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Education / Training Diana 23: Part 2

Diana 23: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 23
Diana 23.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

The back story
Watch Ebay
Get ready
RWS Hobby
Crosman Premier Lights
JSB Exact RS
Cocking effort
Trigger pull

Today is the big day because today we discover what the velocity of my Diana 23 is. A couple readers have guessed it will be in the low 300s, and to keep the test fair I will shoot a couple lightweight pellets with perhaps one of medium weight.

The back story

I didn’t tell you where I got this Diana 23 yet, did I? I held back on that in Part one. In fact I held back on a lot more than that! Some of you who have been readers a longer time may remember that this isn’t the first Diana 23 I have tested. It is the second one. I tested the first one several years ago — from September 2013 to July 2015. The average velocity for that one was 381 f.p.s. for Hobbys and 452 f.p.s. for JSB Exact RS pellets. But I never completed that test, because the final thing I wanted to do was strip off the bluing and show you how well Blue Wonder cold blue works. Well, I stripped the metal in the early part of July, 2015, and that was as far as I got. Edith went to the hospital on July 14 and passed away on the 26 and I had projects laying everywhere that were never completed. The parts I stripped back then have now corroded again and I need to clean up the metal all over again.

Watch Ebay

Well, I watch Ebay, and from time to time something interesting pops up. Several years ago the Diana 23 I am now testing was listed and the seller was atypically honest by saying that in his description that there was some rust on the metal parts. That’s atypical. Most sellers will post 4 dark out-of-focus pictures of the gun laying on a quilt and tell you that the photos are the description of the gun. I won’t deal with those guys. This seller showed detailed photos of the rust and I saw that this rifle was in far better cosmetic condition than the one I had been working on.

His starting bid price was very reasonable, as was the shipping, so I bid and won it. There were no other bids than mine. I expected to have to rebuild it, but when it arrived I was surprised to learn that it worked. All I did was oil the piston seal and start shooting. That was a couple years ago. This little rifle has been standing in a corner of my office while I have tuned a Winchester 427, a Diana 27, a 35 and, most recently, a 27S.

Get ready

Today as I shoot the rifle through the choronograph I will be seeing how good the powerplant is, and we can compare it to the Diana 23 I tested many years ago. You will see the results just hours after I do!

To prepare for this test I oiled the mainspring with bicycle chain oil in Part 1. I removed the barreled action from the stock and oiled the spring through the cocking slot. When the stock came off I noticed that the two forearm screws were loose, but when I put the stock back on, I tightened them without a problem.

The final thing I did to get ready for this test was drop 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil down the barrel with the gun standing on its butt. I did that just after I wrote Part 1. This is one way of oiling a piston seal, and, in the case of the Diana 23, it is especially good because the leather breech seal is not around the rear of the barrel but around the air transfer port on the end of the spring tube. As the oil flows past that place, some of it is absorbed into the breech seal. Let me show you what a test shot from 12 inches away from cardboard looks like.

Diana 23 shot
See the oil mist around the pellet hole in the cardboard? That’s proof that the piston seal is well-oiled.

So I start today’s test knowing that the piston seal and the breech seal are in as good a condition as I can get them without disassembling the rifle. That’s what I wanted you to know. Now I can do the velocity test.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tested is the 7-grain RWS Hobby. In the other Diana 23 in 2013 the average velocity was 381 f.p.s. The low was 371 and the high was 401 f.p.s. so the spread was 30 f.p.s. In the current 23 Hobbys averaged 455 f.p.s., so this rifle is not in bad shape. But the oiling pf the piston was a factor, as the velocity ranged from a low of 418 to a high of 442 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 24 f.p.s. So, even though the gun was probably dieseling from the oil, it’s still in better shape than the first one. I noted the dieseling from the amount of smoke that was generated on each shot. There were no explosive detonations.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Crosman Premier Lights

The second pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier Light. I consider this pellet to be middleweight, as it is so close to 8 grains. These domed pellets averaged 432 f.p.s. The first Diana 23 shot them at an average of 376 f.p.s. The spread this time went from a low of 422 to a high of 442 — a difference of 20 f.p.s. The first rifle’s spread with the Premier Light was 25 f.p.s. I think the size of this pellet probably helped it seal the bore.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tested was the JSB RS dome that in the first rifle seemed to be the performance champ. Even though at 7.33-grains this pellet is heavier than the Hobby, in the first 23 it averaged 452 f.p.s. That was the highest velocity recorded for that rifle. The spread was only 5 f.p.s. in that rifle.

In the current rifle the same JSB Exact RS pellet averaged 477 f.p.s. The velocity spread went from a low of 461 to a high of 485 f.p.s. — a difference of 24 f.p.s. I think the oil is causing some of this wider spread.

Cocking effort

The first Diana 23 cocked with 10 lbs. of effort. Maybe that is why I guessed that number or less for this one. This rifle cocks with 11 lbs. of effort. It’s just a trifle harder, but still well within my arbitrary youth cocking effort maximum of 20 lbs. Apparently that mainspring I looked at in Part 1 is doing just fine.

Trigger pull

The first Diana 23 had a 2-stage trigger pull of 6 lbs. 14 oz., which is pretty heavy for a rifle so light. This rifle’s trigger is also 2-stage and stage 2 breaks at 3 lbs. 6 oz. The break is crisp and clean and I can feel no creep in stage two. That is exactly what I want! This one should be very easy to shoot for accuracy.


Wow! What a test! I don’t know what a pristine Diana 23 would do, but I have tested Diana 25s and 27s and this one seems to fall in line with them — especially given the shorter stroke and smaller piston. I doubt if this rifle is more than 30 f.p.s. off the peak of a new 23, and maybe it’s even closer.

This is one time where I got a great deal by accepting a less-than-perfect air rifle. I did so because I knew I could probably fix almost anything that was wrong with it.

That reminds me of a story about reader RidgeRunner. When he showed up at one of the last airgun shows in northern Virginia, he saw a decrepit 1906 BSA underlever that was being offered at a fair price. It was so fair I was even considering buying it.

He was intrigued by its overly rugged construction and talked to me about it. I told him he could fix almost anything on that rifle, as long as the basic parts were there, and we both could see that they were. The seller told him things about the inside that he couldn’t see, and he decided to take the plunge. If you have read this blog for any length of time you know the outcome of that adventure.

These older Dianas are a great way to dip your toes into airgunning. They are simple, rugged and many of the parts are still available. Couple this with yesterday’s report and you will find a great entrance into the sport and hobby of airguns.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

83 thoughts on “Diana 23: Part 2”

    • Yogi,

      He did indeed create a monster. Not only that, he feeds the monster. I eagerly anticipate the next arrival at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns.

      As for cold blueing, I have used this with great success.

      Birchwood Casey Super Blue Cold Blue Liquid

      • B.B.,

        Off-topic, but on the subject of cold bluing, I used a cold bluing pen/marker to obscure the white lettering on a Schofield CO2 revolver in the flat black. I did it with a lot of hard rubbing and but only a little of the fluid (holding the marker skyward). I also distressed the Schofield lightly with a pot scrubber. The results weren’t bad if I say so myself, certainly a bot better than I had hoped.


          • B.B.,

            Guitar manufacturers learned to start offering hand distressed finishes — at a premium price — roughly 25 years ago. Below is a BRAND NEW Fender guitar, straight to the dealer from Fender, currently for sale online for $4160. It is a replica of a 1956 Telecaster, but it was made in 2020. (A genuine one in that condition from 1956 would probably cost 6-7 times that much.)


              • B.B.,

                The golden age for Fender was early 1950s through the early-mid 1960s. I’ve owned a few 1960s Fenders and played dozens of 1950s and 1960s Fenders. I also have owned many 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 21st Century ones. I no longer consider myself wealthy enough to justify owning a 1960s Fender Strat or Tele, although other models are still valued within the reach of mortals. :^)

                There really is something special about the golden age (known as “pre-CBS”) instruments. They just vibrate in a magical way newer ones do not. It’s a vibe that’s hard to put into words, but it is real.

                As with Gibson, Martin, Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, Harley, etc., the 1970s – mid 1980s were a low ebb, quality-wise. In the mid-late 1980s Fender improved quite a bit with their guitars and have been pretty good ever since.

                Country of manufacture has been the big quality factor since the 1980s, when Fender started opening factories in Asia and then in Mexico. American Fenders are the best, with Mexican and Japanese Fenders being very, very good. Then are the decent Korean Fenders, followed by the uneven quality of Chinese and finally Malaysian Fenders.

                Mexican Fenders are the best value, no question. They are 97% as good as the American ones for roughly half the price. If anyone asks me what kind of guitar they should get for their 13 year old, I always respond, “Mexican Fender Standard Stratocaster, used.” It is absolutely impossible to lose money by doing that, and the Stratocaster is the most versatile and most classic electric guitar ever.


                • Michael
                  You made me remember something my dad use to say.

                  If the guitar ain’t talk’n to you something is wrong.

                  Either you don’t know what your doing with it. Or it ain’t made right.

                  Most of the time it’s usually the former. Not the latter.

                  Then he would play his guitar. 🙂

                  • Gunfun1,

                    I agree — mostly. Eric Clapton could play a plastic Disney Mickey Mouse guitar and he would sound better than me playing a half million dollar 1959 Les Paul Standard. Yes, definitely. However, I would be much better on the Les Paul than on the plastic guitar, and so would Eric Clapton. So would your dad. The instrument does make a difference.

                    Just like air rifles. I am more accurate with my Feinwerkbau 601 than I am with my Gamo Recon. A world-class Olympic 10 meter shooter would be better with the Recon than I am with the 601, and he would also be better with the 601 than with the Recon. Better air rifles can make a difference in a shooter’s accuracy.


                    • Michael
                      Yep the player or shooter does make a difference as well as what he is playing or shooting.

                      Some people it is just natural for them.

    • MisterAP,

      When you correct me please tell me you are doing so. I re-read the blog and discovered what you meant. I corrected your message before that, thinking that you didn’t know how to correct it. Silly me! 😉


  1. I slept in till 6 this morning. Was there a problem? I keep looking for these lovely little shooters when we go to flea markets and garage sales but as yet haven’t found one. I’ll keep looking though. One day I will be rewarded.

    RWS spread should be 24 fps. You fixed it while I was composing this entry.

      • B.B.,

        Yes, it is always something. Some days it is a velocity typo, other days it’s Dr. Joyce Brothers with a little ball of sweat at the end of her nose that’s making me sick! ;^)

        Nothing quite like a 40 year old joke.


    • Rk,
      The last Diana 23 I had was found on Ebay, and like this one B.B. acquired, it had a bit of surface rust; but it had a nice bore (.22 caliber) and it shot great. My nephew has it now, but I would buy another one in a second. But the only “bad” thing about B.B.’s blog is that now everyone knows that Diana 27s, 25s, and even 23s are great little shooters; hence, whenever one pops up, it is generally snarfed up quickly. Note that I am not saying that’s B.B.’s fault; it’s his job to educate the masses about airguns…so, basically, I’m just saying that he’s done his job…very well…so now we, his acolytes, just need to look a bit harder and buy quickly whenever one of these little gems comes along. =)~
      Praying you find one soon,
      P.S. I found an old pic (from 2009) of the Diana 23, with a close-up of the corrosion on the outside of the barrel fortunately, as was B.B.’s seller, this seller was honest about the condition of the rifle.

  2. I get a kick out of airguns being available to buy on Ebay in the U.S.! Its a no- no here in the UK, and even the handy Freeads service has banned airguns sales too.
    Mind you, occasionally, you can find ads like “BSA Meteor gunbag (with occupant)” posted by enterprising sellers. Naughty.

    • Drew451,

      Boy, am I slow! I had to read your comment a couple times before it sunk in.

      You know — Ebay used to ban ads about airguns until they realized there was money to be had. Now, it’s open season! I guess they are owned by Ferengi traders now.


  3. B.B.,

    Got to reading the blog late today. Need to do the heavy lifting for Siraniko today!

    In: “RWS Hobby”…5th line:
    “But the oiling pf (of) the piston…”

    and then:

    “Get ready
    Today as I shoot the rifle through the choronograph…”

    What do you measure with one of them B.B.? ;^)

    Perhaps an occupant of a gunbag?

    Be Well!


  4. Oh my goodness! Yes, there are a few dings and scratches. She is not straight from the factory. The stock is made from a most beautiful piece of wood. The graining in it is awesome. The metal finish is MUCH better than I anticipated. She is one fine looking lady!

    I am afraid the other ladies around here may end up getting jealous!

    It is going to be difficult to not shoot her this evening. She will get to go out dancing some this weekend though. 😉

            • RidgeRunner,

              Yes it is purdy, extremely so, an elegant lady. I think you are going to love shooting it, too. What a sweet air rifle.

              I know you are going to try JSBs with it, but also feed her all the RWS pellets you can. especially Superdomes, which are thin-skirted in .177. I recall mine also likes Hobby pellets. And give the artillery hold a try, with your off-hand not much past the trigger guard.

              My other two cents is you should try it in the peep configuration, especially to take advantage of that looong sight radius.

              And of course you must report back and keep all of us informed.


    • RidgeRunner,

      Just found a boyfriend for your new girl on E bay. It’s a BSA Improved Mod. D in no less than 25 Cal. It’s a wild looking piece of machinery that would probably make Mrs. RidgeRunner very upset if it came to your Home For Wayward Airguns!

      Bob F

  5. Here is a question I have had in the back of my mind for years and just now put it into words.

    For a front post and a rear notch sight what is the most accurate location for the rear sight? I don’t think it is to maximize the sight radius because the distance from your eye to the notch comes into play. Some of my favorite sights have the rear notch about halfway between my eye and the front post. Like the This Diana 23.

    • Don,

      My rememberer tells me BB has discussed this a couple of times, most recently with the Diana 50.

      The rear notch needs to be forward enough for your eye to focus on it. After that, the longer the sight radius, the better it can be aimed.

    • Benji-Don,

      A BAD thing happens to most shooters between 35 and 45 years on this Earth they find that their eyes have Accommodation issues and the arms are no longer long enough to read the fine print or the dang Rx bottle labels! So now for that BAD thing: they go to an Eye Doctor! One that doesn’t shoot or doesn’t know that they shoot; you get an eye exam and read from charts close and far a look through a machine that goes: “Which is ? 1 or 2?” FLIP “Which is ? 1 or 2?” FLIP “Which is ? 1 or 2?” FLIP a number of times and then you get to pick your frames and pay. A few days later you pick up your new eyeglasses and you can read the fine print, the Menu, and the Rx labels…but see the front sight…NAH!
      YOU MUST tell your eye quack you shoot! You must have lense(s) specific for each front sight to (shooting) eye distance or you will be buying a Optical sighting system and joining all the folks that CAN’T shoot Iron Sights anymore (if they actually ever could) now that i’m an Oldster. Or your groups will go all to hell from now(then) on!
      FIND an Eye Doctor who will let you bring in your guns (UNLOADED) and work with you to get the right Prescription(s) and then work with the person fitting your eyeglasses so that the lense(s) will work with your SPECIFIC sights and shooting positions. You may also want to learn about real Shooting frames (not SAFETY glasses) and use them for shooting.

      Your groups will thank you!


      • Shootski,

        I am lucky that my Eye Doctor has worked with me to try and find the correct lenses for seeing the front sight. I have been near sighted all my life. I have never needed reading glasses I just take off my glasses. When I was young I could focus at 1/4 inch and out to about 6 feet. So with glasses I could see the sights and the target fairly well. As I have aged my focus has moved out from 18 inches to about 6 feet. At ten meters I don’t wear prescription glasses. At 25 yards I wear my shooting glasses because I can’t see the target and need a peep sight. It is always a compromise.

        I am thinking about the angles between the eye the sights and the target. It is more of a thought process and taking some of the distances to the extreme to get feel for the boundaries. Longer distances should reduce the tangent of the angles. Does that improve accuracy. The longer sight radius does. I am making an assumption that both sights and target are in focus. Obviously not the case for most of us.

        • Benji-Don,

          I’m similarly “blessed” with the near-sightedness. It first showed up in my thirties when Calling the BALL on Carrier Landings at night. I started wearing bifocals when i turned sixtyeight. But have used shooting specific lenses since my late forties.

          You are right to think about the geometry for distant targets being the core of the issue. The target can be very blurry at 300 meters but if you place your front sight on center (with matching near perfect rear sight usage) or 6 O’Clock (your choice) you will have a great score/hit because of the angularity favoring the sighting system and not the target clarity.

          Peeps just make it so much easier.


    • Benji-Don,

      Of course…. This Diana 23 is a breakbarrel so the rear sight is wisely mounted on the barrel not the springy thingy to help keep it more accurate and with less of that droopy problem thingy that plagues breakbarrels! At least it doesn’t have glowy thingies to boot!


        • Once the candles are blown out the wishes go for a safe stay and finally a successful re-entry and touchdown.

          Well now… sadly we have demonstrators who should be ashamed!

          Just NOT the time to have that behaviour that dishonors a heroic endeavour.


          • I just do not understand.

            Some dude was apparently doing wrong. In stopping him, a law officer may have done something wrong. Because one law officer may have done something wrong, the populace across the nation use this as an excuse to riot, destroy and steal.

            All have apparently forgotten that it started when some dude was likely doing wrong.

  6. I think I may have found a benefit to getting old and balding. It may not contribute to better shooting but it is nice to know that other people seem to be very eager to help you out. BB this is something you can exploit too. 😉
    I like to think I’m a reasonably healthy 72 yr old but I do have a bald spot and usually wear a hat to protect my head, especially in the summer when I cut my hair very short.
    Well I went to Walmart the other day ‘ without my hat ‘, picked up a 3.2 ft refrigerator freezer and put it in a cart. It filled up the entire cart. While I was in the parking lot adjusting my fold down seats (Hatch back) and trunk stuff a young man offered to help me, then another and finally two middle aged women. All before I even attempted to lift it out.
    That never happened before and the only conclusion I can reach is they noticed my bald spot and considered me old and weak. I eventually gave in and asked them if they would hold the cart while I took it out. Thankyou!

    Next time I have a flat tire I’ll take off my hat and see what happens 🙂
    Bob M.

      • BB,

        That is one pretty air gun. Best wishes. If I was in the position to get an “Oldie”,… that for sure would be the one,… (without fully knowing what else exist). That one just speaks to my taste.

        Before you say,… “Go for it!”,…. the last time you said that,.. I got the Red Wolf. Of course,…. it took little to no “pushing” to get me over the edge. 😉 I hope you get it.


      • Michael,

        I understand what you are saying, however the 30 was not a bolt action with the famous Mauser safety. This one was used as a training rifle during WWII. This is as real as it gets.

          • B.B.,

            The Model 30 trainer is the one air gun I have considered adding to my collection for years and years but just haven’t because of the price they command. I have always weighed that amount of money with what other air guns it could purchase, and, well, you know. I have also long thought one of the gallery gun 30s would be nice to have, but I have a 499 and, well, you know. :^)


        • RidgeRunner,

          There existed VERY briefly, and it’s no longer in their catalogue, a CO2 (steel .173-174 bb) Mauser by Gletcher done as a companion to the carbine-length (sawed off Obrez) M1944 Mosin Nagant. It was never imported to the U.S., and I can’t find a photo of it easily, but it briefly existed, a CO2-fueled unicorn. :^)


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