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Education / Training RWS Diana model 54 recoilless rifle: Part 1

RWS Diana model 54 recoilless rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

The RWS Diana 54 recoilless air rifle, also called the Air King, is big, beautiful, powerful and accurate.

Recent interest among our readers in the Beeman P1 pistol has given me cause to revisit some of the other classic airguns I’ve tested in the past. If the guns are still available for sale, I’m taking a look at the old reports to see if they stand up to our current standards. Today’s rifle, the RWS Diana model 54 recoilless rifle, was the first classic airgun to be considered, though it did struggle with the Beeman R1 to get there. I read the old reports on this classic recoilless spring-piston air rifle and was surprised to see how different they are from what I do today. It’s time for an update.

RWS Diana 54
This rifle is made by Mayer & Grammelspracher Dianawerk, an airgun manufacturer located in Rastatt, Germany. The gun is imported into the U.S. by RWS USA, which is where the RWS name comes into the picture. The model 54 is a recoilless version of the Diana sidelever rifle action. I’ll have more to say about the recoilless system at the end of this report, but now let’s look at some general information on all the Diana sidelevers.

When the 1,000 f.p.s. “barrier” was broken for the first time by a .177 caliber Beeman R1, I thought we’d gone as far as we could go in terms of velocity. That was in 1981. After a few more years, though, Diana brought out their model 48 and 52, which were sidelever rifles that advertised 1,100 f.p.s. in .177 caliber. And, they really could do it! At that point, all bets were off and the power race was on.

But the recoilless model 54 waited until 1993 to come to market. When it did come out, however, it made a big splash, because not only could you break the sound barrier, you could now do so with a rifle that also handled sweet, like a Feinwerkbau 300. That fact fascinated many airgunners of the day, but not me. You see, I didn’t believe it at the time. I’ll come back to that.

The rifle
The first impression everyone gets of a model 54 is how large it is. Both the 48 and 52 have somewhat slender stocks, but the 54 is mounted in a fat, rounded stock that conveys the impression of great size. Weighing well over 9 lbs., it dwarfs most contemporary magnum centerfire rifles. The next thing you notice is the checkering. It wraps around the forearm and conveys great quality. The pistol grip is also checkered with the same sharp impressed diamonds (pressed into the wood by heat and a metal die). As far as ambidexterity goes, the cheekpiece is only on the left side of the butt, and the cocking lever cannot be moved, but other than that this rifle is reasonably ambidextrous.

The wood has a medium-brown stain and a satin finish. The inletting and fit is very good. Because of the anti-recoil system Diana used, the action cannot be tightly fitted to the stock. The buttpad is a black rubber that’s separated from the stock with a white line spacer. All major metal parts are finished semi-shiny. There are some plastic finishing touches on the rifle here and there, but it’s mostly a wood and metal airgun. Most of the metal you can touch is steel.

The trigger
The 54 trigger is both crisp and adjustable. When the rifle’s cocked, the safety automatically comes on. It sticks straight out the back of the spring tube and can be taken off with the thumb of your firing hand as you grip the rifle to shoot.

While a Diana trigger is not in the same category as a Rekord or Air Arms trigger, it’s still very good and can be adjusted to a crisp, light release. It’s certainly far ahead of other spring-gun triggers that have many aftermarket upgrades. Once you get it adjusted to suit your needs, it should serve you well for as long as you own the rifle.

Diana sights have always been good and so are the current ones. The front sight is a post attached to an inclined ramp that’s cast into the muzzle piece. It allows the front sight to be raised (lowering the shot) and lowered. The rear sight is a click-adjustable open notch that offers a choice of four different notch shapes. As open sights go, this is a good one, but very few U.S. owners will use it.

As powerful and accurate as the 54 is, it begs to be scoped. It certainly does if you want the absolute best performance the rifle can give. Now that the UTG scope base exists, nothing could be easier than mounting a scope to this rifle. Because many of the sidelever rifles do have some barrel droop, I recommend using the scope base that’s made for this particular model. Even if it raises the impact of your shots higher than you need, no harm is done. No one ever needs a negative adjustment range on their scope, so any downward adjustment below the sight in impact point is wasted. But a scope that has to be adjusted too high is the death of accuracy.

With all the power that’s available, I feel the 54 is ideal for .22 caliber. However, because it’s recoilless, it also works in .177 caliber, as long as you use heavier pellets that are accurate. Personally, though, the .22 is my pick, and the rifle I’m testing is a .22.

No, the RWS Diana 54 is not actually recoilless. Neither is the Feinwerkbau 150 nor the 300 target rifle. What they do is isolate the shooter from the recoil by allowing the barreled action of the gun to slide backwards in the stock when it fires. Because of this, rifles like these apply a perfect artillery hold on their own and you can hold them like you hold Winchester .30-30s and still do remarkably well. Because you are not restraining the rifle from recoiling when you do.

When the rifle is cocked, it sets itself up to counter the piston’s movement. When the piston takes off, the rifle moves backwards in the stock on steel rails that are hidden from sight. This is called the sledge anti-recoil system and it works remarkably well. It also means you can rest a 54 directly on sandbags and get superior accuracy, because the stock does all the work.

This system works so well that shooters are surprised by the accuracy of the rifle the first time they shoot it. All that’s happening is the rifle is executing a perfect artillery hold, instead of the shooter having to perfect his technique. Since I’m one of the converts, this is something I know about. Until I first shot a 54, I didn’t see how it could be anything more than a glorified 52 that didn’t recoil. But I was missing the greater benefit of a consistent artillery hold. I actually out-shot my TX200 with a Diana 54; and ever since discovering that, I’ve been trying to spread the word.

In an ironic twist of fate, there once was a semi-recoilless version of the TX200, but I owned one and tested many others and can report that they were not well-executed. They were no more accurate than the straight TX200, plus they took a bunch more effort to cock. The Diana 54, in sharp contrast, got everything right and is the airgun it should be.

This report might potentially go longer than three parts if enough ancillary testing needs to be done. You readers will tell me what you’d like to see.

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.

111 thoughts on “RWS Diana model 54 recoilless rifle: Part 1”

  1. B.B.

    The instructions that came with my 48 showed the 4 position rear sight, but in fact it had a 2 position sight blade that could be flipped over if the retaining set screw was loosened. The only difference I could see was that one notch was square and the other was “U” shaped.

    My 48 also was assembled very dry. The droop adapter is necessary for a scope, but puts the scope too high for stability. The 48 is best suited for open sight use.

    If the bore of the 54 you are testing is as large as the bore on my 48, you may need to try the Beeman FTS or the H+N FTT pellets. Exacts were close, but a bit undersize on the heads. The skirt size let them seat without falling back out. CP dropped in too far for reliable seating.


    • twotalon,

      I will report on any pellet looseness, of course.

      As for the rear sight notches, I’ve never heard of one that had only two notches, but I’ve seen dozens of 48 with four. You may have a factory blank that wasn’t punched all the way.


    • twotalon
      If the scope on your 48 is to high this simply means that your rings are too high. Pyramyd does not have low rings. I have the UTG mount with Weaver rings (two top straps) from Wallmart. These are quite low and very high quality. I have the Hawke 3-12×40 scope, you might be able to squeeze in a 50 mm but it would tight. I know my RWS 54 Hawke combo hangs right in there with my marauder.

  2. BB,

    Any chance you will do an update on the tx200? Do you still see it as the finest and most accurate springer available? How does it stack up to the various PCPs now available at the same price point (eg, an m-rod with a hand pump)? I’d be especially interested to hear you thoughts on the .22 version this time around.

    Thank you, BMS

    • BMS,

      Yes, I do plan to do the TX 200 again.

      While is cannot hold up to any accurate PCP, in terms of group size, it is just as accurate as most of them. But because it’s a springer, a TX still needs the artillery hold, while PCPs don’t.

      Concerning the .22 TX, I have changed my mind over the years. It is more powerful than I gave credit for, but in light of today’s rifle, it’s still not the best caliber for the TX, in my opinion.


  3. Re: “You readers will tell me what you’d like to see.”
    The targets, boss! Give me the targets!
    Let’s see if it’ll stop on a dime at 20yds.

  4. This sure brings back a flood of memories.

    The diana 54 was my first airgun purchase in probably 35 years. Many have heard my story that is similar to other newbies that eventually turn into passionate airgunners……I had a pest problem, couldn’t use a firearm, knew nothing about current model airguns except there were so many to choose from, was willing to spend a lot on a decent airgun but no more than $200.00, found this blog, got lots of good advice and decided to purchase a new diana 54 with a big leapers scope that folks on the blog were also hot about. I’ll never forget how shocked I was at myself when I saw the total amount in the Pyramyd AIR shopping cart for gun, scope, rings, mounts, pellets, etc. When I unboxed that new gun I was blown away. I had never seen an airgun like that. Mine was a .22 caliber.

    This was before the UTG base that B.B. helped design specifically for the diana guns was released. Boy did I have a hellish time with mounts and rings with that big leapers scope. Has diana addressed their pathetic scope rail design on newer guns? If you’re going to buy a diana gun buy the UTG Base that is designed for your model. Trust me on this.

    My diana 54 in .22 caliber shot crosman premiers in the box very well but they leaded the barrel quickly. My 54 also shot the jsb exact express (14.3 gr, blue tin pellets) just as well and they didn’t lead the barrel.

    Back in those days I remember having long conversations with Dr. G about our diana 54 guns. Wish Dr. G would drop in now and then.


    • Wacky Wayne!!!!,
      When I read about barrels getting leaded, I always think about you and your cocoa nut oil treatment for pellets. WW where are you? Haven’t heard from you in a while. Are you still using coated boxed CPs and are your leaded barrel problems a thing of the past? I still have a jar of cocoa nut oil ready for use. What’s your long term prognosis on cocoa nut oil effectiveness? You’re probably too swamped with raised bed orders to follow this blog very much. I sure hope you are, anyway. Let us know how you’re doing.

      • Chuck,

        Wayne is shooting Air Arms Falcon pellets in all of his USFT’s. He’s completely immersed in FT so this is about all he shoots anymore. Pistol and rifle FT. He told me he acquired another very nice USFT gun recently.

        Another lesson my diana 54 taught me early on was how pellet fussy airguns can be. The diana 54 is one of those few airguns that begs to be shot at long range because of its accuracy. Of course at long range the pellet choices for my 54 were narrowed dramatically. The jsb exact 14.3 gr. was my go to pellet for long range. The air arms field pellets did well too. With the introduction of new .22 caliber pellets like the jsb RS pellets I wonder if there isn’t an even more accurate pellet out there now.


      • Slinging Lead,

        I messed around with scope problems on that gun for almost a year. Broke a scope, broke mounts (b-square adjustables), scope kept shifting, etc. etc. I thought about selling the gun for those reasons but the new mount was coming out so I waited. The release of the new mount was delayed several times so I waited some more. When I received the new UTG base it solved all the scope problems. It was like the heavens opened and angels were singing.

        My diana 54 almost eliminated my pest problem. I thinned them out to the point that I spent most of my time shooting targets and plinking with the gun. The 54 is not the right gun to plink or shoot targets with all afternoon. With the big leapers I mounted on the gun it was also a load to carry in the field (especially at 10,000 feet elevation). Springers, even magnum springers like the 54, struggle at that elevation. Lastly, to me, the gun always felt like I was shouldering a 4 x 4 post.

        Those are the reasons that I decided I needed two guns. A pcp to hunt down my pests and take them out at 100+ yards and a medium powered accurate springer to plink and target shoot with the rest of the time. Since that time I realized that I needed more than two airguns. 😉


  5. Great! I mentioned 20yds because that seems to be you favorite distance here recently but 30-35yds are even better. I get the impression that this rifle was built for the longer ranges so that would be great to see that.

    • Chuck,
      Yup, 20 yards is all the distance I can get out of my back yard. But 30+ is even better for test purposes. However, I’m not good enough with my springer’s to shoot one hole groups at 20 yards, so 20 yards is fine for my own personal testing.

  6. I recently had the privilege of resealing a friend’s Diana Model 6 (also sold over here as a Winchester Model 363) recoilless pistol. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures. This pistol uses counter-opposed pistons to cancel out the recoil impulses, and is actually pretty effective. It’s definitely different, and might make an interesting future report.


    • Jim,

      You are right. The Giss contra-recoil mechanism is a real wonder. I’ve already covered it in a report on the Diana model 10, which was the all-out target version of the same gun. And by the way, congratulations for fixing one of these. They are not easy to work on!

      The guns I want to revisit here are the ones that people can still buy today. I will still review some of the old classics that are no longer with us, of course. I’ve got a Feinwerkbau 15 underway right now. But it’s the guns you can still buy that I want to revisit.


  7. I’m a fan of recoiless, self contained spring guns. It’s fun to be accurate without a lot of effort.

    It’s a shame that so many have been forced out of production because of pcp’s and ssp’s. I think a market still exists for the better designs.

    The sidelevers like the diana 48/52/54, fwb 150/300, anschutz 380 etc. are shooting machines and marvels of engineering. I have an fwb 150 tyrolean without a barrel sleeve that is among my favorites to shoot. I still prefer a recoiless break barrel. I find myself shooting the diana 66 more often for this reason. There are still many of these out there in the used market since they were also sold new as the winchester 333 and hyscore 810sm I think….maybe it was the hyscore 811sm. Failing memory. Maybe B.B. will remember.

    Point is, that will a little looking you can have an amazing vintage gun that will always outshoot you and bring a smile to your face each time you pull the match grade trigger.


    • I have a 48 in .22 and like TT’s , it also likes the fatter varieties of pellets , and was shipped very dry. I use it for hunting squirrels and tried the JSB preditor pellets but the JSB jumbo’s and the RWS super H were more accurate. Were just as effective too. Before I got the 48,I would use a R-10 (HW 85) in .177 , and bought into the theory that the .22 had too loppy a trajectory for hunting and getting hits easily beyond 30yards, which is what I needed to do, and that .22 pellets were poor compared to .177’s. Maybe that was so 25 years ago ,but not now. It is nice to shoot a large grey and have it knocked off the limb with a vital hit with the 48 and be dead right now. Much better than having him flinch ,run ,then expire after he buried himself in deep leaves, necessitating a search. I also agree that the slower guns are more fun to plink with, but I own no vintage match guns yet. I do have a Diana 24 though that I plink with out to 50 yards and it always amazes me . So addictive as well, just pellets and the gun needed. Perfect for busy folks.
      BB, has Mac had time to shoot that BSA Supersport in .25? I finally had a chance to put mine over the chronograph ,but was waiting for part two of your review to post my results.

      • Robert,

        Yes, we’ve shot the BSA Supersport and found problems. The forearm screws aren’t attached to anything for starters.

        We are trying to get Gamo USA to send us a Supersport in .25 that isn’t broken and when I get it, I will have to finish the test, because Mac has gone home.


        • That is interesting because mine ,which is one serial number after yours, had screws that were to long! I had to add two small brass washers underneath both screws or they would hit the bottom of the compression tube. You could see that when you turned the gun over and looked through the cocking slot with a strong light. You could not tighten them fully ,especially the one side.Other than that, and the lack of a variety of lighter springer wt. .25 cal pellets, mine so far has had no other problems. I have put over 500 shots through it so far.

            • I only have the JSB 25.4 gr pellets and the H&N-FTT ,which are 20.6. I just ran off a fresh string of five for each size. It’s nice for a change here outside, sunny and around 72F. The JSB’s went 518.5,516.2, 517.7,517.1, and 516.9 fps for the five shots I just tried a few minutes ago. The H&N FTT went 600.3,600.6,599.5,606.1,and 601.7 fps. for five. This was with the screens of my PACT crony set five feet from the muzzle of my gun. The velocities are the same spread for the strings of ten I shot earlier this month. Seems to be a 600fps ,14 ft/lbs gun at best with a 20.0 gr pellet. I want to try some other pellets and asked on here if anyone had used the BSA brand Plyarms 18.0 gr and 19.0 gr Milbro Rino’s in .25 springers. I was wondering if the BSA pellets were gamo made and if the Rino’s really were smaller than the H&N’s . The forum searches I did said the BSA Supersports in .25 had very tight(smaller bores) than other .25 springers. I haven’t found that to be true with this one. H&N pellets in fact are a loose fit. The H&N are the best as to accuracy for me also.

              • BTW, Your problem of the fore-arm screws being not attached (stripped?) could be because like mine they were hitting the end of the underside of the barrel, and were stripped when they were tightened at the factory. I could have stripped out the holes in the receiver forks of mine if I had reefed on them , before noticing that they were rubbing . Mine were loose and I discovered the problem whenI went to tighten them. They could’ve used a shorter screw. I used the washers because I always put a set uder any forearm screws on my springers, to keep from compressing the wood. I suppose I could use the screw cups that are sold but I’m to cheap. I have turned out my own on my Unimat lathe though . I won’t usually pay money for something I can make or improvise, it’s just how I am.

  8. I just read Kevin’s post above, and chuckled at the similarities of parts of our stories. And the CPs and JSBs….dead on.

    The 54 is the nicest and most accurate gun I have, plus it is the one with the most sentimental attachment. I bought it on the day that I ALMOST met B.B. I had started participating in the blog in early 2007 and had a few cheap guns. Through various posts and answers, and narrowing my needs down, B.B. had recommended the 22 cal 54 as the gun for me (Kevin, did we get the same advice? my old login was pestbgone). A month later (Oct 2007) was the Roanoke show and I decided to go there and introduce myself to B.B. It was raining, I was rushed, my daughter had just had a baby, but she was back in the hospital. I wandered around the show, not having a clue what I was looking at. I ended up at the Pyramyd tables and asked them where Tom Gaylord’s table was. They pointed in a general direction and I started over. But a pile of long RWS boxes at the end of the Pyramyd table caught my eye. OMG, what’s on top? A 54 !!! And it’s a 22 !!! And look at the price !!! And look at this scope !!!! And a bunch of scratch-and –dent .22 pellets !!!! I used all the cash I had brought, plus a tiny bit on the credit card. (Oh, uhhh…How much? I only spent $75, Sweetie. He, He, He). I was so excited about this purchase from heaven that I took off for home and was an hour down the interstate before I realized I had missed the original reason I went to Roanoke.

    But the next year I went back, I managed to find Tom, introduce myself, and things went on from there. I met 2 other blog folks that day, too. That’s why I love my 54 and airgun shows.

    • Lloyd,

      You were pestbgone?!! I never knew that. That was back in the day of sumo, scott298 and others that have vanished.

      I’ll always have fond memories of my 54. It was the gun that got me back shooting since I had hung up my firearms. I’m back shooting some of my rimfires because of that gun.

      Yes, B.B. played a large role in my purchase of the 54 as well. He said based on my description of needs it was either the tx200 in .177 caliber or diana 54 in .22 caliber. I wanted a .22 so the 54 was the one choosen. It did the job and did it well. Had no idea at the time what that airgun purchase would lead to. What a fun trip it’s been.


  9. Now this is a rifle I love to read about. So, B.B. what was the story on the shooting contest between the 54 and the TX200? Was this a one-time event or has the 54 consistently dominated?

    Mike, I would tend to agree with you about assault rifles and submachine guns. It’s hard to beat a rifle cartridge, even the 5mm variety that I don’t care for, if you can reduce the size of the gun sufficiently. That Arsenal AK in 5.45 was a thing of beauty. I’d say that future submachine guns will have to work very hard to preserve their niche even in close-quarters.

    Slinging Lead, so whereabouts are you from with all the zombies?

    Duskwight, there is certainly plenty of lead flying in The Crow but I’m still working on the strangeness of that movie, and it is a little unfair or at least hard to relate to when one of the gunfighters is bulletproof (although I suppose that applies to Robocop as well). I have never fully understood the tragic death of Brandon Lee in that movie. The word is that of all the hundreds of thousands of blanks that were fired in that scene, one just happened to be the real thing with his name on it? Mighty strange.

    FrankB., would never rip on anything of yours. 🙂 And I admit that YouTube can distort things by eliminating context. However, the name “Boondock Saints” does have me puzzled. I think one thing I objected to from watching the scene by itself (besides nobody hitting anything) was the way the assassin kept dropping his expensive guns on the ground instead of reloading them. The wastage was painful to watch although apparently, he scooped them up before leaving. Thanks to all for the other recommendations. I like a good revenge film myself.

    Quite a detective story since yesterday, and I would say that surplus rifles have suffered a crushing setback for me. Being a naturally cautious fellow, I decided to investigate further the failures that Mosin Nagant rifles are prone too even though I supposed that the receiver failure I reported was a freak occurrence. Well, lo and behold, but a Google search quickly turned up another case of a Mosin blowing up in the guy’s face. Apparently, the round discharged while being chambered with the breech open. Another freak occurrence?! One of the comments noted that the accident was probably caused by the firing pin breaking and poking out the front of the bolt and setting off the round prematurely. And the commentator noted that this is not uncommon for Mosin Nagants! That got my attention. How could one protect against this? It didn’t take much more to find that Mosin Nagants have a firing pin protrusion problem where it has to be adjusted inside the bolt just right. There was even a special tool issued to soldiers to check the protrusion of the firing pin on a cocked bolt–the tool is sort of a crude go/no-go gauge. Plus! The Mosin Nagant apparently has no mechanism at all for venting gases, so if things don’t go right, your rifle turns into a bomb which will blow hot gases or even the bolt into your face. Whoa! That is really not what I need. (This doesn’t sound like a very soldier-proof rifle as has been described.) I’ve never paid much attention before to the gas venting capacities of various designs but now I do, and it’s no surprise that the Mauser 98 designs scores tops here. I switched my attention to the Enfield No. 4, my second choice. However, I found that the chambering tends to be very loose to accommodate ammunition from different arsenals throughout the empire. This degrades accuracy and also beats up your brass for reloading. Since the ammo for this caliber is very expensive, reloading is necessary, so it sounds like this rifle would be very expensive to shoot. That leaves the Mauser as a piece of history. However, I already have the Mauser design with its magazine and its cock on opening, two lug bolt in my great Savage 10 FP, which I believe is just about the summit of bolt-action design. Besides, I don’t know about owning a rifle from one of the most evil regimes in history that might have killed someone in its horrible cause. Anyway, the upshot is that I don’t believe I’ll buy anything surplus guns. And isn’t it great how safe airguns are? 🙂 You Mosin shooters watch your firing pin placement.


    • Matt,

      I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. Brandon Lee died much later, during filming Eric Draven’s murder and he was accidentally killed by Michael Massee. The movie itself was filmed in an economical way and in a bit of a hurry, so cartridge dummies were made from live ammo by throwing out propellant and installing bullet back in place, without removing the primer. Then they were filmed being loaded into handgun.
      And so it happened, that someone (some people say Lee himself) dry-fired that weapon. Click was loud enough (or it was too loud outside) to conseal the work of a primer, but that primer had enough force to drive the bullet forward into the barrel and it got stuck there. Then that handgun was reloaded for filming Eric’s murder scene with blank rounds, containing somewhat more propellant (it was used to create a spectacular muzzle flash).
      So Funboy (Michael Massee) discharges his gun aiming Eric (Brandon Lee). Stuck bullet, now having sort of magnum velocity hits Lee into abdomen comes through and stucks inside his spine. 6-hour operation to save his life was unsuccessful.

      That episode gave birth to a ban on using “dummified” rounds on stage. And once again prooved that whet thinking about gun safety one must think about preventing any scenario, even most unlikely and paranoid one.


        • kevin

          I’m completely sure that he was killed during filming “The Crow” and I gave a correct description of what happened then.
          His death occured way later than filming the shootout I described May 10 and Matt thought that was the episode when Brandon Lee was shot.
          So I gave a correct circumstances – Brandon Lee was injured and died during filming an episode that was supposed to be in the beginning of a movie. The shootout I posted yesterday was already played and filmed by that time.
          However, Eric Draven’s death episode was filmed some 8 or 10 days before the end of filming the whole movie. By some strange twist of fate Alex Proyas decided to film the whole movie “backwards” in general – from the last episodes to first ones. That actually helped to rework the movie into “The Crow” we all know.
          Please read my post carefully. There is no contradiction.


          • I got this from Wikipedia :

            Because the movie’s second unit was running behind schedule, they decided to make dummy cartridges (cartridges that outwardly appear to be functional but contain no propellant or primers) from real cartridges by pulling out the bullets, dumping out the propellant and reinserting the bullets. However, the team neglected to remove the primers, which, if fired, could still produce just enough force to push the bullet out of the cartridge and into the barrel (a squib load). At some point prior to the fatal scene, the live primer in one of the improperly constructed dummy rounds was discharged by an unknown person while in the pistol, leaving the bullet stuck in the barrel.[6]
            This malfunction went unnoticed by the crew, and the same gun was later reloaded with blank cartridges and used in the scene in which Lee was shot. When the first blank cartridge was fired, the stuck bullet was propelled out of the barrel and struck Lee in the abdomen, lodging in his spine. He fell down instantly, and director Alex Proyas shouted “Cut!”. When Lee did not get up, the cast and crew rushed to him and found that he was wounded. He was immediately rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington by ambulance, but following a six-hour operation to remove the bullet, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:04 pm on March 31, 1993. He was 28 years old.[7]

    • Rounds fired in an Enfield No. 4 will allow the brass to stretch. This does not hurt the accuracy. Even so, you should be able to get at least five reloads out of each case. I trim to length about every other reload. So, unless your are really doing a lot of shooting with limited cases, this isn’t really much of a problem. Keep in mind that the British Military wasn’t worried about reloading ammo.


  10. My short list was the 54, TX, and HW77. Then BB reviewed the TX and that made the decision for me. Have always wondered what the 54 and 77 are like but the TX fills that need so well that I will probably never find out.

  11. Which trigger group does this m54 have on it?

    I believe I’ve read that Diana changed groups sometime during the production run, from a T01 to a T05?

      • Oh, lovely… As if information on the differences between the T01 (I’m certain my 54 is old enough for that group) and T05 is scarce enough, now another variation… I think mine is a candidate for the trigger modification to add more turn-in space on the first stage pull.

  12. B.B.,
    This is another beautiful rifle, and one that I’d add to my own personal short list. However, I’ve read lots of reviews in which owners complain about this rifle destroying scopes. Once again, I think this is the kind of rifle that would lend itself well to target (front and rear aperture) sights, like on the FWB 300, I would think. Does anyone offer aperture sights for this rifle?

    • With less than a tin of pellets through it [closer to just 100 pellets total], my original (BSA) scope on a supposed adjustable one-piece ring/mount set showed an easy 15 degree reticle rotation; something I’m fairly sure I’d have detected when mounting the scope originally. With a change of rings I’ve now put that scope with my AirSoft M14.

      I now have a UTG/Leapers scope with Q/D rings on the UTG adapter base. Rings may be a tad high, but as it is, with the sunshade and lens cover in place, the front of the scope is pressing down on the rear sight. I went with the Q/D rings as my gun cabinet was running out of room for the butts when leaning the rifles with mounted scopes.

      Fitting a target peep on the rear is probably possible, using the regular dovetail base. I don’t visualize any one making a “globe” front however. The existing front sight ramp looks to have enough available adjustment that the standard post could be matched to a centered (low/close range) peep. Biggest danger I’d see is that, if one is like me, one positions as close as possible to the rear peep — but with an action that slides at least an inch upon firing, that could mean getting a black eye (the eye relief of a scope is sufficient for safety).

      • Wulfraed,
        Thanks for the info! Interesting about the eye relief. I shot a FWB 300 for years, and don’t remember the rear peep sight sliding back (not that it didn’t). Maybe the 54 slides more. However, the FWB 300’s rear peep also had a very soft rubber eye-piece that might have masked the shift. I’ve never shot a 54, nor have I ever seen one shot. Maybe I need to do a utube search. I have, however, picked up one at Bass Pro. They are monsters! That wouldn’t bother me since I was use to shooting heavy free-style rifles weighing over 15 pounds.

        • Mine slides back just over 1/2 in. .540 to be exact. and you can remove the front sight sleeve, install muzle brake with front globe sight adaptor.

          • Hmmm I could have sworn the stock relief cut was closer to an inch on mine; something the width of my thumb which measures to a bit over 3/4″… Maybe it doesn’t use the full length in sliding back.

            Anyways /I/ would still be concerned about bouncing a target aperture ring off my glasses just due to the way I use peeps — very close to the eye… I consider the sights on the HK-91 and .30 M1 carbine to be one to two inches too far forward for preference… Last time I had the HK out* I distinctly recall the back of the receiver brushing my shooting glasses; and that’s for an arm in which the recoil pushes the shooter back with it — not something moving independently.

            Maybe I should check out my father’s Sako Finnwolf when I’m in MI next month… I wonder just how far forward the rear scope base is; it came with a peep sight the slides on the rear scope base. Pretty much a requirement given the double dovetail Sako bases/mounts incorporate.

            * (well to be honest, the ONLY time I had it out; it became one of those non-transferable, fingerprinted registration, arms here in the Peoples Republic of California, so I keep it locked away… and then the federal import ban hit and the prices of used ones went outrageous [used prices are over twice what I paid new])

              • Okay, so for the second time this week I have to retract a “from memory” statement…

                Yes, the distance when in forward position to the back of the stock is the width of my thumb, but a quarter of that width is not used — bringing it down to about half an inch total travel. I don’t know if trigger model may also have an effect — I have T01 (from the Dynamit-Nobel era) with the short metal flip up safety, not the push bar safety the current one’s seem to possess.

                Next time I make one of these statements without first spending a night to examine the real article, please feel free to bounce a pellet off my skull.

            • Wulfraed,
              I just cocked and shot mine a few times, and measured after each shot.
              The actual measured moment was only .257″ but the total “possible” travel was.522″. That’s darn close to the amount of movement Loren measured in the cocking cycle of .540″.
              Its been a while since I’ve had mine apart, but I believe there is detent in the mechanism that can be adjusted to control the breakaway force. Mine must be set fairly tight.

              • Second stock screw (the one in front of the trigger guard); with that removed there should be a preload set screw that tensions a spring holding a ball in a detent (this is what keeps the action from sliding backwards if you point the muzzle at the sky).

                One web site actually recommends fitting O-rings on the slide rails of the front end, to prevent the ball in the rear from fully engaging the detent; then increase the tension to get the desired recoil action.

    • Thanks guys! Valuable details and insights.

      Lloyd, what model (or specifics) Leapers do you have mounted?
      How long have you had your 54?
      Do you have an estimate as to how many rounds you’ve got through it?

      • Hi Victor,
        I’ve had my .22cal 54 for over 3-1/2 years and have put about 1,800 pellets through it, mostly CP’s. I have had a Leapers 3-9 x 32 AO mounted on a one piece base with a stop screw.

        The gun had bad barrel droop and I modified the one piece base so that I could keep the scope optically centered. When I did that, the special droop compensating bases were not available, and it would have taken too much shimming to make it right. I am wondering if keeping the scope optically centered has anything to do with it’s longevity?

        To modify the base, I clamped the bottom half in a vise. Wrapped 60 grit sandpaper around a piece of pipe to make a 1″ dia sanding mandrel. The aluminum base cuts pretty easy with good sandpaper, and I sanded an appropriate taper into the base. I then sanded matching tapers into the caps, and sanded a little off the tops of the 4 pads on the base so that the caps would be able to tighten down all the way onto the scope tube. It took a little time, but it worked great.

        The velocity is down to about 720 on my 54 right now, so I need to figure out what is going on. Maybe something as simple as a leaky breech seal.

        Even though it was only a couple of thousandths, I also did something to remove the slop from the pair of rear slider rods to reduce the side to side rotation of the action. If you want, I can explain that, too. Most of my shooting is less than 40 yds, but on a good day I can do 3/4″ groups at 50 yds with this favored gun. That’s pretty decent for me.

        I hope that info helps.


    • Victor,

      The front sight base allows a different sight to be installed, so the answer is yes. However, because the action moves with the shot, aperture sights are not always tolerated well.

      Consider a scope for a 54.


      • B.B.,
        How is it that aperture sights are not tolerated well?
        I read a recommendation for the 54, saying that what’s needed is some kind of sight/scope mounting system that doesn’t sit on this sliding action, but instead, somewhere on the side where there is no movement. In other words, something that would hang over the top. This, I guess, would be similar to the Williams Peep sights that mount on the side, for the 392/397 pumpers. I don’t know how practical that would be, but it seems to me that this would be one way that they could design a next generation model that might include more space for mounting such a base, to allow for this recommendation. Never hurts for these manufacturers to consider possible improvements, or even ideas for a new gun.

  13. Having taken my 350 Magnum as far as I think is practically possible in terms of accuracy, I have been entertaining thoughts of a 54 or Air Arms Pro-Sport, to take me to the next level.

    • Ken,

      I have owned and tested both the Pro Sport and the 54. The 54 will out-shoot the Pro Sport because of the recoilless operation.

      Both are very fine airguns, so you have to go with the one you want the most. There is no such thing as a best choice. Either rifle would make you proud.


      • Have read where RWS 54 “recoil less” feature allows ability to see real time target impacts through significant “jump” reduction. Have also read this allows for improved first shot accuracy. Expect most of the time to shoot from supported position vs free hand like the gifted do. The Garand attracts negative responses on oh so many levels and while its enjoyable to shoot, the potential of restraining orders and retroactively retractable/future intimate contact enforces restraint. Currently on the horns of the TX200 vs RWS 54 beastie. For first shot accuracy the RWS54 looks better but is based on what I have read vs the actual hands on thingy. Not a master of the artillery hold. Lean heavily on first shot accuracy without the need for the stars to align/7 step program firing sequence. What would be your recommendation for those with such a challenged skill set? Note, reserve the right to make a bad decision…;-)

        • Jim,
          I had to read your following sentence three times to figure out what you were saying:

          “The Garand attracts negative responses on oh so many levels and while its enjoyable to shoot, the potential of restraining orders and retroactively retractable/future intimate contact enforces restraint.”

          After the third reading I figured it out and started laughing out loud! Too funny!!!!!


      • Wow, sounds like a showdown!! I seriously wish the 54 was available with a walnut stock, as the Pro-Sport is (not sure about the TX 200 without checking), and I have to give the edge in overall quality to Air Arms products, but hearing from you that the 54 will outshoot the 200 is shifting my thinking now, since I was leaning toward the Pro-Sport. I know the 54 does have the edge in power also. Hmm, Hmm, Hmm…

  14. I have a question that seems like a no brainer; Does anyone make a lighter stock for the 54? It seems as if that would cure a lot of the ills that the 54 has. At least weight appears to be the biggest complaint. Does anyone know of a stock specialist that can make a lighter stock?

    • I second that question, and add Walnut to it. The Beech can look nice, but the Walnut is really special in my view. That’s what I’m loving about the Air Arms Pro-Sport!

    • I’m not sure a lighter stock would help it…

      1) Due to the sliding action, you have the mass of the action impacting on the fixed bases of the rails. Too light a stock may be subject to cracking under the impact (these bases are inlet into the stock and held in place by the two stock screws)… Maybe some sort of glass bedding running down the length of the fore-end formed around the rail bases.

      2) a lighter stock may also alter the effectiveness of the anti-recoil action — less mass means one needs a lighter adjustment on the spring under the detent ball to permit the action to start sliding while not transferring as much motion to the stock; this, in turn, may mean a harder stop to the action when it reaches the end of the rails and a bit of a jar to the shoulder. A tighter ball setting may turn it into a sort of “delayed blow-back” — where some recoil forces push the stock (and you) backwards before the ball comes free and the action continue to recoil free from the stock.

      I look on the m54 as less of a carry/sporter and more of a sand-bagged varmint gun (My Browning A-Bolt is the same — big fat beaver tail fore-end meant to be sand-bagged… but the model designation when purchased did include the word “varmint”).

  15. Ok, that all makes sense. BB explained it well when he described the artillery hold and how this rifle has a carriage that the action slides in. Like Wulfaed said, the more weight the frame has, the less influence the action has upon it. It makes sense.
    I’m excited about the 54 because of: 1) I want a simple firearm without hoses, scuba tanks, fittings, bicycle pumps, electric pumps, air gauges, limited shots etc, etc. 2) I want a firearm that is accurate at long distance and has high energy and little or no recoil. The 54 addresses both of these areas but the compromise is weight. I guess Wulfaed said it pretty good, it’s a sniper, not a carry hunter. It’s sort of disappointing though because I would enjoy woodland hunting with this gun but I’m not sure I want to heft this gun around the woods. Oh well, I guess that’s why there are so many choices in air guns!

    • If you do pick up an m54, check the trigger settings… (Well, maybe not — I have a T01 trigger group, with both first and second stage adjustments)

      I don’t know if it was factory or importer but my suspicions about mine were right…

      The two stage trigger wasn’t! I found first stage screw completely down, and second stage 1/8th turn from all the way in. A combination wherein “first stage” was just the slack on the trigger spring, and everything was loaded on the second stage. No wonder it felt so creepy at the range.

      With fortune I didn’t do too much damage to the piston from unintentional dry-fires (after the third, when I started to feel a real transition from first to second, I started stuffing pairs of felt cleaning wads into the barrel to provide some back pressure).

      When I finally got done, there was no longer any spring take-up; the first stage screw is about 1/4 turn in from just touching when cocked, which still leaves a long pull on first stage before the very obvious wall of second stage is hit. Tedious adjustments to do as each pull through first stage meant I had to recycle the cocking lever to reset the trigger engagement for the next tweak test.

      Final adjustments await my next range session — since I full well expect I’ll end in a first-stage only condition for at least one shot, if not two, as I bring in a minimal second stage break.

      • Ok, I’ve thought of the perfect solution to the 4×4 feel of the 54. As discussed, the weight of the stock is important, but the Size of the stock is ungainly. So it would be an opportunity for some enterprising stock builder to make a trim stock with some weight to it, maybe by adding a steel or fiberglass liner inside a walnut hardwood stock.

        The next question; I read a review of some sourpuss who said (among many other “bad” traits) the barrel was light duty and prone to damage (bending) if not handled correctly. Is that true?


        • Slide,

          No, the 54 barrel is not “light duty.” Since the barrel isn’t used to cock the rifle it can be thinner, which it is, but it’s far from light duty. What surprises many people is how thin it looks when the metal barrel jacket is removed.


  16. B.B.

    I am currently thinking of getting a Leapers 6-24×50 AO scope to put on my Diana 54, but the parallax adjustment starts from 15 yards onwards; does that mean I won’t be able to focus at shorter distances such as 10 yards. Can you also recommend other relatively inexpensive scopes that can be used for range finding in field target/hunting?
    Your advice will be greatly appreciated

    Thank you,
    Abdul Wasay

  17. B.B.

    I’ve got another question, what mount should I get for the Diana 54 (TO6 model)? Is the regular Gamo 1-Piece mount suitable for it or should I get some other one. What do you think?

    Abdul Wasay

    • Abdul,

      The T06 model changed the scope base. I would never recommend Gamo mounts because in my experience they have always been too weak to hold well. But UTG mounts would work.

      However, I don’t know how much droop your rifle has, so I can’t recommend anything before knowing that. You may need a UTG droop-compensating scope base, in which case you need Weaver rings.


  18. Hello B.B.

    I had selected three mounts for the new RWS 54:
    1. The UTG mount: which holds but makes the mounts too high for me.
    2. The RWS lock down mount: this seems to be a good mount but I don’t understand why does it have the nylon inside the scope rings?
    3. The BKL 260 with droop compensation: I have heard a lot about this but why doesn’t it have stop pins?

    Please help me decide between them

    Thank you very much in advance

    With best Regards


  19. Tom,

    You don’t like the UTG mounts, so they’re out (too high).

    The nylon is to prevent scratching the finish of your scope.

    BKL’s claim to fame is they are the only airgun mount that can hold solidly against recoil through clamping pressure, alone.

    Any of these would work, so I advise you to follow your instincts. Neither is “better” than the others for any reason.


    • B.B.

      The droop compensation for the rws lock down mount is 0.025 inches and for the BKL it’s 0.007 inches
      What does your instincts say? Which one of the two would you have gotten if you were in my place 😉 ?
      By the way, when I shot my 54 with a optically centred scope, the POI was only about 2-3 inches below at 10 yards, does that mean the rifle has no barrel droop?

      Best Regards,

  20. B.B.
    I just got a BKL 260D7 mount and a Hawke 4-16×44 SF scope for my Diana 54. But when I was installing the mounts, I came across a rather strange problem; the bottom scope tube does not come in contact with the mount rings. It rests on the extended part of the centre of the scope resulting in a 3-4mm gap. Any advise on this?


      • B.B.
        You didn’t understand my question, they are both 1 inch; the scope and the mount ( I checked again). It would fit if I had used 2-piece mounts, there is no gap between the metal block of the mount and the scope from the centre ( the area below the turrets)

        What should I do?

        • Bob,

          Okay, so it isn’t the bottom of the scope tube that’s hitting — it is the turret that hits the scope mount?

          No solution for that but to use 2-piece rings. That is one reason why I recommend them over 1-piece rings.


  21. B.B.
    After hearing about the turret clearance issues for the BKL 260 D7, I am thinking of getting a Hawke Airmax ev 4-12×40 ao scope for my BKL mount. Do you think it will fit without the scope tube touching the base of the mount?
    Your advise would be greatly appreciated

    Kind Regards
    Abdul Wasay Ghouri

  22. I don’t know it anyone is watching this old thread. It was started over 3 years ago but the last comment was 7 months ago. I was really intent on purchasing the RWS 54 in .22 but now am hesitant due to all the problems keeping a scope on it.

    The UTG mount (MNT-DN460 [PY-A-2297]) with the protrusion that hangs over the front of the rail makes perfect sense and I would probably trust it. Here’s what it says in the description “We strongly recommend that you use a 2-piece Weaver scope mount that has 4 screws on each ring cap. Fits guns with the T05 trigger. In 2011, Diana introduced guns with the T06 trigger. These guns have a longer rail. This adapter does NOT fit the guns with longer rails.”

    I’m looking at the rifle in .22 which has the T06 trigger. I read the scope rail is longer on T06 rifles so the previous one would put the scope too far forward? The UTG mount MNT-DNT06 [PY-A-4191] that is supposed to be used with T06 rifles has two stop pins but no protrusion to hang over the front of the rail. This seems like a step backwards since I read the earlier review from 2008 where the advice was to let the front stop pin hang over the front of the rail. There were even photos showing the two holes in the top of the receiver “wallowed out” from the stop pins if they were engaged here versus one over the front of the rail. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Bill.

      Welcome to the blog.

      After I identified the peoblem scopeing Diana rifles, the company changed the base and the UTG mount we developed won’t work on the new guns.

      Diana says their mounts, sold as the RWS Lock Down mounts will fit fine.

      That would be this:



      • Hello B.B.,

        I’ve been following this thread with great interest… I have a chance to purchase a used 54 from a local gun shop. Downside: it’s a .177, and I’m assuming it’s an older version, meaning I might have to fuss with fitting mounts and scope. Upside: it’s only 300 bucks. Can I tell the age/version of the gun from the serial number?

        I’m also eying a new 54 in .22 at twice the price. I keep telling myself the right thing to do (financially) is to get the used one, but I don’t want to miss an important point/factor and regret not getting a new .22. I know you can’t tell me how to spend my money, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this (older version vs newer).

        I seem to fit a similar pattern as some others I’ve seen in this forum. I had a Sheridan Blue Streak when I was 14, and I did a lot of squirrel hunting and plinking with that gun. Some 40 years later, I decided to pick up a gun for varmint control around the chicken coop. I’ve been blown away by all the changes in air powered rifles. Last summer I bought a Dianna 34 and quickly returned it because I wasn’t aware of the artillery hold (thanks for your video on the subject). I bought a .22 synthetic Marauder (kinda wish I’d gotten a .25), and I do love it. I’ve taken out a lot of rats, english sparrows, and rabbits from the garden. Now I’m hooked on shooting these things, including target and plinking.
        Call me nutty, but in addition to the Marauder, I really like the idea of having a fully mechanical gun. I love the quality of all the RWS guns I’ve seen. I’m also interested in having a 2nd scoped gun for when my son comes over. So anyway, thats my story and I look forward to your thoughts on the 54.


        • Kenny,

          Did you end up buying that used 54? If so, are you happy with the .177, or are you still wanting a .22? You can’t tell the age from the serial number, but thanks to B.B. I just learned that Diana date stamped. On the left side of the tube — look at the metal tube, just right of the “Made in Germany” stamp — ther should be a tine 4-digit stamp of the month and year. I just picked up a used one marked “08 94”. Interestingly enough, on the new 54 I picked up last year (T06), there is no stamp that I can find.

          Jim M.

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