Diana Bandit PCP air pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana Bandit
Diana Bandit precharged pneumatic air pistol.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

    • Filled to 200 bar
    • Not able to adjust the rear sight
    • The test
    • Superdomes first
    • UTG Micro Reflex dot sight
    • Take rear sight off
    • Hades pellets at 200 bar
    • 180-bar Hades target
    • 170-bar Hades target
    • Is the sight mounted tightly?
    • How is the gun rested?
    • Ah HA!
    • Oh, well
    • Final target — Meisterkugeln
    • Discussion
    • Summary

    Today we look at the accuracy of the Diana Bandit PCP air pistol, and I have to tell you that it’s just a first look. This gun took a LOT of work to get it to shoot!

    Filled to 200 bar

    I re-read Part 2 and saw that the .22-caliber Bandit that I’m testing, as it comes from the factory, only gets 7 or 8 good shots per fill. I also saw that a 200-bar fill is probably too high but I didn’t have much to go on, other than the customer comments that seem to agree. Many who gave the pistol a high rating say they had to back off on the fill pressure to get any accuracy.

    The small reservoir fills quickly so you have to be quick on the valve when filling. I learned how to do it so I could nail the fill within an indicated 5 bar every time.

    Not able to adjust the rear sight

    I started the test shooting at 10 meters with the open sights that come on the gun. The first shot landed way to the left of the bull so I added some right adjustment and the adjustment screw fell out! The rear sight notch is still to the left of center and there is no way I can get it close to where it needs to be. So the open sights are out. I’ll tell you what I did in a moment.

  • The test

    I shot from 10 meters with the pistol rested on a sandbag. I shot 5-shot groups and refilled the pistol after each 5 shots except for the first target which was for sight-in.

    Superdomes first

    I shot RWS Superdomes first with the open sights. I will show the target but there is no group to show because I was trying to adjust the sights. I shot 9 shots on a 200-bar fill.

    Diana Bandit Superdome target
    There’s not much to see. I was all over the paper trying to sight the Bandit in with the open sights which proved impossible. The shots in the center of the bull were three of the final five that I shot. The two under the bull were the last two shots. These final five shots were shots 5 though 9 on the first fill.

    I later learned things that may have also pertained to Superdomes, but this was the first and only target I shot with them.

    UTG Micro Reflex dot sight

    Fortunately I had plans to mount the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight on the pistol before the test began, so I did at this time and then continued with the test. Pyramyd Air only carries the red dot version, but I have the green one that I can see a little better.

    Take rear sight off

    To fit the dot sight to the Bandit the rear sight needs to come off. Even though the Micro Reflex sight is very small you will have loading clearance problems unless the rear sight comes off. Then it’s fine.

    Hades pellets at 200 bar

    Several owners report good things about JSB pellets in their Bandits, so I switched to Hades pellets with the dot sight. I refilled the reservoir to 200 bar and shot another 8 shots. This time I thought I nailed it!

    Diana Bandit Hades target 1
    I numbered the shots as they were fired so you could see how they went. When I saw shots 4 though 8 I thought I understood what the Bandit wanted. The final 4 shots measure 0.31-inches between centers. This is one of the few times you will see the dime in this report.

    180-bar Hades target

    At this point in the test I thought I knew it all. Boy, was that wrong! For the next target I filled the pistol to 180 bar — measured on the large gauge on my 88 cubic foot carbon fiber air tank. The gauge that’s built into the Bandit registered 170 bar, which is pretty close for a small gauge.

    Diana Bandit gauge
    When the tank gauge said I filled to 180 bar the pistol gauge read 170 bar.

    The next target was a heartbreaker. I thought I had nailed the fill pressure, but look what happened.

    Diana Bandit Hades target 2
    Huh? Why did the first two shots hit low on a 180-bar fill? They should have hit where the others did. And look at the lowest shot. It went through the target sideways.

    But hope springs eternal in the human breast. The three shots in the bullseye, which were the last three shots in this 5-shot string, gave me hope that I was closing in on the fill pressure the Hades pellet liked.

    170-bar Hades target

    This time I stopped the fill at 170 bar. Okay — this target should be the one (I thought). So why, with the same Hades pellet and the same sight setting, did all 5 pellets hit the bottom of the target paper? I haven’t got a clue! Make up whatever comes to your mind for this one — I’m moving on.

    Diana Bandit Hades target 3
    There they are. Five, count ’em, five pellet holes at the bottom of the target paper! I haven’t got a clue. Do you wonder why I’m not showing the dime in most of these targets? I don’t even call them groups. They are targets.

    Is the sight mounted tightly?

    Yes, it is. And the free-floating barrel is giving no signs of moving as the air is expended. One owner criticized Diana for not installing a barrel band on the gun to tie the barrel to the reservoir. If they had one the complaint would have been to leave the barrel free-floated. Sadly these impromptu airgun designers are never present when the design is being put together.

    How is the gun rested?

    Throughout the test I rested the gun on the sandbag, pushing the triggerguard into the bag on every shot. The gun didn’t move, once on target.

    Okay, let’s continue. At this point I abandoned the Hades pellet in favor of another JSB pellet that at least one person said was good in his pistol — the 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. The fill was 170 bar for the first five shots. Five pellets went into a group that measures 1.563-inches between centers. It’s not that great, but at least it’s a group and not just shots on paper. It’s well-centered, but below the aim point.

    Diana Bandit JSB Heavy target 1
    With a 170-bar fill the Bandit put five JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets into a 1.563-inch group at 10 meters. Notice that 4 out of 5 pellets hit sideways.

    I wondered with this heavier pellet if a higher pressure fill would work better, so for the next 5 shots I fill the pistol to 200 bar. This time 5 pellets went no higher but they did go a little to the left. Five went into 1.538-inches and notice that most or all of them went through the paper sideways.

    Ah HA!

    So I’m sitting here at my keyboard, writing this test up and looking at all the scattered and sideways shots and saying to myself, “Why, with all those shots going wonky like that it’s almost like…

    And I swear to you — it happened just as I am describing now. I’m sitting here 4 hours after shooting the targets, typing the report and looking at all those targets, while saying to myself that if someone came to me with a bunch of targets like these I would tell him that something is tipping his pellets right after they leave the muzzle. Id say have a look at your silencer and see if there is a streak of lead. So, I looked but there wasn’t a streak.

    There was a WALL of lead built up in one place where it looks like each and every pellet hit as it passed through! Oh, my gosh! I still have four more targets to show you and now they have lost all of their meaning because I just figured out what the problem is — AFTER THE FACT.

    Diana Bandit lead
    Guys — that ain’t no streak of lead. That is a pileup! No way is a pellet going past that without hitting it and tipping.

    Oh, well

    What the heck. I shot them so I’ll show them.

    Diana Bandit JSB Heavy target 2
    Five JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys in 1.56 inches at 10 meter. Shot on 200 bar. The didn’t rise — they just went to the left.

    I then dialed the dot sight up 3 clicks and 2 clicks to the right.

    Diana Bandit JSB Heavy target 3
    Five JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys in 2.88-inches at 10 meters after sight adjustment. Shot on 190 bar.

    Dot sight adjusted one click to the right.

    Diana Bandit JSB Heavy target 4
    Five JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys in 3.239-inches at 10 meters after sight adjustment. Shot on 185 bar.

    Final target — Meisterkugeln

    At this point in the test I was still unaware of what was really happening, so I switched to RWS Meisterkugeln pellets and shot five of them on 185 bar. They grouped in about one inch and I thought, “Ah HA! It was the pellets!” So I dialed the very responsive UTG dot sight five clicks down and shot a second 185-bar group that I expected to hit the center of the bull. Only the pellets went to the same place! The group grew a little, but 9 or the 10 are in 1.193-inches.

    Diana Bandit Meister target
    The first 5 Meisterkugeln went into a nice group so I dropped the dot sight 5 clicks and shot the second five — into the same place! The top nine are in 1.193-inches.

    Discussion

    I was ready to throw up my hands and say I don’t know what happened today. I even started writing this report with that mindset. Then I had the epiphany to look at the muzzle.

    Summary

    I can’t call this an accuracy test of the Diana Bandit. It’s a shakedown cruise. The pellet/muzzle clearance problem needs to be resolved before accuracy can be tested. And no, I am not going in through the muzzle with a 5/16-inch drill (although that was my first inclination).

  • You know what this is? It’s a wake-up call for all you guys who want silencers on your PCPs. They are fine and they do quiet things down, but you have to know their weaknesses and what to look for. I know all of that but when my nose is pressed to the grindstone to get a report published it’s easy to overlook.
  • I think we have a lot more to learn about this air pistol.

41 thoughts on “Diana Bandit PCP air pistol: Part 3

  1. Man this is a bummer flash-back with the Bandit I bought. True it was probably the only lemon in China.
    Every o-ring in the entire pistol was rotted, dried or just plain broken. It wasn’t holding air for nothing (well once in a great while).
    Accuracy was fair at best with most pellets at 25 yards using a Tasco 4-16 set on 10, all this only for pellet testing, because I was putting a red-dot on it also for 15 to 20 yard critters (small ones).
    I ended up putting a crown on it and groups went from 1″ down to 3/8 at 15 yards. Fill pressure at 185 bar, and just for the accuracy testing I dropped the Chaser stock on it and sand bags.
    Before sending it back for warranty work (the valve was shot) I picked up the Diana Regulator and played with it also in it. So while my Bandit (by the way it’s the .177) was away from home I got the Gen 1 Stormrider (or Stormy, as I call her). Put the reg in and a Very Sweet Little Gun.
    Bandit is back home and all works like a top. Thank You PA.
    Oh yeah , when I first got the Bandit, the other mistake was/is the fill probe was and is not for the Bandit. In stead of sending it back, I was able to modify it to work. I ended up buying another fill probe any way.
    I didn’t notice any lead shavings on the moderator but the pellets were hard to keep under a golf ball size group.
    Flash Back, Flash Back………….I’m MUCH BETTER NOWW!!!!! shawn


  2. with the clipping problem you might as well throw out part 2 also.

    Shaving the pellets that bad, throws off all of the velocity figures.

    How is the can attached to the barrel?,
    Press fit?
    Set screw?
    Screw on?
    Can the suppressor be loosened and rotated to see if it is slightly misaligned, and be centered without sending it back?

    Just a few thoughts..

    Ian


  3. BB,

    No 5/16″ drill bit eh? Well, if you read down through the questions and answers on the PA site, towards the latter part, one reader removed his with some effort/heat. Another said it came right off and apart and yet another said no. One even received a thread protector with the gun.

    You gave no hint as to a direction forwards to remedy this clipping. So?

    If you get it off, maybe have a look at the crown (Maranatha comment above)

    Good Day to you and to all,…… Chris


  4. B.B.

    How can you test a pistol that clips pellets like that? Drill it out, or send it back!
    You are beginning to make me believe that “price point PCP’s” are just a waste of resources…
    Make quality or nothing, there is to much junk in the world!

    -Y


  5. BB
    I would at least try to scrape the lead build up off.

    For some reason you might of had a bad pellet and it came out of the barrel wrong. Once the build up got there it was like a chain reaction and kept building up more and more as you shot it.

    I say do that and try again.


  6. Well, over the past year or so I have been seeing and reading reviews and comments about these “Diana” airguns. I was all set to buy an Outlaw and then a reviewer I follow started to test one and it broke. The second one he received worked fine and shot decently. Another reviewer I follow thought enough about the one he was testing that he even wrote a small book about it.

    To me it sounds like a game of craps. You roll your dice and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I have bought an air rifle before like this. I knew going in what to expect. I would not have bought it at the original price of $280. If I had I would have immediately sent it back without even shooting it.

    I did buy it for $30. At that price I happily worked on it and now it is a decent sproinger. I have more plans for it. I am not afraid to tinker around with it. If I screw it up I am not out much although it is a nice looker and shooter now.

    Hey. Roll the dice. You might win.


  7. Sad to see a once great company like Diana reduced to outsourcing its reputation to money grubbing, communist junk merchants like S.P.A. and Wang Ka Industries.

    Not so long ago, buying a Diana meant getting a top quality, fully reliable piece of German built engineering that would last a lifetime.

    But alas, due to the shortsighted race to the bottom that is the phenomenon of globalisation, those days are no more.

    Heaven forbid Weihrauch should ever suffer the same fate as Diana.


    • Bob,

      Sad but true. The large conglomerates sole concern is the bottom line. They want a profit and they want it now. They are not concerned with tarnishing the reputations. Their sole concern is satisfying the shareholders for a time. By time the sales drop off because of this, the CEO, etc. have moved on to another quick kill conglomerate or retired with a big “golden parachute”.

      The real Dianas and the real Weihrauchs can still be had. You just have to do your homework.


    • Bob,

      That was my first thought. But,… that horse has long been beaten to death and long buried. If that is the route they choose to go down,… then we the buyers will be the judge, jury and executioner.

      Really,… how long does it take now-a-days for bad press to get around? Minutes? Give it a month and it is all over. Pick your poison,… word? pic? video?

      For any airgun company with a very reputable name that chooses to go down the China route,.. all I can say is, “that I wouldn’t want to be ya'”. I am reminded of the phrase that “it takes one awe crap to wipe out 10 at-a-boy’s”. Loose that reputation and you will pay the devil to get it back.

      Chris


  8. Good morning B.B.,
    Every day we keep learning something new, or remembering solutions that we can apply to the new problem at hand. Besides the scattered pattern, the sideways pellet strike was a big hint that the pellets are clipping the moderator, as you pointed out in a previous review. This is great information for us readers, thank you very much. I am paying close attention to your solution that is not drilling a wider hole through the moderator.
    Regarding the 8 shots per fill: this is a plinking gun, so the work of filling, taking 8 shots, then refilling seems like the same amount as using a multi stroke pneumatic. What I’m learning today is that PCP pistols that aren’t big and clunky don’t deliver the shot count (ease of use) that would validate their existence. What am I missing?


    • Will,

      Wow! You got it! That is EXACTLY why I write reports like these. Not to embarrass manufacturers but to educate owners, so their shooting experiences can be better, sooner.

      As for the small shot count, you could look at it the way you did. I say the gun screams for a regulator, which I hope to install and test for you.

      B.B.



    • Siraniko,

      Several reasons. First, this isn’t my airgun. I have to return it to Pyramyd Air. Second, I don’t know what else might be happening down inside the many baffles of the silencer, and I want to look. And third, because, as someone pointed out, all I may need to do is rotate some parts to get this pistol working again.

      It is made to be disassembled, so that’s what I want to do.

      B.B.


  9. B.B.,

    After looking at this report, I am reminded that “the devil is in the details”.

    This time I won’t belabor the details, however. I shot the .177 Marauder indoors the past Saturday.

    I started with the rifle air gauge showing right at 3000 PSI.

    From a semi-rested position, I shot two groups of 10 without refilling.

    The first group, at 30 yards, 10 shots covered by a nickel.

    The second group was shot without refilling.

    Eight shots were 7/8th of an inch, with two that made the whole group almost an inch and a half. I am willing to concede those two were just me missing.

    I believe the time I have spent behind a scope paid off, after all, not to mention what I have learned from you and other blog readers. The last time I attempted shooting at 50 yards, with a piston driven rifle, the best so called group was 3 inches across.

    ~ken


  10. B.B.
    This might be a learning opportunity for us all. Since you are being so good wrestling with this entry level pcp,
    how about lining up an out of the box test of a more expensive version of this magazine fed gun, the HW 44?
    I think that’s the one that cost a thousand dollars. I cant say where the Weirauch is made, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that my awesome Synergis is made in the same factory right along with the Bandit.
    Not everything in the low end is junk. That’s where you come in Sir! Looking forward to the rest of the Gamo test. I am a convert to the mag fed spring gun craze based on the fun of it, and the fact my entry level TX200 performs very well.
    Hang in there!
    Rob


    • Rob,

      Rob,

      “TX200” and “entry level” is not something I thought I would ever see in the same sentence. 😉

      That said,…. that is exactly what my “re-entry” into air gunning was! ? Go figure? 🙂

      No regrets. I think the thought at the time was to skip the junk. I sure ain’t gettin’ any younger to be wasting much time! 😉

      Chris


  11. What I can’t understand is why this pistol only gets 8 to 9 shots with a 50 cc reservoir and the Benjamin Marauder pistol gets 22 good shots with a 65 cc reservoir and no regulator? Ted’s Holdover has an excellent video on the Marauder pistol with various pellets and fills and accuracy. I was hoping this might be a cheaper alternative to the Marauder pistol but I don’t think so now.



      • B.B.,

        “A balanced valve is MUCH more important than a regulator.” That is an interesting comment.

        You’ve mentioned that you intend to install a regulator in the Diana Bandit. Wouldn’t it be better to install a balanced valve?

        I know people much smarter than me have created balanced conventional valves, balanced poppet valves, balanced spool valves and probably others for pcp’s. Don Cothran and Lloyd Sikes come to mind.

        Why isn’t the valve in the Diana Bandit balanced? Cost? Can’t imagine that it would cost much more for a manufacturer to install balanced valves but I’m not technologically informed enough to know.

        My FX Ranchero pistol on the medium power setting is similar to the Diana Bandit (around 14 foot pounds) but gets over 24 shots (actually more but I refill after shooting 3 eight round magazines) with and extreme spread of around 16 fps. It’s not regulated and has a 65 cc tube. Is the difference in shot count and extreme spread between the Ranchero and the Diana Bandit based on the valves?



    • Brent, to get more shots out of the Bandit, it’s not just a regulator drop in. The valve needs to be made more efficient too. First, get the same number of shots as new, but at 2.2k fill pressure, then get the reg. You wont get any more shots at the lower fill pressure without the regulator, it will just become an overfill. They’re in there. The other thing I learned is by shimming the trigger, something I learned here, my group sizes shrank 10-15% immiediatly. The Bandit trigger sear is twice as wide as the Crosman units, which means you can have the same holding power with much less sear travel. Polish the trigger bores too, mine were gritty from casting. My rear sight screw was too short as well, but this gun is way more accurate than you would think.
      Rob


  12. Drone stuff… * way off topic *

    Hi Tom,

    I came across an excellent site on drone photography. The guy is a pro, knows his stuff and is good at explaining things. Lots of well done videos and their (free) eBook is also worth downloading.

    Here is a link to one of the videos that I thought was particularly informative.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo-QaHGD6eA

    As a new drone owner, I thought that you might be interested.

    Hank


  13. Off topic. Shouldn’t group size be determined by the area of the negative space the ammo makes?
    The way to measure is to take the widest distance of a group (less any fliers 😉 and subtract the diameter
    of the ammo. It’s too hard to measure the area with out some type of software solution, imho. Is there some type of target that can do that?
    Rob



      • just a quick note. I had the valve out of my Bandit. It looks like a plastic (probably the good stuff) golf tee with a brass tapered o-ring to seal the air flow. To me, balancing the valve is a waste of time and money. The gun is what it is, and by the way it is a decent shooter. Not target grade but plinking fun!!!


      • Agreed. Another nice feature of the Bandit valve is the poppet stem. By having different lengths of that tool steel, hammer throw can be changed easily. Not hard to turn it down either. There’s a benefit to the brass seal, but I don’t know what it is.
        R


      • BB,

        Could you tell me if I understand balancing a valve correctly?

        Since I first encountered the term when I bought my first PCP that came with one, the Gamo/BSA Coyote, I have assumed that it required working with many things aside from the valve’s parts. For instance, all of the stuff that guys fiddle with when they “tune” a PCP, such as the hammer spring preload, hammer overtravel distance, hammer mass, transfer port diameter, fill pressure,etc. That stuff, on top of testing and modifying the actual valve’s internal parts and capacities, some of which ,I guess, would amount to trial and error, in what must become an incredibly long drawn out R&D project for the gun designer. I think the old days would have required a lot of model making as this was lengthened or that was bored out to try the next tweek. Today I suppose that CAD speeds some of that up. Even after all this finally comes to a head and everything is humming along the best that it can, the balance is really only achieved within a range of fill pressures and with pellets that fall within a certain weight range, so a further consideration for the gun maker is that the power range be attractive to a wide variety of shooters. In other words, IT’S HARD, so regulators get used instead and they can be sort of fragile compared to a properly set up gun.

        Am I close?

        Half


        • Half,

          You are right on!

          Yes, it is trial and error for the first few times anyone does it. That’s because nobody has published data on how to do it. Gary Barnes had a book of notes he used when he balanced his valves and he got quite good at it. But to get him to balance an air rifle he didn’t build would require more trial and error, I suppose.

          He might start out closer to the goal than someone trying to balance a valve for the first time, but there would still be things that would puzzle him if the design wasn’t his own.

          B.B.


  14. *dave reads entire report and all comments, then says*
    “What?!?
    “You mean B.B. is human like the rest of us? Say it ain’t so!
    “I figured his Jedi mind powers would have told him the pellets were contacting the silencer!”
    Hahaha! Just kidding, B.B.!
    The difference between you and me is that, lacking your years of experience, I would have shot all those targets, thrown my hands up, and said, “I don’t know what happened today.”
    However, as Benjamin Franklin noted in his book, The Way to Wealth, “…the eye of the master will do more work than both his hands;” I think your many years of honing your craft gives you insight others of us might miss. =>
    This is turning out to be a very interesting set of reports, especially the part about the greater importance of the balanced valve over a regulator. I look forward to the rest of this series, and the comments that get generated.
    Wishing you the good health to write many more reports in this new year of 2020,
    dave


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