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Haenel model III-284

by B.B. Pelletier


Haenel model III-284 is an East German breakbarrel rifle seldom seen in the U.S.

I thought I’d look at something old, something fairly uncommon in the U.S. The Haenel model III-284. This is a breakbarrel spring rifle made in East Germany in the 1950s and ’60s. The rifle is larger than a Diana 27, yet it seems to have roughly the same power. The cocking characteristics, however, are very different. While the Diana 27 cocks smoothly with even pressure from the mainspring all the way through the stroke, the Haenel 284 builds spring tension as the barrel pushes closer to the end of the stroke. Total cocking effort reaches a maximum of 30 lbs. close to the end of the stroke, then drops back a few pounds just before sear engagement.


Haenel logo is an arrow with the name inside.

This rifle is a little larger than a Diana 27, at 43.5″ overall. A long 19.25″ barrel accounts for a lot of that length. The pull is a standard 14″ on the nose, so the rifle feels right for most adults. The weight of 7 lbs. even made it heavier than the Diana 27 and more in line with the BSF 55N I reviewed a few months ago. The wood stock appears to be beech and is finished without stain. My rifle’s finish is chipped and scratched, and age has crinkled the remainder into a rough alligator surface. There’s no checkering, but the forearm has a traditional European finger groove on both sides. The buttplate is blued steel, held on by two wood screws.

Pre-war design
Because the gun was made in East Germany, where things didn’t change very fast, it has several design aspects characteristic of pre-war airguns. The baseblock pivot bolt is locked by a setscrew that fits into a notch on the periphery. The cocking link is a 2-piece articulated link, so the cocking slot in the forearm is very short. The trigger adjustment, which is for the sear engagement only is external and runs through the triggerguard.


The head of the baseblock pivot bolt is notched to receive the head of a setscrew. This is a costly way to lock the bolt, but pretty common in 1950s guns. The 2-piece articulated cocking link can also be seen here.


The trigger adjustment screw runs through the triggerguard. It acts directly on the trigger-sear engagement. That’s an old post-World War I design. The lever above the trigger is the safety, which comes on when the rifle is cocked.

The safety is automatic, but functioning is sloppy and it has to be taken off very definitely or it won’t go. It seems to block the trigger, but the gun can still fire regardless – a fact I discovered while adjusting the trigger, when the sear slipped before the barrel was closed. Fortunately, I was restraining the barrel, so nothing bad happened.

The trigger is adjustable for the sear engagement, which is a potentially dangerous design. I set the second stage to break at 4.5 lbs., which is about as light as I will go with one of these triggers. I still have a pellet hole in the ceiling from when my BSF 55N went off too soon.

Because of the design and where the rifle was made, I felt it had to have a leather piston seal, so I oiled it through the transfer port with 10 drops of light machine oil. A squishing sound that’s characteristic of a leather seal soaking up oil was heard coming from the transfer port soon afterward. The breech seal is also leather, so plan to oil it, as well.

Firing behavior
This is a very pleasant rifle to shoot. While the trigger is crude, the firing behavior is quick, solid and without a trace of vibration. It feels like it’s been tuned, though I’m nearly certain that it hasn’t.

However, the rifle likes some pellets and hates others. Apparently, it requires a bore-filling pellet or it won’t develop any velocity. While Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets were traveling in the mid-300s, RWS Superdomes were very consistent at an average 656 f.p.s. The lighter Hobbys averaged 733 f.p.s. and were equally consistent. So, the gun has definite likes and dislikes in ammo.

Not only that, but I discovered that it only likes to be held upright. If I tilted the receiver to one side or the other when firing, the velocity went wild. Usually, that means down. I have no idea why it might behave like that.


The front sight blade is a hooded peppercorn design.


The rear sight has a slider for elevation. There’s no windage adjustment beyond drifting the front sight in its dovetail.

Accuracy is quite good with open sights, which is all you’re going to use on a rifle that hasn’t even the vestige of a scope base. But the open sights will nail a quarter at 20 yards, and that’s a 1″ target. It’s probably a real shooter, like a Slavia 631, but I can’t prove anything beyond plinking accuracy.

Where do you get one?
You don’t, plain and simple. Though there’s nothing earth-shattering about the 284, it’s extremely uncommon in the U.S. The one I have was a gift from the importer of a multitude of Haenel 310, 311 and 312 target rifles that a South Carolina pawnshop brought in over a decade ago. The Airgun Letter helped them put the word out about those rifles, which were sold by the hundreds in each model, and they gave me this one as a gift. It was in one of the shipments of airguns pulled from an ex-Stasi headquarters when East Germany fell. I didn’t think too much of it until a few months ago, when someone on the Vintage Airguns Forum asked about it and none of the advanced collectors seemed to own one. They ran a photo from a German website, so I responded with a short report on my rifle with some photos. That was the first time I’d thought about the rifle since receiving it back in the 1990s. Since I now remembered that I had it, I decided to let you take a look at it too.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

35 thoughts on “Haenel model III-284”

  1. BB , I have heard great reports on the new Leapers scope bases for the Diana line of rifles.It must have been hard work.Congrats on your success with it.Do you think sometime in the future you and leapers could get together and devise a steel scope base for Gamo rifles.My base has been peened back from the scope stop and and Gamo ‘s not interested.Thanks

  2. bb

    you were going to see if the power wheel can hold consistent when firing 10 or more shots on lower power, or, if the power creeps back up as several people have suggested?


  3. Tom,
    I didn’t realize that you were waiting for BB to run the numbers regarding the power wheel adjustment and the Condor. If you look at some of the other airgun sites, you will see that this is a known phenomenon. Because of the Condor’s upward creep I have been primarily using CO2 in my .25, which yields many hundreds (I havn’t counted, but it could be around 1,000) of quiet shots at no significant power loss/gain (around 16 ft/lbs. at 10 yards). Perhaps because of the relatively heavy weight (compared to .177 and .22) of the pellets that I am using, there is very little energy loss as a function of distance, and so this is an excellent hunting combination (power + quiet) for small creatures out to at least 35 yards. Because the CO2 setup is clearly not as accurate as air (I do not know why), distances are limited. If BB cannot get around to posting the chrony results that you are looking for, then before next week I will try to post some results of the Condor creep when the power wheel is set to low using the standard air tank. – Dr. G.

  4. B.B.,
    Nice write up on a good lookin’ gun. A bit off topic from airguns, but are you a Football fan? The season is just around the corner, and i was just wondering, if you rooted for someone in particular? Whether it be NFL or NCAA. I am an Ohio fan (seeing as thats where i live). Bengals, and Buckeyes.
    See Ya,

  5. Thanks for the Haenel write up BB. I own a number of these solidly made guns. The DDR engineering was basic but sturdy and there was a certain amount of innovation though pre-war designs contineued in produciton quite late.

    The model 302 is my favourite, it must be one of the most elegant looking airguns ever made. With a bit of fiddling it can be taken right up tot he UK 12ft limit. This was later replaced by the 303 which reintroduced the odd trigger adjustment screw as on your model.

    UK importation finished when Parker Hale stopped acting as agent and then of course the DDR went pear shaped and Haenel went bust. A sad end for a company with such a fine engineering history. Who could resist a firm where Hugo Schmeisser was once chief designer (indeed owner)!

    There is a small trade in these guns in the UK, and a very lively one on the German airgun site Egun where you will find all the Haenel marques on sale.

  6. BB

    I bought a Daisy model 25 a few weeks ago and I can’t figure out what year it is. It has a plastic stock and the pump handle has 12 grooves. It has a black painted finish and Rogers address.

  7. BB,

    Had posted a question about these rifles, myself, a couple of months ago. A friend of mine has one and we were unable to find out much about it, beyond the Blue Book information. Well, it is a rare bird, after all.

    Thanks to you and your readership, we’ve got something a bit more to go on, now.

    Just one of the reasons your reports get a daily visit from these parts.


  8. Dear BB,
    From: Stingray

    Back to the 10 meter pistol.

    Since my Daisy 747 is still being repaired, I have dusted my ole (1990 era) Diana 6G.

    I have forgotten what a great gun it is built with first rate German engineering.

    I stopped shooting in 1992 but your 10-meter pistol blog has rekindeled my desire.

    Because the Diana 6G is a springer, I was concered about the recoil so I got a Daisy 747 and kept the 6G in storage. Your comment that the 6G is almost equivavent to your Diana 10 ispired me to try the 6G again.

    After a couple of shots I was amazed that it is almost completely recoiless. The Diana 6G has a dual piston that travels in opposite directions and therefore cancels the dreaded spring recoil!! Give the German engineers a cigar. Having adjustable grips and trigger with terrific rear sights…this completely blows away the 747.

    I have had this gem gathering dust for years…how can I have been so BLIND?

    Thanks for opening my eyes,BB.


  9. BB
    id just like to check something that refers more to firearms than airguns. I understand what 1MOA is (roughly 1 inch at 100M) so when a gun is refered to as 1MOA accuracy at 200M, im assuming that means roughly 2 inches at 200M?
    Anychance you could confirm or correct me plz?


  10. B.B. Volvo, Bill & All,

    Thanks for all the info on deer rifles… I was looking in the local pawn shops today and ran across a CZ VZ24 D5 308 Mauser 8 mm from the late 1940's (he said) in original cond. for $120… It doesn't have the cleaning rod or bayonet, but I couldn't pass it up, it is very clean, not dinged up to much, with the original sights.. the action is tight… the guy said it was very accurate at 200 yards and can kill things at 500 yards.. I don't care really.. it just looks so cool… and feels so nice to shoulder, was that a stupid buy?…

    At another shop I found a New England SBS Handy Rifle in .243 a very clean little break barrel style with a weaver scope mount, so I can put a good scope on it.. It was only $175 … I like the simplicity of it… and the guy said it also was very accurate… what do you think?

    They also had a Rem 700 in .270, a older one that was clean… They wanted $400, but I can trade a few of my low value springers for it, I think, should I go for it… would that round me out?
    I also almost bought a 303 Brit from WWII time frame for $180… tell me about it..


  11. Wayne,

    I’ll say it before someone else does – an 8mm Mauser is going to kick the living hell out of you! It recoils more than the .30-06 round, which is pretty bad on its own.

    The price was very good for a VZ24, which is considered to be one of the finest ’98 Mauser types. I have the Yugo M48, another fine rifle. But it kicks!

    Now the .303 Brit you passed on is one of the sweetest, low-recoil rifles ever made. I own a No. 4 that I absolutely love! Recoil is soft and pleasant. Not as soft as a Garand, but less than half of what an 8mm Mauser is.

    The Brit battle rifles were never tack-drivers, but they are fully accurate enough to take a deer to 100 yards. If you want a tack-driver, get a 6.5mm Swedish Mauser, and then I’ll give you my reduced-recoil handload.

    The absolute most accurate military rifle I ever shot is a 7.5mm Swiss M31 with a straight-pul;l bolt. The thing shoots like a target rifle. Trigger pull is about 1.5 pounds and crisp as a glass rod. The thing is built like a fine watch. But it kicks like fury because of a short pull. Best for smaller men, I guess. I’m getting rid of mine.


  12. B.B.

    Thanks, I’ll probably keep the VZ24 as a collector and maybe for Elk once in awhile, if I can learn to shoot it.. I’ll have to go to the real rifle range up the road and try it out…

    I’ll go back and look more closely at the 303… I like the WWII era guns… I might collect a few.. and I could still hunt with them without a scope, I guess… I’ll really have to practice with my old eyes…maybe my new shaded driving eye glasses will help…

    I can see why people move from the large cal. into air guns… with $1.00 per shot for ammo and the noise and travel to the rifle range.. I did find some surplus ammo for the 8mm at $5.00 for 20 rds. but now it sounds like work to shoot them…

    At least I’ve got the little .243 single shot New England SBS Handy Rifle, I’m sure I can shoot that little guy, he said his 12 year daughter started with one and takes deer every year with it.. I hope I’m that tough…

    You didn’t comment on it, did I spend unwisely on that one..or is it just too whimpy for real men..


  13. Wayne,

    Deer rifles.

    Sorry I could not reply sooner. But, It looks like B.B. has given solid advice as usual.
    Just about any bottleneck centerfire can take deer. All the way down to the little .22 Hornet, with a headshot.

    That said, most see the .243 as a minimum, but you could be chastised or snickered at in a deer camp. While the .243 is recommended for a ladies or a teen, it somehow loses power when a man shoots it. If you use it, just make sure you pick cartridges loaded for deer and not varmints. I have shot a bunch of ground hogs with a .243, and the recoil is very mild. It is sweet as B.B. said.

    I have never owned one, but an old farmer I know well swears by a .270. He has a .22lr, a 12-gauge shotgun and the .270. His guns are tools, and he would not keep a faulty tool for the past 50 years. I have lusted after the old Winchester, and someday I’d like to be it’s second owner. You should be able to fine some nice older rifles in .270. None will be of military background however.

    As far as actions are concerned, a single shot is Ok, but a magazine provides the most convenient way to carry another 2-3 rounds. In summer loading rounds one at a time is fine, not so great when your fingers are numb from the cold.

    Anyway, just like with the airguns, experiment a little and I’m sure you’ll find a favorite like you did in the S410.


  14. Wayne,


    One more quick thought. The last time I paid a visit to Sam (the above mentioned farmer) I was inquiring why he had two cows in his front yards as opposed to the pasture, when he noticed a groundhog up on the hill behind the house. He grabbed the .270, opened a window and looking through the Weaver scope, realized it was a cat.

    I am not familiar with the terrain in Oregon, but the point is a scope not only aids in shooting but in being positive of your target and what’s beyond it.

    Never use a scope in place of Binoculars.

    Once again, just a thought.


  15. Volvo,

    Thanks for the great info.. I had not thought of the added plus of seeing what it is for sure, that your about to shoot…That sounds like a good idea… The woods are thick up a little higher with scrub oak and madrone where they clear cut.. the deer like it there better than the more open conifer forest in hunting season for some reason.. or so I’m told…

    I’ve been looking at an older .270 rem 700, that I think I can trade some of my less favorite air guns for at one of the pawn shops…

    I don’t have to worry about the guys razing me too much… I own way more stock than they do in our company, and beside what people think of me is none of my business.. I won’t be going out with strangers, some of our members know these woods very well and I only want to be around people I know when we have those kind of guns at hand… besides, they always get a large buck very early in the season…. and offered to take me last year..

    Do you like the Winchester or the Rem 700 better in a .270 and which model Winchester..
    I like the way the military rifles have that 3 to 5 shot clip, but some of the hunting rifles have that too, and the scope really is a must for me to hunt wisely, like you mention..

    thanks again for the info..


  16. Wayne,

    I think you would be happy with either the Remington or Winchester 70. I had a Rem. 700 I bought about 25 years ago that was wonderful, but also a 700 Classic about 6 years ago that had a horrible trigger. Most people prefer the Winchesters that are even older, pre-1964.

    I have not been buying much in centerfire guns as of late, but if you want something newer, I have read good things about the Savage with the Accu-trigger.
    I have personally had pretty good luck with the Rugers also. Both of these can usually be had at a lower price.

    Most important, is that you like the fit, feel and trigger of the rifle. (Triggers can be worked on)

    Happy Hunting-for the rifle. That can be as much fun as the hunting the game itself.


  17. Volvo,

    I traded for the Win 70 in .270 cal.

    B.B. thinks its about a 1973… I really like it. but when I tried to put one of my scopes in the mounts that came with it… I can’t get the scope far enough back to get eye relief… I need a long scope… any ideas, from you, B.B. or anyone? 1″ tube… and the 4-16×50 leapers is to short…


  18. B.B.

    Thanks, I’ve got a Centerpoint 6-24×50 on the way, and one each of the leapers on the S410s.. I’ll swap one out and give it a try…

    Then maybe get Josh and I’ll go the the firearm rifle range…


  19. I just acquired a Haenel, Model 1 D.R.P. Any one have any Knowledge on this 22 cal pellet rifle? if it were a cartridge gun, I would place it in good/excellent condition.

  20. This is where a Blue Book of Airguns comes in handy. The D.R.P. stands for Deutsche Reichpatent or German patent, so the gun was made before WW II.

    Actually it was made between 1929 and 1939. It may be smoothbore or rifled.If smoothbore, look for the word Glattern on the barrel. If rifled the word is Gezogen.

    In excellent condition your rifle is worth $125-150.


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