
The RWS model 72 target rifle is a fine example of the quality and ingenuity that Diana can put out. They took a great informal target pistol — the model 6 — and turned it into a youth target rifle. They didn’t pour a lot of money into this airgun, with the rear target sight being a conventional, adjustable sight fitted with an aperture, but they did everything right. This is a youth target rifle to covet!

If you want one of these, you’d better start looking right away. There aren’t that many of them, and owners tend to hang on to them longer than they do most airguns.

This was a test of the recoilless model 72, but don’t forget there’s also a model 70 that’s based on the model 5 pistol that recoils. There are more of them to be found, and their recoil doesn’t amount to much since they were originally an air pistol. Either model is a great airgun that you should certainly look for if this sort of gun interests you.

Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Diana 72
Diana 72 is a youth target rifle from the late 20th century.

This report addresses:

• Examining the Diana model 72 trigger.
• Two trigger adjustments.
• Caution — you may not want to do this!
• Trigger adjustment directions.
• Blog reader Mikeiniowa.

Today, we’re going to look at how to adjust the Diana model 72 trigger. I know this report is needed; because when I searched for information on the Diana model 72 target rifle, this blog was at the top of the list! I wish I had an owner’s manual for this little rifle, as I’m sure clear trigger adjustment instructions are in there. Lacking that, let’s first look at the trigger.

The Diana 72 trigger
As you’ve learned, the Diana model 72 youth rifle is just a model 6 target pistol in a rifle stock. Most things remained the same, but the trigger is one feature that had to change. People will tell you this rifle trigger is identical to the pistol trigger, but the presence of the long linkage from the trigger blade to the sear adds complexity the pistol trigger doesn’t have.

Diana 72 trigger left
Kind of surprising, no? What looks like the trigger is nothing but an isolated lever. Under the large hole in the flat plate several inches to the left is where the actual trigger lies. The arrow points to the trigger adjustment screws.

Diana 72 trigger right
On the right side of the trigger mechanism, we see the trigger linkage (the flat bar above the trigger blade that connects it to the trigger mechanism on the right).

What you thought was the rifle’s trigger turns out to be just a lever sitting out by itself and connected to a lot of machinery located several inches away. The linkage that connects the blade to the rest of the trigger mechanism is long and springy. It’s why this trigger can never be set to operate as crisply as a true target trigger. But some small amount of adjustment is possible, and this trigger can be very nice.

You can see the trigger adjustment screws in both pictures, but it isn’t necessary to take the stock off to access them. The rifle has an oval cut in the bottom of the forearm, and both screws are exposed. Actually, I should say all three screws are exposed, because the adjustment screw is actually two screws — one inside the other. The other screw isn’t for adjustment — it’s there to lock the larger adjustment screw in place.

Diana 72 trigger adjustment screws
The trigger adjustment screws can be seen through an oval hole in the underside of the forearm when the rifle is assembled. There are three screws. The one on the right is actually 2 different screws. On the left is the locking screw that locks the large screw on the right. Notice the very large screw at the far left of this picture? That’s the stock screw and has nothing to do with the trigger adjustment.

Diana 72 trigger adjustment screws exposed
Here you can see the adjustment screws exposed. The screw on the right in this picture is actually two different screws — one inside the other. The small screw inside the large screw on the right will turn at all times. The single screw to the left of the two screws locks the larger screw in place. When you do that, the smaller screw inside can still be turned.

Two trigger adjustments
You can make 2 adjustments to the trigger. You can adjust the length of first-stage travel, and you can adjust the amount of second-stage letoff — which means the weight of the trigger-pull.

BUT — Please read this and believe it. These two screws — one inside the other — act in unison. As one is adjusted, it affects the other. It is extremely easy to adjust them OUTSIDE the safe range, in which case the trigger stops working altogether. When that happens the gun can be cocked, but cannot be fired!

To be safe, when that happened to me several times, I always broke open the action so the anti-beartrap would prevent the gun from firing. Then, I adjusted the 2 screws together until the gun worked once more. I did this several times to learn what each screw does. One time it took a full 10 minutes of working with both screws before I got the gun firing again!

Caution: This is very difficult
If you’re afraid of how sensitive this adjustment is — good! Stay away from it! The large hollow screw has a very small range of adjustment and can get out of the range very easily. But if you want to try this, below are the instructions.

Adjustment directions
First adjust the length of first-stage travel (the small screw inside the large one). This can be done with the second-stage screw (the large hollow screw) locked in place. Turning the small screw out (counterclockwise) lengthens the first-stage travel. Turning it in (clockwise) shortens the first-stage travel. I tried to eliminate the first stage altogether because I know some people like it that way, but I was unable to get rid of the last little bit of travel. Formal target shooters use two-stage triggers almost exclusively, so perhaps Diana thought some travel was needed; but it also might be necessary to have some travel in this particular trigger for safe operation.

After you have the first stage where you want it, you can adjust the second stage. First, unlock it by loosening the locking screw to the left. I found the adjustment range of the large, hollow (second stage) screw extremely limited. It was possible to get out of the range with as little as one complete turn of the large, hollow screw.

I played and played with this adjustment mechanism and came to the conclusion that not only are the screw turns limited — the weight range of the trigger release is also very limited. That’s because this trigger blade is connected by a springy linkage.

The best I was able to do was reduce the release from 2 lbs., 1 oz. (33 oz.) to 1 lb., 8.5 oz. (24.5 oz.). The first stage takes up about the first pound of that weight, so stage 2 is very light and difficult to feel until you get accustomed to it. There’s also some travel in stage 2, but there’s no creep (moving and pausing at random points).

Mikeiniowa
If you search the internet for directions on how to adjust the Diana model 72 trigger, you’ll discover that a good many folks who are experts with vintage airguns avoid this job. Several of them recommend sending your rifle to our blog reader Mikeiniowa, who apparently knows this rifle quite well. I hope he reads this report and comments.

Status of the rifle
The model 72 is now ready for accuracy testing. Although the trigger isn’t match grade, it’s as good as it can get– and it isn’t that bad.

Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 2

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

Part 1

Diana 72
Diana 72 is a youth target rifle from the late 20th century.

This report addresses:

• Cocking effort
• Velocity
• Velocity and consistency comparisons, depending on how the pellet is loaded
• Firing behavior and cocking behavior after oiling
• Trigger-pull
• Impressions so far

Some topics resonate with more readers than others, and this is one of them. I heard from many Diana model 70 and 72 owners when Part 1 was published, and I hope to hear from more with this installment. New blog reader Harryholic from the UK had just received a new-old-stock model 72 when Part 1 was published. Searching for information on his new rifle, he stumbled across our blog.

His new rifle is one that hadn’t ever been fired, apparently. It was still in the original Diana packaging based the pictures he published online. Unfortunately, that means it has the old Diana piston seals that dry rot with age. His new gun heeded a resealing before he could even fire the first shot. While he’s arranging to have that done, I’ll test our 72 that was resealed last year. It should have pretty close to new-gun performance.

Cocking effort
This rifle is a converted air pistol — we learned that in the last report. I recall my Diana model 10 target pistol needing about 35 lbs. of force to cock. The old Air Rifle Headquarters reported the velocity of a broken-in model 10 as close to 500 f,.p.s. with lighter lead pellets. I will presume they mean something like RWS Hobbys.

A model 10 has the same poweplant as the model 6 pistol that on which this rifle is based, so I’ll use the cocking effort and velocity for the model 6, as well. I believe a model 6 in good shape should launch a Hobby pellet around 475 f.p.s. That would also be my guess for the model 72 rifle. We shall see.

As for the cocking effort, we learned last time that the 72 has a longer barrel shroud (13-3/4 inches, compared to the 7-inch barrel on the pistol) that extends the lever used to cock the rifle, so I expected the cocking effort to drop off to about 20 lbs. When I measured it on my bathroom scale, it was more like 16 lbs., though some stiffness in the cocking linkage did make the needle spike up to 20 at times. I think this will smooth out as the rifle wears in.

Velocity
I think I learn as much when I chronograph an airgun as I do when shooting it for accuracy. The things I learn aren’t always what I expect, though, and today’s test demonstrates that.

RWS Hobby
I started the test shooting the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter pellet. I like using Hobbys because not only are they very light and give high velocity numbers, but they’re also well-made and often quite accurate.

On the first string, I noticed something remarkable. I’m going to print the string here, so you can see what I saw:

Shot Vel
1     438
2    406
3    391
4    387
5    377
6    366
7    362
8    349

After shot 8, I stopped to evaluate the gun’s performance. Each shot was going slower than the last. The 72 is a spring-piston rifle, and it honked a bit when cocked. So, I deduced the piston seal was dry. I oiled the seal with a few drops of RWS Chamber Lube and then returned to the string.

9    414
10    399

The average for this string is 389 f.p.s., but a lot of the reason for that is because of the velocity loss. This rifle was just rebuilt. It came back to my friend Mac just a few weeks before he passed away, so he never shot it. Therefore, I’m the first person to shoot it since it was rebuilt. I’m breaking it in.

After the first string, I oiled the chamber, again, with about twice as much oil as I used before. This time, I shot 10 Hobbys at an average 427 f.p.s. The spread was from 399 to 449, so 50 f.p.s. Obviously, the rifle needed to be oiled. And notice that my original estimate of the expected velocity was too high.

Next, I tried deep-seating the pellets with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. This gave an average velocity of 424 f.p.s. The spread went from 401 to 461, so a total of 60 f.p.s. From this, I have to deduce that deep-seating Hobby pellets does not accomplish anything.

H&N Finale Match Pistol
Next, I tested the rifle with H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. Seated deep, these averaged 393 f.p.s. The spread went from 376 to 405, so 29 f.p.s. That’s a lot tighter than the Hobbys.

I tried these same pellets seated flush. This time they averaged 456 f.p.s. The spread went from 450 to 462, so just 12 f.p.s. They’re both faster and more consistent when seated flush with the breech (not pushed into the barrel by a pellet seater).

RWS R10 Match Pistol
The last pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. These weigh 7 grains, just like the Hobbys. Seated deep, they averaged 395 f.p.s., with a spread from 365 to 414. A max spread of 49 f.p.s. Seated flush, they averaged 429 f.p.s., and the spread went from 404 to 446. That’s a total of 42 f.p.s. Again, the pellet went faster and the spread was tighter when it was seated flush with the breech.

Note the velocities
A couple days ago, someone asked me if I ever experienced a heavier pellet going faster and with more consistency than a lighter pellet in the same gun. This test demonstrates that phenomenon. The 7-grain Hobbys went an average 424-427 f.p.s., while the 7.56-grain H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets averaged 393-456 f.p.s. When seated flush, these were the fastest pellets in this test, as well as the heaviest pellets.

Firing behavior and cocking effort revisited
I told you the rifle squeaked when cocked. At the end of the test, it still squeaked — but less than before. Also, the cocking effort seems to have smoothed out a bit. I measured it, again, and this time the needle deflected from 16 lbs. up to between 18 and 19 lbs., but it was so close I can’t tell if there has been a real reduction or not.

The rifle fires dead-calm regardless of which pellet is loaded or how it’s loaded. But flush seating seems to be best, so that’s what I’ll do.

Trigger-pull
The 72 trigger is 2-stage, but not as crisp as I remember the trigger of my model 10 pistol. Stage 1 stops at stage 2, but then stage 2 has movement that can be felt. The net feeling is a trigger that has no second stage, though I know this one does and can feel it if I really try. The trigger breaks at 33 oz. consistently.

There’s a good reason for this trigger to be mushy. The linkage is very long because this is a pistol in a rifle stock. I looked for trigger adjustment instructions on the internet and couldn’t find any, so in the next report I’ll show you the trigger and describe how to adjust it in detail.

Impressions so far
I like the little rifle — not quite as much as I thought I would, but perhaps I’m objecting to the stiffness of the rebuild that just needs to be broken in. Once I get the trigger where I want it — if that’s possible, I may warm to it some more.

Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 1

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

Diana 72
Diana 72 is a youth target rifle from the late 20th century.

This report addresses:

• History of the rifle
• The Giss contra-recoil system
• General description and dimensions of the Diana model 72

Today, we’ll begin looking at an air rifle that I’ve been waiting 3 years to share with you. In 2011 my friend Mac and I were looking at his vintage air rifles to see which ones would be of interest. We actually did a report on his Diana 60 target rifle that was labeled a Hy Score model 810. The rifle needed to be rebuilt, so the velocity was low, but the accuracy was right on. The report was so successful that he decided to test his Diana model 72 youth target rifle next.

Alas, the seals were gone on that rifle, and it no longer worked. So, Mac packed it together with some other target rifles and sent them all to be resealed. What he didn’t count on was the repairs taking two years to complete! The repaired guns arrived back at his home when I was there sitting with him last April, three weeks before he passed away.

This report is for Mac. It completes the plan he and I formulated in the days before illness overtook him. He was proud of this little rifle, and he wanted to share its quirks with all of you. He purchased the rifle at the Damascus airgun show that used to run at the Damascus Izaak Walton League in Maryland. He paid a lot for it because it was complete in the box, and because the model 72 has always had a cachet that other target guns lacked.

I purchased this rifle from Mac’s son this year when I was back to visit after the Findlay airgun show. I’ve wanted to share it with you for a very long time.

Air pistol
The Diana models 70 and 72 youth target rifles are breakbarrel spring rifles based on Diana’s breakbarrel models 5 and 6 target pistols. The model 5 pistol/model 70 rifle are the recoiling versions and the models 6/72 are the recoilless versions of the same gun. All Diana did to make these rifles was install a longer barrel shroud over the pistol barrel and drop the pistol action into a shoulder stock. So, the cocking effort and velocity of both the models 70 and 72 are those of air pistols — not air rifles, which works perfectly for 10-meter target shooting by older youngsters.

The model 70 was made from 1979 to 1993, and the model 72 lasted one additional year — to 1994. The model 72 cost $205 at the end of the production cycle, while the model 70 sold for $130 — no doubt accounting for its more popular reception. Both rifles appear identical from the outside, with the exception of the gear trunnions on the model 72 that hold both pistons — the real one that compresses the air, and the fake one that counter-balances the recoil.

The rifles originally came with a set of front globe inserts and 3 stock spacers to adjust the length of pull. Mac’s rifle had all of these accessories when he bought it; but when I purchased it from his son, we were unable to locate anything other than the rifle and its box. I’ll make some stock spacers at some point (they are easy enough to make from wood), but, for now, I’ll shoot the rifle using its short 11-inch pull. Because this is a target rifle meant to be shot offhand, the pull length isn’t that important.

The buttpad screws are very long to accommodate all 3 spacers when needed. So, nothing but the spacers are required to change the length of pull by about 1.5 inches. Just back out the 2 screws and slide in as many spacers as you need — up to 3.

The barrel appears to measure 13-3/4 inches overall from the outside, but there’s about a 6-1/2-inch freebore (hollow tube without rifling) up front. The rifled barrel is actually the original pistol barrel with a length of 7.25 inches, more or less (the actual barrel length of a model 6 pistol is nominally 7 inches).

Diana 72 target rifle muzzle

The “muzzle” is just the end of a hollow barrel shroud that covers the 7-inch pistol barrel. It gives the sights more separation.

Giss contra-recoil system
I’ve written about this before. In the Giss system, there are 2 pistons. When the gun fires, the forward one compresses the air that powers the pellet. The rear piston is simply a dead weight that balances the impulse of the forward piston, canceling the recoil. This is a pistol action, so the recoil is slight to begin with; but when this rifle fires, all you feel is a faint impulse in your hand that lets you know something happened.

Diana model 72 target rifle Giss system

The momentum of the forward piston is canceled by the rear piston in the Giss system.

Diana 72 Giss trunions
The round cap at the upper right covers the trunion, or anchor point of the 2 pistons. It’s actually where the upper and lower gears engage and that controls the piston rods.

General description
The rifle is 31-3/4 inches long — depending on which spot on the curved rubber buttpad you anchor the tape measure. It weighs 4 lbs, 8.5 oz. without any buttplate spacers installed. The metal is blued steel, and the stock is beech wood finished to an even medium brown.

Diana 72 Benjamin 392

By itself, the 72 appears normal-sized. When placed next to a Benjamin 392, you can see how small it is.

The trigger is two stages and adjustable. I’ll tell you more about that in the next report.

The sights are a globe in front with replaceable inserts and a small target peep at the rear. As I said, this rifle had no extra inserts when I got it, but Mac had installed an aperture element in the front, which is what I would have wanted. I’ll say more about the sights during the accuracy test.

Diana model 72 target air rifle

Diana used a rear sight that they put on many of their less formal target rifles. It suits the model 72 well — both in size and precision.

Very much in demand
As you might guess, a little gem like this is always in demand. While the rifles were still selling new, airgunners criticized the additional cost of the recoilless model; but the instant they went off the market in the middle 1990s, the price doubled. It has come back down somewhat since then, but a Diana 72 is a gun you lay on your table just once and take the first offer of the full cash price. It isn’t that the rifle appreciates in value so much as it can always be sold in a very short time.

There are many model 72s in this country, but they don’t change hands that often. This is the sort of airgun that you hold onto. This one will probably stay with me a long time.

Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Crosman M1 Carbine and U.S. Carbine
M1 Carbine on top and Crosman M1 Carbine below. A realistic copy!

Today, we’ll test the Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun for accuracy. I pulled out all the stops, plus I shot a comparison group with a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun for comparison.

The course
I fired all targets from 15 feet, which is the NRA distance for BB gun competition. Daisy uses 5 meters, which is about 16 feet, 6-and-a-fraction inches, but the NRA standardized on 15 feet many years ago and hasn’t changed. They don’t hold any significant competitions that I am aware of, while Daisy hosts the International BB Gun Championships every year. But since the gun I’m testing was never meant for competition, I felt the shorter distance would suffice.

I shot the gun from a rest using the artillery hold to take myself out of the picture. The target was well lit, and the Crosman M1 Carbine has an adjustable peep sight at the rear, so the sighting system is pretty advanced.

Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs
The first BB was the Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BB. You saw how these compare to the Umarex precision BBs in Part 2 of this report. Nine of the 10 BBs landed in 1.354 inches and were slightly low and to the right of center. But 1 of the 10 shots strayed up and to the right, opening this group to 5.148 inches between centers. No shot was a called flier.

Crosman M1 Carbine Daisdy BB target
The 9 shots in the bull area went into 1.354 inches, but the shot at the upper right corner opened the group to 5.148 inches. Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs.

I expected results that were like the 9 shots. I did not expect any wild shots like this one!

Okay, so maybe the Umarex BBs would do better in this gun. Remember, I’m shooting off a rest at 15 feet.

Umarex Precision BBs
Next, I loaded 10 Umarex Precision steel BBs and tried a second group on a fresh target. I can’t tell you how large this group is because 2 of the BBs missed the target trap and hit the backer board I put up to protect the wall. I know one of them was high because it passed through a piece of cardboard I had taped to the target trap. The 8 shots that landed on the target paper made a group measuring 3.046 inches between centers. It’s impossible to know how large the actual group was since 1 of the BBs left no record whatsoever.

Crosman M1 Carbine Umarex BB target
These 8 Umarex BBs landed in a 3.046 inch group at 15 feet, but 2 BBs missed the target paper altogether. So, the 10-shot group is larger, but there’s no way of knowing how large.

Wow! This wasn’t the way I remembered the M1 Carbine! I knew you would have a lot of questions for me. So, I decided to do something about it.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot
I also tried the Avanti Precision Ground shot that Daisy sells for the Avanti Champion 499 BB gun. This shot is very uniform in size and measures 0.1739 inches with my micrometer. That’s considerably larger than either of the other 2 BBs I shot.

This time, all 10 BBs hit the paper and made a group measuring 3.681 inches between centers. That is the best group of all 3 BBs tried. But it wasn’t good enough for me. Shooting 3 inches at 15 feet is something I never want to do because I know I’m better than that. How much better? Well, I had to find out.

Crosman M1 Carbine Avanti Precision Ground shot target
Ten Avanti Precision Ground shot BBs made this 3.6781-inch group at 15 feet. It was the best group made by the the M1 Carbine in this session.

Avanti Champion 499 BB gun
I next shot a group in the same way but with the Avanti Champion 499 BB gun — the world’s most accurate BB gun. Naturally, I used the Avanti Precision Ground shot since it’s the only BB developed specifically for this gun.

This time, 10 shots went into 0.328 inches. They were a little high and right on the target, which means I need to adjust the rear sight just a little, but I’m pleased with the group size. It came after firing 30 aimed shots, so I was starting to get tired, if anything.

Avanti Champion 499 BB gun shooting Avanti Precision Ground shot
This is 10 shots from the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun. Though the group measures 0.328 inches between centers, the gun is capable of much smaller groups in the right hands.

Conclusion
The Crosman M1 Carbine is not as accurate as I remembered. I expected to put 10 shots into 1.5 inches or better, and that didn’t happen with any BB — not even the Precision Ground shot. I think I’ve shot 5-shot groups with this BB gun in the past, and that may have given me false expectations.

Still, the Crosman M1 Carbine is a wonderful BB gun from the standpoint of realism and power. It comes from a time I fear we will never see again, and I lament the end of the era that produced such a fine BB gun.

Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 2

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

Part 1

Crosman M1 Carbine and U.S. Carbine
M1 Carbine on top and Crosman M1 Carbine below. A realistic copy!

Today, we’ll take a look at the velocity of the Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun. My gun is one that has a plastic Croswood stock, which means it was made between 1968 and 1976. It doesn’t have any indications of having been taken apart, so I’m assuming that it’s factory original.

Strange spring-piston gun!
This rifle is unique in that it has a valve. Despite being a spring-piston gun, there’s a pop valve in line with the piston. It remains shut until overcome by pressurized air. A small coiled spring holds it shut as long as possible. That allows the maximum air pressure to build up, so the BB doesn’t start moving before the piston has almost reached the end of its travel.

Most BB guns use a hollow tube to push the BB off its seat and get it up to about 50-80 f.p.s. Then, the compressed air comes through the air tube and blasts the BB on up to terminal velocity. But the Crosman M1 Carbine and the Crosman V-350 action from which is is designed do not have the tube. So, the compressed air is held back until it reaches overwhelming pressure, and it’s the only thing that acts on the BB. How well does it work?

Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs
The first BB I loaded was the Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BB. I’ve found these BBs to be very uniform and larger than some on the market. They measure 0.171″ to 0.173″ in diameter, and their surface is smooth, though not as smooth as some. They weigh 5.1 grains, on average.

Daisy BBs averaged 383 f.p.s. in the Crosman M1 Carbine. The range went from a low of 365 f.p.s. to a high of 391 f.p.s. That’s a pretty large spread for a spring-piston BB gun, but the average velocity is also on the high side. We’ll have to wait to see how accurate they are; but in my experience, Daisy BBs are always near or at the top, as far as accuracy goes.

Loading BBs
BBs are loaded in the front of 2 holes in the upper handguard of the gun. The rear hole is for oiling the piston seal, which on this gun has a huge impact.

Crosman M1 Carbine BB loading port
The BBs load into the 22-shot gravity-fed magazine through a hole in the front of the upper handguard. Pull back on the operating handle to open this hole for loading. Although Crosman says the magazine holds 22 BBs, my gun holds 23.

Crosman M1 Carbine oil hole
The rear hole in the upper handguard is for oiling the mechanism. You can also see BBs through the hole if the gun is loaded.

Crosman M1 Carbine BB comparison
Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BB on the left, Umarex Precision steel BB on the right. The Umarex BB is visibly smoother; but in tests with many guns, these 2 BBs are similarly accurate. It’ll be interesting to see how the Crosman M1 Carbine handles each BB in the accuracy test.

Umarex Precision BBs
Next, I tried Umarex precision steel BBs. They averaged slightly less velocity, as 375 f.p.s., but the spread was also tighter. The low was 367 f.p.s. and the high was 382 f.p.s. That’s a range of 15 f.p.s., compared to 26 f.p.s. for the Daisys.

Trigger-pull
The Crosman M1 Carbine trigger is light, breaking at 2 lbs., 13 ozs. on the test gun. The blade is very thin, though, and that makes the pull feel heavier.

This airgun is performing at the peak of its power right now. An average Crosman M1 Carbine will shoot around 350, so this one is certainly a little hot. I can’t wait to see how well it does in the accuracy test.

Crosman M1 Carbine BB gun: Part 1

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

Crosman M1 Carbine and U.S. Carbine
M1 Carbine on top and Crosman M1 Carbine below. A realistic copy!

When I attended San Jose State College in the 1960s, I was in ROTC. My first 3 years as a cadet were in the enlisted ranks, and we all drilled with the M1 Garand. Today, people feel the Garand is a cool historical military weapon (and it is!); but in the late 1960s when it was all we had, it wasn’t nearly so cool. It was, in fact, heavy, clumsy and dangerous when you performed Inspection Arms. We learned to live with it and eventually became adept at not smashing our thumbs when we closed the bolt, but the fact was that the Garand was a 10.5-lb. clunk that always seemed to weigh too much.

The cadet officers, in sharp contrast, were issued the M1 Carbine, which weighed about half as much and felt like a feather compared to the Garand. When they performed Inspection Arms, there was no heavy spring to fight to get the bolt open and no chance of an M1 thumb. The bolt on the Carbine action slides home with minimal fuss.

Of course, we never got to shoot our guns. We just drilled with them. I could perform the Manual of Arms pretty well but had no idea what it was like to touch off a round. And those days were long before Garands became widely distributed among private owners in the U.S. They were around, but a kid in college like me shot a 1903 Springfield if he shot anything.

Carbines were more readily available, but I never had the chance to shoot one of them, either. So my entire opinion of both weapons was based solely on their weight and the relative ease with which the Manual of Arms was performed. Naturally, I fell in love with the M1 Carbine.

I wasn’t an airgunner in those days. I’d been one 10 years earlier when firearms were out of the question…and I would be, again, in a few years when I encountered adult airguns during a tour with the First Armored Division in Germany. I was unaware that Crosman had marketed an M1 Carbine lookalike BB gun from 1966 to 1976. And, given my interest in firearms at the time, it’s doubtful that I would have been interested in one if I had known about them.

It wasn’t until I started going to airgun shows in 1993 that the Crosman M1 Carbine popped up on my radar screen; and when it did, I assumed it was a CO2 gun since my total knowledge of Crosman was that they made CO2 guns. Having lived through the great experiment of the “bottle-capped” CO2 containers in the late 1950s (they leaked gas), I wanted nothing to do with any gun that used it. That’s a story of its own, and it’s one I’ll share with you soon.

Bottle cap CO2 cartridge
Crosman’s first CO2 cartridge (right) used a type of bottle-cap close. Many leaked.

In the late 1980s, someone offered me a Crosman M1 Carbine for $15, and I turned it down because of my distaste for CO2 guns. It wasn’t until about 10 years later when I was writing The Airgun Letter that I discovered my mistake. The Crosman M1 Carbine is not a CO2 gun. It’s a spring-piston BB gun that cocks using the push-barrel system that Quackenbush (Henry Marcus, not Dennis) made popular in the late 1800s.

I also discovered that this BB gun had a rear sight that adjusts in the same way the type II and type III Carbine rear sights adjust. And it’s lightweight — just like the military gun. And powerful for a BB gun! And also accurate. What was not to like?

Crosman M1 Carbine rear sight
The Crosman rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation — just like the type III military Carbine rear sight.

M1 Carbine rear sight
A military Carbine type II rear sight is very similar to the Crosman sight. They adjust the same way!

I broke down and bought a wood-stocked Crosman M1 Carbine at the Winston-Salem Airgun Expo. That gun taught me what I’d been missing all those years. It was accurate (for a BB gun), powerful and looked great. But those were busy days when I was buying and selling airguns often to have new material for the newsletter. So, I let that gun get away from me — for almost twice what I paid to get it! That was the value of the wood stock, which was available only for the first two years of production.

Then I went into a severe case of seller’s remorse, which I guess I also verbalized a little. My friend, Mac, saw me looking at another M1 Carbine at another airgun show, and he bought it for me as a gift. That was the kind of friend he was.

Following that, I got serious and set about to acquire my first actual M1 Carbine firearm — just to complete the circuit. I found it to be wimpy, weak, inaccurate and in all other respects thoroughly lovable. I have not been without a Carbine since. And I will never get rid of my Crosman M1 BB Carbine.

The rifle
The Crosman M1 Carbine is a very realistic airgun. It weighs 5.25 lbs., which is within 1 ounce of the firearm’s weight. The stock is plastic dyed medium brown and given a grained pattern on the surface. Crosman called it Croswood, and for its day it was very realistic. In fact, it looks much more authentic than the real wooden stock that’s slab-sided and without figure. The Croswood stock is much more rounded and more fully contoured than the wood stock.

The picture shows that the airgun is in most ways very similar to the firearm. Of course, there are some significant differences. The “magazine” for instance is nothing but a metal box — a reservoir for BBs that must be dumped out and then loaded into the 23-shot gravity-fed magazine before they’ll work in the gun.

Crosman M1 Carbine magazine out
Crosman’s magazine is really just a reservoir for extra BBs. They have to be removed from the reservoir and loaded into the gun.

Crosman M1 Carbine magazine opened
Slide the plastic cover off the magazine and pour out the BBs.

That magazine, by the way, is the gun’s Achilles heel. Kids (and parents who don’t understand its purpose) remove it and lose it. The gun will still work fine without it, but some of the authenticity is lost. There have been solid plastic magazines sold over the years for those who need to regain the look without the storage compartment.

The BB gun loads through a hole in the top of the stock. To load, you slide the operating handle to the rear to open the hole, then drop in the BBs one by one. They roll back toward the butt, which is natural. When you cock the gun, you pull back on the barrel and normally the muzzle will be elevated when you do.

This gun can be difficult to cock — even for some adults. The mainspring is powerful, and the barrel doesn’t offer a good handle to grasp when pulling it back. Many people cheat by putting their palms over the muzzle and pushing the barrel back. That puts your palm over the muzzle of a cocked gun — which is not something you want to do.

The right way to cock the gun is to use the front sight as an anchor for your index finger but not put any part of your hand in front of the muzzle at any time. I’m sure kids developed their own ways of cocking this gun, as it’s entirely too powerful for most youngsters to cock conventionally. Most Carbine BB guns will have significant finish wear on the barrel just behind the front sight due to repeated handling.

Crosman M1 Carbine grasping barrel to cock
Grasp the barrel this way to avoid putting your hand over the muzzle. This wears the finish off the barrel at this point.

The pull of the stock is a somewhat short 13 inches. But the firearm’s pull extends only another quarter inch farther, so it’s right in line with that. And the overall length is 35.50 inches for the BB gun and 35.75 inches for the firearm. So, the pull is where the difference is.

This gun was an icon to kids growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s. It was (and still is) so realistic that every junior BB-gunner wanted one for himself. Even if he couldn’t cock it without resorting to trickery, this was a gun to own!

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