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Looking for info on an apparently unique Diana model 58  

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jcl08
(@john-in-spokane)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 9
2019-11-26 21:10:08  

I picked this up last week at a small town pawn shop, I wasn't sure what it was exactly but knew it was a Diana and likely pre-war. After I got home I was able to find out it's a 2nd model Diana model 58, probably an early one. The seller told me it was his own gun and that it was a WW-2 GI bring back that had been found in a train boxcar full of non military guns (both air and powder) sometime after D-Day and that the gun had been gifted to him sometime back by the GI who had found it. It's a .177 and the only visible markings on the rifle is Diana Luft Gewwehr on the barrel in front of the rear sight. Otherwise no model #'s, caliber, patent, or logo #'s. O the back of the tap lever detent plate is the #22, and the back of the tap lever is the #48. Also each of these two parts has a smaller #2 in the same style font but stamped in a way that makes it obvious they aren't meant to be part of the 22 or 48, these smaller 2's are likely an ID # specific to this rifle since there are at least four more of them on different parts including the stock under the buttplate. The underside of the grip behind the rear trigger guard tang has the letters BT stamped in it. The front sight is missing and the dovetail for it is quite large, around 3/4" give or take. The unusual feature however are the double set triggers that appear to be a factory feature they are on a factory guard but the guard is modified and the triggers and guard are a single unit. I've already posted on the AVA forum, searched online and looked at all the picsI can find and can't find any mention, written or photographic of a 58 with double set triggers or a front sight with that size base. Any info would be appreciated. Also the rifle cocks and fires very smoothly with plenty of power, and the triggers function very well. Also the stock will not quite come all the way off the rifle something in the trigger assembly won't release from the bottom of the reciever.

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Hector J Medina G
(@hector-j-medina-g)
Member of Trade
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 337
2019-11-27 08:48:47  

What we sometimes forget is that in Germany NO ONE makes changes to the trigger of a gun without being a professional ,certified, gunsmith. Adjustments, yes, but no changes, not even change of screws. Under hefty penalties of law.

We also forget that there is a long standing tradition of specially commissioned pieces that are actually made at the factory.

My somewhat educated guess is that this gun was a special commission to the factory by someone who HAD to have set triggers. Or was a presentation gun.
As such the rifle did not receive the full markings nor serial #, and it MAY have also been equipped with a different front sight.

My guess is that the "2" s that you find are for the "second series/variant".

German set triggers are a mechanism in themselves, in essence it is a small hammer (the setting trigger) that is released by the secondary trigger (hair trigger); the setting trigger hits the sear and that is what breaks the shot. Because of this, they are a separate "box", the action should be able to be lifted from the stock but the trigger block should stay put.

You clearly have a valuable specimen as Mod 58's sometimes sell as high as US$1,500 in Germany.

Good find!

 

 

 

 

 

HM


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Bob in WV
(@bob-in-wv)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 145
2019-11-27 08:56:27  

Nice find!  I can't help with what it is but it is a very very nice gun for sure.  Mike Driskol will probably know about it.  He is a Diana expert.  Thanks for sharing.

Bob in WV


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John in PA
(@john-in-pa)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 20
2019-11-27 18:46:23  

I have a Model 58 also which in a lot of ways is identical to yours except mine only has the single blade trigger.

I haven't posted pics on here in a long time but if you email me I'll send you pics of mine. John

jmtfor1@aol.com


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jcl08
(@john-in-spokane)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 9
2019-11-27 20:51:42  

@hector-j-medina-g

Hi Hector,
Good point about the German gunsmiths, I often forget there can be a big difference between craftsmen in the U.S. and European countries prior to the 1950's when Europeans  usually specialized as gunsmiths, but a lot of the U.S. gun smithing at the time was performed by the local blacksmith, hardware store owner, or the town tinker/handyman especially in the west, mid-west, and south.
A lot of these guys did good work but it was often utilitarian, and function over form type of stuff.

The idea of a custom/commission piece did occur to me as soon as I found that the triggers and dovetail weren't typical, as did an employee built personal gun, I hadn't considered a presentation piece though. I've also been researching the idea that the sight dovetail is factory. I've shot set trigger muzzle loaders for years and I agree that the trigger group and stock should just come away from the action.

Another idea I've had early on that seems more possible after a bit more research and emailing back and forth a bit with Danny Garvin from the AVA forum is that it could be a factory test gun (not a prototype) for development of the single set/double pull trigger. My reasoning behind this idea is that based on what I've found this is an early/transitional 2nd model, and the development of the double pull trigger seems to have happened in this time frame. Since it seems the general idea was to get a single blade trigger to do what a double set had been doing and, imo at least. it would be logical to test the feasibility of the idea starting with the intended version of the rifle and trigger tech that already existed and that already does exactly what you're trying to accomplish,-IE double set triggers- and a rifle like mine allows for that.

After determining that the idea is sound then the work starts on getting rid of one blade and mounting the remaining one on the action instead of in the guard.  So starting with an action and stock/triggers that are separate from each other, the next step is figuring how to join the triggers to the action, then making one blade do the job of two, and finally making the stock and guard separate from the action again. The smaller 2's could be ID marks for keeping the parts all with the same gun during repeated disassembly's/reassembly's. This could be why it no longer just comes apart, I'm thinking the tube/barrel/ etc needs to be separated from the knob assembly to get the triggers/stock off.

This also makes sense if this was also when the tap assembly was being changed to the later style which would result in more parts of the gun being torn down and put back together. Since the sights were also being transitioned from one type to another this could explain the long dovetail cut if they tried multiple ideas. If they had more than one smith working on this with more than one test rifle that could be why mines has 2's, there may have been a 1, and a 3, and etc. Don't know if this theory is completely off the wall or not, but it seems logical to me. Of course it's a mystery that is likely never to be answered one way or the other.

It is starting to look like it may really be one of a kind though.


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MDriskill
(@mdriskill)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 140
2019-11-29 08:20:47  

@bob-in-wv

I appreciate the kind mention, but that one is quite over my head! I’ve never seen a 58 like that before. I too corresponded with a couple of collector friends yesterday, the consensus is that this rifle is a one-off. 

As Hector described, a double set trigger is typically a self-contained mechanism. I have an HW 55 with a DST, on that gun the trigger is not physically connected to the action at all, but releases a hammer flies upward to strike a sear lever protruding beneath the receiver (which does make the relative position of action and trigger within the stock critical, though). So making two triggers do the work of one may not require as many internal changes as you think, but that makes this airgun no less remarkable!


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jcl08
(@john-in-spokane)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 9
2019-11-30 12:39:08  

@mdriskill

I did finaly get the stock off my 58 and will get some pics up soon. I kept at it because I'm fairly familiar with the double sets on muzzle loaders and firearms and have never run across any that weren't a self contained unit, or were attached to the upper action or lock. I was able to shift stuff enough to see a rear action screw. it was was loose, allowing for the movement, and the trigger guard was just incredibly tight in the inlet, tighter than any I remember working with before. I think now that it's probably a factory custom, the triggers and sear assemby are very well done and don't appear to be something that would be changed out or altered multiple times for R&D. There are also several more number 48 and 2 stamped on different parts including the cylinder,  sear assembly and trigger guard. The stock also had XX/ carved in the channel for the front tang of the trigger guard.


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JiminPGH
(@jiminpgh)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 369
2019-11-30 13:03:57  
Posted by: @john-in-spokane

@mdriskill

I did finaly get the stock off my 58 and will get some pics up soon. I kept at it because I'm fairly familiar with the double sets on muzzle loaders and firearms and have never run across any that weren't a self contained unit, or were attached to the upper action or lock. I was able to shift stuff enough to see a rear action screw. it was was loose, allowing for the movement, and the trigger guard was just incredibly tight in the inlet, tighter than any I remember working with before. I think now that it's probably a factory custom, the triggers and sear assemby are very well done and don't appear to be something that would be changed out or altered multiple times for R&D. There are also several more number 48 and 2 stamped on different parts including the cylinder,  sear assembly and trigger guard. The stock also had XX/ carved in the channel for the front tang of the trigger guard.

PLEASE keep us posted, as this seems to be a truly unique version of what is already considered the Holy Grail of Diana spring piston rifles. I am fascinated, and extremely envious, truth be told.  Whatever you do, please document it with pictures.  You are a lucky man.


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jcl08
(@john-in-spokane)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 9
2019-12-01 06:48:53  

Trigger, sear, more numbers, etc.

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Hector J Medina G
(@hector-j-medina-g)
Member of Trade
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 337
2019-12-02 11:32:25  

@john-in-spokane

Your gun may be even more interesting than you might think.

The internals and the shape of the blades of the set triggers is typical of Austrian (Ferlach)  patterns (Suhl set triggers have a  VERY specific "hair" trigger shape).

PLEASE measure the pin that holds the set mechanism in the trigger guard, if it is conical, then the modification almost surely was done by a Ferlach trained/resident gunsmith. It could have been a One-Off, purchased by the Gunsmith with minimal markings in order to apply its own "seal" for a well-heeled customer, or it could have been commissioned by the plant itself as an experiment (we still do that).

Do note the part that replaced the trigger blade and is hit by the upwards flying "hammer" (top end of the rear/setting trigger blade), that is also a non-standard part, but it would be interesting to see if it was MADE FROM a standard part, or if it is specially made piece.

One of the advantages of this type of triggers is that the release weight of the "hair" trigger can be set WITHOUT cocking the gun and even OUTSIDE the rufle. Something that DIANA looked for repeatedly, but could ONLY achieve with the CURRENT PAIR of T-06's (N-Tec and Stemmed Piston).

Last, but not least, please look into the stock and see if the sides where the closing block of the action is held are curved (as they look in the stock cavity picture), or are parallel, as they should be because the closing block has not curvature to its sides.

If the stock has a curvature, then it probably housed a number of different closing blocks with different configurations, and that would also be typical of a factory ordered modification for testing/analysis/learning.

Again, congratulations on your find!

 

 

HM


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jcl08
(@john-in-spokane)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 9
2019-12-02 15:10:45  

This is good info, I don't think I'll ever know exactly what it is  but it's going to take little clues like this to make a good educated guess. 
I'll check the stock and get some more pictures of it and some more angles of the sear assembly, and the part hit by the hammer. It looks to me like a specially made piece but I haven't studied it in detail yet.

I have to pick up a battery for my caliper to get measurements, but I do believe it' tapered or slightly conical. After removing the screw holding the trigger assembly to the guard, the pin presses out from right to left only, and goes back in from left to right (viewed from the rear of the guard), and although not tight (it can be pushed out easily by hand with a punch, and reinstalled with finger pressure), it's not loose enough to move on it's own.  and only one end of the pin will fit to go back in, under a magnifying glass it does appear to be tapered.

I bought it a week before Thanksgiving, the seller is the owner of a small farm town pawn shop about 20 miles from me that was having a going out of business sale and this rifle was one of his own and not a shop owned gun. He said he got it years ago as a gift from a local veteran who brought it back from Europe after WW2.  He was on his way out for an appointment, but stopped long enough to dicker on the price and give a quick history of where it came from and how he got it, then he left and his son finished the sale before I could ask any questions. His son didn't know much more, only that it was one of his dad's prized possessions and he was only selling it because he was downsizing for retirement.

The back-story I was told is that this was brought back after WW2 by a GI who was involved in the D-Day operation, and that he wasn't part of the invasion itself, but was on a
supply/troop replacement truck or equipment hauler and was landed after the beach was secure and the front-line troops had moved inland. His convoy was following behind and somewhere in the French countryside came across a train car full of crates of non-military guns.

They went though some of the crates and all chose one or two guns to take as souvenirs, he chose this Diana and a very fancy double rifle with engraving, inletting, etc.. It wasn't clear whether it was a whole train, or just one or some cars, or whether it had been bombed or just abandoned (and probably doesn't matter much but I get curious about little details like that when I research things). I don't know what you might make of this, if anything, I'm assuming at this point the guns were confiscated from the French after German occupation. I've tried researching the German wartime confiscations but haven't found anything yet about air guns.

After some researching and getting some responses to my posts, I drove back out and got a little more info, he said that the front sight was gone when it was given to him and he believes it was gone when found also. The gentleman who brought it back only knew that it was a German air rifle, and nothing else. He also said he'd write down the history in more detail and email it to me sometime this week after things were wrapped up with the business closing.

The seller said he's taken it to multiple gun shops and shows over the years and all he ever found out was that it was a pre -WW2 Diana air rifle and was probably worth in the $300-$350 range without the sight and would have be worth around $800 if he found a replacement. It never occurred to him to search the web or that there might be a serious vintage airgun presence out there.


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oldair
(@oldair)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 17
2019-12-02 18:48:01  

I'm sure the stock inletting is parallel at the trigger block area.   Because the upper edge of the stock steps down at the rear, a view looking down can make it appear 'tapered' but it's an optical illusion.

Don R.


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jcl08
(@john-in-spokane)
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 9
2019-12-05 14:57:56  

Just want to give a quick thank you to everyone who's responded so far.


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