by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
My .22 caliber Diana 27 is actually a Hy Score 807.
This report covers:
- Not the pre-war 27
- First time
- Why a 27?
- Great feeling!
- Breech seal
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not only is the rear sight fully adjustable, it also has 4 different notches to choose from.
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.
The piston seal is leather.
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.
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.
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.
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.
40 thoughts on “The Diana 27: Part 1”
I should pay better attention. I would’ve said the R7 was BB’s favourite rifle.
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.
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.
So will I! 😉
The Diana 27 and the HW85 seem to share some attributes. The way the stock ends before the pivot point as well as the rear sight both seem very similar.
Truly a classic!
Can not wait for part 2.
One of my favorites as well. Need to get it out today. Thanks again for a good report.
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! =)~
I don’t know where you live but there has been at least one 27 each year at the Texas airgun show.
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). 🙂
What a hustler! And they call me the enabler!
So, about 45 years ago when I worked for Olin (who owned Winchester) I bought a Winchester 427 in the company store. It’s been with me all these years, but I’ve fired it only a few times. Now I’m thinking of taking it out of the box and killing a few of those ferieral beer cans. Now, after an hour on line I see it really is a Diana 27, or maybe a HyScore 807. Whatever it is, can you advise me on best way to check it out, lubricate, whatever…., before I start shooting? Yes, it’s in brand-new condition.The box is a bit beat up, but the gun is perfect! Thanks
Welcome to the blog.
Drop 10 drops of 3-in-One oil or any good household oil down the transfer port. When you break the barrel down the transfer port is behind the breech in the spring tube that doesn’t move.
Stand the rifle on its butt for several hours and then just shoot 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
Try the 25, its just as wonderful, bit more nervous feel due to the carbine like feel is has. But just like the 27 a true beauty
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.
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.
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
The M68 canno is spin-stabilized with rifling. The 120 round in the Abrams is fin-stabilized. Fins on the back of the projectile catch the air and spin it. More accurate than the 105 from what I’ve heard. Never shot one.
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.
Welcome to the blog.
Yes I can do an update on that compressor but the short of it is — it still works! It’s still very fast and reliable.
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.
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?
I don’t know about the Germany thing. But the button was on some of them (the Hy Score for sure) and not on others. I don’t think it has to do with the age.
Hello, its strange they only know at Diana problably, i have several from the 70’s and only one says west germany. I have to mention that that is a confirmed export model. Some others have a small F next to the calibre markings, that they suited for germany.
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
I think these are a lot alike. I’ve never had a 30, though I’ve had a couple older R7s. Both rifles are plain fun.
Even so. I would still like to have a 27. For nostalgia purposes ya know. 🙂
Oh and something else.
I will have to say the HW30s was much more fun to shoot open sights when I plink with it than with the scope on it. And when I talk about plinking. I’m always standing out in the yard and free hand. No support. The scope complicates things to me anyway.
I think some springers shouldn’t even have dove tails on them. I really should take the scope off my 30 now that I got my target practicing with it out of my system.
Ok just did it.
It’s now a official plinker. Just like I said I was going to keep it. Got caught up in that group shooting stuff.
Here it is. No scope.
Great choice for a plinker, or small pest shooter . Just stay in a reasonable range for what it is.
Loads of fun . Same as an R7, except you have to have a scope for an R7 .
Just walk around and pick out things to shoot at . Massive fun.
Never had a R7.
Why you say you need a scope for a R7? Never paid attention but guess they don’t come with open sights.
No opens . Scope only. No real problem when your eyes no longer work with opens .
Have a pair of 7s.
You only have to work out the trajectory differences with a scope.
Yep and my eyes don’t work great with a open sight anymore. But with the front globe it helps me with open sights.
Looks like they NOW come with opens . Mine did not.
Probably keeping with the times.
Back when this 27 came out. I think scopes on air guns was not a big thing. From what I remember when I was young anyway.
So maybe that’s why the R7 has dovetails now.
Looks like the stock is the only difference now.
Going to bed .
Yep out of here too.
I know I’m replying to an old post, but how you describe not being able to put your Diana 27 down is the same experience that I had with my first “big boy” air pistol, a Diana R5. Not the most accurate gun, but no CO2, no multi-pump stuff, just cock it once and shoot it. Accurate enough to hit what you’re aiming at as long as you don’t hold it too tight. Same style of sights that you describe on the Diana 27. I now have four of ’em and a Model 6, but that old R5 is still my favorite.
St. Louis, MO