The Daisy 35: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 35
Daisy 35 multi-pump pneumatic.

This report covers:

  • What’s different?
  • Smoothbore
  • Lightweight and easy to pump
  • Third time with the 35
  • The gun
  • Sights
  • Synthetics
  • Solid
  • Summary

Today I have a different airgun to look at — the Daisy 35. It’s a .177-caliber smoothbore multi-pump pneumatic that sells at a very competitive price. It shoots both BBs and pellets and we are going to give it a thorough examination!

What’s different?

The model 35 came out in 2011. It coexists with Daisy’s iconic model 880. Yes, it is a few dollars cheaper, but that’s not what it has going for it. Today as we look at the airgun we will examine some of the reasons the 35 exists.

Smoothbore

For starters the 35 is not rifled. This is a real BB gun — not an air rifle. Now — does the lack of rifling also mean that it’s inaccurate? Not necessarily, at least not at close range. We have seen smoothbore airguns put ten pellets into very tight groups at 10 meters, and that’s the distance at which this little airgun thrives. Call it 25-35 feet. The box says it’s for older kids, 16 and up, but that is because of the power. The velocity puts the 35 in Daisy’s Powerline range, which is a range slated for older youth. The Pyramyd Air website says the Daisy 35 can push a 5.1-grain steel BB out at up to 625 f.p.s. but Daisy says 690 f.p.s. on the box.  Naturally I will test this for you.

Lightweight and easy to pump

The reviews say it’s good for younger kids, and I concur with that. The 35 weighs 2.25 lbs., according to the Pyramyd Air description.  I put the test gun on my kitchen scale and recorded 2 lbs. 7.8 oz, which is closer to 2.5 lbs. That’s still light, no matter how you look at it.

The pump handle and the pump rod are the short stroke kind, unlike those same parts on the Daisy 880. Yet as short as the pump linkage is, it’s also quite easy to pump. In fact that is one of the things most reviewers comment on.

Daisy 35 pump handle
The pump handle is short, but the gun pumps easily.

The 35 has a pump range of 3 to 10 strokes. Do not exceed 10 pumps as nothing is gained and parts of the pump linkage are strained by too much stress.

Naturally younger kids need adult supervision when shooting an airgun of any kind, but the Daisy 35 is one that’s made for them. Yet, with a pull of 13-inches, it’s not uncomfortable for an adult.

Third time with the 35

I tested the Daisy 35 back in 2011-2012, right after it first came out. I got lousy groups in that first 3-part test, but Daisy contacted me after one of our readers told them he was getting far better accuracy than I did in my test. In those days Daisy was quite proactive and I was contacted by their Vice President of marketing, Joe Murfin, who asked me to try the accuracy test again. I did test the 35 for accuracy again, in March of 2013, and I did get markedly better groups this time. I also learned what works best with the 35, and I will pass that along to you in this report.

Additionally in that second test, I learned that the 35’s ultra-small loading trough often causes pellets to flip around backwards as they are rolled in. That can be a source of accuracy problems. Fortunately one of our readers recently told me about cross-locking reverse tweezers that will hold pellets in tight places, so I am set up well for testing this 35.

Daisy 35 loading trough
The loading trough is very small. BBs load from the magazine via a magnet on the bolt, but pellets must be loaded singly, one at a time. I will use cross-locking tweezers for this.

And finally I discovered that a Daisy 35 does best with premium pellets, just like any other airgun. I had originally tested the first 35 with cheap pellets, but in the second test I selected premium pellets that reduced the group size by more than half. Based on all of this I would say that I am fully prepared to give this Daisy 35 a fair and honest test.

The gun

The Daisy 35 is a lightweight multi-pump pneumatic  that shoots either BBs or pellets. When shooting steel BBs the 35 is a 50-shot repeater. I emphasize steel BBs because there is a magnet on the bolt tip that pulls the next BB out of the magazine and holds it on the bolt tip for loading and firing. Obviously the BB has to be ferrous for this to work. I plan to test the gun with Smart Shot, but they will have to be loaded singly like lead pellets.

Sights

There are no fiberoptics on the sights! I believe this is a cost consideration but it does make for a nicer set of open sights.

And the sights are fully adjustable within a small range. Elevation is by a stepped ramp and windage is by a sliding rear notch.

Daisy 35 rear sight
The Daisy 35 rear sight adjusts in both directions. See what a little thought can do for very little money?

Synthetics

The airgun is largely synthetic on the outside. The barrel has a tapered outer steel shell wrapped around a synthetic interior, inside of which a thin soda-straw steel barrel rests.

Solid

I was surprised to see how many reviews of the gun said it is surprisingly solid and well-made. I have to agree with that assessment. As lightweight as it is you would think that it feels like a toy, but when it fires it seems quite substantial. I know this is just Part One and there’s still a lot of testing to go, but I have already pumped the gun and shot it several times.

Summary

What we have in the Daisy 35 is a solid little youth airgun that’s affordable and substantial. I plan to see just how great a value this little airgun is. Stay tuned!


Grandpa guns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Things to consider first
  • Red Ryder
  • Start with open sights
  • Fun!
  • Other grandpa airguns
  • Crosman 760
  • Daisy 880
  • Daisy 35
  • Lawyer triggers
  • Breakbarrels
  • BB — what about CO2? What about a repeater?
  • Over to you

Today’s report will be near and dear to many of you. What airguns does a grandpa need, so when the grandkids come over he has something fun to do with them?

When I was a boy, both my grandfathers were so much older that they didn’t really play with me at all — at least not that I remember. But watching guys these days, I see a big difference. Grandpas are fun guys! Well, airguns are fun and every kid wants to shoot — the girls just as much as the boys. So, what airguns can grandpa have that will be fun for the grands when they come bye?

Things to consider first

Long guns are the best way to begin. They are safer because grandpa can watch the muzzle easier and stop the kids from making dangerous mistakes. 

Some kids want to keep their fingers on the trigger all the time. Grandpa has to discourage this by taking the gun from them and explaining how dangerous it is. Each kid is different and grandpa should know how far to trust each one.

Single shot rifles are the best way to start a kid. That way you can coax the “spray and pray” mentality out of them before it becomes ingrained. Video games often do just the opposite, rewarding the fast trigger finger, so you have to battle that. If the kids will listen to you, get them started talking about making good shots.

When I trained junior marksmen the key was to get the kids to focus on hitting the exact center of the bull, rather than just pulling the trigger and hoping the shot was somewhere in the black. Each kid is different and you have to learn right away whether they are listening to you or not. In marksmanship training we used to not let them touch the gun until they could explain a good sight picture and respond to basic safety commands such as “cease fire.”

Grandpa shouldn’t be a safety Nazi, but he should insist on safe gun-handling practices before allowing the shooting to continue. This is an important responsibility — especially when one or both parents are impulsive and careless. Do it right and the kids will soon be correcting the adults.

Red Ryder

If I don’t put the Red Ryder down I’ll hear from you readers. Yes it is a good gun to use with grandkids, but being a BB gun you need to take some extra safety precautions. A BB gun in this class is shot at very close range and those BBs have a way of bouncing back and hitting the shooter. So — eye protection for everyone in the vicinity.

The good thing about the Red Ryder is it’s lightweight and relatively easy to cock. It’s a repeater, so the little guys and gals won’t get frustrated too soon. Shoot at targets that react for the greatest enjoyment. Balloons are a lot of fun, and the common tin can is the number one target of choice, with the feral aluminum soda can being the current high-tech favorite. Plastic army men are another good choice to sharpen the eye!

I said it’s relatively easy to cock, because for a small kid cocking a Red Ryder can be a challenge. This is where Grandpa steps in and shows the youngster the right way and the safe way to cock the gun. It is also self-limiting. The youngster will tire more quickly if he or she does the work, which is as it should be.

Start with open sights

Unless the child has a serious vision problem that precludes it, start them with open sights. Don’t graduate to a scope until they are proficient with opens.

I will put in a plug for the Daisy 499B here. It is a wonderful training tool that teaches the use of non-optical sights and may bring out a young William Tell or Annie Oakley.

499 sight picture
The Daisy 499 is a natural to teach a proper sight picture.

499 target
Yes, there are 10 shots in this 5-meter target. When youngsters apply themselves they can learn to do this offhand with a 499B in a few years.

Fun!

Okay, BB got away from today’s topic just a little. This is supposed to be about fun — not work! Sorry, but I have seen too many kids who had the potential to become great shooters after just a few hours of instruction! But we’re interested in grandpa-fun today.

Other grandpa airguns

I’m not listing these in any order of preference. But I will mention the benefits of each gun as we go.

Crosman 760

Crosman 760https://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/Crosman_760_Pumpmaster/339

Crosman 760 Pumpmaster.

The Crosman 760 is a single-shot multi-pump gun that shoots either pellets or BBs. When it shoots BBs it is a repeater. For pellets it’s a single-shot.

This airgun is a smoothbore, so the accuracy isn’t going to be good at long range. I did get one good group of H&N Finale Match Light pellets, but I’m betting grandpa isn’t going to spring for pellets that cost $17 a tin. I did find the 760 accurate with RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets, as well, but the price is the same. It did okay with Hobbys, too, so either start with them or with Crosman wadcutters.

The 760 also did its best with H&N Smart Shot lead BBs at 5 meters. That’s a blessing because Smart Shot BBs are lead and don’t bounce back like steel BBs.

The 760 is reasonably lightweight and it also pumps fairly easy, so it’s a great airgun for older kids. It’s not for the youngest ones, but when they start growing, this is one to consider.

Daisy 880

Okay, we have now heard from Pepsi — what about Coke? Daisy’s 880 is another fine gun for grandpa. It too shoots both BBs and pellets. With BBs it’s a repeater and with pellets, a single shot. I did even better at 10 meters with the 880, shooting Hobbys and some obsolete Daisy Superior Match Grade wadcutters. And the 880 is rifled!

Daisy 880
Daisy’s 880 has a rifled barrel!

I did test the 880 with BBs, and Daisy also sent the target they shot that showed 5 Daisy BBs in 0.65-inches at 5 meters. It’s no 499 but it’s pretty good! I put ten Daisy BBs into 0.624-inches at 5 meters. So, grandpa, the 880 is a great little gun for the kids.

Unlike the Crosman 760, the 880 has a rifled barrel. That’s why it’s a little more accurate 10 meters. It’s also lightweight and easy to pump. There are several related air rifles when you search on the 880. Many are kits that have additional items besides just the rifle. These kits come and go too fast for me to address, but at their heart is the 880 rifle.

Daisy 35

Daisy’s model 35 is another good grandpa gun. It’s a multi-pump that shoots both BBs and pellets. So, how does it differ from the 880. Well, the pump handle is a short stroke instead of the 880’s longer stroke. In other words, it’s more like the Crosman 760. It’s also a smoothbore that shoots both BBs (as a repeater) and pellets (as a single shot.

Daisy 35
Daisy 35.

The 35 I tested back in 2012 and ’13 did not-so-good with BBs and very good with pellets. I liked it so much that I ordered another one for another test in the near future.

Like all the airguns we’ve seen so far the Daisy 35 is lightweight and easy to pump. But is does have one drawback that all the other airguns I’ve mentioned share.

Lawyer triggers

For some reason airgun manufacturers cannot put out a youth airgun with a decent trigger. I think the reason is simple. These guns all compete on price. They sell them in the big discount stores where most people shop by price and not features. All these airguns have variations of direct sear triggers. Putting a killer trigger on a $35 air rifle would add $5 to the price and make 300 sales to informed customers, while loosing 30,000 sales to moms and dads who only look at the price tag. So the lawyers have their day and I have to agree with that logic. Unless there is a caring grandpa or grandma who is willing to spend the time to train little Bobby and Susie on the right steps of gun handling, give them their lawyer triggers!

Breakbarrels

Now let’s take a big step up to the next level of kids airguns. I’ll start with the Ruger Explorer. Many of you can tell that it is a less-expensive version of the Umarex Embark. Both are breakbarrel spring-piston air rifles that are reasonably lightweight and cock easily. They are well-suited to children that are old enough to hold them offhand and cock them while standing up. I’m not giving ages now because boys and girls develop at their own rates over time. I wrote a 5-part report on the Embark and got superior accuracy from it at 10 meters. I’m guessing the Ruger can do just as good. Gramps — this one will make you a hero!

The Ruger Explorer
The Ruger Explorer.

BB — what about CO2? What about a repeater?

Well, sure. Repeaters can be great fun and CO2 is an inexpensive way to get one. My pick in this category is the Crosman 1077. And, I see that Crosman has brought back something that we have been asking for for years — the 1077W with a wood stock!

Now, you can get a regular 1077 for $40 less than the one with the wood stock. You’ll still be a hero if you do. But the wood one is the one you personally will be proud to own.

Crosman 1077 walnut
The 1077 wood!

All right you tire-kickers! Off the couch and get online to buy that rifle you all said you wished Crosman would bring back. Because — here it is — the 1077 with a wood stock! Grandpa — what beautiful airguns you have!

There is one drawback for a 1077. It’s certainly light enough for anyone, but that trigger that operates both the clip advancement and the hammer cocking has a pull that’s too heavy for the little ones. After it breaks in with a few hundred shots it does become smoother and easier to pull, but at first the trigger pull is an obstacle for younger kids.

Over to you

Okay, Gramps, now you have your say. You know what works and what doesn’t. Tell the world!


El Gamo David breakbarrel air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

El Gamo David
The El Gamo David is a lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s or’ 70s.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Meister 10-shots
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we look at the accuracy of the El Gamo David breakbarrel. This little rifle seems to have captured a lot of people’s hearts for some reason. Let’s see if he can do the job.

The test

There is a lot to tell in this section. I shot at 10 meters off a sandbag rest. I discovered in Part 3 that the David likes his pellets seated deep, so that’s what I did today. I used a ballpoint pen to seat every pellet in this test.

I didn’t know whether an artillery hold was best or if I should just rest the rifle directly on the bag. So I devised a way to find out. I’ll talk about it in a minute.

I shot 10-shot groups, except for my first two tests. Let’s get started!

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

This is the test I thought up to see which method of holding was best. Before shooting the groups of 10, I shot five pellets with the rifle rested directly on the bag and another five holding it with the artillery hold. The first pellet I shot was the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle. The very first shot hit the paper to the right of the bullseye, at 4 o’clock. So I adjusted the rear sight to the left. It only went a short distance, but it’s now as far to the left as it will go.

Then I shot a group of five pellets. Regardless of where they land, they are as far to the left as I can make them. When I looked at the group through the spotting scope I was amazed to see a one-hole group. Later, when I measured it, the distance between the centers of the five pellets is 0.166-inches! That is worthy of a trime!

Meister Rifle rested group
The first shot hit low and to the right. After adjusting the rear sight as far as it would go to the left I put 5 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into a 0.166-inch group at ten meters.

Now it was time to see what the artillery hold would do. However, since the David is so light it is very hard to shoot it with a good artillery hold. The trigger pull is heavier than the rifle!

With the best artillery hold I could muster the David put another 5 Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into a 0.637-inch group at 10 meters. This is actually a 6-shot group, as the 5 shots looked like just 4 through the spotting scope, so I shot a 6th pellet. And it went into the same hole the 5th shot went into. The David wants to shoot!

Meister Rifle artillery hold
The David put 6 Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into 0.637-inches with shots 5 and six going through the same hole as another pellet.

Obviously the David prefers to be rested on a bag as it shoots, so that’s the way I shot it for the rest of today’s test.

Meister 10-shots

Now that the question of the right hold was answered I decided to shoot 10-shots groups for the remainder of the test. I began with the same Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutters I had been shooting. Unfortunately the sun picked that time to shine brightly through the window into my eyes and it probably distracted me. Ten Meisters went into 0.85-inches at 10 meters.

Meister Rifle 10-shot group
The David put 10 Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into this 0.85-inch group at 10 meters.

Notice that this group is not only big, it is also in a different place than the first two groups! It’s much higher on the target. I also have to note that the David jolts when firing this pellet.

Air Arms Falcons

The next pellet I shot was the 7.33-grain Air Arms Falcon dome. If you recall, this pellet shot very smoothly in the David in Part 3.  I expected it to do well in this test, and, as far as accuracy goes, it did. Ten Falcon domes went into 0.567-inches at 10 meters. Now, that’s a group I can live with!

Falcon group
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets made this 0.567-inch group at 10 meters.

I expected Falcons to shoot smoothly, but they didn’t. They jolted just like the Meisters. Today I was shooting the rifle off a bag rest, where in the velocity test I was holding it in my hands.

The sun was no longer shining in my eyes when this group was fired. And I note that the center of the group is to the left of center in the bull, so the rear sight can be adjusted back a little. This is a good pellet for the David, as is the Meisterkugeln Rifle, I think.

H&N Finale Match Light

The last pellet I tested this day was the H&N Finale Match Light wadcutter. At 10 meters ten of them made a group that measures 0.804-inches between centers. The group looks okay except for the straggler pellet off to the right. The other nine pellets are in 0.648-inches. That’s still on the large side so I think I would stick with the first two pellets for the David.

Finale Light group
Ten H&N Finale Match Light pellets went into this 0.804-inch group at 10 meters.

Discussion

This test has taught me a couple things about the David. First, it’s very accurate. This is an air rifle that’s worth the time to make it shoot smooth and to lighten the trigger.

Next, the David wants its pellets seated deep. And it wants to be rested directly on a sandbag when it shoots.

Finally, as accurate as the David is, I don’t think the heavy trigger helps it. And the jolt it gives when firing is annoying, as well. The David could stand to be stripped and tuned.

Summary

We’re not done with the David. I want to pull it apart next and see if I can get it shooting smoother. That trigger also needs to be lighter. You may not see this rifle again for awhile, but I will come back to it.


Winchester 422: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Winchester 422
Winchester’s 422 is another lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Told you!
  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • RWS Superpoint
  • RWS R10 Match Heavy
  • RWS R10 Match Pistol
  • RWS Superdomes
  • What to do?
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads
  • Summary

Today we test the Winchester 422/Diana 22 with the new front sight attached. Reader Breeze was kind enough to donate this sight to the cause.

422 front sight
Reader Breeze sent me this new Diana front sight to replace the bent one. Thank you, Breeze!

422 sight installed
The new front sight looks great on the rifle!

Told you!

It’s a day for reader GunFun1 to put on his , “Told you so!” shoes, because the barrel is definitely bent up. But what I didn’t know until today is it may also be bent a little to the right. Looking at the front sight through the rear notch, it seems off to the right a little. We’ll see what happens as the test progresses.

The test

I shot from 10 meters with the rifle rested on the sandbag. I shot 5-shot groups only because I wanted to shoot a lot of different pellets. I told you at the end of Part 3 that I would test all the pellets again, plus I added three more today. Let’s go!

RWS Hobby

Five RWS Hobby pellets hit 3.8 inches above the aim point (bent barrel) and in a group measuring 1.712-inches between centers. But the lone shot to the left was a called pull. The other 4 shots are in 0.689-inches and are to the right of the bull. That sort of negates the barrel being bent to the right because if it was the pellets would have hit to the left. It must be that since the 422 is so small I have trouble holding it straight.

Hobby group

Five Hobby pellets went into 1.712-inches but that shot on the left was a called pull. The other 4 are in 0.689-inches. The Hobby could be a very good pellet for this rifle.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

Next up were 5 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets. They grouped in a very horizontal 1.157-inches at 10 meters.

422 Meisterkugeln Rifle group
Five RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets made this 1.157-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint

The next pellet I tested was the RWS Superpoint. I miscounted when shooting this pellet and only shot 4 instead of five. The 422 put four of them into 0.993-inches at 10 meters.

422 Superpoint group
Oops! A miscount while shooting lead to this ten-meter 4-shot group of RWS Superpoionts. It measures 0.993-inches between centers.

Because the pellets were hitting so high I was aiming at the bottom of the bull beneath the one where they landed. There were three above three bulls on the target paper, so at this point I flipped the target paper and continued.

RWS R10 Match Heavy

Next up were five RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets. A reader suggested I try them. Five went into 1.193-inches between centers at 10 meters. It’s okay but not great.

422 R10 Heavy group
Five RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets went into 1.193-inches at 10 meters. These landed to the right on the aim point, too
.

RWS R10 Match Pistol

Next to be tested in the Winchester 422 were five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. Five of them went into 1.038-inches at 10 meters.

422 R10 Pistol group
Five RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets went into 1.038-inches at 10 meters.

RWS Superdomes

Ta Da! This is the pellet that gave us so much hope in the Winchester 422 in Part 3. I think you will be surprised by what I got from it today!

Today the 422 put five RWS Superdomes into 1.48-inches at 10 meters with four of them in 0.51-inches. The group is not quite as tight as the one I shot with the bent sight but it looks very similar.

422 Superdome groups
The new Superdome group on the left and the one from Part 3 on the right. The new group is larger but remarkable similar to the older one! The new group has five in 1.48-inches with four in 0.51-inches.

I have no explanation for why this happened. The only thing different is the latest group hit the target paper over 2.5-inches above the aim point, while the older group hit the target at which it was aimed.

What to do?

I thought I was finished with my testing, but then I wondered what a non-RWS pellet would do. So I brought out a tin of H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.50mm heads to see.

H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm heads

The first pellet struck the same target at which I was aiming, but it landed in the white above the bull. That was when I checked the rear sight and found it was adjusted up just a little. So I took all elevation out of the sight and shot a final five-shot group. Five pellets landed in a very open 1.814-inch group — easily the largest of the day.

422 Baracuda Match 4.50 group
Five H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 1.814-inches at 10 meters. The shot at the top of the target was the first shot, after which the rear sight was adjusted down as far as it would go.

Obviously I’ve been doing the right thing by sticking to RWS pellets. There may be other pellets that will work but they will have to fit the 422 breech tightly, which Baracudas did not do.

Summary

I’m not finished with this air rifle. I’m thinking of a teardown so I can lube the trigger and sear and perhaps the rest of the powerplant. I also want to straighten the barrel so the rifle hits where it’s aimed. The way I see it, there are several more reports yet to come for this little old Diana.


Winchester 422: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Winchester 422
Winchester’s 422 is another lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.

Part 1
Part 2

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • RWS Hobby
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle
  • Not doing well
  • RWS Superpoints
  • Good news
  • Discussion
  • Fish
  • Summary

Today’s report will be interesting. It confirms what we all thought and it absolutely ASTOUNDS in one surprising area! Grab your coffee and let’s get started.

The test

Today is accuracy day — or what will be the first accuracy day for the Winchester 422 pellet rifle. I’ll explain as we go. I shot the rifle off a rest at 10 meters from the target. I used the artillery hold for most of the test, and I’ll tell you when I switched to letting the rifle rest directly on the sandbag. I shot ten-shot groups at 10-meter air rifle targets, and I shot with the open sights on the rifle. Remember — that front sight is bent down and to the left, so we will learn whether that was intentional or it just slipped and banged into something.

A reader, Breeze, is sending me a replacement front sight. If I have to, I will replace the bent one with that new one that’s straight and test the accuracy again.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. The first shot hit the target about 2.7 inches above the aim point and a little to the right. But it was on paper so I decided to finish the group without adjusting the elevation.

The remainder of the shots were lower and more to the right, resulting in a group that measures 1.796-inches between centers. From this first group I learned that the rear sight was adjusted too high and also that the front sight bend was accidental. I figured it had to be because this rifle does not look like it has been cared for over its life.

422 Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobby pellets scattered into this 1.796-inch group at 10 meters. The aim point was the base of the lower bullseye.

After shooting the first group I adjusted the rear sight down as low as it would go.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

The second pellet I tried was the 8.2-grain RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle wadcutter. The first two shots hit below the bull I was aiming for, so I adjusted the rear sight up a little. The remaining eight shots were about right for elevation but they also hit to the right of the aim point. This 422 definitely needs its front sight straightened.

The group measures 2.15-inches between centers, with the last 8 shots in 1.958-inches at 10 meters.

4212 Meisterkugeln Rifle
The Winchester 422 threw 10 RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets into 2.15-inches between centers, with the final 8 after the sight adjustment in 1.958-inches.

Not doing well

We’re not doing so well, are we? These results are anything but encouraging. Cheer up, though. There is good news coming.

I’m sticking with RWS pellets because I know Diana pellet rifles like them. 

RWS Superpoints

The next pellet I tried was the RWS Superpoint. They went high again and as always they landed to the right of the aim point. Ten Superpoints went into 1.632-inches at 10 meters.

422 Superpoint group
Then RWS Superpoint pellets went high and right, in a 1.632-inch group.

Isn’t there ANY pellet that this 422/Diana 22 wants to shoot? Well, yes there is. In fact, I can’t tell if two of the three pellets we just tested are not superb in this pellet rifle.

HUH?

BB — are you calling two-inch groups at 10 meters superb?

No, I’m not. But what I am about to show you is going to turn this test inside-out.

Good news

They say the test of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and hoping for a different result. I “invented” the artillery hold decades ago when I tried holding my air rifle differently from what I read in the Beeman catalog — just to see how bad it could get. Instead of the tight grip that they advised (what I call a deer hunter grip) I held my Beeman C1 carbine as loosely as possible. And behold — the groups shrank to nothing! All I had to do then was give that hold a name. And, for those who haven’t gotten it — when you see quotes around a word, it means that is NOT what the writer really means — it’s a joke. I didn’t invent the artillery hold. I just gave it a name.

So, what’s the good news? The good news is that for the next pellet — the RWS Superdome — I rested the 422 directly on the sandbag. The artillery hold clearly wasn’t getting me anywhere. What would this hold do? Well the first shot hit the bottom of the bull below the aim point. The next 9 pellets went into a group that measures 0.264 inches between centers! The 10-shot group measures 1.099-inches between centers.

422 Superdome group
Ten shots in 1.099-inches at 10 meters, with nine in 0.264-inches. Wow!

Discussion

What have we learned? First we learned that the front sight was bent by accident. Then we learned that the rifle wants to be rested directly on a sandbag, for the best possible groups. What does that mean? Are we supposed to carry a sandbag around when we plink? No. What this test tells us is the accuracy POTENTIAL of the rifle. My advice is to hold it like you hold any other pellet rifle and do your best.

Also — when the new sight that’s coming is on the rifle I need to try it with Superdomes, Superpoints and Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets again. I don’t think Hobbys will be that good, but what the heck — I may as well test them again, too.

Fish

Reader Fish asked me to take a picture of a Diana 27, Diana 23 and the Winchester 422 together. I assume he wants it for perspective. Here it is.

422 27 23
The Diana 27 (Hy Score 807) on top, Diana 23 (Geco 23) in the center and the Winchester 422 (Diana 22) on the bottom.

Summary

What a dramatic accuracy difference, just from changing the hold! Today’s test results set us up for another test, once the front sight has been replaced. This was a day when I got the bear!


Winchester 422: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Winchester 422
Winchester’s 422 is another lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s and ’70s.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Preparation
  • Air Arms Falcon pellets
  • RWS Hobby
  • RWS Meisterkugeln Heavy
  • Something else
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today we look at the power of the Winchester 422 I’m reviewing. The 422 is in the same power class as the Diana 23, so I’m hoping to see some lightweight pellets in the 400 f.p.s. range.

Preparation

We have looked at several vintage breakbarrel springers in this blog in recent times. You readers are now reminding me of things to do before shooting one of them. 

First, check the breech seal. That’s what lead to the El Gamo David report being stopped until I can replace the seal. When I examined this Winchester 422 seal it looked to be in good condition. Breech seals in the Diana 22 and 23 are located on the end of the spring tube and not at the rear of the barrel. I believe that’s because of the small size of the airgun. There isn’t room for a substantial seal on the end of the barrel.

The second thing to do is oil the piston seal. I believe reader Yogi reminded me to do that. So I dropped 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil down the muzzle of the barrel with the rifle standing on its butt. As I begin today’s test the piston seal and breech seal have been oiled for three days.

Air Arms Falcon pellets

Normally I would start testing with RWS Hobbys, but in recent tests the
Air Arms Falcon pellet has been faster. So I will start with them. I will show the first 10 shots to discuss them with you.

Shot………Vel.
1…………..354

I seated the first pellet deep with a ballpoint pen. The Falcon fit the breech loose, so I didn’t deep-seat shot two.

2…………..389

After seeing the velocity of shot two I decided to just seat the remaining pellets flush with the breech.

3…………..401
4…………..397
5…………..421
6…………..413
7…………..420
8…………..415
9…………..417
10…………419

I didn’t average this string because it seemed like the rifle was “waking up.” So I shot a second string of the same Falcon pellets and they averaged 416 f.p.s. The low was 411 and the high was 424 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 13 f.p.s. At the average velocity this 7.33-grain pellet generated 2.82 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. It seems clear that the rifle is now performing at its best.

RWS Hobby

Now it’s time to look at RWS Hobbys and see what they do. From what we have just seen, I’m thinking they will average even faster than the Falcons, because their wider skirts give the resistance this Diana seems to want.

Ten Hobbys averaged 449 f.p.s. The low was 443 and the high was 455 f.p.s., so the spread was 12 f.p.s. I guess I should have remembered that Dianas like RWS pellets! At the average muzzle velocity the muzzle energy was 3.13 foot-pounds.

RWS Meisterkugeln Rifle

Now it’s time to try a heavier pellet. I stayed with RWS and shot the 8.2-grain Meisterkugeln Rifle. Ten of them averaged 417 f.p.s., which is faster than the Falcons! The low was 413 and the high was 421, so the spread was just 8 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 3.17 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Something else

I could see that the mainspring was dry, so I removed the barreled action from the stock and oiled the spring, as well as the base block that holds the barrel. I used something called Snake Oil, but it no longer seems to be available. Someone is selling oil under the same name, but the product has changed. Any good bicycle chain oil would work just as well. It just needs to be a little thinner than general-purpose household oil.

After oiling, RWS Hobbys averaged 450 f.p.s. with an 11 f.p.s. spread from 445 to 456 f.p.s. So, not much difference. But the rifle did cock much quieter and smoother.

Cocking effort

I measured the cocking effort after oiling the mainspring and the base block. It took 10 pounds of force to cock the 422. That makes this a kid’s airgun for sure!

Trigger pull

The two-stage trigger takes 1 lb. 9 oz. for stage one and 5 lbs. 14 oz. for stage two. As light as the rifle is, stage two feels heavier than the number indicates. It does break cleanly and we should bear in mind that this is a simple direct-sear trigger. The rifle is shooting so well that I am reluctant to take it apart — not for fear of messing it up but for fear I will find parts that need replacing. If it ain’t broke…

Summary

This little Winchester 422 is performing very well, indeed. Better than I had hoped. I sure hope it’s somewhat accurate, to boot!

Reader Breeze is sending me a replacement front sight that isn’t bent. I plan to first test the rifle with the bent sight to see if the bend was intentional. I don’t think it was, but you never know. Then I’ll install the new one and see how well it works.


El Gamo David breakbarrel air rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

El Gamo David
The El Gamo David is a lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s or’ 70s.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • H&N Finale Match Heavy
  • Breech seal
  • Pick it out
  • Seal is out
  • What to do?
  • Cocking effort
  • Summary

Today we look at the El Gamo David breakbarrel rifle’s velocity. In Part One I predicted that, if the powerplant is in good shape, the David should be able to push an 8-grain pellet out at between 550 and 600 f.p.s. I have not chronographed a single shot yet, so I will find this out as you do. Let’s get right to it.

H&N Finale Match Heavy

The first pellet I tested was the 8.18-grain H&N Finale Match Heavy wadcutter. The tin says they weigh 8.18 grains. I weighed five and got this:

8.2 grains
8.3
8.3
8.1
8.1

Then I shot a string of 10. Before the string started I shot 2 pellets to “wake up” the powerplant. Then I shot the string and 10 pellets averaged 480 f.p.s. The low was 464 and the high was 487, so the spread was 23 f.p.s. That’s not a terrible spread for a springer, but I would always like to see it smaller. At the average velocity this pellet generated 4.2 foot-pounds. I had expected more like 5.5 foot-pounds.

That string was slower than I expected. But the powerplant sounded okay. What is the first thing you should look at when you discover that a breakbarrel is off its feed? I’d like to turn this into a quiz, but we really don’t have the time, so I’ll tell you. The first thing you look at is the breech seal. Let’s look now.

David breech seal
The David’s breech seal isn’t looking so good.

Breech seal

Everything you see that’s round in the photo above is the breech seal. It may look like an o-ring but it’s not.

Take a look at the picture. The David breech seal is not an o-ring. It’s much larger. That tipped me off that Gamo had used a formed proprietary breech seal. For the prospect of fixing the rifle quickly, that’s not good.

Pick it out

I used a dental pick to start the breech seal coming out. That puts holes in the material and even tears out chunks, so this side of the seal cannot be reused. It took about ten minutes to get the seal out far enough that its size could be seen. I had hoped to possibly substitute a Weihrauch breech seal, but once I saw the size of the David seal I knew that idea was out. The David seal is huge!

By the way, both ends of my dental pick were severely bent in the process of picking out the seal. The good news is the bent ends will break off and I will have a different sort of pick when they do.

David breech seal coming out
It probably looks like the seal is ready to come out at this point. Not so! It took another 10 minutes of careful work with a small pocketknife blade to get it out.

Quick fix

Once the seal was out I confirmed that nothing I had on hand would replace it easily. I can think of many ways to repair the gun quickly at this point. Fitting a wood or metal spacer in the deep breech seal hole and topping it off with an o-ring seems possible. The spacer would resemble the original seal in size, but would be shorter so the o-ring that sat on top would seal the breech.

Or find a piece of rubber tubing that’s close to the same diameter as the breech seal, but a little smaller. Wrap it with Teflon tape to bring it to size. Cut it shorter than the breech seal so an o-ring can sit on top.

Or cut several leather washers and stack them in the hole. Either top them off with an o-ring or make them so high that they squash and become the breech seal themselves.

David breech seal out
Once the David’s seal was out I could see the size. It’s huge! More like a section of thick tubing cut to length. We are looking at the bottom in this photo, showing that the seal cannot be reversed. It’s not smooth enough.

The breech seal hole is very deep. I measured it as 0.372-inches from top to bottom. 

David breech seal hole
That seal hole is deep — 0.372-inches to the bottom!
It needs to be cleaned.

What to do?

What to do next is another pop quiz question. If you’re a lover of these old-timey airguns you know what to do. Get on the T.W. Chambers website and look under El Gamo. Only there is no listing for EL Gamo. Okay, just Gamo then. There is a listing for that, but no David model is shown. But what do we know?

First, we know that the El Gamo Expo was popular around the same time as the David and it lasted a lot longer. We know that from comments left by readers Lain and GunFun1 to Part 1 of this report.

Second, we know that the Expo was roughly equivalent to the David — or at least we believe it was. We believe that the David was for a limited market and the Expo was for a broader market and most likely replaced the David when it came out.

Third we know that in manufacturing a company will always attempt to make one part work for many different models. That is especially true of parts that share a common purpose — like breech seals. If you have gone to the trouble of creating the tooling and fabrication processes for a proprietary seal, you want to do it as few times as possible.

That only makes sense, as each unique part not only needs to be manufactured, it also needs to be managed. The fewer unique parts you have to manage, the better. You can buy 100 o-rings for a dollar and call them breech seals or you can spend the time and labor making 100 unique seals. The fewer unique parts that are in your product, the easier it is to make — though the performance will be at the mercy of the generic part you select and you will also have to ensure a longtime supply of the generic part.

The drawing of the Expo shows a breech seal that’s shaped like this one. It’s worth a try!

I GUESSED that the breech seal for the Gamo Expo that TW Chambers does have in stock will also fit the David. The price was 5.25 British pounds, plus shipping. By the time it arrives in about two weeks I will have about $15 invested. If I’m wrong about the fit, I can explore the other less desirable options.

Cocking effort

Well, I can’t shoot the rifle without a breech seal, so the velocity test has to be suspended. But I can test the cocking effort.

The David cocks with 15 pounds of effort. That makes it good for kids.

Summary

That’s where we find ourselves with the David. We are waiting on parts and we have a baseline on where the rifle was with the breech seal that was in it.

This is the downside of working on older air rifles. Sometimes they need attention. That’s just as much a part of the story of the El Gamo David as any of the other testing will be. As anyone who fools with vintage airguns will tell you — this is the fun part!