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.

63 thoughts on “Diana 35: Part 2



  1. Oh yeah, we’re going inside!

    That is a nice looking little rifle. As far as the engineering goes, I’ll take the leaf springs over the coil springs and ball bearings any day.



  2. BB

    Make this report last as long as you want. The fun lasts longer. I am looking forward to your finding out the cause of easy cocking. The low velocity may not be a disadvantage if fps spread is correctable. Could scragging the existing spring help assuming it is not broken? Is there correlation between TIAT and fps consistency? You may be inclined to bring it back to original specs instead.

    Deck


  3. B.B.,

    I’m with Decksniper. Make this series last. I enjoy these historical reports, especially with a sweet classic like this 35. Besides, this is not a new product everyone is itching to have evaluated for accuracy.

    Michael


  4. B.B.

    That Diana is a nice rifle – having learned to shoot with low (relative to today) power springers I have a special fondness for them. Looking forward to the tear-down!

    I replaced the broken main-spring on an old rifle that was given to me and it is shooting well enough that I am thinking about refinishing it. Never seen of these before, and I was hoping you can tell me a bit about it.

    There is no model number or company name on the spring tube, just a medallion on the stock that says “JUNIOR CAL 4.5” and the word Jelly. The only other markings are the serial number and “Made in Hungary”. 36 3/4″ long and weighs 6 pounds.

    Done a bit of plinking and pesting with the rifle and all in all it appears to have the makings of a fine little rifle. Points well, holds steady and shoots straight 🙂

    Cheers and Happy Friday!
    Hank



      • Yup, you are right RR – it is a fancy “T”. Can see that on the stock in the article that B.B. linked to.

        This rifle has been sitting in a garden shed and is in rough condition. Its functional now but I am going to tear it down again and give it a through going over, you know… the old spit & polish routine. Somebody “refinished” the stock (deep scratches all over it) but there is lots of wood and should be fine. Not much bluing left on the metal so I will have to see what I’ll do with that.

        Think it’s shooting around 500 fps with the spring I installed, will put it over the chrony when done fixing it up. Happy with that as Telly will be on spinner and pop-can duty.

        Hank



          • RR

            I tried the cold bluing potions years ago and the results were poor – splotchy and more brown than blue.

            Think it is time to check out some of the new products. Casey’s Super Blue eh? …will look some up.

            Thanks RR!

            Hank


            • Hank,

              I tried the Aluminum Black on this and was not happy at all with the results, so I reblasted it and picked up the Aluma-Hyde II which I have used before. It is great.

              I used the Super Blue on the steel and I was very happy with the results. I did use several coats and after I rinsed and dried it I oiled it with Balistol. Once I put it all together I will try to post some pictures.



    • Thanks B.B.!

      I remember Vince’s article for the Telly but the stylized “T” on the medallion really looks like a “J” to me. Glad that is sorted out

      I’m off to read Vince’s report again.

      Hank



        • Dave,

          Since I just wanted a plinker I wasn’t worried about maximizing power I replaced the main spring with the one I saved when I overhauled my FWB 124. Found that the old FWB spring (cut and ground flat) fit nicely onto the Telly and it is getting good velocity.

          Just came in from (successfully) pesting with the Kelly and have to say that the cocking effort is not too high… guessing it to be around 30 pounds.

          Hank


          • Hank, that’s pretty cool; they look like neat rifles; every now and again I will see one for sale here: https://www.henrykrank.com/antiques/antique-air-guns.html
            Actually, they have a lot of neat old vintage airguns there, and the prices look pretty good…till you start to figure in the shipping across the pond. I looked into a DIana 27 from there, but the cost was prohibitive. For some of the smaller air pistols it might be OK, though. =>


            • Dave,

              The vintage rifles are nice and often very well made but “vintage” means that it has been around for a long time and subjected to use (and abuse?).

              Think that if I was looking for a break-action rifle I would prefer to get one of the new Weihrauchs and not have to worry about old springs, leather seals and stripped screws.

              This Kelly was given to me (it was not working) and 1/2 an hours work had it shooting. Think I will fix it up a bit just for the fun of doing it.

              Hank


              • “… I would prefer to get one of the new Weihrauchs and not have to worry about old springs.”
                Hank, I hear you on that; my little HW30S is easy-to-cock, smooth-shooting, and accurate; overall, it’s a delightful rifle that has me thinking about getting an HW50 and detuning it to 11 fpe…a lot of Brits are of the opinion that that’s the sweet spot for a springer; and it would be a good replacement for the old Diana 45 I had in my youth, which was a great gun, well-worn before it came to me, smooth, and accurate (and under 12 fpe, but it accounted for much game and lots of great plinking); I could look for an old one and try and spiff it up; but as you said, a new Weihrauch would be much easier and much less fuss…not cheap, but certainly worth the money. =>


                • Yup, “not cheap, but certainly worth the money. =>”

                  My .22 HW100 FSB is easily my favorite PCP. Mine is one of those kinda rifles that makes you smile everytime you pick it up – which I do several time a day.

                  The grackles around here haven’t figured out that 50 yards is not a safe distance to be… but then there is rarely one who survives to pass the word on.

                  Wouldn’t mind a HW30S or maybe a HW50 in the stable.


                  • “…one of those kinda rifles that makes you smile everytime you pick it up”
                    Hank, I’m with you on that; I feel the same way about my HW30S; I wish more airgun manufacturers would copy the Weihrauch formula, and choose build quality over price point. =>


  5. Hi All,

    Yes that certainly is one of the nicest 35s I have seen. There are the really old ones too with diopters also, they are cool too. This one has a nice slender stock.

    And also does not have the hideous stamped checkering they did at some point. Man, as far as I am concerned they would have been better off leaving the stock bare than stamp it that way.

    I bet it needs a new spring, I am pretty sure it is all messed up. Though 600+ fps is better than I would have thought! With a new spring you might hit 700+

    Then again it may just be harder to cock and do the same speed, as I have ended up with so many times in my early days of messing with old airguns. =-)

    Carel


  6. B.B.

    It is because of articles like this, that prompted me to go to the Pacific Airgun Expo. I strongly recommend that all readers who enjoy the historical series go to an airgun show near you. Even if it is not so near…. Makes a great weekend.

    Enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend all,

    -Yogi


  7. Speaking of CO2; yeah, I know. Nobody else was at the moment, but I am now.

    I would like to see Umarex take their auto bb guns and build some futuristic bad-to-the-bone sprayomatics. I think their Storm series or their MP40 guts in something like this could get me into CO2.


    • Hey everyone, SIG MPX CO2 now coming in PCP Summer 2019 MSRP $349 as the SIG MCX Virtus PCP. Hard Air Magazine did a write up about it from the 2019 Shot Show.

      On my wish list.

      John


    • Ridge
      Got a new Steel Storm today and a new 760 with the extended pump handle. And the 760 is not a repeater thank God.

      And of course the Steel Storm is running on a regulated bottle and hose adapter and Co2 HPA adapter. The kids love the Steel Storms. Had to get another one. 🙂

      Yep the Steel Storm shoots. Just like the other’s. Getting 300 or so shots on HPA at 3000 psi and punching holes through both sides of a 12oz. aluminum feral can at 25 yards. And open sights that came on the gun that are not adjustable. How about that.

      And the 760. Already know it’s going to be a shooter. And love the new extended pump handle.

      But tried some Daisy bb’s and some of the new to me Marksman bb’s. I rolled some Daisy bb’s down the barrel from the breech end just in case I needed to push them out the barrel from the muzzle end. They rolled down pretty smooth.

      Now here is what I was waiting for. The Marksman bb’s took a bit to roll down like certian bb’s do in the 499 compared to the Daisy bb’s.

      Bad news sort of. Some good but some not so good. As I said the Marksman bb’s did make it down the barrel. But the Daisy silver bb’s put the Marksman bb’s to shame group wise.

      This new 760 is shooting way, way better than my TR5 with bb’s than the TR5 with pellets. (the truth again).

      Oh and a note. I was hand loading the bb’s and letting them pull into the probe on the cocking arm for the breech with it’s magnet. I was not filling the BB resivour.

      And that’s even open sights at 20 yards. Putting the UGT scope on it tomorrow that was on the TR5. Then going to try some pellets.

      Already got a good feeling how this will turn out. Know what my other 760’s have done with bb’s and pellets.

      I’ll stop before the truth comes out tomorrow. But I think I’m going to be happy.

      What did I pay for the 760? Don’t even remember. Under $40 if I remember right. And the Steel Storm was only $99. Guns don’t have to cost alot to be fun. 😉


      • No edit time left.

        Scratch that. The Marksman bb’s just shot as well as the Daisy bb’s with more pumps.

        I see more testing coming.

        But for some crazy reason this 760 is shooting as well with bb’s as some of the pellets I use in other guns.

        Getting ready to try some pellets. But maybe not. Hate to try pellets after how well it’s doing with bb’s. Will it mess up the bb accuracy? Seriously. It’s doing real well with bb’s

        Nope not yet. More bb’s tonight and tomorrow. Don’t want to make that change yet.


        • GF1,

          LOL! The 760 has been around for a long time. It came out at a time when it either performed or it didn’t sell. It has survived because it is good. when I was first getting into airguns I gave the 760 some serious thought. I am really looking forward to finishing up my 101.

          I think you have hit upon the purpose of the Marksman BB. It is likely sized for the dual ammo airguns such as the 760. I would like to see if they would work in my Daisy 99.




          • GF1,

            LOL! It probably is much nicer in that respect than the “old” versions, but being an old, bald headed, fat geezer I would want one of the older wood stock versions if I get one. That is why I picked up the 101. That is more my speed.


            • RidgeRunner,

              For actually shooting it, I would rather have the new one. Just by looking at the geometry one can tell it pumps much more easily than the old style. Just look at how much more leverage there is with the pump handle so close to the trigger guard.

              Michael



                • GF1,

                  I’m going to get one of those, I have to!

                  Incidentally, I’ve read that the 760 with just a couple pumps is the perfect darts-playing air gun.

                  Michael


                  • Michael
                    I have a rifled barreled 760 out at my brother’s that I had as a kid. It’s a wood stock and metal receiver. And then a smooth bore that my kids learned on which is about 18 years old. I myself like the feel of the new 760 I just got.

                    And the 760 my kids learned on has had everything shot through it and more. But yep I shot darts in it.

                    And if you read the update I just gave. It’s the one I shot yesterday. After all the stuff I shot through it over time. It is still a bit more accurate than the new one. It seems the barrel is a bit more tighter than the new one. Or maybe the new one needs shot more and it will get better. And which I plan on doing. 🙂




              • Michael,

                Now as far as the 101 goes, it has a pretty long pump lever also. It’s lever ends at the very front. We’ll see how it does when I get it put back together.



      • Up date on the new 760 and also my old smooth bore 750 I already had.

        I shot some pellets through the new 760 yesterday and getting pretty much the same accuracy as it shooting bb’s. It’s getting a little bigger than 2″ groups out at 25 yards with bb’s and pellets. The more I move in the better it groups. So good enough for plinking but making good power. It will send the bb’s or pellets through a aluminum can on both sides and almost both sides of a tin can at 25 yards. Oh and really no difference between the Marksman bb’s and the Daisy regular silver bb’s.

        But this was kind of interesting with my old smooth bore 760. It’s shooting pellets and bb’s better than the new 760. Sort of.

        Pellets are at around a 1-1/2″ at 25 yards. The Daisy bb’s are at around 2″. But the Marksman bb’s are right with the pellets in my old 760.

        Without pushing pellets I’m going to say my old 760 barrel is a little smaller than my new 760. And the Marksman bb’s did take longer to roll down the barrel on my old 760 compared to the new 760.

        So I would say that if a barrel could be found that fit the Marksman bb’s you could have a more accurate bb gun.

        Oh and the Marksman bb’s shot fine out of my Steel Storm. Absalutly no feed problems at all. And going to try some of the Marksman bb’s in my ISSC M22 blow back Co2 pistol to see how they do in it today.


        • Update with the M22.

          The Marksman bb’s had no problem going through the barrel and accuracy was basically the same as the other bb’s I tryed in it

          But it did have feed problems with the bb coming out of the hole in the magazine on some shots. And the bb’s were more of precise fit when trying to load them in the mag. And of course with my particular gun.



  8. B.B.,

    I also accepted Mike Driscoll’s proposed explanation of the rear sight’s sheet metal ears; at least until I read your caption under the picture: “…but I guess I could have just pulled it out without any disassembly.” If that is really the case then I’m going to profer an alternate speculation of their use. Especially since they make changing windage setting difficult. I suggest that they are installed after windage is set when this rifle is used for hunting or pesting to avoid accidental changes to windage by inadvertantly bumping or brushing the windage knob.

    One question: does the part appear to be blued to the same standard as the rest of the sight of even that of the rifle’s metal? If so, that would be either German Overkill or indicate that the part is intended to stay with the rifle.
    One other thought is can it (the ears) be installed flipped upside-down as a temporary means (if it fits) of keeping the part and rifle together.

    A lot of speculation…no facts! Athough I did an extensive search in German on any information about the sights unusual feature.

    shootski


    • Shootski
      I still think that is a gaurd to protects the adjusting knob.

      If it isn’t I wish it was. And on other gun’s.

      I say one up for Diana on that.

      And like BB said. If he don’t put it back on it will never be found again.



      • BB
        Could it be used for a extra quick sighting for hunting/pesting situations?

        You know. More sight refrence when getting on target.

        Kind of like some military open sights. That’s the only other reason I could think of for that extra sight piece.




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