RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft 350 in .177: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Test and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Today, the Feuerkraft gets a quality scope.

When Mac did the accuracy test of the RWS 350 Feuerkraft air rifle, he got mediocre groups with the open sights, but great groups with a peep sight. The rifle quickly killed the scope he had on hand, so we asked him to mount a different scope on the rifle and try again. This time it would be a good scope on good mounts.

Scope up!
We sent Mac a Hawke Eclipse SF 6-24x50AO scope. That’s a scope so good that nobody can complain about it. We also sent him a UTG scope base that has no droop, because 350s are known to not normally droop. To mount the scope, we sent a set of UTG 30mm quick-detatchable scope rings that allow you to move scopes from one gun to another rapidly without destroying the zero. Actually, Mac did a separate test of just the scope rings that has yet to be published. When you see it, you’ll see how nice they are. For now, though, I’ll tell you that he moved the scope from another rifle over to the 350 with absolutely no fuss and only a minute’s worth of work.

Best pellet?
Mac then researched Part 3 of the report and found that the JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes were the best pellets in this rifle. So, instead of wasting his time testing a long list of possible pellets, he confined the test to just this single pellet.

Nine of the ten JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes went into a group measuring 0.62 inches at 30 yards. Shot 10 was a called flier.

Best group
In fact, this is the best group we’ve gotten from this rifle. The previous best group measured 0.66 inches and was shot using a peep sight. I have to believe that we’re seeing the potential accuracy of this rifle at this point. Please remember that these are 10-shot groups, not 5-shot. As such, they’re about 40 percent larger than the best 5-shot groups will be. However, Mac was not done testing the rifle just yet.

The group shot with peep sights was pretty good, too! It measures 0.66 inches and there were no fliers.

Another pellet
I had asked him to also try RWS Supermag pellets, which are heavy wadcutters. Remember that this is being shot at 30 yards, where wadcutter pellets don’t do so well. After 25 yards, wadcutters usually start to open up and cannot usually be counted on to deliver good accuracy. In this case, they did better than expected and gave some interesting insight into their performance. Let’s take a look at what they did.

The heavy RWS Supermag wadcutters in the 350 Feuerkraft displayed some interesting groups. Mac recorded how each pellet felt when loaded, and they landed in these corresponding groups. The overall group measures 1.21 inches across, but you can clearly see three sub-groups within, and that’s where it gets interesting.

Mac was fascinated by how the Supermag pellets felt when he loaded them, so he kept track of each one in a 10-shot group. Some loaded loose and made a lot of powerplant racket when shot, while others loaded tight and shot smooth. Two had loose heads but tight skirts. They also shot smooth. Let’s look at the group and the subgroups they made at 30 yards. All ten shots in the following group were made with the same aim point, and each had the loading feel as indicated on the target.

The most interesting sub-group is the one with four shots at the lower right. Those were the pellets that fit the bore the tightest. I see an interesting correlation between this performance and what my Ballard rifle did at 100 yards, when shooting the largest, tightest bullets I had. As you may remember, in that test the group tightened up into the smallest one of four fired that day once I learned how best to use the rifle’s sights. In firearms that shoot lead bullets, the best performance is always with bullets sized .001 inches to .002 inches larger than the bore at its widest. I wonder if there’s a similar correlation with air rifles and pellets? Well, that’s something I’ll file away and check as I test other airguns.

Overall impressions
For starters, the RWS Diana 350 rifles are big, powerful spring rifles and shouldn’t be bought unless the buyer understands what that means. They’re hard to cock, the kick hard enough to bother cheaply made scopes and they require the best holding technique for good accuracy. Unfortunately, too many brand-new airgunners look at the velocity, alone, when making their choices without understanding what it means in the spring rifle.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced spring gunner and want the power that this model offers, it’s one of the best. It holds like a classic 1903 Springfield rifle and rewards those who take the time to do things right.

RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft in .177: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2

The RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft is a powerful magnum spring rifle. Today, we’ll begin the accuracy test.

Get ready to learn!
Today’s blog about the .177 RWS 350 Feuerkraft air rifle is going to be very educational, especially for newer shooters. What you’re about to see is a comparison of the potential accuracy when using fiberoptic sights, and then the same gun with the same pellet but using a precision peep sight and a solid black front post.

Because of the length of time this test took, we won’t explore the rifle’s accuracy with a scope today. That will be reported on in a special Part 4 report.

Fiberoptic sights
The 350 Feuerkraft has fiberoptic open sights, front and rear. Fiberoptic sights have special light-gathering tubes inserted in them. When you sight the gun, you see a red dot for the front sight and two green dots for the rear. This type of sight is designed to be very fast to acquire, so hunters use them for rapid acquisition in the field. But there’s a tradeoff.

These two green dots in the rear are supposed to frame the one red dot from the front.

This is the thousand-word picture. Here you see the enlarged front fiberoptic tube that presents a wide dot to the shooter to use as an aim point. With this much width, coupled with the imprecision of locating this dot exactly in the center of the two green rear dots, the shooter has no chance for a precise aiming point. The best you get is a general location.

Less precision
The tradeoff is a loss of precision. Because of the size of the optical dots and the difficulty in centering them exactly the same every time, your sight picture allows for several minutes of slop in all directions. In other words, you can be several inches off with every shot at 100 yards. That won’t matter to a deer hunter who is looking to make a quick shot at an eight-inch wide kill zone. But a target shooter could not do so well with that kind of setup.

As airgunners, we don’t shoot at 100 yards very often, and the amount of slop diminishes as the target gets closer. If there’s a four-minute slop at 100 yards, you would be unable to sight any closer than four inches at 100 yards. So, at 25 yards you would have a one-inch error in your aim point. Some hunters can tolerate that much sighting error, but airgunners often can’t, so you need to give this some thought. Let’s see what Mac experienced.

Ten 10.5-grain Crosman Premier pellets made this 2-inch group with the 350 Feuerkraft rifle at 30 yards. This target is a 10-meter pistol target, which Mac needed because he was using open sights at 30 yards.

Ten 9.3-grain RWS Supermag pellets made this 2-inch group at 30 yards. This wadcutter pellet cuts a nice round hole.

Ten JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes made this 1.5-inch group at 30 yards. This was the best group of the test with fiberoptic sights.

Okay, it’s easy to see that Mac is getting between 1.5 and 2 inches for 10 shots at 30 yards with the standard fiberoptic open sights that come on the 350 Feuerkraft. You probably don’t think that’s very good, and I would have to agree. But, let’s not condemn the rifle for this, because it’s not the rifle’s fault.

Kill the fiberoptics and switch to peep sights
Both Mac and I knew the rifle should be more accurate than this. And, we both know that fiberoptic sights are less than precise. Mac had a good idea — mount a peep sight on the rifle and shoot more groups. I told him my method for turning fiberoptic sights into plain sights by changing the lighting. As long as bright light doesn’t fall on the fiberoptic tubes, they don’t glow. Then the sights act just like regular open sights. In this case, Mac removed the rear sight and used a Mendoza peep sight with the front sight of the rifle. By not allowing light to fall on the front sight, he turned it into a black post that he was able to use like any other front target post. The difference in the results is stunning!

Here are 10 shots with the same JSB Exact heavy pellet and the same 350 Feuerkraft rifle at the same 30 yards. This group measures 0.66 inches center-to-center. Pretty dramatic change, no?

Mac shot a couple of groups; but since the temperature was just 16 degrees, he didn’t test all pellets. He chose to use the pellet that had been the most accurate in the first test, and the group shown was the best group he got, though he says they were all sized similarly.

Amazing difference!
This test shows two things very clearly. First, it shows that fiberoptic open sights are not very precise. That’s why I’ve objected to their use on air rifles for so many years. We need enough accuracy to hit ants at 25 yards, and fiberoptic sights have only tin-can accuracy at that distance. That should be very plain and clear to everyone who’s read this report. Mac is a great shooter, as we have seen over the past several months, and fiberoptics were a huge limiting factor to shooting the 350 Feuerkraft well.

The second thing to take away from this report is that the 350 Feuerkraft is a very accurate spring rifle. Putting 10 shots into 0.66 inches at 30 yards is equivalent to putting 5 into a third of an inch at the same distance. So, this rifle can shoot! No question about that. Mac suffered a scope failure when he was testing the rifle with a scope, though he did get a couple half-inch 10-shot groups before that happened. We’re getting him a replacement scope for a part four report.

RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft in .177: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

The RWS Diana 350 Feuerkraft is a budget version of the 350 Magnum powerplant. It still comes with open sights, so nothing more to buy.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity Mac got from his .177 Feuerkraft 350. Mac is a fan of the .177 caliber because of the high velocity. He wants his rifle to shoot flat so he doesn’t have to guess the range to the target as closely, and a .177 gives him the highest velocity.

He also wants a big punch at the target. In that, he’s a lot like many of you — wanting both speed and knockdown power. As a result, he tests all powerful .177s with the heaviest pellets he can find. In this case, they’re the 16.1-grain Eun Jin domes.

When he was ready to test them, Mac discovered that the Eun Jins appeared to have many flaws. For starters, they appeared to him to have come from four different dies. Let interject something at this point. One pellet die does not make just one pellet at a time. It makes 50 or 100 pellets at a time. What Mac may have seen was a gross inconsistency from pellet cavity to pellet cavity in one die. When he tested them for accuracy, he sorted them by weight and, I suppose, by appearance. When he tested velocity, which we’re looking at today, he did not sort the pellets.

Eun Jin pellets
Mac got an average of 682 f.p.s. from the Eun Jin pellets in the Feuerkraft 350. The spread was 18 f.p.s., from 673 to 691 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 16.63 foot-pounds, which Mac feels is disappointing for such a potentially powerful air rifle. I’d like to point out that unless the rifle has been tuned to shoot heavy pellets, a spring rifle will almost always be more efficient with the lighter pellets. To tune for the heavier pellets, the piston’s weight must be increased, but the factory builds it to shoot average weight pellets.

JSB Exact heavy pellets
The next pellet Mac tried was the 10.2-grain JSB Exact dome — the one we call the heavy. It gave an average 938 f.p.s., with a range that reached from 933 to 943 f.p.s. A spread of only 10 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 19.93 foot-pounds, which you can see is a considerable gain over the Eun Jins.

RWS Superdome pellets
Next, Mac tried his favorite — RWS Superdomes. These 8.3-grain pellets averaged 1039 f.p.s,. with a range from 1028 to 1050 f.p.s., a spread of 22 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 19.92 foot-pounds, or very close to what the JSB Exact heavies gave. With that high velocity, I don’t expect much accuracy from them.

RWS Supermag pellets
The 9.3-grain RWS Supermag pellet is a heavy wadcutter that sometimes tames the more powerful spring guns by virtue of its weight. In the Feuerkraft 350, they averaged 955 f.p.s. with an 11 foot-second spread from 951 to 962 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 18.82 foot-pounds. This is good velocity performance, though it may mean nothing when we test the accuracy. That’s why both things must be considered before we can tell what the best pellet is for a given rifle.

RWS Hobby pellets
For a lightweight pellet, Mac tried the old standby RWS Hobby, a 7-grain lead pellet that averaged 1145 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread went from 1130 to 1160 f.p.s., for a total of 30 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 20.38 foot-pounds, which was the highest energy noted during this test. Mac also noted that the pellets fit loose in the breech, though the skirts were undoubtedly blown out into the rifling upon firing.

Crosman Premier heavy pellets
Mac tried the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy domed pellet next. It averaged 891 f.p.s. and the spread ranged from 874 to 911 f.p.s., for a total of 37 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 18.49 foot-pounds. The fit in the bore was tight, which I attribute to the harder lead alloy of the pellet.

RWS HyperMAX pellets
Finally, Mac tried the non-lead RWS HyperMAX pellet. These 5.2-grain wadcutters are designed to get the highest velocity out of a powerful air rifle. They averaged 1293 f.p.s in the Fewuerkraft 350 and the 24 f.p.s. spread went from 1277 to 1301 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy worked out to 19.31 foot-pounds. At this velocity, these pellets should not be very accurate. They also fit the breech very loosely.

Well, that’s a fairly complete test of the potential power of a .177 RWS Diana Feuerkraft 350. As you can see, the lighter .177 pellets are scraping up against the upper boundaries of velocity, where best accuracy is concerned. And some of them go past the limit into the no man’s land of transsonic and even supersonic flight. Those should not give much accuracy at all.

Next time w’ell test the accuracy of this rifle. Because it’s a Diana, I’m thinking it’ll do fairly well when the velocity is kept below 1,000 f.p.s. But, we’ll see.

Webley Alecto – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Webley Alecto

Well, today’s the special fourth report that I promised you. Last time, I said I wanted to try the pistol with hunting pellets on maximum power because of the showing I got with Beeman Kodiaks on three pumps. That’s what today is all about.

Again, I’ll tell you that these are 5-shot groups simply because the Alecto is so darned hard to pump 3 times. Ten-shot groups would have worn me out.

The trigger is the biggest drawback to this pistol. It’s a single-stage pull that doesn’t work for accurate shooting. The stage is heavy, long and creepy with an indistinct release. If the pistol had a better trigger, I think I could have done better with it. It needs a nice crisp two-stage trigger.

Accuracy test
I tested the gun supported from 10 meters. I used a two-hand hold, which is uncharacteristic for me, but necessary with the Alecto because the pumping effort left my shooting arm weak. My forearms rested on the bag, and the pistol was held by only my hands. It touched nothing else.

I changed the lighting during the test, so a couple pellets were shot a second time to ensure they got every chance to excel with the new lighting. The first arrangement of the light was obscuring the left side of the rear sight, so I moved it for a clearer sight picture.

Beeman Kodiak HP
The first pellet tested was the Beeman Kodiak HP, a new hollowpoint pellet. In .177 caliber, this lead pellet weighs 10.34 grains. In the Alecto, they were all over the place, grouping larger than two inches at 10 meters, so I cannot recommend them for this gun.

JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome
The JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome was pretty accurate in the Alecto. Because I changed the downrange lighting, I tested this pellet twice. Once I got a group about .75 inches for 5 and the second time the group was just over an inch. That seems like consistent performance to me.

This is the better target for the JSB Exacts. The group is just smaller than .75 inches.

Crosman Premier heavy
Next, I tried Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets. They grouped about as good as the JSBs.

Crosman Premier heavy pellets made this one-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Supermags
Someone suggested that I test the RWS Supermag pellet in the Alecto, because, at 9.3 grains, they have the dual advantage of weight and the wadcutter shape that hunters like for close shots. When I shot them, they produced a teaser group in which 4 shots are in a tight cluster of just over a half-inch, but the fifth shot opens the group to double the size. I would say that you should put Supermags on your short list of pellets to try.

What a tease! Four RWS Supermags went into such a tight group, then one opened it to twice the size.

Air Arms Diabolo Field dome
Talk about teasing, the Air Arms Diabolo Field dome pellets did exactly the same thing. Four shots in just over a half inch then one stray that more than doubled the group. These should be on your list to try, as well.

More teasing. Air Arms Diabolo Field domes made this tantalizing group.

H&N hollowpoint pellet
The best showing with the Webley Alecto came with the new H&N hollowpoint pellet. At just 7.1 grains, this pellet is light and fast. In the Alecto, it’s the best pellet I tried. The 5-shot group is just over six-tenths of an inch in size, and I didn’t do anything different. I shot a second group just to be sure. While it was a little larger, it wasn’t more than three-quarters of an inch. That’s superior performance from this new hollowpoint.

Best group of the session came from the H&N hollowpoint.

Bottom line
It was well worth a second look at the accuracy of the Webley Alecto. We know it’s useful both for target work and hunting. Three pumps is hard work, but this pistol can deliver the results many airgun hunters have been waiting for.