The AV-46M Single Stroke Pneumatic Match Air Pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

AV-46M lever open
The AV-46M target air pistol is a reincarnation of the IZH 46M for the American market. It is the easiest-cocking single stroke pneumatic around.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • H&N Match Green
  • Surprise!
  • RWS R10 pistol with boosted pumps
  • Pump effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the velocity of the new Air Venturi 46M target air pistol. There is a LOT of interest in this pistol and I must tell you that when the initial stock of pistols is gone you’ll have to wait until late March to get one. Russia is a long way away from Cleveland.

The test

I’m going to jump right into the velocity test because there is something special I want to do after that. Oh, and by the way — let’s remember that this is a 10-meter target pistol. It isn’t a magnum airgun made to shoot heavy pellets, and there is no convenient way to soup it up. This isn’t a sporting air pistol; it’s a target pistol.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

I’ll start with RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets. They are a wadcutter target pellet, but at 8.2 grains they are really too heavy for this pistol. However, they will work, and, because the AV-46M is so powerful, they work better than I expected. Ten pellets averaged 449 f.p.s. The spread went from 435 to 461 f.p.s. — a difference of 26 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 3.67 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Air Arms Falcon

Next up was the 7.33-grain Falcon pellet from Air Arms. Ten of them averaged 489 f.p.s. Right there the pistol has exceeded it’s advertised velocity of 480 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 3.89 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The interesting thing was this pellet only varied by 6 f.p.s. — from 487 to 493 f.p.s. That’s very stable!

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The next pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS R10 Match pistol pellet. It was the first pellet I tested that it suited to this target pistol. They averaged 501 f.p.s. for 10 shots and I apologize to our Canadian readers, and especially to Hawkeye, who cannot own air pistols that shoot faster than 500 f.p.s. without registering them! The low was 497 and the high was 505 f.p.s. — a difference of 8 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 3.90 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

H&N Match Green

Hopefully the Royal Canadian Mounted Police don’t test airguns with the H&N Match Green pellet, because at 5.25-grains, it will always be very fast. In the 46-M they averaged 532 f.p.s. with a 9 f.p.s spread from 529 to 538 f.p.s.

Surprise!

Well, all that testing was done by just shooting the pistol in the way anyone would. Now I did something special and I was surprised when I mentioned it in Part One that some of you didn’t know what it is. I have written about this little trick dozens of times in this blog, as well as showing it on the American Airguns television show back in 2010.

To boost velocity in a single-stroke pneumatic, pump the lever almost all the way, but not quite, several times. Then complete the pump stroke. The partial pumps expand the pump cup, warming it and making it more flexible. On the final pump the cup seals as well as it possible can and the velocity goes up as high as it can go. On TV I boosted a standard IZH 46 from 425 to about 460 f.p.s. this way. Let’s now see what I did with the AV-46M.

RWS R10 pistol with boosted pumps

What I did for each shot that follows was make 4 partial pump strokes that were almost complete. Then I pumped stroke number five all the way. That flexed the pump cup and made it seal better.

This time the R10 Pistol pellet that averaged 501 f.p.s. before this technique now averaged 523 f.p.s. The low was 517 and the high was 531, so a difference of 14 f.p.s. Let’s call this technique a 20 f.p.s. boost. Is it worth the extra effort? Not when the pistol is new and functioning perfectly. But when an SSP gets older and the pump cup gets hard, this trick can make an old pistol shoot like new again.

Pump effort

On my bathroom scale the test pistol took 22 lbs. of effort to close the pump lever. The secret to keeping the pump force as low as possible it to not “horse” the lever. Let it close smoothly, without rushing things.

Trigger pull

In Part One I adjusted the trigger of the test pistol from 310 grams to 524 grams, to meet the 500-gram minimum required for a match — not that I’m ever going to shoot in a match again. Today I tested the trigger and stage two broke at 526 grams, so it’s holding right where I adjusted it! Not only is that a testament to the refinement of this trigger, it also shows that the AV-46M trigger adjusts perfectly. I never had an IZH trigger adjust this well.

Summary

This pistol is testing out better than advertised. I love the trigger on the test pistol, and, if this was my pistol to do with as I wish, I would be sculpting these beautiful target grips to fit my hand.

My plan is to install a different rear sight blade to get the sight picture I prefer before I shoot the pistol for accuracy. And for the record, Tyler Patner tells me that the screws on the rear sight blade are left-hand threads, just like the IZH sight. That should keep you from twisting them off as you try to exchange sight blades.

I hope Alfa Precision makes as good a barrel as they claim. I can’t wait to see the accuracy!


The AV-46M Single Stroke Pneumatic Match Air Pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

AV 46-M
The AV-46M target air pistol is a reincarnation of the IZH 46M for the American market.

This report covers:

  • It’s here!
  • Alfa Precision
  • Air Venturi
  • The pistol
  • Dry-fire
  • Easy to pump
  • Happy, happy
  • But wait….!
  • Sights
  • Weight
  • Owner’s manual
  • The price
  • Summary

It’s here!

This is the pistol many of you have been clamoring for, for years. It’s the IZH 46M match pistol. Only it isn’t from IZH anymore. Air Venturi has negotiated the construction and purchase of this iconic AV 46-M target air pistol from Alfa Precision, a non-military Russian barrelmaker. That means it is legal to import it into the US. They are available for sale right now!

Alfa Precision

Some airgunners are already aware of Alfa Precision. They are sort of the Russian equivalent of Lothar Walther — and I’m sure I will hear about that remark! Alfa Precision makes hammer-forged firearm and airgun barrels that have shown surprising levels of accuracy. They also know and understand airguns. These are all good things! 

Air Venturi

Most of you know the Air Venturi brand quite well. Over the years I have tested a number of their airguns and other important products, such as high-pressure air compressors. The good news about them in this picture is they can provide the support you need. That means parts, service and information. So, this target air pistol should be around for some time to come. And now for the question on everybody’s mind — is this one really as good as the IZH 46M that people are paying high prices for in used condition? There is a whole lot of testing to be done, but in the several hours I have had with it so far I have to say that it is. In fact, it’s going to surge ahead of the IZH just a little.

The pistol

The AV-46M is a single-stroke pneumatic 10-meter target pistol. To charge the pistol you pull the long underlever forward, and at the end of the stroke you pull the lever a little harder to cock the action. When the breech flips straight up the pistol is cocked. A target (wadcutter) pellet is then loaded into the breech that is very accessible and the underlever is returned home. Close the breech and fire. That single act pumps the pistol one time and should be good for a muzzle velocity of around 480 f.p.s. with lightweight pellets.

AV 46M lever extended
The pump lever goes far forward, and at the end it opens the breech and cocks the pistol. As it is brought back, the fulcrum of the pump stroke constantly changes to an optimal position.

AV 46M breech open
When the breechblock stands up like this, the pistol is cocked.

You can only pump the gun one time. If you attempt a second pump stroke, all the air from the first stroke will be lost. That’s why it is called a single-stroke pneumatic.

Dry-fire

The ability to cock and fire the trigger without firing a pellet is called dry-fire. Every respectable 10-meter pistol must have this feature. To dry fire the 46M you pull forward on the breech cover to unlock the breech block, then pull the breech block straight up until the mechanism is cocked. Return the block to its closed position under the breech cover and you’re ready to shoot. A shooter typically fires five times as many shots each day dry-fire than with pellets.

Easy to pump

One of the principal features of the 46M pumping mechanism is the sliding fulcrum that reduces the pump stroke effort. It take pounds off the pump force and gives you a muzzle velocity of close to 500 f.p.s. The description says 480 f.p.s., but you know I’m going to test that for you. And I know a secret that may boost the velocity a little.

Happy, happy

BB Pelletier loves airguns! I love them all, but I have been a competitor in 10-meter pistol shooting and that gives me a special appreciation for target pistols. This new 46M gives me the opportunity to test a target pistol that many of you already know is the best deal on the market — hands-down.

But wait….!

Yes, there is more. In the first place, what is it that Alfa Precision does? That’s right, they make barrels. Are their barrels any good? From the reports I have read, they are quite good. And they make the barrel for this AV 46M. What does that mean? Well, we will all have to wait impatiently for the Part 3 accuracy test, but I have high hopes.

And in the second place, what was the one criticism many shooters had with the IZH 46 and 46M? The grip! That’s right, the IZH grip was always on the small side and quite bland. It worked, but it wasn’t in the same class as what we see on an FWB or a Walther 10-meter pistol. Well, didja happen to notice anything special about the grip on this pistol? That’s right — this one isn’t made from pallet wood! In fact, this grip is made in Finland and it looks very much like it belongs at the party.

With the IZH you built up the grip with wood putty in places to conform to your hand. This snazzy new laminated grip has some meat on it that allows you to carve off what you don’t need and it will still look snazzy.

And finally we come to the trigger. The IZH 46/46M trigger was good, but it was far from perfect. A 10-meter shooter could always detect some creep in stage two. So far the trigger on the AV-46M pistol I am examining is perfect. No creep! And I can detect creep that a lot of folks can’t.

When the pistol arrived at my house, stage two was breaking at 310 grams. While that is a nice light trigger, it won’t get you into a match. Your trigger must break at 500 grams or more. I adjusted the trigger to break at 524 grams. That’s all I’m going to tell you today, and I only said that to remind myself of what I have done.

Sights

The AV-46M sights are fully adjustable with positive click detents. That is as it should be on a target pistol. But there is more. The rear sight blade has two notches of different widths, so the blade can be flipped to adjust the notch width to your preference. The pistol comes with a second rear sight blade that has another two notches of differing widths, so you can play around until you are satisfied.

The rear blade also slides from side to side to give you more horizontal adjustment, should you need it. All things considered, this rear sight is everything needed for a world-class 10-meter pistol.

The front sight has three replaceable blades of different widths. These should be matched to the rear notch to optimize the length of your arm, your eyesight and your personal preference for blade-to-notch fit.

AV 46M rear sight
The AV-46M rear sight offers everything a world-class 10-meter pistol sight should.

AB 46M rear sight elements
Besides what comes on the pistol, you get these sight elements.

Weight

The AV-46M weighs 1181 grams, which is 2 lbs. 9.7 oz. That is on the heavy side for a 10-meter pistol these days. Most world-class target pistols are weighing just under a kilogram, today. This pistol’s weight is more in line with the FWB 65/80/90 of several decades ago. Of course the modern pistols do have optional weights that can be added to satisfy all shooters. I competed with heavier pistols, so the weight doesn’t bother me, but a buyer needs to know this up front. This would probably not be the pistol on which to start a junior shooter.

The pistol is muzzle-heavy. That’s a trait many target shooters prefer, as it stabilizes any shakiness of the hand.

Owner’s manual

The owner’s manual was written by an American, so it’s easy to read. The sight adjustments are engraved on the adjustment knobs so no confusion there. However — while the manual does tell what each trigger adjustment screw does, it doesn’t tell which way to adjust for anything. So, some ‘sperimentin’ will have to be done. That being noted, the manual does tell you how to store the pistol to keep the breech seals as fresh as possible.

The price

Here’s where the tire-kickers have to depart. This pistol is no longer cheap. Yes, in the mid-1990s they did sell for less than $300, but by the time the pistol could no longer be imported into the US, that had risen to around $500. Used IZH-46Ms are selling for over $500 today, and with the Finnish grips and the special barrel on this one it should come as no surprise that the price is almost $600. That’s still low compared to other serious 10-meter pistols, but it is significant. And even at that price I don’t anticipate the first batch staying around very long. So if you want one, now’s the time.

Summary

This doesn’t happen every day. Here is an iconic air pistol we all thought was lost to time and world politics. It’s back again, and, from what I have seen so far, it’s better than ever!


The Diana model 10/Beeman 900 target pistol: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman 900
The Beeman 900 pistol is another form of Diana’s model 10.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • RWS R10 Pistol
  • Qiang Yuan Match Grade pellets
  • H&N Finale Match Light 
  • No crazy person here!
  • …or?
  • Summary

Today I’m going back to the Beeman 900 that is a rebadged Diana 10 target pistol. I didn’t do so well in Part 3 and you readers were all over me to not rest the gun directly on the sandbag, but to rest my forearms on the bag and hold the pistol loose in front of the bag. So that’s what I did today — sort of. This turns into a much larger test than planned, and isn’t that always a good thing?

The test

I shot from 10 meters and at the start of the test I rested my forearms on the bag and held the pistol in my hands in front of the bag. I shot 5-shot groups because I wanted to test a lot of different pellets and the way things turned out, I’m glad I did!

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

First to be tested were the pellets I used to shoot in my original Diana 10 — RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutters. I bought a sleeve of 5,000 with the pistol and, except for my father-in-law shooting several thousand while I was on manuevers with the Army, I shot them all in that pistol.

The Beeman 900 put five Meisters into a 0.742-inch group at 10 meters. The group is horizontal and I don’t know why.

Meister Rifle group
Five RWS Meisterkugeln made a 0.742-inch group between centers at 10 meters.

RWS R10 Pistol

Next up were five RWS R10 Pistol pellets. One of them sailed through the 10-ring while the other four grouped in 0.565-inches at 4 o’clock on the edge of the bull. The 5-shot group measures 1.251-inches between centers.

R10 Match Pistol group
Four of the five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 0.565-inches at 10 meters, but the 5th shot opened it to 1.251-inches.

Qiang Yuan Match Grade pellets

The next pellets I tried were Qiang Yuan Match Grade pellets that Pyramyd Air no longer stocks. Four of them went into 0.478-inches at 10 meters but the fifth one went low and to the left, opening the group to 1.14-inches.

Qiang Yuan Match group
Four Qiang Yuan Match pellets went into 0.478-inches in the bull, with a 5th one landing low and to the left and opening the group to 1.14-inches between centers.

H&N Finale Match Light 

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the H&N Finale Match Light pellet. When I saw the group I couldn’t believe it. Was I shooting a Chinese B3-1?

Five H&N Finale Match Light pellets landed in a group that measures 1.657-inches between centers. Yikes!

H&N Finale Match Light group
The Beeman 900 put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets into 1.657-inches at ten meters. Cowabunga!

No crazy person here!

Okay, enough of this! I had to try something different. I would rest the pistol on the bag and see how that went with the same pellet. Well, it wasn’t great but this time 5 shots went into 1.127-inches, so it’s tighter. SO MUCH FOR NOT RESTING THE PISTOL ON THE BAG!!!

H&N Finale Match Light group rested
Resting the Beeman 900 directly on the sandbag reduced the size of the group to 1.127-inches between centers — a half-inch improvement.

However, I was still unsatisfied. I can outshoot that group with a Crosman Mark I, so what’s the deal? Time to drag out the heavy artillery. I got my FWB P44 target pistol. And I rested it on the bag because this pistol does not move in the slightest when it fires. Surely it can do better with any pellet than the Beeman 900, but at this point it was this one pellet that was in question. So, for the third time I put five H&N Finale Match Light pellets downrange. 

This time five pellets landed in a group that measured 0.644-inches between centers. It’s half the size of the best Beeman 900 group with this pellet, but still nothing to write home about. So perhaps this pellet isn’t good in either pistol — or…?

H&N Finale Match Light group rested P44
The FWB P44 cut the group size in half. Five H&N Finale Match Light pellets went into 0.644-inches at ten meters.

…or?

Or, was I the weak link? One way to tell was to bring up the best group I ever recorded with the P44 and compare it to a group of the same pellets today. On June 9, 2016 I shot this pistol and put 5 Vogel target pellets with 4.50mm heads into 0.242-inches at 10 meters.

FWB P44 Vogel target best
Back in June of 2016 I put 5 Vogel pellets into this 0.242-inch group at 10 meters, shooting the FWB P44.

On this day. shooting the same pistol in the same way, my group of five Vogels measures 0.575-inches — more than twice the size of the group from 4-1/2 years ago. Clearly I am off my game today and it is showing up in the results of this test. A little of this may be because I’m already 35 shots into the test and somewhat tired, but I don’t think all of the difference can be explained away.

FWB P44 Vogel target today
On this day I was able to put 5 Vogel pellets into a 0.575-inch group at 10 meters with the FWB P44.

I was either off my game or tired or both. Only one thing remained — shoot a group of 5 Vogels from the Beeman 900. This I did and when I saw it I knew the test was over. Five pellets went into 1.231-inches at 10 meters.

Beeman 900 Vogel target today
Well, I’m done! The Beeman 900 put five Vogel pellets into a 1.231-inch group at 10 meters.

Summary

I’m not finished with the Beeman 900. I know it must shoot better than it has and I just need to find the right pellet to do it.

Shooting the FWB P44 was a blast, as well. That pistol has lapsed into history and been replaced by the FWB P8X target pistol. That makes the P44 an historical airgun as well! Goody!


The Diana model 10/Beeman 900 target pistol: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman 900
The Beeman 900 pistol is another form of Diana’s model 10.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Godfather’s Gold Gun Giveaway
  • Shooting the Beeman 900/Diana model 10
  • The test
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • Gamo Match pellets
  • JSB Match Heavy Weight
  • H&N Match Green
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Godfather’s Gold Gun Giveaway

I am selecting the winner of the Godfather’s Gold Gun Giveaway this weekend. After my selection I will contact the winner to see if the airgun is legal in his locale. I hope to announce a winner on Monday.

Shooting the Beeman 900/Diana model 10

This is a day I have long awaited. I have shot these pistols in the past, but never under my strict test conditions, so today I hope to start the “book” on this one!

The test

I shot the pistol rested at 10 meters. The pistol was rested on the sandbag, touching the bag just ahead of the triggerguard. That is okay because the Beeman 900 is recoilless.

I shot 5-shot groups because target airguns often make groups so small that shooting more than 5 is just a waste of pellets. I wore my 1.25-diopter reading glasses that make the front sight sharp and clear, which I always do with an open-sighted pistol.

I had no idea where this pistol was sighted, but I shot for group size and wasn’t as concerned with where the pellets landed. I could always adjust the sights as I went.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets

First to be tested was the RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. I suspected it might be the best pellet for this pistol, just because of how carefully they are made.

I checked the target after the first shot to make certain the pellet hit the paper. After that I never looked again. The first shot was low in the 8-ring. But when I saw the group I was disappointed. Five R10 pellets went into 0.92-inches at 10 meters. That’s what a sport pistol should do — not a target pistol!

Beeman 900 R10 group
The Beeman 900 put five R10 Match Pistol pellets into 0.92-inches at 10 meters. I expected to see all five in something like that three shot group in the center.

Since the R10s shot low but seemed well-centered, I adjusted the rear sight up 7 clicks.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

The Chinese Qiang Yuan Training pellet that was next often surprises me with its accuracy. But not today. Five of them went into 0.865-inches at 10 meters. That’s not much better than the R10s.

Beeman 900 Qiang Yuan Training group
Five Qiang Yuan Training pellets went into 0.865-inches at 10 meters.

Obviously 7 clicks up was way too much adjustment, so after seeing this group I dialed the rear sight down three clicks.

Gamo Match pellets

Gamo Match pellets are certainly not world class, but I have seen them do some surprising things in the past. So I gave them a chance in this pistol. But they blew it!

I miscounted while shooting, so I shot 6 Gamo Match at this target and they went into a group measuring 1.253-inches between centers. Not much I can say about that.

Beeman 900 Gamo Match group
Six Gamo Match pellets went into a group measuring 1.253-inches between centers at 10 meters.

After seeing this group I dialed the rear sight another two clicks down.

JSB Match Heavy Weight

Next I fired 5 JSB Match Heavy Weight pellets. This time things were better, though not as good as I had hoped. Five pellets landed in a group measuring 0.789-inches between centers. This time the group is almost perfectly centered, so I planned to leave the sights alone from this point on.

Beeman 900 JSB Match Heavy group
Now we are getting somewhere! Five JSB Match Heavy Weight pellets grouped in 0.789-inches.

H&N Match Green

The last pellet I tested was the lead-free H&N Match Green. These did well in the velocity test and have been accurate before in other airguns. In the Beeman 900 five of them went into 0.888-inches at 10 meters. It’s too open to be exciting, though it’s not much larger than the JSB Match pellet group that is the best of the test.

Beeman 900 HN Match Green group
Five H&N Match Green pellets went into 0.888-inches at 10 meters.

Discussion

Today’s test was disappointing. What you see here is not what I expected. I expected far better. The trigger is spot-on and we know the pistol has all the power it’s supposed to. But try as I might I just could not get this pistol to shoot. I expected a gold dollar group today (under 0.15-inches) but we didn’t even come close to a trime (under 0.20-inches).

I do note that the heaviest pellet was also the most accurate. And my first Diana model 10 did well with the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln. So a second test with heavier target pellets is in the works. I won’t do it right away, to allow us to see some other historical airguns in the interim, but I will return to this pistol.

Summary

That’s it for today. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expect them to, but you just keep on trying.


The Diana model 10/Beeman 900 target pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman 900
The Beeman 900 pistol is another form of Diana’s model 10.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Crosman model 84 Challenger
  • Ragnar Skannaker
  • So what?
  • Trigger adjustments
  • Trigger pull
  • Velocity
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • H&N Match Green
  • JSB Match Heavy Weight
  • Discussion
  • Barrel weight
  • Cocking effort
  • Front sight
  • Summary

The title of this report has changed. Last Friday I opened with the title, What’s it gonna be today? to keep you in suspense about the topic. I wanted to give you the background of how I came to own a Diana model 10 air pistol because of its importance in my life. You see — this is the air pistol that turned me into an airgunner. Yes, I owned airguns as a kid, and I’ve talked about them in this blog. But when I started experiencing my Diana model 10 everything changed. I realized for the first time that airguns were just as serious as firearms. A few years later I would discover that the rest of the world was experiencing the same thing. 

Crosman model 84 Challenger

At the 1984 Olympics 10-meter air rifle competition was introduced, and four years later air pistol competition joined the ranks. Surprisingly, Crosman was at the forefront for both 10-meter air rifles and air pistols — at least here in the United States. In 1985 they introduced their model 84 Challenger CO2 target rifle that was intended to go head-to-head with world-class target rifles. It was a very special airgun for them that was never mass produced. Each rifle was actually made by hand, and my good friend, the late Marvel Freund, was one of the principal advisors. Marv received a rifle with a nameplate for his contribution. Marv was a coach of a youth marksmanship program in northern Virginia and was an early proponent of getting kids into shooting. But the model 84 wasn’t for kids. It was a full-sized adult target rifle. According to the Blue Book it was even offered with an optional electronic trigger. But at a base price of  $1,295 in 1985, it cost more than other 10-meter world-class rifles and was never a threat to the market.

Crosman 84 Challenger
This Crosman model 84 Challenger was presented to President George H. Bush. This photo is from the National Firearms Museum.

Ragnar Skannaker

But Crosman didn’t stop with the rifle. They also enlisted the services of Swedish Olympic gold medalist, Ragnar Skanakar, who won one gold, two silver and one bronze medal in 50-meter free pistol competition, to guide the design of what became the Crosman model 88 Skanaker 10-meter target pistol. It was made from 1988 until 1991. That one was also powered by CO2 for two very good reasons. Crosman was a leader in CO2 guns at the time and CO2 was what was still being used for target airguns in the late 1980s. The ’90s saw the complete transition to pneumatics, and Crosman made the switch as well, but in this century. I have already reported on their Challenger PCP youth target rifle.

The model 88 Skanaker was a real world-class target pistol, but the use of CO2 hamstrung it, because compressed air made operation so much easier, as well as more stable. I have owned a Skanaker, but found it a bit too front-heavy for my liking, and I like heavier handguns. The grip is quite good and accuracy is where it should be for a target pistol.

Crosman Skanaker
Crosman’s Skanaker target pistol was revolutionary for its day.

So what?

I told you all of this to inform you that the 1980s were a time when target airguns went from unknown to red-hot worldwide. And that was exactly the time I was getting into airguns, with my Diana 10 leading the way. Sadly, in a crisis of irony, although I shot 10-meter privately, it would be another decade before I started competing, and my first model 10 was long gone by that time to settle debts.

So, when several readers commented that they thought the model 10 was the epitome of a vintage target air pistol, I couldn’t have agreed more. I have owned one other Diana 10 in the interim, but I let that one get away, as well. So getting to test this Beeman 900 for you is a real treat! Okay, let’s get started.

Trigger adjustments

I mentioned in Part 1 (titled, What’s it gonna be today?) that the model 10 trigger is very adjustable. Here is a page from the manual.

Diana 10 trigger adjustment
Here are the trigger adjustment instructions from a German manual.

And here is a closeup.

Diana 10 trigger
Here is the Diana 10 trigger detail.

I was going to walk you through adjusting the model 10 trigger in this report, but there are several reasons why I can’t do that.

1. The page above is from a German manual and, although I have translated a lot of it, the translation leaves a lot to guesswork. I need an English manual — or at least the trigger adjustment portion of one.

2. I was relying on my knowledge of the Diana model 6 trigger adjustments to help me through this, but the model 10 trigger has more adjustability and I will miss things if I go that way.

I can tell you this. Stage one is adjustable for the length of pull and the weight. Stage two is adjustable for weight. The trigger blade can be canted to the right. I don’t see a trigger stop, but this trigger doesn’t move very far in any case. So a stop may not be important.

If I start guessing about these adjustments I could easily mess up a perfectly good trigger, as well as confuse many of you readers who follow what I write. I prefer to wait for someone who has the right information.

Trigger pull

I can report that the trigger on the test pistol has 5 or 6 mm of stage one travel, with very little weight in stage one. Stage two breaks crisply at 14.4 ounces, which is 408 grams. That’s below the 500-gram minimum for a match air pistol, but since I don’t compete anymore, I don’t care. The trigger stops moving after the gun fires.

Velocity

Let’s look at the velocity now. As I said in Part 1, it should be in the 450-475 f.p.s. range with lightweight pellets.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet is a 7-grain wadcutter. Pyramyd Air now has them in three head sizes – 4.48 mm, 4.50 mm and 4.51 mm. Mine are all 4.50 mm. The R10 has a smaller skirt than, say, the Hobby, so it is often much faster. In the Beeman 900 ten R10s averaged 444 f.p.s. The low was 437 and the high was 449 f.p.s., so the spread was 12 f.p.s.

With just this first pellet I have verified that this pistol is right where it should be for power. That means the piston seal has definitely been changed.

H&N Match Green

Next I tried the lead-free H&N Match Green pellets. They are pure tin and weigh 5.25-grains. We often can’t or shouldn’t use lead-free pellets in lower-powered airguns because they might stick in the barrel, but this pistol is powerful enough that it isn’t a problem.

Match Green pellets averaged 512 f.p.s. in the Beeman 900. The low was 501 and the high was 522 f.p.s., so the spread was 21 f.p.s.

JSB Match Heavy Weight

The JSB Match Heavy Weight wadcutter weighs 8.26 grains, nominally. So it’s a target rifle pellet. In the Beeman 900 they averaged 399 f.p.s. The low was 394 and the high was 406 f.p.s., so the spread was 12 f.p.s.

Discussion

This Beeman 900 is performing right where it should. Perhaps when it was brand new in the 1980s it was a trifle faster, but it’s still good today. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s been resealed at some time in the past.

Barrel weight

I told you in Part 1 that the “lump” on the plastic barrel protector was a hand protector for cocking the pistol. And it is. If you look at the shape of the lump you see that it is rounded to protect the hand. But that’s only one of its purposes.

The other purpose of the lump, and the name it carries in the manual, is the barrel weight. That is its intentional purpose. Reader Geezer commented on that and he is right. But as a 10-meter competitor I can tell you that as a barrel weight, the lump isn’t much. 

Cocking effort

The pistol cocks with 25 lbs. of force. Because it is a pistol, your two hands are close together during cocking and it seems easy enough, though you will notice the force. What I’m saying is — this isn’t a light-cocking air pistol. Some folks will find it very difficult.

Front sight

Last time I told you about the orange front sight and you got to see it. Since then I have scraped off most of the paint. I will remove it all and prep the surface for some kind of black paint. A black marker is probably good enough and I do want the paint to be matte, so I’ll ponder that a little more.

Summary

So far the Beeman 900 is performing quite well. It’s so much like I remembered, and yet the years have adjusted my eyes for all airguns, so I see things I didn’t see before. I just hope it is as accurate as I remember.


What’s it gonna be today?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The beginning
  • Walther LGR
  • HOWEVER!
  • Diana model 10
  • What is a Diana 10?
  • The grips
  • The top spacer
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Power
  • Summary

Today is a special treat. We are going to go back into my distant past and see something that was pivotal in my life. It was, and yet this one wasn’t. This is something that made me the airgunner I have become, and I have been telling you about it on this blog for many years. I have and yet I haven’t. Read on, Grasshopper.

The beginning

The year was 1976 (I think), and I was walking with my first wife and son through Rothenburg ob der Tauber — a walled medieval town next to the Tauber river in northern Bavaria, Germany. Rothenburg is a tourist town today, because it is so well preserved and colorful. I enjoyed going there with my little family on my time off and just walking around seeing the sites!

One day, however, something different happened. Up a side street I saw the sign for a gun store. Now, ANY gun store in Germany would catch my attention, but one in Rothenburg just had to be special, like everything else in that quaint old town. So, we wandered in and looked around.

Walther LGR

The owner spoke good English, so there was no problem communicating. And he saw right away that I was a gun guy. So all barriers came down. He saw my eyes alight on a Walther LGR target rifle, which he brought down and handed to me. It was the first 10-meter air rifle I had ever seen! I was blown away, and the owner could see it. When he told me how the gun was charged to shoot I was even more flabbergasted. I think he was, too, and he just wanted to show off his special toy. If you want to see what I’m talking about, read this three-part report.

But like I said — I was a family man with a young family. I didn’t have the kind of money the LGR was commanding, and although I had a credit card I had learned by that time that the bills always come due. So — looky and even touchy but no takey home.

HOWEVER!

Then I spotted a brown leather briefcase in one of his glass sales cases. Inside, resting in bright yellow foam was an air pistol I had never seen. That one was every bit as exotic as the LGR, plus it had a price tag of less than half that of the rifle! This the family man could do (his wife said).

Diana model 10

That pistol was a .177-caliber Diana model 10 ten-meter target pistol. I didn’t know what 10-meter target was at the time, and it was just about a decade from becoming an Olympic sport (rifle in 1984 and pistol in ’88). Europeans had their matches going, but I was unaware of them.

The pistol, though, spoke for itself! And today I will let it speak to all of you. What I bought in that German gun store that day was a Diana model 10. But Robert Beeman sold it as the Beeman 900. It was at the top of a line of Dianas that Beeman Precision Arms once sold.

Diana 10
This is what a Diana model 10 pistol looks like in its case.

The gun I recently purchased from an estate and am testing for you now wasn’t marked as a Diana model 10. It was marked as a Beeman model 900. And there was no case, no manual and no tools.

Beeman 900 marks
This is how the test pistol is marked.

According to the Blue Book of Airguns (the new edition of which will be available again before the end of this year — stocking stuffer), The first model 900s were marked Beeman’s Original Model 10. “Original,” if you remember your airgun history, is what the German Diana company had to mark their guns for a time after WW II, because Milbro in Scotland was awarded the rights to manufacture airguns using the Diana name.

So, Beeman sold it as a model 900. They also sold the Diana model 6 that was closely related as their model 800 and the 6M target configuration that was even closer as the model 850. But their 900 is a Diana 10, The same as that 10 I bought in Rothenburg.

What is a Diana 10?

The Diana model 10 is a 10-meter target pistol from the 1970s. At the time it was in competition with the FWB model 65 and Walther’s LP 3. The 10 is a breakbarrel spring-piston target pistol that uses the Giss counter-recoiling pistons to cancel recoil. You feel a pulse of energy with the shot but no movement from the gun. 

This is the air pistol I used to convert my gun-hating father-in-law from California into an airgunner. That story is worth reading if you have the time.

The earliest model 10s had a lump at the muzzle end of a synthetic spring-loaded barrel jacket. The shooter pulled the jacket forward and rotated it 90 degrees until the lump was above the front sight. The lump was your hand’s protection when you broke the barrel to cock the pistol. It sounds awkward, but after 10 shots everyone becomes a pro.

Beeman 900 lump down
The lump is down most of the time.

Beeman 900 lump up
Rotate the lump up to protect your hand when you want to cock the pistol.

The grips

The grips are a set of walnut panels with a palm swell on the right side. The palm shelf at the bottom of the grip slides up to make the grip tight, because 10-meter competition is shot with one hand, only. The shelf can also be tipped up in back to make it even tighter and the Diana 10 grip has a feature I have never seen on another 10-meter pistol. Believe me — I have looked!

Beeman 900 grip
The Diana 10 /Beeman 900 grip is extremely adjustable to grab the shooter’s hand and hold it tight!

The top rear of the palm shelf can be slid back just a trifle to wedge into the shooter’s wrist joint, making this grip the most positive one I have ever felt. And I’m a 10-meter pistol shooter, so believe me — I have tried a lot of grips! But wait — there’s more!

The top spacer

There is also a spacer on top of the grip where the top of the hand touches the spring tube. This spacer pushes down on the top of your hand to make the Diana 10 grip the tightest one ever created! You don’t grab this pistol, you put it on. It can actually hurt to hold the gun for a full 60-shot match, but the gun is going nowhere your arm doesn’t allow. You don’t hold this pistol— it holds you!

The top spacer can be removed from the pistol, for those who can’t tolerate it. Or you can just adjust the palm shelf down until the grip is nice and comfy. The little shelf on the rear of the palm shelf doesn’t have to be deployed. Heck, you can even hold a model 10 with two hands if you want to blaspheme the sport of 10-meter pistol! But a hand that has to be massaged after a match belongs on a winner! Hoo-rrrrah!

Seriously, guys, 10 meter rifle shooters have an expensive fitted leather jacket and pants that bind them up like sausages. They can’t gain more than 5 pounds or this stuff no longer fits. They also have expensive shooting shoes, and a heavy leather shooting glove and kneeling rolls for their legs. All the leather is in “their colors.” They bring two cases on wheels to the competition — one for their rifle and the other for all their stuff.

Ten-meter pistol shooters show up in jeans and a tee shirt. That pistol grip is their one interface and believe me, it matters a lot to them!

Sights

Naturally the sights on the model 10 are adjustable. But they adjust in ways most of you have never seen. The front sight adjusts for width! Instead of different inserts, the sight swivels to be wider or narrower within the range of adjustment. Or take it off and there is another lower and skinnier blade waiting.

The pistol also came originally with several different rear sight notches. Install the one you like and then adjust the width of the front post to suit. Unfortunately someone has painted this front blade with orange phosphorescent paint! No doubt it was to see the front post better, but when the target is illuminated correctly in a match, a dark black post is best. I have to do something to fix it.

Beeman 900 front sight
By turning that front blade you change its width in the rear notch. Remove it altogether for a skinny front blade. Gotta get rid of that orange paint though!

Beeman 900 rear sight
This photo not only shows the rear sight, it also shows the top spacer that puts additional pressure on the hand holding the pistol. I believe it can be removed.

Trigger

I know you want to know about the trigger, but I plan to cover it next time. It adjusts for first stage length, second stage weight and I think overtravel. The front of the blade also cants to the right, because this pistol is made for right-hand shooters. A left-hand grip does exist, so I have to believe the trigger blade face will also cant to the left.

Beeman 900 trigger
We’ll talk about the trigger adjustments next time, but you can see how many there are! I bet you all know what that one with the red sealant on it is! It’s the sear engagement! No touchie!

Power

The Diana 10 is a powerhouse among early 10-meter pistols. I remember velocities in the 450-475 f.p.s. range. Unfortunately, Diana put in seals made from a synthetic material that degraded over time and all of them have to be replaced at some point. New seals should last a lifetime.

I was told that this pistol shoots in the 370s with RWS Hobbys, so it may need a reseal. That’s an expensive proposition because of timing the Giss system, so I will hold off as long as possible. We will find out more when we test velocity.

Summary

That’s it for our first look. There is more to see before we get to velocity, and after that we get to see the accuracy. I can’t wait!


Walther LP2 target pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Walther LP2 left
Walther LP2 single stroke pneumatic target pistol.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • LP2 valve weak?
  • Differences between the LP2 and LP3
  • Velocity
  • RWS Hobby
  • Gamo Match
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Trigger
  • Pumping effort
  • LP3 velocity
  • Accuracy
  • Summary

As you learned in Part 1, my new/old Walther LP2 target pistol did not work when I got it. So I sent it to Scott Pilkington for repairs. Scott had to disassemble it first to see what it needed and then order the parts. I received the pistol back this Wednesday and it is now working fine — thanks, Scott!

LP2 valve weak?

I have always heard that the LP2 has a weak valve that’s subject to failure. It was apparently corrected when the LP3 came out. Whether that is true or not I can’t say, because this is the first working LP2 I have seen and handled. I have owned two LP3s in the past. The first was the model that had the full target grips and the second one had the sporter grips that look like the grips on this LP2. I have seen several LP2s at airgun shows but they were always non-functional.

Differences between the LP2 and LP3

I mentioned in Part One that the LP3 replaced the LP2. John McCaslin loaned me his LP3 for comparison. Now let’s look at some of the differences.

LP2 and 3
LP2 above and LP3 below. The 3 has the optional target grips.

valve access
Not only was the valve changed in the LP3, the method of access was, too. LP2 above and 3 below.

barrel profile
The barrel profile changed, as well. LP2 on the left. The LP3 round barrel is less expensive to profile.

Velocity

This is velocity day, so let’s get started. I know the LP2 powerplant is weak, so I will shoot lighter pellets and also no lead-free pellets, as they can stick in the bore of a weaker airgun.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. Four of the first 5 shots were in the 330 f.p.s. range, with one going out at 290. That was on the low side of what I expected. But the Hobby pellet has a large skirt and I wondered whether that was slowing the pellet. So the next 10 shots were all seated deep with a ballpoint pen.

Hobby deep
A ballpoint pen seated each Hobby pellet about a quarter-inch into the breech.

When I did that the velocity increased by over 20 f.p.s. The average of 10 deep-seated Hobbys was 354 f.p.s. The low was 342 and the high was 364 f.,p.s. That’s a spread of 22 f.p.s. I know it’s not very fast, but it’s about what I expected from this pistol. It’s in the Daisy 777 range and perfectly acceptable.

Gamo Match

Gamo Match wadcutters weigh 7.56 grains. Ten of them were seated deep and averaged 336 f.p.s. with a low of 325 and a high of 350 The spread was 25 f.p.s. 

Sometimes Gamo Match pellets are surprisingly accurate and I hope this is one of the times. I did note while deep-seating them that that their skirts are smaller and they fit in the breech easier than the Hobbys.

H&N Finale Match Light

The last pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain H&N Finale Match Light wadcutter. They fit the breech about the same as the Gamo Match and I deep-seated them with a ballpoint pen as well. 

Ten pellets averaged 339 f.p.s. with a spread from 318 to 350 f.p.s. — a difference of 32 f.p.s. Eliminate that one slow pellet and the other 9 stayed in 11 f.p.s. (339-350 f.p.s.).

Trigger

The LP2 trigger is adjustable for letoff weight (the point at which the pistol fires), length of first stage, weight of first stage and overtravel. In all it’s a dandy trigger that was probably world-class in its day.

On the pistol I’m testing I lightened the trigger pull until stage two broke at exactly 1 pound.  It’s as crisp as a glass rod breaking, so even though it’s too light for competition, I’m leaving it where it is.

Pumping effort

The Walther LP-series pistols have always pumped hard — or at least that’s what I always thought. But when I measured the pumping effort for this one on my bathroom scale I was shocked. This one takes just 15 lbs. of effort to pump. I would have thought it was over 30 pounds. I guess the difficulty is because of the short pump lever.

LP3 velocity

Just for fun I also shot 10 RWS Hobby pellets with the LP3. I will show you the whole string because of what happened.

Shot………Vel.
1………….342
2………….340
3………….344
5………….351
6………….394 — WHAT?
7………….391
8………….395
9………….387
10………..349

I guess the piston seal needed to warm up. Or something. This is the hottest LP3 I have even seen.

Accuracy

No, this is not accuracy day. But there is something to see.

The pistol I bought came in the original serial-numbered box with two original owner’s manuals — one in English and the other in German. The one in German has a test target that shows what to expect and it’s serial-numbered to the gun, as well. I measure that group at 0.145-inches between centers.

test group
The test group that came with my LP2 measures 0.145-inches between centers.

Summary

Of course we still have to test this pistol for accuracy, so it remains to be seen what old BB can do with it.