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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.

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 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.


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


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.


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.

Grandpa guns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Things to consider first
  • Red Ryder
  • Start with open sights
  • Fun!
  • Other grandpa airguns
  • Crosman 760
  • Daisy 880
  • Daisy 35
  • Lawyer triggers
  • Breakbarrels
  • BB — what about CO2? What about a repeater?
  • Over to you

Today’s report will be near and dear to many of you. What airguns does a grandpa need, so when the grandkids come over he has something fun to do with them?

When I was a boy, both my grandfathers were so much older that they didn’t really play with me at all — at least not that I remember. But watching guys these days, I see a big difference. Grandpas are fun guys! Well, airguns are fun and every kid wants to shoot — the girls just as much as the boys. So, what airguns can grandpa have that will be fun for the grands when they come bye?

Things to consider first

Long guns are the best way to begin. They are safer because grandpa can watch the muzzle easier and stop the kids from making dangerous mistakes. 

Some kids want to keep their fingers on the trigger all the time. Grandpa has to discourage this by taking the gun from them and explaining how dangerous it is. Each kid is different and grandpa should know how far to trust each one.

Single shot rifles are the best way to start a kid. That way you can coax the “spray and pray” mentality out of them before it becomes ingrained. Video games often do just the opposite, rewarding the fast trigger finger, so you have to battle that. If the kids will listen to you, get them started talking about making good shots.

When I trained junior marksmen the key was to get the kids to focus on hitting the exact center of the bull, rather than just pulling the trigger and hoping the shot was somewhere in the black. Each kid is different and you have to learn right away whether they are listening to you or not. In marksmanship training we used to not let them touch the gun until they could explain a good sight picture and respond to basic safety commands such as “cease fire.”

Grandpa shouldn’t be a safety Nazi, but he should insist on safe gun-handling practices before allowing the shooting to continue. This is an important responsibility — especially when one or both parents are impulsive and careless. Do it right and the kids will soon be correcting the adults.

Red Ryder

If I don’t put the Red Ryder down I’ll hear from you readers. Yes it is a good gun to use with grandkids, but being a BB gun you need to take some extra safety precautions. A BB gun in this class is shot at very close range and those BBs have a way of bouncing back and hitting the shooter. So — eye protection for everyone in the vicinity.

The good thing about the Red Ryder is it’s lightweight and relatively easy to cock. It’s a repeater, so the little guys and gals won’t get frustrated too soon. Shoot at targets that react for the greatest enjoyment. Balloons are a lot of fun, and the common tin can is the number one target of choice, with the feral aluminum soda can being the current high-tech favorite. Plastic army men are another good choice to sharpen the eye!

I said it’s relatively easy to cock, because for a small kid cocking a Red Ryder can be a challenge. This is where Grandpa steps in and shows the youngster the right way and the safe way to cock the gun. It is also self-limiting. The youngster will tire more quickly if he or she does the work, which is as it should be.

Start with open sights

Unless the child has a serious vision problem that precludes it, start them with open sights. Don’t graduate to a scope until they are proficient with opens.

I will put in a plug for the Daisy 499B here. It is a wonderful training tool that teaches the use of non-optical sights and may bring out a young William Tell or Annie Oakley.

499 sight picture
The Daisy 499 is a natural to teach a proper sight picture.

499 target
Yes, there are 10 shots in this 5-meter target. When youngsters apply themselves they can learn to do this offhand with a 499B in a few years.


Okay, BB got away from today’s topic just a little. This is supposed to be about fun — not work! Sorry, but I have seen too many kids who had the potential to become great shooters after just a few hours of instruction! But we’re interested in grandpa-fun today.

Other grandpa airguns

I’m not listing these in any order of preference. But I will mention the benefits of each gun as we go.

Crosman 760

Crosman 760https://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Crosman_760_Pumpmaster/339

Crosman 760 Pumpmaster.

The Crosman 760 is a single-shot multi-pump gun that shoots either pellets or BBs. When it shoots BBs it is a repeater. For pellets it’s a single-shot.

This airgun is a smoothbore, so the accuracy isn’t going to be good at long range. I did get one good group of H&N Finale Match Light pellets, but I’m betting grandpa isn’t going to spring for pellets that cost $17 a tin. I did find the 760 accurate with RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets, as well, but the price is the same. It did okay with Hobbys, too, so either start with them or with Crosman wadcutters.

The 760 also did its best with H&N Smart Shot lead BBs at 5 meters. That’s a blessing because Smart Shot BBs are lead and don’t bounce back like steel BBs.

The 760 is reasonably lightweight and it also pumps fairly easy, so it’s a great airgun for older kids. It’s not for the youngest ones, but when they start growing, this is one to consider.

Daisy 880

Okay, we have now heard from Pepsi — what about Coke? Daisy’s 880 is another fine gun for grandpa. It too shoots both BBs and pellets. With BBs it’s a repeater and with pellets, a single shot. I did even better at 10 meters with the 880, shooting Hobbys and some obsolete Daisy Superior Match Grade wadcutters. And the 880 is rifled!

Daisy 880
Daisy’s 880 has a rifled barrel!

I did test the 880 with BBs, and Daisy also sent the target they shot that showed 5 Daisy BBs in 0.65-inches at 5 meters. It’s no 499 but it’s pretty good! I put ten Daisy BBs into 0.624-inches at 5 meters. So, grandpa, the 880 is a great little gun for the kids.

Unlike the Crosman 760, the 880 has a rifled barrel. That’s why it’s a little more accurate 10 meters. It’s also lightweight and easy to pump. There are several related air rifles when you search on the 880. Many are kits that have additional items besides just the rifle. These kits come and go too fast for me to address, but at their heart is the 880 rifle.

Daisy 35

Daisy’s model 35 is another good grandpa gun. It’s a multi-pump that shoots both BBs and pellets. So, how does it differ from the 880. Well, the pump handle is a short stroke instead of the 880’s longer stroke. In other words, it’s more like the Crosman 760. It’s also a smoothbore that shoots both BBs (as a repeater) and pellets (as a single shot.

Daisy 35
Daisy 35.

The 35 I tested back in 2012 and ’13 did not-so-good with BBs and very good with pellets. I liked it so much that I ordered another one for another test in the near future.

Like all the airguns we’ve seen so far the Daisy 35 is lightweight and easy to pump. But is does have one drawback that all the other airguns I’ve mentioned share.

Lawyer triggers

For some reason airgun manufacturers cannot put out a youth airgun with a decent trigger. I think the reason is simple. These guns all compete on price. They sell them in the big discount stores where most people shop by price and not features. All these airguns have variations of direct sear triggers. Putting a killer trigger on a $35 air rifle would add $5 to the price and make 300 sales to informed customers, while loosing 30,000 sales to moms and dads who only look at the price tag. So the lawyers have their day and I have to agree with that logic. Unless there is a caring grandpa or grandma who is willing to spend the time to train little Bobby and Susie on the right steps of gun handling, give them their lawyer triggers!


Now let’s take a big step up to the next level of kids airguns. I’ll start with the Ruger Explorer. Many of you can tell that it is a less-expensive version of the Umarex Embark. Both are breakbarrel spring-piston air rifles that are reasonably lightweight and cock easily. They are well-suited to children that are old enough to hold them offhand and cock them while standing up. I’m not giving ages now because boys and girls develop at their own rates over time. I wrote a 5-part report on the Embark and got superior accuracy from it at 10 meters. I’m guessing the Ruger can do just as good. Gramps — this one will make you a hero!

The Ruger Explorer
The Ruger Explorer.

BB — what about CO2? What about a repeater?

Well, sure. Repeaters can be great fun and CO2 is an inexpensive way to get one. My pick in this category is the Crosman 1077. And, I see that Crosman has brought back something that we have been asking for for years — the 1077W with a wood stock!

Now, you can get a regular 1077 for $40 less than the one with the wood stock. You’ll still be a hero if you do. But the wood one is the one you personally will be proud to own.

Crosman 1077 walnut
The 1077 wood!

All right you tire-kickers! Off the couch and get online to buy that rifle you all said you wished Crosman would bring back. Because — here it is — the 1077 with a wood stock! Grandpa — what beautiful airguns you have!

There is one drawback for a 1077. It’s certainly light enough for anyone, but that trigger that operates both the clip advancement and the hammer cocking has a pull that’s too heavy for the little ones. After it breaks in with a few hundred shots it does become smoother and easier to pull, but at first the trigger pull is an obstacle for younger kids.

Over to you

Okay, Gramps, now you have your say. You know what works and what doesn’t. Tell the world!

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.


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.


There are no Beeman markings on the rifle.

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!

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.


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.


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.

Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield Armory M1A.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Artillery hold
  • Shimmed scope
  • The cheek rest works
  • What about a dot sight?
  • It worked!
  • Hobbys
  • Sight adjustment
  • Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets
  • Air Arms Field pellets
  • JSB Exact RS
  • The result?
  • The safety linkage
  • Final comments
  • Summary

Today we shoot the scoped Springfield Armory M1A and see how it does. If you read Part 5 you know that it wasn’t easy to scope this air rifle. I won’t go into all of that here, but read Part 5 for a refresher.

The test

I suspected the M1A would be accurate, well, actually I knew it is because of the test I did in Part 4 with the sights that came on it. But I conducted this test from 10 meters. I held the groups to 5 shots because of all the steps involved in cocking and loading the rifle. I’m not just talking about cocking with the underlever and then pushing down on the anti-beartrap mechanism to return the cocking lever. There was also the intermittent safety setting itself after the rifle fired, making it impossible to cock and load again, until the safety was pulled back off. And I had to watch the base screws that wanted to loosen as I went.

I had thought that getting to the anti-beartrap disconnect on the left, to push it down after the rifle was cocked would present a problem with the scope in the way, but the scope is mounted high enough that my hand can get under and hit the button. So no problem there.

Artillery hold

I shot with the artillery hold. My off hand started out next to the trigger guard, but eventually moved forward to the cocking slot, where the rifle seemed most accurate.

Shimmed scope

As you recall, I shimmed the scope before mounting it. Well, good thing I did because when I went to sight in the pellet struck the paper 4 inches too low and three inches to the right — at 12 feet! I adjusted the scope up a lot and also to the left which is good because adjusting to the left puts tension back into the erector tube spring that relaxed as the scope was adjusted up.

I checked the scope rings to be sure they were attached to the scope base correctly and they were. I checked the mounting of the scope base and it was also correct. I then adjusted the reticle as far up as it would go without relaxing the erector return spring. With this scope I can feel when that happens.

I was shooting .22-caliber RWS Hobby pellets as I adjusted the scope. Even with all the upward adjustment I had to hold 4 dots down on the vertical reticle to get onto the bull. But the scope I used is very clear, so that presented no problem. I would recommend using an adjustable scope mount if you’re going to scope the M1A because the shimming I did doesn’t come close to elevating the point of impact enough.

Once the Hobbys were hitting the target, I shot a group. Five Hobbys went into a vertical group measuring 0.72-inches at ten meters. I didn’t bother photographing that group for reasons that I hope will be clear in a moment.

Okay, Hobbys weren’t doing that well. What about the Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets that weigh 18 grains? Well, they hit the paper even lower and more to the right. In fact, several didn’t even hit the target trap at all, so I stopped the test. This was too hard. All the rigamarole I went through to mount the scope in Part 5 and now I learn that it doesn’t work!

The cheek rest works

The scope may not work but the leather cheek rest I attached sure does. I placed my chin on top of the pad and my eye was aligned with the scope. The other cheek rest that a reader suggested hasn’t arrived yet, but this one works fine.

But the scope I had mounted was too much trouble. I just didn’t trust it because I was missing the pellet trap at 10 meters!

What about a dot sight?

Someone suggested trying a dot sight on the M1A and I really didn’t want to give up at this point, so the scope came off and I tried mounting a UTG reflex micro red dot (though the one I have is a green dot). But I ran into a problem. The cross slots in the Air Venturi scope mount measure exactly 5mm wide, which is the specification for a Picatinny rail, but the UTG sight has a cross block that measures 5.08mm wide. It’s too wide to fit the base of the Air Venturi mount! I have had people tell me recently that a thousandth of an inch, or in this case a hundredth of a millimeter that is much smaller, makes no difference, but I’m telling you that 8 of them sitting next to each other sure do!

So I used a vintage Tasco ProPoint dot sight whose rings use the cross screw that tightens the jaws at the base as their mount block. They are  much narrower than 5mm. These rings are made to fit either Weaver bases whose cross slots are 3.5mm wide or the wider Picatinny bases.

These rings are also much lower than the ones I used for the scope, which means the ProPoint sat much lower on the M1A scope base. Even so, I could still reach the anti-beartrap button on the left side of the receiver with ease. I now reached over the red dot tube, instead of under the scope.

It worked!

And this time it worked. The sight was affixed solid on the mount and I kept an eye on the mount screws to ensure they were tight, too. The first test was five Hobbys.


Just as they did with the scope, RWS Hobbys landed in a vertical group that measured 0.603-inches between centers. There is a nice three-shot cloverleaf at the bottom of this group. This group is slightly smaller than the group I shot with the scope, so at 10 meters we don’t seem to be giving up anything by using a dot sight.

M1A Hobby group
With the dot sight the M1A put 5 RWS Hobbys into this vertical 0.603-inch group at 10 meters.

Sight adjustment

At this point I didn’t know where the M1A might shoot the remaining pellets, but I adjusted the dot several clicks to the left. Through blind luck I got it almost perfect.

Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets

Next up were some Air Arms Diabolo Field Heavy pellets. The M1A put five of them into 0.618-inches at 10 meters. They landed below the bullseye I was aiming at, but in line with its center, left to right.

M1A Air Arms Field Heavy
The M1A put five Air Arms Heavy domes into this 0.618-inch group at 10 meters.

I decided to leave the sight where it was adjusted because I didn’t know where the other pellets would hit. It’s still too low, but I won’t worry about that yet.

Air Arms Field pellets

Next up were five 16-grain Air Arms Field pellets. These landed in a group that measures 0.332-inches between centers. It shows the level of accuracy I was hoping to see in today’s test.

M1A Air Arms Field
Five Air Arms 16-grain domes went into this 0.332-inch group at 10 meters. It may appear smaller because the dome allows the target paper to fold back after it passes through. This is the smallest group of the test.

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. Five of them made a 0.38-inch group at 10 meters.

Five JSB Exact RS pellets grouped in 0.38-inches at 10 meters. It’s only a little larger than the Air Arms 16-grainers!

The result?

Today’s little test demonstrates that the M1A pellet rifle has good potential for accuracy. However, I don’t think it is a gun to scope. Shoot it like it comes and enjoy the gun the way it was designed.

The safety linkage

I promised reader Siraniko I would show the safety linkage. Well, you aren’t going to see very much! The safety lever reaches deep into the trigger mechanism and we are unable to see how it interacts to do its job when the trigger is together. And no, I am not taking this trigger apart!

M1A safety
The safety lever (to the left of the trigger) goes deep into the trigger assembly. The two thin pads on either side of it are just guides — they are not connected to the safety.

M1A safety front
Here we are at the front of the safety, looking deep inside. You can see the pin that the safety rotates on at the top of the trigger assembly. Without disassembly there’s nothing to be see with this safety.

Final comments

Taking the stock off exposed the two gears that move the forearm and loading port cover when the rifle is cocked. That was neat to see.

M1A gears
These gears move the upper hand guard and the loading port cover when the rifle is cocked.

The stock screws in the forearm both had blue Locktite on them from the factory. That tells me somebody cared about how this air rifle was built!

M1A screws
The forearm screws are Locktited.


The Springfield Armory M1A pellet rifle is well-made and is a very accurate replica pellet gun. I recommend not trying to mount a scope. Just use the peep sights the rifle comes with.

It has decent power and accuracy. It also doesn’t seem to be fussy about what pellets you shoot. That means all those oddball pellets in your collection can now be used.

Loading is difficult because of the small space provided. If you have large hands you will want to think about that.

This is a large airgun and not the type for all-day plinking. But if you fancy military battle rifles, this one could be for you!

Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield Armory M1A.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Reflection
  • No more RWS 34?
  • What is good power?
  • Air Arms 16-grain dome
  • Safety
  • JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
  • RWS Hobby 
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

I took some time introducing you to the .22-caliber Springfield Armory M1A underlever pellet rifle, so today is when we find out how powerful it is. Before we do that, though, I’d like to reflect on the rifle in general.


When someone asks me to recommend a good spring-piston air rifle, I default to the RWS 34. It has the power and the accuracy to do many things. Its trigger is good and its sights are, too. With a synthetic stock the 34 sells for right at $300. Although I don’t care for the shape of the synthetic stock, this is the least expensive spring piston air rifle I can recommend.

No more RWS 34?

Well — glory be! When I went to check out the 34 I discovered that it no longer exists! It’s now the 34 EMS or easy modular system. I have to test one to see how close it comes to the original 34. They are not in stock at the present time, so I will wait and watch like everyone else.

My point was going to be that the cheapest spring-piston rifle I could recommend is priced at $300. Today I am testing a spring-piston air rifle that retails for $200. Even if it was not a good replica, the performance features of the M1A alone might be enough on their own to recommend it. To get onto my list of goody-gumdrop air rifles it just needs to have two things — reasonable power and reasonable accuracy. Today we test the power.

What is good power?

I’m writing these words before sending the first pellet through the chronograph, so I know as much about the rifle as you know at this point. This is a .22-caliber pellet rifle, so I would like to see something in the 15-18 foot-pound region. The website says to expect velocities up to 800 f.p.s. but I have no idea what pellet was used to get that. Since 671 f.p.s. is the magic number (the velocity at which the weight of the pellet in grains equals its energy in foot-pounds), I would like to see the M1A put out a 16-grain Air Arms pellet at something around that speed. Let’s see!

Air Arms 16-grain dome

I’ll start with that pellet — the Air Arms dome that weighs 16 grains. The test M1A put that pellet out at an average 673 f.p.s. How’s that for a good guess?

The low was 657 and the high was 681 f.p.s., so the spread was 24 f.p.s. That’s about right for a new spring-piston rifle. At the average velocity this pellet produces 16.1 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.


I told you in Part 1 that the M1A safety is manual, and that’s what the manual says. On this first string, though, the safety went on after each shot. You can’t cock the rifle when it’s on safety, which is how I discovered it. Once I figured out what was happening I manually took the safety off before cocking for the next shot.

And here is the thing. If the safety was coming on when the rifle was cocked that would be one thing, but this is something different. The safety goes on when the rifle is fired. That’s not normal. I’ll keep an eye on it.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy

The second pellet I tested was the 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. These averaged 651 f.p.s. from the M1A. The low was 644 and the high was 654 f.p.s., so a spread of 10 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 17.07 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s a surprise because this is a heavier pellet, but the M1A seems to like it better. I did note that it fit the breech a little better. The first pellet was rather loose.

On this string the safety went on by itself when the rifle was fired just over half the time. That means the tendency is diminishing, making it a probable break-in thing.

RWS Hobby 

The last pellet I tested was the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. They averaged 786 f.p.s. with a low of 779 and a high of 793. That means the spread for the Hobby was 14 f.p.s.

At the average velocity the Hobby produced 16.22 foot-pounds. That’s also higher than the Air Arms dome. Hobbys fit the breech the tightest of all the pellets I tested.

I will point out that the Hobby almost hit the 800 f.p.s. mark that the rifle is rated for. I know with both time and use a spring-piston rifle almost always becomes faster, so the velocity rating appears to be right on.

On this string the number of times the safety set itself with the shot was exactly half. So it is still diminishing. I notice that when I take the safety off to cock for the next shot the trigger pops forward with a click. I think there is something holding the trigger in the pulled position and that’s what is setting the safety on its own. I believe it’s a break-in issue that will disappear with use.

Trigger pull

The trigger pull is still variable. Sometimes its lighter and other times heavier. The difference isn’t great, but I want to be on target before I touch the blade.

It seems like all the creep (and there isn’t much) is in the first stage. When the trigger stops moving the rifle is ready to fire. Stage one measures 3 lbs. 6 oz. and stage two breaks at 3 lbs. 15 oz. Like I said, get on the intended target before you touch the trigger blade.


Well, the M1A seems to be exactly where Pyramyd Air said it would be. And it’s right where I wanted it to be, for power. If it’s accurate too, I think we have a new budget-priced springer.

Now my suggestion to Pyramyd Air would be to see if you can turn these performance parameters into a breakbarrel, shed 3 pounds of weight, slim the stock, keep the good sights or give us sights that are just as good and hold the line on the retail price. That rifle wouldn’t compete with the M1A, but it would blow the doors off all other breakbarrel springers. I am amazed that all of these features can still go out the door for just $200!

I’ll keep an eye on the safety as the rifle breaks in. I fully expect it to revert to specified operation at some point.

Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Springfield Armory M1A.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Firing behavior
  • Loading
  • Sights
  • Sight history
  • Front sight
  • Cocking effort
  • Operating rod handle is for show
  • Scope base
  • Summary

There was lots of interest in the new Springfield Armory M1A rifle. It’s a nice-looking lookalike. It’s a decently powerful springer. It’s an underlever, and yes, there are folks who like that feature over all the others. It has other features that I’ll get into today, Like I said at the end of Part 1, velocity testing will have to wait for Part 3.

The trigger

The trigger is two-stage and not adjustable. There are no screws in sight when you peer deep inside. Stage one on the rifle I’m testing is heavy and a bit creepy. Stage two is hard to feel, with the result that at present the trigger feels like a light single-stage trigger. I think as the rifle breaks in the first and second stages will become more distinct.

M1A trigger
The trigger blade is bare, without any adjustment.

The trigger pull is 3 lbs. 9 oz. for stage one and 4 lbs. for stage two. That’s how close the two are. I think many will see this as a single-stage trigger. Stage two is very crisp and positive.

By the end of today’s examination I was already feeling a distinct separation between trigger stages one and two. I probably fired a dozen shots today, just getting familiar with the rifle, and no more than 20 from when it came out of the box.

Firing behavior

The rifle fires with a slight shudder from the mainspring. It isn’t offensive and doesn’t need quieting, in my opinion.


Today while I cocked the rifle I watched the place that opens for loading and could see the sliding compression chamber move quickly to the rear to compress the mainspring as the upper handguard slides to the front to reveal the loading port. I stress again that the area for loading is small and may not suit all people.

M1A port opening
As the underlever is pulled down the upper handguard slides forward and the sliding compression chamber goes to the rear.

M1A loading port
When it’s all the way open the M1A loading port is small.


Now we come to the most interesting feature of all — the sights! The sights on an M1 Garand and an M14 are the most pleasant sights to use of all those on any battle rifle, in my opinion. And you get a set just like them on the M1A airgun.

They are a peep sight in the rear that adjusts for both windage and elevation. I was going to report that the adjustments felt mushy, but that was before I noticed the screw on the right side. When it was checked with a screwdriver it was not quite tight and tightening it snug rendered both adjustments clearer and crisper. It’s just past finger-tight, so don’t crank on it. When I do the accuracy test I plan to do a special “boxing” of the sights to see how well these adjustments really work. I will explain what boxing means when I get to that report.

M1A rear sight
The rear sight on the M1A pellet rifle adjusts in both directions — just like on the firearm.

M1A rear sight screw
Tighten this one screw that looks like a nut on the right adjustment knob and both sight adjustments get crisper.

Sight history

The M1 Garand went through many different designs of rear sights. The Lock Bar type that was used throughout World War II had a locking bar on the outside of the right side adjustment knob that controls elevation. After the war the bar was eliminated and the adjustment became just a knob. 

When the M14 came along the sights continued to refine. The Army liked this type of sight and only changed when necessary due to the different design and construction of the M16.

The one drawback I find with the pellet rifle rear sight is there are no directions on the adjustment knobs. You have to remember that for the elevation knob on the left side, turning counter-clockwise raises the peep and therefore the impact of the pellet. Turn the windage adjustment clockwise to move the peep and the pellet impact to the right.

Front sight

Most American battle rifles have front sights that are protected from damage by “ears” on either side of the central post or blade. On the M1A the center is a blade. The manual shows to hold the front blade with its tip centered on the target, which is correct by the military manual. I shoot at black bullseyes, though, and a 6 o’clock hold is easier to hold precisely.

M1A front sight
The front sight is a blade, protected by a “ear” on either side.

Two more things to know about the front sight. It appears to be on a dovetail and can thus be tapped left and right for more windage correction. This is just an illusion given by the very detailed casting. The sight does not move in the dovetail.

The second thing is a problem with all front sights that have ears. Make darned sure when you sight on something that it is the front post you are holding on the target and not one of the ears. The peephole is small and it’s easy to make a mistake. The ears are bent out to either side to help you identify them through the peep.

I will say that the pull of this M1A is just 13-1/4-inches. That allows me to get far enough forward that I can see the entire front sight assembly through the peep hole.

That “thing” in front of the front sight is a replica flash hider. The real flash hider has slots that allow hot gas to escape out the sides as the bullet is exiting the muzzle. It hides the flash from the shooter in low light, to preserve his night vision.

Cocking effort

With the cocking handle extended on the underlever I measured the cocking effort as exactly 35 pounds on my bathroom scale. That’s what the description on the Pyramyd Air website says it should be. The underlever extension is an important feature that you want to use if you plan on doing a lot of shooting.

Operating rod handle is for show

The curved handle of the operating rod, or what many would call the cocking handle on the right side of the receiver is for show, only. It is spring-loaded to slide back and forth but it does nothing for the rifle.

M1A operating handle
The operating handle can be pulled back and will spring forward again, but it is non-functional.

Scope base

One last surprise today — the scope base. In Part One I said the rifle comes with the scope base, but a reader corrected me. The scope base is something you have to order separately. At this time it is called the M14 scope base and this M1A isn’t listed on the description page as a rifle that it fits, but it does. I mounted it to the left side of the receiver in about 5 minutes.

M1A scope base
The M14 scope base fits the Springfield Armory M1A pellet rifle.


That’s all for today. Next time we test the velocity and the time after that we start testing accuracy! Stay tuned!