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- Last updated: 23/07/2019
‘Original’ or ‘Diana’ are trade names of the firm of Mayer and Grammelspacher, Rastatt in Germany. True to the Teutonic ideal, Original air rifles follow the lines of the larger, full-bore rifles of the day and the Original 50 model is no exception; it’s large! It Gives the impression and feel of a quality built rifle; that was its appeal and ultimate down fall, as lighter springers or PCP guns became more in vogue.
Production began back in the 1953 and did not stop until the 80s; so, a long heritage and production standards were always kept to a high standard. If it is right, it’s right. The overall design changed very little over that course, just a few tweaks and a power increase.
The Original 50 was an under-lever design, so the barrel stays fixed in the action, unlike a break barrel design and so has the potential for more accuracy, as this union is devoid or leaks and misalignment. Pellets are loaded into a tap in the receiver and the pellet is sent on its way by one of the best triggers in the business; however, don’t take it apart, lots of springs and ball bearings! If you take the stock off, you can see the excellent quality of the Originals, very few tool marks and very intricate trigger mechanism and overall fine bluing. The stock is also very well designed and long, over ¾ length, that gives the 50 its distinctive look and also handles very well. I really like that design and, although it does look cumbersome, it is in fact very well balanced.
Older models were lower powered at about 10ft/lbs but a newer model 50 Type 01 addressed this issue in 1981, with slightly longer under lever and increased power to just under the 12ft/lbs max legal limit.
Whichever model you handle, its difficult not to love the quality and handling of the Original 50 and, for the secondhand prices, up to £250, offers really good value for money if you like that ‘classic’ look from your air rifles. There are a few ‘Specials’ that command a higher price.
That stock is long and takes up 36-inches of the rifles over length of 45-inches but that’s its appeal. You would think that the Original 50 would be heavy but its 7.75lbs weight is well distributed because of this stock. It feels very solid and well balance. Made from beech, there is only chequering to the pistol grip on this model that is pressed in rather than being cut but that does not really detract from the overall feel. There is a generous cheekpiece, giving a high comb, so good for scope use and the open sights are quite raised.
There is also a large ventilated recoil pad finishing off one of my favourite air rifle stocks, although the high gloss lacquer finish would be better replaced with and oiled finish. Most of the later 50s had quite light stocks too, as earlier ones were stained darker.
Better is the deep, finely blued metal parts; it’s all metal on this rifle (and there’s a large surface area to cover too!) It further gives the 50 an air of sophistication and is typical of these older, classic rifles. The sights are also very well made; the foresight is a tunnel version, all metal with a dovetail fixture and removal sighting elements for your choice of shooting. The rearsight is fully adjustable for elevation or windage and sited half way down the air cylinder, just in front of the scope ramp. This scope ramp is quite short and really is better suited for an aperture sighting arrangement but a telescopic sight can be fitted and I would recommend some reach forward mounts, to get a better scope fit.
The barrel is 19½-inches long and lightly tapered and was available in .177 or .22; I would love one in .25 calibre or actually .20. There is a short, blued covering plate over the rear end that gives a stepped down look and check that this is still there if you buy a secondhand one. Behind this, is the loading tap for inserting the pellet and is very well executed and a work of art. It operates with a small side lever to the left of the action that, when pushed forward, reveals a loading port on top of the action to ‘pop’ in a pellet. It is smooth and clicks into place like a Swiss watch.
The under lever is sited under the barrel and is hidden from view by the extended stock, except in the newer T01 model, where it protrudes from the forend. This allows more leverage and increased power; I prefer the look of the older model myself.
A small button on the lever’s end is depressed and it unlocks the lever to allow a downward cocking motion of the spring powered piston that has the traditional leather washer seal, not synthetic. It cocks the trigger with a distinct click. The trigger, as I said, is very good. It is a twostage unit and fully adjustable for weight and travel and can be adjusted to single stage if desired. The twin adjustment screws can be accessed via the trigger guard without stock removal. That’s as far as I would go; as stated earlier, the Original triggers are very complex and fiddly to get back together.
There is no safety catch, not uncommon on older classic guns, no “Health and safety” jobsworth` s back then! But the action when cock remains cocked and locks the trigger so you cannot de-cock by pulling the trigger and releasing the under lever.
The Original 50 is a lovely, well made air rifle and still accurate and powerful enough today for a spot of rabbiting with its quality putting many new rifles to shame.
Key points to look at on a potential purchase are that the barrel is still 19.5-inches long, as that gives all the power and accuracy you need and has a fantastic blued finish. The open sights are excellent with the tunnel foresight and fully adjustable rearsight and a set of scope rails, perfect. But check it’s the right foresight and not cracked and the scope rail is tight. The action, being an under lever, is pretty well protected and is very smooth and gives the Original 50 its distinctive look, so check for any roughness or noise on cocking or flat spots.
I like the stock, as the long, slender ¾ length stock is very traditional and looks superb and handles like a full-bore rifle. Other than neglect, or cracks around the pistol grip, it is pretty well foolproof. Other points and relevant data you may need to know is that the barrel is a precision rifled type that always produces excellent accuracy and has a barrel shroud in front of the loading tap, check it’s present!
The Original 50 weighs 7.75lbs and is 45-inches long and sadly only available secondhand now. Expect to pay from £150 but £250 buys a mint one. Some of the earlier ones had Schnabel forends and chequering too. A real affordable classic.
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