RWS Diana 34 Panther - Part 3
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, Gamo has just changed their warranty period from three years to one. I thought you would like to know that. Son of a gun if my post a few days ago about warranty periods changing wasn't prophetic!
Today I'll clean the Panther's barrel, mount a scope and head to the range.
I'm using a new .177 brass brush loaded with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. The reason for cleaning a brand new rifle is to remove latent rust from the bluing process and all the sharp burrs that remain from barrel manufacture. The first several strokes were extremely difficult, but they eased around stroke eight. By the tenth stroke the barrel was feeling very smooth, and by stroke 16, I was able to reverse directions of the brush without removing it from the bore.
A BIG surprise!
As the barrel became cleaner and I was able to feel the brush passing through, I thought I could feel a restriction toward the muzzle. Of course I was cleaning from the breech, which is always recommended. When I started running the dry cleaning patches through the bore to remove the bore paste, I could definitely feel the restriction. On some breakbarrels there is a coincidental constriction from the upsetting of the bore when the front sight dovetails were swaged in, but this rifle doesn't have them. It has a plastic front sight base that's bonded on with epoxy, probably. That makes the bore restriction intentional, and what that means is Diana has intentionally choked the bore at the muzzle! I can't wait to see what this does for accuracy!
The RWS Diana 34 Panther is a slim breakbarrel rifle, so I selected a smaller scope to go with it. Being a breakbarrel, you have to keep the barrel joint free to open, which means a shorter scope. Normally I would like to use two-piece mounts for the extra scope positioning flexibility they give, but this is a Diana and has to use a one-piece mount with the vertical scope stop pin hung in front of the scope base on the rifle. The scope I chose was a 3-9X40 Leapers that Pyramyd doesn't stock at the moment, but in size it's very close to the 3-9X32 range estimating AO scope they do carry. I used a B-Square 17101 adjustable one-piece mount, and I put two turns of elevation on the rear ring and a half turn on the front. That should compensate for the Diana's tendency to shoot low.
Initial range results
It's been a wet year and my range in under water right now, but I am able to shoot at a closer distance (20 yards) in the backyard. I selected the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets, the Logun Penetrators that weigh 9.5 grains and a Czech Republic pellet called the Diabolo Standard. Well, the Czech pellet was all over the paper at 20 yards, so I didn't pursue it. But the Logan Penetrator showed some promise with some half-inch groups. It might be worth testing at longer distance when the range is available again.
However it was the old standard Crosman Premier that saved the day! They went into such tight little groups that I knew I had my best pellet. And then I noticed that this 34 is less sensitive to hold than others I've tested. Also, it groups better than any RWS Diana 34 I have ever shot!
Ten Premiers at 20 yards on the left. Five on the right.
Five more Premiers at 20 yards. Not bad for a quick and dirty test! This Panther holds very well and takes less technique than most breakbarrels.
Rest the rifle just forward of the triggerguard, where it is very muzzle-heavy, hold softly and this rifle will shoot! It takes far less technique than a Mendoza or that Hammerli Storm Elite I tested a few weeks ago. And it takes less than any 34 I've ever shot. I have to believe that a lot of the accuracy lies with the choked barrel.
The trigger is very crisp and light at 3.5 lbs. let-off. There is not one hint of creep. An overtravel adjustment would make it feel even nicer, but in this price category you won't find one much better.
The straight stock is a shooter's dream. The rifle comes up to your eye without any moving around and the sharp checkering make the gun easy to control with a soft hold.
Most of the piston seal noise is gone after 50 shots. The detent is still hard to open, but the rifle cocks smoothly from that point on.
I do need to get out to the range and see what the rifle can do at longer distance. but to this point I am very pleasantly surprised.