by B.B. Pelletier
Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald
This test has been requested many times and for over a year. I reported on the RWS Diana 350 Magnum in .22 caliber way back in February 2006. Although that report was an early one with only one short part, the real objection has been that I tested the .22 caliber rifle. Those making the request for a retest wanted me to test the .177.
For rifles in the 350 Magnum’s power class, I feel that .177 is a waste of energy. They shoot the lightweight pellets too fast for accuracy and they waste a lot of potential power because the .177 bore is too small to transmit the energy. But, people kept right on asking; and when you wore me down, I finally saw the light. So, here’s the test you’ve asked for.
We selected the 350 Feuerkraft model for Mac to test, but the performance will be the same for all 350s, regardless of the name. The powerplant remains the same, regardless of how long the barrel is, what’s attached to the metal or what stock it sits in.
The Feuerkraft 350 is the lowest-priced of all the 350 models. If you plan to build up a custom rifle, this would be the place to start. The one advantage a .177 has over a .22 is a flatter trajectory. Although the .22 owners of the 350 praise it for having a flat trajectory already, there’s no denying that the faster .177 pellets will go farther and flatter. That’s something a hunter will value.
I told Mac that my impression of the 350 was very different from other Diana air rifles. The stock is slender and feels very different than the fatter stocks on the sidelever models or even the stock on the 460 Magnum underlever. It feels long and slender — a rifleman’s stock, if you will. I’m most reminded of shooting a 1903 Springfield whenever I hold a 350 Magnum. It has that long, slim, purposeful feel, as though you know it’s going to shoot okay before you fire the first shot. I asked Mac to see what he thought, and he reported that the feeling was the same for him.
All 350s are large air rifles, make no mistake. They’re not plinking guns! They’re made for hunting and pest elimination and whatever other shooting leads up to those endeavors. It’s 48.3 inches long, with an almost 20-inch barrel. The pull measures 14.25 inches.
The T05 trigger breaks at just 32 oz., and Mac reports that the firing behavior is dead calm. The first-stage pull has a definite stop point where stage two begins, and the let-off is as crisp as one could hope for. The cocking effort is a whopping 54 lbs., so, again, it’s not a plinker. That sort of flies in the face of the advertised specification of 33 lbs. cocking effort, and we wanted you to know before buying. Also, be aware that the barrel comes through a very long arc when the rifle is cocked. It goes way beyond 90 degrees and reaches a point where the geometry no longer helps in the cocking effort.
The wood is beech, without figure and finished a medium brown. The wood work is well done except the cocking link scrapes the clearance slot cut in the bottom of the forearm. The Feuerkraft has a fully ambidextrous stock without a Monte Carlo comb or raised cheekpiece, so it works for everybody. The stock is also uncheckered, which is why this is the lowest-priced model in the 350 lineup. The buttpad is solid black rubber and well-fitted to the stock. Mac commented that the comb is low enough to accommodate a low-mounted scope, if such a thing still exists in the world of airguns.
Mac wanted to test the rifle with open sights and then with a scope. But, as we were talking about the test, he discovered that he could not remove the front sight, so he added a test with a Mendoza peep sight. You may remember that sight from the time I did the Bronco test and tried to mount it. It was too high for the Bronco, but Mac thinks it’ll work okay on the 350 Feuerkraft. At least, it’ll work good enough for us to compare regular fiberoptic open sights to a peep sight.
Mac’s observation of the fiberoptic sights that come with the rifle are that the fiberoptic rods grow larger in strong light and cause problems with sighting precision. He’d prefer plain open sights, but I told him a trick I use when shooting with fiberoptics. I keep the rifle in the dark, so it cannot gather any light. If the target is then brightly lit, the sights look like a simple post and notch without any fiberoptic light. I told him that after he shot the rifle for record, put in time to use my technique when shooting with the peep sight. So, we shall see what kind of difference there is between fiberoptics and unlit sights.
Mac says the sight radius of just over 19 inches is long enough for great precision; but, with both sights so far from the shooter’s eyes, the sights look like they’re mounted on a carbine instead of a rifle. That’s another area in which the peep sight will have the advantage.
Customer reviews of the 350 Magnums are relatively high for spring rifles. People remarked that the build quality is excellent and accuracy was well above normal. In fact, even those who rated the rifle as average gave it high marks for accuracy.
So, lovers of magnum .177s, you’re finally going to get your wish as Mac dives into this rifle. He’s going to shoot it with fiberoptic sights and a peep sight, then he’ll mount a good scope and test it again. By the time this report is completed, you should know whether the 350 is for you and which caliber to get.