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Education / Training RWS Diana 54 – Part 1

RWS Diana 54 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Diana RWS 54 looks like the 48 and 52, except for the checkered stock. The 52 has pressed checkering but these diamonds are all cut!

Okay, had enough action BB pistols for a while? Good! Today, I’m starting an in-depth look at a rifle that’s had some interest from readers of this blog.

Same power as a 48/52
The Diana RWS 54 is a 48/52 as far as the action goes. It develops the same energy/velocity and should have the same accuracy, with one exception that I’ll mention in a moment. The sights are the same and as is the powerplant, so this is a rifle I have covered adequately except for one thing. This one is recoilless. Or, more to the point, it does recoil, but the shooter is insulated from the recoil by a sledge-type anti-recoil mechanism built into the stock.

What IS a sledge-type anti-recoil system?
It’s a system where the rifle action is isolated from the stock by a pair of steel rails. When the gun fires, the action moves in recoil, but the shooter who holds on to the stock doesn’t feel it. The weight of the rifle action keeps this movement down to a fraction of an inch. Feinwerkbau used the same system on their model 150 and 300 10-meter target rifles. It works well as long as the rifle is fired more or less level. If you shoot straight up or down, it tends to not work as well.

Here is what the sledge system does for you. You know all that stuff I write about holding the rifle as loose as possible, so it can recoil as much as it wants to? Well, the sledge system accomplishes that for you. In theory, this rifle should be easier to shoot accurately than either the 48 or 52. We shall see when I get out to the range.

The rifle I’m testing isn’t brand new, so the first thing I did was shoot it to see what sort of velocity it had. If there was anything wrong with the powerplant, I would correct that before proceeding. Fortunately, there was nothing wrong. The rifle shoots just like it should, which is a Crosman Premier 14.3-grain pellet traveling just over 800 f.p.s., or just over 20 foot-pounds. The extreme spread for 10 shots was excellet…only 10 f.p.s. Although this is a used rifle, it shoots like a new one.

It came with an RWS C mount attached, and I have lectured about how these mounts are not suited to Diana rifles. I’ll show you what I mean. I know it seems wrong that an importer like RWS would specify the exact wrong scope mount for all their spring guns, but it’s true. You absolutely cannot clamp tightly enough to the scope rail to avoid slippage no matter what mount you use, and the Diana rifles have inadequate scope stop provisions. You have to hang a stop pin over the front of the scope rail, or you will have the damage shown here.

The RWS C mount has two recoil stop screws with points at their ends. They are supposed to engage holes in the top of the scope rail.

And this is what happens every time! This rifle wasn’t shot much with this mount installed, or the grooves (there is another one just like this) would be longer.

The scope rail is aluminum and the C mount is steel, so there is no stopping the mount when it wants to move under recoil.

This is a sidelever rifle, meaning you pull back on the lever on the right side of the action to cock it and make it ready for loading. I measured the effort at 33 lbs., which is consistent with all Diana sidelevers, despite the fact that RWS says 39 lbs. A sliding compression chamber comes back to cock the piston, and a ratchet safety mechanism holds it back. A button on the left side of the action next to the loading port must be pushed to release the sliding chamber after loading. A word of caution here. The ratchet will hold the chamber and piston in the rear position even when the piston has not been caught by the sear. Always keep a hand on the sidelever when you push that button!

I’ll get into all that in the next installment.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

61 thoughts on “RWS Diana 54 – Part 1”

  1. I’ve had mine for about 4 years and really love it. I ended up putting a custom stock on it to dress it up a bit.

    I noticed my velocity starting to go down recently, not a lot, but I was at around 790fps with 14.3gr Premiers so I installed a Macarri GRT kit in it over the weekend. Other than a few test shots, I’ve not tested velocity or accuracy now though.

    I like the 54. You should get really good groups with it out to 50 yards.

  2. I will show you the sledge recoil system. And do you know that you have predicted tomorrow’s blog?

    Two different types of counteracting pistons have been used. The Giss system, used by Diana for three decades, had one real piston and a dummy of the same weight going in opposite directions. When they both stopped at the same time, the recoil was entirely cancelled.

    The other type of counteracting piston system is the topic of tomorrow’s blog.


  3. C Mount,

    There is no good mount for a Diana gun, so I have decided to design one. When it gets built, that’s the one I’ll tout.

    Until then, the best solution is to use a one-piece mount and hang the stop pin in front of the scope rail. I will show this in a future post.


  4. I have the DIANA 34. I don’t like this airgun too much but I won’t discuss it here. I just want to tell you that I tried to fix the C-mount on it and IT DOESN’T WORK. I experimented exactly the same problem as the one you described in your review. After 6-7 shots or so the mount slides and the stop-pin that is supposed to prevent that does just nothing ! On the contrary the pin is completly crushed and spoiled by the considerable…and painful recoil of the RWS 34 ! I tried several scope mounts. NO ONE WOULD WORK ON THE DIANA 34. I recently purchased the DAMPA mount which work wonderful on my WEBLEY XOCET (great rifle actually for comparison with the 34). My question is : DO YOU THINK I SHOULD GIVE A SECOND CHANCE TO THE DIANA 34 AND COULD I BE MORE SUCCESSFULL WITH THE DAMPA MOUNT ? Many thanks. ERIC

  5. It seems that people either love or hate the RWS54. I love mine. Some people think the Rail System is a gimmick, but it really helps when Bench resting, where the 54 excels. It’s weight is a deterrent to others, but again, it helps when benching. It’s almost as accurate as my PCP.

    Mounting and Scoping this gun can be frustrating, but can be done successfully.

    The GSI or GRT kit is how the gun should have been made.

    This might be one of the best guns for people that like to tinker. The rail system can use some tinkering to get maximum accuracy, as well.

  6. B.B.

    I finally got that 54 I was thinking about getting. I’ve had it a month now and I’m almost ready to give up everything else. This a one sweet gun. I found using a Beeman scope stop on the rear of the rail with my BSA 3-12X40 works just fine for keeping the scope from sliding back. I also added a bipod to help steady it up the heavy weight. I’m looking foreward to the rest of your report and hopefully any tuneup suggestions for this rifle.


  7. B.B. wrote, “There is no good mount for a Diana gun, so I have decided to design one. When it gets built, that’s the one I’ll tout.”

    Build it and I’ll buy at least one of ’em, for my Diana 52. Put me on your waiting list. Seriously!

    From personal experience, long story, short: Damaging the scope mounting rail on some if not all Diana model air rifles is no trivial matter.

    Despite how they look from the outside, the 3 little mounting rail screws aren’t removable by ordinary ‘kitchen table gunsmithing’ means.

    Looking at the end of the screw shanks from inside the tube, the screws appear to be soldered or spot welded.

    B.B., thanks alot for your tip about removing the trigger unit/mainspring retaining pins. When I removed the pins I saw why you mentioned that. No problem!


  8. Eric,

    Ken Reeves in Ohio is the number one Diana tuner in the U.S. and maybe the world. Yes, the 34 can be made smoother and better, but not much more powerful.

    Yes, the 34 is worth the effort. But if you have a favorite rifle already I can’t tell you that the 34 will ever win your heart away.

    I don’t know how the Dampa mount would work on a 34. I’ve only used them on Theoben rifles where they work okay.

    Pyramyd AIR is currently testing as modification for an adjustable mount that should solve the problem for us. I’d wait a month or so.


  9. Why can’t you just take your RWS to a gunsmith (a powdergunsmith not an airgunsmith) and have them install some weaver bases? Surely the BASE doesn’t know which way the recoil is coming from even if firearm SCOPES can’t take airguns!

  10. What would they install the Weaver bases ON?

    There is nothing on this rifle that would accept a Weaver base. A gunsmith would drill and tap the receiver of a firearm, only in this case the receiver is thin-walled steel tubing, inside of which is an active mainspring and piston.


  11. I guess I am thinking of a Chinese springer I took apart. There seemed plenty of “meat” to put the base screws in. If you used bigger screws & ground them down inside it might work at least on the Chinese gun.

    BTW I think in China firs, spruces, and pines are considered VERY hard woods, gauging from the looks of the stock.

  12. facinating system, i saw this on pyramyd about a week ago and was immediately intrigued. i question the steel rails, though. isnt the stock only supposed to touch flesh? meaning the vibrations should only be transferred through wood to flesh?

  13. Well, I tried the number and it’s busy. I hope every other 54 owner didn’t read this and is bombarding him with calls. LOL. Wish me luck, and I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m probably going to have the monolith kit put on it at the same time.


  14. dm20,

    No, flesh doesn’t “do” anything with the vibration. It’s simply a neutral medium that doesn’t attenuate it much.

    The steel rails will do the same thing, by always allowing the gun to recoil in the same way every time.


  15. I was just shopping for a scope and rings for my RWS 46 when I saw your post and it made me think twice. I notice, though, that the 46 has a large thick screw protruding up from the back of the scope rail. It looks like it would make a very good scope stop. Do you think this would work?

  16. RWS 46… This is what B.B. said in his 48/52 review, “All Diana spring airguns have a weak scope mounting system. Little thought has been given to it, and there is no intrinsic scope stop anchor point like every other quality airgun has. You work around the problem by hanging the stop pin over the front of the raised ramp. Why Dianawerke doesn’t wake up and change this half-century-old system is a mystery to me. Although, I confess that I sometimes cheat and just back the rear mount up to the large screwhead in back of the ramp and hope it doesn’t shear off, as they are known to do.”
    Hope that helps.


  17. B.B. i noticed that the icon for the JSB diabolo exact express has been removed on the site, does pyramydair no longer carry this type of pellet or are they just out of stock?

  18. OK, maybe I’m jinxing myself, but I have a Diana 34 and two piece mounts and the factory stop detent has worked fine for me for thousands of shots. I simply clamped the rear stop and then tightened the dickens out of the stop screw.

    Now that I’ve written this it will probably shear tommorow! : )

  19. RWS 46 and B,

    That screw in back has been known to shear off from recoil. However, a 34 or a 46 doesn’t recoil as much as a 48, so you may get away with it. The screw doesn’t do anything (it’s for a sight mount we can’t get in the U.S.) so breaking it won’t hurt your gun.


  20. Bob,

    The German mount is not “proper.” It is made for German-regulated guns that cannot develop over 7.5 Joules (5.53 foot-pounds) by law. It cannot stand up to the 20+ foot pounds some of the same guns develop when made to U.S. specs.

    Pyramyd AIR is rushing a modification for a mount that will make it suitable for all Diana airguns.

    I will test it and report on it as soon as it becomes available.


  21. Earlier in this post, I mentioned I use a Beeman scope stop mounted at the rear to keep things solid. What I forgot to mention was that I did have to use a flat file on the outer corners of the half moon post on the bottom of the stop. This narrows it down just enough to fit in the rear stop hole of the sight rail with a snug fit. Also, Beeman makes two different scope stops. The one I used is the 5093 Professional. (Item#:BN-5093 in Pyramids store) I just wanted to clear that up.


  22. re : C-Mount on a Model 34

    I wonder if the mount failure has something to do with the C-Mount itself ? That is, would a 2-piece mount have a better survival rate because there is a bit of a disconnect between the two mounting points? A C-Mount presents a single unit (scope & mount) that would be subjected to recoil. A two-piece mount actually presents three pieces (front mount, back mount, and the scope that connects the two) that would recoil slightly out of sync.

    And maybe it really doesn’t make any difference and it’s just that the mounting rail is too soft (aluminum).


  23. sandpine,

    Yes, but a two-piece mount, which I would prefer to use, won’t work on a Dana, because to hang the stop pin over the front of the scope rail, the mount would be half off the gun. That will be clearer when you see the pictures of me mounting a scope.


  24. I need to post a picture of how I did my 54. I use a 2 piece mount with the beeman scope stop at the rear and have not had a problem yet. I’ve probably shot between 600 – 700 shots since I put it on and my scope has remained quite accurate.


  25. B.B.

    Hopefully this will work… If it does, you will see a picture of the scope stop as I have it mounted.

  26. B.B.
    The bottom 1/2 moon of the beeman scope stop fits nicely into the predrilled stop hole on the aluminum rail with a little filing on either corner of the 1/2 moon to narrow it down a little. Because the rounded surface of the 1/2 moon presses completely flat against the inside of the stop hole, it doesn’t sheer the aluminum rail.


  27. The beeman scope stop has a small half moon shaped post protruding from the bottom of the stop. If this half moon is filed down on the corners a little bit to narrow it down, it will fit nice and snugly into the rear stop hole on the aluminum rail.


  28. I hope you are wrong. So far, after about 700 shots, the scope hasn’t budged a millimeter. It’s easy to tell if it slips rearward becuase of the lines engraves crosswise on the rail. I think because the post on the scope stop fits so flush against the inside wall of the hole on the rail, it give it a decent amount of strengh.

    Just my take.


  29. Absolute best for the least,

    That’s like asking for a dollar’s worth of twenties!

    I find Leapers scope to be the best value on the market today and for these rifles I like the 3-12X44 SWAT Mini scope.



  30. The one thing that I have not seen written about the RWS is the barrel droop that all RWS guns have. I currently own a Model 54, starting with the Model 34 all in 22 cal. and I have only blowen off my scope off three times. Once on the vicious #34, and twice on a model #48. The backend of a scope can do some heavy damage to your eye.

  31. Thanks BB for all of the info, I have never had to ask a question because searching your posts has always got it for me. Keep up the Great work and I appreciate your kindness to all of the questions even the somewhat foolish ones.

    Mark Hron

  32. I got a scope mounted fine rws 34 3-12x40mm,accushot one piece four bolt with top pin, medium,11mm,one inch. First off you have to use locktight on every bolt they come out, first preep and clean grease off alcohol. Once i mounted up everything plus the stop pin, let it set at least day unshot. Mine held for 1000 shots and was dead on accurate. I did have the scope walk when i first got it but with trial and error it can be done.

  33. I forgot you have to shim up the scope the barrel drop is way off adjustments. I found one inch piece zip tie cut did the trick. Some have mention photo tape but mine worked.

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