The Diana model 50 underlever: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 50
Diana model 50 underlever.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Before we begin…
  • Rear sight conversion
  • Accuracy — the test
  • RWS Superdomes
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • RWS Superpoint
  • RWS Hobby
  • Things I did wrong
  • Summary

We start looking at the accuracy of the .177-caliber Diana model 50 underlever today. I say start because I want to shoot this rifle a lot more. I will look for interesting ways to do that.

Before we begin…

However, before I jump into the accuracy there are a couple things I need to clear up. Reader Halfstep asked about the loading tap. It was shown in the closed position in Part 2 and he asked if I could show it open. He also wondered how far into the tap the pellet falls, so I’ll show that, too.

Diana 50 tap open
The tap is open.

Diana 50 pellet in tap
An RWS Superpoint has been dropped into the tap. See how deep it is?

Rear sight conversion

Reader Siraniko asked to see how the rear sight converts from a peep to a sporting open sight. Here that is.

Diana 50 rear sight
To remove the peep sight disc, loosen the screw on the left (arrow).

Diana 50 peep off
The peep just lifts off.

Accuracy — the test

Now let’s look at accuracy. I shot at 10 meters for all of today’s test. I forgot that the front sight has 4 different posts, so I suffered through the whole test with a post and bead. That’s the worst front post to use with a peep sight because it has the least precision, when used with the peep. It’s difficult to center that sight (the bead is not centered — the top of the bead is)

RWS Superdomes

I started the test shooting with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag. Since RWS Superdomes were recommended so highly by several readers, I sighted-in with them.

On the first shot my head was so close to the peep that my eyebrow touched the rubber cup. When the rifle fired I got a heavy hit in the eyebrow that stopped that immediately! It was like getting hit in the eye with a scope and was very unexpected.

The first shot landed high, so I adjusted the rear sight 8 clicks down for the first group. Someone asked whether the rear sight has clicks or is indefinite, and this is the answer.

Then 5 more shots went into 0.738-inches at 10 meters. The group is open and horizontal, so I reckoned I would try it with the artillery hold next. I also adjusted the rear sight to the left to move the group over to the bull.

Diana 50 sight in
First shot went high, then after adjustment the first group landed about centered and to the right. Group measures 0.738-inches between centers.

The group of Superdomes shot with the artillery hold was well-centered. It measures 0.575-inches between centers for 10 shots at 10 meters. The artillery hold is definitely the way to go with this rifle!

Diana 50 Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes in 0.575-inches at 10 meters. The Superdome seems to be a very good pellet, and now we know that the Diana 50 can shoot!

H&N Finale Match Light

Next to be tested were 10 H&N Finale Match Light pellets. The Diana 50 is a sort of target rifle and a wadcutter pellet like this one is appropriate. Ten Finale Match Lights landed in a 0.626-inch group at 10 meters. This group is also well-centered.

Diana 50 Finale Match group
Ten H&N Finale Match Light pellets made this 0.626-inch group at 10 meters.

The rifle was shooting well at this point. I find the trigger light and relatively crisp, though if I could adjust it to be crisper I would. When the rifle fires it torques sideways a little. The softer I hold it the less I notice this.

RWS Superpoint

Now it was time to shoot the RWS Superpoint pellets that I felt were best for this rifle. They landed lower on the target than all the others. One time the gun fired as I was settling-in for my next shot. I called that shot to the left, but I wasn’t ready for it, so my call could have been wrong.

When I saw the group I thought I had gotten lucky and the called shot had not strayed, but as I was sitting at the computer writing this report and measuring the groups I noticed something on the target that proved to be the stray shot. Nine shots are in 0.549-inches and that wild one opens the group to 1.064-inches. A shame!

Diana 50 Superpoint group
Ten RWS Superpoint pellets made this 1.064-inch group at 10 meters. Nine are in 0.549-inches but the shot that got away from me opened up the group. I didn’t notice the hole when taking the pictures but look where the arrow indicates.

RWS Hobby

The last pellet I tested was the lighweight RWS Hobby. Hobbys are sometimes very accurate — especially in Diana airguns! Ten Hobbys made a 0.556-inch group at 10 meters — the smallest of the test! Truthfully, though, all of these groups are so close that it’s difficult to say which is better — the Superdomes or the Hobbys. Without precision measuring equipment these group sizes are only approximate.

Diana 50 Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys made this 0.556-inch group at 10 meters. This is the best group of the test, though it’s arguably the same size as the Superdome group.

Things I did wrong

Next time I will select a fat squared-off post for the front sight. I think my accuracy may have suffered from guessing where the center of the bead actually is.

I will also pay more attention to that trigger. It’s really light!

Where I place my off hand doesn’t seem too critical, but it was about 8-10 inches up from the triggerguard. I say that just to remember for next time.

Summary

From today’s test I think the Diana 50 is an all-around accurate airgun! I think no matter what pellet I choose within reason (weight-to-power ratio), it’s going to work. That isn’t common with air rifles.

44 thoughts on “The Diana model 50 underlever: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    Thank you for showing the rear sight in detail. It looks to be made mostly of sheet metal. I suppose the disc is made of some form of plastic (Bakelite?) I had tried fabricating a peep sight based on the photo in a blog entry of yours: https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2014/04/diana-72-youth-target-rifle-part-1/ belatedly I realized that the attachment needs to be made of light weight materials instead of steel which resulted in the front screw being stripped from the threads by the recoil. Well next time might be the charm and I will have a peep sight that will withstand the recoil of my Webley VMX.

    Siraniko



    • BB, another great installment on this lovely rifle! The model 50 is an old favorite of mine, and I will never tire of your excellent photos of this excellent example.

      Siraniko, I’m guessing I’m the only reader of this blog who is obsessed enough to own more than one old Diana with this sight! So a few more words about it…

      The base of the sight is a stout solid steel piece, but the moving parts are indeed made primarily of thick stamped metal (prewar DIanas are almost exclusively very traditional milled parts, but post-war models make extensive use of stamping, spot-welding, and other more modern techniques. I would speculate that is a spin-off from wartime military weapon production by them). The aperture disk itself is made of thin sheet metal, with the eyeshade a separate snap-on rubber component.

      In the photo of the top of the sight, note the thin curved spring-steel blade at the windage adjustment knob on the right side. This functions to lock the adjuster screw in place, by means of a slot in the blade which engages a square section on the knob’s shaft. The blade must be depressed to free the knob to turn. There is a similar lock blade used on the “star” front sight, to keep the selected blade firmly in place.

      Older versions of this sight did not have a windage knob at all, but were supplied with a small thumb-turn wrench which simulaneously depressed the locking blade, and engaged the windage shaft, which had a square-section shape for its entire length.

      The sight’s elevation wheel was also made in two versions. Some have 10 clicks per revolution and others 20. The ingenious “step” scale on the side of the sight tracks the number of full revolutions of the wheel.


  2. Hi BB et al..
    Well, I wasn’t able to get on the range this morning as planned. It was just too darned cold for me, 4°C, and didn’t warm up till about 1:30 this afternoon to about 18°C. I spent the next 3 hours there and put another 100 shots through the Browning Leverage for a total now of 320 shots.
    I think the Lucas Red ‘n Tacky grease tune – from now on I’ll just call it the Tacky Tune – worked wonders on the gun. Cocking effort is much lighter now, measured this evening at about the advertised 28 lbs and all afternoon I was impressed at how smooth the cocking stroke had become.
    Muzzle velocity showed little change,maybe a few fps slower but hard to measure. Still about 780fps with 11.9gn Hobby’s, same as when it only had a one hundred shot count and about 760fps with the H&N 12.5gn Hollow Points I’m useing now. Any way you look at these numbers it’s a16 ft. lb. gun which is decent.
    The Tacky Tune hardly affected the muzzle velocity but it did greatly improve the whole shot cycle. I’ll be useing this external lube tune more in the future.
    About half way through the break in I used up all the Beeman Laser pellets (no longer available) and switched over to the H&N Hollow Points. I think the BL has good pellet tolerance as I have not noticed any performance difference.
    As well, after about 80 shots this afternoon, I shot the best group so far. A 10 shot group at 50 yards that was just under 1¾” with the H&N’s. We’ll see how the groups fare up to the 500 shot break in. Maybe then I’ll start useing a heavier pellet for better accuracy.
    Cheers
    Dave


  3. BB,

    Well, it seems you have acquired a very interesting air rifle. Not only is it nice looking and has many unique features, it is accurate with a wide variety of pellets. I would say this is most definitely a keeper. I cannot wait to see how the old gal does with a scope.


  4. B.B.,

    Nice shooting and nice job on the tap and sight pictures. I love that sight system. 4 option front, 4 option rear (for open) and a peeper add on. Less we forget, the entire rear sight can be mounted forward for open sights.

    I got to thinking about that missing front hood. If it was me, I would find some thin wall tubing, cut a slot in it that is a bit narrower than the front mount and just slip it on, a pressure fit. I see there is a stop to the rear, which would prevent movement under recoil. You could even add in a bit of taper to the back of the slot to facilitate the spreading start. I think that it would be worth the effort. Maybe you can easily require an original or something that would work that is already made? I don’t know. Just an idea.

    Chris


  5. B.B.,

    Let’s hear it for RWS Superdomes in .177!

    Incidentally, I find that they often shoot like Hobbys, but do a bit better than Hobbys at 15 yards and 20 yards.

    At .22 the Superdomes seem to have an extra layer of lead in the skirt. Perhaps it was difficult to add the weight they were going for up-front, and they needed to add mass to the skirt to get up to14.5 gr. I wonder how balanced the .22 version of the Superdome is/is not. A shuttlecock requires a significantly heavier front than skirt to do its thing.

    Michael


  6. B.B.,

    I will never get caught up on your blog or anything else I imagine. I can’t complain though. I had hoped to make it to the 2017 Texas Airgun Show this year, but Harvey ended that hope. I have stayed high and dry, though, when so many haven’t, including some friends and co-workers. They are alive, though, and they are tough.

    Regarding my use of scope with AO and magnification, I have found that once focused at the highest magnification, little or no change in AO is required at lower magnification. I use 6x magnification or lower now, but always open to new learning or correction.

    I see that the newest Titan’s also have the NP turned 180 degrees, and so expect this to be standard for now.

    I have been reading some historical articles. I didn’t realize how wild Fort Worth was in the later 1800’s, and I don’t mean the cattle.

    I hope everyone here who has been affected by Harvey is faring well.

    ~ken



    • Glad you escaped the worst effects of Hurricane Harvey. I cannot believe the pictures that I’ve seen. So, how wild was Fort Worth? Send me some links. I love history like this.

      Matt61



      • Matt61,

        I wanted to respond to you much sooner, but Harvey made some things more difficult for me. I can’t complain though; for me it was more irritation than devastation.

        The remark I made is from an article in the October 2017 Wild West magazine. The article is about Joel Fowler fled Texas and raised hell in New Mexico where he was finally lynched. There is a quote attributed to an unnamed “one early resident”; it doesn’t say how early, but the incidents in the article are near the beginning of the Civil War. The quote is, “men went about wearing pistols and bowie knives openly, and it was a common thing to hear of a man being shot without any notice of it by the authorities.”
        The part about the bowie knives reminds me that, at few months ago, I saw my first Pistolero, all decked out in what amounts to a uniform with his “bowie knife” prominently sheathed on his upper left thigh. The Pistoleros are a support group of the Bandios motorcycle gang. I didn’t see his pistol but I have no doubt he had one on him. He had his “old lady” with him. This was at a Jack in the Box located in a quiet rural neighborhood noted for it little meth mills. TMI, but I was impressed and a bit hyper-vigilant at the time.

        I have to deal with a printing issue right now and so must restart my computer. Here is a link to an article you might like. The title is “Hell’s Half Acre, Fort Worth”.
        https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hph01

        ~ken



  7. After yesterday with the HW30s and trying the artillery hold with my hand on the bag. Then I did the group with the gun rested on the bag with no fore hand. Both ways I used a loose grip with my trigger hand and also lightly touching the gun to my shoulder and cheek.

    Yesterday the gun on the bag worked the best. Tryed again today and pretty much the same groups.

    But then tryed both of those holds and this time tightened up my trigger hand grip. This time both holds produced nice round groups. Then added my fore hand back on the gun lightly keeping it stable with he gun on the bag and gripping with trigger hand. Again good groups.

    Then tryed again all ways with trigger hand grip loose. Groups grew then. Tryed all of the ways I just mentioned with the Tx. Pretty much same result.

    So far it seems that the trigger hand grip is what’s making a difference with the Tx and HW30s. Oh and for the heck of it I tryed the FWB 300 all the different ways. No matter what hold I used with the 300 it shot good groups.

    I’ll shoot some group’s after I eat lunch to show how the HW and Tx shoot with the trigger hand grip loose and tight with the artillery hold with my hand on the bag and also with the gun on the bag. Probably will only do 5 shot group’s since that will be 4 groups for each gun with the different holds. The target paper I was trying with this morning was the one from yesterday. So it was all muddled up with shots at all the dots. So no real order. Would be hard to document on the target what was what.

    And again this is these two paticular guns. Maybe other guns will need different holds.

    Hope everyone is getting to relax today on their labor day. I know I’m going to. What better way than shooting some air guns. 🙂


    • Not going to happen right now. The wind kicked up. Like a 13 mph crosswind. And of course the weather forecast says the opposite. Says it’s suppose to be calm.

      Hopefully can try later. Curious to see if I get repeat results.



        • Larry
          I should of continued yesterday. It was absalutly perfect shooting conditions yesterday. But it was late in the day and then suppertime. I told my wife I should go out there and try some more shots to see what happens. I actually got flood lights on the house aiming out in the yard towards my targets. So I could of seen even if it got dark. But was tired and felt like relaxing.

          Now today the conditions have switched to the worst kind of shooting day. Wish I would of continued yesterday. I have tryed today but the wind just keeps gusting up. Still got the 13 mph wind that is staying steady for the most part. But now gusting close to 17 or so mph.

          I’m definitely going to try more with the different holds. I have done all this in the past. But not with the HW30s and .22 Tx I have now.

          And darn anyway. It’s going to be eating at me till I try it. But I will see for sure. And goes to show you. Don’t get caught up on a certain type of hold. Definitely need to try different holds when a new gun comes along. Maybe the results will repeat and be good. But maybe not. We will see.


          • Ok here it is. It seems that trigger hand grip does make the difference.

            All shots was with no fore hand and resting directly on the bag. It’s at 50 yards. And still had about a 5 mph crosswind.

            Even the FWB 300 was better with a firmer trigger hand grip.

            And I did try some shots with my hand on the bag with each gun in the palm of my hand. Even some shots with the palm of my hand on the bag and the gun on the top of my hand. I had no luck. It’s just seems like the gun moves to much for me. it’s probably got to do with me I guess not being used to it.

            Anyway this is what it is.


    • Thanks for the exhaustive test. You are a lucky guy to have both the HW30 and the TX200; both are my dream guns. Now that I think about it, I’ve never really thought about the degree of tightness in the trigger hand. I’ve always associated the artillery hold with degree of support which I’ve identified with the supporting hand. The trigger hand has always been held however is necessary to operate the trigger properly which is fairly light unless I’m shooting a high-powered rifle. My only other guidance is from star 1000 yard shooter Nancy Tompkins who said that the trigger hand should have as much tension as you would use to hold a cup of water. She’s thought a lot about the role of the hands and is very particular about how to place the thumb on the stock (as upright as possible to avoid any sideways force when working the trigger).

      You’re right about movies. There is a very funny scene in the Catcher in the Rye when Holden Caulfield is lying on the floor of a hotel room after getting punched out by the elevator man. Before administering the beating, the guy had taken off his uniform top to reveal a shirtfront covering a “fat, hairy belly.” While lying on the floor recuperating, Holden slips easily into a movie fantasy. He imagines that the elevator man has shot him. He takes a few drinks from a bottle of whiskey to steady his nerves, then he pulls out is own army .45. He makes his way downstairs and waits for the elevator to open. The elevator man sees him with his gun leveled and starts screaming for mercy, but Holden has none. “Six shots right in his fat, hairy belly.” Then, he comes back to reality and admits that the movies will “kill you.”

      Matt61


      • Matt61
        You know I worked through alot off guns. The 3 springers I have right now are definitely keepers.

        And my biggest surprise is even as calm as the HW30s is to shoot. It is looking like it still wants a certain hold to do it’s best. I have taken more shots this afternoon when the wind took a few breaks.

        It’s definitely looking like the HW wants a loose hold and the Tx wants to be held some what firm. And it does seem that all 3 guns including the FWB 300 like a to have a little bit of pressure on the trigger hand. And it does seem that what you mentioned about holding a cup of water is pretty much right for the trigger hand. But I need to try more on a calm day.

        And nice story about the movie’s. And wonder how they ever came up with the name movie’s anyway.


  8. B.B. and all!
    Hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable Labor Day holiday! I check in on this blog 2 or 3 times a day but don’t say much too often. I am in the first couple of years of my real airgun experience and B.B.’s razor experiences are showing the types of “learning experiences” I have had. When the realization of a new “basic law” of airgunning hits home, it is the proverbial light bulb coming on! Thank you, one and all, who contribute here without ridicule or condemnation. A true breath of fresh air!
    I just recently stepped up to the Marauder .25
    and am very impressed with the increase in power and accuracy over my .22 Disco but I still see the need for a .22 breakbarrel to cover my ” light work” needs. 15- 35 yds. doesn’t need 43+ FPE to take a bunny! I like the Diana line but get confused with all the other good recommendations I see here. I guess I will just have to keep reading here.
    Bruce


  9. BB,

    Off topic,
    I want something like the beloved Diana 27 (impossible to get one in my country), light, small, easy to shoot and cock, and as accurate as possible. I can’t get any IZH here, and as I have dear memories of my dad’s old 25D, I was thinking of a Diana 240. What is your opinion of that little rifle?

    Thank you!
    Anthony from the land of tequila and wide-eyed women.


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