IZH MP532 target rifle: Part 8

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

IZH MP532
IZH MP532 single stroke target rifle.

A history of airguns

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

This report covers:

  • The back story
  • Sights
  • First shot — ah HA!
  • Finale Match Heavy
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • Rear sight
  • Rear sight height
  • Rear sight folds forward!
  • Russians missed the mark
  • End of back story
  • Why the peep sight won’t adjust high enough
  • What’s next?
  • Summary

I have what I think is a great report for you today. I have listed it as a history article, but the application is universal. It will take a lot of back story introduction and I will have to keep things straight for you as we go. You may need a whole pot of coffee for this one!

The back story

Back in October, 2019 I reviewed two IZH 532 single-stroke pneumatic target air rifles for you. The report started with me thinking the rifles were only as accurate as a Daisy 853 and it ended with me shooting two of the smallest groups I have ever shot with any airgun at 10 meters. I think I have just discovered something major about one of the two rifles, and that is what this report is about. Yes, this is an historical report, but if I am right it applies to modern air rifles as well.

There is so much back story to tell that I will put everything that was written in 2019 in italics, so you can differentiate it from what I’m telling you today. As I introduced both rifles I shared their differences with you. I will be referring to the first rifle and the second rifle. It is the second rifle, which is ten years older than the first rifle, that is of interest for this series. Here we go.

Sights

The front sight of the 532 is a globe that accepts inserts. The first rifle I got had a single insert in the globe and it is the old-style metallic aperture. The second rifle came with no inserts but I was able to fit a 16mm Walther clear plastic aperture insert that reader Kevin recently sent me. It’s loose until the threaded sleeve is screwed tight, but then it locks up and stays in one place, which is all I need. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfectly centered because the rear sight adjusts for that.

532 front sight Walther insert
The older rifle had no front sight insert, so I installed a clear 16mm Walther aperture.

The rear sight is a target peep that Americans have panned over the years. They say it looks cheap compared to other 10-meter rear sights. Well, it is a little Spartan compared to other 10-meter target rifle sights, but it does everything they do, so who cares what it looks like? Beautiful is as beautiful does. Naturally I will have a lot more to say about the sights when I test the rifle(s) for accuracy. I think because I have two rifles I will test both of them. Why not?

While I was working with the first rifle to get it back in shape I decided to purchase a second one. This was an earlier rifle that didn’t have the box or anything else — just the rifle. I wanted this one in case the first one didn’t pan out for some reason. I don’t plan to keep it long, and from the response I saw to Part One I will have no trouble selling it when I am ready. There were three inquiries about the other two rifles I mentioned that are available, so this one will evaporate quickly. But I have it now so let’s see what it can do.

The second rifle was produced in 1997, making it 10 years older than the first rifle. I used the same warmup procedure (20 partial pumps to warm the pump cup) and a partial stroke before every pump stroke for each shot.

This rifle has a clear plastic aperture insert for the front sight, and I selected one that was only ever-so-slightly larger than the bullseye. It was very difficult to work with. If I shoot the rifle again I will swap it for an insert with a larger hole.

[Editor’s note: Right there I identified the problem I hope to resolve in this series, but I didn’t see it at the time.]

I decided to shoot only the three best pellets from the first rifle in rifle number two, which were H&N Finale Match Heavys, Hobbys and Qiang Yuan Training pellets. However, things never got that far.

First shot — ah HA!

The first shot with H&N Finale Match Heavys hit the target about 6 inches below the aim point. So I dialed in a lot of elevation into the peep and shot again. The sight adjusted up easily. Shot two was still below the target, so I cranked in a bunch more elevation — AND RAN OUT OF ADJUSTMENT! The adjustment knob suddenly stopped. It felt just like the one on rifle number one. OH! The rear sight on rifle number two was now adjusted as high as it will go and the rifle is still shooting too low! I’m learning. [But I wasn’t learning fast enough.]

Finale Match Heavy

Five Finale Match Heavy pellets hit the target about 1-1/2-inches below the aim point. They landed in an extremely vertical group that measures 0.429-inches between centers. I was almost certain the rifle was not responsible for the size of the group, and I also knew it wasn’t me. I thought it was the rear sight.

And then it happened. Everything became crystal clear and I know the problem. [I didn’t, really, but I thought I did.]

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

I then shot 5 Qiang Yuan Training pellets into another vertical group. Two shots are above three shots, with each “group” being small enough to hold a pellet by the tail. But 5 shots are in 0.445-inches. The only way this can happen is if the rear sight was moved while I shot. So I pushed on it and, sure enough, it moved. THAT WAS THE PROBLEM!

I had been creeping up on the rear peep, trying to get my eye as close as possible to the peephole, but in Part 2 the first rifle’s buttstock was adjusted so long that it was very difficult to get close to that sight. Sometimes I did and other times I didn’t. The butt on rifle two wasn’t adjusted, so I got close to the peep every time. If my glasses touched the peep hole disk they pushed it forward, moving the location of the hole and changing the impact point up or down.

No sense going any farther with today’s testing. I need to find out some things about the sights and what can be done to correct the situation.

Rear sight

I’m going to write a report about that rear sight because I have just discovered a lot about it — stuff I haven’t told you yet. First, the two rifles have different rear sights! And the differences are big and they matter! Next, how you sight the rifle makes all the difference in the world. With the first rifle, when I didn’t push my face forward, the sight remained upright and my groups were smaller. When I pushed my face forward I hit the sight and it folded forward and down. Now that I know that, I am sure I can shoot better groups.

I know the MP532 isn’t an air rifle many of you will ever even see, but there are some fundamental principles at work that apply to all airguns. So this stuff is worth learning.

rear sight 97 eyepiece
Here you can see how the rear sight attaches to the 532 receiver that swoops up to meet it. You can also see that both adjustment knobs are marked with Cyrillic letters.

rear sight 97 mount
In this view you can see the eyepiece that contains the peep hole is attached to a sheetmetal part that comes up from the sight and then folds over and goes down again. That sheetmetal part is attached solidly to the sight base and does not move.

Rear sight height

Those photos show the rear sight design that I have been scrutinizing for the past two weeks. I simply cannot see how it is possible for this sight to move higher than its highest adjustment permits, and in testing we learned that isn’t anywhere near high enough to hit the center of the bull! Sure, a plate placed under the bottom of the sight could lift it up, but I see no mention of such a plate in either manual.

A similar fix is possible if the front sight can be lowered. I know that the Russians are aware of that possibility because both the SKS and AK battle rifles have front sights that move up and down for elevation adjustments — similar to the American M16 front sight. But the front sight on the MP532 does not move. It is mounted solidly in place. And there is no plate in it to be removed to effect such an adjustment, either.

In short — there seems to be no way to adjust the MP532 sights high enough to get the pellets to strike the center of the bull at 10 meters. For a target rifle that is the kiss of death and I’m flabbergasted that the Russians built it that way!

[I believe there was and is a way for that sight to work, but at this point in 2019 I hadn’t found it yet.]

Rear sight folds forward!

Besides the elevation adjustment, another fundamental requirement for 10-meter target sights is that they never move. Once adjusted, you want them locked in concrete, so shot after shot can go to the same place. That’s kind of the whole point to target shooting! Well, the MP532 rear sight moves! In fact, it’s spring-loaded to move when pressed upon from the rear.

rear sight 97 folded
This is how far forward the rear sight folds when it’s pressed from the rear. Any movement of the rear sight can move the impact point of the pellet. This movement prohibits shooters from mounting rubber eyecups on the peep disk and pressing into them when sighting.

Ten-meter target shooters will immediately recognize the problem with the rear sight folding forward. They are used to putting a soft rubber cup on the disk of their rear peep and pressing into it when shooting. That cup blocks out all the light except for that which comes through the peep hole, and that makes for a sharper sight picture.

When I tested both rifles I tried to press into the rear sight for exactly that reason. I didn’t have a rubber cup but my glasses protected my eye from the peep disk. The newer rifle had its stock adjusted for the maximum pull length which made getting that far forward a problem, and that is probably why I shot the new rifle better than the older one.

If you don’t press and get close to the rear peep hole in the way I’m describing you are tempted to try to center the front sight inside the rear peep hole. That adds a huge amount of unnecessary work and complexity to sighting the rifle. Peep sights simply don’t work that way. You just peek through them like a knothole in the fence.

That was known way back in the 1870s, when the buffalo hunters killed millions of American bison at long ranges with rifles that recoiled a lot. They had leather cups instead of rubber on their rear peeps, and they understood quite well how peep sights work!

Russians missed the mark

As incredible as it sounds the Russians designed a target rifle that cannot possibly hit the target! I know I must be wrong and I am hoping Vladimir Unpronounceable will pop out of the woodwork and explain what I’m missing. Because, to say the Russians don’t know how to design a rifle is like saying the Swiss can’t make chocolate. It’s as if the Russians ran out of qualified gun designers when the 532 was created and substituted bakery workers instead!

End of back story

Okay, we are now back in 2021 and on with this series of what I hope is a major discovery. The older rifle we are discussing does have 11 mm dovetail grooves, and I mounted both a scope and a red dot sight to see how accurate the rifle really is. Rifle number one that I’m not discussing put five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets into a group that measured 0.072-inches at 10 meters. That was with the peep sight it came with. Rifle number two, the rifle we are looking at in this series, put five of the same pellets into 0.083-inches at 10 meters when a dot sight was used. So that rifle is just as accurate as the first one. But why can’t it zero the peep sight that came on it?

Why the peep sight won’t adjust high enough

What I’m about to tell you happened this month — March of 2021 — fully 16 months after the last test of the second rifle. In fact it was just last week. I had the rifle sitting across the arms of a chair, out of the way so I could find and pack up all the airguns that I’m returning to Pyramyd Air. The other newer 532 was also out, and I was able to compare both of them. That is when I spotted it. The older rifle isn’t bedded properly! Let me show you.

532 rifles bedding comparison
The newer rifle is on top. The older rifle with the bedding problem is at the bottom.

new rifle bedding
The newer rifle is bedded until the barrel is close to the forearm of the stock.

532 old rifle bedding
The barrel on the older rifle is up from the forearm quite a bit.

Given the bedding problem of the older rifle with the barrel pointed upward, the older rifle has to be pointed down to see through the aperture of the front sight. Since the aperture is a hole, you don’t notice that it is on a slight downward angle. It still looks round when you see it through the peep sight. I believe this is the reason the rear sight cannot be adjusted high enough to compensate.

Do you remember earlier in this report that I mentioned that the front aperture was difficult to see through? It was difficult because the hole through the clear aperture wasn’t being seen straight on — it was at a slight downward angle. I believe that the bedding issue is why it appeared that way.

What’s next?

The barreled action needs to be properly bedded. Then the rifle needs to be shot again to see if the bedding was why the rear sight could not be adjusted high enough. So here is my plan.

I will shoot a 5-shot group with H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets with the rifle as it is now, so we can see where it impacts the target at 10 meters. Then I will relieve the bedding so the barreled action sits down in the stock like rifle number one. Then I will shoot a second group of five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets to see where they impact the target. I’m thinking of shooting at the same bull for both groups. That should demonstrate the affect the bedding had on the height of the two groups. This will be a before and after test. I’m not interested in how small the groups are — just where they land on the target.

Summary

Today’s report was about a revelation that opened my mind! If I am right about the peep sight adjustment problem being caused by poor bedding, then it applies to every air rifle with similar sights. Very few rifles are bedded like the 532 so this isn’t the solution to all sighting problems, but it is unique and if I’m right it’s something we all need to know. If I’m not right then I’m giving you a running start at explaining to me why my theory is flawed


Norma S-Target Match pellet

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Norma tin
Today we are looking at the S-Target Match pellet from Norma.

This report covers:

  • A new line of pellets
  • Today’s pellet
  • Consistency
  • Weight
  • Cleanliness
  • How to test
  • FWB 300S
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Beeman R8 Tyrolean
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Norma S-Target Match
  • Another test?
  • Summary

Today I’m doing something that I find difficult to do — introducing a new pellet. Actually I’m introducing a new line of pellets branded by Norma, but today we will look at just one of them — the Norma S-Target Match wadcutter.

This is difficult because you readers are all over the board when it comes to the things you shoot. I show a group of ten pellets in three-quarters of an inch at 25 yards and it’s sacrilege for some of you, and others ask me how that would look on a soda can! So today I’m just gonna do what I’m gonna do and you can watch if you want. Today will be a first look at this pellet — not an all-out test.

A new line of pellets

The S-Target Match isn’t the girl you fell in love with in the first grade and loved all through high school. This is a new girl who just moved into the neighborhood a couple months ago with a large family that we will get to know in the days ahead. There are domes, heavy domes, pointed pellets and wadcutters in both .177 and .22 in the family. I plan to run them into my tests in the coming days, but today is an introduction to the new line and I chose the Norma S-Target Match to intro the line. She has a pretty name, but can she cook? That’s what we will start to learn today.

Today’s pellet

The S-Target Match is an 8.2-grain wadcutter that I slipped into yesterday’s blog for the first time. Didja notice? With the words Target and Match in the name this pellet goes up against some pretty stiff competition and that is how it has to be tested. 

There are 300 pellets in a tin in the .177 caliber and 200 in the .22. I don’t know the retail pricing, so I can’t say how expensive this pellet is. Norma claims a 7mm grouping at 10 meters for the pellets I’m testing today, but they measured from the outside of all the holes, rather than the more common center-to-center. But that is easy enough to correct. To get the group size you subtract one pellet diameter — 4.5mm — from 7mm and you get a group size of 2.5mm or 0.098-inches between centers. That would be a remarkable group! Of course I have no idea of what airgun shot it or if the airgun was hand-held or clamped in a vise, but there aren’t too many air pistols or rifles that can do much better.

Consistency

Question number one — does this pellet come in different head sizes? Not that I can see on the packaging. That’s a little odd for a target pellet. So I got out my Pelletgage and measured 10 of them at random. Seven had heads smaller than 4.49mm. One was 4.49mm. One was 4.495mm and one was 4.51mm.

Since the bulk of the ten I measured were smaller than 4.49mm, I believe that is the intended head size for this pellet. Maybe it’s 4.485mm but my Pelletgage doesn’t go down that small because who uses pellets with heads that small? Unfortunately I have no airguns that prefer head sizes that small (that I know of), but I proceeded with the test regardless.

Weight

We are also concerned with how consistent the weight of these pellets is. So I weighed the 10 whose heads I measured and got 1 that weighed 8.1 grains, 6 that weighed 8.2 grains and 3 that weighed 8.3 grains. For 10-meter competition weight means a lot less than head size, and there is no benefit in being anal and going down to the hundredth of a grain. The gram weight is advertised as 0.53 grams. Weight matters a lot more in field target where you shoot out to 50 meters. At 10 meters it almost doesn’t matter.

Cleanliness

One thing that does matter to both 10-meter shooters and field target competitors is the cleanliness of the pellets in the tin. Back when I competed in field target some people washed their pellets to get rid of small lead chips they called swarf. I hand-sorted my pellets by weight and eyeballed each of them but I never bothered washing them. But then I was only an average field target shooter.

Now, in 10-meter competition where I was more competitive I hand-inspected each pellet — though I never weighed them. I will say that the H&N, RWS and Chinese target pellets that I used back in the 1990s were all very clean and free from swarf. These Norma pellet are also clean and absolutely swarf-free. I cannot see a flake of lead swarf in the tin or in the skirts of any of the pellets — and I looked!

How to test

This is a new pellet, so how do I test it? Well for starters I shoot it in the most accurate .177 air rifles I have and see what it does. As I said in the beginning — this is just an introduction, not an all-out test.

FWB 300S

My most accurate 10-meter target rifle is my FWB 300S. I have shot 5-shot groups as small as 0.078-inches with Qiang Yuan Olympic target pellets, but I decided to use another pellet I have in greater supply today. 

I shot off a sandbag rest, resting the rifle directly on the bag. Because the 300S isolates the barreled action from the stock to allow the action to slide back in recoil, a bag rest is the best way to hold the rifle.

JSB Exact RS

The FWB 300S has put five JSB Exact RS pellets into a 0.111-inch group at 10 meters in the past (Feb 24, 2012). I thought the rifle was still sighted for this pellet and it was. Now, on any given day old BB will be a little better or a little worse, so the first thing I did was shoot a group of five RS pellets off a rest at 10 meters. When the first pellet cut the 10-ring I stopped looking and shot the remaining four. Man — can that 300S shoot! The only thing I don’t like is the rear sight coming back into my eye, but I wear glasses to protect myself.

This time I put five RS pellets into 0.137-inches at 10 meters. That’s larger than back in 2012, but in the same ballpark. That would serve as my baseline.

FWB RS group
The FWB 300S put five JSB Exact RS pellets into as 0.137-inch group at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Next I loaded an S-Target Match pellet into the FWB and touched it off. I was pleased to see the pellet was not just a 10, but a pinwheel (the pellet hole was centered almost perfectly inside the 9-ring, obliterating the 10-dot completely)! Then I shot the next 4 rounds without looking. At the end I had 5 shots in a hole that measures 0.172-inches between centers at 10 meters. Given the small head size of this pellet, that is excellent performance. If I had a pellet rifle that liked the smaller head sizes this S-Target-Match might do much better. Perhaps I do have something, but I will get to it later.

FWB Norma Target group
The FWB 300S put five Norma S-Target Match pellets into a 0.172-inch group at 10 meters.

Beeman R8 Tyrolean

The other hyper-accurate .177 rifle I own is my Beeman R8 Tyrolean that was a gift when I got out of the hospital in 2010. That one is so accurate that I don’t ever remove the Burris Timberline 4.5-14X32 scope that’s on it. I just shoot it.

R8 Tyrolean
Beeman R8 Tyrolean.

JSB Exact RS

This rifle likes JSB Exact RS pellet, as well, which is another reason I chose it for today’s test. In the past I have put five shots from this rifle and pellet into 0.22-inches at 25 yards — not 10 meters. Today I shot at 10 meters and five went into 0.21-inches between centers. That’s a very nice group, even though it is only 10 meters.

R8 RS
The R8 put five JSB RS pellets in 0.21-inches at 10 meters.

Norma S-Target Match

Now for the Norma S-Target Match pellet. Five went into 0.25-inches exactly. Given the smaller head I think that’s pretty darn good.

R8 Norma
Five Norma S-Target Match pellets went into 0.25-inches at 10 meters.

Another test?

I do own an FWB P44 pistol whose test target group measures 0.018-inches between centers — the smallest test target I have ever seen. I was never able to get groups smaller than 0.242-inches at 10 meters, and that was with Vogel pellets that have 4.50mm heads. So that pistol might be the ideal testbed for this S-Target Match pellet. I’m thinking of testing this pellet again in that pistol, and I would sort my pellet heads for the test.

Summary

That’s a quick look at what promises to be a great new line of lead pellets. Like I mentioned, you will be seeing more of them in the future.


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Three groups
  • Taped the targets
  • Hand-held
  • Follow-through
  • Glasses
  • First group — H&N Finale Match Light
  • Group two — RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • A secret
  • Head sizes and groups
  • Group three — Vogle Match pellets
  • Velocity?
  • Why?
  • Another accuracy test

Today we revisit the Diana 75/Beeman 400 for a very special reason. You readers thought the rifle didn’t perform up to expectations last time in the accuracy test, and neither did I. So I took every one of your recommendations and applied them today.

Three groups

I only have three 5-shot groups to show you from today’s test. I shot them with the two pellets that did the best in the last test, plus one pellet that I thought might be on the fence. I shot from 10 meters and I’ll tell you the rest as we go. Much of what I will say in this report is for me, for the next time I shoot this rifle.

Taped the targets

To keep the targets from tearing I put tape on their backs. I used aluminum foil tape like Hank recommended on some of the bulls and a white form of duct tape on the rest. The aluminum tape tore the target paper around the edges of each hole and was not as clean as the white duct tape, so next time the white tape is what I’ll use. Just cover the back of each bull and that’s it.

Hand-held

Someone, I don’t know who, recommended holding the rifle tight to the shoulder. He said the Giss contra-recoil system does not like to be rested directly on a bag. Maybe that was a comment to the Diana 10/Beeman 900 pistol that I tested awhile back. Either way, today I rested the forearm on the flat palm of my off hand that was resting on the sandbag. I did not grip the forearm with my fingers. I also pulled the butt firmly into my shoulder and my right hand gripped the pistol grip of the stock firmly.

Follow-through

Another person said my groups last time looked like I wasn’t following through. I had to agree with him. I made a concerted effort to follow through on every shot this time.

Glasses

Instead of the 1.25-diopter reading glasses that I would normally use, I wore my regular glasses today. My vision is 20-25, corrected to 20-20 by my glasses. The front sight diopter was clear and I was able to center the bull precisely.

Okay, that’s a lot of stuff done differently than last time. Last time the rifle was rested directly on the sandbag, the targets were not taped, I wore the reading glasses and I held the rifle in a classic artillery hold. I also agreed that I was probably not following through on every shot last time. So all the important stuff was changed today to conform to the comments made by you readers.

First group — H&N Finale Match Light

In the last test I thought that H&N Finale Match Light pellets did the best. When I measured the groups I discovered that a different pellet beat them, but I still had a very good feeling about this pellet. The best group with Finale Match Light last time was five in 0.186-inches between centers.

Today I put five Finale Match Light pellets into 0.14-inches between centers. That is a gold dollar group, because it’s smaller than 0.15-inches between centers. It’s also the best group of the day — or at least the best group that I will show you.

Finale light group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets into a 0.14-inch group at 10 meters.

This group was high, so I adjusted the rear sight down 9 clicks. I can’t hear the clicks when I adjust, but the numbers on the scale tell me what I am doing.

Group two — RWS R10 Match Pistol

The next pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match Pistol wadcutter. In the last test this pellet did the best, putting five into 0.162-inches at 10 meters. This time it didn’t group as tight, with five in 0.198-inches, but that’s still good enough for the silver trime (groups that are less than 0.20-inches between centers).

R10 Pistol group
The Diana 75 put five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets into a group that measures 0.198-inches between centers at 10 meters.

A secret

And now I’ll tell you a secret. I didn’t shoot just three groups this time. I shot four! The first group of R10 pellets that I haven’t shown measured a tight 0.121-inches between centers — BUT, there is also a lone shot that hit about a half-inch to the left of the group. I believe on the last target that I am about to show you I might have fired one of the five shots at the wrong bull and it was the flier I just mentioned with this first R10 group. I believe that, but I’m not sure. 

I looked at the small R10 group through the spotting scope after completing it and I didn’t see a hole off to its left, but when I collected the target there it was. And, on the next group you are about to see, I can only see what appear to be four holes. Also, the wild shot on the R10 bull would have grouped with the rest of these other pellets, had it been shot at the correct bull.

I’m not showing you that smaller R10 group because I don’t know for sure what happened. But I saw the small group clearly through the scope and I believe I would have also seen the stray hole if it had been there. Hey, guys — this is what happens in the real-world!

Head sizes and groups

Jerry Cupples and I had talked for a long time the day before about Pelletgage and I had pellet head sizes on my mind. I just bought 6,500 Vogel target pellets that came in a bulk pack. They can be any head size and I suspected this Diana 75 likes the larger sizes. So I checked the head sizes of both the Finale Match Light pellets and the R10 Match Pistol pellets. I didn’t sort them by head size — I only wanted to know what their general head sizes were in the tin, since they were the two most accurate pellets in this rifle.

Finale Match Light pellets had head sizes that ranged from 4.525 to 4.53mm and R10 Match Pistol pellet heads ranged from 4.515 to 4.525mm. I’m using a special Pelletgage that Jerry produced that goes down to the thousandth of a millimeter.

Then I hand-sorted 11 Vogle pellets with head sizes greater than 4.53mm. I know that is a larger head size than the other two pellets, but at the time I thought bigger was better in this rifle.

Group three — Vogle Match pellets

This group, which may only be 4 shots (it was backed by aluminum tape), measures 0.547-inches between centers at 10 meters. Clearly, and in comparison with the other two (or possibly three) groups, the Vogle is not the right pellet for the Diana 75 — at least not Vogels with heads larger than 4.53mm!

Vogel group
Either four or five Vogle pellets made this 0.547-inch group at 10 meters. I think the Diana 75 does not like pellets with a head size larger than 4.53mm, and it may not like Vogel pellets altogether.

Velocity?

Now I will address something several readers mentioned after they read the velocity test in Part Two. They wondered whether the new piston seal that Dave Slade installed in the rifle a few years ago was still breaking in. You may remember that the former owner of the rifle sold it to me knowing that the velocity was slow. Those readers who commented wondered whether the rifle might speed up as that new seal was used.

Well, between Parts 3 and today I have shot the rifle another 60 times since the velocity test was done. If there is some break-in happening we should start seeing it by now, I think. So I shot another string of 10 RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets for velocity. 

The average for this pellet in Part 2 was 534 f.p.s. The low was 526 and the high was 543 f.p.s., so the spread was 17 f.p.s.

Today I oiled the piston seal with two drops of silicone chamber oil, then fired 9 shots to settle down the powerplant. When oil stopped spraying out on every shot, I started the chronograph. The average today was 545 f.p.s and the spread went from a low of 539 to a high of 551 f.p.s. — a difference of 12 f.p.s. After 60 shots since the last velocity test the average velocity for this pellet is up by 11 f.p.s. and the spread is down by 5 f.p.s. It’s a small difference but it does appear that the new piston seal could be breaking in. I plan to watch the velocity of this rifle over time and see how it develops.

Why?

Why did I run this extra accuracy and velocity test? I did it because in the future I want to pit this rifle against my FWB 300S that is the most accurate 10-meter rifle I own. I learned a lot today, and I have explained all of it to you in this report.

This rifle came to me with a test target group that measures 0.065-inches between centers. As far as I’m concerned, we have not yet seen performance of that level from this rifle. That means one of two things, or both. Either I haven’t yet found the right pellet for the rifle, or I haven’t yet found the right head size. I think the ideal head size for this rifle is around 4.52mm. Based on the smallest group of R10 pellets that I didn’t show you, the group that might measure 0.121-inches between centers if I’m right about the flier, the R10 may be the best pellet and 4.52mm may be the correct head size.

Diana-75-test-target
The test target that came with the Diana 75 is serial-numbered to the rifle. A group of five pellets are in 0.065-inches at 10 meters.

Another accuracy test

I see another accuracy test is in store for this rifle. I want it to do its very best when it faces my FWB 300S, because that rifle certainly will be doing the same.


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The sights
  • No clear inserts
  • The test
  • Sight in
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Vogel Match
  • Discussion
  • H&N Finale Match Heavy
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • RWS R10 Match Heavy
  • Something more
  • Discussion 2
  • Summary

Today we start testing the accuracy of the Diana 75/Beeman 400 target air rifle.

The sights

I first had to mount the rear sight and change the front sight post insert for an aperture. The Diana rear sight is straightforward, except this one has adjustment directions in English rather than German.  You simply adjust the knob in the direction you want the pellet to move. Simple! I had the rear sight on the rifle, positioned and clamped tight in about 15 seconds. But the front sight…!

Diana 75 rear sight
The Diana 75 rear sight is conventional except the adjustment markings are English and not German.

The front sight, on the other hand, is a real piece of work! I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning, just before I shot the rifle. I knew I needed to switch inserts because it had a tapered post and I wanted an aperture. Wayne Johnson who sold me the rifle sent all the sight inserts in a small jar, along with some other stuff that I need time to research.

Diana 75 front sight
There’s a whole lotta magic inside this Diana 75 front sight.

Diana 75 sight inserts
The conventional sight inserts.

Diana 75 sight stuff
… and there was also this stuff. I think it’s an adjustable front sight aperture, but I need time to research it. The red tube appears to be a wrench for the sight.

No clear inserts

I had hoped to install a clear plastic front sight aperture today, but the ones I have don’t fit. At least I wasn’t able to get them to fit. So I used a 3.5mm steel aperture insert from the ones shown above. It works well so far.

The test

Today I’m just getting used to this new target rifle and finding out what sort of pellets it likes. I shot from a rest at 10 meters with the rifle rested directly on a sandbag. I shot 5 shots per group. 

Sight-in

There was no sight-in! Perhaps for the second time in more than a half century of shooting, the sights were on target from the get-go. That’s odd because I store this rifle in a case with the rear sight removed and today I also swapped the front sight insert. I felt lucky to just be on paper at 10 meters, and never expected to hit in the bull I aimed at! The pellet was not perfectly centered but since I’m testing a lot of different pellets I left the sights set where they were.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

I chose RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets to sight in for no particular reason. When the first pellet landed in the black I decided to just finish the first group. Unfortunately it isn’t very small. Five pellets made a group that measures 0.526-inches between centers. Ugh!

Diana 75 Meisterkugeln group
The Diana 75 put 5 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets in 0.526-inches at 10 meters. It is the largest group of the test. This group isn’t as big as it looks because there was some tearing of the target paper.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The second pellet I tested was the RWS R10 Match Pistol wadcutter. Five of them went into 0.162-inches at 10 meters.

Diana 75 R10 Pistol group
That’s the stuff! Five R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 0.162-inches at 10 meters.

When I shot this group I wasn’t aware how small it is because of some paper tearing. This is the smallest group of today’s test.

Vogel Match

This was the pellet I hoped would do best because I just ordered 5,000 of them on a bulk buy at a fabulous low price. They come in different head sizes and the ones I tested today are nominally 4.50mm. But, yucky-poo, they grouped in 0.403-inches between centers! And paper tearing makes the group look larger than it is. These pellets weigh 8.3-grains nominally.

Diana 75 Vogel group
Five Vogel pellets with 4.50mm heads made two groups that measure 0.403-inches between centers.

Discussion

Okay — I’m startin’ to figure this out. The heavy pellets are moving so slow that they are tearing the paper. I probably need to visit Neal Stepp to get this rifle put right again. And heavy pellets aren’t as accurate as the light ones.

Also I want to report that the 75 doesn’t come back at me when it fires, so I can put the rubber eye shield against my glasses for every shot. That’s a reminder to myself for next time. Let’s shoot some more.

H&N Finale Match Heavy

The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Heavy wadcutter. I still didn’t know about the rifle’s aversion to heavy pellets.  Five of these made a group that measures 0.259-inches between centers. That’s not too bad except the Diana 75 is a target rifle that should put them into a group of half that size.

Diana 75 Finale Heavy group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Heavy pellets in 0.259-inches at 10 meters.

H&N Finale Match Light

The next pellet I tested was the H&N Finale Match Light. Given how well the Heavys did I expected this pellet to do well and it did. After I saw the group I thought this was the smallest group of the test, though after measuring I discovered it wasn’t. Five pellets are in 0.186-inches at 10 meters. Another trime!

Diana 75 Finale Light group
The Diana 75 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets in 0.186-inches at 10 meters. It’s good enough for another trime!

RWS R10 Match Heavy

Next up were five RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets. Care to guess how they did? Given what we now know it was no surprise that five of them went into a group that measures 0.329-inches between centers.

Diana 75 R10 Heavy group
Five R10 Heavy pellets made this 0.329-inch group at 10 meters.

Something more

At this point I had not measured the groups and I thought that the H&N Finale Match Light pellets were the most accurate. So I adjusted the rear sight for them. When I did I discovered that I can’t hear or feel the clicks on this target sight, so I have to watch the numbers on the knobs. It’s the only way to know that you’ve made an adjustment. Based on where the first group landed I moved the rear sight up and to the right.

The second group I shot with the H&N  Finale Match Light pellets measures 0.351-inches between centers. I had hoped to do a lot better than that, so maybe I was starting to get tired. The group was higher than the last but still needed to go right.

Diana 75 Finale Light group2
The second group of Finale Light pellets measures 0.351-inches between centers.

I adjusted the sight a little more to the right for the next group. It already seemed high enough.

For the third and final group of Finale Match Light pellets I pulled out all the stops and concentrated as hard as I could. This time five pellets made a 0.272-inch group. It’s very horizontal and I realized I had come to the end of my test for this day.

Diana 75 Finale Light group3
The final group of Finale Match Light pellets is five in 0.272-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion 2

Well I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. Certainly at this point my FWB 300S is more accurate in my hands than this Diana 75. But the Diana is more pleasant to shoot because the action doesn’t move when it fires. It doesn’t come back into my glasses.

At this juncture I am pondering what comes next. Do I continue to shoot this rifle, try different pellets and see if I can do better, or do I get it back to speed, so to speak? I think most of you will want me to get it looked at.

It probably isn’t fair to put it up against my FWB when it’s not performing as it should. The FWB 300S has already shot several groups smaller than one-tenth-inch and it gets an average 658 f.p.s. with the R10 Pistol pellet, where this Diana only gets an average 543 f.p.s. at the present.

Summary

I still need to learn about that strange front sight setup that appears to be an adjustable-diameter aperture. I kinda want to hang onto the rifle long enough to write that up.

But not to worry — you’re going to see this Diana 75/Beeman 400 many more times in the future!


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade
Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Recoil
  • Velocity test
  • R10 Pistol
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • JSB Match Diabolo
  • Discharge noise
  • Discussion
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

We will take a second look at the Diana model 75 sidelever recoilless target rifle that we have learned was sold as a Beeman model 400. You saw the sales receipt in Part 1 that clearly identifies this as a Beeman 400.

Today we will look at a few more things on the rifle and we will test the velocity. As many of you covet one of these old target rifles of the past, this should be an interesting report.

Recoil

The first thing I will address is recoil, or in the case of this rifle, the lack of it. The Diana 75 was made at a time when a recoilless spring-piston air rifle was the height of technology. There were several ways to do it.

Feinwerkbau used a system of thin steel rails inlet into the stock of their 300-series target rifles that allowed the big heavy barreled action to slide one way when the pellet shot out the other. As long as the rifle is held fairly level this system works well, and a target shooter is always going to hold the rifle fairly level. The only thing the shooter feels is the rubber eye cup coming back into his shooting glasses, as the entire barreled action moves rearward by a fraction of an inch.

Anschütz used an oil-filled damping mechanism in their model 250 target rifle to counter the forward movement of the piston. It was subject to leaks and the most problematic of all the anti-recoil systems.

Weihrauch used a combination of weight and stock configuration, plus a smooth tune to counter recoil in their HW55 Custom Match that was the high-water mark of their spring-piston target rifles. The rifle weighs two pounds less than an FWB 300S, but a hollow forearm allows for the insertion of more than two pounds of lead weight.

An HW 55 won the gold medal at the European Championship in 1969. Like the proverbial tale of the last buggy-whip maker that made the finest buggy whips ever created, the HW 55 CM was the finest spring-piston 10-meter target air rifle Weihrauch ever produced. When the Custom Match hit the market in the 1970s, it came just after the summit of success. Little did they know at that time that there would be no more major championships for recoiling air rifles of any make. It was similar to the last gasp of the Offenhauser front-engine Indy cars when Ford got into Indy racing in 1963.

The HW55 CM was not a true recoilless spring-piston rifle, though when weighted and tuned correctly it came close. It reminded me very much of another recoiling target rifle that was nearly recoilless — the FWB 110! Instead of giving you a paragraph on that one I have linked to a special two-part report of the rarest airgun I have ever tested. That report says all I know about that rifle.

And I cannot overlook the Walther LGV. Like the HW55 CM, it is another recoiling target rifle that uses weight and a fine tune to cancel as much as possible. It also has a hollow forearm that allows the insertion of lead, and the ones I have examined have all had the lead poured in in its molten state so that all the space was taken.

And now the Diana 75. It has a Giss double counter-recoiling piston in which the rear piston cancels the movement of the front piston that has the seal to compress the air. John Whiscombe used a variation of this system where both pistons come together like the clapping of hands and instead of 6 foot-pounds that we see in target rifles they can generate as much as 30+ foot-pounds!

When an airgun with a Giss system like this Diana 75 fires there is no movement. All that is felt is a slight impulse through the stock or through the grips if it’s a pistol. This means that the target shooter can press his eye firmly against the rubber eyecup on the rear sight and feel nothing. Compared to the FWB 300 sight  that comes back at you, I like this one better.

Velocity test

Remember that Wayne Johnson who sold me the rifle had chronographed it before listing it on Gun Broker and found it was shooting slow.  It had been tuned by Dave Slade several years earlier and Wayne didn’t chronograph it when he got it back. He mentioned that fact prominently in his Gun Broker listing which is probably why no one had bid when I contacted him. When I approached him I acknowledged that I understood it was shooting slow, and he was happy to make a deal with me. So, I’m expecting the rifle to be a bit slow today.

R10 Pistol

The first pellet I’ll test is the 7-grain RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. Ten of them average 534 f.p.s. The low was 526 and the high was 543, so the spread was 17 f.p.s. That is a high spread and the velocity is slow for a Diana 75 with a 7-grain pellet, but it’s fast enough for an accuracy test. I don’t know if I will have the gun checked out or not yet. It depends on what I see with accuracy. I’m thinking I will leave it alone.

H&N Finale Match Light

The next pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain H&N Finale Match Light. Ten of them averaged 505 f.p.s. The low was 494 and the high was 509 f.p.s., so the spread for this pellet was 15 f.p.s.

JSB Match Diabolo

The last pellet I tested was the 8.3-grain JSB S100 Match Diabolo target pellet. Being the heaviest they were expected to shoot the slowest, which they did. Ten averaged 500 f.p.s. the spread went from a low of 489 to a high of 506 — a difference of 17 f.p.s.

Discharge noise

The 75 is quiet, like you would expect. There is no silencer, but the low power and long barrel play their part. Discharge sound recorded at 92.5 decibels.

Diana 75 discharge

Discussion

This Diana 75 is a little slow and the spread is higher than I would like to see. But at 10 meters that probably won’t mean very much. You saw the 5-shot test target thast came with the rifle in Part One. That group measures 0.065-inches between centers. I doubt I can do as well, but let’s see what I can do. I plan to shoot a lot of different pellets in the accuracy test because this rifle is going in my estate!

Cocking effort

The sidelever cocks the rifle with 15 lbs. of effort as it retracts the sliding compression chamber, pushing back the piston. There is a fine ratchet in the cocking linkage, so if you let go of the sidelever it will stop instantly wherever it is. It will not return to the closed position until the rifle is cocked.

When the sliding compression chamber is all the way open you can see the blue seal that mates with the rear of the barrel. This material is what Diana now uses for their piston seals and some breech seals and it should be a lifetime material.

Diana 75 breech
This is the Diana 75 breech seal. I know it looks pink or magenta or some other color that doesn’t really exist, but it’s blue. Photoshop fought with me a long time with this! Remember — old BB is red/green colorblind! At any rate, it isn’t light brown and crumbling because Dave Slade replaced it.

Trigger pull

The two-stage trigger is set for a 3-ounce pull on stage one and it breaks at 7 ounces. It is as light as I want it to be.

Summary

In short, I like this Diana 75/Beeman 400 a lot! I believe I promised a shootout between this rifle and my FWB 300S that is currently the accuracy leaders at Casa Pelletier. If I didn’t I’m doing it now. The Feinwerkbau is extremely accurate, having put five pellets into a 0.078-inch group at 10 meters, so this rifle has some stiff competition ahead.


Diana 75/Beeman 400 recoilless target air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Refresh your memory
  • Wayne Johnson
  • The Diana 75/Beeman 400
  • Right-hand bias
  • History of the Diana 75
  • Giss contra-recoil mechanism
  • Sights
  • The wood
  • The metal
  • Summary

Today we begin our look at the Beeman 400 sidelever recoilless target air rifle that is really a Diana 75. I linked to the Making lemonade report because of the piston seals. That should be an issue I no longer need to explain.

Refresh your memory

This air rifle is the one I saw on Gun Broker and contacted Wayne Johnson, the seller, directly. I offered what I felt was a good price, plus the shipping he requested. I had never done that before and I was called a name for doing it, but I felt this was a special airgun and Wayne was a special owner. Here is exactly what I said to him on my first contact.

Diana 75 contact remarks

Wayne Johnson

Wayne and I hit it off right away. I would normally never publish the full name of anyone in this blog, unless that person was a personality or they were out there for some other reason. Wayne is the author of The FN49, The Last Elegant Old-World Military Rifle, expanded second edition, copyright 2019 by Wayne Johnson, published by Wet Dog Publications.

Diana 75 book
Wayne’s book is an excellent treatise on the development, production and oddities of the FN49 battle rifle.

I bought his book because the FN49 is a military rifle I always wanted to know more about. Now I do, thanks to Wayne.

Wayne is the kind of person you want to buy something from. From his listing I could tell that he is scrupulously honest, because on Gun Broker he listed every fault the rifle had — not that there were many! And, after he accepted my offer we conversed a little about his airgun.

Hi Tom,
I don’t think I need the proof of age – I imagine you are over 18 !

Yeah – I am pretty much a straight arrow on the auction stuff and no, I’m not insulted by the direct approach. After I had the gun serviced by David Slade I should have chronographed it to see what it did with the new seals. I was VERY disappointed when I test fired it yesterday and realized that it was shooting slow so I wanted to make sure that I pointed that out in the auction.  Anyway, as I mentioned before, I made this exception on cancelling the auction since I know it’s going to the right place. I did have 45 views on that auction in the first 12 hours along with 4 watchers so no telling where the auction might have gone but regardless, I like where the rifle is going.

I’ve attached to this email a scan of the original receipt that shows the purchase price from Beeman – I don’t know what info you include in your air gun write-ups but that may be of interest to some readers. I’ll include in the papers for the gun my original chrono data from 1984, when the gun was two years old (with 1500-1600 pellets fired) that shows it averaged 605 fps on two different range sessions.

If you think of it, after you complete and post your review of this rifle perhaps you could send me a link to that article.

Best,
Wayne

First off, know that I emailed Wayne the link to this blog. This is something I have been wanting to do ever since I got the rifle.

I want today to be about the Diana 75 target rifle in general, but I will weave in things that are special about this particular rifle as I go. Just getting ready to take pictures last Thursday I discovered an “Easter Egg” gift that Wayne had packed under the foam of the hard case he sent the rifle in. It was an unopened tin of Beeman Silver Bear hollowpoint pellets that the note said were about 35 years old. Well, they will still be unopened at my estate sale, so watch for them!

The Diana 75/Beeman 400

Although this rifle was sold to Wayne as a Beeman 400, it is a Diana 75. We sometimes see the name RWS attached to Diana airguns in the U.S., but that is an importation thing. Diana makes the guns. Both Robert Beeman of Beeman Precision Airguns and the late Robert Law of Air Rifle Headquarters thought enough of the 75 to sell it. But Beeman did change at least the name he called it in his catalog, if not the actual markings on the airgun.

Diana-75-receipt

Diana-75-logo
There are no Beeman markings on the rifle.

Diana-75-parts
Beeman literature like this parts list, plus the purchase receipt, is the only way to tie the rifle to Beeman as a 400.

The 75 has a long production life, though it changed and evolved as time passed. The basic 75, which I believe this rifle to be, was produced from 1977 to 1983. Mine was made in March of 1981, according to the date code stamped into the spring tube. Other versions of the rifle lasted until the 1990s.

Diana 75 date code
This 75 was made in March of 1981.

Right-hand bias

My rifle was made for a right-handed shooter. How can I tell? Look at the buttstock and see if you can tell.

Diana-75- butt
Whaddaya think? Made for a righty?

As the years passed, manufactures would move to more adjustable stocks so they weren’t locked into right- or left-handed shooters. But the 75 was made at a time before such things were considered.

By the way, Diana did offer the rifle with left-hand stocks and the Blue Book of Airguns says to SUBTRACT 10 percent for one! That’s odd, because everyone else adds a small percentage for a southpaw stock. Gotta change that in the book next time. I already wrote a note in my bench copy of the Blue Book.

History of the Diana 75

The Diana 75 lies at the end of a long line of recoilless Diana target air rifles that began with the Diana model 60 in 1960. The 60 was a pretty basic breakbarrel target rifle which was okay for a few years, as its competitors were also breakbarrel — like the Weihrauch HW 55 and the Walther LG 55. But when rifles like the sidelever FWB model 110 came out and then quickly morphed into the recoilless model 150, shooters started wondering whether fixed barrels were somehow more potentially accurate since their barrels never moved. That’s a hard argument to ignore and the world moved on, though Diana did bring out two more refined breakbarrel target rifles — the 65 and the 66.

Editor’s note: I cannot locate Part 3, the accuracy test for the FWB 150. I’m pretty sure I did it, but with all the WordPress changes over the years it’s gotten misplaced.

When the 75 came out it represented the high-water mark for Diana spring-piston air rifles. It was a Diana 66 with a fixed barrel and a sidelever for cocking. It was fully capable of competing against the finest FWB 300S, which it did for several years before CO2 and finally PCP rifles pushed springers off the world stage completely.

The test rifle came with its original manual that includes a Diana test target in which five pellets have grouped in 0.065-inches at 10 meters. That will give my most-accurate FWB 300S a run for the money!

Diana-75-test-target
The test target that came with the Diana 75 is serial-numbered to the rifle. A group of five pellets are in 0.065-inches at 10 meters.

Giss contra-recoil mechanism

Probably the best-known feature of the 75 is its Giss contra-recoil mechanism that renders it recoilless. As the real piston with its seal moves forward to compress the air, an equally-weighted false piston moves in the opposite direction. Both pistons stop at the same instant, cancelling all felt recoil. This system works surprising well, though it does pose a problem for airgunsmiths.

When replacing the piston seal, which you now know must be done at least once, the rear false piston must be timed perfectly if the contra-recoil is to be maintained. Timing can be a touchy task, and a shooter will notice immediately if it’s off. So, it must be done perfectly. Dave Slade replaced the piston seal in this rifle and I can tell you that he nailed it.

Sights

Naturally the 75 comes with a fine set of adjustable target sights, and I’ll give you a better look at them in future reports. The front sight has replaceable inserts that are early 1980s vintage, which is to say a solid post or aperture. This one came with a post installed and the rest of the inserts in a box. I will replace it with a clear aperture that allows for more precise aiming as well as not shooting at the wrong bull. More on the sights when we get to accuracy.

The wood

Back when this rifle was new manufacturers were using walnut for their stocks. This one has a nice bit of figure in the butt. The remainder of the stock is straight grain except for the vertical pistol grip. It also has some figure which means the grain isn’t straight there, either. That’s desirable, because a 10-meter target rifle stock is very prone to break at the wrist where the wood is thinnest and also straight grain. Feinwerkbau even put vertical wooden posts into their grips on later rifles to strengthen this sensitive area.

The metal

I hope the pictures show a little of the deep polish and bluing on the metal parts. I had to lighten them to show details in things like the logo and the date code, so you don’t get the full appearance of the miles-deep polish. Only the barrel is intentionally matte, and that is to cut down reflections when sighting.

Summary

That’s your first look at this fine old target rifle. Wayne entrusted it to me to care for and that’s an obligation I both respect and intend honoring. Stay tuned for lots more fun.


El Gamo David breakbarrel air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

El Gamo David
The El Gamo David is a lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s or’ 70s.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Meister 10-shots
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the El Gamo David breakbarrel. This little rifle seems to have captured a lot of people’s hearts for some reason. Let’s see if he can do the job.

The test

There is a lot to tell in this section. I shot at 10 meters off a sandbag rest. I discovered in Part 3 that the David likes his pellets seated deep, so that’s what I did today. I used a ballpoint pen to seat every pellet in this test.

I didn’t know whether an artillery hold was best or if I should just rest the rifle directly on the bag. So I devised a way to find out. I’ll talk about it in a minute.

I shot 10-shot groups, except for my first two tests. Let’s get started!

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

This is the test I thought up to see which method of holding was best. Before shooting the groups of 10, I shot five pellets with the rifle rested directly on the bag and another five holding it with the artillery hold. The first pellet I shot was the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle. The very first shot hit the paper to the right of the bullseye, at 4 o’clock. So I adjusted the rear sight to the left. It only went a short distance, but it’s now as far to the left as it will go.

Then I shot a group of five pellets. Regardless of where they land, they are as far to the left as I can make them. When I looked at the group through the spotting scope I was amazed to see a one-hole group. Later, when I measured it, the distance between the centers of the five pellets is 0.166-inches! That is worthy of a trime!

Meister Rifle rested group
The first shot hit low and to the right. After adjusting the rear sight as far as it would go to the left I put 5 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into a 0.166-inch group at ten meters.

Now it was time to see what the artillery hold would do. However, since the David is so light it is very hard to shoot it with a good artillery hold. The trigger pull is heavier than the rifle!

With the best artillery hold I could muster the David put another 5 Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into a 0.637-inch group at 10 meters. This is actually a 6-shot group, as the 5 shots looked like just 4 through the spotting scope, so I shot a 6th pellet. And it went into the same hole the 5th shot went into. The David wants to shoot!

Meister Rifle artillery hold
The David put 6 Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into 0.637-inches with shots 5 and six going through the same hole as another pellet.

Obviously the David prefers to be rested on a bag as it shoots, so that’s the way I shot it for the rest of today’s test.

Meister 10-shots

Now that the question of the right hold was answered I decided to shoot 10-shots groups for the remainder of the test. I began with the same Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutters I had been shooting. Unfortunately the sun picked that time to shine brightly through the window into my eyes and it probably distracted me. Ten Meisters went into 0.85-inches at 10 meters.

Meister Rifle 10-shot group
The David put 10 Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into this 0.85-inch group at 10 meters.

Notice that this group is not only big, it is also in a different place than the first two groups! It’s much higher on the target. I also have to note that the David jolts when firing this pellet.

Air Arms Falcons

The next pellet I shot was the 7.33-grain Air Arms Falcon dome. If you recall, this pellet shot very smoothly in the David in Part 3.  I expected it to do well in this test, and, as far as accuracy goes, it did. Ten Falcon domes went into 0.567-inches at 10 meters. Now, that’s a group I can live with!

Falcon group
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets made this 0.567-inch group at 10 meters.

I expected Falcons to shoot smoothly, but they didn’t. They jolted just like the Meisters. Today I was shooting the rifle off a bag rest, where in the velocity test I was holding it in my hands.

The sun was no longer shining in my eyes when this group was fired. And I note that the center of the group is to the left of center in the bull, so the rear sight can be adjusted back a little. This is a good pellet for the David, as is the Meisterkugeln Rifle, I think.

H&N Finale Match Light

The last pellet I tested this day was the H&N Finale Match Light wadcutter. At 10 meters ten of them made a group that measures 0.804-inches between centers. The group looks okay except for the straggler pellet off to the right. The other nine pellets are in 0.648-inches. That’s still on the large side so I think I would stick with the first two pellets for the David.

Finale Light group
Ten H&N Finale Match Light pellets went into this 0.804-inch group at 10 meters.

Discussion

This test has taught me a couple things about the David. First, it’s very accurate. This is an air rifle that’s worth the time to make it shoot smooth and to lighten the trigger.

Next, the David wants its pellets seated deep. And it wants to be rested directly on a sandbag when it shoots.

Finally, as accurate as the David is, I don’t think the heavy trigger helps it. And the jolt it gives when firing is annoying, as well. The David could stand to be stripped and tuned.

Summary

We’re not done with the David. I want to pull it apart next and see if I can get it shooting smoother. That trigger also needs to be lighter. You may not see this rifle again for awhile, but I will come back to it.