Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) Synthetic: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 34 EMS
Diana 34 EMS with synthetic stock.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • Scope
  • The test
  • Pellets
  • Sight-in
  • JSB Exact Heavy domes
  • Crosman Premier Heavy
  • Trigger
  • Heavy pellets
  • H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head
  • Evaluation so far
  • Summary

Okay. Today is the test many have been waiting for — the Diana 34 EMS at 25 yards. How accurate is it?

Scope

I scoped the rifle with an older  UTG AccuShot 4-16X50AO scope, mounted in BKL 2-piece double-strap one-inch rings. Since the scope was already shimmed in the rings I figured they would adjust to the point of aim relatively easily.

The test

I shot from 25 yards with the artillery hold and my off hand rested on a sandbag. I will note that with the thumbhole stock I’m testing a true artillery hold isn’t possible, but I held the rifle as loosely as possible. My off hand was at the rear of the cocking slot.

I shot 10-shot groups today. I have to say the EMS is easy to cock and you don’t have to slap the muzzle to break it open. This is a very well-behaved air rifle.

Pellets

I selected JSB Exact Heavy domes from the test at 10 meters. In that test we learned that the 34 EMS likes heavier pellets that are also larger. So I also selected two heavier pellets that I hadn’t tried before. When you see the results I think you’ll agree I picked two good ones.

Sight-in

I shot a single JSB Heavy pellet at 12 feet and confirmed that the scope was close enough on for me to back up to 25 yards. Once there it took me three more shots to get on target. Of course I didn’t want to hit the center of the bull and destroy my aim point, so all groups will be at the edge of the black.

JSB Exact Heavy domes

First up was the sight-in pellet. The first shot landed in the top of the bull and I thought it was perfect, but the next several landed high and outside. When all 10 had been shot I had a somewhat vertical group that measures 0.675-inches between centers. It’s a little larger than I would like from this rifle, but there were no shots that were called pulls.

Diana EMS JSB Heavy
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 JSB Exact Heavy pellets into 0.675-inches at 25 yards.

Crosman Premier heavy

The second pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. These pellets are sometimes the best of all, and today was one of those days. The 34 EMS put 10 of them into a tight 0.619-inches at 25 yards. 

Diana EMS Premier heavy
Crosman Premier heavys wanted to stay together when shot from the Diana 34 EMS. Ten went into 0.619-inches at 25 yards.

Trigger

You may recall that the 34 EMS has a different trigger that is not crisp like the Diana T05 or T06. This trigger has a second stage through which the trigger blade moves considerably. It’s light enough, but not crisp. I have said that it feels like a single-stage trigger, once you get to stage two. I got used to it in Part 3 and today I was able to do good work with it. I still can’t tell when the rifle is about to fire, but pulling the trigger has no adverse effect on the stability of the crosshairs.

Heavy pellets

I think there is something to this thing about heavy pellets and the EMS. It seems to like them a lot. If you get one of these, try it with heavy pellets first.

H&N Baracuda with 4.50mm head

The third pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda with a 4.50mm head. I just knew this one was going to shoot well and it did. Ten of them went into 0.634-inches at 10 meters.

Dioana EMS Baracuda
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 H&N Baracudas with 4.50mm heads into a 0.634-inch group at 25 yards.

Evaluation so far

I really like the Diana 34 EMS. It is different than the Diana 34 of the past that we knew, but it is a worthy air rifle in it’s own right. Yes, Diana shouldn’t have touted the barrel shimming and caliber swaps before they worked out the details, but that marketing blunder has no bearing on the rifle’s excellence.

I don’t often select spring rifles to shoot at 50 yards, but I’m choosing this one. With luck I’m thinking we could see ten pellets in less than one inch.

Summary

If you have been waiting to see whether the Diana 34 EMS was a worthy air rifle, I think that point has been proved. I would recommend getting the wooden stock just so you can shoot with the full artillery hold, but if money is an object this synthetic thumbhole stock can also shoot. Today demonstrates that.

I just hope Diana makes the gas pistons, barrel shims and different caliber barrels available soon. I would sure like to try them out!


Saving money at any expense

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Crosman Premiers
  • A dollar cheaper
  • Cut a slot in your head!
  • Back to airguns
  • Which one?
  • How to choose
  • Same for airguns
  • We’ve been invaded!
  • Whatcha do
  • Summary

Ahhh! Saving money. Many of the airgunners I know will go to extremes to do it, and it often costs them a lot.

Crosman Premiers

I remember back in the middle ’90s, when the Crosman Premier pellet was the talk of the airgun world. Everybody wanted Premiers because they flew so straight in so many airguns. I remember talking to the Crosman engineer who designed the Premier. He attended an airgun show in Baldwinsville, New York, and no, it wasn’t Ed Schultz. He told me he designed the Premier line to be aerodynamic and when the design was finalized, all the pellets in the line were very aerodynamic. So Premiers flew straight and true and everybody wanted them.

A dollar cheaper

But because they were airgunners, everybody wanted the cheapest Premiers they could buy. So when Rick Willnecker offered Premiers in his store at a dollar a box less than what they sold for online, the hunt was on! One guy on my Airgun Letter yellow forum bragged about driving from southern Virginia to Rick’s place in Pennsylvania, where he saved five dollars! He drove over 200 miles round trip to do it and spent the better part of a day on the road. Some savings!

Cut a slot in your head!

When I worked as a contractor, teaching members of the Department of Defense how their acquisition system worked, the talk was always about saving money. And yet the actions that were taken were often just the opposite. The systems my clients bought were huge telecommunications systems that were unique, as in one of a kind. They used minicomputers, which in those days were VAX 11-780s — tall cabinets the size of two large school lockers, and the systems might have dozens of them! We were also pushing the state of the art, when it came to the response times of these systems.

Guys, when you build a unique system you want it to work well, come in on time and be cheap. Pick two of those three things, because it is impossible to get all three! I got so frustrated with this “buying on the cheap” mindset that I told my clients if they wanted to save money they should cut a slot in their head and become a piggy bank.

Back to airguns

How does this relate to airguns? Simple! You want a pellet rifle that’s pleasant to shoot, accurate and has a good trigger. Looks aren’t as important, but you don’t mind if the gun you get looks traditional. You want a .177 because you are getting this airgun just to plink and to have some fun. Your choices are a Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with a lightning gas ram, an HW 30S and a Shining Mountain single shot. These three are all breakbarrels that shoot at under 700 f.p.s.

The Woods Raider QT XDR retails for $249. The HW 30S retails for $299 — $339, when it’s in stock, but it seems to be sold out everywhere. The Shining Mountain sells for $169-199.

Which one?

You are not new to airguns. You know that the Shining Mountain breakbarrel is from China. It could be good, but it’s being sold by small fly-by-night dealers on eBay and Amazon, and you also know that the accuracy will be a crap shoot. Some of the dealers will be honest and easy to deal with if you get a rifle that’s lousy, but you just went through a nasty return experience with a no-name dealer and you aren’t up for another one so soon.

The Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram is being sold by a major distributor and Pyramyd Air has them in stock. However, you know that this rifle is also probably Chinese, so you will be taking the same chance with accuracy as you would with the Shining Mountain. The good news is there are two reputable companies between you and this purchase. Both of them have good reputations for customer satisfaction. But still, there is all that doubt about the DNA of the airgun. And it has a gas piston that, I don’t care who made it, always makes the rifle a little harder to cock.

And then there is the HW 30S. Without question this one is the most expensive of your three choices and what’s worse, it isn’t available right now. You just got your income tax refund and you want an airgun!

The HW 30S will be smooth and accurate. You know that it will have the best trigger of all three choices and also that Weihrauch air rifles are made to be serviced by their owners. So, if you ever want to modify it or to lubricate it, this is the only one of the three that makes it easy for you.

How to choose

Allow me to reflect on how a 73 year old diabetic looks at something like this. It’s lunchtime and I want a hot fudge sundae for dessert. I have the ice cream, the whipped cream and the hot fudge on hand to make it. I know that if I eat one right now my blood sugar will be off the chart for the next two days. And also, because I am lactose intolerant, there could be problems during my daily walk that comes up in about three hours.

Having gone down this trail many times in the past I have learned that abstinence always hurts up front, but it also almost always pays off in the long run. I say almost always, because sometimes I just gotta have that sundae!

Same for airguns

It’s the same for airguns. Right now you can’t find an HW 30S for sale in the United States.  But there are still plenty of Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDRs with lightning gas rams and Shining Mountain breakbarrels for sale. Why?

We’ve been invaded!

The socio-political events of recent times have driven all the packrat airgunners in the United States to fill their nests with shiny trinkets to the point that there is no room for them anymore. Also, a hundreds-of-times larger herd of packrats has crossed over from the world of firearms. They can’t find enough 9mm, .40 cal. and .223 Remington ammo to fuel their weekly habit of punching paper, and they heard that airguns are the next best thing. They are used to paying thousands of dollars for an all-up AR-15 and when they saw that the HW 30S was only $339, they figured that was chump change.

These guys listened to all of you before they made any purchases and you warned them about the Shining Mountain breakbarrels and the Beauregard Woods Raider QT XDR with lightning gas ram. They were able to run over the barbed wire entanglement that you guys fell on in your years of becoming airgunners, by stepping on your backs. And now there is no toilet paper in the airgun world. Whaddaya do?

Whatcha do

You can buy what’s out there right now, and in a few days the brown Santa (or the dark blue Tooth Fairy) will deliver a happy package to your doorstep. Or, you can grit your teeth and commit to spending even more money by ordering an HW 30S from whomever will take your order. And then you wait. Yeah — I hate waiting too, but what’s even worse than waiting is opening that happy package and discovering that you now have to justify an air rifle that’s deficient in multiple ways, when old BB Pelletier told you there is something much better. Darn it, BB, why didn’t you stick to straight razors?

Summary

There are a lot of ways to go, these days, but not all of them will get you where you want to be. This stuff is so easy for me to write because over the years I have made all these mistakes — many times!


Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) Synthetic: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 34 EMS
Diana 34 EMS with synthetic stock.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • Norma Golden Trophy
  • JSB Exact Heavy
  • The trigger
  • Firing behavior
  • RWS Superdome
  • Impressions so far

Today we begin looking at the accuracy of the new Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS). It’s a breakbarrel with a conventional coil-wound steel mainspring that will, at some time in the future, be convertible to the N-TEC gas piston system. It will also be able to exchange the barrel at some point in the future, which means the user can change calibers.

We have already seen that this rifle has some power without being ridiculous. The trigger is light and vague, and today we will find out how that affects things downrange.

The test

I decided to just get used to the rifle today by shooting at 10 meters and using the open sights. I got rid of the fiberoptic rear sight and replaced it with the black notch Diana included with the rifle. The target was lit brightly, which canceled out the fiberoptic front bead, allowing me to aim precisely at each bull. The front sight post is rounded, but I was able to balance the black bull on the rounded center of the post.

I shot 10-shot groups off a rest, using the artillery hold. The rifle was held as lightly as possible, but the thumbhole stock makes it hard to use a true artillery hold. Still when you see the results I think you’ll see I did okay.

RWS Hobby

Because this is a Diana rifle, I figured RWS pellets would be good. I started with 7-grain Hobby wadcutters. Sight-in took 4 shots and then I moved to a clean bull for the first group. Ten pellets went into a scattered group measuring 1.019-inches between the centers of the two widest shots. That rules out Hobbys for this rifle.

Diana EMS Hobby group
The Diana 34 EMS put ten RWS Hobbys into a 1.019-inch group at 10 meters.

Norma Golden Trophy

Next I tried ten Norma Golden Trophy domes. They gave me a second scattered group that measures 1.54-inches between centers. One pellet that hit below and to the left of the main group was not a called pull.

Diana EMS Norma Golden Trophy group
Ten Norma Golden Trophy domes went into 1.54-inches at 10 meters. The pellet that’s low and left was not a called pull.

JSB Exact Heavy

The next pellet to be tested was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy dome. People have reported doing well with this pellet in the EMS.

Ten made a tight 0.392-inch group at 10 meters. Now, we are talking! This is the sort of performance I expected from a Diana 34.

0Diana EMS JSB Exact Heavy group
Ten JSB Exact Heavys went into 0.392-inches at 10 meters. The Diana 34 EMS can shoot!

The trigger

By this point in the test I had fired 34 rounds and had gotten accustomed to the trigger. Although it is a two-stage unit and although I can feel when stage two begins, it acts much more like a single stage trigger. It moves smoothly through stage two and releases at an unknown point that I was able to get used to. There is no creep in the trigger — just a smooth travel of the blade through stage two. If you like a single stage trigger you will love this one!

Firing behavior

The firing cycle is quick and solid. I don’t see how a gas piston could do any better. Maybe because the piston would be lighter there would be less of an impulse at firing, but that’s about it.

Now I know for certain what the Diana 34 EMS reminds me of. It reminds me of a Diana 34 that has been tuned with a Vortek PG3 HO kit. I have tuned a number of different rifles with that kit and this EMS shoots exactly like one of them. The action is quick and there is no residual vibration. Diana, you did an excellent job in designing this one!

RWS Superdome

The last pellet I tried in the Diana 34 EMS was the RWS Superdome. Just before shooting these I dialed the rear sight down several clicks. Ten Superdomes went into 0.562-inches at 10 meters. I now know two pellets I will try when I scope this rifle!

Diana EMS Superdome group
The Diana 34 EMS put 10 RWS Superdomes into a 0.562-inch group at ten meters.

Impressions so far

Diana did this one right. It’s accurate, powerful and free from vibration. The trigger acts like a smooth, light single stage. The open sights adjust well. I’m looking forward to trying the rifle with a scope.


Things this blog has taught me: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Steel dreams
  • Steel dreams become real things!
  • Let’s look at this rifle
  • Back to today
  • Postscript

This report is inspired by reader RobertA from New Zealand. He has been modifying a Gamo CF-S springer and sharing the experience with us in the comments. He is now struggling with a mainspring made from 3mm wire, which is 0.118-inches in diameter. He replaced the stock spring that was 2.3mm (0.091-inches) in diameter. Now his rifle is rough and recoils more than it did before. Here is what he said.

Hello! Another update on my Gamo CF-S monster…

Changing up from the 2.3 mm wire spring to the 3mm wire spring has been a bit of a shock. Kept getting my nose hit with the dioptre sight. It was not fun after a while! Pellets definitly fly much faster but the TWANG and rifle kick/wobble is remarkable. The 2.3 mm spring is really quite nice, but slow. The .177 pellets are going through 1/3 inch pine plywood with no concern at 20m. For a giggle I swapped out the dioptre for the 4×32 scope, eye relief means I don’t get hit in the nose. ouch. A relaxed shoot with a friend and we were having a laugh. Lots of banter and very little serious shooting. Fun! But we got a few 10’s!

Here is a pic of the rifle with the scope ( still no cheek rest yet… I know I need to make one…) and the best looking target. I was shooting sitting in camp chair ( best way I reckon…) and trying not to laugh at my mates balderdash. ( he kept claiming all my good shots as his own… the cad. ) Hope you are all good and things are fine!” Robert.

This reminded me SO MUCH of the Steel Dreams report that I’m reposting the ENTIRE report for you today. I believe there are a lot of folks who haven’t seen it yet. I’m editing it to make it a single report. Here we go.

Steel Dreams

More than a decade ago (this was published in 2008, so I’m referring to the late 1990s), I saw a curious rifle at the Little Rock Airgun Expo. It looked something like a Beeman R1 but was quite a bit larger. When the seller told me that it was a handmade, one-of-a-kind rifle that was designed to be a more powerful R1, I couldn’t resist buying it. I had just published the R1 book, and here was a great follow-on story that needed to be told.

Vissage rifle
This curious Springer is a monster.

Steel dreams

The inventor of this rifle, Steve Vissage, had seen the Beeman R1 and wanted a rifle that would put a .22 pellet into the supersonic realm. That was quite a goal for a spring-piston gun of the early 1980s, and it still hasn’t been reached today by any except a few PCPs (remember — this was written originally in 2008). Steve thought the best approach was to increase the diameter of the piston and to increase the length of the stroke — some of the same topics we frequently discuss on this blog.

Now I’ll tell you why I am making this report. A number of our new readers are asking the same questions that Steve Vissage asked back in 1981. What does it take to get more power from a spring-piston air rifle? Back in 1982, the R1 was the most powerful spring-piston gun in the world. At 940 f.p.s. in .177, it offered velocity undreamed of 5 years earlier.

When the R1 came out, Robert Beeman wrote in his catalog that it took more than just a powerful mainspring to boost power in a springer. But, because those catalogs are now collector’s items, a lot of newer airgunners haven’t had the opportunity to read them. Many who might have read them don’t believe what Beeman said. What Steve Vissage did is what many of you think should be possible today, and I want to share my observations on that topic.

Steel dreams become real things!

Vissage built three rifles, of which mine was the first. Let me explain what’s so different about talking about airguns and actually building them. When guys start discussing airguns, anything seems possible; but, whenever Vissage made a decision, it got locked into steel…not easily changed. Even if he did make some changes, there was still a cost involved for the original decision that was not followed. Steel dreams cost more and take longer than daydreams. If you don’t understand what I’m driving at, you will by the time this report is finished.

Vissage baseblock marks
The date of manufacture and serial number are stamped on many exterior parts. SS stands for supersonic and V1 stands for Vissage model 1.

Vissage baseblock marks left

Both sides of the baseblock and spring tube are marked similarly.

Let’s look at this rifle

A stock R1 (The Beeman R1 was discontinued but the HW 80 that was its foundation still exists) weighs 8.9 lbs., give or take. Many new airgunners feel it’s far too heavy, and they’re also impressed by it’s sheer size. The Vissage rifle weighs 11 lbs. It’s also longer than the R1, but I don’t seem to have recorded the length. (I was told by the seller that) The barrel came from an Anschutz target rifle; and, since Anschutz doesn’t make target air rifles in .22 caliber, I think that means it’s a .22 rimfire barrel. So, accuracy was out the window, because .22 rimfire bores are several thousandths larger than air rifle bores, and don’t fit pellets very well. (After speaking with Vissage I sorted this confusion out.)

The spring tube, end cap, baseblock and cocking link are all custom-made parts.I spoke to Steve and he told me he reckoned he put $600-700 1980’s dollars into making this one rifle. The wood stock came from an HW80. It was opened up to receive the 40-thousandths-larger spring tube. The forward stock screws are very close to the end of the forearm. Look closely at the first photo, and you’ll see they had to be moved forward almost an inch.

Vissage end cap
Just so there is no doubt who made the gun, Steve put his address on the end cap. He later moved from that address. See that flathead screw ahead of the end cap? That’s how the end cap is held to the spring tube.

The sights are stock Weihrauch items, the same as come on an R1. There is no provision for mounting a scope. The entire rifle is plated with Armaloy, a tough material used on tactical handguns. It is said to resist wear and to be self-lubricating.

The trigger is a Rekord, which was very popular back in the 1980s. Vissage would have been able to get one easily, since they had been on the HW35 for at least 20 years at that time. This is a good place to reflect that he used the factory trigger and sights instead of inventing his own. By this point in the project, he’d sunk a lot of money into this rifle, and inventing a whole new trigger would have cost him more than all he had spent to this point. Don’t forget that all the internal parts – the piston and mainspring, for instance, have to be made from scratch, because the entire rifle has different dimensions than a standard R1.

Speaking of different dimensions, how does Vissage get a stock Rekord trigger to line up with the piston hook if all the internal dimensions are different? Details like that are always overlooked when guys talk about airguns; but, when you actually build one, you want to cock it!

Vissage trigger
Here is what happens when dimensions change. The Rekord trigger had to be suspended at a different point inside the end cap in order to align with the piston hook. See the empty hole at the top left? That’s where the safety button is supposed to go if this were an R1, but ooops – it doesn’t contact the trigger because the end cap is larger than an R1 cap. Look at the picture before this and see the other side of the cap. No safety!

Naturally, as a red-blooded airgunner, I put it through the chronograph first thing. The cocking effort was 53 lbs., compared to a Beeman R1 that cocks with 36-41 lbs. of force. So, while the rifle isn’t the heaviest-cocking springer I’ve ever tested (that distinction belongs to a Hatsan 135 that took 75 lbs. to cock), it certainly wasn’t built for casual plinking.

The firing behavior was harsh. There was a huge lunge forward plus lots of vibration. The big lunge means a heavy piston, and the vibration usually means a canted mainspring. I said that the barrel was an Anschutz, but I found in my notes that Steve Vissage told me he thought he remembered putting a Webley Osprey barrel on the gun.That would have had the proper dimensions for a .22 caliber pellet.

The velocity I got with 14.5-grain Eley Wasp pellets was 755 f.p.s. I checked with the two .22 caliber R1 rifles I used in the R1 book, and they averaged 725 f.p.s. and 751 f.p.s. after 1,000-round break-ins. Steve Vissage remembered a velocity of around 800 f.p.s. with this gun, but that could have been with a different pellet.

Then, I disassembled the rifle. I was all set to use a mainspring compressor, but Steve told me the mainspring was under about a half-inch of preload. So, I removed those three machine screws and the one triggerguard screw, and the end cap popped up by less than a quarter-inch. I guess over time the spring had scragged (taken a set length from which it will never diminish until it wears out).

preload
Not a lot of spring preload. Vissage saved some money by not threading the end cap like a Weihrauch.

With the end cap off, the mainspring came out, and it’s a monster! Its 32.5 coils are made from 0.190″ ASTMA 410 silicone chrome wire. The compressed length is 6.175″, which must be a record for spring rifles. The mainspring weighs 12.2 oz. (RobertA — this is for you).

An R1 mainspring weighs 6.3 ounces, in comparison, or just over half what this one weighs. Look at the photo for a comparison.

Vissage springs
Guess which spring goes in the Vissage rifle? The R1 spring on top is worn-out and canted. The Vissage spring is also canted, although this picture doesn’t show it.

The piston came out next. It weighs 18.2 oz. and is 1.30″ in diameter, while an R1 piston weighs 12.6 oz. and is 1.147″ in diameter. Vissage had the piston tempered and shot-peened to relieve stress. The piston rod was hardened and drawn to a dark straw color. That should make it file-hard. The spring guide is also proportionately larger than the R1 guide.

Vissage pistons
Vissage’s piston weighs over a pound and dwarfs the R1 piston beside it. Those two things on the left are the respective spring guides.

A close examination of the piston seal revealed several flat spots, which are burn marks from excessive friction. Vissage told me he put a lot of effort into the selection of material for the piston seal. He was looking for high-lubricity and tolerance for high-temperatures from the heat of compression. Those flat spots told me the seal was too dry and was wearing from the friction with the chamber.

Vissage seal
See the flat spot that’s facing you? That’s a burn due to friction.

After seeing the massiveness of these parts, I felt that some velocity was lost by a slowdown in acceleration of the piston. The weight of the piston told me where the rifle’s powerful forward lunge was coming from. However, before you start criticizing Vissage, let me tell you that Jim Maccari once made a plastic piston for a TX200 to accomplish just the opposite – faster acceleration from lighter weight. That gun vibrated like a jar full of mad hornets, so you can go too far either way. And if people hadn’t experimented in this way, none of us would ever know!

The piston seal is not a parachute design. Perhaps there’s some loss of pressure around the sides, where the high-pressure air has nothing to confine it. A parachute seal would inflate and push its sealing edges against the cylinder walls, but this seal can’t do that.

I lubricated the piston seal with Beeman M-2-M moly grease before installing it again. The mainspring received a coat of Maccari’s black tar to cut the vibration (Today I’d use Tune in a Tube). All friction points received a coat of M-2-M grease. The thin washers at the pivot point had never been lubricated. Steve counted on the Armaloy plating to self-lubricate, but I found it mostly scraped away when I disassembled the rifle. So, I used moly paste on the washers, and the cocking got smoother.

When the gun was back together, it felt like the cocking effort had diminished, when in fact it had actually increased by 2 lbs.! It was smoother but also a little harder to cock. The velocity with Wasps averaged 776 f.p.s., but that dropped to 767 pretty fast. I imagine the rifle will sink back to 755 in time. It vibrated much less this time, though there was still some present.

Sorry to say that I never shot the Vissage rifle for accuracy. I was more interested in how the powerplant performed; and, as we saw, it was about like a factory R1.

When I tuned a standard Beeman R1 with a Venom Mag 80 Laza kit, the average velocity with Eley Wasps jumped to 840.8 f.p.s., and the firing behavior was as smooth as glass. The Venom kit was the first to offer Delrin button bearings ( read my 10-part report on the Diana 45 to learn about them) to float the piston in the spring tube. It took 50 lbs. of effort to cock, but the return was a much more powerful air rifle.

That’s the tale of a man and his quest for speed. The other two rifles he built were a .177 and a rifle with both .177 and .22 barrels, which he kept for himself. Vissage never went supersonic in .22 caliber, but I bet he knew a lot more about what goes into a powerful spring rifle after this project was over! And, now, we all know a little more.

Back to today

Okay, there is a LOT more to talk about. I have reader Michael’s Walther LGV on hand to tune right now. It’s the gun that Michael said squeaked when cocked. He sent it into Umarex USA but wasn’t satisfied with it when he goit it back. I told him I would take a look at it and attempt to fix whatever is wrong.

Well, this rifle doesn’t squeak now; it’s dead quiet when cocked. To me that means that the technicians at Umarex USA lubricated the piston seal corerectly. But it has the worst vibration I have ever felt in an air rifle when shot. How Umarex could have returned it this way and say that it’s fixed is beyond me!

Postscript

That’s what this series will be about — getting a spring rifle to fire smoothly so it is a delight to shoot. I probably should have made this a Friday blog because I expect a lot of comments. And though we start with a lot of history, this isn’t an historical blog, either.  I hope that this is a common-sense report about how a spring rifle ought to be set up. That’s my goal, anyway.

And, as a second postscript, Steve Vissage passed away years ago.


Diana 34 Easy Modular System (EMS) Synthetic: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Diana 34 EMS
Diana 34 EMS with synthetic stock.

This report covers:

  • Diana listened
  • 2020 SHOT Show Day 4
  • Variations
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • The rifle
  • Firing behavior
  • Stock
  • Barrel swap and droop compensation
  • What comes with the rifle
  • What doesn’t come
  • Summary

Today we start our look at the Diana 34 EMS breakbarrel air rifle. The title of the first section will set the theme of today’s report.

Diana listened

I saw this rifle at the 2020 SHOT Show, but the Diana booth where it was, was unmanned every time I stopped there and the rifle was inside a glass case. It was in there because it was disassembled to show the features. Here is what I said.

2020 SHOT Show Day 4

Okay, several of you (RidgeRunner) keyed in on this before I was ready to report it. Diana has redesigned their popular model 34 breakbarrel, yet again. But this time the changes were large and noticeable. They call it their Easy Modular System (EMS). I’ll start with the elephant in the room — barrel alignment! Yes, sports fans, Diana has finally seen that barrel droop is not a good thing, and they give you the ability to adjust it out with shims. Please forgive the photo that follows, but they put everything inside a plexiglass case and photography is quite difficult!

Diana shims
Here you can see two of the redesigned Diana 34 features. The cocking link is now articulated and Diana  provides shims to adjust the barrel droop.

Besides the droop issue they have made the barrel changeable and threaded the muzzle with a silencer-friendly 1/2-inch by 20 UNF thread. The sights are also changeable. Better still, the rifle can be converted to a gas piston, if desired. Wow — it’s almost as though they know what we want!

Variations

The 34 EMS comes in both .177 and .22. I’m testing a .177. It also comes in either a conventional wood stock or a synthetic stock with a thumbhole. Personally I like the conventional stock best, but I ordered the thumbhole variation so I could report on it for you.

Trigger

The two-stage trigger is adjustable for the length of the first stage pull, the second stage let-off point and the trigger weight. As I fired the rifle a few times today I discovered that the trigger is set far too light as it came from the factory. There is also not a definite second stage stop point. The rifle fired before I was ready, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I will have to adjust the trigger to shoot this rifle safety.

The manual says to use a 1.5mm Allen wrench to adjust the trigger but the trigger on the test rifle has slotted screws in all three adjustment places. Thankfully I bought a set of long-bladed screwdrivers with small blades recently, because these screw are just slightly larger than the screws in eyeglass frames.

The trigger blade is nearly straight and I like the shape a lot. When I get the trigger adjusted for me I know I will be able to do some good work with this rifle.

Sights

The rifle comes with fiberoptic sights front and rear, but for those who don’t like them (which includes me) the front sight can be exchanged. The Diana manual says you can get a premium front sight (a globe with interchangeable inserts) from specialist dealers. Pyramyd Air comes to mind as the biggest specialist dealer in the world, but they do not yet have any information on the optional front sight.

Since the front sight can be removed, Diana gives you a way of knowing when the new sight is on the rifle straight. It involves two alignment bars. They even tell you how to align the sight in the owner’s manual. But the alignment bars are not included with the rifle, or at least my test rifle didn’t have them. I can guesstimate the sight alignment anyway, so nothing is lost, but be aware the bars are not included.

The Pyramyd website says that the rear sight can also be exchanged, but the manual doesn’t address it. The signage in the Diana booth said the same thing, so perhaps it will be at some point in the future, but at this time there is no telling.

But the rear sight did come with something I have never before seen. You can remove the fiberoptic rear sight blade and replace it with a non-fiberoptic one. Maybe this is what Diana means by a replacement?

Diana 34 rear sight blade
The non fiberoptic rear sight blade came in a plastic bag, but it’s now mounted on the rifle.

The rifle

The Diana 34 EMS is a spring-piston air rifle that cocks by breaking the barrel down. I will measure the effort to cock in Part 2, but I can already tell it’s over 30 pounds. The rifle is 46.3-inches long, so it’s a big one. And the synthetic stock is wide through the forearm, though the very vertical pistol grip is slimmer and fits my hand fine. The thumbhole stock is ambidextrous and doesn’t hinder the hands either way. I suppose if your hands are large it could get in the way, but normal hands will find that it works.

Firing behavior

Of course I have shot the rifle several times, just to get a feel for it. I can tell you that there is no vibration when it fires. I don’t see any reason why you would want to install an N340 gas piston unit, but Diana designed the EMS to accept it.

Stock

The synthetic stock is roughly textured in all the right places and it really works. The rifle does not slip in the hands. The flat and thin rubber butt pad is semi-soft and grippy. You can position the butt anywhere on your shoulder that you want. And the stock sounds and feels solid, which will be welcomed by many airgunners.

The 34 EMS synthetic weighs 7.85-pounds so it’s not a lightweight. You know you’re holding something!

Barrel swap and droop compensation

This is one area where the manual leaves you wondering. There is no mention of how the barrel is exchanged or how to use the barrel shims. In fact, if I didn’t get a picture of the shims at SHOT last year we wouldn’t even know what they look like.

What comes with the rifle

The rifle comes with the manual, the spare rear sight blade and a package of stickers the manual says can be pasted over the spring tube holes for the scope stop that you don’t use. That’s a solution to a problem I never heard of.

What doesn’t come

You don’t get the optional front sight, the alignment bars, the barrel shims or instructions on how to remove the barrel and use the shims. There are also no tools that come with the airgun.

Summary

The Diana 34 EMS is the next generation of the venerable Diana 34. The older design is no longer available. So this test will tell us how well the Diana 34 tradition has been maintained.

The new rifle appears to be powerful and seems to have a very nice trigger. I hope it is accurate, and with the Diana name on the airgun it seems quite likely that it is.


Mondial Oklahoma spring-piston pistol: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Oklahoma
The Mondial Oklahoma pistol.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Further tie-ins to the Roger CO2 pistol
  • Choose one
  • Performance
  • RWS Hobby
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • Loose breech
  • Discharge sound
  • Accuracy?
  • Summary

 Today I test the velocity of the Mondial Oklahoma air pistol we have started looking at. I was hoping so much that another owner would comment that he had a pistol with a rifled barrel because this one is smoothbore for sure. But no one has come forward yet. And no, the rifling hasn’t worn out of this one. This is a breakbarrel spring-piston air pistol that was made to sell at a low price, but as I noted in Part One, a lot of thought went into its design.

Further tie-ins to the Roger CO2 pistol

Reader Pacoinohio asked for more information about the tie-in between the Oklahoma and the Daisy 100. I have information that comes from two different sources and goes in two different directions. First, while researching Mondial I learned that they also made the Roger CO2 pistol that looks something like the Daisy 100. Many years ago an advanced Daisy collector at an airgun show showed me his Roger pistol in the box that he felt was extremely rare. He also told me that Daisy bought the plans for the Roger and that was what the Daisy 100 was based on. They are not exactly the same and I doubt that many parts interchange, if any, but any designer finds his work easier if he has something to go on. I think that was essentially what happened, if any of it is true.

The other direction I will come from is that I wrote the largest report that has ever been written on the .22 rimfire firearms made by the Wamo corporation. It was published in one of the Airgun Revue magazines. This company is known as Wham-O today and we know them for their Hula Hoops, Superballs and Frisbees. But Wamo also made at least three different .22 rimfire guns, though they claim they never did. The most popular one they made was called the Wamo Powermaster. It was a .22 long rifle single shot that ejected the empty cartridge case and the bolt remained back for loading.

Years ago Dennis Quackenbush, who many of you know as the builder of big bore airguns, told me that he can convert the Daisy 100 into a Powermaster. Yesterday morning Dennis told me that to him it appears that Daisy purchased the Powermaster design and tooling from Wamo and turned it into their model 100 CO2 pistol. That’s why Dennis says it is so easy to turn a 100 into a Powermaster. He says that because he sees little design details in the Daisy 100 that come from the Powermaster and are unnecessary for the air pistol, so it looks to him like Daisy used the Wamo tooling to make their airgun.

Powermaster 100
Here are the Wamo Powermaster (top) and Daisy 100 for comparison. Photo courtesy Dennis Quackenbush.

Roger
And here is a Roger. I have to say, it doesn’t look much like the Daisy.

Choose one

That’s two different stories of the relationship between the Daisy 100, the Wamo Powermaster and the Roger air pistol. You decide. I’ve told you all that I know.

Performance

So, how does the pistol I am testing perform? According to the Blue Book of Airguns I should expect about 200 f.p.s. I oiled the piston seal and the breech seal days before this test so this one will do as well as it possibly can. Let’s see.

RWS Hobby

First to be tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They fit the breech very tight and wouldn’t even sit flush.

Hobby
That’s as deep as the RWS Hobby would go into the Oklahoma breech with finger pressure.

I knew when I saw how tight Hobbys were that they needed to be seated deep, so the head and skirt would be sized down by the barrel. Just for fun I shot one Hobby seated like you see in the picture. It went out at 175 f.p.s. Ten more when seated deep with a ballpoint pen averaged 244 f.p.s. That’s a gain of 69 f.p.s. from just deep seating. The low for the string was 231. The high was 253, so the difference was 22 f.p.s.

I’m guessing other pellets that are light but not so large as Hobbys will be faster. Let’s see.

Air Arms Falcons

At 7.33-grains the Falcons are heavier than the Hobbys, but they are also smaller, so there is less resistance. I deep-seated them, too.

Falcons averaged 236 f.p.s. over 10 shots. The velocity ranged from a low of 223 to a high of 246, so a 22 f.p.s. spread. Let’s try one more pellet.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

The RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet weighs 7 grains like the Hobby, but it fits the breech almost as well as the Falcon. It’s just a little tighter. Ten of them averaged 254 f.p.s. in this Oklahoma. The low was 251 and the high was 257, so the spread was 6 f.p.s. That’s not only very good, it’s also considerably faster than the Blue Book said, so I assume this pistol is performing well.

Loose breech

I noticed while shooting that the breech on the pistol is loose. However, it is the strangest loose breech I have ever seen. It’s loose when the pistol is cocked but not when it isn’t, which means when the piston is forward it’s somehow affecting the tightness of the breech.

Discharge sound

I tested the sound at discharge with the audiometer app on my smart phone. It’s very quiet when it fires.

discharge Oklahoma

Accuracy?

I don’t have very high hopes for this pistol to be accurate. The inexpensive construction plus the smooth barrel are two reasons why.

I think I will start my accuracy test at 20 feet, rather than 10 meters. And I will look for pellets that fit the breech loosely, or at least not overly tight. I really have no idea of what to expect with this one, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Summary

The Oklahoma air pistol is an airgun I have long wanted to examine and test. Now I’m getting to. I hope you are finding this as fascinating as I am.


Mondial Oklahoma spring-piston pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Oklahoma
The Mondial Oklahoma pistol.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Blue Book got it wrong
  • Several models
  • Two finishes
  • Many are boxed
  • Strange construction
  • Breakbarrel
  • Soda straw barrel
  • Breech seal
  • Markings
  • Sights
  • Summary

Today we begin looking at a strange air pistol that has a lot of interesting quirks. Do you readers like interesting quirks? Ha! Does an elephant like peanuts? This is the Oklahoma from Mondial. Mondial is the trade name of Italian manufacturer Modesto Molgora of Milan.

Blue Book got it wrong

First I note that the Blue Book of Airguns lists this pistol as having a rifled barrel. Well, the one I am testing certainly doesn’t. One of two thing are possible. Either the smoothbore I have is a variation that the Blue Book is not currently aware of or they got it completely wrong and all Oklahoma pistols are smoothbore. If you own an Oklahoma pistol would you please examine the bore to see whether it is rifled?

I went online to research this pistol and found very little information. Most listings mention the rifled barrel in such a way that they seem to have copied what’s in the Blue Book or some other reference. I see that a lot online. Why would anybody mention a rifled barrel, when a smoothbore would be the exception? Yes, there are many smoothbore airguns but why go to the trouble of mentioning a rifled barrel when most airguns have them?

John Walter’s books that are four editions titled, The Airgun Book, aren’t really certain whether the barrel is rifled or not. There is a question mark after the number of lands and the rifling direction in one of the editions. So they don’t know. But BB knows. This one isn’t rifled.

Several models

Mondial made several air pistols besides the Oklahoma we are examining today. One was called the Oklahoma N.T. That one has a hooded front sight, though the rear sight is fixed, so the hood really adds nothing. Another is called the ZIP and it has an adjustable rear sight located back on the rear of the spring tube. And one more pistol is the CO2-powered Roger that was the foundation for the Daisy model 100 pistol that later became the Wamo Powermaster .22 rimfire pistol.

Mondial also made a couple breakbarrel rifles, the Carabina and the York. They also made an underlever BB repeater they called the Condor.

Two finishes

I have found two different finishes for the Oklahoma — blued and nickel. Many would call it chrome, but chrome is very rare on an airgun or a firearm. Nickel is more durable than most chrome-plating, making it the general plating metal of choice for firearms and airguns. Unless you have the two materials side-by-side it’s difficult to differentiate, but when held next to chrome you will see that nickel plating has a slight golden cast, while chrome is just silver.

The pistol I bought to test is nickel-plated and has no box, because I got it from a generous friend of this blog who sold it to me for a very good price. The grip panels are reddish-brown plastic and are held to the gun with two screws that pass through the gun and have hex nuts inset into the right grip panel. I have more to say about that in a moment.

Oklahoma grip nut
The grip screws are held in by a nut on the right side. It doesn’t look like a hex nut in this photo…

Oklahoma nut
…so I pushed it out to see it better.

Many are boxed

When I looked for a pistol to test for you, most of the ones I saw were offered in the box. According to the printing on the box (and my best version of Google translate for Italian) they came with both pellets and BBs, which underscores the smooth bore. One I found on eBay had an original price sticker on the box marked $7.95. The Blue Book puts the start of this pistol sometime in the 1960s but gives a definite end date of 1988. The John Walters Airgun books agree with the start time and give no ending date.

Strange construction

The pistol is made from two non-ferrous metal frame pieces that are held together by screws and hex nuts all around the frame. Besides the two in the grips I count another four, for a total of six. If they were all removed it appears the pistol would come apart. And there would be pieces held on pins inside and BB Pelletier would scatter them around, so don’t ask! 

Oklahoma frame nut
The entire pistol is held together with screws and nuts like this.

Breakbarrel

The Oklahoma is a breakbarrel with a spring-loaded barrel lock. Push it back to release the barrel for cocking.

Oklahoma barrel lock
That lever hanging down is a spring-loaded barrel lock.

Oklahoma barrel lock released
Push the lock back and the barrel is released for cocking.

Soda straw barrel

The barrel is a thin tube that we call a “soda straw” barrel. These are usually rifled barrels, but as I said, this one is a smoothbore. It must have been cheaper to make it this way, because the barrel looks to be pressed into a solid outer jacket.

Oklahoma muzzle
The actual barrel is a thin tube inside an outer jacket. Neither the tube nor the jacket is ferrous.

Breech seal

The breech seal is located on the end of the frame rather than around the breech, where there is no room. It appears to be made of some rubbery synthetic that is still in good condition after no less than 33 years and possibly more than 50.

Oklahoma breech seal
The breech seal is in the frame.

Markings

The maker’s name and logo are on the right side of the frame, along with Made In Italy and Olio, around the oil hole.

Oklahoma logo
Yep — it was made in Italy all right!

Oklahoma name
The name of the pistol and the caliber are on the left side.

Sights

The sights are fixed and both the front and rear sight are attached to the barrel. Given the thickness of the breech seal, it seems the makers were concerned about barrel alignment issues. That plus the barrel lock tells me that the designers of this airgun really cared about making a quality product. It may have been inexpensive but in no way was it cheap. Somebody was doing their best within an envelope of cost constraints. Which makes the smoothbore barrel all the more strange.

Guys — I’m telling you all that I know and all that I have been able to find out about this quirky air pistol. Given the huge reach of this blog I am hoping someone can add a few more things to further our knowledge. I would especially like to know whether there really is an Oklahoma like this one that has a rifled barrel.

Summary

I’ve been a serious airgunner (as in paying attention to what is going on, over and above just shooting and enjoying the guns) since starting The Airgun Letter in 1994. Since then I have seen Oklahoma pistols at several airgun shows but never have I taken the plunge. I did it now just to expand my horizons, as well as yours. 

There isn’t very much written about this air pistol — at least not in the English language. Much of what is written seems to be guesswork, though Walter’s books do have some solid facts about the companies involved and the models of the guns. This one should be interesting.