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.