by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Chaser rifle
- Crosman challenge!
- The pistol
- Grip is off
- The bolt
- CO2 chamber
- More CO2
Okay, Bob, this one’s for you! Several readers have asked me to test the new Diana Chaser air pistol, but my brother-in-law, Bob, has been the most vocal. Not that he wants to buy a pistol — he is interested in the Diana Chaser air rifle that is built on the same frame. Today I’m starting the test of a .177-caliber Diana Chaser air pistol. Both the rifle and pistol come in .177 or .22 caliber.
The Chaser rifle comes with everything you need to convert it into a Chaser pistol. The owner’s manual describes how that is done. At this time I think that is the only way you can go. I don’t see the parts needed to convert the pistol into the rifle. So, the rifle and pistol combination together seems like the better deal than just the pistol by itself. Unless price is an issue. Give that some thought before you buy either gun.
I normally don’t make comparisons between different brands of airguns, but the Chaser is so blatant that I’m going to make an exception. It’s obviously going after the same market that is now served by the Crosman 2240 and all the airguns that are associated with that platform. Umarex uses names, like the Gauntlet and the Hammer, to let the world know they are challenging other manufacturers, but Diana has copied the look and feel of their competitor. And they have copied an icon, so I cannot look away.
The Chaser (as in chasing Crosman?) is a CO2 pistol that comes from the box as a single shot. But the action is cut to accept a 9-shot circular pellet magazine (7 in .22) like the one that’s used in the Stormrider and the Seneca Dragonfly. So, quick — where is the Chaser made? That’s right — China. See how this works?
Grip is off
The first thing I did was hold the pistol in my hand as if shooting. Right away I could tell that they missed on the ergonomics. The bottom rear of the grip has a plastic flange that sticks back and gets in the way of the heel of your hand when you hold the pistol. The pistol is mostly ambidextrous, so all shooters are equally inconvenienced. I’m right-handed and this flange pushes the barrel way to the right. Left-handers will find that it pushes their barrel to the left. I normally would not dwell on this, but Diana has copied the Crosman 2240 that fits most hands very well, so this fault is noticeable.
One saving grace for shooters with small hands is the fact that you can get the heel of your hand up on top of the flange and enjoy a neutral hold. But it only works for very small hands.
On the other hand, the Diana gun does something shooters have asked Crosman to do for years. The bolt is on the left side of the action, which makes it easier for right-handed shooters to cock and load the gun. Shooters have historically spent more than the cost of their pistol to correct this one design element and Diana is giving it to them up front. Unfortunately, the bolt cannot be changed to the opposite side, so southpaws have to use it as it comes. But that is also true of the 2240.
The bolt handle is made of metal (probably aluminum) and is longer and easier to grip than the brass 2240 bolt handle. And the receiver is aluminum, not plastic! That is a huge step in the right direction.
Okay — here is where the story gets strange. The Chaser uses a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge that’s housed in the tube under the barrel. Nothing strange there, other than there is a hole in the tube! It allows you to see that the CO2 cartridge is installed, which is a handy thing. Many times I’ve looked at a CO2 pistol and wondered whether there was a CO2 cartridge inside.
The CO2 tube cap has a hole straight through its side. If you try to remove the cap and find it difficult, unscrew the “strengthening rod” in the end of the cap and push it through the hole for added turning leverage. It’s a wonderful solution to a nonexistent problem. If there is no gas inside the tube — and there can’t be because of the other hole I just mentioned — then there is no need for an o-ring in the end cap. And, indeed, there is no o-ring in the Chaser end cap. It was that o-ring, under residual gas pressure at the end of the CO2 cartridge’s life, that made the end cap hard to unscrew. This rod would be a blessing on a vintage Crosman 150 that has a pressurized CO2 tube. On the Chaser that seals at the tip of the cartridge, it is superfluous. The cap will never bind up that way.
But that’s not all. You can also insert a 12-gram CO2 cartridge in the base of the grip! Or at least that is what the manual says to do every 500 shots, then hold the gun with the grip up and shoot it until the gas is exhausted. It’s a maintenance procedure! In all my time with airguns this is the first time I have seen something like this.
And this is a big however. The designers might have thought about doing that and they might have put the instructions of how to do it in their manual, but the test pistol has no way of piercing the CO2 cartridge that’s put into the grip. There is nothing there — as in zero, zip, nada! Just an empty hole. It’s a good place to store an extra cartridge and that’s it. I wish I could claim to be the smarty who figured this out, but the truth is, I got it from Stacey Hrabak in the Pyramyd Air tech department!
On with the description. The front sight is a tall shark-fin that’s square at the top and perfect for fine shooting. The rear sight is a square notch that adjusts in both directions without detents via a screw. And, if the rear sight is removed there is a short 2-piece 11mm dovetail on which an optical sight can be mounted.
The pistol is comprised of metal parts sitting in a synthetic grip. The sights are mostly synthetic, as well. The triggerguard is part of the grip/forearm, but the trigger blade is metal.
Now, here is something very strange. The Diana manual goes into detail describing a procedure that cannot be done (the maintenance CO2 cartridge in the grip) and then they leave out any mention of an adjustable trigger! Pyramyd Air does mention it in their description and I had to try it to see if the one screw does anything. Indeed it does! I took the pistol from a light single-stage trigger all the way to a long first stage pull followed by a heavy second stage. I just twisted the screw both ways and watched what happened. I now have the trigger breaking crisply on a light second stage that follows a definite first stage. I’ll measure it for you in Part 2.
The Chaser comes with a canvas gun bag packed in the box. It has handles and the Diana logo and is a nice addition to the pistol. You might have to buy a magazine, but the gun bag is free.
After examination I must observe that the Diana Chaser is quite a bit different than the Crosman 2240. The 2240 may have provided the inspiration, but this pistol was designed from a clean sheet of paper.
Now there is a choice for air pistol buyers. Yes, the prices are a little different, but the guns themselves are more different. It will be interesting to see how this test turns out!