Diana 23: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Dioana 23
Diana 23.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

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

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

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

A stripper

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


IZH-61 repeating spring air rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

IZH 61
The IZH 61 sidelever repeating air rifle.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The joke
  • Beeman peep
  • The test
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • H&N Finale Match Light
  • What was I doing wrong?
  • Can I shoot bad on demand?
  • Fatigue!
  • Proof of the pudding.
  • Stopped
  • Summary

Today I mount a peep sight on the IZH-61 I have been testing and shoot it for accuracy. I had originally planned to mount a dot sight, and I did, but the results were a disaster! Let me remind you of what happened. This is what I said after trying the dot sight.

————————————

I mounted the UTG Micro Reflex dot sight on the IZH-61 and prepared to shoot it at 10 meters, rested. I had to remove the front sight so the dot had a clear view of the target. The rear sight was just adjusted as low as it will go and was out of the way. read more



Air Venturi Tech Force M8: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Ari Venturi M8
Air Venturi M8 is very much like the Bronco.

This report covers:

  • Comparison
  • Stock
  • Powerplant
  • Double trigger blade
  • What is it?

Here is an alert to everyone who missed getting an Air Venturi Bronco. From what I see so far, just having taken the .177 caliber Air Venturi Tech Force M8 out of the box and shooting it a couple times, this rifle is as good as the Bronco. For some of you it is even better, as you will learn today.

Comparison

The M8 is practically identical to the Bronco. Both rifles are 40 inches long and weigh 6.5 lbs. The M8 stock has a slightly longer pull of 13 inches, to the Bronco’s 12-1/2 or 12-3/4 inches. Both rifles are said to cock with 18 lbs. of effort, which puts them into the comfortable range. The Bronco came with adjustable open sights, while the M8 has no sights. Both rifles have the 2-bladed 2-stage trigger that uses the first blade to take up stage one of the pull.

Stock

I like the Bronco’s western-style stock. I should, because I was the one who asked for it when the rifle was developed. I also like the original blonde finish of the Bronco stock. In a sea of nearly identical air rifles, the Bronco stood out as something a little different. And I like to think it was also something a little special

The stock is where some of you may like the M8 better. I have read plenty of complaints about the western-style stock from shooters who don’t like the straight wrist. The M8 stock is a more classic sporter stock with a straight line (the butt doesn’t drop much), a conventional pistol grip and a Monte Carlo comb. There is no cheekpiece, so the rifle is 100 percent ambidextrous. I haven’t found a serial number on the rifle I am testing, but that’s okay — I don’t think it will go back. I may buy this one if the principal difference between the 2 airguns bears out.

The M8 stock is conventional. It has a pistol grip with thin flat checkering on both sides. The forearm is also checkered with the same flat diamonds. They are for appearance only and do nothing to help you grip the stock. The wood on my test rifle is a very attractive beech that has some grain in the butt. There is also at least one knothole that has been filled with wood putty. The matte wood finish is very even and attractive in a medium brown. A red rubber buttpad keeps the rifle from slipping on your shoulder, or when you stand it on its butt.

Powerplant

The M8 is said by some to be more powerful than the Bronco. That is what I referred to as the principal difference between the 2 rifles. I know the description says they are about equal in power, but I have heard that the M8 is more powerful. Thankfully we have a good baseline on the Bronco from my testing, so we will know how thee 2 rifles compare after I test this one.

I measured the length and external diameter of the spring tubes of both rifles and they are identical. I believe the M8 is also built on the Mendoza R10 powerplant. So, this may actually be your last chance to buy what is in most ways except the name, a Bronco.

Double trigger blade

We never got an answer about the trigger blade when we asked. I am telling you now that the Tech Force M8 does have a double-bladed trigger the same as the Bronco. The first stage is taken up when the first blade is pulled back even with the second blade. There is an entirely different sensation to the trigger pull than you get with a single-bladed trigger, but after you get used to it, I think it is better. It is the equal of a glass-crisp 2 stage trigger with a single blade, because the shooter always knows when the rifle is about to fire.

Air Venturi M8 trigger
The M8’s trigger has the famous Mendoza double blade.

Like the Bronco, the safety comes on automatically when the rifle is cocked. There is a lever on both sidfes of the spring tube to take it off, so even this feature supports the left-handed shooter.

What is it?

This rifle is an all-day spring-piston air rifle. It cocks easily and fires smoothly. The trigger releases crisply. In other words, it’s everything those uber-magnum spring guns are not, which can be summed up in one statement — it’s fun to shoot. It seems to be everything the Bronco is, but in a slightly different package. And the price is right. If you wanted a Bronco but missed the boat, here is another boat that’s still at the dock.

When these are gone I don’t think they will be replaced, because Mendoza has raised their prices across the board. If you want one, the time to act  is right now.


Umarex NXG APX multi-pump air rifle kit: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Umarex NXG APX rifle
Umarex NXG APX multi-pump air rifle.

This report covers:

• Sight-in
• Accuracy, starting with Premier lite pellets
• On to RWS Superdome pellets
• What to do?
• Anything else?
• Summary

It’s been a long time since I looked at the Umrarex NXG APX air rifle kit. The last part was published on October 3, and it was an accuracy test at 10 meters with open sights. The next test was supposed to be shot at 25 yards with the scoped rifle, and that is what I’ll do today, but there was a problem.

Try though I did, I couldn’t find a scope mount that fit the top rail of the rifle! Without that, there’s no way of mounting a scope, and there goes the test.

A couple days ago, a reader mentioned this fact (the undersized scope rail) in a comment, and that prompted me to read Part 3, again. When I did, my eye fell on the product title of this rifle, it’s a kit — as in, it comes with a scope! Maybe the manufacturer put in a scope and a mount that has a smaller clamp? You have to hope!

When I opened the box I found the scope with the mounts attached. Lo and behold — they did fit. Although, the scope is only 4x and has no parallax adjustment, and the scope tube is only .75 inches. I mounted it on the rifle and proceeded with today’s test. If the scope didn’t align with the target, I didn’t know what I was going to do because I don’t have any backup optics this size.

Sight-in
But I didn’t need them. The scope aligned fine with the target. The test was back on! However, I first had to adjust the scope’s eyepiece to get the reticle sharp. Some shooters think the eyepiece is there to focus the target, and I will admit to having done that a time or two, but the focus is really there to make the reticle lines sharp. When you do that, of course, the scope is out of focus at all distances except for the one the fixed parallax is set for. Well, that and everything beyond to infinity.

Since this scope is only 4x, the focus at 25 yards does not matter because the target is too small to see any detail. So, I got away with sharpening the reticle lines.

I sighted-in the scope and discovered that there are no click detents in the adjustments. The adjustments do work well without them, but it feels strange not to hear and feel them when the wheels are turned.

That settled, I moved back to 25 yards and started the test. Each pellet tested was shot 10 times from a rested position. I decided on pumping 5 strokes per shot, so discounting the sight-in sessions that took 6 shots, there were a total of 50 pump strokes per pellet tested, and I tested 4 pellets. That’s 200 pump strokes, which makes me an expert on the ease of pumping this rifle.

The rifle has to be held at the pistol grip when it’s pumped because the scope gets in the way of holding it higher up on the receiver. But this rifle is so easy to pump that it’s not a problem! I could have shot it all day this way. So, the scope does not detract from the fun of shooting the NXG APX, and that’s something that cannot be said of all multi-pumps that get scoped.

Accuracy, starting with Premier lite pellets
The first pellet tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome — the pellet we call the Premier lite. This was a good pellet at 10 meters. How would it do at 25 yards? I could see some of the pellets impacting the target through the scope, and they didn’t look that good. Ten went into 1.439 inches at 25 yards. That’s not so good!

Umarex NXG APX rifle Premier group
Ten Premier lites in 1.439 inches at 25 yards is not a good start.

On to RWS Superdome pellets
Next in line were RWS Superdomes that had also done okay at 10 meters. They were even worse than the Premiers at 25 yards, though, because 10 made a 1.683-inch group. This was getting disheartening!

Umarex NXG APX rifle Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes went into 1.683 inches at 25 yards. Something was wrong, and I needed to find out what.

What to do?
At this point, I was getting a bit down. Sure, the scope isn’t the best, and the trigger is stiff and heavy, but I know I can shoot better than this! There had to be something else at work. My thought was perhaps a pellet with a larger head might help. Since I had no other ideas, it seemed like it was worth a try, so the next pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon that has a 4.52mm head. If you’ve been reading this blog for a couple months, you know that the Falcons have saved the day several times so far.

Ten Falcons made a group that measures 1.116 inches between centers. While that’s nothing to write home about, it’s significantly smaller than the first 2 groups. Perhaps, the larger head size made a difference after all?

Umarex NXG APX rifle Falcon group
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into this 1.116-inch group at 25 yards. This is better, but still not as good as I’d hoped this rifle could do.

Anything else?
Now that I had an indication that pellet head size might make a difference, I had one more trick in my bag. I thought about using a heavy pellet, because all the pellets so far have either been light or medium weight. And, as luck would have it, Pyramyd Air had just shipped me a couple tins of H&N Baracuda Match pellets with large head sizes. They had asked me over a month ago what head sizes I had; and when I checked, all I could find in the .177 Baracuda Match was a 4.50mm head. I have several tins of them, but nothing larger. So, PA shipped me this pellet with 4.52mm and 4.53mm heads, because they want me to test them for you. I selected the 4.53mm pellet for this test test.

And that solved the problem! Ten pellets went into 0.769 inches at 25 yards! That’s an extremely significant result, and it demonstrates the value of having pellets with the right size head. It probably also validates my thoughts on trying heavier pellets in a pneumatic to improve accuracy, although I can see more testing is needed in this area.

Umarex NXG APX rifle Baracuda Match group
Now we’re talking! Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets with 4.53mm heads went into 0.769 inches at 25 yards. read more


Umarex NXG APX multi-pump air rifle kit: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Umarex NXG APX rifle
Umarex NXG APX multi-pump air rifle.

This report covers:

• Sight-in
• Pellets first: JSB Exact RS pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• Shooting behavior
• Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Switch to BBs
• Evaluation so far

We’ll look at the accuracy of the Umrarex NXG APX Air Rifle today, and that means we have to test it with lead pellets and BBs. There’s a lot of work to do, so let’s get going.

Sight-in
I sighted-in the rifle for 10 meters using the open sights. The fiberoptic front sight was no problem, because I lit the target bright and the place from where I shot was dark. I got the elevation okay, but I couldn’t get the windage adjusted. It takes a Phillips screwdriver to loosen one screw and slide the rear sight notch left or right. The screw was too tight to move — it may be painted-in. So, I left it were it was, and the groups landed just to the right of the bull. If the APX is accurate I’ll probably mount some sort of optical sight that can be adjusted, so this isn’t a big problem.

I decided to pump the rifle 5 times per shot. For shooting at 10 meters, that seems right.

Pellets first: JSB Exact RS pellets
I’ll test the accuracy of lead pellets at 10 meters with the rifle rested on a sandbag. Let’s start with JSB Exact RS pellets. Ten made a 0.79-inch group, which I thought was pretty good.

Umarex NXG APX rifle JSB RS target
The APX put 10 JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.79 inches at 10 meters.

RWS Superdome pellets
Next up were RWS Superdomes. Ten of them gave a horizontal group that measures 0.672 inches between centers. It’s smaller than the RS group, but I wish it wasn’t so horizontal.

Umarex NXG APX rifle RWS Superdome target
Ten RWS Superdome pellets made this 0.672-inch group that’s spread out horizontal.

Shooting behavior
I must comment on the APX shooting behavior at this point. The trigger is stiff and heavy, but it doesn’t seem to affect the accuracy. For such a lightweight rifle, it’s very steady on the sandbag.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
Now it’s time to try the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. They gave a nicely rounded group that measures 0.679 inches between centers. One pellet strayed outside the main group, yet it’s still tight!

Umarex NXG APX rifle Premier lite target
Ten Crosman Premier lite pellets made this 0.679-inch group, which is very round.

RWS Hobby pellets
The last lead pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. These made another round group that was the smallest of the session. Ten pellets went into 0.532 inches, center to center, at 10 meters. That is very impressive! Remember, there are 10 shots in each group in this test.

Umarex NXG APX rifle RWS Hobby target
The smallest group of pellets measures 0.532 inches between centers. Ten RWS Hobbys made it.

Switch to BBs
It was time to switch over to BBs and see what they could do. For my BB gun range, I have 5 meters (16 feet 5 inches). Instead of a shooting bench, I used a chair and a new monopod that Leapers is developing. It isn’t on the market yet, so I won’t tease you with it — YET — but suffice to say that it’s a good piece of field equipment.

I decided to use the same Umarex Precision Steel BBs that were used in the velocity test. I used 4 pumps because of the shorter distance, and I still used the open sights with the same setting as for 10 meters.

I shot one 10-shot group that measures 0.569 inches between centers. Yes, it’s that small! My measurements may be off a little more than usual, because BBs don’t cut good clean holes, even when the target is backed by cardboard. Still, you can see it and judge for yourself.

Umarex NXG APX rifle Umarex BB target
Ten steel BBs went into this group that measures 0.569 inches between centers. For a BB gun, this is something! read more


Umarex NXG APX multi-pump air rifle kit: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Umarex NXG APX rifle
Umarex NXG APX multi-pump air rifle.

This report covers:

• Standard velocity test
• Second test
• What does this mean?
• Third test
• Fourth test
• Fifth test
• Making sense of the data
• Other observations

Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Umarex NXG APX air rifle, and I learned some interesting things.

Standard velocity test
First, I did my standard velocity test. That’s where I pump the rifle a number of times and record the velocity for each set of pumps. For this test, I always use a Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet — assuming a .177-caliber air rifle, of course. Let’s look at the results of that test.

Pumps…Velocity (f.p.s.)
3                465
4                527
5                568
6                590
7                601
8                609
9                622
10              626

Pump head dried out
As I shot this series, I noticed the air intake grew less dramatic as the pumps increased. I didn’t do anything about it right away; but in the next string, I decided to oil the pump head. You’ll see the difference that made. Just so you know. I did not oil the pump head before starting the last string, because I’d already oiled it in the last test session, which was a week ago.

Second test
What I do in the second test is pump the gun the same number of times and record the velocity for a string of 10 shots with the same Premier lite pellet. This string is where I noticed that the pump head seemed to be drawing in less air with each shot. For each shot shown below I pumped the rifle 5 times.

Shot…Velocity (f.p.s.)
1                555
2                528
3                522
4                524
5                521
6                522
Oiled the pump head at this point.
7                546
8                550
9                544
10              537

What does this mean?
It’s very clear that oiling the pump head boosts velocity. And the reason for that can only mean one thing — more air is getting into the valve’s reservoir. Why more air gets in would seem to be because the pump head is doing a better job of sealing the compression tube on every pump stroke. Oil will certainly do that. I need to keep an eye on this for the rest of the test.

Third test
For the third test, I used a lighter pellet — an RWS Hobby wadcutter. Umarex sent a tin of them with the rifle. Normally, I would expect this pellet to go much faster than the 7.9-grain Premier lite used in the first 2 tests.

Instead of doing the entire first test again, I pumped the rifle 3 times and shot, then 5 times and shot and finally 10 times and shot. That should give a good cross-section of the entire pump test done previously.

Pumps…Velocity (f.p.s.)
3                428
5                478
10              598

Something didn’t seem right about this test. In all cases, the lighter Hobby pellets went slower than the Premiers. I thought it might be the oiling, which I planned to do another time, so I moved on to the lightest pellets I had — RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets.

Fourth test
RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets weigh 5.2 grains and are among the lightest pellets around. They should really scream in the APX, and in fact they are the pellets that Umarex advertises as getting 800 f.p.s. in this rifle. As with the Hobbys, I pumped 3 times and shot, 5 times and shot and finally 10 times and shot.

Pumps…Velocity (f.p.s.)
3                407
5                539
10              626, 569, 561

As you can see, the velocity is dropping off again. So, I oiled the pump head once more and switched to BBs.

Fifth test
For this test, I loaded 10 BBs into the reservoir, because the APX is a repeater when it’s shooting BBs. I used Umarex Precision Steel BBs that came with the rifle. The pump head is freshly oiled for this test.

The BBs come out of the reservoir in a long line, but are limited by the width of the pellet trough. The bolt pushes one BB ahead into the breech and the rest have to wait their turn.

Umarex NGX APX rifle BB loading
BBs want to pour out of the reservoir but are stopped when the first one attaches to the magnet on the tip of the bolt. That BB stops the rest from coming out.

Pumps…Velocity (f.p.s.)
3                506
4                558
5                575
6                589
7                814??? (585 on the second try)
8                654
9                621
10              638

It seems the pump head dried out in the middle of this string, so I oiled it again and pumped the rifle 10 more times. The final shot on ten pumps went 741 f.p.s.

Making sense of the data
It would seem from this brief test that the rifle I’m testing needs very frequent oiling to maintain its maximum velocity. It also seems that 800 f.p.s. is beyond the rifle I am testing for you. BBs seem to have shot faster than any pellets, which is exactly what I expected would happen.

I doubt anyone is going to shoot their rifle with an oil can in hand, so these data must be taken with a grain of salt. Therefore, I did one final test string of 10 shots with the Premier lite pellet that seemed to give the most favorable results. I did not oil the gun for this test…but it’s been oiled already 3 times today, so it should be good to go.

Ten shots averaged 604 f.p.s. and ranged from 597 to 614 f.p.s. So, the rifle seems to have settled down to that velocity. When I look back at the Daisy 880 test I did earlier this year, Premier lites went 645 f.p.s., so the velocity of the APX is approximately equivalent.

Other observations read more