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Diana K98

I’m generally not a big fan of replica air guns, but this one caught my eye for a number of  reasons:


First, it’s a replica of a classic metal-and-wood bolt action rifle, the WWII-era Mauser K98, and not some modern futuristic-looking polymer machine gun. Second, it’s a real practical pellet rifle, delivering an advertised  1100fps with light .177 pellets and 870 in .22. It’s a gun you can actually hunt with, not a BB or air soft gun, as well as being a future collectable. And it’s built to last, of wood and steel. No molded plastic or cheap stampings here.


What Diana has done is taken their magnum under-lever action from the model 460, added period sights, and mounted it in a very authentic looking wooden stock, all for about $420 at Pyramyd. No, I have no intention of buying one, but if they made a matching K98  scope mount that I could slip my compact Burris 4x scope into-  I’d be awfully tempted.

Night Vision for Airguns

Sightmark Photon


Night vision scopes are very popular these days, especially with hunters of feral wild pigs. They’re excellent for all sorts of nocturnal vermin, which is what led me to start thinking about getting one. We’ve had rats showing up in our city in the last few months and while I managed to bag a few during the daytime with an air rifle I thought it would be more effective to hunt them at night.

After several weeks of debating the various options with myself (cheap Gen 1 scope, better Gen 1 scope, digital scope, unaffordable thermal scope…) I decided to order a Sightmark Photon 4.6x digital scope from Amazon, as they have far and away the best return and customer service policies. It arrived yesterday and I mounted it on my Benjamin Marauder.

Installation is very easy, as it mounts in standard 30mm rings. Setup is almost as easy, as there are only two controls on the scope. One is a power/illumination button. One press turns it on. Successive presses cycle through various levels of IR illumination, and a long press turns it off. The level off illumination is displayed in the viewfinder, along with battery life. The other control is a combined button and knob that normally controls display brightness. Press and hold, and a menu comes up that allows you to select between reticle shape, color, and position. The position adjustment allows for one-shot zeroing, or close to it. Shoot a group at a target, then move the reticle to point to the group. That’s it.

Last night I took it out after dark to search for the rats that have been showing up in our neighborhood. Like those of many animals, a rat’s eyes reflect light, which makes them very easy to spot, as the IR illuminator turns their eyes into bright white spots- you can see the eyes long before you can pick out a rat’s body hidden by vegetation.

The scope uses two AA batteries to power both scope and illuminator, and the manual says they’ll last from 4-6 hours, depending on how much IR illumination you use. I found the lowest setting was more than adequate at garden ranges, but I might add an external illuminator just to stretch battery life.

At $490, it was $190 more than the cheapest Gen 1 sight I looked at, but from what I’ve been able to learn from other reviews the image is much clearer and wider. Sightmark warranties it for three years, which is better than most electronic devices. So far I’m pretty impressed.

My TX200 comes home


Six years ago I sold my TX200 to a friend who had great plans for shooting it regularly at his place up North. This was a custom Jim Maccari tuned gun with a Simmons scope I used in my second year of Field Target competition back in the late 1990s, and it was capable of great accuracy with Crosman Premiers. It was also the gun I shot at Camp Perry when my club was doing the first demonstration FT match held there, and had a lot of memories.  But I sold it to help pay for a used Air Arms Pro Sport as I didn’t think I needed the TX200 any more.

Good intentions have a way of going astray, and my friend called to say he’d only taken the TX200 out twice in six years, and… was I interested in buying it back? Well, yes, I was. It took us close to six months to finally get together to talk terms, after which he walked away with a wad of cash and a Swift pistol scope, and I walked off with my old TX200.

Other than a little rust on the under lever latch it’s pretty much in the same condition it was when it left my house. My range markings are still on the focusing ring and my elevation table is still glued to the sun shade. It’s still as smooth shooting as it was when I last owned it.

Did I need another air rifle? Hardly. I owned three spring guns, all of them very high quality, and a Crosman Gen2 Marauder in a Boyds stock, none of which I get to shoot very often these days. But it’s a gun with a lot of memories and it’s nice having it back.

The IZH-46m Part II

In our last visit with the IZH-46m I’d just begun to reshape the grip. Here it is after several iterations with rasp and sandpaper:


I’ve tapered the grip towards the rear, thinned the wood at the top of the grip, and carved finger grooves. Quite a bit more to do but it’s already a significant improvement. The tool I used to do this was a Nicholson #49 Cabinet Makers Rasp, a very fine rasp with hand-cut teeth. A hand cut rasp has an irregular, almost random pattern of teeth  that cuts very fast yet still cuts much more smoothly than the typical machine cut rasp. Unfortunately Nicholson moved production to Brazil a few years ago and their rasps are no longer the fine tools they once were. There are still good hand cut rasps available, though, from companies like Aurier and Liogier in France.

I also moved the trigger rearward about a quarter of an inch, which makes it easier to pull without rotating the gun. Dry firing, I noticed that I tended to rotate the gun ever so slightly to the left as I depressed the trigger- barely noticeable, but enough to push my groups left.

Next step is to further taper the grip, deepen the grooves, and refuse the shape until I get a perfect glove-like fit. Then I’ll sand out any scratches and work it down to a 320 grit. Last, I’ll add a Tru-Oil finish and when that sets up, apply stippling with a punch.

Further refinement:




The taper from front to back turns out to be especially critical. By varying which side tapers more you can fine tune how the gun points and the sights align.