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BB listens

This report covers:

  • Motorman
  • The deal
  • Contrast
  • Rolex knockoffs
  • Airguns?
  • And BB?
  • So, what?
  • Can’t help myself
  • Why this report?

We talk on this blog about the airgun manufacturers listening to us when we try to tell them what we want. Today I will tell all of you that I also listen to you. It just takes longer to sink in.

Motorman

Back in January of 2022, reader Motorman wrote a guest blog in which he told us about an air rifle he bought for his grandkids, and he discovered how really nice it was. Best of all for us airgunners, it was inexpensive! Yes it is made in China, so get that out of your systems now, because you guys have a long review series coming.

If you read Motorman’s report you’ll discover that I mentioned that the Diana two forty was listed as a BB gun on the MidwayUSA website. Well, they fixed that but now they list the rifle as the Diana 240. It’s the two forty, not the 240. And yes, the name is all lowercase. Why it’s called that I don’t know, but if you want to find it on their website, search on how they listed it — not on its actual title. If they were selling cars they would probably list a 2023 Chevrolet Corvette as a “Vett.”

Two-Forty markings
Diana’s two forty is marked this way — not 240.

I can’t find the recent blog comment that listed a link to a YouTube review of this rifle on Andy’s Airgun Reviews, but I watched the video and was surprised by how detailed it is and how articulate the presenter, Andy, is.  When I grow up I wanna be just like him. Andy addresses everything I cover in a typical three-part review of a new airgun and he does it without resorting to heavy metal acid rock background music (sorry, Michael?) and vertigo-inducing teenager video cuts (sorry, Paul Capello)! I like that!

So, my thanks go out to some blog reader who pointed me to that review, because I said to myself, “It’s been 18 months since Motorman’s guest blog. I wonder if Diana still sells this rifle under their name and if Midway USA still sells it. The answer to both questions is yes!” So I bought one. If you want to know why, read the guest blog I linked to and also watch the YouTube video review.

The deal

Yep — there is a deal. We have covered what I’m about to say before but here we go again. The Asians (read that as the Chinese, in most cases) will make anything they are asked to make and they will do it for a good price. The secret is to STOP cutting their margins and hold tight to your specifications. This is where the young factory reps from the airgun companies around the world make their big mistake. They THINK shooters only buy based on price, so they push and push to get the price as low as possible. And their assumption is mostly correct. Buyers who purchase in a discount store do buy based on price. But those people aren’t really shooters, for the most part. They are discount store buyers who know they can load all the junk back into the box, wrap it with tape and return it for a full refund. So the tens of thousands of initial sales (hooray!) result in thousands upon thousands of returns (boo) — returns that have to be refunded to the buyer and also have to be:

  • Warehoused
  • Reworked, or
  • Returned to the manufacturer for a discounted credit.

It’s a lose, lose, lose proposition no matter what you do. In the end it’s doubtful that any profit is made, despite an incredible amount of costly work.

Contrast

Now, contrast that with something like the Seneca Dragonfly Mark 2. As far as I know they are NOT sold in discount stores, yet, despite being made in China, they are made to high quality standards and deliver what they promise. Yes, blog readers know that the Dragonfly Mark 2 had some startup issues, but Air Venturi was on top of them and resolved them as quickly as possible.

Rolex knockoffs

We discussed this same topic recently when I talked about expensive wristwatches that are counterfeited. Rolex wristwatches have been counterfeited in Asia (and not always China) for decades, but the quality of the knockoffs has risen to the point that what are now known as Rolex super clones are just as well-made, and in a few instances are made even better, than the watches they copy. At the time of this publication about $3,300 will buy the top super clone that is just as well made as a Rolex watch listing for $12,000 but with a street price of $18,000. When magnified 200 times some of the places where the clone surpasses the original watch are revealed. The makers of these knockoffs are so proud of their work that they sell the watches on websites devoted to clone watches. There is no attempt to cover anything up. They want you to know!

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Airguns?

Can the same approach work for airguns? Well, Motorman thinks so and so does Andy. So BB Pelletier is going to find out. You see, if a youth-sized Diana two forty is just as nice as a German-made Diana 24, or even close to it, we have arrived at the place where the Chinese makers have demonstrated they can do the job to our standards. And the German buyers have demonstrated they understand what we want and know how to stop dickering before the quality is ruined.

And BB?

You have been following my progress with the HW 30S that I restocked in an original old-style HW 30 stock. I also have stockmaker Steve Corcoran making a walnut stock for that same rifle that will hopefully have the traditional sporter stock lines and not look like an electric guitar. After installing the Vortek PG3 tuneup kit it turned that rifle into a (for me) dream breakbarrel. I’m doing all of this in the hopes that “they” see it and get the point. Yes, there are fabulous volume sales of empty-calorie airguns that will probably come back to haunt the vendor at some future time. There are also solid sales of airguns that will become heirlooms for future generations. Those don’t come back; they get passed down.

So, what?

The point of this report is, the Chinese can make good airguns. And it looks like they have done so in the case of the Diana two-forty. This is the sort of air rifle I recommend that Pyramyd AIR carries — IF it turns out to be worth it. Let me test it fully before we decide. I pressed Pyramyd AIR long and hard to stock Bug-A-Salt guns and they now do. I hope those sales justify their decision to listen to me on this.

One thing I know — when it comes to airguns MidwayUSA is no competition for Pyramyd AIR. First they don’t seem to know anything about them and second, whoever writes their descriptions has never sat at the foot of Edith Gaylord! Now, I am not disparaging MidwayUSA. I’m a firearm shooter and reloader and have spent a lot of money with them over the years, but this Diana two forty (or 240, as they call it) is the first airgun I have purchased. Come on Pyramyd, steamroll them — carry this airgun!

Can’t help myself

Pyramyd AIR told me they cancelled the Air Venturi Bronco when the retail price drifted up to $160. They figured the sales would cease at that level. That was many years ago and I know it would have to retail for even more today. But could something like what Diana has done with their two forty be done here? Diana essentially copied their own German-made airguns, made them in the Orient and they sell them for $100, retail. Might Air Venturi do the same with their Bronco? If they do it has to be accurate, have a nice trigger and (hopefully) no glowie thingie sights. Air Venturi knows how to work the Chinese manufacturing market, so maybe the Bronco could come back. If enough of the tire-kickers don’t run and hide, it could even sell again.

Bronco
Air Venturi Bronco.

Why this report?

I’ve written today’s report because I have come to the realization that, metaphorically, I am a man who owns every Snap-On hand tool ever made and all I use to fix things is a Chinese adjustable wrench and a couple rusty screwdrivers. You readers are a valuable resource (my Snap-On tools) that I plan to start using.

Let’s start tomorrow!

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.

39 thoughts on “BB listens”

  1. BB,
    I just went back and re-read Motorman’s write up on the “Diana Two-Forty.”
    For the price point, it looks like a credible piece of hardware (I look forward to your evaluation of it).
    I recall buying a low-quality Chinese-built .177 air rifle for $19.95 back in the 80s.
    Chinese manufacturing has come a long way since then!
    I’ve bought a lot of knives from China; and my experience is: they will make what you ask and pay for.
    If you tell them you’ll pay them $1 a piece for something you intend to sell here for $4, you will get a low-quality knife, just as you would expect. However, if you tell them you’ll pay $10 a piece for something you expect to sell here for $20, you might get a surprisingly nice pocket knife.
    My friend, Burt (God rest his soul), ran a store called “Burt’s Blades” next to our local Air Force base.
    A lot of military guys came in to get high-quality blades before they went across the pond for deployment.
    (Being former Air Force, Burt gave all police and military a nice discount. =>)
    Yet besides all his high-end stuff, Burt had a couple of cases of pocket knives in the $20 to $30 range, all of which were made in China. He told me, “If all I sold were knives made in the USA, I’d be out of business. A LOT of women come in here wanting a pocket knife for some man in their family…but they don’t want to pay more than $20 or $30…that’s where the knives from China shine; they can build a decent quality blade there that can sell for those prices here.”
    I understand what he meant; I recently asked my wife for a certain, discontinued, Buck knife; she got it for me as a gift, but also got me the knife pictured below, because she saw that it had Burl wood scales, and thought it looked cool. She’s right; I love it; I carry that in the 5th pocket of my jeans and use it every day; it’s one of Buck’s Chinese-made knives, but the quality is high; the fit and finish are great, and it holds a nice edge; I buffed up the scales and added 3 coats of Tung oil…sweet! So, yes, the Chinese manufacturers CAN build a very nice product if you spec things properly and pay for a decent product.
    Blessings to you,
    dave

  2. That’s some very good ideas, maybe they will listen.

    Yea, where you represent the tool statement metaphorically, I resemble that tool remark literally.
    I have a rolling tool chest/workbench full of tools of all sorts, many in their own storage cases stored in the lower drawers, but the ones I use the most are just thrown in the top drawer.

    And when I need that special tool just for the valve of a Benjamin 312, I have to play find the needle in the haystack top drawer…

    It’s there, some where, I know it is…

    Ian..

  3. Tom,

    This rifle really must be something for you to buy it AND go on a campaign to convince PyramydAir to carry it for sale. Will be looking forward to your review of this rifle.

    Siraniko

  4. B.B.

    Weren’t sportster stocks created because you need to pull the but pad hard into your shoulder. They are great for this.
    However, airguns should not be hugged too tight. A more vertical pistol grip is much better for airguns. You just like the look! Form over function.

    You sound like somebody who has never owned a Rolex. Growing up I destroyed at least 20 watches. Some cheap, some not so cheap. My parents always knew what to get me for both birthdays and Christmas. When I was 21 I took all my money from a summer job, went into a jewellery store and asked for the most robust watch made. 2 motorcycle accidents later, one where I fractured the wrist that my watch was on, my watch is still going fine. In over 40 years I have yet to destroy my Rolex. Most people think I have tried…

    -Yogi

    • Yogi,

      Never owned a Rolex. Always wanted one. When I was in the Army they were a couple hundred and I could have flown to Japan on a weekend military hop and bought one in a PX. Guy I knew did that just as Vietnam escalated and he was pulled from Japan into the southeast Asia theater. Never got back as far as I know.

      BB

  5. Familiar story.
    Compasseco had the Chinese come up with a made to spec competitor for the RWS Diana 350 at about half the price. The TechForce TF89 Contender. I got one of the early models with the hooded front sight and outstanding finish. Got it at a going out of business sale price, couldn’t pass it up.
    Then forgot about it for years for some reason. The Ruger Magnum seems to be a competitor there as well only with a synthetic stock.

  6. Just make sure PA doesn’t adopt Midway’s way of shipping pellets….
    That said the Two Forty sounds nice fir the price. The different name? “Those SOBs are trying to sell Chinese junk as German quality!” seemed to be a comment made about the old numbers used for Chinese made rifles. This way they aren’t “fooling” anyone.

  7. BB,

    Hard Air Magazine did a review of this air rifle also. It is a real winner in many respects. It would be nice if Air Venturi and Pyramyd AIR would carry this and a new Bronco, sans the glowy thingys. No, I would not buy one. Why? I have some very nice old gals in this power range. Also, I avoid Chinese as much as possible. Uncle Xi gets too many of my bucks as it is.

    P.S. At the recommendation of Gunfun1, I bought my Maximus from MidwayUSA. The price was waaaaaay below what PA was selling them for. It was also the end of the model run. Like you said, they have no idea what they are selling in the airgun department. 🙂

    P.S.S. I follow Andy on a regular basis.

  8. BB,

    I’m always curious about such things and looking forward to this series.

    Been subscribed to Andy’s channel for years and do enjoy his enthusiasm and presentation style.

    Have to say that I like the British accent and sense of humor. A Monty Pythons get together (some friends and a case of beer) was always fun – especially since we had a Brit in the group to explain some of the subtle humor in the skits… there’s half a dozen ways to interpret the word “right”.

    Another British channel about technology that I enjoy is called “Just Have a Think”.

    TTFN (Ta Ta For Now) 😉

    Hank

    • Our quest for the perfect, yet cheap airgun, is akin to the search for the Holy Grail. Alas, it is said the French claim “they already got one,” but FM did not find it in the Pyramyd AIR inventory.

  9. BB

    I feel lucky. I posted a late request on 6/30 regarding the Diana 2 Forty but my interest was in shooting darts

    Team – Need Help
    I recently purchased a Crosman 760 variable pump air rifle and fell in love with shooting darts in my garage. The gun shoots darts pretty decent at 4-5 meters but what I really want is a low power break barrel air gun. I was looking at the Diana 2 Forty ( under 100 USD) and it looks like it would work. Need it to be accurate to 5 meters. Just wondering if anyone has any experience or recommendations.

    Looks like I may get an answer 🙂 to that question

    PS Thanks Everyone for the advise and guidance on last’s weeks late request.

    Kind Regards

    JDA001

    • JDA001,

      My advice is to buy a smoothbore. The rifling does nothing for the darts’ accuracy and a used smoothbore for $50-75 would do the trick.

      /blog/2013/03/diana-25-smoothbore-pellet-gun-part-5/

      BB

      • BB

        Thank You for your guidance and help, the Crosman 760 should keep me busy for a while.

        Now I just need to find a Diana 25 for sale 🙂

        I did find an interesting dart that I thought would work for a low powered break barrel
        This dart appears to only work in break barrels because of the length.

        Kind Regards

        JDA001

        • Jda001, take care that when you are looking for a Diana 25 that it is a smoothbore. I think Diana made a version that was rifled as well. I have a Winchester 425 that is a rebranded Diana 25 that is definitely rifled.

          Also look for the brands that Diana distributed through (RWS) or sold under (GECO, Gecado, HyScore, Winchester, Original) and the British versions (Millard Brothers, Milbro, Diana, Daisy).

          I recall seeing a Daisy 250 on eBay not too long ago. Don’t remember if it was a smoothbore or not. Also, the smaller, vintage, youth breakbarrels may also have smoothbore versions, like the Diana 23, 16, etc. Finally, there may be others outside of the Diana family tree as well, like a Slavia or a vintage Chinese breakbarrel.

          Let us know if you find anything. Good hunting!

          • Roamin Greco,

            I replied to your request yesterday but it never posted. It had links to: Twilight Tattoo, USMC Iwo Jima memorial, ANC Changing of the Guard, Key Bridge (Georgetown) Kayaking on the National
            Monuments portion of the Potomac River, and a Walking Tour outfit.
            I also explained that this place was built on a SWAMP…HOT and HUMID is the order of the day and night!

            shootski

          • Thank You. Both of these look perfect since FPS is between 400 and 450. I was also looking at the Hatsan Alpha. The Alpha is current and rated at 450

            Kind Regards

            JDA001

            • Hatsan Alpha has a rifled barrel. For darts, I have been keeping my eyes open for smoothbores for you.

              Hatsan has interesting features for a beginner air rifle. And ironically named with the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

        • JDA001, I came across a used Daisy 850 on thE bay. It is a single pump pneumatic and it is a smoothbore. That may work with darts as well as a breakbarrel. Food for thought.

  10. About the Rolex’s.
    Back in the mid 70’s my father and I each purchased a Rolex Datejust…for the sum of about $700 each. Big money in 1975 but no where what they go for now…both in excellent shape and valued at $8000 on the used market. Fifteen years ago my father passed…and we had each of them engraved with our names and given to my two sons when they graduated high school a couple of years ago (I had my kids when I was in my late 40’s).
    Anyhoo…the crystal cracked on one and we took it to a reputable dealer who said ‘you know this is a fake, right?”
    Explained to him that it was most definitely not but he persisted. Because he has been in business with great review for 40 years I still felt comfortable leaving it with him as he said it would take a week to get the crystal in.
    He called the next day…apologizing profusely…’I’m so sorry…I checked the serial numbers and yes, it is indeed a real Rolex’.
    But as he said some of the new fakes are so good that even an established jeweler can’t be sure.

    • Hey, haven’t heard from you for what must be years. Hope you are doing well. As a comment on your comment, synthetic diamonds are now so good (made on purpose with defects in color and occlusions) that jewelers also can’t tell a really good synthetic from a mined one. In some cases, that is really good news for us guys 🙂 !

      Fred formerly of the Demokratik Peeples Republik of NJ now happily in GA

  11. B.B. and Roamin Greco,

    I left a reply to RG’s request for some ideas for his families upcoming visit to Washington DC…it was awaiting some moderator action but never posted?

    shootski

    • Beware of the reviews by Andy on AAR. It’s one of the worst kept secrets in the UK airgun community that he’s actually the registered firearms dealer for his ‘Wife’s company’ Vector Air. You’ll never see him do a bad review because he’s selling the stuff!

  12. B.B. (or anyone that knows)
    So what is different about the two forty vs the 240 (/product/diana-240-classic-air-rifle?m=4163#7953)? It’s probably been answered and I just missed it.
    I like the idea of another Bronco.

    Doc

    • Doc,

      That’s what happened when my Edith went away. I didn’t find it on the PA website because it’s listed incorrectly there, too.

      It’s a two forty.

      BB

  13. This is truly remarkable. For once, Motorman did a review that caused BB to buy an air rifle. Do you know how many times this has happened in reverse??? The score must be 100 to 1 by now!!! BB’s been “facilitating” me since the days of the Airgun Newsletter and I have piles of airguns downstairs to prove it. For once, I’m the facilitator and BB’s the facilitatee!!! Ah, sweet revenge!

    Motorman
    Eastern MO

  14. BB,

    I wonder if you’ll like Diana two-forty’s trigger. Okay, fine, Diana can keep selling this. It’s just business. I respect their decision. But also, Diana should sell a made in Germany 240 Classic that has the same simple trigger as the old Diana 27 and the sights of Diana 350 Magnum Premium. If such an air rifle could be sold at around $250, it would sell and become the go-to-airgun for plinking and all kinds of first time air rifle experiences around the world. $250 would be $100 cheaper than the cheapest HW in the US, and that would mean something for many buyers. It could be an air rifle that every air gunner has to have in his collection, regardless – just like the 30S.

    About the good old Bronco… I understand that you’re hoping to bring it back to life using the same approach Diana has used with the two-forty. Produce in China, but in good quality, just like Air Venturi’s Pump and PCP series – both are accurate air rifles. And you have a good point. I’ve always felt as if Air Venturi is trying to create a cheap but accurate springer / plinker. Bronco was cancelled due to increasing costs, and TR5 was ‘denounced’ by GF1. 😉 I hoped the issues would be fixed with the TR5 instead of getting it axed. At ~$100 – 150 price tag, bringing the Bronco back to life is very possible. After all, it was a proven design to be accurate enough. And you’re spot on with the better trigger and no fiberoptics.

    More about Bronco… I think one of the things that turned off many was the grip on the stock. How about the same grip on Diana 27 this time. Also a similar trigger to 27’s simple – but good – 2 stage trigger. The trigger on the Bronco was a deal breaker; it looked like the low quality triggers on cheap rimfires.

    TY for listening.
    Fish

    • Your comment really deserves a lot of thought and a detailed response. I agree with many of your points, but I never held a Bronco so I’m not sure I agree with you on the trigger. From what I read the Bronco trigger was like a Savage rifle trigger in that it had a safety feature built in to a two piece trigger.

      • I haven’t held a Bronco either. But I’ve held a bolt rimfire and didn’t fancy the trigger. Perhaps, it’s a matter of getting used to. I am used to 2 stage triggers, and thankfully, they still dominate the springer world.

        Also, I meant to write, ’27’s simple – AND good – 2 stage trigger…’

  15. Here is a thought – originating from FM’s Imaginary Ministry of Silly Ideas: why not source manufacturing of decent-quality airguns to Taiwan? That would remove the “Made In China” objections held by many. Of course, the cost would be higher but in FM’s experience, the Taiwanese manufacture to a higher standard.

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