Benjamin 397 Variable Pump Air Rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord|
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin 397
The new Benjamin 397.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Dot sight?
  • The test
  • Accurate with JSB Exact Heavys
  • Adjusted the rear sight
  • H&N Baracuda Magnum
  • H&N Sniper Magnum
  • Adjusted sights
  • 10 shots
  • Summary

It’s been a while since we have looked at the Benjamin 397 Variable Pump Air Rifle. This is a multi-pump .177-caliber air rifle that was advertised as getting 1,100 f.p.s. It can be pumped up to 10 times and we learned that the test rifle was good for 773 f.p.s. when shooting RWS Hobby pellets. A thousand f.p.s. takes trick pellets that nobody uses.

It’s not a quiet airgun, because from two to 10 pumps of air it produces 105 dB pretty consistently. So it’s not friendly for small suburban backyards. But it is a shooter!

Dot sight?

I intended to shoot the rifle with a dot sight or a scope, but there was a question about whether the scope base that attaches to the two holes that are drilled and tapped into the receiver will work with scope bases that are for older 397s, or even with peep sights that I have for my older Benjamin multi-pumps. I tried them both and discovered they won’t fit. The holes are in the wrong place.

The Air Venturi intermount is a sight base that fits this receiver, if it is 0.540 to 0.565-inches in diameter. The test rifle receiver measures 0.567-inches in diameter and I’m going to order one of these bases to see if it fits.

The test

I shot today from 25 yards off a sandbag rest with the rifle rested directly on the bag. Obviously I used the open sights that came on the rifle.  I used a 6 o-clock hold on a 10-meter pistol target, which is perfect for this distance when you use open sights. I shot 5-shot groups because of the pumping, but I did shoot one 10-shot group at the end with what I felt was the best pellet. I pumped six times per shot.

Accurate with JSB Exact Heavys

At 10 meters we discovered the 397 is very accurate with JSB Exact Heavy pellets. So they were the pellets I started with today without adjusting the rear sight. Five pellets went into 0.689-inches at 25 yards. It was high on the bull and to the left.

JSB Heavy group 1
Five JSB Exact Heavy pellets went into 0.689-inches at 25 yards.

Wow! That is a good group for me with post-and-notch open sights at 25 yards! I lost my glasses on Saturday and I had to use reading glasses to see the front sight, but the bull at 25 yards was very blurry. I normally wear my regular glasses for 25 yards. Let’s try a different pellet.

The test at 10 meters showed this rifle likes heavier pellets and also prefers pure lead pellets to harder ones like Premiers. So today I’m exploring the heavier pellets

Adjusted the rear sight

Since the first group was high and left, I adjusted the rear sight. The next pellet was 60 percent heavier than the first one so I left the elevation where it was, but  I adjusted the windage to the right a little. The manual does not tell how to adjust windage, but what you do to go right is loosen the left screw a little then tighten the right one.

H&N Baracuda Magnum

Next up was the 16.36-grain H&N Baracuda Magnum. This pellet is extremely heavy in .177 and I don’t see it for sale on the website anymore. Six of them went into 3.7-inches at 25 yards. I guess I lost count! But this is obviously not the right pellet for this air rifle.

Baracuda Magnum group
I don’t need a dime for this group, I need a manhole cover! Six Baracuda Magnums made a 3.7-inch group at 25 yards. Not the pellet for this 397!

H&N Sniper Magnum

The last pellet I tested was the .177-caliber H&N Sniper Magnum. This one weighs 15 grains in .177 and I no longer see it on the website, either. The 397 liked them, though, and put five into 0.709-inches at 25 yards.

Sniper Magnum group
Five H&N Sniper Magnum pellets made this 0.709-inch group at 25 yards.

Adjusted sights

It was time to take the best pellet and shoot a group of 10. I adjusted the rear sight more to the right and down. Then I set out 10 JSB Exact Heavy pellets.

10 shots

I hate to make excuses but on this group I was having a hard time seeing the sights and the sight picture. And my target shows it. Ten shots went into 1.241-inches at 25 yards. The group is completely open and I think it’s obvious it was me and not the rifle. My eyes just couldn’t keep up. I want to try this again when I have regular glasses and am fresh.

JSB Heavy group 2
Ten JSB Exact Heavy pellets went into this scattered 1.241-inch group at 25 yards.

Well, I may have lost it but at least we know the rear sight adjustments work as they should.

Summary

This new Benjamin 397 is a wonderful follow-on for the line that began back in the 1940s. It has a longer pump stroke that’s more efficient, though 1,100 f.p.s. is a pipe dream unless you shoot only trick pellets — and nobody who wants to hit the target does that!

The synthetic stock is not right for use with open sights, and to my mind this rifle is made for open sights. Also, changing the hole pattern for the peep sight wasn’t such a good thing, either. Now I have to abandon the handful of sights and bases I have for these rifles and get something new. 

I plan to test the rifle with a dot sight and perhaps with a scope if I can get it mounted securely. And I have a secret up my sleeve that only one reader knows about. So you will see the new 397 again, and again.


HW 30S: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 30S
The HW 30S I am testing seems to be a new version.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Lots of questions
  • Air Arms Falcon dome
  • RWS Superdomes
  • Crosman Premier Lights
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Safety
  • Rifle can be uncocked
  • Summary

Lots of questions

There certainly was a lot of chatter about the HW 30S breakbarrel from Weihrauch. Several of you asked why Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry it and is it the same as the Beeman R7? Well, it is very close to the R7, though I don’t know if the R7’s stock will be modified in the same way that the 30S stock has been. A lot of readers said they liked the new shape. I do, too. The checkering/stippling has also changed and I have no idea if the R7 will have the same pattern, but I doubt it. The R7 is a Beeman-branded air rifle and should not carry the Weihrauch name prominently, as this stock does.

I did ask Pyramyd Air whether they carry the 30S and they said they decided not to, because the R7 is so similar. Oddly the Beeman R7 is also available in .20 caliber but not in .22, while the 30S is available in .22 caliber but not in .20. I think the .20 caliber is a nod to Dr. Beeman, who prefers that caliber best of all 4 smallbore calibers, but it’s also a marketing mistake because there aren’t that many different good pellets available in .20 caliber. I think a .22 would sell much better.

It’s clear from several comments that the 30S has changed over the years. Some owners have one with a globe front sight that doesn’t accept inserts like this one. Some have a breech that isn’t notched like the test rifle. But the ball-bearing barrel detent seems to date back at least 30 years or more. However, reader Fish showed us that there was a 30S that had a chisel detent in the distant past.

Now let’s look at the performance.

Air Arms Falcon dome

The first string of 10 Falcon domes averaged 601 f.p.s. The low was 589 and the high was 609, so a difference of 20 f.p.s. I believe a lube tune that I intend doing will tighten that up a bit. At the average velocity the Falcon develops 5.88 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

RWS Superdomes

Next up were RWS Superdomes. At 8.3-grains I expected them to be slower, and they were, but not by much. Ten averaged 591 f.p.s. from the 30S, with a low of 572 and a high of 614 f.p.,s. That’s a difference of 42 f.p.s. That’s quite a lot, and I expect it to drop over time and perhaps with lubrication.

At the average velocity the Superdome develops 6.44 foot-pounds at the muzzle. So they are a little slower than the Falcons but a little more powerful.

Crosman Premier Lights

The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. Ten of them averaged 593 f.p.s. but the spread was very large, at 47 f.p.s. The low was 569 and the high was 616 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Premier Light generates 6.17 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Cocking effort

The rifle took 22 pounds of effort through the entire cocking stroke, with a bump up to 25 pounds at the very end. The end of the stroke is where the rear of the piston cocks the trigger, so I may be able to decrease that a little with lubrication. I have no plan to disassemble the Rekord trigger like some shooters have reported, so I’ll either correct it with lubrication or it will remain.

I also have to comment that, while the ball bearing detent does keep the breech sealed well, it also offers little resistance when you cock the rifle. There is no need to slap the muzzle to break the barrel open.

Trigger pull

I tested the trigger as it came from the factory. It is two-stage with stage one taking 12 ozs. It has a positive stop at stage two. Stage two then breaks at 1 lb. 15 oz., so even from the factory this trigger is nice and light.

I mentioned in the Part One report that stage two of the trigger in the test rifle had a little creep and that I planned to lubricate and adjust it for you in a special report. Well, after velocity testing today all the creep has disappeared. I could use this trigger exactly as it is today, but I will still do a special report on the trigger to show lubrication and adjustments.

Safety

The Rekord trigger has a button safety that pops out on the left side of the rifle when the trigger is cocked. You have to push the button in before the rifle will fire, and there is a definite click when it releases. On some rifles the tolerances are a little off and the rifle can be cocked without setting the safety. Some shooters learn to do this and others disable the safety altogether. Back in the real old days (1950s and ’60s) there was no safety at all.  No HW 55 I have owned has had a safety and I have seen several older R7s without one.

But taking the safety off after cocking soon becomes second nature to anyone with a Rekord trigger. My advice is to leave it functioning and learn to work with it.

HW 30S safety off
The safety is off.

HW 30S safety on
The rifle is cocked and the safety is on.

Rifle can be uncocked

Because the safety can be taken off at any time, the HW 30S can be uncocked. Hold the end of the barrel against the mainspring and take off the safety, then pull the trigger and allow the barrel to close slowly. To reset the safety you break the barrel down all the way — even when the rifle is cocked. The piston rod has to push a part in the trigger down just a wee bit more for the safety to reset.

Summary

Reader Fish asked me if the 30S had replaced the Diana 27S as my favorite air rifle. I told him no, but it might be just as nice.

My plan is to complete a regular set of testing with this rifle, which includes one accuracy test at 10 meters with the open sights. Then I will address the trigger lubrication and adjustments in a special report. Then I will lube-tune the rifle and test velocity and accuracy again. Then I will mount a scope and test accuracy at 25 yards. Then I will install a Vortek PG-2 SHO spring kit and test velocity and accuracy once more. 

When I finish with the Weihrauch HW 30S you guys are going to know it just as well as I do.

Then I plan to get an HW 50S and run similar tests. And then we can make some comparisons. We are going to have some real fun with these two air rifles, and it just may last for most of the rest of this year.


Crosman 38T Target revolver: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

38T
Crosman 38T.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Grips & tips
Part 4
Resealing the Crosman 38T revolver: Part 5

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • No description
  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • The grip
  • Velocity drops
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS Meisterkugeln
  • Discharge sound
  • Double action
  • Summary

Today we are going to look at the velocity of the .22-caliber Crosman 38T that reader 45Bravo resealed. This report should be interesting because we saw the reseal and now we get to see what it did. 45Bravo did test it after he finished, of course, but he held off telling you so I could write this test. 

No description

I’m not describing the revolver because it is identical to the .177 version that we saw in Part 1. And we saw a lot more of it when it was apart for the resealing. Let’s get right to the test.

The test

I shot 6 shots for the record. That’s because 6 is the number the revolver accepts when you load it. Also, this one may not get a lot of shots per CO2 cartridge. The first three tests will be fired single-action.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They are the lightest lead pellet I have and I wanted to know just how fast this revolver would shoot. But when I saw 389 f.p.s. on the first shot I was amazed! But the next shot was 343 and the one after that was 329 f.p.s. When shot 4 was also 329 I knew the pistol had settled down after receiving a fresh CO2 cartridge. The first couple shots on a fresh cartridge are usually much faster, because liquid CO2 gets into the valve where it flashes to gas and boosts the velocity. After that the gun settles down and starts to become consistent. So I dropped the first two shots and recorded the next ones. However there was a problem.

The Hobby pellets had tremendous difficulty loading. They wanted to turn sideways in the loading trough after they dropped in. So to get all six shots for the velocity I had to fire 12 shots.

The average velocity, once the gun had settled down, was 328 f.p.s. The range was from 320 to 335 f.p.s., so a spread of 15 f.p.s. At the average velocity the Hobby generates 2.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The grip

I noticed that the left grip that was repaired  kept partially separating from the pistol. It wasn’t much and a squeeze would click it back in place. But it kept happening, so I had to keep an eye on it.

Velocity drops

As the gun is fired the velocity drops in the same way we have seen with some other CO2 guns. I found it best to wait 15 seconds between shots for the velocity test.

JSB Exact RS

Next to be tested were JSB Exact domes. They weigh 13.43 grains so they should be slower than Hobbys, which they were. Six averaged 311 f.p.s. That made the muzzle energy 2.89 foot-pounds. The low was 305 and the high was 322 f.p.s.

These pellets loaded perfectly, though the first one had to be smacked into the chamber a second time. But they loaded perfectly and will be a pleasure to shoot.

RWS Meisterkugeln

The RWS Meisterkugeln wadcutter was the last pellet I tested. At 14.2 grains you know it’s going to shoot a little slower. But not that much. The average for six shots was 306 f.p.s. and the spread ranged from 299 to 314 f.p.s.

This wadcutter also loaded perfectly. And they all went into the chambers of the cylinder like they were made for it.

Discharge sound

In Part 2 I tested the discharge of the .177 revolver and got 100.4 dB. This time the discharge sounded quieter, so I tested it. It was 96 dB, so I guess that’s enough to tell the difference. Remember, the last time I tested the discharge was about a month ago.

38T discharge

Double action

At this point in the test the gun  had been fired 25 times. Now I loaded 6 Hobbys and tested them in the double action mode, waiting 30 seconds between shots. They were just as difficult to load as before, so that wasn’t imagined. Three shots were lost in this test. Six shots averaged 291 f.p.s., with a low of 273 and a high of 313 f.p.s. So the pressure was definitely falling off. That’s a shot count of 34 shots on a cartridge. I need to know that for the accuracy test that’s yet to come.

Summary

Well, the .22 revolver is performing well after the reseal. But I think it goes through gas much faster than the .177. I’d like to hear from readers about their experiences with these revolvers.

Accuracy testing is next, and from what I have heard the 38T in .22 is quite accurate. We shall see!


The EM GE Zenit air pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • A little afraid
  • Sight-in
  • Adjust front sight
  • Falcons at 10 meters
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the EM GE Zenit air pistol. This is normally a 10 meter test, but today there were differences. Let’s go!

A little afraid

This test gave me some concerns. This Zenit is approaching 90 years of age and it has a cocking process that leaves the pivoting barrel in a position that I consider hinky at best. Could it even hit the paper? I was so concerned that I started cautiously, and I’m so glad that I did.

Sight-in

I started with Air Arms Falcon pellets. And I used a 6 o’clock hold on the bull.

I fired one shot from about 18 feet and it landed high on the target. It looked pretty good at this point so I backed up to 10 meters and started shooting. Neither of the next two shots hit the target paper. This wasn’t working!

So I moved the bench up to 5 meters and tried again. The first shot hit above the bull and the second shot hit next to it. These holes were lower than the one from 18 feet, but in the same general area. The front sight needed to go up to bring the shots down. Talk about hinky! Would that sight adjustment even work? Do you remember where it was set when I got the pistol?

Zenit front sight left
The front sight blade swings up to adjust the elevation. This is how the front sight was set when I purchased the airgun.

Adjust front sight

I loosened the jam screw that holds the front sight blade fast and levered the sight blade up to the second index mark on the blade. Shooting from 5 meters the next pellet hit the top of the bull. Nine more shots went into a group that measures 0.743-inches between centers at 5 meters.

Zenit 5 meters
This is the Zenit at 5 meters with Falcon pellets. The highest hole (arrow) was shot from 18 feet. The two shots under that one (arrows) were shot from 5 meters, rested, with the original sight setting. Then I adjusted the front blade up a little and shot ten more times. That group with one stray measures 0.743-inches between centers.

I held the pistol in two hands that were resting on the sandbag. My off hand was under the butt, which might have caused the muzzle to jump up when the pistol fired.

While shooting at 5 meters I noticed that the muzzle of the pistol flips up with every shot. As slow as this pistol shoots that’s got to have an impact on where the pellet lands. But from the group size I could tell that the pistol wants to shoot. So I dragged the bench back to 10 meters and adjusted the front sight a lot higher.

Zenit front sight
You can compare this front sight setting to the one that was on the pistol when I got it. This sight is cranked up 4 index marks.

Falcons at 10 meters

I shot the first round at 10 meters and the pellet hit the 8-ring at 4 o’clock. That’s well within the bull. I shot the next shot and saw that it landed close to the first one, so I then settled down and fired 8 more times. At ten meters 10 Falcon pellets went into 1.096-inches, with all pellets inside the 8-ring or higher. This little oldster can shoot!

Zenit Falcons 10 meters
The Zenit put 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets in 1.096-inches at 10 meters.

Okay, this little pistol can really shoot. I do have to mention that the flight time of the pellet is quite long. It seems like the pellet couldn’t possibly go where you want it, but when you look you see that it did.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

Next I tried the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. I guessed they would be really good, but that was wrong. They hit low on the target and ten made a somewhat vertical group that measures 1.689-inches between centers. It’s not that bad, but the Falcons are much better. Notice that the group remains centered on the bull — left and right.

Zenit R10 Match Pistol 10 meters
The Zenit put 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets into a 1.689-inch group at 10 meters.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. The Zenit put 10 of them into a vertical group that measures 1.901-inches between centers. Even though it was large, this group climbed back into the bull like the Falcons.

Zenit JSB RS 10 meters
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.901-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion

I never would have thought this old pistol would shoot so well. It was just a matter of adjusting the sights and then letting her do her thing. She is no powerhouse, but she is very well made and she shoots like you want her to.

Summary

It has been a pleasure testing this old air pistol. I hope our readers who own a variation of one of these Zenits will chime in and tell us how theirs compares.


HW 30S: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

HW 30S
The HW 30S I am testing seems to be a new version.

This report covers:

  • The stock
  • Light!
  • Sights
  • Rekord trigger
  • Adjust trigger
  • Articulated cocking link
  • Surprise number 2
  • Summary

Today we start looking at the Weihrauch HW 30S that I mentioned yesterday. It arrived last evening and I am excited to get started. There are two surprises awaiting, so let’s get started.

The stock

Let’s start with surprise number one — the stock. It is profiled in a very modern style. Gone is the western hunting profile. It’s been replaced by a more tactical-looking butt. It has just a hint of the A4 kickdown tactical butt without shoving your face in it. Compare it to the SIG ASP20 stock.

HW 30S ASP20 stock
The Sig ASP20 stock had the same tactical look.

The bottom of the cutout at the bottom of the butt is flat. You might not appreciate that until you slide a rear sandbag underneath and notice the stability. And folks — these are all small touches that any company can make that costs very little and add so much.

HW 30S butt bottom
The bottom of the butt is flat for stability.

HW 30S forearm
There are identical checkered, stippled and carved panels on both side of the forearm.

HW 30S grip
The grip is also checkered, stippled and carved. 

This stock fits me quite well. The forearm is thin so the rifle drops down deep in my off hand the way I like. The pistol grip is very full — almost to the point of being a palm swell. The pull from the trigger to the center of the soft but firm red rubber butt pad is a manly 14-1/8-inches. And the stock is 100 percent ambidextrous. Whoever designed this stock knows rifles! I’m not saying it will fit everyone but those it doesn’t will be in the third standard deviation on either side of the mean.

Light!

The first thing I noticed as the rifle came from the box was how very light it is! Mine weighs 5 lbs. 13.2 oz. It is 38-7/8-inches long with a 15-1/2-inch barrel. I think the slim profile of the stock adds to the impression of lightness.

Sights

And the gifts just keep on coming! The NON-FIBEROPTIC sights — thank you, Weihrauch! — are wonderful. The rear sight adjusts in both directions and has 4 different notches to choose from.

HW 30S rear sight
The HW 30S rear sight adjusts both ways. There are 4 different notches to choose from.

But it is the front sight that is amazing. In 2021 I never expected to find a globe front sight that comes with 6 inserts on a rifle selling for under $300!

HW 30S front sight
The front sight accepts inserts. The 5 additional sight inserts are in a pouch hanging from the triggerguard.

HW 30S front sight inserts
A pouch that hangs from the triggerguard holds five of the six front sight inserts that come with HW 30S. The other one is in the sight.

Rekord trigger

But wait — there is more! Aside from the small, light style, the HW 30S comes with a Rekord trigger! That’s what the S in the title signifies. And yes, there are HW 30 rifles that don’t have a Rekord trigger. If anyone owns one please speak up and tell us about it.

HW 30S Rekord trigger
The 30S has a Rekord trigger.

Adjust trigger

I will tell you right now that the trigger in my rifle is not adjusted the way I prefer. There is some creep in the second stage. Therefore, before I shoot for accuracy, I will adjust the trigger. That will be a report of its own. I have adjusted Rekord triggers before in this blog but I think this will be the first time I have adjusted and reported on one just as it comes from the factory.

Articulated cocking link

The 30S has a 2-piece articulated cocking link. That means that the cocking slot in the stock can be very short and that means less vibration. However, I have shot this rifle (had to, you know) and there is the tiniest bit of vibration. After the regular test and trigger adjustment I will break her down and tune her to be slick and quiet. But that ain’t all!

Surprise number 2

I told you there were some surprises in store with this rifle. The stock was the first one. Now let’s look at the second one. To see it, and I should say them, I broke the barrel open. Let’s look.

HW 30S breech
There they are — surprise(s) number two! From the bottom up I see a ball bearing barrel detent. That’s easier to machine in many respects, so Weihrauch is keeping the cost under control. 

I would like to hear from HW 30S owners whether your rifles have ball bearing barrel detents. I believe they had chisel detents at some point in the past. In fact I believe they had them until recently.

Above the barrel detent I see a funny-looking notched breech. Wait! I saw one like this recently, didn’t I? Where was that? On the Diana 34 EMS? The one with the interchangeable barrels?

Diana, this is a message from the folks at Weihrauch. When you launch an air rifle with interchangeable barrels and aren’t ramped up to supply the barrels yet — remain quiet! Don’t make it a feature that you can’t supply. In the future you can pull back the curtain and reveal an added value that’s been there for some time. AirForce Airguns does it that way, and their owners love them for it. Leave the stuff that isn’t real for BB’s April Fool’s blog!

Above the breech you can see the four rear sight notches. Choices!

Summary

Guys, we have a real winner to examine in this HW 30S. This is gonna be a fun series for all of us!


Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) Synthetic: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 34 EMS
Diana 34 EMS with synthetic stock.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Scope
  • The test
  • Pellets
  • Sight-in
  • JSB Exact Heavy domes
  • Crosman Premier Heavy
  • Trigger
  • Heavy pellets
  • H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head
  • Evaluation so far
  • Summary

Okay. Today is the test many have been waiting for — the Diana 34 EMS at 25 yards. How accurate is it?

Scope

I scoped the rifle with an older  UTG AccuShot 4-16X50AO scope, mounted in BKL 2-piece double-strap one-inch rings. Since the scope was already shimmed in the rings I figured they would adjust to the point of aim relatively easily.

The test

I shot from 25 yards with the artillery hold and my off hand rested on a sandbag. I will note that with the thumbhole stock I’m testing a true artillery hold isn’t possible, but I held the rifle as loosely as possible. My off hand was at the rear of the cocking slot.

I shot 10-shot groups today. I have to say the EMS is easy to cock and you don’t have to slap the muzzle to break it open. This is a very well-behaved air rifle.

Pellets

I selected JSB Exact Heavy domes from the test at 10 meters. In that test we learned that the 34 EMS likes heavier pellets that are also larger. So I also selected two heavier pellets that I hadn’t tried before. When you see the results I think you’ll agree I picked two good ones.

Sight-in

I shot a single JSB Heavy pellet at 12 feet and confirmed that the scope was close enough on for me to back up to 25 yards. Once there it took me three more shots to get on target. Of course I didn’t want to hit the center of the bull and destroy my aim point, so all groups will be at the edge of the black.

JSB Exact Heavy domes

First up was the sight-in pellet. The first shot landed in the top of the bull and I thought it was perfect, but the next several landed high and outside. When all 10 had been shot I had a somewhat vertical group that measures 0.675-inches between centers. It’s a little larger than I would like from this rifle, but there were no shots that were called pulls.

Diana EMS JSB Heavy
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 JSB Exact Heavy pellets into 0.675-inches at 25 yards.

Crosman Premier heavy

The second pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. These pellets are sometimes the best of all, and today was one of those days. The 34 EMS put 10 of them into a tight 0.619-inches at 25 yards. 

Diana EMS Premier heavy
Crosman Premier heavys wanted to stay together when shot from the Diana 34 EMS. Ten went into 0.619-inches at 25 yards.

Trigger

You may recall that the 34 EMS has a different trigger that is not crisp like the Diana T05 or T06. This trigger has a second stage through which the trigger blade moves considerably. It’s light enough, but not crisp. I have said that it feels like a single-stage trigger, once you get to stage two. I got used to it in Part 3 and today I was able to do good work with it. I still can’t tell when the rifle is about to fire, but pulling the trigger has no adverse effect on the stability of the crosshairs.

Heavy pellets

I think there is something to this thing about heavy pellets and the EMS. It seems to like them a lot. If you get one of these, try it with heavy pellets first.

H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head

The third pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda with a 4.50mm head. I just knew this one was going to shoot well and it did. Ten of them went into 0.634-inches at 10 meters.

Dioana EMS Baracuda
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 H&N Baracudas with 4.50mm heads into a 0.634-inch group at 25 yards.

Evaluation so far

I really like the Diana 34 EMS. It is different than the Diana 34 of the past that we knew, but it is a worthy air rifle in it’s own right. Yes, Diana shouldn’t have touted the barrel shimming and caliber swaps before they worked out the details, but that marketing blunder has no bearing on the rifle’s excellence.

I don’t often select spring rifles to shoot at 50 yards, but I’m choosing this one. With luck I’m thinking we could see ten pellets in less than one inch.

Summary

If you have been waiting to see whether the Diana 34 EMS was a worthy air rifle, I think that point has been proved. I would recommend getting the wooden stock just so you can shoot with the full artillery hold, but if money is an object this synthetic thumbhole stock can also shoot. Today demonstrates that.

I just hope Diana makes the gas pistons, barrel shims and different caliber barrels available soon. I would sure like to try them out!


A little more power

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • HW 30S
  • The point
  • Which should I get — an HW 30S or a 50S?
  • My opinion
  • AirForce
  • OR —
  • Rebuttal
  • What is the big deal?
  • What to make
  • What about velocity?
  • Who doesn’t need speed?
  • A BB story to illustrate
  • Summary

Today I am exploring the topic of wanting a little more power from your airgun. Everything else can stay the same — you just want it to shoot a little faster.

HW 30S

I recently purchased an HW 30S to test for you. I had to buy it from a foreign dealer because Pyramyd Air no longer carries the 30S model. They do carry the Beeman R7 that is based on the 30S. Other than the stocks and the names on the gun the rifles are identical. The R7 Elite has a different stock that’s checkered, but it also sells for more money. But that’s not today’s point.

The point

The point is, I wanted to test and evaluate the kind of airgun that, in my opinion, is at the top of the heap, worldwide. And it is there for many reasons:

  • Rekord trigger
  • Great accuracy
  • Lightweight and easy to cock
  • Nice adjustable sights with interchangeable front inserts

But you know what the HW 30S is not? It’s not powerful. And that fact alone prevents many sales to “airgunners” who just have to have a little more power. The members of this blog who comment know better, but the wide world of airgunners is not in step with us. Some websites show velocities for the .177 model (yes, there is a .22) of up to 700 f.p.s. But a far more realistic figure is down around 625 f.p.s. Now, that is Diana 27 territory, and you know how I feel about that rifle! Is the HW 30S in the same category as the Diana 27? A lot of you feel that it is, and I wanted to test it, to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something good.

Which should I get — an HW 30S or a 50S?

I get asked this question several times a year. And I didn’t know how to answer it, because my exposure to the 30S is limited. I do know the older HW 50S, but the newer one that superseded it several years ago is another air rifle I’m not familiar with.

As it turns out, my old HW 55SF — an extremely rare and collectible target rifle in its own right — is based on the older HW 50S spring tube.  My rifle has been tuned many times by former owners and once by me and it currently shoots RWS Hobbys at an average 631 f.p.s. I can’t use that to say how fast an older HW 50S was supposed to shoot, but I do believe it was a little faster. I’m thinking somewhere in the low to mid 700’s.

The new HW 50S, however, is more powerful. The Pyramyd Air website shows the .177 at 820 f.p.s. And in their tests they saw one shoot a Hobby as fast as 849 f.p.s. With that there is now a definite separation in the velocity of the two air rifles. So — which one should you get?

My opinion

I haven’t tested either air rifle yet, so I shouldn’t have an opinion. But I do. It’s based on nothing further than my personal experience with Weihrauch and what I have read about these two air rifles. Get the 30S first and the 50S later, if money permits.

But like I said — I have never tested either air rifle. So what do I know? Let’s stay on topic but talk about something else.

AirForce

When I worked at AirForce here is a conversation I often heard. “I own a TalonSS. I like the accuracy and shot count, but can I get a little more power? What if I put in a stronger hammer spring and a heavier hammer? They guys on the Talon Forum say that’s the way to go.”

“Sure,” I tell them. “Go ahead and do that and then send me your basket case rifle and I will try to repair it for you. That’s what I’m doing for all those guys on the Talon Forum!”

OR —

Or, you can learn something about precharged pneumatic airguns and install a 24-inch barrel in place of the 12-inch barrel that came on the rifle. I did a test on that in Part 4 of A TalonSS precharged pneumatic air rifle, back in April of 2012. My standard SS with a 12-inch barrel shot .22-caliber Crosman Premiers at 854 f.p.s. on a certain power setting. I then swapped the barrel for a 24-inch .22-caliber AirForce barrel and on the same power setting shot the same Crosman Premier pellet at an average 1,027 f.p.s. From the 23.16 foot-pounds the rifle was getting, the longer barrel boosted the power by more than 10 foot-pounds to 33.5 foot-pounds. That’s a 69 percent power increase from just changing the barrel. Or, you could dial the velocity back to 23 foot-pounds with the longer barrel and get many more shots per fill. Either way, a longer barrel puts a pneumatic ahead every time.

Rebuttal

“Yeah,” they say. “but a spare barrel costs a bundle ($209.00 for a .22-caliber 24-inch barrel when this blog was published)! I can get a Captain GoFaster hammer and spring for $40.” 

So, do that. And then pay me $200 to repair your rifle, plus $35 shipping each way, when that heavier hammer and spring wrecks your action after about 200-300 shots. I fixed Mr. Condor’s rifle after the same abuse.

“Well, they shouldn’t build their rifle with an aluminum frame. If it was steel it wouldn’t get wrecked so easily!”

Wait just a second. Aren’t you the same guy who said the HW 80 is too heavy and they should either make it from titanium if they can keep the price the same, or at least from hardened aluminum?

What is the big deal?

So why am I writing this report today? I’m writing it because airgun companies aren’t hiring shooters anymore. They are hiring folks who have held positions in other companies doing other kinds of things and does it really matter whether they design a macerating toilet or a spring-piston powerplant? Isn’t all engineering just engineering?

Better yet, why not use someone else’s engineers? Can’t we just examine a finished product that we don’t have to pay to design or gear up to manufacture, so more of our money stays with us? Yes, you can. In fact, if that is your business plan you don’t have to spend any money on engineering or on plant setup. Just buy what your customers say they want.

Let’s see now, they say they want:
A .308-caliber breakbarrel rifle that can take down medium-sized game.
A powerful precharged air rifle that weighs less than 6 pounds.
A full-auto pellet rifle
An air rifle that shoots pellets at 1,700 f.p.s.

All of these are things “they” (airgunners on forums) have said they want and would pay money for. All have been built except the last one. It turns out that can’t be done on air. Only helium can shoot a pellet that fast.

“They” won’t spend the $500 for the full-auto pellet gun. “They” won’t buy the titanium PCP that weighs less than 6 pounds because it costs too much. “They” are staying away from the .308 breakbarrel because it’s too hard to cock.

The moment something becomes real, “they” scatter like cockroaches. “They” love to talk, but “they” have no money.

What to make

Make airguns that really sell. Make accurate airguns that have good triggers and great accuracy. So what if the prices climb as the features are added? “They” don’t have any money to spend anyhow, but real airgunners do.

What about velocity?

I started this report talking about the need for speed and how it isn’t a real thing — at least not one that an airgun company needs to worry about. Remember the Umarex Hammer? It took four years and multiple redesigns to bring it to market. And over those years that $500 big bore went up to $900 retail as the design was refined.  It went from a 3-shot repeater whose tagline was, “The world’s most powerful production airgun”  to a 2-shot that puts out 700 foot-pounds. That’s very powerful, but it’s not the most powerful production air rifle. And here is the deal.

Nobody needs 700 foot-pounds of muzzle energy to kill deer-sized game. You can drop a whitetail deer with 250 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, so 500 foot-pounds is more than enough. Sure, speed and power both sell. I understand that. So your marketeers are going to push for all the speed they can get. Have the good sense to shove them to the rear of the room and listen to those who really know the market.

Yes, if you only sell in discount stores then the highest velocity is what you want printed on the box. But someone in the company needs to worry about the volume of returns, when it becomes obvious to the buyers that speed kills — everything they thought they wanted in an airgun!

So how do you get a new shooter to make a wise decision and spend almost $300 for a breakbarrel rifle that won’t shoot as fast as one costing $100? One way is to publish a blog with a writer who has made all the mistakes you are about to and can show them and tell you about them in a way you can understand. You may not believe him up front, but after a couple times, when you have the same experiences he warned you about, you’ll start to see the bigger picture.

Who doesn’t need speed?

Believe it or not, there is a huge group of airgunners who absolutely don’t want faster airguns! We call them 10-meter shooters. In the 1960s their target air rifles shot around 650 f.p.s., but today they are content to shoot at 575 f.p.s. They have no problem spending in excess of $3,000 for a rifle or $2,000 for a pistol, and higher velocity will only kill the deal. But you gotta give them accuracy and a great trigger and superior ergonomics and other features that help win matches. And I wouldn’t listen to what the former brand manager for a soap company tells me about the 10-meter airgun market! He may learn the lingo in a day, but he may never understand the product, the market or the ten times bigger market that watches what the competitors choose and buys accordingly.

A BB story to illustrate

BB Pelletier is currently considering purchasing a motorcycle. BB rode bikes in the 1960s and ’70s and has owned 15 or 20 of them over the years. BB is an old man who hasn’t ridden in 40 years. But BB reads this blog every day — even though it doesn’t always look like it to his readers.

So BB went to a Harley Davidson dealer last Saturday to check out the Harley Sportster Iron 1200. That’s right — a girl’s bike! BB is challenged by his 28-inch inseam and, although he has owned two Harleys (a ’46 knucklehead and a ’48 panhead) in the past, plus a Laverda 750 and a Suzuki 850GS, he no longer likes tall heavy bikes. BB wants to keep both feet flat on the ground, and an Iron Sportster 1200 lets him do that.

But the Sportster is a girls bike! Yes, BB is aware of that. He probably won’t be joining any MC clubs, unless they let girls ride, too. BB will wear a helmet every time he rides because, although a helmet is not required in Texas, BB has been under cars a couple times in the past and doesn’t want to dull the shine on his chrome dome.

So even BB Pelletier, who is one of the most untrainable men on the planet, can learn from his mistakes. Be of good cheer, RidgeRunner, there is even hope for you.

Summary

In short, your airgun customer is a guy or gal who likes to shoot. Find out what they like about shooting and try to give it to them. It isn’t always speed or horsepower.

Forget the kids (of every age) who shop by the velocity numbers and low prices at the box stores. Yeah, they’ll buy but they won’t keep your company in business forever. You need Momma and Daddy Deepockets who know what they want.