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Ammo Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 4

Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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

This report addresses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

42 thoughts on “Diana 72 youth target rifle: Part 4”

  1. Great groups B.B., were you rested in the normal way, indoors, etc? This 72 isn’t affected by combustion with its lower power, but curiosity wants to know last oiling details… thanks for the good shooting! And Reb, your it.. 😉

    • I went back to the velocity test in part 2 and see you oiled it then and Im sure you haven’t again since. These are no longer in production, what would be a similar available replacement? The Bronco seems to fit that bill. Was that the goal building the Bronco? To hit the performance points of a gun like this?

      • RDNA,

        There is no rifle currently made that comes close to the 72. I guess the AirForce Edge would be the closest.

        The Bronco was created to be a modern Diana 72. Even though there is little resemblance, both rifles are light, accurate, easy to cock and have nice triggers.


  2. What a cool little rifle! I absolutly love these small accurate springers, they can be shot all day long and at the end of the day all you’re left with is a big grin on your face.
    I’ll keep an eye out for one of these or model 70 for sure.


  3. Those groups look like what my 953 puts out-with a 4X scope. Excellent! I wish I still had my little Slavia.That would be a very good friendly competition.


    • Kevin,

      There probably is, but I don’t know what it is. But I do know the Miracle trigger was the first trigger installed on the rifle. Remington changed to a different trigger late in production.

      The serial number on my 37 is 02882. The number is on the front receiver ring on the left side. The pictures don’t show a number, and it looks like the rifle has been buffed for rebluing, so the number may be gone.

      I can tell you that the trigger blade does not look exactly like the blade in my rifle. That said, the price is extremely good for a 37 — even missing the sights.


      • BB & Kevin this may be of some interest… According to my copies of Phil Sharpe’s book “The Rifle In America” , as well as Henry Stebbin’s book “Rifles-A Modern Encyclopedia “, the Remington Model 37’s miracle trigger was an inovation that came latter in the that models production. It was also the first small bore rifle to offer the single -loading adapter. It was introduced in 1937-8, and dis-continued in 1955. Sharpe’s book was written just as this model was introduced and he makes no mention of the miracle trigger, just that it was adjustable. According to Stebbin’s , the latter production 37’s had a higher and fatter small of the stock(pistol grip area) that would crowd your thumb if you crossed your thumb over the rear of the breech. The overhanging rear receiver sight could actually scrape your thumb.

        • Robert from Arcade,

          Any mention of when the Miracle Trigger was introduced in the Remington Model 37? Any mention of how many model 37 rangemaster were made? Since B.B.’s has a low serial number with the Miracle Trigger I’m assuming it was early.

          Thanks for chiming in. Appreciated.


          • Kevin, No mention in the books I referenced of when the miracle trigger was introduced. Stebbins mentions it only as a slight modification ,in that the trigger seems to have no rearward motion after the striker has been released. Sharpe doesn’t even mention it at all, but that book was copywrited in 1938. Perhaps , looking at some advertising references would prove fruitful ,like in the “Gun Digest”. I have a set of these that only goes back to 1959, and the post war till 1955 would maybe mention it. There were less choices then. I appreciate the other info , learn something everyday. Good luck in your quest! Regards ,Robert

        • Apparently there were 1,527 Remington Model 37’s sold in the first year, 1937. Jan. 1940 started the “Randell design” straight comb stock and “Miracle Trigger”, but barrel band had been dis-continued in late 1937.

          The problem I’m having in my campaign for a 37 is finding an unmodified gun. Most owners shot these guns and “customized” them. I lost out by $50 on a nice 37 with a canjar trigger.


        • Robert,

          I never read about the model 37 in Sharp’s book. I learned what I know from other Remington sources.

          I just looked it up in the Blue Book and they say “improved trigger — 1940-1954.” They don’t happen to mention the name of that trigger.


          Ask the owner if he can feel the trigger move when he pulls it and the gun fires. If he can, it is not the Miracle trigger.


          • B.B. & Robert,

            I screwed around too long. He just answered my email regarding serial number and barrel stamps. He just sold the gun. He also marked it sold on gunbroker. Back to the hunt.


          • BB and Kevin , Ken Waters has an article on the Remington 37 (Classic Rifles) in the “Rifle” magazine, issue 106 on page 12, according to my master index, second edition. I will look for it latter to see in I have a copy and if it mentions anything we don’t already know.

  4. Hey Ya’ll
    I’ve gotta buddy who I have mentioned here before,Terry is the guy whose truck I was working on when I started dropping stuff & went in the hospital the first time
    We’ve done a lotta trading through the years. one of these trades included a one piece survival blow dart gun, unfortunately he was the recipient.I held on to this thing for about 5 years before he finally talked me outta it about 2 months ago. We’ve played quite a few dart games with it since and I even modded a fire extinguisher for use as a 150PSI air chamber. Now he has gone & ordered some bamboo darts. These things are hitting the dartboard from 4 yards with what sounds like about 3fpe-on lung power!I took my Chrony over there with me yesterday but it was too cloudy however we did get 2 readings right around 70fps he has an electronic scale that he weighs his tortoise with and I’l weigh the darts today so I can plug in the rest of the numbers. I also witnessed 3/4″ penetration in both sheetrock & an unlucky cedar tree. Don’t know the exact length but it’s about 5′ & I’ll be looking for another one because anything within about 10 yards is in extreme jeopardy with this Very accurate inexpensive & powerful pest control tool!
    We had a blast!


  5. I knew Iiked this little gun. Its a heck of a good little shooter.

    And kevin you asked yesterday what one gun a person would keep through tuff times.

    Its my synthetic stock Marauder in .177 cal. It feels comfortable when I hold it and it dont miss. I mean its on the money.

    But a real cheap gun arrived yesterday. And I got off work last night and did some tuning and and fill preasure finding. Now its pellet finding time.

    So got to go do some testing. 🙂

  6. Kevin,I considered replying to your question last night but it’s very difficult for me to pick one right now. Of the guns that I have running right now I would have to say I would never part with my Remington Airmaster. This gun is probably the most accurate airgun I’ve yet to shoot at 30+ yards I still haven’t even touched the valve and it’s putting out over 10fpe and will take game effectively out to 65 yards with a 4X scope. There is so much left to be done to improve this gun! My next improvement will be an AO scope, to aid in range finding. The one at wally world is tempting but I’d like to get the biggest bang for the buck in it’s price range which is under $100
    Anyone have a suggestion? I’m all ears!


    • Reb,

      If the only criteria is accuracy for picking one airgun and one firearm to keep the choice would be easier. For me, memories that are attached to many of my guns, firearms especially, make the decision tougher.

      If you’re taking game effectively out to 65 yards with your Remington Airmaster you don’t need to replace your scope. 😉


      • Kevin, the scope would be for shorter ranges that otherwise are hard to guess on I feel that an AO scope with mil-dots would effectively help eliminate shorter range guesswork.I’m hoping that a setup like this would allow me to leave the scope set for long range shots but also anything as close as 10 yards via range-finding & mil-dots.


  7. Those are nice-looking groups. But looking at the numbers, one can’t help noticing that it seems more common to get a 1MOA firearm than it is to get a 1MOA airgun. That’s shown when the distances are adjusted as they are for this test (10 yards for airgun vs. 100 yards…). To really get MOA with an airgun, you almost have to go to the Feinwerkbau level, whereas cheaper firearms will give you MOA. It’s a little unintuitive that the extra flash and bang gives you more accuracy on balance than airguns although I guess it also means you shoot flatter.

    That’s not to say that I am undervaluing what MOA means! One of my goals at my range session was to see if my M1 which was modified to produce MOA could really deliver. No! I was holding about 3MOA! This was for many more than 10 shots. On the other hand, I never really punched out the center. The rounds were clustering on either side of the center in the most annoying way. It’s like in bowling where your pins are at either side of the lane. I want to say, “spare,” but I know that’s not the right term. Well, I attribute this to my lack of follow-through. Also, I wasn’t positioned correctly on the gun. My face was far enough forward on the stock that the recoil caused my rear thumb where it was curled over the pistol grip to strike my nose in a painful way as if I had gotten slapped. I could and should have found a better shooting position. On the other hand, I found that you are limited by what you are given with the shooting point. Namely if you have a concrete table that is set in ground that appears to be eroded with a crappy chair that is too short for the bench, there isn’t a lot you can do. It doesn’t matter what kind of lead sled rest you bring with you. Kind of unfortunate.

    Today’s post shows me the difference between B.B.’s range sessions and mine. He can actually figure out the problems! It makes a difference. Thanks for to all for the advice from yesterday. I love that Lee Factory die. Given something that is simple enough to use as this appears to be, I see this as a positive advantage and another feature to add to Matt61 ammunition. Yeah, I probably bring too many guns, but I don’t get out to the range often. And I love my guns. In fact, I’m thinking that this is why I attract strange people in my sessions. I have the coolest guns! Nobody has anything like my Anschutz or my M1 with the very attractive stock. I feel like the schoolyard bully that everyone wants to curry favor with. He he. That’s not to say that there isn’t a big assortment of other hardware on display; I think my stuff is just different. You would never know that California has any kind of restriction on assault-type weapons since that is what most people are using in every shape and variety. Naturally ARs predominated, and I must say that you could generally see people laboring over them because of one problem or another. Maybe it’s just because they made up the bulk of the weapons, but I don’t know…

    Slinging Lead, you are key to the enterprise. I might imagine you as a monkey on my back mysteriously involved with this strange run of jinx-like behavior. Or I might imagine you as a fly on the wall, splitting your sides laughing. It is kind of funny at a remove. And as for strange types, I forgot to mention the range official who likes like a little kid who walks around the firing line with a cigarette. This doesn’t seem like a good idea, especially with all the blackpowder shooters.

    Interesting info about the swamp barrel. It certainly does impart balance. I guess the principle is like those tight-rope walkers with the long pole. On the other hand, the business half of the barrel at the muzzle end, seems to be choking in reverse. The choke principle squeezes the bullet’s path and reduces deviation when it comes to the point of release at the muzzle. The swamp barrel seems to reach this point halfway down. Then by undoing the choke process how can it avoid increasing inaccuracy? Doesn’t seem like a good idea.


    • Matt,

      Actually, I forgot to add that a swamped barrel is only profiled skinny in the middle like that on the outside. Choke, if any, would be the same as normal with only the muzzle being tight… Pretty sure most of them were pretty much parallel/no choke bores.

      Some old muzzle loaders were coned at the muzzle to make starting the ball easier. That only extends a very short way into the barrel. Some claim an accuracy boost from that but I don’t think it’s been proven. Blunderbusses are the ones that have the big funnel looking muzzle but are pretty inaccurate.


    • Matt61

      The bowling term I believe you are looking for is ‘a seven ten split’.

      I think the reason you seem to attract these characters is that they think you are Tenzing Norgay.

  8. Kevin,

    I’d try to keep my .44 mag Winchester 94ae and my .22 AA S410E with a hand pump. BUT….. I’d probably end up keeping only the ones that didn’t sell if it got that bad and they might be different…


  9. B.B.,

    Could you please describe your hold, stance and weather conditions for this session?
    As far as I understand, you didn’t make cleaning/seasoning for this barrel?


      • B.B.

        Not an inch.
        I started to train for 10 m with my FWB-300S with diopter, in open air. Read some manuals on stance and hold, written by professionals. Seems they all are written for people with rubber bones and/or liquid joints. None of stances feels comfortable and stable to me and none gives good results. However when I stand the way it feels good to me, but in no way right, results suddenly become better. Do you follow any manuals or just do what your body feels right?


          • Awww… please, forgive me.

            Anyway that’s way better than me in the same starting conditions. Perhaps I should opt for shooting monocle to have 100% vision for the shooting eye. My everyday glasses are -1 weaker than they should be, doctors say to save the remnants of my accomodability, so I don’t see the target quite clear, even when looking through diopter. The rifle came to me with 3 inserts – clear plastic, post and ring. For now, the best feels to be clear plastic, as it gives grayish ring around the black zone and makes the target look sharpest and brightest. Well, the hard way to train my hands – can not see clear, but can still hold the rifle and move the POI to finally hit the center.


            • duskwight,

              I like the clear plastic inserts best, too. I haven’t tried them on this rifle, but on my large 10-meter rifles I usually choose them, if they will fit.

              Sorry to destroy your confidence in my shooting, but I am just a hack shooter like most people. I do enjoy shooting 10-meter target rifles offhand, but it’s not something i would want to show anyone else!


  10. BB and All,

    I have a chance to buy a Webley Tomahawk Venom. Says there were only 200 made. Since I know nothing about Webleys does anyone know if this is a good investment and if the rifle shoots well?


    • G & G,

      There were thousands of UK made Webley Tomahawks. Venom was a moniker for a tuner and semi custom guns. Ivan Hancock was at the helm in the day when the Venom name was popularized in the USA. BTW, the Venom Tomahawks were also called and labeled Sidewinders in the day and I owned one in .22 cal.

      Mac1 (Tim McMurray) was Ivan’s main distributer in the States, and they also installed and sold Venom kits and other items such as stocks, triggers, brakes, etc. When Ivan retired, Mac1 stopped selling Venom stuff. Someone else took over the name and sold the kits and was doing tunes, but no one knows if it was the “same”.

      Bottom line is that a Venom gun means an old tune of questionable pedigree. Shooting the gun over a chronograph to determine shot cycle quality and velocity is the only way to tell if “it’s a good investment”.


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