by B.B. Pelletier
A reader named RWS 350 asked for this post, but several others chimed in with interest, too. So, for all of you who like the big springers, here we go!
Diana’s most powerful airgun!
Before the Diana RWS 350 Magnum came along, the 48/52/54 sidelever (same powerplant in different stocks) was the top Diana gun. But the long-stroke 350 breakbarrel produces even more power than those big bruisers.
It’s big but not heavy!
At 48″, the 350 Magnum is one of the longest air rifles on the market. But tipping the scales at just 8.2 lbs., it is medium weight – for the power. Being a long-stroke springer, it kicks hard, but not as hard as the Webley Patriot, which is also sold as the Beeman Kodiak.
Velocity and power
The .22 caliber rifle I tested got 935 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets, 870 with RWS Superpoints and 675 with Beeman Kodiaks. To get the 1050 f.p.s. that RWS advertises, you’ll have to shoot a lightweight pellet with a synthetic skirt, which I don’t recommend doing in a spring rifle of this power – not enough cushion for the piston. So, the difference between this gun and the advertised velocity for the Kodiak/Patriot is nonexistent. In my testing, Superpoints delivered the most energy, at just under 24.5 foot-pounds. Crosman Premiers were the most accurate, with Kodiaks a close second.
Being a long-stroke springer, the 350 takes a lot of technique to shoot accurately. You have to float it very lightly to realize all the accuracy it has, which is a lot if you do your part. Do not grasp the stock in any way, but rest it on your open palm and allow the rifle to move when it fires. Don’t grip the pistol grip tightly or press the buttpad into your shoulder. In this respect, shooting the 350 is identical to shooting the Kodiak/Patriot. My five-shot groups averaged 0.35″ at 25 yards, which is almost as good as I can do with an RWS sidelever. I had an RWS 450 scope on mine, but one of the new Leapers TS scopes would be a better choice today, because they are more rugged and have clearer optics.
Mounting a scope
This is a weak point on all Diana RWS airguns. Their scope rail has three shallow depressions that are not deep enough to hold a recoil stop pin in a set of rings. There is a large-headed screw at the rear of the rail, and you may be tempted to butt the rear ring against the head (I’ve done it, too), but it will not take the repeated stress of recoil. If you use it that way, you can shear off the screw head! The solution, which I read about years ago, is to hang the scope stop pin in front of the rail, where it can bear against the full depth of the aluminum rail. That leaves half the front ring (assuming a two-piece ring set) hanging off the rail, which is a good reason to use a one-piece mount on an RWS airgun. I used a medium-height Beeman 5030 scope ring with the RWS scope, but any good non-adjustable ring should work. Just make sure you match the ring height and diameter to the scope used. The RWS scope ramp doesn’t give much clearance over the top of the compression tube.
The Diana scope rail is not very conducive to scope mounting. Don’t butt the rear ring against the large screw head at the right. Instead, hang the stop pin in front of the scope rail, so it has something to bear against.
Cocking a 350 is as easy as cocking a Beeman R1 and just a little harder than cocking one of the big Diana RWS sidelevers. At just 36 lbs., it’s nowhere near the effort required for a Patriot (50 lbs.) or the even more difficult Gamo 1250 (60 lbs.). Yet, this rifle has power equivalent to those airguns. The ballbearing detent that keeps the barrel closed is very easy to overcome, so you don’t need to slap the muzzle to break the barrel open.
The 350 Magnum comes in both .177 and .22. If you buy this rifle in .177, you’ll throw out so much power in that caliber. It’s like buying a new Corvette with a V6 engine (if they made one) for better fuel economy. However, this is just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions!
The trigger can be adjusted to be very nice BUT YOU HAVE TO READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL! If you don’t, you’ll be turning screws for years without a clue as to what they do. Properly set up, a Diana trigger can be as crisp as a Rekord, and that’s saying a lot.
It’s a classic airgun!
The 350 magnum is large but not heavy. It’s powerful but easy to cock. It’s difficult to scope but very accurate when you do. Besides all that, it feels right when held and shot. It has all the earmarks of a classic air rifle that will endure the test of time.