Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The sights
  • No clear inserts
  • The test
  • Sight in
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Vogel Match
  • Discussion
  • H&N Finale Match Heavy
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • RWS R10 Match Heavy
  • Something more
  • Discussion 2
  • Summary

Today we start testing the accuracy of the Diana 75/Beeman 400 target air rifle.

The sights

I first had to mount the rear sight and change the front sight post insert for an aperture. The Diana rear sight is straightforward, except this one has adjustment directions in English rather than German.  You simply adjust the knob in the direction you want the pellet to move. Simple! I had the rear sight on the rifle, positioned and clamped tight in about 15 seconds. But the front sight…!

Diana 75 rear sight
The Diana 75 rear sight is conventional except the adjustment markings are English and not German.

The front sight, on the other hand, is a real piece of work! I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning, just before I shot the rifle. I knew I needed to switch inserts because it had a tapered post and I wanted an aperture. Wayne Johnson who sold me the rifle sent all the sight inserts in a small jar, along with some other stuff that I need time to research.

Diana 75 front sight
There’s a whole lotta magic inside this Diana 75 front sight.

Diana 75 sight inserts
The conventional sight inserts.

Diana 75 sight stuff
… and there was also this stuff. I think it’s an adjustable front sight aperture, but I need time to research it. The red tube appears to be a wrench for the sight.

No clear inserts

I had hoped to install a clear plastic front sight aperture today, but the ones I have don’t fit. At least I wasn’t able to get them to fit. So I used a 3.5mm steel aperture insert from the ones shown above. It works well so far.

The test

Today I’m just getting used to this new target rifle and finding out what sort of pellets it likes. I shot from a rest at 10 meters with the rifle rested directly on a sandbag. I shot 5 shots per group. 

Sight-in

There was no sight-in! Perhaps for the second time in more than a half century of shooting, the sights were on target from the get-go. That’s odd because I store this rifle in a case with the rear sight removed and today I also swapped the front sight insert. I felt lucky to just be on paper at 10 meters, and never expected to hit in the bull I aimed at! The pellet was not perfectly centered but since I’m testing a lot of different pellets I left the sights set where they were.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

I chose RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets to sight in for no particular reason. When the first pellet landed in the black I decided to just finish the first group. Unfortunately it isn’t very small. Five pellets made a group that measures 0.526-inches between centers. Ugh!

Diana 75 Meisterkugeln group
The Diana 75 put 5 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets in 0.526-inches at 10 meters. It is the largest group of the test. This group isn’t as big as it looks because there was some tearing of the target paper.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The second pellet I tested was the RWS R10 Match Pistol wadcutter. Five of them went into 0.162-inches at 10 meters.

Diana 75 R10 Pistol group
That’s the stuff! Five R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 0.162-inches at 10 meters.

When I shot this group I wasn’t aware how small it is because of some paper tearing. This is the smallest group of today’s test.

Vogel Match

This was the pellet I hoped would do best because I just ordered 5,000 of them on a bulk buy at a fabulous low price. They come in different head sizes and the ones I tested today are nominally 4.50mm. But, yucky-poo, they grouped in 0.403-inches between centers! And paper tearing makes the group look larger than it is. These pellets weigh 8.3-grains nominally.

Diana 75 Vogel group
Five Vogel pellets with 4.50mm heads made two groups that measure 0.403-inches between centers.

Discussion

Okay — I’m startin’ to figure this out. The heavy pellets are moving so slow that they are tearing the paper. I probably need to visit Neal Stepp to get this rifle put right again. And heavy pellets aren’t as accurate as the light ones.

Also I want to report that the 75 doesn’t come back at me when it fires, so I can put the rubber eye shield against my glasses for every shot. That’s a reminder to myself for next time. Let’s shoot some more.

H&N Finale Match Heavy

The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Heavy wadcutter. I still didn’t know about the rifle’s aversion to heavy pellets.  Five of these made a group that measures 0.259-inches between centers. That’s not too bad except the Diana 75 is a target rifle that should put them into a group of half that size.

Diana 75 Finale Heavy group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets in 0.259-inches at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Light

The next pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Light. Given how well the Heavys did I expected this pellet to do well and it did. After I saw the group I thought this was the smallest group of the test, though after measuring I discovered it wasn’t. Five pellets are in 0.186-inches at 10 meters. Another trime!

Diana 75 Finale Light group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets in 0.186-inches at 10 meters. It’s good enough for another trime!

RWS R10 Match Heavy

Next up were five RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets. Care to guess how they did? Given what we now know it was no surprise that five of them went into a group that measures 0.329-inches between centers.

Diana 75 R10 Heavy group
Five R10 Heavy pellets made this 0.329-inch group at 10 meters.

Something more

At this point I had not measured the groups and I thought that the H&N Finale Match Light pellets were the most accurate. So I adjusted the rear sight for them. When I did I discovered that I can’t hear or feel the clicks on this target sight, so I have to watch the numbers on the knobs. It’s the only way to know that you’ve made an adjustment. Based on where the first group landed I moved the rear sight up and to the right.

The second group I shot with the H&N  Finale Match Light pellets measures 0.351-inches between centers. I had hoped to do a lot better than that, so maybe I was starting to get tired. The group was higher than the last but still needed to go right.

Diana 75 Finale Light group2
The second group of Finale Light pellets measures 0.351-inches between centers.

I adjusted the sight a little more to the right for the next group. It already seemed high enough.

For the third and final group of Finale Match Light pellets I pulled out all the stops and concentrated as hard as I could. This time five pellets made a 0.272-inch group. It’s very horizontal and I realized I had come to the end of my test for this day.

Diana 75 Finale Light group3
The final group of Finale Match Light pellets is five in 0.272-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion 2

Well I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. Certainly at this point my FWB 300S is more accurate in my hands than this Diana 75. But the Diana is more pleasant to shoot because the action doesn’t move when it fires. It doesn’t come back into my glasses.

At this juncture I am pondering what comes next. Do I continue to shoot this rifle, try different pellets and see if I can do better, or do I get it back to speed, so to speak? I think most of you will want me to get it looked at.

It probably isn’t fair to put it up against my FWB when it’s not performing as it should. The FWB 300S has already shot several groups smaller than one-tenth-inch and it gets an average 658 f.p.s. with the R10 Pistol pellet, where this Diana only gets an average 543 f.p.s. at the present.

Summary

I still need to learn about that strange front sight setup that appears to be an adjustable-diameter aperture. I kinda want to hang onto the rifle long enough to write that up.

But not to worry — you’re going to see this Diana 75/Beeman 400 many more times in the future!

86 thoughts on “Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 3

  1. B.B.,

    I hope this blog means you were nowhere near the awful pile up. I know your cats would be grateful if they knew what had happened.
    I have seen at least one video of it as it happened. It was heart rending.

    So good that you get your hands on these classic air rifles and pistols, and write up reports that so many appreciate.

    BTW … I think I mentioned my wife being in the hospital. Well, after a two month stay, she has now been home for two weeks and it looks like she will be staying a while. I am grateful.

    ~ken


  2. B.B.,

    Yes, you ought to figure out that front sight arrangement before sending out. How does that adjustable front sight work? Could the spring have weakened? Or worse broken?

    Siraniko



  3. B.B.

    Who is Neal Stepp? You paid top dollar for a gun that is not shooting right. As you mentioned, it should be shooting 100 fps faster. Did you get ripped off?

    -Y
    PS Is it springs or seal?


  4. BB,

    Yeah, I think this old gal needs a shot of Vitameatavegamin. Her tearing the paper like that does make it difficult to see what she is doing. A little TLC will likely do her some good.

    I am glad we will be seeing a lot more of this lady. I so enjoy seeing the development of the airgun through the years and how issues that arose were dealt with.


  5. Just wondering. Did you use the same targets that you used while shooting the AV-46M? There seems to be more tearing at 530 fps than at 500 or less with the 46M. To me the holes aren’t as “clean”


  6. BB

    Something is adversely affecting accuracy. Paper tearing seems odd even at its current velocity. Might try a dome pellet 7.87 or 8.44 grains. I have two vintage target rifles that like the JSB Express 7.87 grain.

    Hope you are successful with this beauty.

    Deck


  7. B B
    I didn’t axpect this. The 75 usually shoots most Geman match pellets almost equally well and even the more basic wadcutters do well in my experience. The quoted velocities yours is giving isn’t too far off the pace and the pellets should be punching neat holes at that level. I assume the cards have softened through dampness, possibly. I think the chances of the pellets not landing head first is highly unlikely.
    I brought my current 75 out after work and tried it with R10’s and Meister 8.2’s and the difference was negligible. They also tore neat holes and if memory serves, it has never exceeded 600 fps with any pellet.
    I hope you get to the bottom of the issue very soon.

    Regards,
    Drew



  8. B.B. and Readership,

    I don’t think it is the rifle!

    I’m going to FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, and FIGHT some more for you target shooters to PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH, PUNCH clean holes in your targets with your Wadcutter Pellets!

    https://www.kruger-us-targets.com

    I have used National Target Company (NTC )paper target products exclusively until the quality went elsewhere. I have resorted to using 3M Spray Glue on two sheets of NTC targets and making a two layer target. I have read that some use three layers. I can’t return them and won’t stoop to give them away to a new shooter who doesn’t know better. All my future order for paper targets will be to kruger until some other company produces better product.

    shootski


    • Shootski,

      I use medium quality duct tape (about 2″x2″) behind each bull on copy paper. Backer is standard corrugated cardboard (cut from the sides of cat litter container boxes I get at the Aldi grocery). I do not shoot wad cutters. Works for me.

      Chris


      • Chris,

        I use cardboard and a Sharpie. With the Chinese Plague running rampant, we do a lot of our shopping online. Everything shows up in cardboard boxes. Lots and lots of target material. I have paid for it, so why not use it? I just draw an X when I am shooting a scoped airgun and color a price sticker black when using open sights.


  9. BB,

    I was shocked to see that you are talking about my beloved 400’s. I have been busy with work and not kept up until today so I can say thanks. I own 4 400’s now including my original I bought personally in 78.

    I can add some insight as a long time owner and shooter of them. The sight parts you have are really rare and dang hard to replace. Don’t lose them. Buying used I have had a few guns come in with less then full sight packages so its a serious multi-year challenge to replace them. A friend of mine is working on making a printed copy of the metal sight insert unit with the two springs on the top of your sight parts photo. It is essentially impossible to replace.

    The concept of the O ring sight is to allow you to adjust the sight while slung up. You put the O ring in and then screw it in with the outer black knurled ring. This squeezes the O ring between the two clear plastic pieces and gives you the ability to adjust the size of the front diopter for the light conditions. Once you use it a few times you will like it but frankly I found just swapping the metal inserts easier.

    H&N light match work well in my guns generally. RWS Meisterklugens also do well. The 400 has a long “lock time” compared to the 300’s and follow thru is critical. Looking at the targets, even off the bench, I suspect you might moving a bit early. Try a really loose, not even touching the gun approach once sighted. You can do that with a 400 and trip the trigger with a pencil from the side due to the recoil system

    Good luck and I look forward to your follow up.


  10. A couple of other points that you might not be aware of. The original guns should have 2 screwdrivers for adjusting the trigger. Red handled and square bodied so they don’t roll off the table. German text on them but I would have to go and look at them again. I believe they had millimeter markings on them.

    Second, there should be a little pouch say 1″ by 1.5″ with several plastic cylinders of say 3mm. These are the snubbers that go in the cocking arm so the cocking arm does not slam metal to metal and scrape it up.

    Finally, like say a 1911, my 400’s like to run “wet”. I drop or two of lube in the compression chamber every single time you shot it does wonders for the smoothness of operation. I used to put a drop of oil on every moving part of the cocking arm every time I shot it for good measure. Maybe too much but it never caused me grief.

    Bring on report 4. They are addictive rifles to shoot I think. I still love mine.


    • Pme166,

      You are not helping matters. Listening to you and BB prattle on about these is making me deeply regret not buying that drop dead gorgeous 75 when I had the chance.

      Ah well. If I was to buy all of the airguns I wanted, Mrs. RR would divorce me. Then I would not have any of them.


      • They are not common and frankly I have bought every single one of them I have seen that are right handed. There is a left handed one on Ebay occasionally. No takers. I thought about buying it just to scrap it out for parts but that seemed a bit criminal so I let it go. I have 3 300s’s and 4 400’s. I can tell you they are totally different guns for me. The 400’s fit my body (6′ 5″ and “solid”) well. They are bigger, taller, and wider so they are just easier for me to shoot well. Also the 400’s have zero recoil. They just go “click” when they fire. Because nothing happens, it is easy to drop your form and follow thru. The triggers are excellent. My primary trips at 3 Onz as I remember. I tend to shoot my original and the one I had Urmarex rebuild. Someone did not know you have to fully pull back the cocking lever to release it to go forward due to the bear trap mechanism and bent the cocking arm. My “running boar” model probably needs to be resealed but I have not convinced myself yet of it.

        So bottom line. Get one. They are fun. Totally different than a 300s and while I am looking for another 300S, I would not skip another 400 if I saw it as long as its right handed.


        • You are forgetting about Mrs. RR and the possible divorce that would entail. Once upon a time I had two 300s. Gunfun1 can tell you about them.

          The truth is, if I was to get another 10 meter rifle, it would likely be an Edge. I miss mine.


          • RR
            I always liked your Edge Lloyd done up for you. I would defintly like to have it. I was just thinking about it when I was shooting the Talon SS earlier today I got from you.

            And yep the good ole FWB 300’s. I still got the modded one I did up. Great guns.

            And guess what it’s been about 9° today and I been shooting from the breezeway. Got my Mr. Heater propane heater going and a fan blowing at the open window. It works great. It blows the cold out while circulating the heat. It’s 60° in here right now with the window open.

            Also got about 4 inches of snow on the ground. We are suppose to get flurries all through the weekend and about 4 to 8 inches of snow by Monday.

            Those wooly worms were right again this year so far.



    • RR

      Hoping the first paragraph comment that range is within 7 yards of accuracy is a typo. Later there is a claim of plus or minus 1 yard accuracy. Could be a good buy.

      Deck



      • Decksniper,

        Wow! That certainly was worded poorly! As soon as i read the 7 yards I stopped reading. When i went back to re-read it I found my error; down to 7 yards.
        Why would I want to Range Find something at 7 Y/M?
        So I went to he Hawke Site and those don’t even show up???? That looks like old optical technology in the HAM depiction. The ones Hawke are selling have different model numbers, ranges, and prices? And, most of all different technology!

        shootski







        • Chris USA,

          All auction sites have their own rules/user agreements. Since we’re talking about EBAY with regard to the FWB 127 auction I’ll share my understanding of their rules.

          I’ve been an ebay user since the late 1990’s. I’ve bought and sold hundreds of things. Not many recently since ebay acquired paypal and their policing, enforcement and fees have become atrocious. Their enforcement of non paying bidders is especially dreadful. This is why many sellers reserve the right to require buyers with minimum positive or no feedback (past transaction history) to seek permission to bid on their items or the seller can cancel their bid. I digress.

          To answer your question, “does the sale (win) go to the next lowest (highest) bidder?” The answer is that it is up to the seller. EBAY policy is that the buyer has 2 days to pay if they’re the highest bidder. If they don’t pay, the seller can file a dispute with ebay and whatever the resolution, according to EBAY, can take up to five additional days. During this period the seller has the right to reach out to the second place bidder and offer to sell him/her the item THROUGH EBAY. Until the resolution runs it course it would be unwise for a seller to commit to sell the item to another buyer since bidder number one may end up paying for the item rather than get booted off of ebay.

          The most important thing to most ebay sellers is the amount of feedback the buyer has and over what period of time. In the case of the FWB 127 auction the high bidder has over 500 feedbacks and lots of recent history of bidding on vintage airguns and airgun parts. Highly unlikely that this bidder is a shill or disingenuous.


          • You never know about bids. It could easily be someone like me that is chasing their youth and has more money now then when say they were 17. So something comes along like (for me) a Beeman 400, and yep, I won’t let go of it if in nice shape for pretty much anything.

            I call it compulsive collectors disease. I had it real bad for 38/44 S&W Revolvers. I literally bought every single one I could that was not chromed for a many year period. It was a rare one that I missed and I amassed a big collection that I have since sold off.

            So I suspect that the buyer is serious and he wants that gun in particular. I bought broken 400’s fully intent on repairing them or scraping them out for parts if not repairable. Its just part of being a compulsive collector.


          • Kevin,

            Thank you for that additional insight. I have sold very little and never used E-bay. It all sounds to be a bit of a hassle. Without any buy or sell history,.. I would probably not fare well. Plus, I don’t like a second party getting a slice of my pie.

            Chris



    • FM

      If you look up muzzle boresight there are many out there. Some go down to .177.

      I have one and use it some times. Mine will get you close but I still need to shoot the gun and adjust the sights.


    • FawltyManuel,

      I would worry about buying anything from a company that chooses a name so close to a major provider of super high quality optical gear: https://aimpoint.us/

      There are many ways to get on paper. B.B. uses the close target to get the rough sighting in done method; then moves the distance out in steps. I have used various bore sighting methods/tools to 8nclude pulling a bolt and looking down the bore at the target to initially align the sight(s.)

      In the end you still need to launch projectiles downrange to know your POA matches your POI at a given range(s.)

      shootski



  11. Tom, the O-ring sight was a feature of the original Diana 75 design. As Pme166 has described so well, it is quite complex! As a result, it was soon replaced. Most 75’s out there are the model 75 T01, which had changes to both front and rear sights (by the way, Diana “T” numbers simply refer to sequential production changes. In recent years they are best known for trigger changes on sporter rifles, but can apply to about anything).

    The 75 T01 front sight is a typical tunnel type using drop-in metal inserts. The inserts you have should work on one. The screw-in sight tunnel uses an “M18” (18 mm X 0.5 mm) thread, and can also take the clear acrylic inserts made for that size tunnel.

    The 75 T01 rear sight – for reasons I will never quite understand, frankly – changed the geometry of the mounting rails. The sight is also marked “T01” and generally does NOT fit older Diana rails, at least in my experience. This photo shows the old rail on the left, and the T01 rail on the right, you can immediately see the difference.



    • Thanks for the information. I did not know that there were two different rails on the 75 sights. For whatever reason or just luck on all my 400’s and 75’s are serial numbered in roughly the same 500 numbers. I suspect they were all part of the same production run. I was thinking about buying another spare rear sight so I will have to watch out for it.


      • This photo shows, left to right, the Diopter 75, Diopter 60, and Diopter 75 T01. In addition to the new rail design, note that the rear of the T01 sight is quite different from the other two.


  12. Hi pme166

    I’d love to see some more pics of your rifles. The first-model 75 is rare and I’m fascinated you have more than one!

    The “T01” sights are clearly marked on top, so it’s easy to tell the difference. As far as I can tell the rail geometry of the original Diopter 75 sight matches the earlier Diopter 60, used for many years on the models 35, 50, 60, 65, etc. The rails on the Diopter 75 T01 are slightly closer together, and “flattened” beneath per my previous photo.


Leave a Reply