by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Winchester’s 422 is another lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.
This report covers:
- The breech seal
With the El Gamo David on the sidelines for a few weeks, I had to dip into my other vintage air rifles and bring out one you have never seen in this blog. Today we begin looking at a Winchester model 422, which is a Diana model 22 sold by Winchester.
Winchester sold 10 models of Diana airguns under their name from 1969 through 1975. The one I am testing has a date stamp of January, 1969.
According to the Blue Book of Airguns they imported a total of 19,259 airguns of all models during that time. The models they sold were:
Today’s Winchester 422 air rifle came just in .177 caliber. It looks remarkably similar to the Diana 23, and according to the Blue Book of Airguns, the next edition of which is due out very soon, it is of a similar size.
This 422 is 35-5/8-inches long over all with a 14.25-inch barrel. It weighs 3.5 lbs. The Diana 23 I tested in June (marked as a Gecado model 23) was 36 inches long and weighed 3 lbs. 11 oz. So the model 22 I’m now testing is even smaller.
The pull is 13 inches, so the rifle can be used by adults. And yes, the barrel is rifled, as I believe all Winchester pellet rifles except the model 416 were.
The rear sight is adjustable through a narrow range of elevation. The sight has no windage adjustment but it is dovetailed into the base block and can be drifted sideways a little.
The rear sight adjusts for elevation throughout a limited range.
The front sight is a simple post with no adjustment possible, except this one is bent to the rear, which lowers it a little. That will raise the strike of the pellet. And, looking through the rear sight notch, I can see that it’s also bent slightly to the left, which will move the strike of the round to the right.
The front sight is just a tapered post. This one is bent back and to the side.
I think I can straighten the front sight, but I want to see where the rifle is shooting before I do.
The stock is beech and slabsided — just what you would expect in a budget air rifle stock. It lacks the finger grooves in the forearm that we saw on the Diana 23.
Like all Dianas of this era the 422 uses a ball-bearing detent to close the breech. But it also has something I have never before encountered in a Diana air rifle. The air transfer port is scooped out on the bottom to provide a starting ramp for the locking ball. When the barrel closes the spring-loaded ball is first pushed in slightly by that ramp and then passes over the pointed detent lock that pushes it all the way in before it snaps back on the other side to close the barrel tight. It appears to have been made this way because the rifle doesn’t show enough use to have worn away the metal.
One side of the air transfer port has been machined into a ramp for the ball-bearing breech detent (arrow).
The breech seal
The breech seal is in the spring tube rather than on the rear of the barrel. That’s like the Diana 23 and according to TW Chambers, the seals are leather and they are the same. Unfortunately they are no longer available, but since they are leather they should be possible to make.
I just finished correcting the Blue Book of Airguns and now while writing this blog I find a shortcoming in the Diana section. The 422 trigger is listed as a double-pull type. A what??!! I think whoever wrote that section was trying to invent a name for a two-stage trigger, because that’s what both the 22 and 23 have. Stage one on this trigger is light and stage two is very heavy. And of course there is no possibility for adjustment.
I’m tempted to disassemble the rifle far enough to lubricate this trigger to lighten the pull. I can see the mainspring through the cocking slot and it’s dry as a bone, so getting inside would be a good thing — as long as I take care. I don’t want to replace parts. There are very few parts available for these airguns and I might have to turn one into a hangar queen to save another.
That’s what we are starting to look at. I expect the velocity to be in the low 400s with a lightweight pellet. The Diana 23 I tested in June of this year shot JSB Exact RS pellets at an average 452 f.p.s., so this little rifle could shoot faster than my prediction. We shall see!