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Ammo RidgeRunner’s Diana 34 Project: Part Seven

RidgeRunner’s Diana 34 Project: Part Seven

Today reader RidgeRunner continues his blog series on his experiences with the Diana 34 I tuned for him.  If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at blogger@pyramydair.com.

Take it away, RidgeRunner

RidgeRunner’sDiana 34 Project: Part Seven
by RidgeRunner

Diana 34 RR
Ridgerunner’s Diana 34.

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

This report covers:

  • The scope
  • My previous attempt
  • H&N Field Target Trophy
  • JSB Exact 8.44-grain dome
  • H&N Baracuda Match
  • Just for Yogi
  • Summary
  • Editor’s summary

The scope

Well, here we go.  I have mounted my Hawke Optics 2-7X32 AO IR scope on this air rifle to see just what she is capable of at 25 yards.  My thinking with this particular scope is it is small and light and the power will be useful on a 25 yard sproinger, especially in the woods.

My previous attempt

I had tried this rifle out awhile back, but was sorely disappointed with the results.  I decided to try again with a different type of hold and rest.  Before I had rested it on my shooting bags with it supported over a good part of the forearm.  This time I narrowed the amount of bag it was resting on and had it right up against the trigger guard.  This worked much better.

H&N Field Target Trophy

The first pellet I tried out was the H&N Field Target Trophy.  I used it first as it happened to be on top when I opened up my .177 ammo can.  The very first thing I did was use these to roughly zero the air rifle and then I proceeded to shoot ten-shot groups.

Ten shots went into a group that was roughly a hair over 1.2 inches, but six of them went into a group of about 0.33 inches.  Hmm.

RRs Diana 35 HN FTT
Ten H&N Field Target Trophies went into 1.2 inches at 25 yards with six in about 0.33-inches.

JSB Exact 8.44-grain

The next pellet I gave a try to was the JSB Exact 8.44-grain dome that I have found to be the best pellet in many airguns.  Maybe not this time though.  Ten of them made a group of about 1.4 inches, but six of them made a hole about 0.19 inches in diameter — ON THE OUTSIDE!

RRs Diana 34 JSB Exacxt
Ten JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes are in 1.4 inches between centers, with six in 0.19-inches — ON THE OUTSIDE!

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

H&N Baracuda Match

OK, by now I noticed that this air rifle seems to really want to shoot, so I pulled out the H&N Baracuda Match pellets and settled myself down for some real shooting.  Ten of these heavy honkers then made a group of almost 1.4 inches, but nine of the pellets made two large holes in a span of a hair over 0.8 inches.

RRs Diana 324 HN Baracuda Match
The Diana 34 put ten into 1.4-inches at 25 yards with nine in 0.8-inches –AGAIN ON THE OUTSIDE!

Just for Yogi

A while back Yogi had asked me to try this air rifle out at 50 yards.  Well, the truth is I had not held out much hope of this thing doing much at this range, but what the heck.  I moved my target out to 50 yards and let fly ten more of the Baracuda Match pellets.  I really did not hold out much hope of doing anything serious.  I could hear the pellets hitting the target, but I could not see any holes at that range with that scope.  I held up two mil dots and let fly ten “Hail Mary”’s.

After that I put all my stuff away in the back of my SUV and walked down to collect my target.  Boy, was I ever surprised by the group I had just shot.  Not only was it pretty well centered on my aim point, but it was not that big.  It only measured about 2.8 inches with five of them in about 0.76 inches!  I was impressed.

RRs Diana 324 HN Baracuda Match 50 Yards
At 50 yards the 34 put ten into 2.8-inches with five in 0.76-inches.
That coin is an American quarter dollar.

For those who don’t know, the American quarter coin shown in the image above is larger than the American dime. Here they are shown together.

RRs Diana 34 coin comparison
American quarter coin on the left and dime on the right.

Summary

What this all means is I am going to have to try a whole bunch more pellets and also I need to learn to shoot this air rifle a lot better.  I am also intending to take this scope off and possibly replace the sights with a Tru-Glo front sight that Faulty Manuel sent me and a Williams rear peep.  It is looking like I am going to have another awesome plinker.  Who knows, I might even tell you all about it.

Editor’s summary

What this tells me is RidgeRunner has found the correct place to balance his Diana 34 but he isn’t doing it consistently. When this happens to me I have to slow down and concentrate on my hold. That 10-shot group of JSB 8.4 grain pellets that has six of the ten in 0.19-inches ON THE OUTSIDE is a 0.013-inch group between centers! Subtract 0.177 from the outside diameter of the group to get the radius. That is a screamer. All you need to do is learn to hold that rifle more consistently.

My advice to RidgeRunner is to get the rifle off the bag and use the artillery hold with your hand where the bag is now. Diana 34s are known to be hold sensitive, but they will also train you to be a better shot.

66 thoughts on “RidgeRunner’s Diana 34 Project: Part Seven”

  1. RidgeRunner,

    Some really nice shooting at 50.
    BZ hoist! This is Part 7 after all.
    Tom has some good suggestions to try on your next outing with this fine Dian 34.
    What happened to your black dots?
    Also if you use a straight edge to draw your Xs it will give your eye and brain an easier to see target; those wiggles in your X make both work harder than they need to when shooting groups.
    One last idea: before you ever shoot give your central target/dot/cross a hard LONG stare; as if you are trying to memorize it. When you shoot avoid “looking” at the cross hairs look HARD at the center of the target and your eye/brain/body will do the rest.

    A scope level is almost a necessity at 50 and beyond to shoot small groups unless you level your targets. That’s what i think i see busting a couple of your groups.

    See if that works for you. It certainly helps me with the first shot (Cold Bore) to a firearm shooter.

    shootski

    • shootski,

      You may rest assured that the next time I take this gal out that I will indeed be paying a lot closer to what BB had to say at the end.

      The dots went away because they are 3/4 inch in diameter. Not a very precise point to aim at with a scope. I have never been concerned with whether the “arms” of my X’s are straight. I concentrate on the point at which they cross.

      I do like to use bubble levels when I shoot long range, but this gal is going to be for close range plinking. Like I said, she will end up with a TruGlo front globe sight and a Williams peep like my grandson’s HW30S has.

      When I plink, I am often just sitting on my steps, no rest. I just throw her up, take quick aim and shoot. Out to about 25 yards, a feral soda can rarely stands a chance. My spinners and hanging CO2 cartridges have been known to have a hard time at that distance.

      • RidgeRunner,

        Thanks for the article. Well done.

        Know that you spend most of your time plinking but also have lots of experience with shooting for accuracy since you have/had some very nice airguns.

        IF, you still have an interest in wringing the accuracy out of that Diana 34, may I humbly suggest the following:

        1-Snug down all of your screws on the gun and scope

        2-You’ve already committed to redoubling your efforts on a consistent hold so I won’t beat that dead horse. I will echo what shootski said. It looks like some of your groups are a result of canting. Would strongly encourage you to draw your target +’s on your target paper with a ruler. Try to get them parallel to your target edges. Try overlaying the crosshairs in your scope onto the plus signs on your target. This should help minimize cant.

        3-Follow through after the shot

        4-Have fun

        • Kevin,

          These are good suggestions you and shootski have put forth. What many need to keep in mind is your rule number 4 – Have fun.

          I am not belittling what you guys have said, but being pretty much set in my ways, I am not likely to follow some of you two guys’ suggestions. Even if I choose not to follow these suggestions, I do read and listen to what is being said. Sometimes it may even sink in some. 😉

  2. RidgeRunner,

    Congratulations to writing Part 7! As Tom has noted consistency of your firing position is key. How did you narrow the amount of bag it was resting on in your last shooting session? Did you just rearrange your shooting bag? Perhaps you might try resting it on a rolled up towel in front of your trigger guard on top of your shooting bag? Then again I know how easily boring it is to just shoot paper so maybe shotgun shells or swinging targets like Hank showed us how to make is next up on your list after fitting the Tru-Glo front sight and Williams peep to the Diana 34.

    Siraniko

    • Siraniko,

      I made my shooting bags from old denim jeans legs and filled them with 1/8-1/4 inch plastic beads. I have four of these bags. To narrow the bag, I set it up on edge and pinched the bag where I rested the air rifle, trying to reduce the contact area as much as it possible. I have found the denim is kind of slickery for resting these air guns on and they will slide on the denim real nicely.

      I also try to rest the tip of the butt on a bag and hold the air rifle as lightly as I can so as to eliminate or at least reduce me from the shooting equation as much as is possible.

    • Yogi,

      I have bigger scopes. I do not have an urge to shoot this that far really. This is a sub 12 FPE sproinger. I will probably only kill feral soda cans and spinners with this thing. I have UTG 3-12X44 Compact SWAT on my .25 Armada and a UTG 4-16X56 Bubble Leveler on my .457 Texan LSS. Those things are for reaching out there.

      • Well if you do go to peeps, you will limit your range even more.
        How do you figure out hold over with peeps? Aim 2-3 inches higher? Have a 1/4″ higher front post in your sight picture?
        AIM Small, miss small. You are aiming big and missing even bigger…

        -Yogi

        • Yogi,

          You really need to play with some peep sights. They are so much better than notch sights.

          Your eye will automatically center in the rear peep. Then all you have to do is place your front sight on your target and squeeze the trigger. If you need to shoot a longer distance, you aim a little higher.

          • Yes, they are great at 10 meters! Three circles, squeeze the trigger. For longer distances it becomes a problem though. Often they will run out of elevation to be zeroed at longer distances. Great at quick target acquisition.
            And riser blocks are a whole other can of worms…

            -Y

            • Yogi,

              With my Remington model 37 Rangemaster and peep sights I put 5 shots into 0.375-inches at 50 yards. That is the smallest group I have shot with that rifle at that distance. Using a 24-power scope on that rifle my best group with the same ammo is 10 in 0.504-inches.

              BB

  3. RR

    My 34 performs best balanced on a narrow saddle shaped bag near the trigger guard also. I think you have found the best hold. But my 34 won’t shoot straight using the pellets you tried. Get you some 10.34 grain JSB or AA. The other pellets are preferred in some of my rifles but not the Diana 34.

    Deck

    • Deck,

      Very likely I have some of those. I just need to dig into my ammo can a little deeper and see what is there.

      I will eventually find THE pellet for this gal and stock up and keep them handy with her. Right now I am just learning how she likes to dance. 😉

  4. BB,

    Thanks for your summary. I will be sure to pay real close attention to what you have said.

    Yes, I am VERY pleased with this air rifle, but as I have said to Decksniper, I am still learning how this gal likes to dance. The inherent accuracy of this air rifle is incredible. I just need to learn how to shoot it. As you have pointed out, I also need to slow down a bit.

    I have been shooting the PCPs around here as of late and have become spoiled. It is quite obvious that I need to spend some more porch time with these “old gals”.

  5. RidgeRunner,

    Those small groups within the larger groups are tantalizing. Obviously B.B. is right. Get the rifle off the bag, have a strict artillery hold, and take your time to be consistent. I have a feeling you will be greatly rewarded.

    And once again B.B. provides additional wisdom about how doing all of this will make you a better shooter overall.

    This is getting exciting, isn’t it?

    Michael

    • Michael,

      This is a most accurate air rifle. As is suggested by my own pictures, this gal can dance. Like you and BB are saying, I need to slow down and try different holds as well as pellets and such.

  6. I can’t wait for parts 8, 9, and 10! I agree that the groups are really tantalizing. If it were me, I would also try some even lighter pellets just to make sure whether the higher velocity would stabilize the pellets a bit more at distance.

    I would love to see you find a vintage Diana Peep with the horizontally grooved foot that matches with the top of the Diana scope rail to bring the aperture closer to your eye. It will cost you as much as you paid for the gun, though, so you will likely go with the Williams peep. Do you know that Williams makes different sized apertures and some are a tad longer than the standard ones? Your friend Hector also has used extension tubes to bring the Williams aperture further back. Don’t know if he sells them. And this would be a great gun to experiment with a Merit or Gehmann adjustable aperture for different lighting conditions.

    Oh! Will the peep sight from your Diana Model 50 fit? You may have to remove that fat screw that sits on top of the rear part of the scope rail (the one that no one knows what it is for, but every one that reads this blog knows it is not a scope stop).

    I’m excited for you that you are pleased with your Diana Model 34!

    • RG,

      That 50 peep will indeed fit the rail if you remove that mysterious screw.

      Hector would be very happy to make an extension tube for the Williams, for a considerable price.

      Yes, Williams does sell more than one size aperture and yes Merit, Gehmann and other adjustable apertures fit the Williams.

      Just so there is no confusion because of me, I looked up Vortek this morning and they do make custom springs. Somebody will be making me a couple real soon. 😉

  7. Nice shooting and obviously fun day dancing with this looker. Have found groups are tighter with the Casa FM springers when bag-resting them more or less as BB suggests; as far as consistency of hold, have also found that being an OCD-type helps. Wish had more distance to shoot around here, but given the suburban location, having 25 yards to play with is like having 100 for the rural folks. So, count your blessings, FM and if you’re going to shoot, shoot – don’t talk! And part of that sentence is a movie line, should any of you care to stir up your Movie Rememberers. 😉

    That Tru-Glo sight will be honored to sit on your Diana and pray it will work well for you; FM could only shoot high groups with it when it was mounted on his HW95. Maybe FM is too short for that sight…or short-sighted, hah! One of these days he’s gonna have to experiment with those peep sights you all keep praising.

  8. Hey RR, I am enjoying this series. I wanted to offer my solution for, not eliminating cant but for keeping your cant consistent (sorry). When you draw your targets, put a dot near the outside edges (left, right) or top and bottom. I then make sure my crosshairs run through the dots. Even if the rifle is canted, at least it’s canted the same degree for each shot. Anyway, that’s how I do it.

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

    • Fred,

      That is not a bad idea. Like you said, consistency is the real key.

      I think resting the air rifle is part of that problem. When I am sitting or standing and not using a rest, I nestle it into my shoulder likely more consistently. I need to keep in mind that body memory can be very consistent.

      Another little trick I used in the past and should probably revisit is I used to hang a weighted string in front of my targets to use as a vertical guide. Perhaps I should start doing that again.

      • You know, when I first got into air rifles and scopes, I would hang a string/plumb and align my scope with the string. Then the more research I did convinced me that just eyeballiing the verticle reticle to roughly bisect the action, was all that was needed. Like you said, a consistent hold will give you that consistent cant but for the precision shooting that you are doing here and that Tom always does, a fraction of a degree off in the hold shows up bigtime on the 25 yard and farther targets. But now that you’re retired, you have plenty of time (until the wifey says you don’t), to solve these Earth shaking problems.

        Fred etc

  9. I don’t do much target shooting, mostly to sight in a new airgun and usually just with the tin of pellets at hand.
    It would take a lifetime to find the right pellet or BB for each airgun I have, and I usually don’t need that much accuracy. When I did, I just grabbed the one that was, my FX Independance. However, it has developed a leak, and the pump does not function well. Needs a reseal and I’m looking for a break barrel to fill in so I may need to find the ‘right’ pellet for a few to see which is most accurate.
    Hopefully I can find it online or at least which type it prefers to save time. Hope the Mag-fire works out.

    But then again, the Senica Aspen or Nova Freedom would fill in nicely, almost forgot about them. Need to check them out.
    I use a big dot to get on paper and then a cross line to fine tune. I am learning a lot about how to fine tune the shooter here lately and how to read the target results. Adjusting the sights did not always work. Must have been me?

    • Bob M,

      If for some strange reason you are seeking my advice, I would recommend resealing the Independence AND picking up a break barrel. I myself would hesitate about getting a Mag-fire though. I would go for an Weihrauch, an HW50 or HW95. Just my thoughts.

      • RR
        Already have the Mag-Fire Ultra and now the BM8 and lots of others I have never sighted in yet. The FX seal kit is here, someplace, with a round tuit, I guess.
        I have a really nice Diana 350 Mag and a TX200 but don’t really want to beat them up on pesting when I have so many others. Really short on high quality break barrels, not too big on target shooting.
        Working on that now. Just ordered a bench and rifle rest. The best is yet to come, I hope. This next “River of rain” headed to CA. won’t help there.

        • Bob, kindly consider working up the BM8 as a pester and let us all know how it performs. That gives us readers 2 perspectives on that rifle including B.B.’s. I have a Diana 350 in .22 that I am planning on working up as a pester. Just need to get new, lower scope rings for it or a really big pad for the comb.

          • Roamin,
            As mentioned, a shooting bench and rifle rest are in the mail and hopefully I can get down to some serious target shooting and reviewing. Might have to work on my dirt road a little before they arrive.

            I have been delinquent in contributing and following through with information and I feel bad about that. Might have something to do with reducing my beer intake to almost nothing. Always seemed to fire me up to do something. Couldn’t be old age? See what I can do till then.

            • Bob, as you likely know, if your springers don’t seem to shoot well from a dedicated rifle rest, it may be interfering with the “artillery hold.”

              On the other hand, I have one crazy springer, a Walther Terrus .22, that loves to be held tightly to my shoulder and around the forestock screws. Your mileage may vary.

        • Bob M,

          Now I really am envious! A TX200! That is one of my dreams! Well, the truth is I probably could have picked one of those up along the way, but just could not find my round tuit when the opportunity arose. I do see why you would be most hesitant to beat those up though. I have found new homes for some I have had because of that very reason.

          The BM8 and the Mag-Fire should do well with your pesting. I would most definitely find my round tuit for resealing that FX though. I and others are most curious of your thoughts on the BM8.

          • RR, your frugal sensibilities will love this: I saw a TX200 Mark III, with the walnut stock and a 3×12 Hawke scope at an online auction. It was advertised as having a “missing bolt.” I won it for $400 thinking I could get any missing parts and fix it without a spring compressor. Turns out somebody had taken it apart and put it back together incorrectly. The “bolt” (the sliding compression chamber) was there all along but was somehow stuck to the rear. The auction house was close enough that I was able to pick it up in person and so I even saved on the shipping! One of my best deals.

              • Tell you what, when Hank sends you the AvengeX and you want to make some room for it, you can send that sight along with an airgun of your choosing. RGIFAA (Roamin Greco’s Institute for Airgun Appreciation) has plenty of room.
                ;o)

                • RG,

                  The airgun of my choosing will most likely be the Avenge-X.

                  There are not too many “modern” airguns about here and they are usually the first to leave. I play with them a bit, get bored with them and pass them on to others.

                  The “old gals” around here are each unique in some way. Most all of them have used a different method to advance the world of airgunning in at least some small way. They are not just copies of someone else’s ideas.

                  Yes, there have been a few that have moved on that I wish I had kept. Gunfun1 ended up with a couple of nice FWB300’s. I do wish I had hung onto one of them. Ah well.

    • Bob M

      As much as I need another airgun now due to bursting inventory storage space, I still have a fascination for the Aspen/Freedom. The main concern that has kept me from buying one is the lever pumping mechanism not holding up that some experienced. I keep checking for a Gen 2 or quality fix being reported.

      Deck

      • Deck,
        Yes they do have problems. It starts off with a lot of resistance to opening the pump handle. Leads me to believe air leaks back into the pump and they slowly bleed down. Like most airguns I believe they do not like sitting around for extended periods of time without use or frequent lubing. They all need to stay pressurized all the time and that does not happen with a leak.
        The FX has an air fill port, not sure about the Aspen Seneca, would need to look it up, so all is not lost. However, they were not designed to hold a lot of air. Filling with a hand pump should not be anything like filling a bottle.
        The more complicated they get the more attention they need. but they sure shoot nice.

        • Bob M

          They can be filled from a compressor or hand pump as well as the built in pump lever. If I were to get one I would fill it with a compressor and top it every 2-3 shots with the lever pump to maintain a sweet spot.

          Thanks,
          Deck

  10. Great stuff RR!

    Enjoying your guest blogs and all the comments associated with them.

    I learned the shoot airguns with the peep-equipped Crosman 101 and am quite partial to them. Before scopes, all my airguns, rimfires and centerfires were equipped with peeps. I like peeps mainly for their accuracy but appreciate that they force you to look through the sights (properly, rather that over them) and that they don’t hide half the target.

    Know that you like compact scopes. My Avenge-X arrived this morning with its MTC Copperhead 4-16×44. First impressions are good. Here is a link to the scope if you are curious…
    https://mtcoptics.com/copperhead-f2/

    Cheers!
    Hank

    • Hank,

      That is just what I need, another voice singing the praises of the Avenge-X. 😉

      I am glad you are enjoying that. There happen to be several MTC scopes that have had my attention. Fortunately for me, most of these “old gals” around here do not like scopes and for the others I have several that are still looking for homes. I have a brand-new Hawke that is still in the box. Where did I put that round tuit?

  11. I haven’t seen any shooting benches built by Dedicated Procrastinators lately so I think I should order one and get down to business and move on to shooting procrastination. I’m really good at that. Figure out where to store it later. Kinda falls in line with putting things off.
    Can’t believe how far behind in things I’ve become in my old age. Experience must pay off in acquiring such a high degree. Having too much stuff really helps. Hope it comes into play when I approach my final ending.

    • Well, something went wrong and I actually ordered it already. My reputation may be at risk.
      Found the MTM shooting table on P/A and was notified of BBs Blog, “How I Shoot” 11-22-2011 and added the MTM Case-Guard Predator Shooting rest as well.
      Reputation for Procrastination may not be hurt too much. It has taken over 10 years to do so.

        • I have that table and am pleased with it. When it is not used, it folds up. It is easily thrown into the car for when I go up to my Dad’s property for longer range shoots.

          • Roamin,
            I threw a scope on the BM8 so I could see the target at 36′, no sight in, and just started shooting.
            45 degree Wind 5>10 MPH, and cold. I was standing on one leg two steps down with the other on the top platform resting the rifle on the thin handrail of my back stair with a rag wrapped around it. Turned out to be a joke. I could not keep the rifle balanced on the rail and could not keep it on target. I was shaking too much. It was shooting about 3″ low and left, 3″ CTC group. Not worth the trouble to continue. Need a bipod setup, at least, on a stable platform.

            There is a second stage on the trigger, but I accidently pulled right through it two times and accidently fired it. The trigger in motion seems to want to stay in motion. Very little resistance. Need to get to know the rifle, slow down, and practice for sure. I don’t recall much piston slap and it did get quiet after cleaning it up some.
            Now I remember why I don’t do target shooting. Too old and unsteady and need all the help I can get to assist me. I could not say I had the target right on at all. Mostly pulled the trigger as I passed over it.
            Had nothing but a flimsy folding card table or a bipod on a car hood.
            For some reason the FX is much easier, and a PCP. Shot perhaps one time per use for the most part and the trigger is perfect, for me.
            I would call the BM8 shooter friendly compared to some magnums I shoot, I believe the cocking mechanism needs some lubricant, a bit rough.
            The sights are useless to me. I can’t see them clear enough anymore.
            It would be unfair to judge it without me being able to aim and shoot properly at this time.
            Hope the new MTM table and rifle rest set things right for eliminating shooter error.

            • How far is the front sight from your eye?

              Next time you are at the pharmacy, find some reading glasses that allow you to see at that distance. Try those next time you shoot. The target and the rear sight will be fuzzy, but you should be able to see the front sight clearly. And you will be surprised at your groups.

              Once you find the right power, look for “safety” glasses with the same power. They are safer to use when target shooting than the cheapies.

              • Roamin,
                Front sight is about 32″+ away. Good suggestion, but for the most part, I depend on optics these days. Pistols are fine with trifocals, rifles not so pretty good. I’ve had my fill of switching glasses and trying to find them.

                • I hear you. I didn’t know you already wore corrective lenses. I’m in the same boat. After years of fighting with myopia, and then presbyopia on top of it, I finally got progressive lenses. Now I think my presbyopia has gotten worse, so I need new lenses already! Argh!

    • Bob M,

      If you take a look back through some of my posts, you will likely see a shooting bench built by a dedicated procrastinator. I will post another picture one of these days. 😉

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