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

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 75
The Diana 75.

Let’s make lemonade

History of airguns

This report covers:

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

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

Refresh your memory

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

Diana 75 contact remarks

Wayne Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,
Wayne

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

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

The Diana 75/Beeman 400

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

Diana-75-receipt

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

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

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

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

Right-hand bias

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

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

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

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

History of the Diana 75

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

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

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

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

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

Giss contra-recoil mechanism

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

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

Sights

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

The wood

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

The metal

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

Summary

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


About as new as you can get

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

S&W 79G Boxed
45Bravo stumbled into this treasure! A like-new S&W 79G in the box with everything — and more!

Merry Christmas everyone!

History of airguns

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. Today he shows us his latest acquisition — which is a real find!.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected]

Over to you, Ian.

About as new as you can get

Ian McKee 
Writing as 45 Bravo

This report covers:

  • The right place and time
  • Limit yourself
  • Exposure drives prices up
  • A good one?
  • Back story
  • A tidbit for everyone
  • The air pistol
  • The S&W CO2 cartridges
  • The S&W pellets
  • A question

The right place and time

The deals are out there, you just have to be in the right place at the right time. This time I lucked out and stumbled onto a gem!

I have said before I have a standing notification on Gunbroker for any new listing that include 78g, and 79g, and anything with Daisy 780, 790 and 41 in the listing, along with Crosman MK1 or MKII listings. I am always looking for one of these, to pick it up at a good price and reseal it. Then to get it back in circulation. 

Limit yourself

I limit myself at about a $125 bid price for one that needs resealing, so I can buy parts, and reseal the gun, and still resell it at a reasonable price. That gives someone else a chance to get addicted to these vintage airguns.  

Exposure drives prices up

As you readers know, I have written a lot about this type of air pistol already. This series has apparently sparked a renewed interest in the guns, and inadvertently, has driven up the asking price of the Smith & Wesson air pistols at online auctions, but you also see fewer and fewer that need resealing offered for sale. 

I frequent the online airgun classifieds also, but some sites are a haven for scammers, so you have to be careful. 

A good one?

I saw a listing on one of the sites for a Smith & Wesson 79G in the box with the box of CO2 cartridges.  Asking $110 shipped. The photos were a little fuzzy, but it still looked good. 

SW 790 boxed stuff
This one came with all the paper and things not normally found.

The seller listed a phone number, so I called him and we talked awhile. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t think he was a scammer, so while we were on the phone, I sent him the money. 

Back story

The back story was he had bought this pistol at an estate sale years ago, for his collection, but had never tried to shoot it.  Now, years later, he wanted to pass it on to someone who would use it and enjoy it.

I am now the proud owner of a like new 79G. I did not own one of my own, so I have been using a Phase 2, Daisy 790 that I had resealed and after finding out how well it shot, I upgraded it to an adjustable trigger from a 78G someone was parting out on ebay a few years ago.

This pistol is serial number 104159, so it is later production, late enough to have the German Freimark, denoting a power level of less than 7.5 joules, and the darker grips, and no trigger adjustment. Come to think of it, I have never seen a 79G with an adjustable trigger.

SW 790 serial freimark
Here you see the serial number and Freimark.

A tidbit for everyone

From what I understand, unlike the UK, that has a hard 6 foot-pound (8.1 joules) limit on their pistols, the Germans have a tolerance built into their system, it has to average less than 7.5 joules, and no single shot over 8.5 joules. [Ed: Now I’m learning things I never knew! If that is true it is a surprisingly enlightened law!]

This pistol came with all of the factory paperwork, and 5 unused CO2 cartridges in the blue Smith & Wesson co2 box, and a pellet sample pack with 3 CO2 cartridges and 150 pellets in a ziplock bag, and the pellets were in a partition of their own. I had never seen this sample packaging before.

SW 790 package pellets
Apparently Smith & Wesson used this packaging near the end of the production cycle to reduce the number of pellets and CO2 cartridges that came with a new pistol.

From searching for parts for the Daisy 41, I have become acquainted with several airgunsmiths around the country who specialize in this series of pistols. 

One of them informed me that he had seen the packaging before. It should contain 3 S&W CO2 cartridges, and 150 pellets, which works out to 50 shots per cartridge.

That makes sense if you remember some of the pistols came with a 5 pack of CO2 cartridges and a tin of 250 pellets, that again, is 50 shots per cartridge. 

Smith & Wesson saved money by reducing the number of cartridges and pellets included in the kit, and eliminated the cost of CO2 and pellet packaging.

The sample pack did include 2 unused CO2 cartridges and 1 used CO2 cartridge, and 125 pellets.

The air pistol

This air pistol does not have a mark or blemish on it. And, after resealing it, I firmly believe it has only fired 25 pellets in its life!

SW 790 loading tray
No wear on the loading tray.

SW 790 bolt release
No wear on the bolt release.

I can tell you I had sweats while working on this one trying not to put any marks on it accidentally. I used urethane o-rings, and a rebuilt factory valve stem, it should shoot to factory specs, and be good for another 50 years.

It is now holding gas, but I have not shot it for velocity or accuracy yet. 

The S&W CO2 cartridges

I have weighed the CO2 cartridges and compared them to the empty one. The empty one weighs 32.83 grams. The lightest one weighs 42.02 grams, 9.19 grams heavier than the empty one. The heaviest one weighs 44.14 grams, 10.31 grams heavier than the empty one. So I think they are all still holding gas.

The S&W pellets

I have weighed 10 of the pellets, but haven’t measured them for head size as I don’t have a pellet gauge. Of the 10 pellets I weighed, they ranged from 8.02 grains to 8.33 grains. They look a lot like the Crosman “flying ash cans” from the same era. 

SW 790 pellets
The pellets that came with the pistol look like Crosman “ashcans” to me.

If its accurate, it will probably become my personal gun. However, if it can’t out-shoot the Daisy 790 I mentioned, it may get passed on to a collector.  

A question

I wanted to ask you, the readers, should I test it with one of the factory Smith & Wesson CO2 cartridges and some of the included pellets?

I don’t think Tom has tested one of the guns with the supplied pellets and gas. At least he hasn’t printed about testing them. [ED. No, Tom hasn’t tested one with the supplied pellets and gas.]

So sound off — should I test it with the factory sample pack? Or should I just save them and test it with modern pellets and CO2?

Cheers and Merry Christmas, Ian.


Resealing the Daisy model 41 pellet pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is another guest blog from reader Ian McKee who writes as 45 Bravo. Today and tomorrow he will tell us of his experience in resealing a Daisy model 41 pellet pistol.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at [email protected].

Resealing the Daisy model 41 pellet pistol: Part 2

Now, take it away, Ian.

Ian McKee
Writing as 45Bravo

History of airguns

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Disassembly
  • Parts breakdown
  • Trigger and hammer
  • Valve body
  • Valve parts
  • The reseal
  • Leak test
  • Testing
  • The service manual minimum specs are listed as:
  • Some things Daisy got right with the 41
  • What was Daisy thinking?
  • A treasure trove of information

Disassembly

Today we start with the disassembly of the Daisy model 41. Removing the barrel and velocity adjuster is the similar to the Daisy 790 in part 4 of the 78G blog, except the crosspin that holds the end cap that contains both the front of the barrel and the power adjuster in the “slide” is splined on one end, so it goes in only 1 way.

41 barrel
The 41 barrel and velocity adjuster remove the same as the  790’s parts.

41 barrel pin
The pin that holds the barrel and power adjuster end cap is splined on one end, so it only fits in one way.

Parts breakdown

At this point it is useful to give you an illustration of all the parts. Ellarge the page to see it better.

41 parts breakdown
The 790/41 parts breakdown provides a map to follow the rest of the disassembly.

Trigger and hammer

The trigger and 2 piece hammer system is the same as the 790 that was shown shown in Part 4 of the 78G blog.

41 hammer
This is the underside of the two-piece 41 hammer, similar to the 79G hammer shown in Part 4 of my blog on the 78G and 79G.

Valve body

The rear of the slide is held on by 1 screw on the right side of the pistol, just like all of the earlier pistols.

The valve body (part 790-312-A) is made from zinc or pot metal, the valve assembly is held in by 4 screws, not 3 screws like the earlier design. 

The completely assembled valve assembly as a whole is part number 790-32.

If you wanted to order the individual parts, you have to add the letter designation, such as 790-32-F for the main seal, and 790-32-C for the main valve body seal.

41 valve assembled
This is the valve assembly, complete.

The model 41 valve, assembled.

The transfer port seal (part 790-31) is nylon, like the one on the 790 we looked at in part 4 of the 78G blog, it seals the barrel/valve very well, with no leaks or puffs of air when fired. Its slightly oversize design, allows for some misalignment with the barrel port, but still seal where they join.

41 Tport seal
The transfer port seal on top of the valve seals the valve to the barrel.

Valve parts

Now let’s look at a drawing of the valve parts.

41 valve parts
This portion of the parts breakdown shows the valve parts with their letter designations.

There is a protrusion cast into the valve body that holds the trigger spring in place during assembly so you don’t need an eleventh finger, or zip ties during assembly. You see it in the drawing above.

Because the valve body and piercing assembly are together, there is no cartridge connector connecting the valve body to the frame. This is where the Daisy engineers simplified the S&W design and reduced the parts count.

There is a steel pin (part 790-32-G — refer to the previous drawing) that holds the valve body cap (which Daisy calls the valve plug) in place, when you drive that out, the cap/plug is under a few pounds of spring pressure and will come out the back like the earlier designs.

Definitely not the same

The steel valve stem and nylon main seal (parts 790-32-E, and 790-32-F respectively) are 2 pieces, unlike the older design, where the seal and stem were 1 piece.

41 valve stem and seal
Valve stem and seal.

This is a simpler design, and more cost efficient to produce. 

The reseal

Only 1 o-ring from the Smith & Wesson seal kit will work on this gun, and that is the main valve body o-ring that fits on the valve plug.

The bolt probe o-ring is thinner in diameter than the normal .177 bolt probe o-ring, and the groove on the bolt probe is narrower than the other .177 bolts.

41 probe o-ring
The model 41 bolt probe o-ring (right) is thinner and larger than the 79G bolt probe o-ring.

Whoever said the internals were the same, has never been into one of these! 

The valve body plug o-ring is straightforward. It is a number 012 o-ring, and is captive, so it can be any type of o-ring you want to use. But personally I use urethane as they are impervious to CO2.

I have never seen a seal like the one used as the main seal, if anyone here knows a source for them, or if they were used in a different model Daisy made, please let me and Tom know, so he can update the blog with the info, and I can get a few for future repairs . 

41 main seal
The main seal in the valve looks proprietary to me. If you know where they exist anywhere else, please let me know!

Daisy’s service manual tells you to dig the main seal out with a sharpened piece of music wire bent into a hook. If the main seal deteriorates, (part 790-32-F in the parts diagram) at this point in time, good luck finding a replacement. 

The seal drops in the valve body, flat side facing the front of the valve, the valve stem (part 790-32-E) goes next, the valve spring, the valve body cap, and the steel pin holds it all together.

41 main seal in valve
The main seal goes into the valve first, followed by the valve stem assembly.

The OEM CO2 face seal (part 790-43) is available online. The company that sells the OEM face seals, limit you to only 3, until the OEM parts came in, I used replacements I had on hand to test the gun, it is apparently the same size as used in several models of CO2 magazines of modern 1911 air pistols.

41 face seal installed
The face seal is installed.

If you unscrew the CO2 piercing piece, there is a small o-ring inside there, (part number 36 in the diagram). I do not know the size of it, but it was flat, kind of like a small rubber band used by kids with braces, but smaller, and made from black rubber.

After assembling the valve, it’s easy to assemble the rest of the pistol. Put the trigger spring on the protrusion on the front of the valve, line it up with the trigger, and insert the valve into the frame. Secure it with the 4 screws.

Daisy added 4 small pads cast into the frame around these screws to strengthen the frame at this point. Since the frame is thicker, it SHOULD not crack like the older frames if the screws are too tight. 

41 frame pads
The pads Daisy added to the frame can be seen around the screw holes for the valve.

Insert the plastic transfer port into the valve body, replace the bolt probe o-ring if needed, and assemble the “slide”.  I suggest setting the power adjuster to a preset position, before assembly, as it is plastic, and easily damaged by a screwdriver while trying to adjust the power.

41 power adjuster
As you can see, the power adjuster of the 41 is all plastic and doesn’t hold up to being adjusted. It’s best to set it where you want it before you assemble it into the pistol.

41 power adjuster parts
The power adjuster parts are plastic. Set them where you want and just leave them alone after the pistol is assembled.

Secure the slide to the frame with the single screw on the right side.

Insert the muzzle plug that holds the barrel and power adjuster (part 790-4). 

Then insert the power adjuster assembly into the bottom hole of the muzzle plug, making sure the groove for the retainer pin uses is towards the barrel, then reinsert the splined retaining pin. 

On this gun, the pin goes in from the right side of the gun, but the diagram shows it going in from the left side. You want those splines going into the gun last.

Leak test

To check for leaks on this model, after charging the gun with CO2, put some light oil (I used Crosman Pellgunoil), where the valve stem comes out of the valve, and some where the valve body cap is in the rear of the valve, and some on the area where the piercing pin and face seal screw into the bottom of the valve. Look for bubbles to form.

41 leak test
Performing the leak test.

If there are no leaks in the oil (arrow), put the grips back on the gun and function test.

Testing

Since this model uses a face seal, the CO2 cartridge goes in with the flat end up toward the top of the pistol. Tighten the CO2 cap at the bottom of the grip to pierce the cartridge. With this type of cartridge arrangement, it is suggested you not leave a cartridge in the gun, as the face seal will eventually lose its shape and start to leak prematurely. But the service manual does say to leave it charged for 24 hours, then test again to see if it still holds gas, and shoots to same velocity in the initial test after repair. 

The service manual minimum specs are listed as:

The first 20 shots from a new co2 cylinder are as follows:
With the velocity adjustments set to max.
Room temperature between 70-85 deg. F.
(They don’t specify what pellet or pellet weight.)

S&W78/79G, Daisy 780-790 Phase I&II:

780           320fps        (98mps) minimum velocity.
790           330fps      (101mps) minimum velocity.
Phase III and Model 41:
780            340fps       (104mps) minimum velocity.
790            420fps       (128mps) minimum velocity.
41              420fps       (128mps) minimum velocity.

Some things Daisy got right with the 41

They added metal to the valve support screw area to prevent cracking.
Simplified the valve, and reduced the parts count, and o-ring count.
Nylon Transfer port seal instead of metal to metal port like the S&W.
They added a trigger spring support to make assembly easier.
They added a middle position to the bolt probe so it can be in 1 of 3 positions, closed and ready to fire, partly open but the o-ring not compressed for storage, and open for loading.

What was Daisy thinking?

The entire bolt assembly and probe are made entirely from plastic!
Plastic rear sight assembly.
A new seal system for which, as far as I know, no replacement parts are available.
A plastic power adjuster that is easily damaged when adjusted.
A plastic co2 cap. 

A treasure trove of information

With this reseal, we have learned the facts of what is and what is not inside a Daisy Model 41. We also now have a copy of the owners manual, and we now have an actual exploded parts view, and factory service manual. [Editor’s note: I have no place to put this entire manual — yet. I will work on it.

With this information, hobbyists will be able to repair and reseal their pistols and have at lease some idea of what they are up against before they start.  

If you have any information that would be helpful, please post it. 

Ian


Finding that silk purse

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • A break
  • The real story
  • Fell into it
  • Oh, no!
  • The real story
  • Back to the future
  • The lesson
  • More
  • The point
  • Summary

A break

I need a break from punching holes in paper. Been doing a lot of that this week. Today I was all set to test the Slavia 618, but the next test is accuracy and like I said — I want to do something else.

As I was sitting at my computer trying come up with an idea for today, I got messaged that the parts for my .22 rimfire High Standard Sport King pistol had arrived in my mailbox. What’s the story there?

Fell into it

Many years ago I was at one of the last gun shows I ever attended. I had two tables full of guns to sell and one of them was something I had priced at $450. I forget what it was — it was that unimportant to me. But my price was reasonable and there was some interest. One guy came by and asked if I would come over to his table and see if there was anything I would take in trade for it. So I did.

He had a Taurus model 62LA that was new in the box. It was stainless steel, which I don’t like, but it was a slide action (pump) gun, which I do like — or so I thought! I never even picked it up out of the box. I could see it was like new. He saw that I was interested so he offered it to me. It was priced at $300 as I recall and I sort of stalled on that — my gun being priced reasonably at $450. I went back to my table and a few minutes later the guy brought by a High Standard Sport King pistol that he said he would throw in to sweeten the deal. Well, that sounded fine, so I agreed.

Taurus 62LA
How can anyone look at this Taurus 62LA and not realize that it’s a lever gun? I’m living proof that it can be done!

He brought the Taurus box over with the pistol and took his rifle away. My buddy Otho opened the box and looked at the Taurus and says to me, “I didn’t know Taurus made a lever-action .22!”

Oh, no!

A lever action? Oh, no! I had paid so little attention to the rifle when looking at it that I failed to see the lever. I assumed it was a pump. I already owned a Marlin 39A that’s the sweetest lever action .22 ever made and I sure didn’t need another one! Certainly not a shiny silver one! Shazbat!

Otho told me he thought the Taurus might be worth some money, so when we got home he bugged me to look it up on Gun Broker. When I dragged my feet he looked it up himself. It turned out that the Taurus 62LA was the most desirable .22 rifle Taurus ever made and they were bringing $850 on Gun Broker. And they were actually selling at that price! So — I guess I fell into it.

I still have the rifle. It’s still silver and I still don’t like it, but since my information on it was at least 10 years old I looked it up on Gun Broker for this report. Maybe the bottom had fallen out and they were now going for nothing?

No, in May of this year there were 39 bids on one in the same condition as mine, which is almost new in the box. That one sold for $1,681.00. Apparently Taurus only made the rifle one year (2006-2007) and they are quite rare.

The real story

But that’s not the story today. The real story is the other gun — the High Standard Sport King pistol that sweetened the deal. It’s a blued steel handgun and I had high hopes for it. But alas, it didn’t work. The magazine is sticky and doesn’t feed. So I put it aside and thought that I had been on the bad end of a deal once again.

Sport King
High Standard’s Sport King is a fine old semiautomatic .22 pistol.

Back to the future

But my neighbor, Denny the woodworker, has fallen in love with my Ruger Mark II Target Pistol. He has taken it to the range a bunch of times and a pistol that wasn’t clean to begin with started to malfunction. It needed to be cleaned and lubricated. I HATE disassembling that pistol. It comes apart easily but it is a royal bear to assemble — or that was my impression. So, on to You Tube I go and when I “remembered” the assembling problem. It was easy enough to solve. Result, clean pistol that’s lubed up and ready to go, Denny. But on You Tube a guy remarked that he wished that Mark IIs were as easy to assemble as High Standard Sport Kings. Hey! I have one of those!

Long story short I got it out and remembered the sticky mag, so I ordered a good one off Ebay. Then I disassembled the pistol which is dirt-simple to do and found it had a broken firing pin and was missing a firing pin return spring. Another order for the two parts and a week later the pistol is back in business. I fired three long rifle cartridges wiuthout failure. For about $75 I put the “deal sweetener” pistol back in action. And Type 1 High Standard Sport Kings in excellent condition like mine are fetching about $400 and up these days.

Sport King apart
The Sport king comes apart in less than 10 seconds and goes together just as fast. It was designed for that.

The lesson

The lesson is — don’t panic. If you get into a bad deal, sit on it awhile. Not everything that starts out bad ends that way. Remember those two Slavia 618s I got? One has a bent rear sight and the other needs to be rebuilt. But the first one is shooting better than any other 618 I have seen and, if I wasn’t tired of putting holes in paper this week, you’d be reading about it right now.

More

I have more to say. When I go to an airgun show with a single purpose in mind I usually get skunked. Let’s say I am there to find an FWB 124. There are two at the show. One is a deluxe model that’s like new in the box with all the paperwork. The seller is asking $800. The other one is a rusty beater sport model without sights that the seller wants $275 for. In my book, both rifles are a bit too high. But that’s not my point. My point is on another table at the same show a guy has a very nice-looking Hakim that he only wants $150 for. Seventy-five percent of the buyers in the hall are looking for a .30-caliber FX Impact with a 700 mm barrel. They aren’t interested in old pellet rifles and they could care less about that beat-up old Egyptian air rifle with the Arabic writing painted on the stock.

Well, I got skunked on the 124 I came for, but I have the money, so I take the plunge and buy the Hakim. I ask the seller if I can leave it on his table because I still want to walk around the show for a few hours.

About a hour later a guy taps me on the shoulder and asks if I own that Hakim that’s sitting on that table over there. I do and we strike up a conversation. Turns out he brought his deluxe FWB 124 with a scope to the show to see if he could swap it for a nice Hakim. We both walk to his car, I look at the rifle, which is exactly what I want, and we swap — straight across!

But here is the deal. Instead of all of this happening at the one show — wouldn’t that be nice? — it takes three shows over four years. Good things come to those who wait!

The point

My point today is obvious — I hope! Relax on your desires and let the good things come to you. Keep your eyes open for the deal of a lifetime. A friend who was very good at doing this once told me that the deal of a lifetime comes around about every 18 months. I will add that a doorbuster deal happens a lot more frequently and good deals are everywhere. I have to brush them off frequently to keep them from clinging to me!

Summary

Okay, I get it. You are a young man with a young family. You don’t have two spare dollars to rub together. But you are a nice guy who mows the old widow’s lawn every week. She makes you cookies in payment. But one week she asks if you know anything about old guns. You do and she asks if you would like that old rifle that’s up in the attic. Her husband put it up there so the grandkids wouldn’t fool with it and that was ten years ago. She can’t climb the fold-down ladder anymore but you go up and find a dusty Winchester 427 that cleans up to near-mint. Next to it is a Mossberg pump shotgun that she forgot all about. Please take both of them she says — she’ll feel better knowing they are not in her house, but with someone who cares.

What goes around…


Beeman R10: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman R10
Beeman R10.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Start
  • Scope base off
  • Tip 1
  • Mainspring
  • Remove piston
  • Sleeved piston
  • Threaded spring tube
  • Breech seal
  • Cleaning
  • Piston seal
  • Tuning strategy
  • Trigger
  • Insert the piston with the new Vortek seal — tip 2
  • Last thing — the trigger box!
  • Final assembly
  • Summary

Today I disassemble the Beeman R10 and install the Vortek PG3 tuning kit. I installed one of these in the Air Arms PG3 SHO tuning kit in an Air Arms ProSport last year and the results were very positive. But this R10 is a different rifle in many ways, and I will cover that today as we go.

I am going to show you all the differences and nuances of the R10, but I can’t show everything about disassembly. If you want to see that read the 13-part series titled Spring gun tune. That was about a Beeman R1, but most of the steps are the same for the R10. I will address the ones that aren’t.

Start

The barreled action was out of the stock, so the first step was to remove the Rekord trigger and safety. To remove the trigger, drift out the two pins that hold the trigger unit in the end cap.

Beeman R10 trigger out

When the two pins are tapped out the trigger unit is free to be removed.  Once the trigger is out the safety and spring slide out of the end cap.

When I saw the trigger I thought that this rifle has never been apart, because all the factory grease remains on the trigger parts No tuners I know would leave all that grease on those parts. It serves no purpose.

Before someone asks the obvious question of why Weihrauch puts the grease there if it serves no purpose, let me tell you that you have never seen the assembly of an airgun if a factory. It’s fast! The workers are told to squirt a little grease here and there and they do. Some do more and others less. In some countries where it is very hot perhaps the grease melts and runs over the parts. In others it ends up like this. That’s just the way it is.

Some airguns are dwesigned to need much less grease. The Air Arms TX200 Mark III is an example. So less grease is applied and the lubricity of the parts does the rest.

Scope base off

Next I had to do something that’s unique to the R10. The scope base is attached to the end cap by two screws. But the base is also attached to the spring tube by a flange, so the base must come off before the end cap can be removed. And there was a scope stop attached to this scope base that had to come off first.

Once the two screws are out the scope base should slide forward and come out of the spring tube. It’s held in place by a flange that I will show you. This one was stuck, though, by what turned out to be hardened grease. That’s more of an indication that the gun has never been apart. So I partially unscrewed the end cap with the scope base still on the rifle.

Tip 1

The R10 end cap unscrews from the spring tube. When the gun hasn’t been apart for a long time the cap can be hard to start turning. Once the trigger is out of the gun there is a large slot in the end cap where the handle of a crescent wrench can be inserted and used to start the end cap turning. I use the rounded end of a crescent wrench because it is rounded and will not damage the sharp edges of the trigger slot in the end cap. I also use it to tighten the end cap at the end of assembly. I will also grease the end cap threads so it’s easier to remove next time.

Beeman R10 end cap
I have started to unscrew the end cap. The scope base is still attached to the spring tube, but the end cap screws are out so the cap is free to turn.

You can unscrew the end cap by hand until there are 3-4 threads remaining. Then put it into the mainspring compressor and keep tension on the cap as you slowly unscrew it.

Beeman R10 end cap unscrewed
The end cap is unscrewed all the way, but the mainspring is still pressing against it.

I had no idea of how much pretension the R10 mainspring had, but the compressor was set to allow a long one. Good thing, because it turned out there are three inches of pretension on the spring — one is taken up by the end cap threads and the spring has the other two!

Beeman R10 mainspring relaxed
The mainspring has finally relaxed! As you can see, there is a lot of pretension on this spring!

Mainspring

With the end cap off, the mainspring and spring guide could be removed. This spring is unlike any I have ever seen in a Weihrauch product. What I thought was lube on the spring coils was actually just the shiny metal. There was almost no lube on the mainspring, which is consistent with other Weihrauch airguns I have disassembled.

The spring is canted at both ends — rather visibly at one end. This was the reason why there was some vibration when the rifle fired

Beeman R10 mainspring canted
The mainspring was canted noticeably — especially at the end that went over the spring guide.

Once the mainspring was out I could move the scope base forward until it freed up and slid out of the spring tube. 

Beeman R10 SCOPE BASE
Here you see the scope base and the slot in the spring tube where it fits. The square piece on the left underside of the scope base is a flange that slots into the spring tube.

Remove piston

With the mainspring out the cocking shoe is removed from the piston and the piston is slid out of the rifle. There was nearly no lubrication on the piston, either, which leads me to believe that the gun had never been disassembled. If it was, whoever did the work did not lubricate it very well.

Beeman R10 piston
The piston was dry.

Sleeved piston

One R10 quirk is that the piston is sleeved. That reduces the clearance between the piston and the mainspring. The Vortek kit cannot be installed with the sleeve in place, so it has to be removed. There is a small hole at the top of the sleeve to assist you in this task.

Beeman R10 piston sleeve
The piston sleeve has a hole at the top (arrow) to assist in removal.

Beeman R10 piston sleeve 2
This view of the bottom of the piston shows the sleeve better.

Beeman R10 piston sleeve 3
The sleeve is sliding out.

Beeman R10 piston sleeve 4
The sleeve has been removed.

Threaded spring tube

Let me show you the threads in the spring tube. Remember I said that threading the tube was risky? Let’s see why.

Beeman R10 threaded tube
This is the threaded end of the spring tube, where the end cap screws in. There’s not a lot of extra material for leeway.

Breech seal

I was also sent a new breech seal for the rifle. The one that was in the gun looked okay, but when I went to remove it, it broke apart. The Weihrauch seal looks like an o-ring in the gun, but it’s three times as tall and is specially made for their rifles. This replacement seal seemed to be the same tough stuff that the Vortek piston seal is made of.

I’ve never seen a Weihrauch breech seal break apart that way, but I have seen a lot of other airgun seal break apart. So it’s a good thing it was changed. It took me some time to pick out all the broken pieces.

Beeman R10 breech seal
When I tried to pick out the breech seal it crumbled into pieces.

Cleaning

At this point I cleaned the rifle and its parts, plus I looked for any burrs to remove. I found no burrs, and the interior of the spring tube wasn’t that dirty. I use a long dowel with a piece of paper towel wrapped around one end and held on by a rubber band. I usually dip the towel into alcohol, but this time I used acetone, which cleans even faster.

The piston needed to be cleaned inside and out. And I cleaned the head of the piston after removing the old piston seal. The new seal needs to be on a clean piston.

Piston seal

The old piston seal was still in good shape, unlike the breech seal, but since the Vortek kit comes with a new piston seal, I put that one on. It’s made of extremely tough synthetic material which proved a real blessing during assembly.

Tuning strategy

At this point in any tune my experience takes over and I do things my way. When I tuned the Air Arms Pro-Sport I put a thin coating of Tune in a Tube on the mainspring of that PG3 kit, to cut the vibration. The Vortek kit is supposed to dampen all vibration, but I didn’t want to take a chance. But Gene Salvino said in the comments to Part 1 of this report that the Vortek lubricant that is provided is slicker than TIAT, so I decided to give it a try. At worst I would have to open the rifle again to fix my mistake if the kit vibrated.

Here is what Gene said to reader Chris USA,

“DO NOT use TIAT in a Vortek . His [Vortek’s] grease is a synthetic based grease that is very slippery and will not gum up in the cold weather . Zero benefits , the guides shield the noise anyways . TIAT is for high powered guns with factory guides with factory drop in tolerances , the Vorteks are very tight .”

Beeman R10 Vortek kit
The Vortek kit contains a small container of special lube that’s supposed to be much slicker than TIAT.

I lubed the piston seal, the piston body, inside and out, including the central rod that connects to the trigger with the Vortek grease. I lubed the front of the mainspring generously because I couldn’t get the white rear spring guide off the mainspring to lube there. I figured when I cocked the rifle that part of the spring would get some grease.

I didn’t lube the inside of the rifle’s spring tube, which I normally do with moly. The parts that generate friction in the Vortek kit are all held by synthetic parts that have a low coefficient of friction, so I figured Vortek knows what they are doing.

Trigger

I spent some time cleaning the factory grease out of the trigger. Yes, an ultrasonic cleaner is probably the best way to do that, but I don’t have one. So it’s cotton swabs and paper clips for me.

When I had removed as much grease as possible, I then lubed the sear contact point and the piston rod catch with moly grease.  Before doing that I cocked the trigger by pressing down on the rear if the long piston rod catch until the sear caught. I could then examine the sear contact area with a loupe. You will remember that  I told you in Part 1 that this trigger is adjusted perfectly. I don’t want to do anything to mess it up.

Beeman R10 trigger unit
To check the sear contact, cock the trigger by pressing down on the back of the piston catch lever (arrow shows where it is inside the black trigger box) until the sear catches. The sear contact inspection hole is at the lower left.

Beeman R10 sear
The sear contact is enough to be safe, as this trigger is adjusted. This is about a 10X magnification. The factory grease has not yet been removed. 

Insert the piston with the new Vortek seal — tip 2

I tried and tried for 20 minutes to get the new Vortek piston seal into the spring tube. No matter what I did that seal was not going in past the threads. The seal has a small lip on the back that just will not pass the threads in the spring tube.

Beeman R10 piston seal
That small lip on the rear of the Vortek piston seal would not go past the threads in the spring tube.

Finally, after fiddling with the piston for 20 minutes, I decided to “thread” the piston seal past the threads. In other words, to screw the piston into the spring tube. It worked! This kit also works on a Beeman R9, but because its spring tube isn’t threaded, you will not encounter this same difficulty.

It took me about 5 minutes to thread the seal into the tube, but once past the threads the piston slid into the spring tube the rest of the way. It was by no means easy to move the piston inside the tube, but it did move, once the threads were passed. The seal appeared to suffer no damage from being installed this way. That’s what I meant about its toughness.

Once the piston was inside the tube and connected to the new cocking shoe that I lubricated with the Vortek grease, I was able to slide the entire mainspring with its guides into the spring tube. When it was shoved all the way in only about 3/4-inch of the parts stood out, compared to the two inches with the factory spring.

Beeman R10 spring installed
The Vortek spring and guides go into the piston much farther than the factory parts.

Last thing — the trigger box!

You may not know this and you need to learn. Beeman told the owners of R-series rifles not to over-tighten the rear triggerguard screws on their rifles. This is because Weihrauch used to just punch a hole for that screw into the bottom of the trigger box and then thread the metal flanges that were displaced by the punch. Those threads are extremely tenuous! I want you to see them.

Beeman R10 trigger box
There are the threads that hold the rear triggerguard screw. Don’t over-tighten it! 

At some point after this rifle was made, Weihrauch replaced this method with a small nut that slips into the trigger box, but even that is small and not that strong. Just don’t over-tighten that screw!

Final assembly

The R10 went back together the way it came apart. Again I remind you to read the 13-part Spring gun tune report to see the details.  I have given you all the ones where the R10 differs. Once the barreled action was together and was back in the stock, the rifle was cocked and fired to prove everything worked as it should. It did!

The firing cycle is now completely dead and free from vibration. This is as good a tune as I could ever hope for. This Vortek kit works exactly as described and does a remarkable job. It’s a $400 tune for $90, if you do the work. I will say that a mainspring compressor is needed because those fine threads on the end cap are hard to get started.

Summary

I can do a job like this on an R1 in about 45 minutes. This R10 took 3.5 hours to do the same things. Part of that was because the rifle may never have been apart and part of it was the special design of the R10. The Vortek piston seal made installation of the piston take longer, but if you screw the piston in like I mentioned you’ll avoid the time it took me.

So — what did the Vortek kit do for this R10? To find that out you’ll have to read the next part of the story.


The Diana model 50 underlever: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 50
Diana model 50 underlever.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sight in
  • RWS Superdomes
  • The trigger
  • RWS Supermags
  • Feel of firing|
  • RWS Hobbys
  • Why shoot only RWS pellets?
  • H&N Baracuda 4.50 mm head
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Diana model 50 underlever with sporting sights from 25 yards. Let’s see what she’ll do!

The test

I shot indoors from 25 yards off a sandbag rest. I used the artillery hold with the rifle rested on my off hand, about 8-9 inches forward of the triggerguard. The Diana 50 is an underlever, and that steel cocking mechanism makes it heavy up front, so this is the most comfortable way to stabilize it. I shot 10-shot groups at 10-meter pistol targets

Sight in

Because I moved the rear sight forward for this test, I had to sight in the rifle again. The first shot was from 12 feet and impacted at the top of my front sight, so I called it good and backed up to 25 yards. I knew the shots would hit higher from back there, but since the first shot hit at 6 o’clock on the bull and this was a pistol target, I reckoned there was plenty of room.

RWS Superdomes

The first pellet I tested was also the sight-in pellet — the RWS Superdome. At 10 meters this pellet did quite well, though it opened up when I shot it at 25 yards with the peep sight. My group of ten from Part 4 measured 1.044-inches between centers.

This time with the sporting sights 10 Superdomes went into 1.994-inches at the same 25 yards. Throw out the pellet that hit to the left of the rest and 9 are in 1.166-inches. So — not much different but not as good as with the peep sight. There were no pulled shots in this test.

Diana 50 Superdome
Ten RWS Superdomes made a 1.994-inch group at 25 yards, with 9 in 1.166-inches.

The trigger

I have to comment on the trigger. I never adjusted it like I said I might and I think I know why. It’s breaking as a single-stage trigger with a light pull. I can feel the trigger blade move, but with those ball bearings there is absolutely no creep (an erratic start and stop in the blade as it is pulled).

I think this trigger is what reader RidgeRunner talks about when he says he likes single-stage triggers. The Webley Senior straight grip pistol I traded to him has the same sort of trigger, only its blade moves a lot farther. This one is almost a target trigger. It’s just enough resistance to let the shooter know what he is doing.  I normally don’t like single-stage triggers, but I do like this one! I’m glad I left it the way it was.

RWS Supermags

The 9.3-grain RWS Supermag wadcutter is a pellet I haven’t tried in this rifle before. So I thought, “What the heck?”

Ten Supermags went into 1.61-inches at 25 yards. But the firing cycle became very loud and deep — much different than with the Superdomes. The shots also landed lower on the paper.

Diana 50 Supermag
Ten RWS Supermags went into 1.61-inches at 25 yards.

Feel of firing

As it is now set up this Diana 50 does not vibrate at the shot. However, the piston must be heavy, because there is a pronounced forward lurch on every shot.

RWS Hobbys

The next pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. What a marked difference in the shot cycle they made! Hobbys shot very quiet and smooth. I hoped for a miracle in the accuracy department but alas, 10 pellets went into 1.732-inches at 25 yards.

Diana 50 Hobby
The Diana 50 put 10 RWS Hobby pellets into this 1.732-inch group at 25 yards.

Why shoot only RWS pellets?

I would normally run in some JSBs or pellets from some other manufacturer, so why have I shot three pellets from RWS? I did it because in my experience, Diana airguns — especially the vintage ones like this model 50 — really do well with RWS pellets. However, sometimes you have to step out of the ordinary and try something different.

H&N Baracuda 4.50 mm head

I thought I needed to do something drastic to turn things around. So the final group I shot was 10 H&N Baracudas with 4.50 mm heads. From what I saw with the 9.3-grain Supermags, these 10.65-grain domes are way too heavy for this powerplant, and when I shot the first one it was confirmed. The rifle made a loud sound that almost protested the use of this pellet. So, why did I do it?

I have done this with other vintage Dianas many times. Particularly the .22-caliber Diana 27 seems to love the heavy Baracuda against all odds. It makes no protest and tends to group quite well. But this model 50 is a different proposition altogether. But how did it group?

Ten Baracudas went into 1.451-inches at 25 yards. Five of them are in a very small cluster, but the other five are scattered. The group is nice and round, despite being on the large side. It is the smallest group of the test.

Diana 50 Baracuda
Ten H&N Baracuda domes with 4.50 mm heads went into 1.451-inches at 25 yards.

I think Baracudas have such thick skirts that they are not blowing out in the loading tap and sealing the bore as well as they could. Hobbys, in sharp contrast, seal the bore quite well.

Discussion

I was hoping this test would prove that the Diana 50 is a tackdriver, but I guess that is not to happen under my watch. She is a well-made springer that shows innovation in many places, but she’s not a natural shooter like some other Dianas I have had.

I may not have found the right pellet for this rifle — that’s a forgone conclusion. But I think I have given her a good test, nevertheless.

I will say that the little lube tune I gave the rifle in Part 5, while switching the rear sight, was the best thing I could have done besides leaving that trigger alone.

This underlever is solidly built, well finished and very smartly designed. Just looking at her and holding her makes me feel good.

Summary

That will be it for the Diana 50. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to look this deeply into such a fine spring gun.


Crosman MAR 177: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Crosman MAR
The MAR177 from Crosman.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • What happened?
  • Second group with Sig Match Alloy
  • What to do?
  • Air Arms Falcon
  • The trigger
  • Do triggers affect accuracy?
  • Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy
  • RWS Hobby
  • Qiang Yuan Olympic
  • Discussion
  • The rear sight does adjust!
  • Summary

I finally managed to schedule for a minute past midnight, so that is back to normal. Today’s report is a follow-on from last Friday’s report. I am still testing the Crosman MAR177 target rifle’s accuracy with the sights that came with it. And I learned something big today. I hope it will help all of you with your shooting.

Actually, I learned two big things today. I had a stupident that I hope will help the rest of you.

The test

I said at the end of Part 4 that I wanted to test the MAR again, and perhaps with different pellets. That test happens today.

Once again I shot the rifle from a rest at 10 meters. The test was identical to what I did last Friday, and I started with the pellet that proved to be the best — the Sig Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutter.

Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

This rifle was already sighted in as much as I was going to (read what I think about adjusting M16/AR-15 sights in the Part 4 section titled “Sighting in the MAR”), so I just shot the first group. I was relaxed and ready to shoot. Last Friday the MAR put five of these pellets into 0.152-inches at 10 meters. This time five went into 0.492-inches. Disgraceful!

Sig Match Alloy target
Five Sig Match Ballistic Alloy target pellets made this 0.492-inch group at 10 meters. Previously all five pellets had gone into an area the size of the central hole in this group.

What happened?

Am I loosing it? Can I not hold a good group anymore? Am I too old to be shooting? I have to shoot another group to disprove all the unkind thoughts that are running through my mind right now.

Second group with Sig Match Alloy

I concentrated more on the second group. This time I put 5 in 0.339-inches which is better. Better, but not good. If this pellet can put 5 into 0.152-inches it ought to put 10 into 0.20 inches, or so. It shouldn’t just fall apart this way.

Sig Match Alloy target 2
The second target with Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets was better, but not that good. Five pellets are 0.339-inches apart, c-t-c.

What to do?

At this point it was looking like the fault rested with me. I decided to try a different pellet, one that worked well in the first MAR. The Air Arms Falcon pellet is a dome that did very well in 2012.

Air Arms Falcon

I shot 5 Falcons into 0.36-inches. While that is no better than the previous group, something remarkable happened during this group. Let’s look at the group first and then I want to talk to you.

Falcon target
Five Air Arms Falcon pellets went into 0.36-inches at 10 meters. Not a particularly great group, but something great happened while I was shooting it.

The trigger

Remember I said in Part 4 that I had to get used to the Geisselle trigger all over again each time I shot the MAR? That was the key! While I was shooting the first group of Falcon pellets I suddenly focused on the trigger and all my problems went away. The Geisselle trigger is what caused the open groups in the first three targets!

The trigger has a very heavy first stage that’s followed by a second stage that breaks with just 8 ounces more pressure. I said earlier that stage two feels crisp, but that was a mistake. Not only is it not crisp, the Geisselle trigger’s second stage is very creepy when compared to a good airgun trigger. For an AR trigger I suppose it’s okay, but I am shooting the MAR like it is a target rifle and the trigger is not helping me one bit. It is fooling me, which is why I have to reacquaint myself with the trigger every time I shoot the MAR.

I discovered that while shooting the third target of 5 Falcons, and I was so certain that I had found the answer that I shot ten Falcons at the next target. They grouped in 0.254-inches, c-t-c. That’s right, TEN pellets landed in a group that is 0.106-inches SMALLER than five of the same pellets shot just before! And that was all because I now knew how to shoot the Geisselle trigger!

Falcon target 2
Ten Falcon pellets went into 0.254-inches at 10 meters, once I used the Geisselle trigger correctly.

Do triggers affect accuracy?

I have always maintained that triggers do not affect accuracy. They only affect how easy it is to be accurate. Well, that is only partially true, and because of that it is entirely wrong. In Part 4 and now again in Part 5, I have twice been fooled by the trigger at the beginning of the test. Once I learned the trick I have been able to snap back and shoot better. This Geisselle trigger has been a harsh learning tool for old BB!

I always thought in terms of triggers with heavy pulls. Shooters complain about Mauser and Springfield military rifle 2-stage triggers that break at 5 and 6 pounds, and I have had no trouble shooting well with them. But this Geisselle trigger has a heavy first stage that conceals a light but very creepy stage two that has been foiling my attempts at accuracy. Now that I knew stage two is creepy I could deal with it, and I did! I treated it just as I would a creepy single-stage trigger.

Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy

Now that I knew the trigger I fired 10 Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets next. They did so well in Part 4. Well I must have pulled one of the shots because what I got was nine shots in 0.319-inches, with a lone shot opening the group to 0.509-inches — all at 10 meters. It was not a called pull, but I think you can agree that it was me and not the rifle.

Sig Match Alloy target 3
Nine Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets went into 0.319-inches at 10 meters, with the tenth shot opening the group to 0.509-inches.

RWS Hobby

Remember I said I wanted to try some pellets I hadn’t shot before? I have already tried Falcons, so RWS Hobbys were next. Ten of them went into 0.304-inches at 10 meters. That’s surprisingly good for what is considered a practice pellet.

Hobby target
Ten RWS Hobby pellets made this nice round 0.304-inch group at 10 meters.

Qiang Yuan Olympic

The last pellet I tested was the Qiang Yuan Olympic target pellet. They did second-best in the Part 4 test, with 5 going into 0.226-inches. In this test the MAR177 put 10 in 0.255-inches at the same 10 meters.

Chinese Olympic target
Ten Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets went into 0.255-inches — the second smallest group of this test!

Discussion

I learned a valuable lesson about triggers in this test. They can cause inaccuracy in a way I never anticipated. People have been telling me that for years and I always argued against it, but now I see that I was wrong. This Geisselle trigger faked me out with a heavy first stage that concealed a creepy stage two. I was firing before I was ready! And I am not done confessing my mistakes.

The rear sight does adjust!

A reader named Bruce contacted me through my website to tell me that I was mistaken about the rear sight not adjusting. I then argued with him in the comments on the blog. But he was adamant and contacted me a second time off the blog to get my attention. Well, he got it!

I examined the MAR177 rear sight and saw that it clearly does adjust for elevation. Why did I think it didn’t? Was it the manual?

Well, the manual does clearly state that the rear sight adjusts for elevation, but it also goes into a lot of detail about adjusting the front sight. I think I had a flashback to my Army days when I read that and started remembering the bad old days. I ignored the rear sight instructions in the manual and was back at Fort Lewis in 1968 again. Thank you, Bruce, for keeping after me on this. It really does make a huge difference. Now I can shoot from 25 yards as so many readers have asked, and use the open sights as well as a scope.

MAR rear sight
The MAR177 rear sight does, indeed, adjust for elevation. My thanks to reader Bruce, for calling my attention to this fact.

The bottom line is when I make a mistake like this I want it to be brought out. The purpose of this blog is to instruct, period. BB Pelletier is just the imperfect tool that’s used to do it.

Summary

I told you at the beginning of this report that today would be special. I hope it has been. The rear sight oversight is a mistake anyone can make. Now that we are aware of it, the record of the MAR is more complete.

It’s the trigger lesson that really upset me. Oh, I can still work with almost any trigger devised by man. I’m just surprised that it took me so long to figure this one out.

What’s up next? I think next I will back up to 25 yards and give you all what so many have asked for. Now that I can adjust the rear sight, it won’t be difficult to get on target at this distance.