Diana 35: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 35
Diana 35 pellet rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight in
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Season the bore
  • Other pellets
  • RWS Superdome
  • RWS Superpoint
  • Discussion
  • Summary

I’m testing the accuracy of the Diana 35 today. I hadn’t planned to do that before I opened the rifle and at least lubricated it, but I’m now glad that I did. The trigger on this rifle is adjusted as good as I can get it, but it’s still a bit vague where stage two begins. I think a good lubrication of the trigger parts will help that a lot. So, what you see today could improve.

Also, I note that this rifle is cocking as easily as a Diana 27, yet it is more powerful. It isn’t up to the full spec of a 35, but the cocking effort is so much less that, unless the mainspring is severely canted, I might just leave it as it is. It’s sort of exactly what I was hoping for when I dreamed the whole thing up while working on Michael’s Winchester 427/Diana 27.

The test

I’m shooting off a sandbag rest at 10 meters today, using a modified artillery hold. I’m holding the rifle more than the classic artillery hold, but not as tight as a conventional hold. With the shape of the buttstock and the slipperiness of the plastic buttplate, I can’t really hold it with a conventional artillery hold.

I’m shooting 5-shot groups, so I can shoot many more types of pellets before I get tired. That really paid off.

Sight in

I had the rear sight completely off the rifle and broken into all its parts, so a sight-in was necessary. I sighted-in with Air Arms Falcon pellets for no particular reason. The first shot hit 2 inches high and slightly to the right. It took two more shots to get in the center of the bull. After that I never adjusted the sights for the other pellets.

Air Arms Falcons

First to be tested were the Falcons I sighted-in with. The first group was well-centered but vertical. It measures 0.442-inches between the two widest shots of the 5-shot group. Not a bad start!

Falcon group 1
Five Falcon pellets went into 0.442-inches at 10 meters. Very encouraging!

Season the bore

I was so impressed by the first group that I thought I needed to shoot a second one. Then I heard you guys telling me I needed to season the bore for this pellet. Well, I won’t shoot enough for that, but I might as well shoot that second group right now.

The second group of Falcons went to roughly the same place and was even more tantalizing. Four of the pellets are in 0.123-inches. But one additional shot opened the group to 0.396-inches. I have no idea which of the five shots that one was. This rifle likes Falcon pellets.

Falcon group 2
Five Falcon pellets went into 0.396-inches with 4 in just 0.123-inches. Almost a screamer!

Other pellets

Then I tried a host of other pellets that all gave good groups but not great ones. Rather than flood you with a bunch of mediocre pictures, I’ll just list the pellets I tried.

RWS Hobby
RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
H&N Baracuda Match with 4.53mm heads
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
JSB Exact RS
JSB Exact Heavy pellets

The largest 5-shot group made by these pellets measures 0.718-inches between centers, so we are not talking about poor accuracy. I’m simply cutting to the chase and showing groups made by the best pellets, because we all know they are the only ones I will try, out of this batch, from this point on.

RWS Superdome

I hope you’re paying attention here, because the next two pellets both come from RWS. I think I mentioned awhile back that vintage Diana airguns favor RWS pellets. The current Diana guns do, too, though they also like other premium pellets, like those from JSB.

Five RWS Superdomes went into 0.553-inches at 10 meters. The group shifted its point of impact a little, but that’s to be expected when a heavier pellet is fired.

Superdome group
Five RWS Superdomes made this 0.553-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint

The last pellet I’ll show was made by the RWS Superpoint. I wasn’t going to test it until I remembered that in my .22-caliber Diana 27 the Superpoint is one of the very best pellets. So, I gave them a try and, lo and behold, they turned in a 0.459-inch group that was just behind the two groups of Falcons.

Superpoint group
Five RWS Superpoints made this 0.459-inch group at 10 meters.

Discussion

This 35 is one of the first, vintage .177 Dianas that has proved to be accurate for me. I include in that list the underlever Diana 50 that I tested for you a couple years ago. It did well at 10 meters, too, but fell apart at 25 yards. Of course that rifle is a taploader and I know that has some bearing on the accuracy. I haven’t shot the 35 at 25 yards yet, but I’m hoping it will do okay.

Now, as for this 35, I like it. I like the size. I like the shape of the stock. I like how easy it cocks. And I like the accuracy.

I don’t care for the trigger — yet, but I think I can do something about that. I also don’t care for the vibration and jolt when it fires, but again I believe I can fix it.

Summary

I set out to get a Diana 35 working as smooth as I could, so I would have an adult-sized air rifle that was also pleasant to shoot. So far this one is better than I was hoping for. Now — if I can just do my part!


Remington 1875 BB and pellet revolver: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Remington 1875
Remington 1875 pellet and BB pistol.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Different cartridges?
  • Thank you for asking
  • Problems loading?
  • Let’s go!
  • RWS Hobby
  • I was confused
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • Learned something
  • Shot count
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the 1875 Remington BB and pellet revolver. In the first report I glossed over the fact that this revolver also shoots pellets. It even comes with 6 cartridges that are specifically for pellets, so those are the cartridges I will be using today.

Different cartridges?

This first question that came to my inquiring mind was — what’s the difference between the two cartridges? Obviously the 6 additional cartridges cost money, so why put them in a blister pack with a gun you are partially selling on price? They must be different and the difference, however small, must be important.

Thank you for asking

I’m so glad you asked! First, let’s look at the headstamps on the base of each cartridge.

Remington 1875 cartridges
The two cartridges look quite similar, but their headstamps are different. The BB cartridge (left) says 4.5mm and the pellet cartridge has the image of a diabolo pellet (arrow).

The BB cartridges say 4.5mm on their base. The base of the pellet cartridges have the image of a diabolo pellet. Both are loaded at the base, where there is a soft synthetic material to hold them. I tried measuring the inside diameter of each base, but the numbers I got were conflicting and not accurate. There are low ridges in the synthetic material of both types of cartridge, to hold the projectiles.

On the other end of each cartridge there is no synthetic material. On this end, the pellet cartridge has a hole measuring 0.181-inches. The BB cartridge hole measures 0.175-inches. So, that is a definite difference.

Problems loading?

Reader SigPig said he has a problem loading the pellet cartridges with his revolver. He says the BB cartridges work fine but the pellet cartridges seem too small to accept pellets. If I encounter this I will highlight it for you.

Let’s go!

Well that’s enough background. Let’s start the velocity test. Looking at the velocities we got from BBs (430+ for the standard premium steel BBs), I think we want to stick with the lighter pellets. I will select several lead pellets and a lead-free pellet to test.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. This is a lead wadcutter that weighs 7 grains and is the standard for lead pellet velocity tests.

I was confused

The first shot went out at 342 f.p.s. Shot two was 391 f.p.s. Shot three was 396 and then shot 4 was 328 f.p.s. I finished that string but what was going on? I initially thought it was the amount of time I took between each shot — that the revolver was cooling down extra fast, because I was waiting 15-20 seconds between all shots. So I decided to try something. I would wait a full minute between each shot for a string of three and then I would only wait 10 seconds for the final three.

That almost worked. Look at what happened.

Shot..…….Velocity
1……………396
2……………400
3……………368 now switch to a shot every 10 seconds
4……………369
5……………351
6……………303

Does that make any sense to you? Because it doesn’t to me. Well, maybe a little, because shots 5 and 6 were slower. Shot 6 was much slower. But it didn’t make much sense — until I thought about what reader SigPig said about the pellet cartridges with his gun loading hard. The ones I am testing loaded easily with all the pellets, but was one of them a little tighter than the rest? Looking at my chronograph data I determined which one it might be and removed it from the gun. Then I marked its base and rim with a Sharpie pen so I could see it without opening the loading gate.

Remington 1875 cartridge rim
I marked the rim and base of the suspect cartridge with a Sharpie.

Remington 1875 loading
It’s just as easy to load the revolver through the loading gate, one cartridge at a time.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Now I was ready to test my theory of whether that one cartridge was tight. The second pellet I tested was the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellet. Weighing just 5.25-grains, this lead-free pellet is the lightest one I tested. Let’s look at the string, with 30 second between each shot.

Shot..…….Velocity
1……………418
2……………408
3……………390
4……………400
5……………395 and shot 6 is the suspect cartridge
6……………292

Well, that was pretty convincing! But I needed more proof, so I switched to Falcons for another try.

Air Arms Falcon

The last pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon dome. It’s light, but at 7.33-grains not as light as the Hobby. I’m still suspecting that one cartridge, so let’s do the same test again. I began shooting with one minute between shots

Shot..…….Velocity
1……………356
2……………346
3……………322 after this I paused just 10 seconds between shots
4……………350
5……………340 and now the suspect cartridge
6……………298

Maybe not as big a difference as before, but a difference just the same. Next, I shot the same Falcon pellet with 10 seconds between all the shots.

Shot..…….Velocity
1……………345
2……………342
3……………317
4……………350
5……………342 and now the suspect cartridge
6……………326

That string kind of wrecked my hypothesis. Unless, by shooting, that bad cartridge was breaking in.

At this point in the test 31 shots had been fired on the CO2 cartridge. I continued shooting until there were 56 shots on the cartridge, then I broke for an hour. When I returned — here was the first string of Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets. Ten seconds between all shots.

Shot..…….Velocity
57…………..367
58…………..394
59…………..385
60…………..382
61…………..378 and now the suspect cartridge
62…………..378
63…………..345
64…………..did not register
65…………..350
66…………..345
67…………..343 and now the suspect cartridge
68…………..poof Gun fired by no pellet came out — try again
69…………..poof Gun fired by no pellet came out — try again
70…………..285 this was with the suspect cartridge

Now a five-minute interval while I typed and loaded the gun again. Then I resumed — still 10 seconds between shots.

71…………..291
72…………..290
73…………..311
74…………..291
75…………..285 and now the suspect cartridge
76…………..poof — try again
77…………..poof — try again
78…………..poof — try again
79…………..poof

And that’s where I stopped the test. There is still gas in the gun and you Scotsmen will no doubt continue shooting for a while. But it won’t be very long. And the suspect cartridge needs to be removed from the rotation — its days are over at this point.

Learned something

Today was a good test and I believe we learned something. These cartridges are not all identical and, if you have problems, they are a good place to start looking.

The 1875 revolver has plenty of power for pellets as long as they are the lighter ones.

Shot count

Looking back at Part 2 I see that I didn’t give you a shot count for the BBs. It’s probably exactly the same as today’s, which is somewhere between 70 shots and a stuck pellet around shot 90.

Summary

I’m so glad I took the time to test BBs and pellets separately. That allowed me to concentrate on the performance of the gun which afforded us a lot more insight into how this air pistol really functions.

I will also test accuracy on different days, because I think the pellets will be shot from farther away. This is turning into a wonderful test!


AirForce Edge 10-meter rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Testing Baracuda FT pellets — Part3

AirForce Edge
The AirForce Edge target rifle.

This report covers:

  • 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel
  • Leak!
  • Accuracy
  • The test
  • No sight-in
  • How do velocities compare between the three barrels?
  • What you see
  • Next
  • Summary

Well, RidgeRunner — this one’s for you! Today we look at the AirForce Edge target rifle that reader RidgeRunner had Lloyd Sykes modify into a fancy plinking/sport air rifle. Lloyd boosted the power at the cost of 3/4 of the shots, by adding an air chamber after the built-in regulator. It is an elegant solution!

A normal Edge set up for target work gets about 110 shots from its tiny reservoir. This one gets 25. A normal Edge shoots target pellets at 500-525 f.p.s. This one shoots heavier RWS Meisterkugeln rifle pellets at an average of 713 f.p.s. (estimate — read Part 2 of this report) for 9.31 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

18-inch Lothar Walther barrel

I installed a brand new .177-caliber 18-inch AirForce Lothar Walther barrel in this Edge to test RidgeRunner’s theory that the longer barrel would boost the power to 12 foot-pounds. Shooting the same 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifles pellets through the 18-inch barrel we get an average velocity of 813 f.p.s. Yep — it’s exactly 100 f.p.s. faster. That’s good for 12.04 foot-pounds. Talk about spot-on! Ridgerunner — you nailed it!

Of course it will get even more power if I shoot a heavier pellet. A 16.2-grain JSB Beast averaged 653 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 15.34 foot-pounds! That’s taking this 6 foot-pound target rifle into territory it’s never seen!

Leak!

As I was testing the Beast I noticed the velocity was dropping too fast for the number of shots fired. I couldn’t hear a leak, but by wetting my lips and holding them close to the valve I could feel it. I wanted to shoot some groups at 25 yards, as well, but by the next morning all the air had leaked out of the tank. This rifle has been together since the Edge first came out in 2009 (this rifle is serial number 10) and this one was modified some time after that. It has been together for many years, so a leak isn’t that surprising.

I was going to convert it back to a straight 10-meter rifle again, so the leak is right where I will be working. It should be easy to find and fix. But I did want to shoot at 25 yards with the 18-inch barrel, so I aired it up and shot one group of JSB Exact RS pellets that were the most accurate in the 12-inch barrel, when I tested the rifle at 25 yards in Part 2.

Accuracy

The 18-inch barrel put 5 JSB Exact RS pellets into a 0.228-inch group. In Part 3 the 12-inch barrel put 5 in 0.219-inches, so the two barrels are equivalent in terms of accuracy. This group appears smaller than the next one, though it’s actually larger. That’s because I used metal tape on the back of the first target shot in April, and you can see the entire hole. On this one the target paper has closed back in the holes.

AirForce Edge 18 barrel RS
The 18-inch barrel put 5 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.228-inches at 25 yards.

Edge RS group
This is the 25-yard group of 5 JSB Exact RS pellets shot from the 12-inch barrel. I show it because I did not adjust the sights from this group to the one above.

No sight-in

I did not sight the Edge in today. I just changed the barrels and shot the group seen above. That speaks pretty well for AirForce consistency!

Not the first test of an 18-inch barrel

Although I said at the start that today’s report is for RidgeRunner, this is not the first time I have tested an Edge with an 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel. I also did it back in 2009/2010, when I first tested the Edge. Let’s look at those results now.

How do velocities compare between the three barrels?

Meisterkugeln 7-grain pellets

12-inch average — 563, spread 8 f.p.s.
18-inch average — 616, spread 9 f.p.s.
24-inch average — 636 f.p.s., spread 9 f.p.s.

H&N Finale Match Pistol
12-inch average — 524, spread 12 f.p.s. (taken from a 100-shot string)
18-inch average — 605, spread 12 f.p.s.
24-inch average — 604 f.p.s., spread 13 f.p.s.

RWS R10 Rifle (Heavy)
12-inch average — 487, spread 14 f.p.s. (taken from a 100-shot string)
18-inch average — 536, spread 11 f.p.s.
24-inch average — 545 f.p.s., spread 12 f.p.s.

H&N Finale Match Rifle (Heavy)
12-inch average — Did not test
18-inch average — 584, spread 19 f.p.s.
24-inch average — 597 f.p.s., spread 17 f.p.s.

What you see

These data show that by increasing the barrel length for the standard Edge, the velocity usually increases, but the difference isn’t as dramatic as you see in the test with the firing chamber and 18-inch barrel. The difference is this gun now has more air, and the gun uses all of it, where the first test shown above is with a standard Edge that only stores air inside the valve, itself.

As you can see, having the extra air makes a huge difference! I hope that reinforces what I said in Part 2 about how the additional air speeds up the pellet. The longer barrel gives the air (the little boys) more time to push on the pellet (the car), resulting in more velocity. But having even more air (more little boys) doing the pushing, has a far greater impact.

Next

I’m done testing this modified Edge. Now I want to remove the modifications so I can test it for you as a true 10-meter target rifle. It is possible to purchase an entire Edge Spare Tank and Buttstock Assembly that would allow me to leave the modified tank set up as it is (with the firing chamber). That way I could convert the rifle in seconds. I have to admit that it’s an attractive thought, but old BB is just too awash in airguns to be building kits like that. Maybe 20 years ago; not today.

Summary

I remember a time when target rifles like the Edge and Crosman Challenger PCP didn’t exist. I remember the NRA telling the airgun community at the SHOT Show Airgun Breakfast about the size of the Junior Marksmanship Program (more than one million kids involved annually). When they did they awakened many manufacturers who had been sleeping. It was like telling Revlon that many American women wear lipstick — something of which they should have already been aware!

In those days the Daisy 853 was the de rigueur target rifle for America’s junior marksmen. Nobody used anything else. I imagine Daisy didn’t like the NRA spilling the beans about the program to the industry, because of the results that followed. Within 10 years both the Crosman and AirForce rifles came to market. And today there is no longer a Daisy 853. That’s progress, but it can hurt, too.


Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

TR5
Air Venturi TR5 repeating pellet rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • “I’ll eat my hat!”
  • We talked
  • Hobbys
  • The solution?
  • The test
  • Eye-opener!
  • Magazine 2
  • Next time?
  • Summary
  • Summary

“I’ll eat my hat!”

I had a conversation with Val Gamerman last Friday. I never told you, but before I started my tests he told me the Air Venturi TR5 Multi-Shot Target Air Rifle would put 5 pellets in 3/4-inch at 10 meters or he would eat his hat. The last time Val said something like that to me was in 2012, and he said it about an IZH 60, oddly enough. He trusted me to shoot and that time it was 10 shots in a quarter-inch at 10 meters. I almost did it but not quite, so he kept his word and ate his “hat.”

Hat
This was the “hat.”

eating hat
Pyramyd Air president, Val Gamerman, eating his “hat.”

We talked

So Val called me after reading all 5 parts of the blog on the TR5 and we talked for some time. He told me the spec for the rifle was 5 shots in 20mm at 10 meters. Twenty millimeters in 0.787-inches, so he felt safe enough. Air Venturi had tested 10 rifles and all but two met or exceeded the spec. The best one put five into 0.3 inches at 10 meters. Of the two that didn’t make it, one was just over and the other was greater than one inch.

Hobbys

As he talked, I noticed Val was repeatedly mentioning that they tested the rifles with RWS Hobby pellets. That’s a pellet I never tried in the test rifle. They did test with other pellets, as well, but the Hobby caught my eye.

Then Val asked me why the TR5s in general are so fussy about the pellets they like and why my TR5, in particular, is so inaccurate? I told him there are two things that contribute to that. A barrel that’s larger on the inside will tend to like some pellets over others and any pellet repeater is suspect because the magazine might not align with the breech. Heck — you should see all the things the RAW rifles do to overcome this very problem! They spend a lot of time and effort to ensure their rifles don’t have a magazine alignment problem!

The solution?

He told me that Boris (one of his design engineers) had suggested making a magazine with just a single chamber that could be used in the single-shot mode. And I told him I would like to retest the TR5 with Hobbys, but which of the five pellet chambers could I trust? If only there was a way to test each of them separately.

Then it hit me — there is a way to test the pellet chambers separately. Shoot one shot at each bull for a total of 5 separate bulls on a target page, then reload and do it again, and again, until each bull has 5 shots fired from each chamber! This is a test I have never tried before, but since I wanted to test the Hobbys anyway, why not do it this way?

The test

That is our test today. One pellet was fired at each of five separate bulls at 10 meters — five times. I shot off a sandbag rest with the rifle rested directly on the bag. And I used a conventional hold. RWS Hobbys are the only pellets that were shot.

Eye-opener!

Since I haven’t tested Hobbys in this rifle yet, I first fired a magazine of five at a bull before starting the test. When the first four pellets went into the same 0.488-inch hole, I was impressed. But shot number five landed low and to the right, opening the group to 0.994-inches. Remember that, because I’ll come back to it in a bit.

TR5 first mag
This group opened my eyes a bit. Five Hobbys went into 0.884-inches at 10 meters, with 4 in 0.488-inches. Maybe this is the pellet for the rifle?

I’m going to show you all 5 targets and then talk about the groups afterward.

TR5 first group
The first chamber put 5 in 0.818-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 second group
The second chamber put 5 in 1.08-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 third group
The third chamber put 5 in 1.02-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 fourth group
The fourth chamber put 5 in 1.518-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 fifth group
The fifth chamber put 5 in at least 2.577-inches at 10 meters. I say at least because one of the two widest holes isn’t all the way on the target.

The biggest thing I took from this test is that the fifth chamber is the one that’s the most screwed up. It is also the chamber that threw the last shot in the first 5-shot group. Remember — I said I would come back to that?

This set of targets was made with the first magazine, which is the one I put in the box at the end of this test. I’m reminding myself of that for any future testing I decide to do.

Magazine 2

I ran an identical set of tests for the second magazine. The first 5-shot group used the entire magazine and measures 1.629-inches between centers. That’s quite different from the first magazine. Remember that because I want to address it at the end of the test.

TR5 second magazine
The results from the second magazine are very different from those of magazine one. Five pellets are in 1.629-inches at 10 meters. This will be an interesting set of targets!

TR5 first group
The first chamber put 5 in 1.927-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 second group
The second chamber put 5 in 2.483-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 third group
The third chamber put 5 in 0.71-inches at 10 meters. It’s the best group of the test!

TR5 fourth group
The fourth chamber put 5 in 1.276-inches at 10 meters.

TR5 fifth group
The fifth chamber put 5 in at least 1.231-inches at 10 meters.

The second magazine that is still in the rifle at the end of the test is probably not one to use. Four of the five chambers are goofed up. However, if there is a way to only shoot chamber number three, it did give the best group of this test. I will ponder that for the next time.

Next time?

I am going to shoot the TR5 at least once more because today’s test has taught me something. I really wish this rifle was a single shot, but since it isn’t, is there a good way to shoot it as though it is? There are several things to consider.

1. The first magazine gave 4 good shots and then a flyer. Can I do anything with that? Perhaps only load 4 at a time?

2. The first chamber in the first magazine gave the best group for that magazine. Can anything be done with that?

3. Chamber 3 in the second magazine is another one to consider, if I can figure out how to use just it.

Summary

I didn’t expect to do this test, and now I’m planning even more. This isn’t a case of finding an accurate TR5. They exist. But I want to see how well this one can shoot. I think that it shoots better than I have shown so far.

 

Oh, and Val, don’t forget to order your next hat!


Smith & Wesson 78G and 79G target pistols: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

S&W 78G
My S&W 78G pistol.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Physical description
  • CO2
  • Fit
  • Loading
  • Adjustable power
  • My observation

Before I get into today’s report I have a surprise for you. I had a conversation with Val Gamerman on Friday about the TR-5 and together we discovered something neither of us had ever thought of. You’ll read about it tomorrow.

History

The .22 caliber 78G and .177 caliber 79G single-shot target pistols were made (actually, produced) by Smith & Wesson from 1971 through 1980. They were first made in their Tampa, Florida, plant. In 1973, they moved the airgun division up to Springfield, Mass. In 1978, they moved airguns back to Florida. From this point forward, I’ll speak specifically about the .22 caliber 78G, unless I indicate otherwise, though much of what goes for one gun holds for the other pistol, as well.

Physical description

The 78G is a very realistic copy of the S&W model 41 target pistol in .22 rimfire caliber. The weight and dimensions are very close, with the air pistol’s 43.5 oz. being slightly heavier than the rimfire pistol’s 42 oz. with the 7.5″ barrel. The external dimensions are very close, and the wood grips on the firearm are faithfully reproduced in plastic on the airgun. But it’s the realistic kind of plastic that fools people!

S&W 78G 41
The 78G and 79G are patterned after S&W’s famous model 41 target pistol.

CO2

The gun is powered by CO2. The 12-gram cartridge sits inside the grip and is accessed by unscrewing a knurled knob on the bottom of the grip. Insert the cartridge with the small end sticking up where the knob attaches, and when it is tight, press in on the knob below to pierce the cartridge. My pistol was resealed many years ago and still holds gas fine.

S&W 78G CO2 knob
Screw the knob all the way down then push in on the round button on the bottom and the gas will load and seal.

My current pistol came in a factory box with five S&W powerlets and a tin of 250 pellets. This is the most common presentation I have seen of this pistol in the years I’ve been in airgunning. At some airguns shows, I’ve seen as many as 50 of these boxes stacked up on a show table, awaiting a sale. But that was 20 years ago. I don’t see it anymore. Today, people are starting to pay good money for just one pistol, even without the box and papers.

The first version of the gun was finished in shiny black paint, featured two power levels and had an adjustable trigger. Later, the adjustable trigger was discontinued, the power levels were reduced to just one and the paint was changed to a dull matte finish that was more uniform than the shiny black. The gun I am testing is shiny but lacks the adjustable trigger. I’m not certain my gun has the original finish. It may have been repainted.

In 1980, S&W parent, Bangor Punta, sold the pistol design to Daisy, who rechristened them the models 780 and 790. The triggers got much heavier and creepier during this transition. The final model Daisy made was a shiny, nickel-plated, .177 caliber model 41 that paid homage to the S&W model 41 target pistol. Ironically it has the worst trigger and surface finish of all.

So, if you’re seeking the best gun to shoot, look for a model 78G with shiny black paint and adjustable trigger. But beware. S&W had problems with porous metal castings in their early pistols, and some of those early guns will leak down and cannot be repaired. I owned one early model, but the gun I’m testing for you in this report is a later version.

S&W 78G adjustable trigger
Reader Two Talon sent in this picture of an adjustable trigger.

In many ways, the 78G is today’s equivalent of the Crosman 2240. The way it holds is beautiful. It balances much like a Smith & Wesson model 41, which I borrowed and compared — gun-to-gun — for an article I wrote in an Airgun Revue magazine many years ago. Both guns hold well, with the weight centered in the hand and just a touch of muzzle heaviness.The 78G feels as much like its firearm equivalent as the Crosman Mark I feels like the Ruger Marks I through III.

Fit

The gun sits low in the hand, making the sight line easy to acquire. The trigger blade is well-situated for my average hand. Like the Crosman Mark I, the 78G has two cocking knobs protruding from either side of the frame above the trigger. There was a high and low power level initially, however the later versions of the gun like the one I am testing have a single power level, unlike the Mark I. The early gun with the adjustable trigger also has two power levels.

S&W 778G cocking knob
The cocking knobs (one on either side of the pistol) are pulled toward the front of the gun (to the left in this view) to cock the pistol.

Loading

Loading is done separately from cocking, just like the Mark I. On this gun, a latch is depressed on the left side of the slide and then the bolt is pulled straight back to expose the loading trough. There’s no resistance to this bolt, as it doesn’t cock the action, so loading is smooth and easy.

S&W 78G loading
My pistol has had some work done on the bolt for loading.

Adjustable power

The gun’s power is adjustable, and there have been aftermarket power boosts for this pistol almost since Smith and Wesson began making them. The power adjustment is in the same place as on the Crosman Mark I, and it works the same way. Turn the screw inward to put more tension on the hammer spring and outward to reduce tension. The more tension, the longer the valve stays open and the most gas flows through.

S&W 78G adjustable power
The outer screw locks the inner screw that adjusts the power.

My observation

What I’m about to suggest has no basis in fact, and I’ve never even heard it suggested before other than by me. I find the Smith & Wesson 78G/79G actions to be remarkably similar to the Crosman Mark I/Mark II actions. They cock the same way, they load the same way, the power is adjusted in the same way and the adjustable triggers work the same. I see too much similarity to believe it happened by coincidence. The Crosman guns began production in 1966 and the S&Ws started in 1971. I feel certain there was some borrowing of technology by S&W when they designed their pistols. Beyond that observation, I know nothing.

This should prove to be an interesting report. I hope some of you who own these guns, or the Daisys I have mentioned, will chime in.


Diana 35: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 35
Diana 35 pellet rifle.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The rear sight
  • Breech seal
  • What to expect?
  • RWS Hobby
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger
  • Summary

Today we start looking at this Diana 35 that I got from reader Carel in the Netherlands. This is an older rifle that doesn’t have a manufacturing date, but it was probably made between 1953 and 1964. It has the features of the early model (stock with finger grooves), yet it has a hooded front sight with a fixed post that isn’t usually found on rifles this early. Of course the sight could have been added at some later time. The rear sight, though, is quite different.

Diana 35 rear sight 1
The Diana 35 rear sight is different than any I’ve seen.

The rear sight

Reader Mike Driscoll thought the ears around the sight might have been protection during initial shipping. So far no one has come forward with a different explanation, but as soon as this blog gets published some reader I don’t know will link me to the book on Diana rear sights that explains this one’s rich history!

Not knowing any better, I took the sight apart. Five minutes to disassemble and 30 minutes to put it back together correctly. Where engineers today would use tiny coil springs and ball bearings guaranteed to get lost in the carpet, Diana of the 1950s used stamped sheetmetal springs. They aren’t as easy to put together, but at least they don’t get lost. It follows the mid-20th century tradition of never using one part when 27 will do.

Diana 35 rear sight ears
That heavy sheetmetal set of “ears” around the rear sight is a piece that’s just laid under the sight and attached to nothing (arrows). I never thought of it until editing this report, but I guess I could have just pulled it out without any disassembly.

rear sight apart
The component parts of the Diana 35 rear sight. The “ears” are not going back on the rifle!

As someone pointed out, the ears make it difficult to adjust windage on the rear sight. So they aren’t going back on the rifle — at least until I’m done testing it. I suppose I should put them back after that or they will be separated from the rifle forever.

Breech seal

The rifle arrived with a leather breech seal that was toast. Carel had told me it was bad, so I ordered a synthetic seal and shim from Chambers. I didn’t shoot the rifle because that seal was not only flat, it had divots in it. When I removed it. it was hard and rotten. The new shim and seal went in easily and I was ready to test the velocity.

Diana 35 breech seal
The breech seal was flat, pitted and hard.

What to expect?

This rifle is a .177 and the Blue Book says to expect a velocity of around 665 f.p.s. That would be with a lightweight lead pellet, because they didn’t have lead-free pellets when this airgun was made. I presume nobody has tested it with a lead-free pellet since then, so I selected an RWS Hobby that weighs 7.0 grains.

Before I test the velocity I will note that the cocking seems very light for a model 35. I bought a new mainspring when I bought the seal, so if necessary I will replace that sometime in the future.

RWS Hobby

I’m only going to test the rifle with this one pellet today. That should tell me where it is.

Hobbys averaged 603 f.p.s., which is a little slow for a 35. It’s not bad, but there was some vibration with the shot so I’m betting the mainspring is either canted or broken. I probably need to replace it when we go inside, though I do like how easily the rifle cocks right now.

The spread was 31 f.p.s., from 587 to 618 f.p.s., which is on the high side. A rifle like this that’s tuned well should vary 15 f.p.s. or less. That also makes me think the spring is either broken or canted.

Cocking effort

A 35 should cock at 28-30 pounds or so. This one cocks at 18 lbs. Something is definitely wrong.

Trigger

The trigger had a short first stage and a mushy second stage that broke at 3 lbs. 15 oz. After three adjustments I had it breaking at 3 lbs. 10 oz. with a long first and a short second that is very crisp. It’s a little heavy but just how I like them!

Summary

This was the first time I have fired this airgun. Now I know how it shoots I plan to definitely go inside and see what’s what. I will probably install the new spring, perhaps tighten up the tolerances and lube the powerplant with Tune in a Tube. I’m going to take my time with this one, so we may not see it finished this year.


ASG CZ 75 Shadow 2 airsoft pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

CZ75 Shadow 2
ASG’s CZ 75 Shadow 2 airsoft pistol.

This report covers:

  • Different
  • Batteries
  • SHOT Show 2019
  • Bashed Sig
  • Bob Li
  • Not stocked at Pyramyd Air
  • The airsoft gun
  • Caliber
  • CO2 powered
  • Hop Up
  • My plans
  • Summary

Different

Something a little different today. Many newer readers aren’t aware that years ago I wrote a lot about airsoft guns. I even rebuilt some guns with tighter barrels, stronger mainsprings and advanced meca boxes (airsoft term for the actions on automatic electric guns — AEG). In 2013 and 2014 I wrote a 3-part airsoft primer to bring interested readers up to speed.

Over the years I have tested various airsoft guns for you. I won’t link to them all, but back in 2007 I reviewed the UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 sniper rifle and even tested it for accuracy at 50 yards! If you want to see more of these reviews, type airsoft into the search box at the top right of this page and hit the Go button.

Batteries

I even wrote a two-part article for Pyramyd Air on the basics of rechargeable batteries for AEG guns. Most shooters go to AEG for the thrill of full auto. See Battery basics for airsoft guns Part 1 and Battery basics for airsoft guns Part 2.

I don’t write about airsoft guns often because I really can’t go in both directions — airguns (pellet and BB guns) and airsoft (realistic airguns that shoot 6mm and sometimes 8mm plastic balls that the Asian manufacturers call BB bullets or just BBs). But when an airsoft gun of significance comes along, you bet I’m interested! We have one today — the ASG CZ 75 Shadow 2.

SHOT Show 2019

I was shown this pistol in the ASG booth at the 2019 SHOT Show. Before I talk more about the gun I need to get something off my chest. Why is it that there are dozens of scope manufacturers but I only report on Leapers each year? And why, out of more dozens of airsoft manufacturers, do I only ever talk about ASG? Thanks for asking — let me tell you why. I only report on these two companies because, out of all of them, these two are responsive. They answer questions. They know their products, They care about what they are doing! I respond to that. If they care, then I will, too.

I have stood in dozens of scope and airsoft booths are talked to countless drones who could care less about the products on display. They are just watching the clock so they can bug out at the earliest opportunity to get to the bar, the casino or wherever else the real world is for them.

Now, airguns are different. I have to visit their booths regardless of who’s there. The only airgun booths I pass by are those from the orient or other countries where they aren’t really selling airguns, they are just trolling for commercial buyers.

Bashed Sig

You may not remember this but I bashed Sig pretty hard when they brought out airguns the first year at the 2015 SHOT Show. That’s because nobody in the booth knew anything about the guns and I knew the person in charge of their airgun division was going to run them into the ground.

“The next stop was the SIG booth. There was some talk at the show about their new airguns, and I wanted to get a look for you.

Sadly, I could not find anyone in their booth who knew anything about the airguns they had on display. Yes, they have a couple of PCP and CO2 guns that are tactically styled after their firearms, but no one knew anything.

And they aren’t just selling airguns, either. I saw a host of action targets and accessories in the booth. It’s obvious that someone at SIG is interested in airguns — they just haven’t put the word out to the rest of their staff. Plus, there was no literature about their products.

I’ll watch for the SIG guns and products to arrive this year and review them for you when they do. Maybe by that time, I’ll find that person at SIG who can speak about the airguns.”

That was Sig airguns in 2015. So, imagine my surprise, several months later, when I got a phone call from a Sig rep wanting to talk about the airgun business. She cared; I could hear it in her voice! This was a person I could work with! She told me Sig recognized the problems and were taking steps to change — and, boy did they! Their turnaround was so dramatic that I became their head cheerleader. What I do is the media version of, “Fool me once…” Now, back to ASG.

Bob Li

You guys call me the Great Enabler. Well, Bob Li of ASG enables me! He knows all the right buttons to push because he is a real shooter. We speak the same language. So, when he told me this pistol was probably one I wanted to look into, I paid attention! Bob, by the way, is the guy who not only got me to test the ASG CZ75 SP-01 Shadow BB pistol, but also to purchase a CZ 75 SP-01 firearm to evaluate alongside the BB gun. Then Sig brought out the P365 and (hopfuly soon) a P365 BB pistol and a P320 M17 BB gun to go with my 9mm firearm. All of that arose from a single conversation with Bob Li. Stop it, Bob!

Not stocked at Pyramyd Air

You can look for this airsoft gun at Pyramyd Air but you won’t find it. At $180 retail it’s hardly something they can sell. And now I have you talking! “One hundred eighty dollars for an airsoft gun!!!??? The thing better answer the phone, make good coffee and pay my mortgage, too!” I guess I even said some of that to Bob at the show. “Pick it up,” he challenged. I did and all resistance melted. Two pounds 11.6 ounces, unloaded. All metal on the outside — even the grips!

This one is called the black and blue model by CZ, because the thin grip plates are metal, too. The Shadow 2 was purpose-built for competition in the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Production Division. What that means to everyone who doesn’t compete it this is a fast-firing accurate pistol that’s designed to be as smooth as possible.

Shadow2 Firearm
The 9mm Shadow 2 firearm doesn’t look much different, does it?

The airsoft gun

It’s completely realistic! The safety is ambidextrous and can be operated by the thumb of the shooting hand. The drop-free magazine release is extended and may swap to the other side of the frame. Disassembly is so easy — just align the mark on the slide with the one on the frame and press out the slide dismount (CZ’s term for the slide catch) and the slide with barrel and recoil spring comes off the front of the frame.

CZ75 disassembly marks
To disassemble line up the marks and push the slide catch out.

This pistol is double action and single action, though the movement of the metal slide in full blowback cocks the hammer, so after the first shot it’s all single action. And it’s two stage, so it’s perfect for target shooting. The single action trigger pull is unbelievably light. Among my handguns only my FWB P44 trigger is lighter.

The rear sight adjusts for both windage and elevation, just like the firearm. It’s a low-profile tactical sight that won’t grab anything coming out of the holster.

CZ75 rear sight
The rear sight adjusts both ways.

The forward underside of the frame has a single cross slot for a Weaver mount. This can be for a light or a laser sighting device.

Yes, there is an orange tip on the gun that many websites do not show. I could have PhotoShopped it out, as well, but it a legal requirement in the U.S. I caution you to never carry this gun in the open because it isn’t easy to tell it from a firearm.

See those labels in the first picture that give the power (1 joule) and the country of origin (Made In Taiwan)? Both are stickers that peel off, leaving smooth metal underneath. The ASG imprint and the caliber are both on permanently.

Caliber

This is a 6mm ball shooter. It uses 0.25-gram plastic balls and ASG was kind enough to send a big bottle of biodegradable BBs that I can play with.

CO2 powered

Knowing the weight of the BBs you know it must be powered by CO2. If it was any other kind of gas the BBs it shoots would have to be lighter.

Hop Up

Yes, of course it has adjustable hop up. The pistol must be disassembled to access the adjustment that’s located in the barrel group, but with this pistol that isn’t so bad. It goes quick and back together for testing. I will have to adjust it I’m sure, so you’ll hear all about it.

CZ75 Hop Up
The Hop Up adjustment screw (arrow) is with the barrel group.

My plans

Airsoft guns can be surprisingly accurate. I have seen many that are. This one has the pedigree of a world-class competition pistol, so it’s starting at a good place. Let’s hope it delivers!

Summary

This test will be a pleasant change for me. It’s been almost three years since I tested an airsoft gun and longer since I tested one this advanced. Added to that, I have both the BB gun and the 9mm firearm to compare to. It’s gonna be a good one!