The Daisy 35: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight-in
  • RWS Superdomes
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Hobby
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I test the Daisy 35 multi-pump with a dot sight. Will that sight make the airgun any more accurate? That’s the test. I mounted the UTG Reflex Micro green dot sight.

The test

I shot from the same 10 meters, rested. I used 8 pumps per shot, just as before. I tried to use the same pellets but I couldn’t find the tin of Norma Golden Trophy pellets, so I substituted RWS Superdomes in their place. I have been told that these Norma pellets are equivalent to the RWS line.

I shot 10-shot groups, just as before. The only difference today, other than the pellet substitution was the sight. And I wore my regular glasses — not the reading glasses I wear when  I shoot with open sights.

Sight-in

It was difficult to sight-in the 35. Any airgun that makes 2-inch groups at 10 meters is going to be difficult to sight in. I started at 10 feet and had to adjust the dot down and to the left a lot. When I got two shots that went to the same place I backed up to 20 feet and kept sighting-in. After two shots were good at that distance I backed up to 10 meters and continued the sight-in. 

All things considered, it took about 12 shots to get the gun sighted-in. Then I shot the first group of RWS Superdomes.

RWS Superdomes

It was a fortunate thing that I shot Superdomes today because they gave me the best group of the test. Ten of them went into 1.963-inches at 10 meters. The group is fairly well centered on the bull. It’s just off to the left a little.

Daisy 35 Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes went into 1.963-inches at 10 meters. This is the best group of today’s test.

JSB Exact RS

The next pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. In Part 3 ten of these made a 2.591-inch group. Today with the dot sight ten went into 3.326-inches. Well — that’s no better, is it? Apparently I can shoot just as well with open sights as with a dot — at least this time!

Daisy 35 JSB RS group
Ten JSB RS domes made this 3.326-inch group at 10 meters. The first shot was in the black near the center, which is why I continued with the group without adjusting the sight. Shot two is that large round hole at the upper left. It looks like it was shot with a wadcutter but I saw it form as I shot. This is why a gun that shoots wide is so hard to sight in.

RWS Hobby

The last pellet I shot was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. In Part 3 ten Hobbys made a 2.205-inch group. Today using the dot sight the 35 put ten Hobbys into 2.29-inches at 10 meters. It’s pretty much the same as the last time with open sights.

One thing about this group. It is so spread out that there are two sight-in shots that look like they are in the group. Well, they aren’t. If you look at the edges of their hole you can tell that they were shot with Superdomes that didn’t cut round holes. This group is similar to the group Hobbys made when I shot with open sights.

Daisy 35 Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys made a 2.29-inch group at 10 meters. The arrows point to two holes made by Superdomes during the sight-in. They aren’t part of this group.

Discussion

The tightest group shot with open sights in Part 3 of this test measures 2.181-inches between centers. The tightest group of today’s testing measures 1.963-inches between centers. Clearly the Daisy 35 does not become more accurate at 10 meters with a dot sight.

This may look like a short little test, but please remember that each one of those 30 pellet holes was preceeded by 8 pump strokes. Add to that the 12 sight-in shots and I had to pump this airgun 336 times for today’s test. It wasn’t short on my end! But thankfully the Daisy 35 is an easy airgun to pump.

Looking at the groups I see that this Daisy 35 will hit a tin can most of the time out to 30 feet, or so. That’s its strength. It sure isn’t a paper puncher!

Summary

There is one last thing to test and that is the accuracy of the airgun with BBs. Given that it is set to feed BBs with the magnetic bolt tip I don’t see any reason to test it with lead BBs. You can try to talk me out of that, but think about it. Is someone shooting a $35-40 airgun really going to spend $25 for 1,500 BBs?


Saving money at any expense

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • A dollar cheaper
  • Cut a slot in your head!
  • Back to airguns
  • Which one?
  • How to choose
  • Same for airguns
  • We’ve been invaded!
  • Whatcha do
  • Summary

Ahhh! Saving money. Many of the airgunners I know will go to extremes to do it, and it often costs them a lot.

Crosman Premiers

I remember back in the middle ’90s, when the Crosman Premier pellet was the talk of the airgun world. Everybody wanted Premiers because they flew so straight in so many airguns. I remember talking to the Crosman engineer who designed the Premier. He attended an airgun show in Baldwinsville, New York, and no, it wasn’t Ed Schultz. He told me he designed the Premier line to be aerodynamic and when the design was finalized, all the pellets in the line were very aerodynamic. So Premiers flew straight and true and everybody wanted them.

A dollar cheaper

But because they were airgunners, everybody wanted the cheapest Premiers they could buy. So when Rick Willnecker offered Premiers in his store at a dollar a box less than what they sold for online, the hunt was on! One guy on my Airgun Letter yellow forum bragged about driving from southern Virginia to Rick’s place in Pennsylvania, where he saved five dollars! He drove over 200 miles round trip to do it and spent the better part of a day on the road. Some savings!

Cut a slot in your head!

When I worked as a contractor, teaching members of the Department of Defense how their acquisition system worked, the talk was always about saving money. And yet the actions that were taken were often just the opposite. The systems my clients bought were huge telecommunications systems that were unique, as in one of a kind. They used minicomputers, which in those days were VAX 11-780s — tall cabinets the size of two large school lockers, and the systems might have dozens of them! We were also pushing the state of the art, when it came to the response times of these systems.

Guys, when you build a unique system you want it to work well, come in on time and be cheap. Pick two of those three things, because it is impossible to get all three! I got so frustrated with this “buying on the cheap” mindset that I told my clients if they wanted to save money they should cut a slot in their head and become a piggy bank.

Back to airguns

How does this relate to airguns? Simple! You want a pellet rifle that’s pleasant to shoot, accurate and has a good trigger. Looks aren’t as important, but you don’t mind if the gun you get looks traditional. You want a .177 because you are getting this airgun just to plink and to have some fun. Your choices are a Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with a lightning gas ram, an HW 30S and a Shining Mountain single shot. These three are all breakbarrels that shoot at under 700 f.p.s.

The Woods Raider QT XDR retails for $249. The HW 30S retails for $299 — $339, when it’s in stock, but it seems to be sold out everywhere. The Shining Mountain sells for $169-199.

Which one?

You are not new to airguns. You know that the Shining Mountain breakbarrel is from China. It could be good, but it’s being sold by small fly-by-night dealers on eBay and Amazon, and you also know that the accuracy will be a crap shoot. Some of the dealers will be honest and easy to deal with if you get a rifle that’s lousy, but you just went through a nasty return experience with a no-name dealer and you aren’t up for another one so soon.

The Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram is being sold by a major distributor and Pyramyd Air has them in stock. However, you know that this rifle is also probably Chinese, so you will be taking the same chance with accuracy as you would with the Shining Mountain. The good news is there are two reputable companies between you and this purchase. Both of them have good reputations for customer satisfaction. But still, there is all that doubt about the DNA of the airgun. And it has a gas piston that, I don’t care who made it, always makes the rifle a little harder to cock.

And then there is the HW 30S. Without question this one is the most expensive of your three choices and what’s worse, it isn’t available right now. You just got your income tax refund and you want an airgun!

The HW 30S will be smooth and accurate. You know that it will have the best trigger of all three choices and also that Weihrauch air rifles are made to be serviced by their owners. So, if you ever want to modify it or to lubricate it, this is the only one of the three that makes it easy for you.

How to choose

Allow me to reflect on how a 73 year old diabetic looks at something like this. It’s lunchtime and I want a hot fudge sundae for dessert. I have the ice cream, the whipped cream and the hot fudge on hand to make it. I know that if I eat one right now my blood sugar will be off the chart for the next two days. And also, because I am lactose intolerant, there could be problems during my daily walk that comes up in about three hours.

Having gone down this trail many times in the past I have learned that abstinence always hurts up front, but it also almost always pays off in the long run. I say almost always, because sometimes I just gotta have that sundae!

Same for airguns

It’s the same for airguns. Right now you can’t find an HW 30S for sale in the United States.  But there are still plenty of Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDRs with lightning gas rams and Shining Mountain breakbarrels for sale. Why?

We’ve been invaded!

The socio-political events of recent times have driven all the packrat airgunners in the United States to fill their nests with shiny trinkets to the point that there is no room for them anymore. Also, a hundreds-of-times larger herd of packrats has crossed over from the world of firearms. They can’t find enough 9mm, .40 cal. and .223 Remington ammo to fuel their weekly habit of punching paper, and they heard that airguns are the next best thing. They are used to paying thousands of dollars for an all-up AR-15 and when they saw that the HW 30S was only $339, they figured that was chump change.

These guys listened to all of you before they made any purchases and you warned them about the Shining Mountain breakbarrels and the Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram. They were able to run over the barbed wire entanglement that you guys fell on in your years of becoming airgunners, by stepping on your backs. And now there is no toilet paper in the airgun world. Whaddaya do?

Whatcha do

You can buy what’s out there right now, and in a few days the brown Santa (or the dark blue Tooth Fairy) will deliver a happy package to your doorstep. Or, you can grit your teeth and commit to spending even more money by ordering an HW 30S from whomever will take your order. And then you wait. Yeah — I hate waiting too, but what’s even worse than waiting is opening that happy package and discovering that you now have to justify an air rifle that’s deficient in multiple ways, when old BB Pelletier told you there is something much better. Darn it, BB, why didn’t you stick to straight razors?

Summary

There are a lot of ways to go, these days, but not all of them will get you where you want to be. This stuff is so easy for me to write because over the years I have made all these mistakes — many times!


The EM GE Zenit air pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Zenit
The German EM-GE Zenit air pistol from before World War II is a fascinating collector’s item.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Grips
  • Cocking
  • Repeater
  • Barrel
  • Sights
  • Danger!
  • Direct sear
  • Power
  • Diana model IV
  • Summary

Today we begin looking at an air pistol with a rich portfolio of design features. The EM-GE Zenit is a pistol many airgunners have never seen, though there were copies made by Milbro under the Diana name, by the German maker Falke, by Swedish maker Stiga, by Italian maker Brema and even the Russians made a copy on what was probably the original Zenit machinery and tooling after they took over the EM-GE factory at the end of the war.

History

The EM GE Zenit is an overlever spring-piston air pistol made by Moritz and Gerstenberger of Zella Mehlis, Germany from about 1937 until 1940. Because of the short production period, it is a relatively rare air pistol that is desired by many collectors. And it has an interesting and potentially dangerous design flaw that makes shooting it something of a gamble. I will discuss this in detail later.

The pistol is made from wood and steel. The wood is walnut and the steel is highly polished and deeply blued. The pistol I am testing for you has most of the finish remaining, though rust has set in and needs to be treated. I will treat it with Ballistol that penetrates and neutralizes the rust.

Grips

Most Zenit (German for zenith) pistols have a one-piece walnut grip. There is a round brass escutcheon with the EM-GE logo on either side of this grip.  There is also a model with Geco grip escutcheons that was made for export to the United States.

A rare version was made with a  black bakelite grip. Bakelite is the world’s first synthetic plastic. While plastic parts are usually a cost control measure, this one may have been to save resources, as Germany was gearing up for war and needed wood for many items of materiel. This version has the logo cast directly into the grip, which is possible with plastic.

The plastic grip is very rare and was made before World War II. Some may have existed as new old stock for sale after the war, but this grip is definitely a prewar item.

Cocking

The pistol is cocked by lifting up on the overlever that lies on top of the spring tube and rocking it forward until the sear catches the piston. The barrel tips up when this happens and moves slightly forward, exposing the breech for loading. The leverage is odd but effective, rendering the Zenit very easy to cock for its power.

Zenit top strap
To cock the pistol, first raise the top strap that’s the cocking lever.

Zenit cocked
Then rock the top strap forward until the sear catches the piston.

Anti-beartrap

With the top strap up the trigger cannot fire the pistol. This is an anti-beartrap on an airgun from the 1930s!

Repeater

The Zenit is a single shot, loaded at the breech in the conventional way that a breakbarrel is loaded. But there is also a repeating model with a gravity-fed tubular magazine on top of the spring tube. The magazine aligns with the breech when the pistol is cocked and the barrel tips up. The pellets then slide down the magazine tube. It doesn’t sound too positive to me, but it’s so rare I will probably never get the opportunity to examine one.

Barrel

The outer barrel is steel but it has a brass liner. This liner may be smoothbored or rifled. The pistol I am examining for you is rifled, as noted by the abbreviation gez. for gezogen that’s stamped into the barrel.

Zenit barrel marks
The barrel is marked with the caliber and also gez. — the abbreviation for gezogen or rifled.

Zenit patent mark
A different-looking patent mark with no patent number.

Zenit name
The name is Zenit.

Zenit EM-GE markings
And the name of the maker.

Sights

The rear of the overlever is bent up and has a notch that serves as the rear sight.

Zenit EM-GE rear sight
The rear sight is cut into the end of the cocking lever.

The front sight has a thumbwheel jam nut on the right side that allows the post to be raised to varying heights. The higher you go the lower the round strikes. The blade can also be moved left or right a little by rotating the sight ring, which will adjust the windage.

Zenit front sight left
The front sight blade swings up to adjust the elevation.

Zenit front sight top down
Loosen the thumbscrew and rotate the front sight ring right or left for windage adjustment.

Danger!

The one design flaw is the end cap. It is threaded on the spring tube and held in place by a small hole in its bottom that accepts a protrusion from the bottom of the spring guide. If, while firing, this small protrusion jumps out of the hole in the end cap, the cap is free to unscrew and send the cap back into the shooter’s face with the force of the mainspring.

Zenit end cap
As long as you can see the stud through the end cap hole like this, the cap cannot unscrew and hit you in the face.

Direct sear

The trigger acts directly on the sear, which, in turn, locks the piston in the rearward position. I have tried the trigger several times and can tell you that it’s a two-stage design with a very light but positive stop at stage two. I can feel some movement in stage two, but the release is reasonably crisp. There is no provision for adjustment.

Power

I doubt the Zenit will be a powerful air pistol. It’s probably somewhere in the higher 200 f.p.s. region with lightweight lead pellets. But for its day it was at the zenith (pun intended) of performance. It was up against air pistols such as the Haenel 26 and 28, the BSF S20, and the Diana model V. The Zenit wasn’t the most powerful, but it packed more features than any of the others into a nice compact package.

Diana model IV

As I mentioned in the beginning, there were many copies of the Zenit, with the Russians just building the same gun on the same machinery after the wart. Milbro copied it and they came very close. Theirs lacked the rear sight on the cocking lever, as the lever was extended to the end of the pistol and folded over the end cap. That was one of several ways Milbro protected the shooter from the end cap springing back at their face. This pistol was called by numerous names including the Milbro Diana Model Mark IV, the Diana G4, the Milbro G4 (rifled) and the Milbro G4S (smoothbore). In the US this is one that you may see more often than any except the original Zenit.

Summary

We are looking at a strange and fascinating German air pistol from before World War II. This may not be a long series, but it should be an interesting one.

Velocity testing is next. What should I do?


Crosman 38T Target revolver: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Grips & tips

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman ashcans
  • How did they do?
  • The test
  • RWS Superdome
  • Crosman ashcan pellets
  • RWS Superpoint
  • Discussion and summary

Today will be the last report on this .177-caliber Crosman 38T target revolver. Reader Billj commented to Part 2 that ashcan pellets were the most accurate in his 38T, but after some discussion he mentioned that they weren’t Crosman ashcan pellets. They were Ampell pellets.

Crosman ashcans

Ampells I can’t remark on, but Crosman ashcans I have. For the record, they aren’t called ashcans. Crosman called them Superpells. We call them ashcans because they look more like that than they do a conventional diabolo.

38T Ashcans
Crosman “ashcan” pellets are uniquely shaped. But are they accurate?

The first thing I did was weigh 10 of them for you. Here is what I saw.

Pellet….weight
1……………8.4
2……………8.3
3……………8.3
4……………8.4
5……………8.3
6……………8.3
7……………8.4
8……………8.3
9……………8.3
10..…………8.3

That’s pretty consistent. Most modern pellets don’t do any better.

How did they do?

Well, for starters ashcan pellets didn’t load into the rotating cylinder very well. The spring-loaded pellet loading tool wouldn’t push them all the way into the chamber unless I pressed down and pushed on it very firmly. It felt like they were much larger than average diabolos.

38T ashcans loading
Every ashcan pellet went into the rotating cylinder this far and then had to be pushed in the rest of the way by hand. They went in with a click.

Just for fun I measured the heads of a few of the ashcans. They were all larger than 4.56mm, which is as large as my Pelletgage goes. So they are large!

The test

I shot off a sandbag rest at 10 meters today with my hands resting on the bag. I shot 6-shot groups because that’s how many pellets fit into the 38T cylinder.

RWS Superdome

I started the test with RWS Superdome pellets. In Part 3 they grouped the best, with 6 going into 0.97-inches at 10 meters. Today these were the first pellets I tested, with the hope that they would groups similarly. And they did. Today 6 Superdome pellets made a 0.999-inch group between centers at 10 meters.

38T Superdomes
Six RWS Superdomes made a 0.999-inch group at 10 meters. 

That was close enough to the group shot on Day 3 that I feel this 38T really likes this pellet.

Next up were the ashcans.

Crosman ashcan pellets

I already mentioned the ashcan’s sluggish loading. That gave me hope that these Superpells might be wonderful because of how large they are. But alas, they turned in a 6-shot group that measured 1.455-inches between centers at 10 meters. 

38T ashcans
The 38T put six vintage Crosman “ashcan” pellets into this 1.455-inches at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint

The last pellet I tried today was the RWS Superpoint. The 38T put six of them into 1.587-inches at 10 meters. This is the largest group of today’s test, and it’s also larger that all the groups in Part 3.

Superpoint
Six RWS Superpoints made a 1.455-inch group at 10 meters.

Discussion and summary

Well, that’s it for the .177-caliber Crosman 38T. I always wondered how this air pistol shot and now we all know. The airgun is powerful and accurate. It looks very realistic and functions quite well. For an airgun made no less than 36 years ago, I have to say it gives up nothing to an air pistol made today.

Now, the good news is, we are just half finished with this report. Yesterday’s guest blog by 45Bravo, Grips & Tips, was written about the left grip panel of my .22-caliber 38T that I sent to Ian for a reseal. I told him the left grip panel was wonky and he turned the repair  of that into a guest blog, with a second report on resealing the pistol that’s yet to come.

Then I will test that pistol for you and, because Ian sent me some .22-caliber ashcans, I’ll also test it with them. When this series is over you should have a very good understanding of the Crosman 38T!


Grips & tips

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today we have another guest blog by reader Ian McKee who goes by the handle 45Bravo. He tells us about fixing some vintage Crosman plastic grips and some other tips he has for us.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Take it away, 45Bravo.

Crosman 38T
Crosman 38T.

Grips & tips

This report covers:

  • The grips
  • Now for some useful tips
  • Barrel alignment
  • Velocity adjustment
  • Leaks
  • Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

Judging by the interest in B.B’s Crosman 38T blog, this is a very popular vintage CO2 revolver that seems to have flown under some people’s radar.  Since I have one on my workbench at the moment, I thought I would share a few helpful tips from the Crosman Factory Service manual, and some things I have learned from working on one. 

The grips

I’ll start with the grips. Unlike the Crosman Mark I & II pistols that have a metal tube in the grip frame to house the CO2 cartridge , the 38T is different. In this model you have to remove the left grip panel to change a cartridge. The grip panel is held in place by a metal clip that is attached to the grip and clamps onto the CO2 cartridge when it is installed in the gun. The grip then aligns to the frame by two locator pins on the pistol’s grip frame.

Since the grip is held in place by a CO2 cartridge, people sometimes left a cartridge in place thereby shortening the life of the CO2 face seal.  

TIP: If you decide to leave a cartridge in the gun, tighten the piercing screw just enough to hold the cartridge in place, not enough to compress the face seal. 

The plastic grips are now over 40 years old, and may have become brittle. On this pistol, the lower grip alignment post is broken and the top one is deformed from repeated use.

Crosman 38T left grip bottom
The locating pin hole at the bottom of the left grip panel is broken. Where the metal spring clip attaches there is also a hairline crack on both sides.

Crosman 38T left grip top
The locating pin hole at the top of the left grip panel is deformed from use.

All of these faults should be repaired. They will only get worse in time, so now is the time to fix them.

[Editor’s note: I discovered when searching for Crosman 38Ts, that damage to the left grip panel is a common problem with these guns. Several guns are being sold with either a damaged panel or even a missing left grip. There are no replacements other than from donor guns, so fixing the panel is the only way to go, unless you plan to make custom grips.]

I chose to use superglue and baking soda for the repair. When mixed these materials create a chemical reaction that hardens instantly. I don’t know the science behind it, but I remember some readers discussing the science after I used it on the Beeman P17 sight fill in blog.

To give the plastic post some extra support I wound part of a ballpoint pen spring around the damaged part. I then used the superglue and baking soda to build up the area in layers. Once it had hardened, I used small files to shape it to the approximate size, and shape.

Crosman 38T spring repair
This section of ballpoint pen spring reinforces the location pin hole, so the superglue and baking soda has something to shape it.

Crosman 38T locating hole repair
The baking soda/superglue mixture hardens right away. The next step is to file it flush or just below flush.

When you finish the posts need to be either flush with the grip level, or just a smidgen below level. 

Crosman 38T locating hole repair 2
Here I am cleaning up the repair of the bottom locating hole.

I used a drill press with a Dremel tool round ball bit to make the dimples for drilling the alignment pin holes. That allowed me more precision than if I had just tried to drill them out freehand.

Another reason I chose the superglue/baking soda repair is, as you can see, the white repair area stands out like a sore thumb. 

When both locating holes were repaired I used a Minwax stain marker that’s used to cover scratches in wood furniture, as the baking soda/super glue absorbs the color readily. The red mahogany color is a perfect match for the grips on this pistol.  

(Note: the color and pattern of the grips vary from pistol to pistol, no two are identical).

Crosman 38T wood stain
Minwax 225 Red Mahogany stain marker blended the two repairs very well.

Now for some useful tips

According to the new Blue Book of Airguns, the Phase I pistol has a metal rear sight and cylinder as mentioned in Part 1 of the 38T blog. The Crosman Factory Service Manual shows that it also has a 1-piece cylinder base pin and screw that the cylinder rotates on, and holds the outer barrel in place. 

The Phase II pistol has a plastic rear sight, a plastic cylinder, a 2 piece cylinder base pin, and a screw that holds the outer barrel on. Like Tom, I have no clue how the Phase III model differs.

[Editor’s note: one of our readers said that in Phase III only .177 caliber was available. But no other differences were mentioned.]

Barrel alignment

Sometimes the sights may not have enough adjustment to get your point of impact to meet your point of aim. The manual says to remove the outer barrel, and then loosen the grub screw on the top strap (38-050). Then you can rotate the inner barrel to a different position to adjust your point of impact.

Crosman 38T parts

Velocity adjustment

The manual says there may be two reasons for a low velocity, first improper lubrication of the moving parts. Or, the velocity adjuster is either missing, or not in the correct place. Yes that’s right, this pistol has a velocity adjustment! It is a small spool-shaped spacer between the frame and flat hammer spring, shown as part # 38-104 in the exploded parts view above. If yours is missing, you can use a small nut, or plastic spacer

Crosman 38T power adjust
That spacer (arrow) puts variable tension on the hammer spring to vary the power of the gun.

For best results, the service manual suggests it be placed about 1 ¼ inch from the bottom of the spring, but since we don’t know the diameter of the original, it will be trial and error. 

Leaks

If the pistol is leaking from somewhere other than the CO2 piercing seal, you will have to remove the left side cover to locate them. 

DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER WHILE THE GUN IS PRESSURIZED!

The piercing block is under 800 psi or more when there is gas in the gun, and the block is held in place by the side cover only.

Once the gun is degassed, remove the sear spring and plunger (38-89 & 38-39), and the ball detent and spring (600-079 & 38-064) so they don’t get lost.

You have to hold the piercing block in place while you pressurize the gun. Use a parallel clamp or something similar, do not use vice grips, or other sharp-jawed tool that will damage the softer pot metal of the gun’s frame.

Crosman 38T clamp
Use a clamp to hold the piercing assembly in place when you pressurize the gun to check for leaks.

Put a several drops of Pellgun oil on the indicated areas (three arrows) to see if any bubbles form from leaks. If there are leaks, you can try tightening the connections just a little, if that does not stop the leaks, put your small parts back in and just wait until your seal kit comes in the mail. 

Cleaning and protecting your vintage airgun

I have been using Renaissance Wax for a while on my airguns, and for others I have worked on for friends. It is a brand of microcrystalline wax polish used in antique restoration and museum conservation. It cleans and protects the surface; so far I am quite pleased with the product. 

Crosman 38T Renaissance Wax
After repairs I use Renaissance Wax to protect the surface of the guns.

So there you have it, a quick repair, and hopefully some insights into a very neat vintage CO2 pistol. 

Take care, and be safe.

Ian


Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) Synthetic: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 34 EMS
Diana 34 EMS with synthetic stock.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Norma Golden Trophy
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • The trigger
  • Firing behavior
  • RWS Superdome
  • Impressions so far

Today we begin looking at the accuracy of the new Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS). It’s a breakbarrel with a conventional coil-wound steel mainspring that will, at some time in the future, be convertible to the N-TEC gas piston system. It will also be able to exchange the barrel at some point in the future, which means the user can change calibers.

We have already seen that this rifle has some power without being ridiculous. The trigger is light and vague, and today we will find out how that affects things downrange.

The test

I decided to just get used to the rifle today by shooting at 10 meters and using the open sights. I got rid of the fiberoptic rear sight and replaced it with the black notch Diana included with the rifle. The target was lit brightly, which canceled out the fiberoptic front bead, allowing me to aim precisely at each bull. The front sight post is rounded, but I was able to balance the black bull on the rounded center of the post.

I shot 10-shot groups off a rest, using the artillery hold. The rifle was held as lightly as possible, but the thumbhole stock makes it hard to use a true artillery hold. Still when you see the results I think you’ll see I did okay.

RWS Hobby

Because this is a Diana rifle, I figured RWS pellets would be good. I started with 7-grain Hobby wadcutters. Sight-in took 4 shots and then I moved to a clean bull for the first group. Ten pellets went into a scattered group measuring 1.019-inches between the centers of the two widest shots. That rules out Hobbys for this rifle.

Diana EMS Hobby group
The Diana 34 EMS put ten RWS Hobbys into a 1.019-inch group at 10 meters.

Norma Golden Trophy

Next I tried ten Norma Golden Trophy domes. They gave me a second scattered group that measures 1.54-inches between centers. One pellet that hit below and to the left of the main group was not a called pull.

Diana EMS Norma Golden Trophy group
Ten Norma Golden Trophy domes went into 1.54-inches at 10 meters. The pellet that’s low and left was not a called pull.

JSB Exact Heavy

The next pellet to be tested was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy dome. People have reported doing well with this pellet in the EMS.

Ten made a tight 0.392-inch group at 10 meters. Now, we are talking! This is the sort of performance I expected from a Diana 34.

0Diana EMS JSB Exact Heavy group
Ten JSB Exact Heavys went into 0.392-inches at 10 meters. The Diana 34 EMS can shoot!

The trigger

By this point in the test I had fired 34 rounds and had gotten accustomed to the trigger. Although it is a two-stage unit and although I can feel when stage two begins, it acts much more like a single stage trigger. It moves smoothly through stage two and releases at an unknown point that I was able to get used to. There is no creep in the trigger — just a smooth travel of the blade through stage two. If you like a single stage trigger you will love this one!

Firing behavior

The firing cycle is quick and solid. I don’t see how a gas piston could do any better. Maybe because the piston would be lighter there would be less of an impulse at firing, but that’s about it.

Now I know for certain what the Diana 34 EMS reminds me of. It reminds me of a Diana 34 that has been tuned with a Vortek PG3 HO kit. I have tuned a number of different rifles with that kit and this EMS shoots exactly like one of them. The action is quick and there is no residual vibration. Diana, you did an excellent job in designing this one!

RWS Superdome

The last pellet I tried in the Diana 34 EMS was the RWS Superdome. Just before shooting these I dialed the rear sight down several clicks. Ten Superdomes went into 0.562-inches at 10 meters. I now know two pellets I will try when I scope this rifle!

Diana EMS Superdome group
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 RWS Superdomes into a 0.562-inch group at ten meters.

Impressions so far

Diana did this one right. It’s accurate, powerful and free from vibration. The trigger acts like a smooth, light single stage. The open sights adjust well. I’m looking forward to trying the rifle with a scope.


IZH MP532 target rifle: Part 8

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

IZH MP532
IZH MP532 single stroke target rifle.

A history of airguns

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

This report covers:

  • The back story
  • Sights
  • First shot — ah HA!
  • Finale Match Heavy
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • Rear sight
  • Rear sight height
  • Rear sight folds forward!
  • Russians missed the mark
  • End of back story
  • Why the peep sight won’t adjust high enough
  • What’s next?
  • Summary

I have what I think is a great report for you today. I have listed it as a history article, but the application is universal. It will take a lot of back story introduction and I will have to keep things straight for you as we go. You may need a whole pot of coffee for this one!

The back story

Back in October, 2019 I reviewed two IZH 532 single-stroke pneumatic target air rifles for you. The report started with me thinking the rifles were only as accurate as a Daisy 853 and it ended with me shooting two of the smallest groups I have ever shot with any airgun at 10 meters. I think I have just discovered something major about one of the two rifles, and that is what this report is about. Yes, this is an historical report, but if I am right it applies to modern air rifles as well.

There is so much back story to tell that I will put everything that was written in 2019 in italics, so you can differentiate it from what I’m telling you today. As I introduced both rifles I shared their differences with you. I will be referring to the first rifle and the second rifle. It is the second rifle, which is ten years older than the first rifle, that is of interest for this series. Here we go.

Sights

The front sight of the 532 is a globe that accepts inserts. The first rifle I got had a single insert in the globe and it is the old-style metallic aperture. The second rifle came with no inserts but I was able to fit a 16mm Walther clear plastic aperture insert that reader Kevin recently sent me. It’s loose until the threaded sleeve is screwed tight, but then it locks up and stays in one place, which is all I need. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfectly centered because the rear sight adjusts for that.

532 front sight Walther insert
The older rifle had no front sight insert, so I installed a clear 16mm Walther aperture.

The rear sight is a target peep that Americans have panned over the years. They say it looks cheap compared to other 10-meter rear sights. Well, it is a little Spartan compared to other 10-meter target rifle sights, but it does everything they do, so who cares what it looks like? Beautiful is as beautiful does. Naturally I will have a lot more to say about the sights when I test the rifle(s) for accuracy. I think because I have two rifles I will test both of them. Why not?

While I was working with the first rifle to get it back in shape I decided to purchase a second one. This was an earlier rifle that didn’t have the box or anything else — just the rifle. I wanted this one in case the first one didn’t pan out for some reason. I don’t plan to keep it long, and from the response I saw to Part One I will have no trouble selling it when I am ready. There were three inquiries about the other two rifles I mentioned that are available, so this one will evaporate quickly. But I have it now so let’s see what it can do.

The second rifle was produced in 1997, making it 10 years older than the first rifle. I used the same warmup procedure (20 partial pumps to warm the pump cup) and a partial stroke before every pump stroke for each shot.

This rifle has a clear plastic aperture insert for the front sight, and I selected one that was only ever-so-slightly larger than the bullseye. It was very difficult to work with. If I shoot the rifle again I will swap it for an insert with a larger hole.

[Editor’s note: Right there I identified the problem I hope to resolve in this series, but I didn’t see it at the time.]

I decided to shoot only the three best pellets from the first rifle in rifle number two, which were H&N Finale Match Heavys, Hobbys and Qiang Yuan Training pellets. However, things never got that far.

First shot — ah HA!

The first shot with H&N Finale Match Heavys hit the target about 6 inches below the aim point. So I dialed in a lot of elevation into the peep and shot again. The sight adjusted up easily. Shot two was still below the target, so I cranked in a bunch more elevation — AND RAN OUT OF ADJUSTMENT! The adjustment knob suddenly stopped. It felt just like the one on rifle number one. OH! The rear sight on rifle number two was now adjusted as high as it will go and the rifle is still shooting too low! I’m learning. [But I wasn’t learning fast enough.]

Finale Match Heavy

Five Finale Match Heavy pellets hit the target about 1-1/2-inches below the aim point. They landed in an extremely vertical group that measures 0.429-inches between centers. I was almost certain the rifle was not responsible for the size of the group, and I also knew it wasn’t me. I thought it was the rear sight.

And then it happened. Everything became crystal clear and I know the problem. [I didn’t, really, but I thought I did.]

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

I then shot 5 Qiang Yuan Training pellets into another vertical group. Two shots are above three shots, with each “group” being small enough to hold a pellet by the tail. But 5 shots are in 0.445-inches. The only way this can happen is if the rear sight was moved while I shot. So I pushed on it and, sure enough, it moved. THAT WAS THE PROBLEM!

I had been creeping up on the rear peep, trying to get my eye as close as possible to the peephole, but in Part 2 the first rifle’s buttstock was adjusted so long that it was very difficult to get close to that sight. Sometimes I did and other times I didn’t. The butt on rifle two wasn’t adjusted, so I got close to the peep every time. If my glasses touched the peep hole disk they pushed it forward, moving the location of the hole and changing the impact point up or down.

No sense going any farther with today’s testing. I need to find out some things about the sights and what can be done to correct the situation.

Rear sight

I’m going to write a report about that rear sight because I have just discovered a lot about it — stuff I haven’t told you yet. First, the two rifles have different rear sights! And the differences are big and they matter! Next, how you sight the rifle makes all the difference in the world. With the first rifle, when I didn’t push my face forward, the sight remained upright and my groups were smaller. When I pushed my face forward I hit the sight and it folded forward and down. Now that I know that, I am sure I can shoot better groups.

I know the MP532 isn’t an air rifle many of you will ever even see, but there are some fundamental principles at work that apply to all airguns. So this stuff is worth learning.

rear sight 97 eyepiece
Here you can see how the rear sight attaches to the 532 receiver that swoops up to meet it. You can also see that both adjustment knobs are marked with Cyrillic letters.

rear sight 97 mount
In this view you can see the eyepiece that contains the peep hole is attached to a sheetmetal part that comes up from the sight and then folds over and goes down again. That sheetmetal part is attached solidly to the sight base and does not move.

Rear sight height

Those photos show the rear sight design that I have been scrutinizing for the past two weeks. I simply cannot see how it is possible for this sight to move higher than its highest adjustment permits, and in testing we learned that isn’t anywhere near high enough to hit the center of the bull! Sure, a plate placed under the bottom of the sight could lift it up, but I see no mention of such a plate in either manual.

A similar fix is possible if the front sight can be lowered. I know that the Russians are aware of that possibility because both the SKS and AK battle rifles have front sights that move up and down for elevation adjustments — similar to the American M16 front sight. But the front sight on the MP532 does not move. It is mounted solidly in place. And there is no plate in it to be removed to effect such an adjustment, either.

In short — there seems to be no way to adjust the MP532 sights high enough to get the pellets to strike the center of the bull at 10 meters. For a target rifle that is the kiss of death and I’m flabbergasted that the Russians built it that way!

[I believe there was and is a way for that sight to work, but at this point in 2019 I hadn’t found it yet.]

Rear sight folds forward!

Besides the elevation adjustment, another fundamental requirement for 10-meter target sights is that they never move. Once adjusted, you want them locked in concrete, so shot after shot can go to the same place. That’s kind of the whole point to target shooting! Well, the MP532 rear sight moves! In fact, it’s spring-loaded to move when pressed upon from the rear.

rear sight 97 folded
This is how far forward the rear sight folds when it’s pressed from the rear. Any movement of the rear sight can move the impact point of the pellet. This movement prohibits shooters from mounting rubber eyecups on the peep disk and pressing into them when sighting.

Ten-meter target shooters will immediately recognize the problem with the rear sight folding forward. They are used to putting a soft rubber cup on the disk of their rear peep and pressing into it when shooting. That cup blocks out all the light except for that which comes through the peep hole, and that makes for a sharper sight picture.

When I tested both rifles I tried to press into the rear sight for exactly that reason. I didn’t have a rubber cup but my glasses protected my eye from the peep disk. The newer rifle had its stock adjusted for the maximum pull length which made getting that far forward a problem, and that is probably why I shot the new rifle better than the older one.

If you don’t press and get close to the rear peep hole in the way I’m describing you are tempted to try to center the front sight inside the rear peep hole. That adds a huge amount of unnecessary work and complexity to sighting the rifle. Peep sights simply don’t work that way. You just peek through them like a knothole in the fence.

That was known way back in the 1870s, when the buffalo hunters killed millions of American bison at long ranges with rifles that recoiled a lot. They had leather cups instead of rubber on their rear peeps, and they understood quite well how peep sights work!

Russians missed the mark

As incredible as it sounds the Russians designed a target rifle that cannot possibly hit the target! I know I must be wrong and I am hoping Vladimir Unpronounceable will pop out of the woodwork and explain what I’m missing. Because, to say the Russians don’t know how to design a rifle is like saying the Swiss can’t make chocolate. It’s as if the Russians ran out of qualified gun designers when the 532 was created and substituted bakery workers instead!

End of back story

Okay, we are now back in 2021 and on with this series of what I hope is a major discovery. The older rifle we are discussing does have 11 mm dovetail grooves, and I mounted both a scope and a red dot sight to see how accurate the rifle really is. Rifle number one that I’m not discussing put five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets into a group that measured 0.072-inches at 10 meters. That was with the peep sight it came with. Rifle number two, the rifle we are looking at in this series, put five of the same pellets into 0.083-inches at 10 meters when a dot sight was used. So that rifle is just as accurate as the first one. But why can’t it zero the peep sight that came on it?

Why the peep sight won’t adjust high enough

What I’m about to tell you happened this month — March of 2021 — fully 16 months after the last test of the second rifle. In fact it was just last week. I had the rifle sitting across the arms of a chair, out of the way so I could find and pack up all the airguns that I’m returning to Pyramyd Air. The other newer 532 was also out, and I was able to compare both of them. That is when I spotted it. The older rifle isn’t bedded properly! Let me show you.

532 rifles bedding comparison
The newer rifle is on top. The older rifle with the bedding problem is at the bottom.

new rifle bedding
The newer rifle is bedded until the barrel is close to the forearm of the stock.

532 old rifle bedding
The barrel on the older rifle is up from the forearm quite a bit.

Given the bedding problem of the older rifle with the barrel pointed upward, the older rifle has to be pointed down to see through the aperture of the front sight. Since the aperture is a hole, you don’t notice that it is on a slight downward angle. It still looks round when you see it through the peep sight. I believe this is the reason the rear sight cannot be adjusted high enough to compensate.

Do you remember earlier in this report that I mentioned that the front aperture was difficult to see through? It was difficult because the hole through the clear aperture wasn’t being seen straight on — it was at a slight downward angle. I believe that the bedding issue is why it appeared that way.

What’s next?

The barreled action needs to be properly bedded. Then the rifle needs to be shot again to see if the bedding was why the rear sight could not be adjusted high enough. So here is my plan.

I will shoot a 5-shot group with H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets with the rifle as it is now, so we can see where it impacts the target at 10 meters. Then I will relieve the bedding so the barreled action sits down in the stock like rifle number one. Then I will shoot a second group of five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets to see where they impact the target. I’m thinking of shooting at the same bull for both groups. That should demonstrate the affect the bedding had on the height of the two groups. This will be a before and after test. I’m not interested in how small the groups are — just where they land on the target.

Summary

Today’s report was about a revelation that opened my mind! If I am right about the peep sight adjustment problem being caused by poor bedding, then it applies to every air rifle with similar sights. Very few rifles are bedded like the 532 so this isn’t the solution to all sighting problems, but it is unique and if I’m right it’s something we all need to know. If I’m not right then I’m giving you a running start at explaining to me why my theory is flawed