Posts Tagged ‘RWS’

You might call the Diana 470 Target Hunter the big brother of the Model 460 Magnum that I tested a while back. The 470 TH stretches 45 inches from end to end and weighs 9.4 lbs. Available in .177 and .22, it has an ambidextrous hardwood thumbhole stock.

Starting at the aft end of the 470, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad that is vertically adjustable. Just loosen a screw and slide it up or down. Forward of that is the hardwood stock which has a cheek piece on either side of the buttstock. Moving forward again, you’ll find the thumbhole and a fairly vertical pistol grip which has checkering on either side.

Just ahead of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard, inside of which you’ll find a black metal trigger. This is the new generation trigger, the TO6. Ahead of that, the forestock descends to a level almost even with the bottom edge of the trigger guard and provides a kind of blocky shelf for four or five inches. Moving forward again, the 470 has checkering on either side of the forestock. There is a long slot underneath the forestock to provide clearance for the cocking linkage.

At the end of the forestock is the underlever which is used for cocking the 470. The far end of the cocking lever snaps into a nice metal muzzlebrake at the far end of the barrel. At the other end of the barrel, you’ll find the receiver, which is clearly marked “RWS Diana Mod. 470 TH.”

The anti-beartrap release tab is circled in yellow. It "travels" along the side of the breech as the breech block moves back.

A few inches back from the juncture of the barrel and receivers is the silver breech block, and on the right hand side of the receiver, you’ll find the anti-beartrap release tab. The breech opening is cut more deeply on the right hand side of the receiver. Toward the rear of the receiver is a scope rail with a couple of dimples for anti-recoil pins. At the very end of the receiver is a push-pull safety that can be reset.

To ready the 470 for shooting, unsnap the underlever from the muzzlebrake by pulling down. Next, pull the underlever down and back until it latches. This slides the breech block back and opens the breech for pellet loading. As you do this, the anti-beartrap release tab on the right side of the receiver slides backwards along the right side of the receiver in concert with the breech block.

Insert a pellet into the aft end of the barrel. To close the breech and return the underlever to its original position, you will have to depress the anti-beartrap release tab, which is now located near the rear of the breech opening on the right side of the 460. As you close the breech, you’ll see the anti-beartrap release tab sliding back to its original position.

With the 470 loaded, take aim, push the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. It takes 1 lb 2 oz of effort to take the first stage out of the trigger, and at 1 lb. 7.6 oz, the shot goes down range. That’s light, but there is a very defined “stop” between the first and second stages. The 470 launched 14.3 grain Crosman .22 Premier pellets at 775 fps average. That’s about 19 footpounds of energy at the muzzle.

With the Crosman .22 Premier pellets, I put 5 shots into a group that measured 7/8 inch edge to edge at 30 yards, and the last three shots of the group fell into a cluster that measured just .5 inch edge to edge. That works out to .65 ctc and .28 ctc respectively.

The 470 TH is an accurate air rifle that packs a substantial wallop, is fun to shoot, and has an excellent trigger.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–        Jock Elliott

The Diana 34 Centennial – Anniversary Edition is easy on the eyes.

In the decade or so that I’ve been writing about airguns, I’ve noticed that airgunners, roughly speaking, can be divided into three groups. In no particular order, they are: collectors, customizers, and shooters. Collectors, of course, are the guys who accumulate airguns because they enjoy the craftsmanship of vintage airguns, a particular model, or a particular brand. Customizers are the folks who start with a relatively ordinary airgun, like the Crosman 1377, and then customize it to turn it into something special that is uniquely their own. Shooters are people who first and foremost enjoy launching pellets from their airguns rather than collecting or customizing them.

Why do I mention this? Because when the good folks at Airguns of Arizona suggested that I might like to have a look at the the Diana 34 Centennial – Anniversary Edition, my chief interest in the air rifle was as a shooter. My attitude is: “I don’t care how nice it looks . . . how well does it shoot?” And we’ll get to the answer in just a little while.

The Diana 34 Centennial – Anniversary Edition is a special edition of the popular RWS/Diana Model 34 break barrel air rifle, built to commemorate the 120th Anniversary of Diana (1890-2010). It has an oiled walnut Monte Carlo stock, Scottish checkering, ventilated rubber butt pad, front sights with changeable inserts, anniversary engraving on the stock and receiver, and the TO6 trigger with a gold plated trigger blade.

Available in both .177 and .22, the Centennial weighs 7.5 lbs and measures 45 inches from end to end. At the aft end, there is a ventilated rubber recoil pad, attached to a right-handed walnut stock with a very moderate cheek piece on the left side. I think that a southpaw should be able to shoot this air rifle without much problem.

The Centennial is equipped with the new TO6 trigger, and this one is gold plated.

Moving forward, the pistol grip has checkering on either side, and on the bottom of the pistol grip you’ll find an anniversary medallion embossed into the wood. Ahead of the pistol grip is the black metal trigger guard which surrounds the TO6 metal trigger that has been plated with 24 carat gold.

The slim forestock has checkering on either side and a long slot underneath to provide clearance for the cocking linkage. Ahead of that is the .22 barrel (on the sample I tested) which has a globe front sight mounted on dovetails near the muzzle. At the aft end of the barrel, you’ll find the breech block on top of which is mounted the notch rear sight. Further back on the receiver is a scope rail with two anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the tail end of the receiver is a push-pull safety that is resettable.

To ready the Centennial for shooting, grab the barrel near the end, pull it down and back until it latches. Insert a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. I estimate the cocking effort to be in the low-30s, around 33-34 lbs. Next, take aim at the target, push in the safety to turn it off, and squeeze the trigger. This is where the new T06 trigger really shines. On the sample that I tested, the first stage requires only 1 lb. 1.3 oz., and at 1 lb. 11 oz., the shot goes downrange. The Centennial launches 14.3 gr. Crosman Premier .22 pellets at about 665 fps, which works out to 14 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

At 30 yards, the Centennial put 5 shots in a group that measured just 5/8 inch edge to edge, which works out to .405 inch center to center. I find that very satisfying accuracy in an air rifle that has a pleasant shot cycle.

In the end, I bought the Centennial – not because it is a nice looking air rifle or that it is collectable or that it is a limited edition model. Instead, it now has a home in my gun safe because I enjoyed shooting it so much.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

You don’t have to read this blog for very long to figure out that Your Humble Correspondent is a beady-eyed, slavering, unrepentant, not-in-the-twelve-step-program, airgun junkie. Put an airgun in my hand and chances are that I’ll find something to like about it. I just plain love airguns. I love that they cost just pennies a round to shoot, that by and large they don’t generally make much noise, that I can shoot them in my back yard, and that they are just plain fun.

In many ways, I think we are living in the Golden Age of airguns right now. So many manufacturers are making such great stuff that we airgunners have really a wide selection of excellent air rifles and air pistols to chose from.

What follows are some of my current favorites.

The RWS 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact. This air rifle surprised me by turning out to be one of the most accurate break barrel air rifles I have shot in a long, long time. With one of these, a shooter could hunt, plink, shoot air rifle silhouette or field target without breaking the family budget. You can read more about it here http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/12/the-tackdriving-rws-34-meisterschutze-pro-compact.html

The RWS Model 56 TH. This is a big, heavy, wickedly-accurate sidelever springer air rifle with an excellent trigger and a recoilless action. If you can put up with the weight, it is a certified tackdriver. You can read more about it here http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-i.html and here http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-ii.html

The HW35E is an absolute classic break barrel springer, available new today. What sets it apart from all other break barrels currently available – apart from its euro styling – is the breech latch that makes sure the barrel and breech have returned to the same position after loading for greater accuracy. The HW35E shoots great and looks terrific. For more info, look here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/08/hw35e.html

When it comes to precharged pneumatic rifles, two spring readily to mind. The first is the Gladiator Tactical. It has enormous storage capacity, gets a huge number of shots between fills, has power levels that can be adjusted at the flick of a lever, is a fast repeater, has a very neighbor-friendly report, and is satisfyingly accurate. You can check out more here http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-i.html and here http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-ii.html

For a PCP rifle that you could use to hunt just about anything you might reasonably want to hunt with an airgun, I’d pick the .25 caliber Marauder. It delivers over 40 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and, with its Green Mountain barrel, will deliver dime-sized groups at well beyond 50 yards. You can get more info here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/08/25-caliber-marauder.html

When it comes to pistols, I am very fond of the RWS LP8. You can learn more about it here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2009/06/rws-lp8-classic-in-making.html But any of the HW45 pistols are enormous fun to shoot and extremely well made. You can check out one example here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2009/04/hw45-stl-looker-and-shooter.html

If you want a rifle that embodies everything I prize most in an air rifle: accuracy, quiet, fully self-contained, repeater, and powerful enough to dispatch any small game or pests you might want to take with a pneumatic rifle, the FX Independence has it all. Here’s a link to my review: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/06/independence-day.html

Finally, if you absolutely forced me to choose just one airgun as my overall favorite, the one that would be the absolute last one I would be willing to give up, I think it would be an HW30. It’s light, easy to cock, fully self-contained, a delight to shoot, nicely accurate and capable of taking small game out to about 30 yards or so with proper shot placement. Here’s a link to my review of the HW30 De Luxe http://198.154.244.69/blog/2010/09/hw30s-de-luxe.html

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The RWS 460 is a handsome air rifle.

The RWS 460, available in .177 and .22, is a long, slender, underlever spring-piston air rifle. It measures 45.5 inches from the tip of the muzzle to butt pad, yet it weighs just 8.3 pounds. At the extreme aft end, you’ll find a ventilated rubber recoil pad. Moving forward, the righthand hardwood stock has a modest cheek piece on the left side. The pistol grip is checkered on each side, and forward of that, there is a black trigger guard which houses a black plastic 2-stage trigger.

The forestock, checkered on either side, tapers gently from the trigger guard to the end. Underneath is a long slot that provides clearance of the underlever when the gun is being cocked. Ahead of the forestock is the underlever which snaps into a fitting mounted on the barrel. The same fitting incorporates the front blade sight.

At the aft end of the barrel, you’ll find the receiver with the rear notch sight on top. To the right of the rear sight is the anti-beartrap release tab, and behind the rear sight is the silver breech block. The breech opening is cut more deeply on the right side to favor loading pellets from that direction.

About six inches behind the breech block is a scope rail with a couple of dimples for anti-recoil pins. Finally, at the end of the receiver is a plastic push-pull safety that can be reset.

If you plan on shooting the 460 with a scope, I can highly recommend the RWS one-piece lock down mount, which is available in both 30mm and 1 inch. It has dual recoil pins, a clamping bar which is sized to the scope rail on the RWS 460, and .025 inches of elevation built in to deal with the barrel “deflection” (or droop) that is usually found in RWS air rifles. The mount worked exactly as advertised, and I had no trouble with it whatsoever. I mounted a 4-12×50 RWS scope (30 mm tube). Although the scope has a minimum focusing distance of around 13 yards at full power, by turning down the magnification I was able to see well enough to make closer shots.

The RWS 460 with a peep sight mounted.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know of my predilection to shoot “Quigley style” with non-glass sights. I mounted Gamo supermatch rear peep sight that had been drilled for an anti-recoil pin, and it worked just fine. The only downside to this setup is the width of the front sight blade, which obscures small targets at longer ranges. All in all, I really liked this rig, which weighs barely more than the naked rifle.

I also tried the rear sight that comes mounted on the 460. If you find the rear notch to be too narrow, you can loosen a tiny allen screw on the lefthand side of the sight, slip out the sight insert, flip it over, put it back in place, and you have a wider rear notch.

To ready the 460 for shooting, slip the underlever out of its retaining slot by pulling down. Next, move the underlever down and back until it latches. This slides the breech block back and exposes the breech so that you can load a pellet. As you do this, you will notice the anti-beartrap release tab on the right side of the receiver traveling backwards along the right side of the receiver in concert with the breech block.

Just forward of the breech you can see the anti-beartrap release tab, which slides back and forth in unison with the silver breech block.

Next, insert a pellet into the aft end of the barrel. To close the breech, you have to depress the anti-beartrap release tab, which is now located near the rear of the breech opening on the right side of the 460, and return the underlever to its original position. The RWS 460 is the only airgun I’m aware of in which the anti-beartrap release “travels,” but it presents no problem once you become accustomed to the novelty of it.

With the 460 loaded, take aim, push the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. It takes 1 lb 10 oz of effort to take the first stage out of the trigger, and at 2 lb. 9.4 oz, the shot goes down range. The 460 launched Crosman .177 Premier 7.9 gr. pellets at 1,023 fps average and Crosman Premier 10.5 gr. pellets at 836 fps average.

I got the best accuracy results with the Crosman 10.5 grain pellets. My first four shots with the heavy pellets went into a group just hair over .5 inches edge to edge at 35 yards. I yanked my last shot, though, so that the group opened to 7/8 inch edge to edge. That works out to .69 inches CTC.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The RWS Meisterschutze Pro Compact is downright sleek in its appearance.

I woke up one morning a few weeks ago with the realization that I had never shot one of the air rifles that so many airgunners purchase as their first “quality” air rifle: the RWS 34. A while ago, I had a neighbor who simply loved to hunt with his RWS 34, but I never got to shoot it, and he has since moved away.

So I asked the folks at umarexusa to send me a sample of the 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact (MPC) in .177 caliber. It comes with a RWS one-piece “drooper” scope mount, an RWS 3-9x40AO rifle scope and a muzzlebrake. When I pulled it from the box, I was immediately impressed by its businesslike appearance.

There is no cheek piece on either side of the MPC's butt stock.

The long, slim hardwood stock is completely unadorned by any checkering or decoration of any sort. At the end of the stock is a rubber butt pad attached to the stock by a black spacer. There is no cheek piece on either side of the butt stock, making the design completely ambidextrous, and there is only a slight rise in the comb. Forward of the pistol grip is a black plastic trigger guard surrounding a black plastic trigger that is adjustable for first stage travel.

THE MPC is equipped with a substantial muzzlebrake, apparently the same one used on the TH 56.

Forward of that, the forestock reaches out to cover the breech block and cocking linkage. Beyond that is the barrel on which is mount a substantial muzzlebrake. The appeared to be the same muzzlebrake that was mounted on the very accurate RWS 56 TH that I had tested some time ago. The breech block on this model is not designed to take a rear sight but instead has fine horizontal lines molded into it. The receiver is finished in a matte black that appears to match the scope and scope mount. At the aft end of the receiver, there is the familiar push-pull RWS safety which is resettable.

The RWS one-piece scope mount fits exactly over the dovetail on the receiver and provides compensation for barrel droop.

Mounting the scope was straightforward. The one-piece mount fits the RWS dovetails exactly and has two anti-recoil pins that drop into corresponding holes on the receiver. The only trick is to make sure that the arrow on the drooper mount is pointing toward the muzzle. With the scope mounted, the MPC weighs 9 lbs. 12 oz.

To ready the MPC for shooting, grab the muzzlebrake, pull it down and back until it latches. Stuff a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. I estimate the cocking effort to be in the mid-30s, perhaps 36-37 lbs. Next, take aim at the target, flick off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires only 1 lb. 9.8 oz., and at 2 lbs. 10.8 oz., the shot goes downrange. The RWS 34 Pro Compact launches 8.44 gr. JSB Exact pellets at about 840 fps, which works out to 13.22 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

When it came time to test the MPC for accuracy, that’s when life got interesting. As I so often do, as soon as I mounted the scope, I grabbed the MPC, some Crosman Premier 7.9 gr. pellets and went outside to bang off a few shots at 13 yards from a sitting position. My first group measured just .375 inch edge to edge. Not bad, I thought.

A couple of days later, shooting off a rest at 32 yards, the groups opened up tremendously to well over an inch. Then the gun began throwing flyers – a .75 inch group with a flyer 1.5 inches away. I was just starting to work my way through some alternative pellets when I heard a rattle as I cocked the gun. Investigating further, I found that the muzzlebrake was loose.

With the muzzlebrake tightened, the MPC delivered this very satisfying group at 32 yards.

I loosened the end cap on the muzzlebrake, tightened the two grub screws underneath the muzzlebrake that clamp to the barrel, then screwed the end cap in tight. The next group, shot with JSB .177 Exact pellets, was magic: just .5 inch edge to edge at 32 yards, making the MPC one of the most accurate break barrel air rifles I have shot in a long, long time.

The bottom line is that the MPC is an air rifle that does a lot of things well. It has a decent trigger, makes reasonable power, and delivers excellent accuracy. With this air rifle, you could hunt, plink, or shoot hunter class field target and all at a very reasonable price.

I give the 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact my highest personal recommendation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The RWS 350 Feuerkraft

You know how a kind word from a friend can change your outlook on an entire day? Well, the RWS 350 Feuerkraft did the same kind of thing for me.

Let me explain: I had been feeling a bit gloomy about my springer shooting skills after testing several .25 models. I simply couldn’t master shooting them really well at longer ranges, and I thought perhaps I had lost my springer shooting “mojo” altogether.

But then came Brown Santa (the UPS guy) with a long slim package with the RWS 350 Feuerkraft in .22 caliber inside. I pulled it out of the box, slapped a scope on it, and went outside to give it a few shots. We’ll get back to what I discovered in just a little while, but first let’s take a walk around the RWS 350 Feuerkraft (350F for short).

The stock is fully ambidextrous.

The 350F is a long air rifle, 48.375 inches from muzzle to butt pad, and it weighs 8 lbs without scope. It has a slim hardwood stock that is fully ambidextrous and unadorned by any checkering on any other decoration. At the extreme aft end of the stock is a black rubber recoil pad attached to the stock by a black plastic spacer. Moving forward, ahead of the pistol grip is the black plastic trigger guard which encloses a black plastic trigger that is adjustable for first stage travel.

The red fiber optic front sight is easy to see.

. . . and so is the green fiber optic rear sight.

Forward of that, the long slim forestock encloses the breech block and cocking linkage, giving the 350F a very clean, finished appearance. Ahead of that is the barrel which has a plastic muzzle brake that serves as a mount for a red fiber optic front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of the breech block. Moving back again, there is a dovetail on top of the receiver for mounting a scope, and at the extreme aft end of the receiver is the push-pull safety which is resettable.

To ready the 350F for shooting, grab the barrel near the muzzle and pull it down and back until it latches. This takes about 33 lbs of effort. Next insert a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, flick the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample that I tested, at 1 lb. 5 oz. the first stage came out of the trigger, and at 3 lb. 14.7 oz., the shot went down range. The 350F was launching 14.35 gr. JSB Express pellets at an average of 722 fps, generating 16.6 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle.

Now we can get back to what I discovered when I went outside to shoot the 350F. The first thing I found out was the 350F has a very nice shot cycle – just a quick snap with no buzz or twang. I heard perhaps a tiny bit of vibration, but I didn’t feel any through the gun. The report is also surprisingly subdued for an air rifle of this power — not dead quiet but not raucous either.

If you plan to scope the 350F, definitely use one of the RWS one-piece drooper mounts.

The second thing I discovered is that if you plan to scope this air rifle, you will definitely need the RWS one-piece “drooper” mount. The first scope I tried had conventional scope mounts, and I simply ran out of elevation adjustment. So I popped back inside, swiped a scope with drooper mount off another RWS rifle, and mounted it on the 350F.

Within a few minutes, I was happily blowing the center out of a target at 13 yards, and I found that I could hit exactly the spot that I wanted. Encouraged by this, I set up a target at 35 yards, and, from a sitting position, was able to put 4 out of 5 shots into a 5/8 inch edge-to-edge group. I yanked the last shot, which opened the group up to 1 inch edge-to-edge, but even so, that’s pretty much minute-of-squirrel’s noggin.

In the end, I found I really liked the 350F. It has no bad manners; it has a decent trigger; it’s commendably accurate, and, like an old friend, it cheered me up about my springer shooting skills. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense air rifle that suitable for hunting or a day afield, the 350F should put a grin on your face.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

My wife never wanted to turn me into an obsessed maniac, but that was the unintended consequence of a kind act. In late 2001, she came home with a gift for me: a copy of the movie Quigley Down Under.

This is where the trouble began.

In brief, it’s the story of a Wyoming rifleman and cowboy who answers a newspaper ad from an Australian rancher for “The World’s Best Long Distance Marksman.” Quigley shows up down under with a Sharps 45-70 (modified to take a special 110-grain cartridge) with an extra-long barrel, a globe front sight, and a tang vernier rear peep sight. In his first interview with his would-be employer, Quigley hits a bucket repeatedly at a distance of several hundred yards, shooting offhand with open sights.

At the heart of it, that scene embodies what all riflemen wish they could be: thoroughly familiar with their weapon, fully aware of the effect of environmental conditions, and ready to make a few adjustments and pull off an incredibly long shot with precision.

I began to wonder if I might not be able to replicate Matthew Quigley’s spectacular bucket shot — in a scaled-down version — with an airgun. Ted Osborn and I came to the conclusion that the standard of performance for an airgun should be: three shots into a 1.75 inch high bucket target at a distance of 55 yards with non-magnified sights. A few days after our conversation, the mailman showed up with an envelope. In it was a drawing of a bucket, perfectly scaled for 55-yards, with an invitation from Ted to photocopy to my heart’s content and “have at it.”

The bucket target. Feel free to copy and print it. The total height from top to bottom should be 1.75 inches.

After various failed attempts, I finally succeeded with a .22 Career PCP rifle outfitted with a special front sight. That was in 2002. Eight years later, in 2010, there is still something bugging me about this whole Quigley thing; I’d like to be able to hit the bucket with a self-contained air rifle like a multi-stroke pneumatic or a springer.

The Career was the first gun I succeeded with.

Larry Durham (also known as LD), an engineer and airgun enthusiast of deep experience, suggests that perhaps that the only self-contained air rifle that could get the job done would be an RWS 54, a recoilless sidelever springer. I also ask LD if he knows anyone who could mount a globe front sight and a tang vernier rear sight on a Sheridan. He says, “Send me the gun and the sights, and I’ll see what I can do.”

At this point in the Quigley Project, three parallel threads are underway at the same time. 1) I’m experimenting with mounting a globe front sight and peep rear sight on a .177 RWS 54. 2) Larry Durham is mounting a globe front sight and rear tang sight on the Silver Streak Sheridan that I sent him. 3) I obtain a Feinwerkbau 150 match rifle in an FWB 300 stock.

Fast forward a few months, and here’s the situation. 1) I have mounted the sights on the RWS 54, and I think it will work. 2) Larry Durham has mounted the sights, done what he can to accurize the Sheridan I sent, and has offered the opinion that he doesn’t think this particular rifle is a particularly accurate Sheridan. He thinks maybe it will hold 1.5 inches at 55 yards. 3) I’ve been fooling around with the FWB 150 and find that it shoots pretty darn well out to about 35 yards with domed pellets and the factory match sights.

Finally, in early May, 2010, Dick Johnson (a centerfire benchrest competitor) and I load up the gear and trundle out to the Brunswick Sportsman’s Club to see what we can do. Dick’s job is to act as my spotter; with the non-magnifying sights I am using, I have no idea where my shots are landing. Today, I am shooting off a rest because my goal is to see if the rifles have the necessary accuracy to hit the target.

This the the view from my shooting station at 55 yards. That white square in the distance is comprised of 9 bucket targets.

The first rifle I try is the Quigley Sheridan (QS) that Larry Durham assembled for me. It truly is a wonder: LD had epoxied a globe front sight with level onto the Sheridan’s original blade sight. At the rear, he had routered the stock to create slot where the tang vernier sight could be mounted. I flip the rear sight into position, and the sight picture is perfect. As I look through the pinhole in the disk of the rear sight, I can see the front globe perfectly framed. Inside that, there is an aperture sight disk like the Olympic shooters use.

The Quigley Sheridan is one of a kind.

It takes a few shots to get the Quigley Sheridan zeroed at 55 yards, and the process is made more difficult by the slight bend that was imparted to the rear sight during shipping. I give the QS six pumps, feed a .20 cal JSB domed pellet into the breech, and cut loose. The trigger is simply the best I’ve ever shot in a pump gun – a single stage trigger that goes off reliably at about 1.25 lbs. With the first four shots (after zeroing) I tag the bucket twice. With the next three shots at another target, I hit the bucket once. I try again, but find I can’t hit the bucket three times in succession.

The rear sight was slightly bent in transit, but still works. I was later able to straighten it.

The big problem with this shot, I find, is the optical challenge that vexed me from the start: at 55 yards, a 1.75 inch bucket is just plain hard to see. It looks like a spec floating in front aperture. By comparison, the black part of the international 50-meter smallbore target is roughly 3.5 inches in diameter, and the standing target that Olympic biathletes shoot at 50 meters is 4.5 inches in diameter.

Further, I have a personal problem: the 8 years that have elapsed since I first shot the bucket with the Career air rifle have not been kind to my eyes. The eye doctor tells me that where I once had vision in my right eye that corrects to 20/15, it now is a shaky 20/20. Nevertheless, I am determined to see what I can accomplish.

Up next is the FWB 150. It is a transitional model with the action mounted in an FWB 300 stock. It has a globe front sight in which I mount a Matthew Quigley style post-and-bead insert and a peep rear sight. The FWB 150 is a recoilless spring piston match air rifle from the early days of 10-meter air rifle competition.

The FWB 150 acquitted itself well for an old match rifle.

After cranking up the rear sight so that the pellet will hit the target at 55 yards, on two different targets I find that I can hit the bucket with a .177 JSB pellet once out of every five shots. The optical problem has struck again: at this distance, the tiny bead on top of the post in the front sight is larger than the bucket. I have to approximate center the bead on the bucket by raising the sight up from below or by sliding it over the bucket from the side.

Finally, the recoilless RWS 54 gets its turn at bat. I have fitted the front globe sight with a very slender Lee Shaver black powder silhouette post and bead insert and a Gamo match rear sight that has been drilled to fit an anti-recoil pin. Unfortunately, I am not able to hit the bucket at all with this setup. I got close – really close – but then suddenly the shots would wander off. This air rifle is wickedly accurate at 50 yards with a scope mounted, so I think the recoil of this powerful air rifle is causing the rear sight to work loose.

The mightly RWS 54 was apparently rattling the rear sight, but this same gun has demonstrated all the necessary accuracy with a scope mounted.

In the end, I succeeded a little bit – I was able to hit the bucket a few times with self-contained air rifles, but not three times in a row.

What did I learn from this adventure? That attempting the Quigley bucket shot is a lot of fun, that the 1.75 inch bucket looks really tiny at 55 yards, and that trying to do the Hard Thing is enjoyable even if you don’t completely succeed. But maybe I can teach myself to shoot lefthanded so I can use my better eye; maybe I can do something to improve the contrast and visibility of the bucket; maybe I can improve the rear sight on the RWS 54, or maybe a 1X scope would work . . .  Once I am convinced that I have a gun and sighting system that works, I’ll take it to the next level: trying it standing, like Quigley does in the movie.

The Spirit of Quigley lives on, and you’re invited to join in the fun. Feel free to copy the bucket target poster here and try it yourself!


Before we get into the performance of the Model 56, the key thing to remember is that, like the model 54, it is a recoilless spring-piston air rifle. Here’s why that is a Big Deal: when you cock a spring-piston air rifle using the barrel, under lever or side lever, you’re driving back a spring and a piston until it latches, holding it in place like a sprinter in the blocks. When you pull the trigger, the spring and piston rocket forward in the compression tube, creating recoil in the opposite direction. As the spring and piston near the end of the compression tube, they bounce off the wad of compressed air at the end of the tube, creating recoil in the opposite direction. So the spring-piston air rifle recoils first in one direction and then the other.

Now, here’s where it gets really interesting: all this forward-and-back whiplash recoil happens before your carefully aimed shot exits the barrel. That’s why so many shooters have to work really hard to shoot springers well.

The Model 56, however, has a neat trick that helps to tame that recoil and make accurate shooting easier: the entire receiver of the air rifle rides on a sliding rail system. When you cock the Model 56 with the side lever, it drives the receiver forward. When you trigger the shot, the receiver is allowed to slide backwards. The end effect is that the shooter feels much less recoil; it is easier to shoot well, and more of the shock of recoil is transferred to the scope. It also means that you want a high quality scope sitting on top of the Model 56.

When I pulled the Model 56 out of its box and saw the knee-riser design of the stock, I thought this is an air rifle that just begs to be shot in field target competition. So I slapped a scope on it, threw on my SteadyAim Harness and went outside to see what it would do from a sitting position at 35 yards. Since Crosman Premier Heavies had worked well in my Model 54, I tried those.


After a little bit of fooling around, I shot a five-shot at 35 yards that you could cover with a dime. The group measured just .5 inch from edge to edge, which works out to .323 center to center. That’s pretty darn good accuracy at that range. The chronograph revealed that the 56 was launching 10.5 gr. Crosman Premiers at an average of 872 fps. My Lyman digital trigger gauge confirms what my finger could feel: the newly designed trigger is excellent. One pound five ounces takes the first stage out of the trigger; at 1 lb. 8.7 oz, the shot goes off. Sweet!

To say I liked the Model 56 is a gross understatement. My feeling is that, with the 56, Diana has drawn a line in the dirt that says “Here’s what we can do when we decide to build a wicked, gnarly, accurate springer that is second to none.” I would love to see what a really talented field target competitor could do with one of these. I think it could be impressive.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott


Every once in a while, an airgun comes along that really impresses the heck out of me, one that perhaps has the potential to be a game changer.

The RWS Model 56 Target Hunter by Diana is just such an air rifle. Available in .177 or .22, I call the Model 56 the Big Kahuna because it is the heaviest air rifle I have ever handled. It weighs fully 11.1 lbs without a scope (two pounds more than a Model 54) and stretches 44 inches from muzzle brake to butt pad. With the Model 56, Diana has improved on the Model 54 (which I consider an underappreciated classic) in fit, finish, and performance.

We’ll get into how the Model 56 performs in a little while, but first, let’s take a guided tour. At the back end of the 56, you’ll find a rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically. Just loosen a screw and slide it up or down to where you want it. Just forward of that, the hardwood stock is emblazoned on either side with a stylized “TH” for Target Hunter. The buttstock is fully ambidextrous with a cheekpiece on either side. Moving forward again, there is a large opening for the thumbhole, and the pistol grip is checked on either side.

Just ahead of that, the trigger guard houses a metal grooved trigger that the manual says is adjustable for length of first stage and second stage weight. I made no attempt to adjust the trigger.

Forward of that is a flat section of the stock that is extended downward almost on the same level as the trigger guard, like a knee riser block. This section is checkered and says “Diana” on it. Moving ahead, the forestock tapers and is checkered on either side. Beyond that is the barrel with a substantial muzzle break at the end.

One of the most interesting things about the Model 56, besides the metal trigger and metal safety, is that most of the metal parts, including the barrel and receiver, are given in a satin finish that is very distinctive and attractive.

Moving back from the barrel, you’ll find the receiver, and a little further back, the silver breech block. The opening for the breech is cut lower on the right side so that when the cocking lever is pulled back, and the breech slides back, it is easy to load pellets from the right hand side. The cocking lever is on the right side of the receiver, and a small pushbutton anti-beartrap latch is on the left side.

Further back along the receiver is a scope rail with a couple of recesses for anti-recoil pins. At the tail end of the receiver is an all-metal push-pull safety which is resettable. That’s it. Overall, I think the fit and finish of the Model 56 are excellent. If pride of ownership is your thing, the Model 56 has it in spades.

Next time, we’ll have a look at how the Model 56 performs.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

For the past several weeks, I’ve been shooting a new air pistol that I believe is a classic in the making. The RWS LP8, also known as the Diana LP8, is a break-barrel, spring-piston, single-shot air pistol that will replace the 5G pistol. Available only in .177, the LP8 stretches nearly 18 inches from end to end, weighs 3.2 lbs, and has an integrated top rail for mounting a scope or red dot.

The LP8 is set up a bit like the old powder burning Fireball pistol, which had a fair amount of the receiver rearward of the pistol grip and overhanging the shooter’s hand. The LP8 is designed to be ambidextrous. Both sides of the action are enclosed by a handsome matte finish black metal casting, and the pistol grip is enclosed by molded ambidextrous plastic grips. Further, on either side of the receiver, just above the grips, is a flip-lever safety. Truly, the ergonomics of this pistol will keep both lefties and righties happy.

At the very stern of the LP8 is a metal name plate that says “RWS.” Just above that, on top of the receiver, is a micro-adjustable rear notch sight with a fiber optic green dot on either side of the notch. Moving forward, you’ll find the rail for mounting a scope or red dot. (In the picture, you’ll notice that I used a Leapers 3/8-to-weaver adaptor to mount the red dot on my LP8, but I did that only because the only unused red dot that was available had weaver mounts.) The receiver measures nearly 11 inches from the front edge to the back of the pistol. Moving forward again, you’ll find the barrel and a muzzle weight with the front sight which has a red fiber optic dot.

Moving underneath the receiver, the trigger guard is an integral part of the castings that surround either side of the action. Inside the trigger guard is a metal trigger which has a grooved front surface. Underneath the trigger guard in a small hole for a screw that prevents trigger overtravel and should not be adjusted.

Loading the LP8 is dead easy: grab the muzzle weight from underneath (otherwise the front sight will poke you in the palm) and pull down and back until the barrel latches. This cocks the action and activates the automatic safety. Insert a .177 pellet into the exposed breech and return the barrel to its original position.

Now you’re good to go. Flip off the safety lever, ease the first stage out of the trigger and squeeze just a bit more. According to my Lyman digital trigger gage, out of the box, the first stage takes 2 lb 13 oz, and the shot goes off at 3 lb 11 oz, and I had no difficulties achieving satisfying accuracy with that weight of trigger.

The shot cycle is very smooth, and makes kind of a “doink” sound that is very neighbor friendly. You can hear some vibration, but you don’t feel it in your hands. On my Oehler chronograph, the LP8 was sending 7.9 gr. Crosman Premier Light pellets downrange at 558 fps average. That’s within kissing distance of an untuned Beeman R7 rifle. By contrast, my RWS 5G pistol launches the same pellets at 530 fps average. In an email, the folks at UmarexUSA told me they got the following results: RWS Hypermax 645 fps, RWS Hobby 560 fps, RWS Super H-Point 550 fps, and RWS Super Dome 500 fps.

Fooling around in my side yard, from a sitting position, and using a red dot (which is not the best choice for ultimate accuracy), I put five shots into a group that measured 11/16 inch edge to edge. Three of the shots were in a cloverleaf group where all the holes touched each other.

The bottom line is that I think the LP8 is one heck of an air pistol. It has power, accuracy, and it’s fun to shoot. My prediction is that a lot of airgunners will think the same thing and vote with their wallets.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott