Slavia 618 breakbarrel air rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Slavia 618
Slavia 618.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Before the test
  • RWS Basic
  • How does it shoot?
  • Crosman Premier Light
  • Discussion 1
  • Re-test with the “new” seal
  • Basic test 2
  • Premier Light test 2
  • Discussion 2
  • Cocking effort and trigger pull
  • Summary

Today I test the velocity of the Slavia 618. You will recall that I have two of these rifles and one seems to be performing well. That’s the one I’ll test. The other rifle I will rebuild, but we will look at that in a separate report some time in the future.

Before the test

This rifle has a leather breech seal which is indicative of a leather piston seal, as well. So I dropped about 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil down the barrel and stood the rifle on its butt for a few days to let the oil run down into the compression chamber and soak into the leather. It also soaks into the breech seal as it passes, softening it up so it can do the job it was designed to do. That should get the rifle into the best possible condition for a velocity test. read more

Slavia 618 breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Slavia 618
Slavia 618.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • Research
  • Model variations
  • What is the Slavia 618?
  • Comparisons
  • Stock
  • Summary

Some of you may have been hoping for Part 2 of the Beeman R10 rifle report today. Well, Part 2 will be the strip-down and installation of the Vortek tuning kit, and I need a couple days to do the work and take the pictures, as well as the writing. So today I’m starting my report on the Slavia 618 breakbarrel pellet rifle.


Guess what? Almost nobody knows the history of this air rifle. It has a lot of fans, but nobody seems to know much about it.

The Blue Book of Airguns says it was made in the 1970s — period. But they say the same thing about the Slavia 622. Well, I received one of those as a gift in about 1961 or ’62, so that’s obviously not right. read more

Diana 23: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dioana 23
Diana 23.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • A stripper
  • The rifle
  • Two versions of the later rifle
  • Trigger
  • Breech seal and locking detent
  • Sights
  • Cocking
  • What is it good for?
  • Summary

This report should be titled, “By any other name” because the airgun I’m writing about doesn’t say Diana anywhere. It says Gecado, Mod. 23. I know it is a Diana because I have paid attention to Diana air rifles for the past four decades, or so. They can also be named Hy Score, Winchester, Peerless, Original, Milbro, RWS, Geco (of which Gecado is a derivative) and Beeman. And I bet there are more names I haven’t mentioned.

Dioana 23 markings
These are the principal markings on the rifle. There is no serial number, caliber or date of manufacture.

A stripper

Decades ago a new car that was basic and was priced as low as that model would go was called a stripper. Well, the Diana 23 is the stripper of Diana pellet rifles. In the photograph above the rifle appears to be the same size as a Diana 27, but when you see them together the difference becomes obvious. read more

Diana 35: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 35
Diana 35 pellet rifle.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Older 35
  • What was the 35?
  • Soup-up
  • The spring isn’t the thing
  • Back to the Diana 35
  • This Diana 35
  • Trigger
  • What to do?
  • Summary

Today begins a long report on the Diana 35 air rifle. If you just found this blog, here is how we came to this point. Several months ago I tuned a Winchester model 427 (really a Diana 27) breakbarrel air rifle for reader Michael. That 9-part report is pretty thorough and worth a read. At the end I told everyone that Michael’s rifle is now the smoothest spring-piston air rifle I have ever experienced and I thought it would be nice to acquire the larger Diana 35 and tune it for smoothness. That would give me an adult-sized breakbarrel that was as perfect as can be — or at least I think so.

One of our readers, Carel from the Netherlands, contacted me, telling me he had a nice Diana 35 he would sell me and after a short conversation I bought it. I also bought his Diana 26 that I had never heard of and a Diana 27S that I also never heard of. I have already reviewed the Diana 26 and the 27S is still to come. But this Diana 35 is the gun that I really wanted to examine and tune.

Older 35

Carel’s Diana turned out to be a lot older than the one that I once owned. It has a finger groove along both sides of the thinner rounded forearm instead of checkering on a thicker squared-off forearm. That’s the European influence, rather than the more westernized forearm that came later. If you own a Blue Book, this rifle is something like the rifle that’s shown in the book, with one major difference. The rear sight on this rifle is unlike any I have ever seen. I’m going to show you several pictures rather than try to describe it — except to say there are no plastic parts anywhere on this sight. It is 100 percent steel!

Diana 35 rear sight 1
The rear sight on this Diana 35 is one I have never seen before. The notch is protected by steel ears.

Diana 35 rear sight top
Looking down on the top of the rear sight you can see how different it is. The elevation wheel is polished and blued steel!

Diana 35 rear sight back
And this is what it looks like from the shooter’s perspective.

The front sight is a hooded post that’s fixed. The post is tapered, but it fits into the rear notch well, and, because the notch is so small, it should prove easy to sight well. We shall see!

What was the 35?

The Diana 35 was the older brother of the Diana 27. It was produced from 1953 through 1964, when it was revised into a modernized version that lasted through 1987. So, that’s 1953-1964 for the first run, of which there are several variations and 1965-1987 for the rifle that most Americans will know. It was supposed to be larger, heavier and more powerful than the model 27. It is both larger and heavier without a doubt, but the power, while greater, isn’t that much greater. It’s not enough to justify the difference in size and weight — at least in my opinion. And the additional cocking effort is a real put-off.

Diana 35 and 27
The Diana 35 (top) isn’t much longer than the Diana 27, but the thicker stock makes it feel larger.


Back in the 1970s when the 35 was being made the “velocity wars” were just getting started and airgunners around the world were starting to learn how to modify their guns for more speed. Everybody “knew” that adding a more powerful mainspring was the way to increase velocity and we all suffered through a learning curve that lasted several decades. Feinwerkbau taught us all that a long piston stroke was the best way to get higher velocity, but that didn’t stop each of us from learning the lesson the hard way.

I was one of the ones who learned and I did so with the Diana 35. But I was late to the party, because experienced airgunsmiths already knew about longer piston strokes and the Diana 34 was silently revolutionizing the world of breakbarrels. Meanwhile, I was building a rifle that cocked like the bow of Hercules, yet didn’t increase in velocity.

The spring isn’t the thing read more

Old Blue and White

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 110
Daisy’s model 110 Rocket Command BB gun.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The deal
  • What is it?
  • Earlier model 26
  • Blue Book of Airguns
  • Trigger
  • Stock
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Comparison to the 27
  • Summary


When I was a kid in the 1950s, western movies where the big thing. We saw them in the theaters and we also saw westerns on TV. This trend continued into the 1960s, but another trend overlaid it and eventually eclipsed it. In October of 1957 the Soviet union launched the first man-made satellite into orbit. Most people know Sputnik. Technologically it was both crude and incredibly advanced. But what it did to society far eclipsed anything that it did for science!

Sputnik ushered in the space age. Until then only scientists and nerds knew anything about rockets and space travel. After then, space was all that anyone could talk about.

My first BB gun

I have written in the past about my first BB gun being a Wamo cap-firing gun. And it was. But my first real BB gun was a Daisy. I bought a used Daisy Number 25 pump gun from my sister’s boyfriend. That one lasted only a few days and then lost power. I didn’t have anyone to ask, so I thought I would try to fix the gun myself. And that is a story of its own!

Get a Red Ryder

After that I saved my paper route money and vowed to buy a new gun this time. And I did. I wanted a Red Ryder, but the only place I knew to buy BB guns was Eddie’s convenience store that was a couple blocks from my house. They always had a cardboard display rack full of BB guns — until I had the money to buy one! Then all they had was a blue and white gun that was called the Daisy model 110 Rocket Command gun. Little did I know what was going on behind the marketing scenes at Daisy!

Gender-appropriate BB guns read more

BSF S54 Match rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

BSF S54 target rifle.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • BSF
  • The S54
  • Trigger
  • Three variations of the S54
  • Two calibers
  • Hang tag
  • Underlever cocking
  • Loading tap
  • Summary

I’m starting a report on the BSF S54 target rifle today. I reviewed this rifle 4 years ago, but I want to look at it more thoroughly this time.


Bayerische Sportwaffen Fabrik (Bavarian Sporting Weapons Manufacturer) or BSF, as it was known, operated for several decades, both before and after World War II. They were based in Erlangen, Germany, a suburb of Nuremberg. The guns they made were approximately equivalent in quality to Dianas, though in some respects like power they were ahead for a few years. It was BSF that first broke the 800 f.p.s. barrier with their model S55/S60/S70 breakbarrel. I group those models because they were all the same except for their stocks — kind of like the S54 we are looking at today.

They remained at the forefront of the airgun horsepower races throughout the late 1970s and into the early ’80s until the Beeman R1 buried the field. Then, in the late 1980s, they quietly left the market. I have reported on their models 55, 70, and even on the S54 in the past, but that was before the historical airgun section began.

I have often marveled at the irony of me discovering precision adult airguns while living in Erlangen, Germany, from 1974 to the end of 1977. I bought a Diana model 10 target pistol (in Rothenberg ob der Tauber) and started my fascination with airguns while living in the same town where BSF was headquartered! However, in a most ironic turn of fate, I hadn’t a clue they were there until many years after I had returned to the United States. Oh, the humanity!

The S54

The S54 was the flagship rifle from BSF. It wasn’t their most powerful, but it was certainly their fanciest! It’s 45.5 inches long with a 19-inch barrel. The pull is 13.75-inches, which is very long for a target rifle. And, the big gun weighs 8 lbs. 12 oz. The stock is round and full in all its dimensions. You know you’re holding something when this one is in your hands!


There are many interesting things I want to tell you about BSF airguns, and I guess I will begin with their triggers that are a novel approach to manufacturing cost controls in the 1950s. They used plates stamped from sheetmetal and riveted together in a block in place of machined parts. As long as the stampings were precise, the product was good. They weren’t the only airgun company doing this, though. It was a popular way of avoiding costly machining operations.

BSF S54 triggerThis trigger is from a BSF S70, but it is the same as the trigger on the S54. Four stamped plates riveted together take the place of one machined piece of steel. read more

Tuning Michael’s Winchester 427: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 27
Michael’s Winchester 427 is a Diana model 27 by another name. The rifle pictured is my Hy Score 807/Diana 27

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Michael’s Diana 27
  • Out of the box
  • Flat breech seal
  • No baseline test
  • Onward Through The Fog
  • Remove the action from the stock
  • Action into the compressor
  • Remove the piston
  • Disassembly complete
  • List of jobs
  • Summary

Michael’s Diana 27

Some time back, reader Michael mentioned some problems he was having with his new/old Winchester 427, which is a Diana 27 by another name. I offered to tune it for him because it’s been some time since I have been inside a 27. There are many new readers who are not aware of this wonderful air rifle, and I thought it was time they learned about it.

Diana made the model 27 for a great many years after WW II, and they made them for a number of other companies, as well. The guns were made in both .177 and .22, but Winchester and Hy Score only ordered them in .22 caliber, so a 427 and an 807 are always .22.

Out of the box

When I unpacked the gun it looked pretty good, so I gave it a thorough once-over. The metal was lightly speckled with surface rust, but it wasn’t too bad. The rear sight was missing its rear mounting screw, which allowed it to move side to side and also up and down, and the spring that keeps tension on the rear sight leaf is not installed properly. There is a spring stuffed inside the sight, but it isn’t in the right place and it doesn’t look like the correct spring. Also the windage adjustment screw that should be fastened to the sight by a small circlip is wired in place, instead.

The barrel pivot bolt should have a locking screw to hold it in place. Also the rubber bumper that goes on the butt to keep the rifle from slipping on the floor is missing.

Diana 27 rear sight
The rear sight is missing the back anchor screw (arrow) and a spring that goes up front is not mounted correctly. The barrel pivot locking screw is also missing (arrow).

Flat breech seal

The last thing I’ll note is the breech seal. On this rifle it’s quite flat and lifeless. It seems to be a synthetic seal and I will probably replace it with a leather seal that is longer-lasting and seals better.

Diana 27 breech seal
The breech seal is very flat and lifeless.

No baseline test

I had hoped to baseline the velocity of the rifle today before I started the work, but it detonated on the first shot and I decided not to. It vibrated and sounded like a dry-fire, which I will guess is mostly due to a large loss of air at the breech. I don’t want to shoot it in this condition.

Going inside

If you want to learn to rebuild spring piston airguns, this one isn’t the place to start. The trigger is quite complex until you understand how it works. When you do understand that the rifle becomes simple to work on. You will need a mainspring compressor for this gun.

Remove the action from the stock

The first step is to remove the barreled action from the stock. That’s two stock screws on the forearm and the forward triggerguard screw. Once the action is out, the sheetmetal end cap slides off and the rifle is ready for the compressor.

Action into the compressor

Now the action goes into the compressor and comes apart. The trigger parts are first to leave the spring tube.

Diana 27 end cap off
With the end cap off you can see the second cross pin that holds the action together. You can also see some of the 48-year-old oil that has hardened into varnish and is holding things together.

Diana 27 compressor ready
The action is ready to go into the compressor. When it does, the compressor will press on the inner trigger cage (two arrows) until the tension on the two pins is released. They will practically fall out of the gun at that point. read more