The Diana 27: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 27
My .22 caliber Diana 27 is actually a Hy Score 807.

Part 2: The Diana 27

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Not the pre-war 27
  • First time
  • Why a 27?
  • Great feeling!
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Seals
  • Breech seal
  • Trigger
  • Overall evaluation

What is a classic? One dictionary defines it as “…of the first or highest quality, class or rank. Serving as a standard, model or guide.” Although that definition is somewhat subjective, I believe it captures the essence of the word. The Diana model 27 air rifle is certainly a classic by that definition.

Not the pre-war 27

Before we dive in let’s understand that Diana also made a model 27 before World War II. That one had only a wooden buttstock with no forearm. It looks significantly different than the rifle we are examining today. It’s not the same air rifle.

First time

As many historical airguns as I have covered, this will be the first time I’ve addressed the Diana 27. I’ve certainly written about it many times, but never for this history section, so today I begin correcting that oversight. The Diana model 27 is my all-time favorite airgun.

Why a 27?

Before I describe the rifle let me tell you about my first encounter with one. I was living at Ft. Knox, KY in the late 1970s and had already hooked up with Beeman. I got their catalogs regularly, owned a copy of the first volume of Airgun Digest, written and edited by Dr. Beeman, and already owned a Diana model 10 target pistol, a Sheridan Blue Streak, a Webley Senior pistol and an FWB 124 that I bought in the Beeman store in Santa Rosa. What I’m telling you is I was already a snooty airgunner who thought he knew it all.

I was also a family man with two children and didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend — not on an Army captain’s pay! So when I wandered into a pawn shop in the local town of Radcliff, KY, one day and happened to see an old weatherbeaten Diana 27 for sale, I had to think long and hard. They wanted $20 for it and I negotiated like a carpet salesman in a caravan to get the price down to $18 out the door. In other words, no tax (out of my pocket).

That pellet rifle was well-used, with no finish remaining on the wood stock and lots of rusty scale on the metal. The emblem in the stock said it was a Hy Score 807, but I was able to discover that it was really a Diana 27 in .22 caliber. The 27 also came in .177 and I have owned several of both in many different names over the years. For some reason I prefer the .22 — perhaps because it was my first.

I had some RWS Superpoints (as I recall — this was 1978) for my Webley Senior, so I had something to shoot. When I cocked it the first time I was amazed at how light and butter-smooth it seemed. Then I shot it for the first time. The trigger was long and not that crisp, but the firing cycle was very smooth. And, I hit what I aimed at. That’s always a plus.

Great feeling!

For some reason I could not explain, I kept cocking and shooting that rifle just to feel the light cocking and smooth shot cycle. It was accurate enough at the 20 to 40 feet I was shooting, but could not compare with the accuracy of a 105mm cannon on an M60A1 tank (I was a tanker and Ft. Knox is the Armor Center — that’s tanks) that can put a round through a 24-inch circle at 1,200 yards when sighted-in, or even my .270 Weatherby Magnum that put five into an inch at 100 yards. Even so, I was intrigued. My FWB 124 was prettier, shot harder and was more accurate, but there was something undefinable about this Diana 27 that captivated me.

When I left the Army in 1981 following a divorce I sold all of my firearms and airguns to pay bills, but I gave the model 27 to my closest friend. I hope he still has it. It would be 12 long years before I would get my next 27, another Hy Score 807, and that is the one I have pictured for you today. Uncharacteristically, I have kept this airgun since buying it for $110 at my first Winston-Salem airgun show in 1993. That’s enough background, now let’s look at the rifle, and it will be my Hy Score 807 that we look at.

Description

The Diana 27 (1953-1987) is a breakbarrel single shot spring-piston air rifle. It was made in both .177 and .22 calibers, though when some companies like Hy Score (807) and Winchester (427) rebranded it, they did so in .22, only.

The rifle has a one-piece beech wood stock that’s fairly flat, so not a lot of shaping was done. The barreled action is all steel. Though plain looking, it also looks upper class when compared to the new air rifles we see today.

The rifle I’m testing weighs 5 lbs. 9 oz. It’s 41-3/8-inches long overall and the barrel is 17-1/4-inch. According to the date code that many Dianas have, it was made in August of 1967.

Diana 27 date code
Some Dianas have a date code on the left side of the spring tube. Sometimes it’s below the wood line. Older Dianas stamp the date on the wooden butt.

Sights

The sights are a hooded square post in front and an adjustable notch in the rear. The front sigh element is fixed and cannot be replaced unless the entire front sight assembly is changed.

The rear sight adjustments have quiet but crisp detents, so you know where you are going. Besides adjusting in both directions, the rear sight has any of four different notches to select, depending on your taste.

Diana 27 rear sight
Not only is the rear sight fully adjustable, it also has 4 different notches to choose from.

Seals

The piston seal and breech seal are both leather. I confirmed that when I overhauled the rifle in the 1990s. At the time I didn’t know about Almagard 3752 grease, and Beeman’s Mainspring Dampening Compound would slow a gun down by a lot. The 27 was never fast to begin with and this one is a .22, so I opted for something else. The something else was enough white lithium grease to drown the powerplant. I slathered it on, to both quiet the buzz on shooting and also because lithium grease will migrate forward as a liquid and keep the leather seal lubricated a long time. That “tune” is about 20 years old and shows no signs of needing an upgrade. I never oil the piston, yet it is still fresh.

Diana 27 piston-seal
The piston seal is leather.

Breech seal

I refurbished a Diana 27 leather breech seal in two reports. I removed it in this report, and replaced it in this one. That was a different .177 caliber Diana 27, but the breech seals are all the same.

Trigger

Here is where it gets interesting! The Diana 27 has a unique trigger that works by three ball bearings releasing the piston rod. I have called it their ball-bearing trigger for the past 25 years and I think everybody else does as well. While this trigger is made of numerous parts that are simple stampings they work together to produces the best two-stage release in the business. It’s every bit as crisp as a Rekord, if not able to be adjusted as light. Yet when you consider the swarm of cheap parts that make it up you wonder how they ever managed it.

Diana 27 trigger parts
This mess of parts makes one crisp trigger when assembled.

In Part 2 I will give you instructions for adjusting this trigger. This same trigger is dound in other vintage Dianas, and all of them adjust the same way.

Overall evaluation

The Diana 27 is lightweight, easy to cock, slim, accurate and has a wonderful trigger. It’s the kind of lightweight little pellet rifle that makes shooting airguns fun. And if all my airguns were taken away, this is the one I would most want to keep.

35 thoughts on “The Diana 27: Part 1


  1. BB,

    I for one can certainly understand how such an air rifle would be the last one to get rid of. I feel the same way about my 1906 BSA. I have told Kathy that I could part with all the others as long as I still had it. There is something about being able to just pull out one of these classics and spending a bit of time plinking spinners or hunting feral soda cans that is so soothing.


  2. B.B.,

    Ahhh. What a sweet air rifle. You have given us many bits and pieces on this one, but a whole report dedicated to it! Your love for the 27 helped form my vision of the perfect backyard springer years ago.

    I will especially savor this report series.

    Michael





  3. B.B., you sold me on this beauty a long time ago; I keep combing the “for sale” ads; I’ve had the 23s, and passed on some 25s, but some day I will find my .22 caliber Diana 27 (or HyScore 807, or Winchester 427), and then I shall, as RidgeRunner so aptly put it, spend many soothing hours hunting those feral soda cans…my backyard’s full of them! =)~



      • Thanks, B.B. I’m at Robins Air Force Base, right in the middle of Georgia. My wife has medical issues, so I don’t like to leave her alone for any length of time; also, she can’t fly, and I don’t think I could get her to go on that far of a drive. But if you see a .22 caliber model 27 like yours that you think is good at the next airgun show, I would gladly send you the money for it…plus some more money for shipping…and some money for your time…and extra money if you wanted to give it a “B.B. special once-over dis-assembly and check-out” (like so you could blog about it). 🙂


    • The Diana Model 27 is in my top 5 favorite springers IF it has the 3 ball trigger and rail on top of the compression tube that allows mounting a Diana peep sight (the peep sight made for the Diana 75 fits the Diana 27 perfectly).

      The Diana Model 27 was also rebranded by Beeman as the Model 100 although only in .177


  4. Hi BB,
    You know I also love the 27. The only thing I don’t like about it is that my middle finger on my trigger hand takes a rap from the rear of the trigger guard with every shot and gets sore after shooting for a while. I prefer the 177 caliber over the 22 just because pellets are cheaper.

    The accuracy you describe from a M60A1 tank is amazing.

    David Enoch


    • David,

      I have seen the M60A1 shoot that well hundreds of times. That was the first thing we did when we got to the range at Grafewoehr, Germany, was sight in like that. All 54 tanks in the battalion had to shoot that well or their screws couldn’t qualify, and we did it every year.

      B.B.


  5. BB,
    For what I read in the public domain the M60 had a 105mm M68 gun with what we might call micro-rifling (in large scale). It also has beautiful workmanship from the pictures I have seen. In quite a departure, the newer M1 has as main gun a 120mm smooth bore shooting above 5,000 fps. Obviously quite powerful, although in principle a smooth bore would seem less precise piece than a comparable quality rifled gun – could you comment on any of these? Henry


  6. BB:

    Thanks for a great blog. Long time reader. Any chance you’ll be providing a long-term update on the Air Venturi air compressor in the near future? Your last update was at the end of January. I’m running a shoebox compressor at the moment and dislike having to take it to the often dusty workshop to hook up to my air compressor. Not to mention the intense metallic clacking it makes as it nears shut off pressure.

    Thanks for your hard work; it’s entertaining and I appreciate the reach you incorporate into your subject matter.

    CO Hunter


  7. The Diana 27 is a truly great gun.

    Sometime, you should get hold of and test the 27S, which has a different, slightly more targety, stock, an anti-bear trap, and an articulated cocking link. It isn’t as charming to look at and handle as the base model, but is very impressive to shoot. It got ignored in the magnum craze of the 70s, and quickly went out of production. There were similar S models based on the 25D and 35.


  8. BB

    My Diana 27 has “Made In Germany” stamped on the side. Is this normal to your knowledge? I thought it would be stamped “West Germany” or “W Germany” as some of my Weihrauch rifles are stamped. Germany was bifurcated during the entire production of this gun so it seems weird to me.

    Also my gun doesn’t have the little rubber button built into the bottom of the stock. Is that the mark of an early rifle or a later one?


  9. So BB do you think the .177 HW30s compares to this gun your reporting on today?

    That’s how I feel about my .177 HW30s. I can just keep shooting all day. And accurate too if I stay in the range it likes to be shot at.

    Maybe if someone can’t find the gun your reporting on they could get a HW30s and have a similar experience


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