Archive for November 2005
by B.B. Pelletier
Let’s take a look at one of the longest-running airgun models ever made – the Diana model 27. The history given here is condensed from Blue Book of Airguns, Fifth Edition.
My Diana 27 was made in 1967 for the Hy-Score company. It’s a Hy-Score 807.
A long run
Diana is a German airgun firm with a long, colorful history. Started in 1890, the company survived two world wars and numerous civil upheavals, as well as several crushing depressions. In the U.S. today, Diana is so closely associated with RWS that many people believe RWS makes the airguns, but that isn’t the case. Diana makes them, and RWS simply imports them into this country under their own label.
The model 27 was first made in 1910, though it looked much different back then. The gun had only a buttstock – no forearm at all. In fact, it wasn’t until after World War II that the model 27 got a normal-looking stock.
Many names, but just one gun
The Diana model 27 has been sold in this country under several names. Just a few of the important ones are Beeman, Original, Hy-Score, Winchester and Milbro. All but Milbro were actually German Diana model 27 guns under other names.
The Milbro guns deserve more explanation. As partial reparations for World War II, the United Kingdom secured the rights, tooling, machinery, parts and drawings of Diana air rifles. Millard Brothers of London made Diana guns in Scotland that were also sold in the U.S. under the Daisy brand name, though I don’t believe they ever made the model 27 for them. During the years when Milbro made Dianas, the restarted German firm had to use the name “Original” to avoid confusion. After Milbro folded, the Germans got back the Diana name.
The Diana 27 was famous for the trigger with the ball bearing sear
Diana pioneered a type of trigger that uses three ball bearings to hold the piston when the gun is cocked. A complex arrangement of springs, bearings and nested cages and bearing races keep pressure on the piston stem until the trigger releases it. Adjusting this trigger is difficult, but once it is adjusted properly, it is as nice as any conventional trigger.
The 27 was just the right size and power!
This was not a magnum airgun. In .22, it shoots medium-weight pellets in the mid- to high-400s. In .177, it gets close to 600 with medium pellets. Why do so many airgunners flip over the gun? Because its so smooth, so easy to cock and light enough to shoot offhand all day long. A 27 is deadly accurate and so understressed that it keeps on shooting long after more powerful guns need a spring change.
I have owned three model 27 guns. The first was a .22 Hy-Score 807 that came from a pawn shop for $18. It was rusty and beat up, but it shot beautifully and I loved it. I eventually gave it to my best friend. Number two was a real Diana .177 that was in sad shape. I bought it for $20 at a gun show, and the dealer was “kind enough” to cock and dry-fire it once to show me that it worked! I repaired it and eventually let myself be talked out of it by someone who wanted it even more.
The .22-caliber model 27 you see above is the last one I bought, and it’s NOT for sale. I paid $110 for it 12 years ago, and I have since tuned it to be even smoother. It used to be a “go-to” airgun, but my Blue Streak and TX 200 have shoved it aside. Still, when I want smooth, light and just right, I pick up my trusty Diana model 27.
by B.B. Pelletier
Last week one of our readers described a Daisy he had as his first airgun, but he didn’t remember the model. Here is the description: “The first gun I owned was a BB gun that cocked with a breaking slide underneath the barrel. The magazine was unscrewed from the barrel, and as I recall it held about 50 bb’s.”
The pump mechanism was a powerful force multiplier!
1930 variation of Daisy’s No. 25 pump gun.
You have a good memory. Your BB gun was a Daisy No. 25 with a 50-shot forced-feed magazine that is removed from the gun to load.
No. 25 is the world’s most popular BB gun!
I bet you thought the Red Ryder held the title as the world’s most popular BB gun. According to Daisy, more than 20 million No. 25 pump guns sold from 1913 through 1986, making it the longest-running BB gun.
It all began in 1913
Blue Book says the gun started production in 1914, but some guns were actually sold in the latter days of 1913. The gun was developed by Fred LeFever, a gun designer and member of the famous LeFever shotgun family. He came to Daisy in 1912 to complete this model – and ended up staying 45 years!
Most powerful BB gun
The compound leverage of the long pump stroke meant Daisy could use a strong mainspring in the 25, making it the most powerful BB gun they had. Since then, it’s been eclipsed by CO2 guns and pneumatics, but for many decades it out-shot every other BB gun. Blue Book claims a velocity of 450 f.p.s. I’ve never seen one go that fast, but I have seen 375 f.p.s. with modern steel BBs.
50-shot forced-feed magazine
The magazine has to be removed from the gun for loading. It holds 50 BBs under spring tension, so there is never a dry fire as there can sometimes be with gravity-feed. All the guns from 1913 to about 1930 had lead BB magazines for 0.175-diameter air rifle shot. When Daisy switched to steel BBs, the size was reduced to 0.171 to 0.173, and a new type of shot holder had to be installed in the magazine. I use Beeman Perfect Rounds in my old guns because, at 0.177, they fit the magazine great!
Many popular variations!
No. 25 guns exist in a wide variety of popular variations. Perhaps, the best-known and most well-liked of all is the 1936 engraved model. It was made until about 1952, when Daisy switched from wood stocks to plastic and from blued steel to electrostatic paint. Many little boys lamented this change, but used guns were – and still are – available.
Detail of the engraving on a 1936 variation.
My 1930 No. 25
I bought my 1930 variation from a flea market vendor about 12 years ago. It still shoots steel BBs at 375 f.p.s., though I shoot only lead in the original magazine (I have several spare magazines for my 25s). With the larger Perfect Rounds, it groups about an inch at 20 feet, which I have learned is about the best you can expect from any BB gun except the super-accurate Daisy Avanti Champion 499. (Read my June 6 blog about the 499!)
A very special No. 25
To commemorate their 100th anniversary, Daisy made a very special No. 25. It resembles the original 1915 blued gun very closely, and they stocked it in walnut. This was the last No. 25 they made, though the model 225 is a variant that continued to 1993. These collectible No. 25s now bring $150 and more on the used gun market, and they will continue to increase with each passing year.
Daisy celebrated their centennial with a special No. 25!
If you ever have the opportunity to get a No. 25, it’s a pretty safe investment. A good used shooter with wood stock is worth $75 today, and the engraved model in good condition now brings $80 or more. In excellent shape, a wood-stocked No. 25 fetches around $350!