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Education / Training › Slavia 612 breakbarrel airgun: Part One

Slavia 612 breakbarrel airgun: Part One

Slavia 612
Slavia 612.

This report covers:

  • Description
  • Maintainability
  • Flaws?
  • Bottom line

Today I start telling you about my Slavia 612 airgun. But this isn’t the first time you’ve seen this gun. I reported on it in Airgun darts and dart guns Part Two. In that report I called it a Diana model 16, which I thought it was, but I was clearly mistaken. It’s a Slavia 612.

Slavia 612 marks
As you can see, this is a Slavia 612.

Perhaps I can be forgiven a little because this airgun came to me in its original box that’s labeled Regent Pellet Rifle. Well, it’s not a rifle, despite what the box says (and it also says that in the listing in the Blue Book of Airguns). There may be a rifled version of the Slavia 612, but the one I have is a smoothbore. I bought it for the sole and specific purpose of shooting darts, but in this report I’ll test it on all three types of ammunition for you. There will be lots more reports about darts that include this gun so in this series I’m going to do a more-or-less conventional report on the gun.

Slavia 612 box
The box my Slavia 612 came in. Nowhere does the name Slavia appear.

The price when the gun was new was $7.88. That means it was probably sold in the 1950s.

Slavia 612 price
The price tag.

Description

The 612 is definitely made for youth. The length is 32-3/4-inches long overall (83.19cm), with a 12-1/4-inch pull (31.12cm). The gun weighs 2 lbs. 6.7 oz./1.097kg. It takes 13 pounds of force to cock the 12-inch barrel.

The buttstock is non-figured wood — probably beech. It is slabbed on both sides and held to the action by two rivets.

The barrel is a soda straw type — so-called because it’s just a thin tube of steel held in a larger outside steel shell by caps at either end.

Slavia 612 barrel
The 612’s barrel is a soda straw, though it’s not the thinnest I’ve seen.

The rifle has sling attachment points. The rear one is a wood cup screw with a large eye. It’s screwed into the bottom of the wood butt. In the front a curled strip of metal is spot-welded to the underside of the barrel shroud.

The breech seal is leather and forms a pocket for the rounded back of the barrel shroud. It’s set into the end of the compression tube instead of the rear of the barrel. Replacement looks tricky, though this one seems okay. I oil it frequently, just like I do the piston seal that’s also leather.

Slavia 612 breech seal
The breech seal is at the front of the compression tube rather than the back of the breech.

Maintainability

Is this an airgun that can be worked on? I think it might be because the mainspring is loaded with grease that hasn’t hardened. Someone has been inside because grease doesn’t stay fresh for 60+ years. I have no plans to go inside, though. As long as the gun works, all I want to do is shoot it.

Slavia 612 mainspring
The grease on the mainspring is far too fresh to be from the factory.

Flaws?

These airguns usually have a rear sight that’s messed up. This one isn’t. It’s exactly the way it came from the factory.

Slavia 612
The rear sight is perfect.

The front sight, though, is flawed. For some reason it has been shortened, which makes the gun shoot too high at the 17-foot distances I shoot. That can be corrected several ways and I’m considering my options.

Slavia 612 front sight
The front sight is lower than it should be. I’ll have to fix it.

Bottom line

The bottom line is I don’t have a Diana model 16; I have a Slavia model 612. It’s generally in very good condition and in this series I will do a complete conventional test. But don’t forget — I bought it to be a dedicated dart gun.

63 thoughts on “Slavia 612 breakbarrel airgun: Part One”

  1. Tom,

    That front sight looks like the front stem was broken off accidentally and then filed smooth. I don’t think that’s a screw slot on the front sight or is it?

    Siraniko

  2. There is another old geezer down the road a bit that has an old Diana that looks a lot like this. He bought it many, many years ago. He is not in the least bit interested in selling it, although he is interested in what it might be worth.

    This should be a fun little plinker.

    • RidgeRunner,

      According to the 12th ed. of the Blue Book, the sheet metal, Milbro-made Dianas top out at about $100 for 100% examples. But they look cool and are probably all fun back porch plinkers. Furthermore, what’s a better conversation piece than a vintage Scottish air gun?

      “Git offin’ ma grass, Black Bart! I’m nawt kiddin’!” ;^)

      Michael

        • RidgeRunner,

          Carl Jung called that phenomenon “synchronicity,” when a sequence of coincidental events appears to be somehow meaningful but lacks any apparent causality. (I love providing complicated-sounding descriptions for frankly simple things.)

          Example: A person mentions to a coworker who says, “Well that’s a flinty expression,” “I had a teacher in high school who frequently used the word flinty. Wow. I haven’t thought of Mr. Harrison in probably 20 years.” That night, he reads the newspaper and comes across an obituary for a Mr. Harrison, retired industrial arts teacher of Grant High School.

          Michael

  3. This looks to be an interesting series. I hope the gun performs well. It sure looks like it has been taken care of. The old Daisy No. 25 that I have appears to me to be from that same era. It needed oiling. It took several days of oiling & shooting, then more oiling & shooting. But at last it has reached the 300 fps velocity. It was around the 220 something fps level when I started oiling it.

    • Elmer,

      I could probably stand to oil and chrony my 99. I have not played with it for some time now. Even in retirement I have too many airguns and not enough time. The nasty weather we have had over the last few weeks does not help either.

  4. BB, I am thinking, if the 612 is simular in looks to the D16, maybe Diana parts will interchange. If so I have a front sight that will screw in.
    Just like the other one I sent you.

  5. BB

    Looks like you have the perfect break barrel dart shooter. I would think that 242 FPS is the sweet spot for Malibu Darts.at 5/8 meters. Look forward to the accuracy test with darts /bolts. Now, I need to find one in the US.

    Kind Regards

    jda001

      • hihihi

        I use a paper dartboard like you do. The difference is that I use a Daisy Model 35 with the Kvintor darts.I have to muzzle load the dart with a thin bamboo rod. I also use a 4 inch by 4 inch adhesive cork sheets (3) on the dart board. This allows for easy removal of the dart by hand. My target is a 3 inch Shoot NC on top of the cork. The trick is to only use one pump in the Daisy 35. I’m guessing FPS is about 225 – 240. The set up is good for 1.5 inch groups of 10 at 5 meters off hand. I shoot and remove one at a time .Not uncommon to have 2 -3 in the same hole each session. If Daisy just extended the loading port, this would be the current production dart shooter of choice for both Malibu (fluffy) and bolts.

        This setup also works for the DX 17 pistol. Just shoot between 3-4 meters with the Kvintors. Key with this pistol is to figure out the aim point.The European boxed DX 17 is supposed to come with a dart / pellet setting tool.

        Something Zen about shooting darts. 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to Master

        jda001

        • jda001,

          thank you for that comprehensive reply.

          So, cork it is!

          I know there’s a little roll of it in the attic that I’ll experiment with next time.
          Thanks again. 🙂

        • jda001,

          today I tried shooting darts at a paper target on a cork backstop.

          9mm (~.35″) thick cork was too thin. I had to back up to about 25m (~27yds) and aim so high I lost sight of the target – no fun. 🙁

        • Taping on a third sheet of cork was an improvement. I shot once more from 10m (~11yds) and occasionally, I was even able to pull the dart out with my fingers. 🙂

          • hihihi

            Try adding the 3 / 4 cork sheets to your paper dart board. 4 inch by 4 inch squares. Part of the joy is trying to figure out what works. I have attached a photo of the cork I use on my board. This set up works great at 5 meters indoors with a Crosman 760 air gun with 2 pumps, Fluffy/ Malibu darts.Looks like I will be limiting my testing to pneumatic airguns. Springers look like they need to be custom adjusted and I have zero mechanical ability.
            Best of luck

            jda001

            • jda001,

              thanks for that picture* which tells me a lot! 🙂

              My rolled-paper dartboard is rather soft. I shot a dart at two sheets of cork on top of it:
              All of the dart body, ie the metal part, disappeared into that, leaving only some of the tail brush visible.

              So I quickly switched to cork on wood. 🙂

              By the way, my roll of cork, from which I cut the, just over printer-paper sized (A4, ~8×12″), sheets, is 4,5 mm thick (~.35″).
              I nailed the cork edges to the wood which left just enough room to pin on a page of printer paper that I marker-pen-drew a couple of dots onto.

              The first two cork sheets I taped together near the edges only. The cork itself did little to slow the dart.

              Then, when I added a third sheet of cork, this time with double sided carpet tape all over, I noticed a difference that seemed greater than just cork alone. 🙂

              It seems to me that the adhesive does most of the slowing of the dart, while the cork holds it when it’s stopped. 🙂

              So, next time, I plan on adding one more sheet of cork, with another all-over layer of the soft adhesive tape. I again expect improved results. 🙂
              We’ll see, maybe even a secondary thickness of sticky tape… ?

              ———
              Finally, as per shootski’s suggestion, I intend to experiment with dulling the points of the darts, although I suspect that won’t do much for the longevity of the cork.

              _________
              PS I wish I could enjoy the figuring out what works, as much as you, however, I admit that here, it does little to enhance my fun, ie I’m beginning to feel frustrated… 🙁

              * pictured below is what your picture inspired… cheers! 🙂

            • jda001,

              recently, yesterday, on a becalmed and sunny day, I experimented some more with target backing for darts.

              I have no idea how you manage to use cork because I failed with it:

              I tried two sheets of cork.
              Then I used double sided carpet tape to adhere another sheet of cork.
              Then I tried two layers of double sided carpet tape to adhere yet another sheet of cork.
              Finally I tried a generous layer of silicone sealant on the fourth sheet of cork.

              No matter, every dart buries itself deeply, requiring careful use of needlenose pliers to pull it back out. Not much fun. 🙁

              However, I have stumbled on my perfect solution. The darts penetrate perfectly in old horse stable matting, which is apparently made of natural rubber. Perfectly, for me means that I can pull the darts back out safely by hand.
              Phew… and Hurrah ! 🙂

              I commented similarly over at “Airgun darts and dart guns: Part Three”
              ( https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2024/01/airgun-darts-and-dart-guns-part-three/#comments )

              ——–
              pictured below my whopper of a quadruple cork sandwich…

  6. I want to shoot darts with a long arm.

    I bought one that was made for it. It’s a Jean Marck No.1 that looks just like a typical Gem style airgun. Obviously it has a smooth bore. The calibre is .177″ which is handy due to the availability of darts to buy in that size. 🙂

    I have two types of darts: ones with rigid plastic tails (made by Kvintor) and fluffy tailed ones (by Germania).

    For a target, I first used an old rolled-paper dartsboard and now I have one made with densely packed sisal fibres.

    _________
    Another thing I have, is, a problem! 🙂

    I think my airgun has too much power, because the darts bury themselves inside the dartboards. This is neither good for the targets nor for the darts as they’re rather difficult to retrieve, even with needle-nose pliers. 🙁

    So, I dismantled most of the old Jean Marck, cleaned and lubricated the parts and reassembled it.

    Shooting over a chronograph showed a projectile speed of around 400 feet per second. Which is a number much too big and so, I shortened the mainspring.
    After three such reductions, I now have about eight coils less in the airgun and no preload at all.

    That was still too much and so, as a final power reduction measure, I wiped molibdenum grease off of the mainspring and applied some thick black tarry grease.

    Now the Jean Marck shoots rigid darts at about 300 feet per second and fluffies at 200.

    But, oh dear! My darts still have hopelessly too much whack for my dartboards.

    ———
    The lesson from all of this:
    I guess, back in the day, ie about a hundred years ago, they must have shot at targets made of wood.

    ———
    pictured below is the full mainspring before I shortened it and the piston out of my Jean Marck…
    (PS I apologise for mistakes that I cannot edit after posting anything with a picture, ie all of the above))

    • hihihi

      Think you are right about the wooden targets. Looks like wood and beautifully hand painted. Some still survive. Need to understand where we have been to know where we are going

      Kind Regards
      jda001

        • jda001,

          what a find!
          That certainly appears like a vintage wooden target. I suspect it’s too nicely painted for shooting at, rather like decoratively hand painted plates that are not meant for the dishwasher.
          And then there are those bavarian-style words of wisdom and, finally of course, who shoots unicorns?!

          Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Hihihi, what happens when you take a few steps back? I would think the fluffy darts, especially, would slow down very quickly.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Roamin Greco,

        I agree, that should work. Thanks! 🙂

        So far: I walked backwards, away from my dartsboard until I could barely make out it’s smallest section which is the little red bulls eye. For me, this happens to be almost exactly ten metres.

        Next time, I shall experiment shooting darts at different target material. My hope is that jda001’s suggestion of cork will work for me too. 🙂
        Whatever the result, I shall share it in a comment.

        In the meantime, I’m going to make the most of today’s dry and mild weather by going for a ride on my motorcycle… 🙂

      • Roamin Greco,

        I backed up to 25 metres (~27yds) and yes, the darts hit the target with less energy. 🙂
        Trouble is, for the relatively little power of the airgun, over that distance, I had to raise the muzzle so high, it completely obscured the actual target.

        I placed an aimpoint well above to get close. That worked but I didn’t enjoy shooting that way. 🙁

        ———
        By the way, thanks for your idea of- and Vortek example for getting a bespoke spring. 🙂

        _________
        pictured below, one of my fair weather alternatives to plinking…

        • JUST A COIL SPRING?! LOL! Yes, it is just a coil spring. As I reminded 3hi, I sent my Diana 34 to BB where he replaced the original spring AND cut it down to make it a lower powered air rifle for me. This is just one of the reasons I prefer a coil spring to a gas spring. I also told 3hi that my 1906 BSA does not have its original spring in it.

            • Nah, I just have a soft spot for these “old gals”. The truth is I am envious that 3hi has that Jean Marck, as I am envious of your DQ collection. I have met Dennis and foolishly did not pick up a couple of his air rifles when the opportunity presented itself. Now I have to live with that.

              We had about three inches of snow the first go ’round and then a little dusting. It has been right cold and windy up here the last few days and this old geezer is just hunkering down with Mrs. RR in RRHFWA and dreaming of playing with these “old gals” when the weather breaks.

      • RidgeRunner,

        I think that I view airguns differently because to me they’re not dolls, but boy’s toys. 🙂

        Besides, I agree with shootski, in that all mainsprings have a finite usable life.

        Although I do not know, I nevertheless suspect that the original one in my old airgun, at some time in the past, approximately 100 years, might have been replaced with a more powerful mainspring. What I do know, is, that the thing is much easier and more enjoyable to operate now, you know, as per B.B. Pelletier’s likening of airgun shooting to eating peanuts… 🙂

        • Also, there are places that can make custom springs if you simply give them the dimensions and the wire thickness. The current (shorter) spring length, but with thinner wire, would likely give less power.

          • Roamin Greco,

            with hindsight, that’s what I would have preferred.

            Oh well, I learnt something else instead and, if need be, I can still try to experiment with an altogether weaker spring. But first, I shall shoot my darts at varying thicknesses of cork sheeting… 🙂

            Thanks for your practical thoughts and suggestion! 🙂

        • 3hi,

          LOL! The truth is, what you do with that is your business. In some ways I cannot help my reaction as I want these “old gals” in as original condition as possible. The 1906 BSA that I have does not have the original spring in it. I have replaced some old springs myself. If you recall, BB not only replaced the original spring in my new/old Diana 34, but he cut it down to make it more like I wanted it.

          No, they are not like dolls to me, but I am a history buff. My “collection” is more about the history of airguns, but not solely. Some of my airguns are of the more “modern” type. I even have a few CO2 and PCPs.

          I myself suspect that the spring in your airgun is not original because of the power level you initially describe. I also suspect that my initial reaction is due to the fact that I have as of yet to acquire a “Gem” style air rifle in my “collection”. One day I hope to do such. As for you, do enjoy your Jean Marck and shooting darts.

          • Ridge Runner,

            I’m still learning people’s sense of humour and am often too quick to bite the bait, but until I grow up… 🙂

            Anyway, I agree with you on both counts:
            a) yes, I am free to do as I please with all my belongings, but
            b) I also realise that my Jean Marck airgun will likely still be around when I’m gone and so, I’m but a temporary custodian… 🙂

            • 3hi,

              I also am but a “temporary custodian” of these “old gals” around here. One day I hope to pass that duty onto my Grandson.

              I also enjoy riding my Harley when the weather is nice.

              • RidgeRunner,

                apart from it being a twin cam 88ci and, of course, just like all Ferraris being red, all Harleys are black and so yours must be too, I know nothing about your 2 wheels. 🙂

                I assume the V.I.P. seat (for V.ery I.mportant P.ersons, eg wives) offers plush comfort and a back rest too – do you intercom when two-up?
                What enhancements/ modifications have you applied over the years?
                I bet there are others on this blog who motorcycle and would also like to know more about that side of you… 🙂

                My preference is for single lane back roads which, around here, are very low to no traffic. Tomtom’s “Plan a Thrill” often surprises with interesting circular routes that I would otherwise never think of. 🙂

                ———
                pictured below is a “1:21hrs” round trip (to a picnic bench I marked, also offering distant views over undulating countryside to the North and the Pyrenean mountains on the Southern horizon) 🙂

  7. Slavia makes some really sweet shooting pellet rifles. I have a couple 634s that I bought for a deep discount back in the day. I also bought a 618? from the classifieds years ago. I later read a post from the seller saying how much he regretted selling it. I almost felt bad for the guy.

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