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Education / Training How the Diana 35 and 45 differ: Part Two

How the Diana 35 and 45 differ: Part Two

Part 1: Triggers

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Background
  • Big difference
  • Not the only difference
  • Triggers
  • Other differences?
  • BB learned, too

This report is my second attempt to answer reader Roamin Greco’s question about the difference between the Diana 35 and 45. After I published the first report on their triggers I received this comment from Roamin, “Thank you, again, B.B. My question was a bit more general. Are there other differences like tube diameter or piston stroke, in addition to the trigger adjustments that would really allow a buyer to compare and contrast the two guns?

They both seem to be full-sized rifles. I was a bit surprised when I got my Winchester 435. It was bigger than I imagined, even after reading your previous reports on the 35. But I really like it and I look forward to replacing the spring (or at least removing any broken pieces) It may crunch a bit when cocking, but it is a really easy cocking gun right now and a pleasure to shoot offhand. And best of all, it turns out to be not pellet picky at all!”


To answer this question I first need to explain that there are, in fact, two Diana 35s. One is older and slightly smaller and easier to cock. No doubt the barreled actions are the same but the older version’s stock is slimmer and sleeker. I reported on that one in 2019. I bought that one from reader Carel in the Netherlands and it is the first of its type that I had ever seen. Until that time I thought all 35s were like the Winchester 435 that Roamin Greco describes.

I have also owned at least one of the newer versions of the Diana 35 that’s like Roamin’s Winchester 435. I described it in 2008 as a powerhouse in its day but weak by the end of its life.

old Diana 35
The older version of the Diana isn’t so much smaller as it is slimmer.

Winchester 435
The later Diana 35, like this Winchester 435, has a larger, thicker stock.

Here is what I said in 2008, “When the design was new in 1953, the 11 foot-pounds it generated in .22 caliber was considered stupendous, but by 1977 it had become mediocre. Rifles like the BSF 55 and the Diana 45 had longer-stroke pistons that were capable of much higher velocities, and the long-stroke FWB 124 that started it all, of course, was one of the most potentially powerful spring guns of the era. Unfortunately for Diana, nothing could be done to remedy the situation, so in the late 1980s, it faded away – replaced by the models 34, 36 and 38 that came out in 1984. These long-stroke spring guns represented modern technology at its best, taking velocity in .177 caliber up to 1,000 f.p.s., where guns like the 35 could no longer compete.”

Over thirty years have passed since the Diana 35 left the world stage, and the airgun world is now in a renaissance period. Lower-powered spring guns are once again embraced. The Diana 35 is a larger, more adult version of the extremely popular Diana model 27, and many now find it to be an appealing spring rifle to add to their collections. If the spring twang is eliminated and the trigger is tuned to break crisply, the 35 becomes a classic airgun – the kind everyone wishes they still made. If you can ignore the chronograph, the Diana 35 can be a wonderful companion. Viewed that way, instead of as the powerful spring gun it tried to be, you can be very content with this fine old classic.”

Big difference

If you read that quote you caught the major significant difference between the 35 and 45 — the length of the piston stroke. It’s not the only difference, but it’s one of the two big ones.

Roamin asked me about the diameter of the pistons of both air rifles. The model 35 piston is 21mm in diameter. The model 45 piston has a 21 mm piston as well. So, what’s the deal? Why is the 45 more powerful (right at 800 f.p.s. with light .177 pellets, while the 35 is in the mid to high 600s)?

The deal is swept volume and the 45’s longer piston stroke gives it the edge. But here is the real deal — I think. A longer piston stroke does more to boost power than a larger piston diameter. Yes, both will increase the swept volume, but the longer stroke increases the amount of compression, while the larger diameter piston only increases the volume of air that is compressed. In spring-piston guns I believe it is the pressure that boosts velocity more than air volume. I say that for a good reason. We have gotten to the limits of both piston size and stroke length. The Beeman R1/Weihrauch HW 80 have 30 mm pistons. But their piston strokes are not maxed out. On the other hand we see lots of Spanish, Turkish and Chinese breakbarrels whose strokes are about as long as can be. And those rifles exceed the former ones by several hundred f.p.s.

And you can add mainsprings to the discussion. Stronger mainsprings do very little to add power to a spring gun. I have been saying that for 28 years but people still think the spring is the thing.

Yogi, this is why we see so many breakbarrels with their barrels broken open so far. It’s also how Diana got their sidelevers to shoot so fast with a sliding compression chamber that reduces the diameter of the piston. The Diana 48 and 52, for instance have 28 mm pistons yet they surpass the R1/HW 80 whose pistons are 30 mm.

Not the only difference

Roamin, there is more and I showed it to you in the report I did on the rebuild of the Diana 45. Diana put a sheet metal sleeve inside the piston to tighten the clearance between the mainspring and the piston body in an attempt to reduce vibration, among other things. The “other things” I think are to keep more lubrication on the mainspring. Either they didn’t have Almagard 3752 (Tune in a Tube) or Red N Sticky grease in those days (the late 1970s through the ’80s) or they didn’t know about it.

Diana 45 piston sleeve outside piston
The Diana 45 has a sheet metal liner inside the piston to tighten the tolerances.

Unfortunately the Diana 45 was a notorious buzzer. And the 35 could be, as well. But we have TIAT, so we don’t have to put up with it.


I have already addressed the differences in the triggers of both rifles and that is another major difference. The ball bearing trigger of the 35 is certainly complex, but Diana didn’t go the simple route for the 45 trigger. It’s complex, too. The principal difference is that the 45 trigger is modular while the 35 trigger is a set of parts that must be inside the gun to be held together. Outside the gun that trigger is just parts.

Modular triggers were the future for Diana. We now see the T06, which is the 6th iteration (?) of a modular trigger. When engineers design a new air rifle of a certain price range (and coiled steel mainspring) they design around the envelope of that trigger. Yes, that does limit the design possibilities somewhat, but if it works why change it?

Stock up on Air Gun Ammo

Other differences?

No doubt there are other differences between the 35 and the 45, but they are minor and probably relate to the two big differences we just discussed. Roamin Greco, I hope that clears it up for you.

BB learned, too

In these two reports BB has done some considerin’. His new/old 45 cocks at 39 pounds which is way too much for the velocity it’s putting out (an average of 681 with Hobbys). I don’t need velocity. What I need is smooth shooting and lighter cocking. And I’m gonna get it! So, Roamin Greco, you influenced BB Pelletier — the Great Enabler! Good on you, mate!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

35 thoughts on “How the Diana 35 and 45 differ: Part Two”

  1. B.B.

    Sorry I’m so dense, “Yogi, this is why we see so many breakbarrels with their barrels broken open so far.”
    Huh? I do not get it….It it to get the longer stroke?

    Modular triggers, what a bright idea, now why don’t PCP’s use one?


    • Yogi,

      I think Tom is referring to your repeated request to measure the angle of the barrel when broken open to cock. The longer the swept volume the greater the arc.


    • Yogi,

      Most PCPs do use a modular trigger. This is why you can swap a Marauder trigger onto a Discovery. The major difference with PCP triggers is how they operate to achieve the same results. Some PCPs use or are modified to use modular firearm triggers.

      Having said that, I am unfamiliar with the semi and selective fire PCP triggers. My statement is based on the bolt and lever action PCPs. These could be modular, but their main function is slightly different.

  2. RG,

    It sounds like you have discovered the appeal of some of these “old gals”. You do not need all of that power, even for hunting. What you do need is accuracy. “What good is 500 FPE if you can’t hit what you are shooting at.” It does not take much power to kill about any game with proper shot placement.

    What you are also discovering is that with the lower power, airguns are less picky with what you feed them. You will still find that usually there is the “one” pellet that is best, but others will perform more than adequately.

    • R.R.
      It seems that not only the old gals have this charm. Ever since you enabled me to the springer world I am in a search for interesting guns. The cheap, now shortened, D 350 was the first, an HW30 came and gone. But suddenly I realized that one of the shops I frequent has some NIB Walther LGVs and an LGU. The simplest, 12fpe, .22 cal was difficult to resist to, with a price of 320€… Put the Williams peep sight on it and after some hundreds of shots I can understand the meaning of “sweet shooting” and “tuned” springer. Sometimes I wonder if there is actually a coiled spring mechanism or an ssp one inside it! By the way it easily brings out the best shooter of me. Whatever that is.

    • RidgeRunner, you know better than most my discovery of the appeal of some of these old gals. I started with the Umarex Embark, mostly for teaching the kids safe shooting practices and fun, then I bought a very gently used Beeman R7 (HW 30S), a modern classic and a tackdriver. I purchased a refurbished Beeman R9 for my father in law to defend his pear tree from marauding squirrels, which eat the seeds and discard the fruit (had to test it extensively first, of course). And then had a wonderful little fling with a Diana Model 50. ;o) Recently, I found a delightful Daisy 230 (Milbro 23 aka Diana 23) with a cut down stock that should be perfect for my 9 year old son once I find a peep sight for it, and now the Winchester 435. And there is a Winchester 425 and a 423 on the UPS truck (thank you, Mark). There is something magical about a well-tuned classic springer. The simole elegance of the wood, the steel, the spring, the smell of dieseling oil. The discovery of just the right hold and the right pellet. I just love it all.

  3. BB,

    SHHHHHH! You are giving away some of our secrets! Soon everyone will discover why we like these old airguns so much. Then they will start buying them up and we will not be able to afford them when we are lucky enough to find them.

  4. BB,

    I broke out my long-unfired Model 45 as I promised I would in a comment to part 1 of your Model 45 report. I didn’t lube the piston for the first shot and it fired a 7.9 grain Crosman Premier HP at 970 FPS. I could smell burned oil and because of the velocity and the smoke in the barrel, I felt sure that the piston was lubed and the gun was dieseling, so I fired some more shots without additional lube and the velocity declined over the course of the next 4 shots and settled out at about 825-835 for the remainder of the 16 shot string. This is an unaltered gun that I bought new in 1983 or 1984 and hasn’t had a lot of pellets put through it after the first year or two of my ownership, because of an FWB 124 that seduced me and then handed me off to racy RWS 52 in 1987. (Want to guess what feature I was chasing back then?) I’m thinking this quick test might give you a gauge on your guns performance.

    I was looking for the buzz that you always talk about but can’t say that I really hear it, and I do still have good hearing. I think I’ll compare it side by side with some of my Wally World specials that I’ve pick up over the years when I found them on clearance and see if I can recognize the buzz in one of the cheap guns. I feel like I’m just hearing a “Thunk!”

    At some point I’ll also try to measure the cocking force. I have a bathroom scale, but it’s digital and it may not do the job.


  5. BB

    I read all your reports but this one is special. It may not help sell the latest selective fire crunchnticker but I learned quite a bit. Now we can look forward to your making your new/old 45 fun to shoot.


  6. >>> Lower-powered spring guns are once again embraced. <<<


    That is true for me as well – they make plinking tin cans fun! The coveted spot by the basement door now has a rack for a couple of airguns and a springer is always present.

    Guess that having learned to shoot with a Slavia 618, break-barrel springers just look "right". That little 618 still sees regular use 🙂


  7. Thank you very much, B.B. I am always leaning something new. I have been seeing a few ’35s and quite a few ’45s lately for sale on the online auction sites I troll around in, so I was curious about the real world differences. I am happy with the Winchester 435. It’s a beauty and has the ball bearing trigger. OThere is literally only one little spot on the stock where the finish has been disturbed.

    I was shooting the ’35 last night and realized that the crunching feeling on cocking has smoothed out…probably the broken ends of the spring have intertwined with the good part of the spring. Now it cocks with less effort than my R7 and is shooting 0.3 inch groups at 10 yards. The R7 shoots 0.25 inch groups. Those numbers are with HN Excite Econ II pellets that are about a penny per shot. That’s the stuff that makes me smile!

    I temporarily solved the issue of the picket fence-like front sight, which is hard to aim at paper targets. I stripped off a piece of black insulation from a 12 gauge wire, cut it to size and slipped it over the sight, and now I have a big, bold post, which turns out is about the width of the bullseye.

    I would still like to have a replacement spring for the ’35. I searched and could not find one specifically for this model. Any advice on that front would be welcome. Perhaps one can be made, or a longer spring for the 45 can be cut down? I went to the Vortek and Macarri sites and am bewildered. And a replacement piston seal would be good to keep tucked away to make sure she keeps going for a long while.

    Oh, and I have a Winchester 425 and a 423 on their way!

    • Roamin Greco,

      great solution with the wire insulation. I did the same thing with shrink tube 🙂

      Concerning the mainspring, it seems to me that the spring for the current 31/34 and many other models will fit in the older 35.

      This shop has many parts list / schematics and they seem to think so:


      I also checked the spare parts lists on the Diana site and it seems to agree. The part number for the 35 and 35S (old versions before the T05 and T06 triggers) list the full power spring as # 301534.

      For the 34 T06 its 30153400. Looks like they just added two zeros.



      • Thank you, Stephan. That’s a site that did not make the Google top results. I will look into it. Whatever spring I end up with, I hope to keep the ease of cocking and accuracy I am currently enjoying.

      • I don’t want to overpower this old gal. For power, I have the Crosman 362 and a Walther Terrus, both .22s. They are both doing quite well at 10 yards, and I am patiently waiting for the airgun fund to build back up to get them scoped so they can stretch their legs.

    • R.G.

      These are the inserts that came in a set that I bought for the Model 45. Both of the “pointy” posts are marked with a 0.5 on one ear. I think one of those was the original insert on the gun. The others have different numbers so I think the kit consisted of 1 pointy one and one of each of the others. I apparently didn’t like the pointed post either, since one of the wide flat top posts is what was mounted in the globe. I turned an aluminum muzzle brake and installed it eventually along with a scope. At present all I have are a set of rings and a stop block installed. No scope. I’ll need to remedy that. See the pic below for the inserts.

      • Half Step: Yes, the pointy one is all I have. I have found replacement inserts only at JG Airguns, but they sell them singly and I am not sure what size will work best so I guess I will eventually have to pay for one of each of the inserts I don’t have. Pyramyd has a set for Weihrauch sights but I think those have the same size “ears” and probably won’t fit the vintage Diana globe.

        • R.G.

          If it’s any help to you, the smaller post in my photo is .081″ across the top and has a gap between it and the ring above of .315″. It’s stamped with “20” on the largest ear. The larger post has no number. It is .106″ across its top and stands taller, giving a gap between it and the ring of only .272″. Maybe by measuring your “hand crafted” post and comparing to the two I measured you could narrow down which you need. Hope that helps save you some dough. I must have bought this set loooong before Putin invaded Ukraine. The price tag is from someplace called UncleBob’s, Inc. and reads $4.95. I expect it would be more now.

  8. The fact that the posts on the Diana sights are different heights is interesting as I have a Winchester 450 that came without sights. The rear sight is I found is correct, but the front is a guess and seems to be low as I can’t lower the rear sight to get on target. I guess I will look for additional inserts to see if I can find a taller post.

  9. SnehalSha,

    You need to take a close up picture of the left side of the breechblock along with the left side below the scope rail to increase chances of identifying this rifle.


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