The Diana model 10/Beeman 900 target pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman 900
The Beeman 900 pistol is another form of Diana’s model 10.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman model 84 Challenger
  • Ragnar Skannaker
  • So what?
  • Trigger adjustments
  • Trigger pull
  • Velocity
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • H&N Match Green
  • JSB Match Heavy Weight
  • Discussion
  • Barrel weight
  • Cocking effort
  • Front sight
  • Summary

The title of this report has changed. Last Friday I opened with the title, What’s it gonna be today? to keep you in suspense about the topic. I wanted to give you the background of how I came to own a Diana model 10 air pistol because of its importance in my life. You see — this is the air pistol that turned me into an airgunner. Yes, I owned airguns as a kid, and I’ve talked about them in this blog. But when I started experiencing my Diana model 10 everything changed. I realized for the first time that airguns were just as serious as firearms. A few years later I would discover that the rest of the world was experiencing the same thing. 

Crosman model 84 Challenger

At the 1984 Olympics 10-meter air rifle competition was introduced, and four years later air pistol competition joined the ranks. Surprisingly, Crosman was at the forefront for both 10-meter air rifles and air pistols — at least here in the United States. In 1985 they introduced their model 84 Challenger CO2 target rifle that was intended to go head-to-head with world-class target rifles. It was a very special airgun for them that was never mass produced. Each rifle was actually made by hand, and my good friend, the late Marvel Freund, was one of the principal advisors. Marv received a rifle with a nameplate for his contribution. Marv was a coach of a youth marksmanship program in northern Virginia and was an early proponent of getting kids into shooting. But the model 84 wasn’t for kids. It was a full-sized adult target rifle. According to the Blue Book it was even offered with an optional electronic trigger. But at a base price of  $1,295 in 1985, it cost more than other 10-meter world-class rifles and was never a threat to the market.

Crosman 84 Challenger
This Crosman model 84 Challenger was presented to President George H. Bush. This photo is from the National Firearms Museum.

Ragnar Skannaker

But Crosman didn’t stop with the rifle. They also enlisted the services of Swedish Olympic gold medalist, Ragnar Skanakar, who won one gold, two silver and one bronze medal in 50-meter free pistol competition, to guide the design of what became the Crosman model 88 Skanaker 10-meter target pistol. It was made from 1988 until 1991. That one was also powered by CO2 for two very good reasons. Crosman was a leader in CO2 guns at the time and CO2 was what was still being used for target airguns in the late 1980s. The ’90s saw the complete transition to pneumatics, and Crosman made the switch as well, but in this century. I have already reported on their Challenger PCP youth target rifle.

The model 88 Skanaker was a real world-class target pistol, but the use of CO2 hamstrung it, because compressed air made operation so much easier, as well as more stable. I have owned a Skanaker, but found it a bit too front-heavy for my liking, and I like heavier handguns. The grip is quite good and accuracy is where it should be for a target pistol.

Crosman Skanaker
Crosman’s Skanaker target pistol was revolutionary for its day.

So what?

I told you all of this to inform you that the 1980s were a time when target airguns went from unknown to red-hot worldwide. And that was exactly the time I was getting into airguns, with my Diana 10 leading the way. Sadly, in a crisis of irony, although I shot 10-meter privately, it would be another decade before I started competing, and my first model 10 was long gone by that time to settle debts.

So, when several readers commented that they thought the model 10 was the epitome of a vintage target air pistol, I couldn’t have agreed more. I have owned one other Diana 10 in the interim, but I let that one get away, as well. So getting to test this Beeman 900 for you is a real treat! Okay, let’s get started.

Trigger adjustments

I mentioned in Part 1 (titled, What’s it gonna be today?) that the model 10 trigger is very adjustable. Here is a page from the manual.

Diana 10 trigger adjustment
Here are the trigger adjustment instructions from a German manual.

And here is a closeup.

Diana 10 trigger
Here is the Diana 10 trigger detail.

I was going to walk you through adjusting the model 10 trigger in this report, but there are several reasons why I can’t do that.

1. The page above is from a German manual and, although I have translated a lot of it, the translation leaves a lot to guesswork. I need an English manual — or at least the trigger adjustment portion of one.

2. I was relying on my knowledge of the Diana model 6 trigger adjustments to help me through this, but the model 10 trigger has more adjustability and I will miss things if I go that way.

I can tell you this. Stage one is adjustable for the length of pull and the weight. Stage two is adjustable for weight. The trigger blade can be canted to the right. I don’t see a trigger stop, but this trigger doesn’t move very far in any case. So a stop may not be important.

If I start guessing about these adjustments I could easily mess up a perfectly good trigger, as well as confuse many of you readers who follow what I write. I prefer to wait for someone who has the right information.

Trigger pull

I can report that the trigger on the test pistol has 5 or 6 mm of stage one travel, with very little weight in stage one. Stage two breaks crisply at 14.4 ounces, which is 408 grams. That’s below the 500-gram minimum for a match air pistol, but since I don’t compete anymore, I don’t care. The trigger stops moving after the gun fires.

Velocity

Let’s look at the velocity now. As I said in Part 1, it should be in the 450-475 f.p.s. range with lightweight pellets.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet is a 7-grain wadcutter. Pyramyd Air now has them in three head sizes – 4.48 mm, 4.50 mm and 4.51 mm. Mine are all 4.50 mm. The R10 has a smaller skirt than, say, the Hobby, so it is often much faster. In the Beeman 900 ten R10s averaged 444 f.p.s. The low was 437 and the high was 449 f.p.s., so the spread was 12 f.p.s.

With just this first pellet I have verified that this pistol is right where it should be for power. That means the piston seal has definitely been changed.

H&N Match Green

Next I tried the lead-free H&N Match Green pellets. They are pure tin and weigh 5.25-grains. We often can’t or shouldn’t use lead-free pellets in lower-powered airguns because they might stick in the barrel, but this pistol is powerful enough that it isn’t a problem.

Match Green pellets averaged 512 f.p.s. in the Beeman 900. The low was 501 and the high was 522 f.p.s., so the spread was 21 f.p.s.

JSB Match Heavy Weight

The JSB Match Heavy Weight wadcutter weighs 8.26 grains, nominally. So it’s a target rifle pellet. In the Beeman 900 they averaged 399 f.p.s. The low was 394 and the high was 406 f.p.s., so the spread was 12 f.p.s.

Discussion

This Beeman 900 is performing right where it should. Perhaps when it was brand new in the 1980s it was a trifle faster, but it’s still good today. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s been resealed at some time in the past.

Barrel weight

I told you in Part 1 that the “lump” on the plastic barrel protector was a hand protector for cocking the pistol. And it is. If you look at the shape of the lump you see that it is rounded to protect the hand. But that’s only one of its purposes.

The other purpose of the lump, and the name it carries in the manual, is the barrel weight. That is its intentional purpose. Reader Geezer commented on that and he is right. But as a 10-meter competitor I can tell you that as a barrel weight, the lump isn’t much. 

Cocking effort

The pistol cocks with 25 lbs. of force. Because it is a pistol, your two hands are close together during cocking and it seems easy enough, though you will notice the force. What I’m saying is — this isn’t a light-cocking air pistol. Some folks will find it very difficult.

Front sight

Last time I told you about the orange front sight and you got to see it. Since then I have scraped off most of the paint. I will remove it all and prep the surface for some kind of black paint. A black marker is probably good enough and I do want the paint to be matte, so I’ll ponder that a little more.

Summary

So far the Beeman 900 is performing quite well. It’s so much like I remembered, and yet the years have adjusted my eyes for all airguns, so I see things I didn’t see before. I just hope it is as accurate as I remember.

102 thoughts on “The Diana model 10/Beeman 900 target pistol: Part 2



    • Bob M,

      The quality craftsmanship is still available, but it is going to cost you. You will likely have to go to Europe to find it though. The bottom of the line Daystate is a work of art. Air Arms is not too bad. Weihrauch is top shelf stuff.

      Now, if you are into pure form follows function, AirForce has some decent choices.

      Crosman? Well, once upon a time they had some really nice stuff. They have some decent stuff right now that if they put a little more into them, they would be awesome. Yes, the price will go up dramatically, but that has to be expected. There are no free rides.



  1. BB,

    Another fascinating report with a bit of history. Looking forwards to the accuracy phase of testing. I am glad that you are happy with it and the fps you are getting and that you are confident that it has been resealed.

    Chris


  2. B.B.

    Could you please talk at length about that rotating barrel weight/cocking lever. It is the ONLY reason that I did not buy one way back when….
    I still can not believe that it is not the weak link when it comes to longevity?
    They are beautiful guns with perfect grips. Wish all pistols had grips like that.

    -Yogi




  3. Chris USA
    Like the way you handled the exchange thing.
    For the heck of it I did a Bing search for Heavy Metal Marauder and Full Dress Marauder and sure enough they pulled the pictures out of the blog for display. Clicking on them I got the locations on a link ….August 25, 2017 Collecting airguns: Modifications and refinishing 5
    As I scrolled down I not only found pics of mine but of yours, complete with the bolt cap on the trigger !

    It’s after 3AM and I need to hit the rack. Need to deliver vote tomorrow then I will try to exchange.
    Bob M


  4. Shootski,

    If I had a Phantom during WW!, I could have probably decided who won.

    By the length of the barrel, I was referring to handling, not reasons. It does not take long to learn how to deal with a long rifle.

    LOL! No, I cannot be won over. As I said, I thought they made a dandy submachinegun. However, the MP5 would be better.


  5. Michael,

    I used to own a FWB 601. Oh yeah. I would like to have a Diana 10. I could probably settle on a 6M.

    Maybe you should take up mini-sniping.

    P.S. LOL! You had better read those VERY carefully before going to “Jethro Bodine’s School of Brain Surgery”. By the by, I do believe I have the owner’s manual saved on DVD somewhere.





  6. BB ,

    Great article , I love learning the history of these things . The Giss system guns are amazing mechanically , just a bear to work on and get that timing right . Glad that your pistol is right where it needs to be . Diana has discontinued some of the parts for those models but fortunately We have the seals and ARH has the spring sets and seals also .

    Gene Salvino


    • Gene,

      As far as fixing,… how do you (know) when the timing is right? I assume that there is adjustments for each end and getting those matched as closely as possible (prior to assy.) would be common sense. No movement when shot would be the another way,… but I think that might lend itself to individual subjectivity.

      No need for a bunch of explanations,… just asking for some simple thoughts.

      Thanks,…. Chris






          • We’ve got a Federal/Mahr Dimensionaire unit here. You can easily measure variances of fifty millionths of an inch. 0.000050”. Downsides? Very narrow range of measurement (+/- 0.0015”) is possible—about 0.003” total or you’re off the gage.


            • Derrick,
              I worked for Parker Hannifin Corp in the hydraulic pump/motor division for 43 years. I was a QC technician. We had over a hundred Federal Dimensionaires with hundreds of air probes and ring masters. We had some that would measure down to 10 millionths of an inch. We also had a hundred or so Dimentron gauges. They are electronic digital gauges and use a probe with direct contact. Air gauges require a 32 Ra finish or better to achieve an accurate measurement, whereas Dimentrons could measure bores accurately with much rougher finishes. The Dimentron gauges come with ring masters and don’t require a separate unit like the Dimensionaire units, which as I recall cost approximately $800 each plus the cost of the probe and ring master. I calibrated all of these types of gauges, as well as many others.
              Geo


    • Derrick
      Bummer. That would of been a interesting test.

      And I didn’t get to work on the barrel sleeve for the Crosman 499 barrel mod last night at work. Been busy lately.

      Hopefully I’ll squeeze it in tonight. I want to get it done so I can try it out. And the weather is suppose to be turning nice in another day and into the weekend. Plus I’m off Friday. So another reason I want it done.

      I’m try’n.



        • Derrick
          I am skeptical deep down inside. But the results that could happen is what is keeping me positive.

          Really what do I have to loose. Can’t see it any other way but to just do it.

          I got to know. You know what I mean. Fingers crossed. 🙂


  7. Chris USA ,

    Each of the pistons has a rack gear on it and the pinions are the studs on the side . You have to compress in the end piston to a little below flush then wiggle the racks and pinion gear together . It is something that you have to do to know how to do it , if there is too much tension on the pinion studs/gears , something is not right , you reattempt until it works . If you do not have the rear piston below the tube the velocity will be too low due to not enough spring load . This is a job for Randy Bimrose or UMAREX . Definitely not a good gun to OJT on !! This is a 3 handed job !! allot of the parts for this pistol are obsolete so whoever works on it has to be ULTRA Careful .

    Gene Salvino


    • Gene,

      Thank you. It reminds me of more than a few times through the years,.. that I took on stuff/things nobody else wanted to touch (mechanical things). I always got it fixed/up and running.

      Fixing odd stuff (or really anything) is so much easier with the internet now. Before,.. you had to have a manual, know someone, or both. If not,.. you were on your own.

      Chris


      • Chris
        Or really pay attention and make notes and drawings and take pictures.

        Now days at work when I work on something I have never worked on I take pictures as its coming apart.

        But still yet its easy to get in trouble fast. Sometimes you just got to know when to say no and leave it alone.


  8. B.B.

    Enjoying this series – accurate guns are interesting and I am sure this one will not disappoint!

    I always wanted a FWB 65 but never had a chance to get one. Just as well as I think that they shoot in the low 500s and would require special permits to own here in Canada.

    My target pistol (FWB 100) is from the next era – single stroke pneumatics. Maybe you could do a blog on 10 meter SSPs in the future.

    Hank


    • The early 90s Beeman catalog I have does spec the 65 as having a muzzle velocity of 525fps so unless there was a detuned version available for Canada (my 602 was detuned at the factory but as far as I can tell they only made a handful like that) then, yep, you need an RPAL – and you have to store and transport it according to the Restricted category regulations too! Pretty ridiculous. At a minimum I wish that when the airgun regulations were written they had just made the German Freimark standard the one that determined if the gun was exempt from the licensing requirements instead of making up the “500fps and 4.7fp” standard out of whole cloth. At least then pretty much all the German made match guns would be freely available without having to get a PAL and/or RPAL.


      • Nowhere,

        Agreed, the Canadian airgun regulations are ridiculous. Don’t know where they got the 500 fps from – the British 12 fpe rule is based on a scientific study.

        To put the same restrictions on a low power air pistols as apply to a .44 magnum powder burner is totally asinine. Only in Canada are airguns banned because they LOOK dangerous.

        Pistols have been over regulated/restricted for more than 125 years and that has done nothing to reduce the availability of pistols to criminals and gangs. Only honest people are affected, would love to have a .22 rimfire target pistol for casual plinking on my (10 acre) property but that isn’t going to happen.

        Is your 602 sub 500 fps? My 603 is shooting around 556 fps.

        Hank




      • gf,
        some changes I’m glad they’ve happened. It’s just that short list kinda bothers me.
        i mean if i wanna give an example, I’m happy the cars are enviromental friendly nowadays, but can’t they at least still look beautiful in the meantime? or do we have to have money pit design flaws at every new model in market?
        anyhow, way out of topic. let’s go back to dianas. 🙂




        • Chris USA,

          I don’t know about the Concorde record but most other records are set from On Top to On Top! Many of the fastest aircraft need to take off without anything close to full fuel loads and need to plug a Tanker shortly after lift off. I don’t think any of the A-12 would have been welcomed at Paris (CDG) Charles de Gaulle Airport also known as Roissy Airport, I had to buy a ticket to fly on the British Airways Concorde. The actual A-12 ws operational for only a very short time and before I got my wings; the program did however generate a number of follow-on aircraft.

          All of them were faster than a speeding Diabolo Pellet!

          shootski



          • Shootski,

            “Many of the fastest aircraft need to take off without anything close to full fuel loads and need to plug a Tanker shortly after lift off.”

            That is really interesting. I do not think that the average citizen would ever imagine that to be the case.

            Is fueling/re-fueling done at full speed? Or,… some % thereof? How long does it take?

            Chris


            • Chris USA,

              In flight refueling is done for a number of reasons…one of which is that the A-12 family leak fuel badly until the structure gets heated by air friction at speed and they don’t do good on even long by AirForce standards runways!

              In-flight refueling is done at a speed that the Tanker Aircraft, refueling system (Air Force usually a Flying Boom/Naval Aviation usually uses Probe-Hose-Drogue. The optimum speed envelope is determined by Test Pilots for each Tanker-aircraft combination to be refueled. Normally refueling is done in the 350-400 Knot range and refueling is at rates of about 3,000 PPM (400 gallons per minute) so a plug takes a few minutes to top off. The A-12 family of aircraft don’t like to fly that Slow!
              Some Tankers are easier to tank from given the turbulence pattern just as some receiving aircraft can be more stable than others while refueling. Just think of this as formation flying while making contact and holding it with another aircraft. The AF boom operator is the one who needs to be GOOD in that style of refueling not the AF pilot.

              shootski


              • Shootski,

                Once again,.. yet another amazing fact that no one would ever imagine,…

                “one of which is that the A-12 family leak fuel badly until the structure gets heated by air friction at speed and they don’t do good on even long by AirForce standards runways!”

                Made to leak,.. can’t fill until the structure/plane body heats up,.. can’t fuel fully until in the air,.. can’t land with too much fuel/weight,…… simply amazing!

                It sounds like a Ford Pinto that is a complete death trap,.. that “magically” turns into a Lamborghini as long as you you kept it above 100 mph at all times!

                Amazing! Thank you for the insight. 🙂

                Chris


      • shootski, you know what i think blackbird needed? the same upgrade that f106 received over f102 – light diabolo design on the fuselage and even the engine covers, so it wouldn’t over heat. isn’t it funny the design difference on 106 fuselage over 102’s to go over the speed of sound is the same shape that the diabolo pellets come with. there has to be a magical shape to make pellets not go crazy over speed of sound; i think the engineers who made the 106 out of 102 could’ve made it happen. only, you’ll get what i mean… by the way, if you are dedicated to be that unreasonable, why not a X-15?!


        • Fish,

          Area Rule…works well with fiber optics ONLY!

          shootski

          PS: with an X-15 you need a mother ship (B-52) and the skids onna dry lakebed. You would need to dry up the lake you sailed on in France after your Concorde trips from Brooklyn or Flushing?Meadows! Lol!


          • Shootski,
            🙂 You’ve explained what I wanted to say with a paragraph in only two words – area rule. Yes! I just don’t understand why it doesn’t work on diabolo pellets! Every time I read the phrase, fiber optics, I b-slap myself. 🙂
            Fish


          • Shootski,
            We’re already talking about taking an OXCART for a pleasure flight to Paris. I tend to assume going ahead and buying a B-52 on top of a X-15 wouldn’t be that unreasonable for beautiful minds like ours. Sky is the limit when you’re crazy! 🙂 And how much drying a lake cost? We’ll give how much it is, so they’ll take care of that real quick.
            Fish


            • Fish,

              I’m not crazy!

              “Once up on a time”

              Just saying there was nothing but practicality getting in the way of better than Concorde times to destination. Those days can happen again, and more, if we humans choose a smarter path and stop the denial of our need to evolve. None of our competitors in the ecosystem are going to worry a whit about humans going extinct…then why on Earth do we! Im not advocating wholesale ignoring our environment but….
              Evolve, adapt, or perish seems to be the 1st Law of Nature given the historical record of surviving ceatures! Fiber Optics on every nose!

              shootski

              PS:. Okay we can fit in your nanoparticles on the pellets; just keep them away from my bullets!


              • Shootski,
                I didn’t mean to say ‘you’ personally were crazy; I was just generalizing. You know, you say ‘you’ talking about general things and such, not a particular person. I was actually talking about myself if I have to be clear…
                I don’t think there has been enviromental concern in that area. I think it was because of the economical realities. Since those times, the population has doubled, but the resources have remained the same. Now, A380s and 747s are retiring, another step back for future generations. But there is at least this, as rich is getting richer and middle class is dissolving: https://www.businessinsider.com/new-supersonic-plane-fly-london-nyc-under-4-hours-2019-7
                And stop writing fibre optic to me; I’ll become stupid. 🙂
                Fish


                • Fish,

                  I didn’t take it personally.
                  Ill lay off the glowy thingies…
                  Dont wory about the doubled Population it can reverse much quicker than it grew andthat may become a major issue or not. The resources are here they just need to become proven reserves. This age of ours will prove to be water shed for civilization; just think you were in a front seat!
                  Mark my words we the 1st World can choose extinction or plenty for ALL that will make us first World types look like paupers. COVID19 just has blinded us to the path to that future for now. We will not be vanquished by a Pandemic as the mass media seems to need us to believe.

                  shootski


                  • independent from what you wrote, because i have no idea about what you were saying. 🙂 but I hope we are on the same page and agree on the matters. Just a friendly chit chat here, no intetion for a political debate…
                    1st world? i don’t think one of every five children would go to bed hungry, or that many veterans would live on the streets, or the number of homeless people would skyrocket, or healthcare services would be unavailable to the poor children if we were the 1st world… poverty is the most important problem around here.
                    the healthcare services all over the world have been working over capacity. in the beginning, the doctors were forced to make decisions like “give this guy oxygen instead of that older and sickly guy.” they were forced to decide who would live and who would die. a very hard winter is ahead of us; doctors will be forced to make even more difficult decisions. people have to wear masks and keep 6 ft distance to protect others, not themselves. i guess too much to ask considering the selfisness of human nature.



          • fault of the engine???? I was talking about the shape of the fuselage. I didn’t say the engines were overheating. I suggested maybe it wouldn’t have heated up with the speed (the plane itself – not the engines) if it had had the fuselage shape and engine covers shape in regards to the area rule. Not even a scientific theory – barely a chit chat. Not that I care about blackbirds anyhow; i cannot care less about them. I just want pellets to behave well at high speeds, that was the point of my long story.


    • “You could fly from Newyork to Paris in 3.5 hours.” Yes, but did you ever price a ticket? My dad and I bought a good Piper Cherokee 140 for less than what Concorde tickets were going for at the time!


      • we used to do it all the time. go to paris, shop, eat, meet people, even sail a little and then hop on the next plane and come back home – day trip. it was not that pricey. you go back there the following week and say hi to the people you met during the prior trip; they thought we lived there. 🙂



        • Our plans never got that ambitious – we did plan a cross-Canada trip but unfortunately my dad passed away before we could do it. Learning to fly together in the Cherokee and the winter we redid the interior and repainted it were great adult father-son projects though. All my flying since he passed has been in sailplanes though I intend to get back current in power in the next couple of years. One sobering calculation I did was to multiply my 1600 hours in gliders by the gallon-per-hour burn of the Cherokee (which as a 140 was quite economical by light aircraft standards) and then multiply that figure by the price of Avgas over the fifteen year period those hours were flown.


          • Nowhere,

            You and your Dad at least got to dream about that great adventure while he was with you.
            I have flown glider/sailplanes and think of it as the pure form of flight. My favorite type of flight;
            with one exception. On a PMCF (Post Maintenance Check Flight) I got to unintentionally fly and land an aircraft (T-28) with an at best 9:1 glide ratio when the engine suddenly disassembled itself on the way to Low Key.
            Do you use a bungee, winch, or Towplane launch?
            As far as the cost of flying not being the cheapest…just think of how few humans will get to actually be in charge of flying an aircraft and the cost gets much more reasonable.

            Strong Thermals!

            shootski



  9. Everyone,

    This just came to me directly. I have no time to answer questions one at a time when I get hundreds every day. If you read the blog, please ask them here.

    Message Body:
    Hi BB,
    I need some info on Air Force airguns. I know that your knowledge is deep because you worked there. I subscribe to your blog my moniker there is Ton.
    I intend to buy an Air Force TalonP Carbine. I found out from Air Force that the Condor tank can fit the TalonP so I would like this fitted. I contacted Alteros for info on a regulator. He told me that to use his regulator for this gun I would need change the valve to one with different threads M18x1.5. To quote him –
    “Since other Airfoce airguns use standard airtank i believe there is option to buy only valve with thread M18x1,5 which will fit your airgun body.”
    I was under the impression that all Air For e air guns use the same standard threads. Is the TalonP the only one that’s different? Or am I missing something?
    Regards


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