by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana Stormrider
Diana Stormrider precharged pneumatic air rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Wow!
  • Good enough for the price
  • Trigger
  • How loud?
  • Shots per fill
  • Crosman Premiers
  • How powerful?
  • The discharge?
  • Tremendous tuning potential!
  • The trigger
  • More power?
  • Powerful lesson
  • Summary

Wow!

Before I do today’s velocity test of this .22-caliber precharged rifle, I will begin by addressing all the issues, questions and concerns you have about the pedigree of the new Diana Stormrider. Right off the bat someone tells us the rifle is Chinese and made by Snow Peak. I knew that last time but decided to leave it out. Guys, it’s a global economy today and companies do that. Some don’t, and keep everything in house, but more and more often companies either source their parts from the outside, or they buy fabricated parts built to their specifications or they even buy entire products like the Stormrider, and put their names on them. It’s a fact of life.

Another fact of life is that the Chinese know how to make stuff. Most of the optics in the world either come from China or from somewhere in Asia. That started back in the 1970s, and is the way things are being done today. It doesn’t mean that the Swiss and Germans can’t still grind lenses — or even the Americans, for that matter. But your cell phone camera was probably made in China or Malaysia. I just purchased illuminated two pocket magnifiers that enlarge 100 times for less than nine dollars — shipped! Guess who made them.

Good enough for the price

Here is a phrase that angers me. “Good enough for the price.” I dislike that phrase, even though I use it too. When it comes to shooting, nothing is good enough for the price, in my book. It’s either good or it’s not, and price gets looked at separately — after I know it can perform. I will not shoot an airgun that’s only good enough for its price. Life is too short.

Having said that, I will now also say that not everything has to be perfect. When we talked about youth target rifles on Monday, I referred to the Daisy 853. The 853 was (it’s no longer made) the standard for American youth target rifles for several decades. It’s not as accurate as an FWB 300, and no amount of gunsmithing can make it so, but an 853 is more accurate than 95 percent of shooters can hold. That’s what makes it okay, in my book. I told you that Crosman attempted to enter the market with their CO2-powered AS397 that was transformed into a target rifle (the Challenger 2000), but that the barrel wasn’t up to the task. However, when they built the Challenger PCP (originally Challenger 2009), they put a great barrel on it. That rifle will outshoot an 853 and has a much better trigger. It also costs more because of all that is in it.

Trigger

RidgeRider wanted to know how good the Stormrider trigger is. I get that. The 853 trigger is a joke until it is modified. The AirForce Edge trigger is fine, by comparison. But even it doesn’t rival the trigger on an FWB 800X. When I look at the trigger on the Stormrider, that sort of thing will be in the back of my mind. It will have to be good enough to do the job. Not “good enough for the money.” It’s a subtle difference, but an important one, I think.

How loud?

Someone else wants to know how loud the Stormrider is. I do, too. Not so I can shoot it in my back yard, but so it could be shot in a gymnasium where 99 other target air rifles are also on the line shooting at the same time. I will do my best, but I’m not going to fall prey to those cheap sound meters that lie more than tell the truth. I will simply do the best I can to tell you what to expect. Instead of a 1-5 scale like Pyramyd Air gives you, I will attempt to go two orders of magnitude finer. So 3.37 on a 5-point scale.

Shots per fill

This is a big concern. I have been told that the Stormrider has a steep power curve. The description says it gets about 40 shots per fill. Today we will see what the numbers look like, but until I test the rifle for accuracy at 25 yards, we won’t know the whole picture. I have a special plan for how to do that, based on Dennis’ guest blog yesterday.

I can tell by your comments that the Stormrider is a rifle many of you are interested in. That’s great, because we don’t get that kind of interest all the time. So, sit back and let me get this test underway.

Crosman Premiers

I began the test with the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. This is where I normally shoot 10 shots and start the velocity test, but today will be different. Because I had a chronograph (HINT, HINT!!!), I completed the entire test in a single string of shots. Allow me to explain, but first, let me show you the shots.

Shot Velocity
1…………….780 sound is 2.41 on the 5-point scale
2…………….807
3…………….811
4…………….818 sound louder — up to 3.63
5…………….841
6…………….846
7…………….856
8…………….862
9…………….866
10 ..…………869
11 ..…………870
12 ..…………864
13 ..…………859
14 ..…………855 sound louder — up to 3.88
15 ..…………848
16 ..…………837
17 ..…………833
18 ..…………822
19 ..…………810
20 ..…………798 sound lower back to 2.90
21 ..…………786
22 ..…………776 sound at 2.66
23 ..…………764
24 ..…………762
25 ..…………749
26 ..…………745
27 ..…………733
28 ..…………722
29 ..…………719 sound at 2.11
30 ..…………702
31 ..…………694 valve started to bounce (blaaaap)
32 ..…………685
33 ..…………682
34 ..…………675 reservoir gauge needle at bottom of green

Before starting the string I filled the gun to 3,000 psi, even knowing the fill was to stop at 2900. The heat of compression from filling the gun means the pressure in the reservoir will drop back a little as the reservoir cools. I think the shot string shows that I nailed the fill.

So, what is the average velocity of the Premier pellet? That depends of which set of 10 shots you select. I can choose anything I want to prove almost anything within the range.

How powerful?

The fastest shot went 870 f.p.s. With the 14.3-grain Premier, that generates 24.04 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. With a heavier pellet we will probably see greater than 26 foot-pounds at the high. But what is the average velocity for this pellet? It’s arguable, but if I take shot number three that went 811 f.p.s. as the starting point, and shot number 19 that went 810 f.p.s. as the last shot, there is a string of 17 shots that average 845.12 f.p.s. That’s an energy, with this pellet, of 22.68 foot pounds. And the spread was 60 f.p.s.

The discharge?

The discharge sound started out lower than a Benjamin Discovery, and, when the rifle crossed into the 800 f.p.s. range, the sound increased. The rifle is not loud, but it will be noticeable in your back yard when it’s on the power curve.

Tremendous tuning potential!

The last time I saw a curve like this was on a Career 707 from Korea that I owned years ago. I regulated that rifle, had the valve tuned, went from three power levels to 17 levels and result was the rifle went from getting 12-15 effective shots at more than 50 foot-pounds each to get 90 shots at 30 foot-pounds (as long as I adjusted the power every 10 shots after 30 shots had been fired). The Stormrider is a pneumatic tuners’ dream — an airgun just waiting to be taken wherever you want it to go, within reason. If it was mine I would strive to average 800 f.p.s. with Premiers. Doing that I think there are probably 25 (within 20 f.p.s.) consistent shots without resorting to a regulator.

The trigger

RidgeRunner, the Stormrider trigger is single-stage without a positive release point. But it is light! It’s the sort of practical trigger you can get used to and do great work with.

The trigger breaks at a very consistent 2 lbs. 12 oz. to 2 lbs. 15 oz. The pull weight is consistent. It’s the release point that cannot be felt.

There is your Part 2 report. All gathered from a single string of shots with just one pellet. That’s what a chronograph can do!

More power?

Knowing what I now know from that first string, I can take a Beeman Kodiak pellet that weighs 21.14 grains and fill the rifle to a lower pressure to start higher (faster) on the power curve. Around 2,700 is where I want to start. Ten shots on the highest part of the curve gave me an average of 757 f.p.s. The low was 739 and the high was 770 f.p.s., a 31 f.p.s. spread. Even with this heavy pellet the velocity/power curve is still steep. At the average velocity this pellet produces 26.91 foot-pounds, and at the highest velocity it makes 27.84 foot pounds. So, Mr. Marketeer, which number do you want to report? Oh, you want even more energy? Shoot heavier pellets. You know they exist. Will you be lying? Of course not.

Powerful lesson

Today wasn’t supposed to go the way that it did. You can’t plan for this — it just happens. I seized on the opportunity to show you how things can work. At one company their lawyer tells them they have to advertise the rifle at the absolute highest velocity it can shoot (in case he ever has to defend it in court), so they use the lightest pellet they can find. But the vice president of marketing at the same company asks the engineers what is the mostest-powerfullest the rifle can be (for their advertising), and that is obtained with a different pellet. Please understand that Diana and Pyramyd Air are not doing this — I am! I’m using this rare opportunity to show you how complex this stuff can be. If the Stormrider wasn’t as flexible as it is, I couldn’t do what I did.

Summary

I’m going to spend some time summarizing, in case I’ve confused anyone. I think the Diana Stormrider has demonstrated a boatload of potential as it was tested today. Is it powerful? It certainly is. Does it have a good trigger? Again the answer is yes.

One way of looking at the Stormrider is to realize that it gives you more power than a Diana model 54 Air King with half the weight (5 lbs. as opposed to 9.9 lbs) and at less than one-third the cost ($200 compared to $650). Yes, that’s comparing apples to oranges, but people do it all the time. “Hey, my dad can beat up your Ferrari!”

My point is, the Stormrider gives you good power, light weight and a reasonable discharge sound at very little money. If it was on your short list before today, watch this blog carefully, because accuracy comes next. If the Stormrider can shoot (and people have already told me that it can) this is a PCP to consider.